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Zork II

by Dave Lebling and Marc Blank

Episode 2 of Zork
Fantasy / Zorkian / Cave crawl
1981

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Number of Reviews: 4
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
More Zorkian Fun, January 16, 2010
by tggdan3 (Michigan)
I was a fan of Zork I since I played it at 10 years old on my grandmother's PC. I was excited to get into Zork II.

Now, after playing the Mainframe Dungeon, I see that Zork II is just a bunch of puzzles that wouldn't fit into Zork I anywhere, which is all fun.

You still have to manage your inventory, and it's difficult to get a permanent light source until most of the game's done anyway. (Spoiler - click to show)Once you get the wizard's wand, you can point it at an item and say "Fluoresce" and the item will permanently glow. Or, if you take too long, the wizard may cast this spell on you, making it impossible to win the game.

This game does have some impossible puzzles, such as the infamous baseball puzzle, which set the standard for what not to do in a puzzle, and the bank puzzle, which is really ingenious but horribly under-clued. Then there's the spinning room, which can be more of a nuisance than anything. Most frustrating, however is the Wizard. If you remember how pissed you were in Zork I when the thief showed up and stole your torch, you'll really get mad at the wizard, who randomly shows up and casts spells on you, sometimes causing you instant death (such as making you go into a frenzy while on a cliff, or freezing you in place near a lit bomb), or sometimes wasting precious light (freezing you wastes time while the lamp counts down), or even stealing treasures from you.

As in previous Zorks, you can be brought back to life, but many times your death still makes the game unwinable.

However, this is what added to the appeal of Zork I. I fondly remember as a child becoming nervous when my lamp got a bit dimmer. Even more so now, with no torch to fall back on. And the randomization makes the game have just a little bit more replay value. I'd even go out on a limb and say this is the best of the three Zork games, in term of fun (and certainly challenge- anyone who bests the baseball puzzle without hints is a master of all IFs.)