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/// Usenet Review: The Lost Treasures of Infocom
By Peter Ingham
The Lost Treasures of Infocom
A collection of the more significant Role-Playing Games (RPG's)
originally published by Infocom in the late 70's/early 80's.
The original Zork was developed at MIT by Dave Lebling and Marc
Blank and inspired by "advent". Like advent, Zork is a text-based adventure
with an English-like parser, so you type in English sentences to control the
game. They formed/joined Infocom to market microcomputer implementations
and extend the genre.
Name: Activision / Infocom
Address: PO Box 67001
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Price paid $NZ 160 (approximately $90 US).
USA mailorder prices are around $40-50.
SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS
Very little RAM is needed. Remember - this stuff was written
to run on the microprocessors of the early 1980's.
"Hitchhikers Guide" for example uses only 175K.
Hard drive not required, but can be used.
Works on 68000 Adspeed accelerator. I haven't heard of any
problems on other CPU's.
Runs under Kickstart 1.3 and 2.0. (I've not tried any
others; there are no documented incompatibilities).
None. Installs on a hard drive.
Saves games as ordinary AmigaDOS files in the directory the
particular game is run from.
MACHINE USED FOR TESTING
Amiga 500 Rev 6
1MB Chip RAM, 2MB Fast RAM
Commodore A590 hard drive
The package includes 20 of the "classic" text-based adventure games
released by Infocom in the early 80's:
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
The games utilise the Infocom "Zork Interpreter" and data files
which control the operation of the game. These are set up to run from
Workbench with a simple icon click.
Whereas in the original implementations (at least my experience with
them on Apple II) the data file was continually accessed off the disk, in
this incarnation, the files are read into memory. This explains why a game
that ran on a 32K Apple II needs a massive 175K to run on an Amiga 500!
Most of the games (particularly the earlier ones) run in a text
window on the Workbench screen and seem to multitask quite happily. Some of
the later games include graphics and sound and run on their own
Two printed manuals are provided:
The Hint Book
The Manual contains the original printed material for each of the
games in a single book. This provides special instructions understood by
each game, background information and scenario for each game.
The Hint book provides tips, and answers to get you going once you
get stuck. This is full of spoilers. In the original release, this
information was NOT provided with the games, but was available from Infocom
should you get hopelessly stranded. Nice to have it provided.
A set of maps for the games is also included (and like the hint book,
this was available as an add-on originally).
Does it tell you everything you NEED to know? Yes, but you have to
hunt for it sometimes (this is not a criticism!!).
Everything you WANT to know? Definitely not!!! That's the point of
an adventure game. The hint book (which a REAL adventurer would never use)
DOES give the answers to most of your questions (including those you don't
know you need to be asking... yet).
LIKES AND DISLIKES
The games cover a range of difficulties. Unfortunately, the
documentation does not give any indications as to which games are advanced
and which are better for novices.
COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS
These Infocom games are the originals (or close to them). Most other
computer-based RPG games trace their ancestry back to them.
The games were renowned (in their day) for the power of their text
parser. For example, it understands commands like "press all but the blue
Want to buy a 15-year old computer game???
Want to buy 20 of them???
YES... in my case.
If you want flashy graphics, sound tracks and spoon feeding, then
this product is not for you.
If you want solid puzzles, a lot of mental gymnastics, strategy and
a variety of scenarios, get it.
Copyright 1993 Peter S. Ingham. All rights reserved.
This review is freely distributable for non-profit use.