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Publisher: MacPlay    Genre: Adventure & RPG
Min OS X: Any Version    CPU: G3 @ 233 MHz    RAM: 64 MB

Zork: Grand Inquisitor
February 8, 2002 | Christopher Morin

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I Am The Boss Of You!

I can recall one of the oldest computer games I ever played was a text-based game that consisted of amber monochrome line after line of irreverent humor and sarcastic wit and seemingly impossible puzzles. That game was Zork. Well, I will not bore you with the never ending, geeky tales of my high school and college years. Now, quite a number of years later (no, I will not tell how many, thank you very much), Mac gamers can enter (reenter for me and others my age) the world of Zork and the Dungeon Master.

The Land of Zork and its ruling family, the Flatheads, have been taken over by the Inquisition and its foul ruler the Grand Inquisitor Yannick. Magic is banned from the land. All those who are found practicing magic will undergo a most fearsome form of punishment – totemization. As the Grand Inquisitor says, “Shun magic. Shun the appearance of magic; and then, shun shunning.” It is your job to find those who can help you restore magic to the surface world dominated by the inquisition. Along the way, you will be required to solve numerous puzzles, win the lottery, cross the river Styx (don’t forget to pay the ferryman), and avoid totemization.

I Love It When A Plan Comes Together
I just love quoting Colonel Hannibal Smith. The game begins with you finding a magic lantern that is really the essence of the Third Dungeon Master Dalboz. He solicits your help in returning magic to the land by finding the underground and freeing others to help you. Among those you must free is Antharia Jack. For the uninitiated, Zork’s most notable hero is Antharia Jack played by the inimitable Dirk Benedict. Antharia Jack is not too far a stretch from his other notable characters in the A Team and Battlestar Galactica. If you do not know about those shows, forget it. You are likely too young or sheltered to remember anyway. I digress down memory lane again.

Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a game in the point-and-click genre of games such as Myst, and The Journeyman Project series. In fact, be sure to catch the reference to Myst when you visit Hades. Granted, this style of gaming is “so 90’s” when compared to recent games that do not restrict players from venturing everywhere within the game environment. In Zork, the player is free to look around just about everywhere but not travel everywhere. The game allows a limited range of viewing depending on where you are standing. If a location is open for you to explore, you should take time to investigate that area – there might be something there that will become important later on. To solve some of the riddles and puzzles, you will have to have either a warped sense of humor or a really twisted way of thinking. I am embarrassed to admit that one of the earliest puzzles involving a cigar and an Inquisition doll had me baffled for an inordinate amount of time.

This brings me to some of the game’s shortfalls. Zork uses animated transitions as you move from one static location to another. These Quicktime transitions are extremely pixilated and choppy. The static locations, even ones with some moving items, are fairly crisp; but the movies are of such poor quality that, once you have seen them, you will want to skip them from then on. I adjusted the preferences, which are limited to an auto setting and a choice between line skipping and pixel doubling, and saw no visual difference in any of them.

Floss Regularly. Floss Athletically. Floss Meaningfully.
The world of Zork is a rich world that has been developed over twenty years. It started out as a student project at MIT in the late 70’s and has grown in history and lore, as has its cult following.

You can expect to be more entertained by the game’s myriad of mind-numbing puzzles and its cheeky humor much more than you will by the style of game play or the graphics. The real purpose here is for the gamer to overthrow the Inquisition, restore the Flathead dynasty and achieve the level of Dungeon Master; not be overcome and awe inspired by the savvy textures and colors. There are great locations in Zork; they are just not the focal point of the story.


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