DescriptionZork: The Great Underground Empire is a classic text adventure game. The player begins as an "adventurer" standing near a white house in a nice forest, but soon descends into the Great Underground Empire, where most of the game takes place. The player's quest is to collect the Nineteen Treasures of Zork.
As was typical for adventure games of its era, Zork does not use graphics. Instead, it communicates with the player via text, and the player interacts with the game by typing commands, such as "examine mailbox" or "take torch". For movement, the player types in geographical directions (such as "north" or "east" - or just "n" and "e"), and can check what items are being carried with the "inventory" command (or just "i").
The game was ported over from mainframes in the late 1970s, and is one of the first examples of its genre.
- "Zork: The Great Underground Empire - Part I" -- Alternative Apple II media title
- "Zork I: The Great Underground Empire" -- Re-release title
- "Zork I: Le Grand Empire des Ténèbres" -- Canadian (French) title
- "Zork I" -- Renamed title (after second and third Zork games were released)
- "Zork" -- Personal Software published name
Part of the Following Groups
The Press Says
|Adventure Classic Gaming||DOS||May 10, 1998||5 out of 5||100|
|Zzap!||Commodore 64||Aug, 1985||92 out of 100||92|
|Retrogaming.it||Apple II||May, 2008||9 out of 10||90|
|Amiga Action||Amiga||Jan, 1991||83 out of 100||83|
|PC Player (Germany)||DOS||Aug, 1994||78 out of 100||78|
|SPAG||DOS||Dec 13, 1997||6.1 out of 10||61|
|Topic||# Posts||Last Post|
|Be honest about Zork||13||Indra is here (19837)
Oct 23, 2007
|You are likely to be eaten ...||5||hydra9 (3841)
Sep 16, 2007
1001 Video GamesZork I appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Covermount releaseIn the December 2001 Issue of PC Gamer, the original Zork trilogy was shipped on the CD included with the magazine.
DevelopmentZork was born on the mainframes of MIT in 1977, and saw its first commercial release on the TRS-80, under the Personal Software (releasers of VisiCalc) label in 1979. The title was a nonsense word used by the creators to label works in progress. Infocom was founded by these creators, Marc Blank, Dave Lebling, Tim Anderson and Bruce Daniels, to create Zork II.
Freeware releaseAs part of the release of Zork: Nemesis, Activision released Zork I as freeware on their website. (As of 2001, the links to download the game at activision.com are dead, but the game is available at numerous fan sites.)
Game Boy portOne bedroom programmer actually ported the game to the Game Boy of all things, using the basic code of the Sinclair Spectrum version, as both systems were powered the Z80 processor. Inputting words involved cycling the cursor through one letter at a time, similarly to inputting initial for high scores on a joystick. Surely the ultimate case of "right game, wrong format".
German versionInfocom started to translate this game into German, but found it rather difficult to re-program the parser. Therefore, only a German beta version exists.
Hello, SailorThe well-recognized Infocom phrase "Hello, Sailor!" got its start here. Type it in, and you'll get the response "Nothing happens here." Type it in almost any room in any Infocom game, and you'll get the same response. This may be one of the oldest Infocom red herrings around.
LeavesYou can find out how many leaves are in the pile of leaves covering the grate in the clearing by typing "count leaves". Strangely enough, it only takes 1 turn to count all the leaves. The actual number of leaves in the pile is 69,105. It's an hex/octal inside joke for programmers.
- There is a location in the game called "Aragain Falls." Spell ARAGAIN backwards, and you'll see something more familiar.
- Typing in "xyzzy" and "plugh" (magic words from an earlier text adventure game), the game comes back with: "A hollow voice says 'Fool.' "
References to the game
- This paragon of text adventuring has been thoroughly parodied in the anonymous 1988 game Pork 1: The Great Underground Sewer System.
- The currency in Zork, the zorkmid, is also used in NetHack.
ReleaseThe first commercial release of Zork I (for the TRS-80, distributed by Personal Software) was simply called Zork. The game disk was packaged in a plastic bag with a large manual showing an adventurer outfitted in barbarian guard attacking the troll, with the white house in the background. Such early versions are quite difficult to come by and are highly prized by collectors.
Statistics(From The New Zork Times Vol.3 No.2 Spring 1984)
Some statistics about Zork:
- Number of rooms: 110
- Number of different ways to die: 28
- Number of words in vocabulary: 698
- Number of takeable objects: 59 (The raft is actually three different takeable objects: inflated, uninflated, and punctured)
Zork User's GroupThe demand for Zork maps, tips and, eventually, memorabilia for game enthusiasts and veterans, led Mike Dornbrook (Infocom's first product tester, hired to debug Zork -- later better known for leading Harmonix) to establish a service that provided (in the beginning, personalised, type-written) hints and maps to would-be adventurers of the Great Underground Empire.
In September 1981, the organization was formalised as the Zork User's Group (run out of his parents' Milwaukee basement), and their product line expanded to include buttons, bumper stickers, posters, t-shirts and a Zorkian newsletter... as well as their most permanent contribution to the Infocom legacy, InvisiClues hintbooks. In July 1983 -- by which time their mailing list had grown from 700 to over 14,000 -- it was folded back into Infocom, Dornbrook hired on again by Infocom, this time as Product Manager in the Department of Consumer Marketing.
- Computer Gaming World
- November 1992 (Issue #100) – Introduced into the Hall of Fame
- November 1996 (15th anniversary issue) - #13 on the “150 Best Games of All Time” list
- March 2001 (200th anniversary issue) - #9 Best Game of All Time (Readers' Vote)
- Game Informer
- August 2001 (Issue #100) - #70 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
- October 2004 (Issue #138) - one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Games of All Time".
- 2001 – #39 Top Game of All Time
Information also contributed by Adam Baratz, Belboz, Big John WV, Chris Martin, Chris Mikesell, Droog, Martin Smith, Mirrorshades2k, Mo, Nélio; PCGamer77, Pseudo_Intellectual, Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe and FatherJack
Related Web Sites
- How to Fit a Large Program in a Small Machine ((or How to fit the Great Underground Empire on your Desk-top)
A technical paper on restructuring Zork, a program written in MDL to run on a PDP-10 mainframe, to run on a microcomputer under ZIL through the Z-machine, by Blank, M. S. & Galley, S. W. first published on pages 80-87 of the July 1980 issue of Creative Computing.)
- Somethingpositive in the Great Underground Empire (In 2003, the author of the web comic Somethingpositive briefly put his protagonist through some locations of Zork I.)
- The Commodore Zone (All about the game, with introduction, images, related links and comments area.)
- The Dot Eaters - Videogame History 101 (The history of Infocom section of The Dot Eaters.)
- The Great Page of Zork (Links for Zork 1, a walkthrough ... even download the game itself.)
- The Great Underground Empire (A fansite for the original Zork, specifically aimed at Italian fans of the game. Has some downloads, a Zork encyclopaedia, and detailed description of each game. A few broken links, but nothing major.)
- The Infocom Gallery (High-quality scans of the grey box package and manual of Zork.)
- Unofficial Infocom Homepage (At this site you can find information on ALL of Infocom's interactive games, Infocom related articles, sample transcripts, InvisiClue hints, walkthroughs, maps and information on buying Infocom games today.)
- Zork's wikipedia page (Here you can find all sorts of info about the Zork universe.)
- Zork: the Great Underground Empire at iFiction (Play Zork I through your web browser!)
- Zork: The Great Underground Empire's wikipedia page (Here you can find all sorts of info about the game.)