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aka: PC Hack, ST Hack
Moby ID: 22346
Mainframe Specs


Hack is the precursor to NetHack, both members of the family of text-based Rogue-like games. Like other roguelikes, Hack is the quintessential computer role-playing game (RPG): Choose a character class and venture forth into the dungeon to fight monsters and gain treasure.

Like all descendants of Rogue, Hack is displayed from a top-down view, painted with text characters. The player ventures throughout the dungeon, visiting rooms connected by thin corridors. Gameplay is turn-based, with the turn beginning with the player's action (move, attack, eat, cast spell, etc.). Commands are mapped to various letters of the keyboard, including "i" for inventory, "e" for eat food, etc. with one exception: Attacking a monster involves running into it, so the "attack" function shares the same keys as movement.

Hack is one of the first significant deviations from Rogue, notable by the rich interaction possible in the game world: Simple actions result in complex (yet logical) reactions. For example, it is not uncommon to throw a boomerang only to miss the target and have it return to hit the player; or kill a monster that has the ability to turn you to stone as an attack, then accidentally step on its carcass on the way out and turn to stone; or having a bolt of fire from a magic wand ricochet around the room, hit the player, and cause his magic scrolls to catch on fire; etc. In addition, monsters and objects have secondary, hidden properties; for example, killing and eating a leprechaun will result in the player randomly teleporting to different locations.

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Subject By Date
wanted Chris Robbins Jun 28, 2007



The history of Hack is just as convoluted and chaotic as for any other roguelike.

The first version of Hack (Original Hack, or Jay Fenlason's Hack) seems to have been written around 1982 by Jay Fenlason, with the help of Kenny Woodland, Mike Thome and Jon Payne. Nothing is known about this version, but it seems to be an implementation of Rogue with added monsters and items.

There are three variants of this original version known today:

(1) hack121, a DOS executable without sources dubbed (downloadable here);

(2) PDP-11 Hack, a version for the PDP-11, published on Usenet in February 1985 and ported to a UNIX clone (PC/IX) in May; and finally

(3) Hack 1.0 by Andries Brouwer, a heavily updated and extended version of the original Hack, posted on Usenet in December 1984.

Hack 1.0 is the first well-documented ancestor of the Hack/NetHack genealogy, and it already features different character classes, a pet dog, shops as well as more and new types of items and monsters.

During the following months, Brouwer published three updated versions on Usenet (1.0.1 to 1.0.3), all uploads being plagued by loss of data and other misfortunes -- many sites just could not cope with a massive upload of over 400 KB of data back then...

The version 1.0.3 then became the basis for several DOS versions (PC Hack), ported by Don G. Kneller, one of which (V3.51) in turn ported to the Atari 520/1040ST by R. Black (ST Hack).

This plethora of versions was then merged together by Mike Stephenson to produce NetHack, which is still in active development as of 2007-- but that's another story...


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Related Sites +

  • RevivedHack
    RevivedHack is a Windows port of Don Kneller's DOS conversion of Hack.

Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 22346
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Trixter.

Mainframe added by Ryan Armstrong. Amiga, Sinclair QL added by Игги Друге.

Additional contributors: General Error, Patrick Bregger.

Game added May 10, 2006. Last modified October 16, 2023.