- Planetfall (1983 on Atari 8-bit, BBC Micro, 1984 on ZX Spectrum)
Description official descriptions
It all started with your great-great-grandfather who was a High Admiral and one of the founding officers of the Patrol. All generations since then have served in the Patrol. Now it's your turn and two years into you are still a lowly Ensign Seventh Class. Your direct report, Blather, is really making your life miserable. Are you really Stellar Patrol material?
- プラネットフォール - Japanese spelling
Credits (DOS version)
|Interactive Fiction by|
Average score: 80% (based on 9 ratings)
Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 97 ratings with 7 reviews)
Steve Meretzky's first game is still one of the my favourite Infocom games ever.
First of all, it's because of Floyd -- of course! Meretzky had the marvelous idea to give the player a sidekick, in form of this little robot, giving him a childish personality that you simply cannot dislike. He doesn't really become part of the plot until far into the game, but he makes you emotionally attached to the game, and he makes the exploration of the planet very enjoyable. (Besides giving some valuable hints.)
However, later in the game, he BECOMES an integral part of the plot. I don't want to disclose too much, but if you get far enough, I can assure there will one of those rare moments in computer gaming where you (if you have a heart or two) will feel truly sad and moved by the game. For this alone, this game deserves its place in the pantheon of great computer games.
But it's not just Floyd who is responsible for the great atmosphere of this game. The building complex that you'll explore is wide and realistic. First, you need to eat and sleep from time to time. (Some people hat that; I don't. I would have loved it if you had to go to the toilets too!) Then, there are lots of useless rooms -- dormitories, toilets etc. -- but they add to the feeling that you're exploring a large building that has been struck by disaster. I especially liked the native language that is used on the whole station -- a distorted kind of English, which is understandable, but only with some effort. A genial way of conveying a feeling of strangeness.
And of course, there's this great humor of Meretzky -- one of the wittiest writers and game designers in gaming history, IMO. Not that there's one gag after the other -- the whole game is actually serious and dramatic; as you get further, you'll discover that you have caught a deadly disease, and your condition will get worse and worse, unless you can solve the game. There are even some horror elements at the end of the game, when you are chased by mutants through the empty station. But still, every few minutes, you'll find some little hidden joke that'll make you chuckle.
The only thing that I really, really didn't like is the very last puzzle -- how to escape from the mutants. Normally, Infocom gives you at least a minor hint somewhere, but here, it's all luck to find the way. Well, maybe I missed something... (EDIT: I did... still, the hint is very subtle.)
Another thing I'm not too fond of is that massive use of red herrings. I haven't got anything against a few red herrings, but here it's gotten too much. Like the helicopter -- you'll even find a manual how to operate it, but you'll never be able to.
The Bottom Line
This is a really great introductory IF adventure, especially for fans of humorous science fiction. It has everything -- a dramatic plot, a big, logical, realistic world to explore, and, best of all -- the loveable NPC robot Floyd. The game has one of the most memorable and emotional scenes in computing history. The game is very funny, dramatic, and horrible, and the difficulty level is OK (with a few exceptions). Together with Infocom's unique parser, this is definitely recommended -- nay, a must -- for each retrogamer.
And I'm sure that the Space Quest writers were heavily inspired by Planetfall...
DOS · by General Error (4320) · 2011
The game is flawless in drawing you into the action as you crash land on the planet. Floyd the Robot is a great companion and does double-duty as comic relief. Great writing and great story makes this one of my favorite Infocom titles. I also really liked this game because it was one of the few Infocom titles I could actually finish!
Not much. But I didn't care for the sequel, Stationfall, too much.
The Bottom Line
A great way to kill a few hours. Fun, lively and humorous writing keeps you involved and motivated.
DOS · by Frecklefoot (189) · 2004
Floyd the child like Robot! The science: magnetic cards (that can get wiped!), circuit boards, flashing lights.... The Story: You start as a lowly Ensign 7th Class scrubbing spaceship decks for your evil overseer Blather. An alien Ambassador makes you life more difficult by leaving slime all over the desk. There is an accident and you have to scramble to the escape pod before the ship explodes. The pod takes you (hopefully in one piece) to a strange deserted alien planet. You get to wonder through dorms, canteens, rec rooms, admin corridors and the engineering unit where you find Floyd your robot Pal. Find magnetic swipe cards to operate lifts and a tram that takes you to Lawanda complex were you must battle disease, radiation and mutants. Fix all the systems and save the 'inhabitants' from hibernation earning you a big fat promotion. The Goodies: All Infocom games came with a manual, transcript of sample game (see my site for a working version of this and 3D Maps) and various objects. You get a Stellar Patrol ID Card, Postcards of an alien world and a diary.
Parser problems. Extending the ladder across the rift and killing the bacteria with the laser were real problems to phrase.
The Bottom Line
Great game. Spent hours playing it.
DOS · by David Ledgard (58) · 2005
1001 Video Games
Planetfall appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Accardi-3 is named after Gabrielle Accardi, Infocom's Marketing person.
A third sequel for Planetfall was planned and almost released in 1995. "Planetfall - The Search for Floyd" was supposed to take place 100 years after Stationfall, and dealt mainly with the resurrection of the beloved Floyd thanks to an alien device. A full design doc and storyline was completed circa 1993 by Steve Meretzky and the game was supposed to start development for the Return to Zork engine by late 1994. The deal went sour however, and all that survives of the game are some conceptual screenshots.
If you add a six to the beginning of the ID number on the enclosed card and space out the digits appropriately, you'll get the phone number to The Tech, MIT's official newspaper.
The sci-fi based janitor turned hero theme of Planetfall was also used in later adventure games such as the Space Quest series and Future Wars.
A novelisation (perhaps better termed a cross-promotional tie-in loosely related to the original property) of the game was produced by Byron Preiss (with a grey-striped cover design emulating Infocom game packaging), published by Avon Books. It was written by Arthur Byron Cover and first published in August of 1988. Its ISBN is 0-380-75384-7 and the rear cover blurb reads as follows:
"Arthur Byron Cover combines the antic sense of Robert Sheckley, the far travelling of A. E. Van Vogt, the deadly serious wry whimsy of Kurt Vonnegut... with a fresh, invigorating talent all his own." - Harlan Ellison
THE PATROL'S LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD ORGANISMS
The recruiting poster said, "Join the Stellar Patrol and visit exotic worlds!"
Homer took the poster's advice and signed up for service. His heroism on the planet Resida quickly earned him a promotion, and Homer was assigned to the most important Diplomatic Conference in the history of the Third Galactic Empire.
Then Homer got lost. Really lost.
Fortunately, Homer was accompanied by his loyal robot Oliver and the ghost of his beloved robot Floyd.
The fate of the empire depended on the Stellar Patrol's finding Homer--the only man in the fleet who can play the soprano saxophone!
The old "Folio" packaging of Planetfall consisted of a folder containing "Today's Stellar Patrol" - recruitment brochure, a Special Assignment Task Force I.D. card, three postcards (Ramos II, Nebulon, and Accardi-3), and a personal diary (4 pages, 1 empty).
The re-release of Planetfall used the standard box format which consisted of a grey box with colored horizontal stripes. It contained "Today's Stellar Patrol" - recruitment brochure, a Special Assignment Task Force I.D. card, three postcards (Ramos II, Nebulon, and Accardi-3), and a personal diary (4 pages, 1 empty).
The Science Fiction Classics collection consisted of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, and A Mind Forever Voyaging in a specially designed trilogy slipcase.
(From The New Zork Times Vol.3 No.2 Spring 1984)
Some statistics about Planetfall:
- Number of rooms: 105- Number of different ways to die: 41- Number of words in vocabulary: 666- Number of takeable objects: 49
(From The New Zork Times, Vol.3 No.1, Winter 1984)
Planetfall was titled Sole Survivor by its author, Steve Meretzky, and later shortened to just Survivor. When Infocom discovered another game called Survivor, they decided they'd rather switch than fight. Infocom's ad agency, Giardini/Russell, submitted a list about 30 long, their favorite of which was Lost Planet. Reaction was less than enthusiastic, not the least because it reminded two of Infocom's employess of the TV series, Lost in Space. Marc Blank suggested Planetfall during a long, frustrating meeting - he thought he had seen it once in an SF book as a word meaning arrival on a new planet (much like landfall). Nobody really believed him, but it was never improved upon.
Related Sites +
The Lore and Legends of Infocom
Planetfall 2 Demo
Oldskool.org's archive section has a ripped demo of Planetfall 2, which did indeed start development but was never finished.
Planetfall 3D Maps, Stationfall Blueprints, Free Transcript Game
Planetfall 3D Maps, Stationfall Blueprints, Free Transcript Game
Planetfall @ Wikipedia
The Planetfall article at Wikipedia
Universal Hint System hints for Planetfall
The Commodore Zone
All about the game, with introduction, images, related links and comments area.
The Infocom Gallery
High-quality scans of the grey box package and manual of Planetfall.
- MobyGames ID: 51
- Wikipedia (en)
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Brian Hirt.
Commodore 128 added by Trypticon. Commodore 64 added by Quapil. TRS-80 CoCo added by Slik. PC-98 added by Infernos. Apple II added by Droog. Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, CP/M added by Kabushi. Amiga, TRS-80 added by Martin Smith. Macintosh, Commodore 16, Plus/4 added by Terok Nor. Amstrad PCW, Tatung Einstein added by Игги Друге. Atari ST added by Belboz.
Game added March 1st, 1999. Last modified August 13th, 2023.