Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz
Description official descriptions
Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz is a text adventure, a sequel to the classic first Zork. Once again, the game is set in the Great Underground Empire, but this time the main goal is to face off against the titular Wizard.
Like its predecessor, Zork II plays like any other text adventure: there are no graphics - only text - and the player types commands such as "lift cage" or "examine robot".
Credits (Apple II version)
Average score: 82% (based on 8 ratings)
Average score: 3.4 out of 5 (based on 103 ratings with 3 reviews)
Excellent game world, good use of spells, fun (and frustrating) interaction with the Wizard character, outstanding parser, and (as always) a great collection of puzzles ranging from "flash of insight" level to "there must be a bug in the software because I've tried all the commands" level.
Every so often, the wizard would show up and cast a perfectly inopportune spell at a perfectly inopportune time that would end up either killing you or making the game unwinnable. For example, there is one sequence of the game where you need to fly around in a hot-air balloon. I remember once the wizard levitated me right out of the balloon -- the balloon sailed away, and I fell to my death when the spell wore off.
The Bottom Line
Helpful to play Zork 1 first (just to get the hang of the Zork environment), but not a necessity. The game adds to the rich world set forth in the first game, but it is isolated enough to stand on its own. Give it a shot, and don't give up!
DOS · by Mirrorshades2k (274) · 2000
Well the game starts in the secret barrow that you discover at the end of Zork 1. I like the idea of secret barrow and I think the game starts well enough. The barrow seems more mysterious than dangerous like the caves under the white house that start with you fighting the troll. Even so, the barrow has a white gazebo that seems like a sanctuary, like the white house(and like the well house in Colossal Cave Adventure on which Zork was of course based). So the whole game takes place in the barrow, which has more remains of the "Great Underground Empire" and it's fun to continue exploring it. Where your main competition in Zork 1 was the thief, this time it's the Wizard of Frobozz and while he is less deadly, he's harder to avoid. You got to use a boat in Zork 1 and in this you get to use a balloon. Like Zork 1, you have to collect many treasures in the caves, but rather than storing them in a trophy case in a house, you have to use them to buy the help of someone, who's help you need to complete the game.
I think being underground the whole game made this inferior to Zork 1. One thing I liked about Zork 1 was discovering new ways back to the surface. I think Zork 1 had better puzzles, very challenging ones like Zork 2, but cleverer and finding the solutions more satisfying. Interestingly, I've since discovered that the Zork trilogy was made from an earlier Zork game, a non-commercial version shared at universities in the late '70s. The original had just one network of caves and had caves and puzzles that were transferred to all of the games in the Zork trilogy (mostly to Zork 1 & 2, most of Zork 3 was new). It seems to me that Zork 1 got the best stuff from the Zork prototype.
The Bottom Line
Well if you liked Zork 1, there's no reason why you shouldn't find out how the story progresses and play Zork 2. I'd be inclined to think that if you loved Zork 1 like me, you'd be let down a bit by Zork 2, but there are moments where the game feels as good as Zork 1.
DOS · by Andrew Fisher (695) · 2017
Where Zork 1 is a rambling collection of seventies mainframe puzzles, Zork 2 has focus and coherence. Navigating a beautifully described series of underground gardens, passages, and mazes, you are constantly annoyed by the Wizard himself while having your mind blended by the steroid-level Infocom problems. While being considerably harder than either of its partners in the trilogy, Zork 2 has the enjoyable quality of rewarding persistence: you are unlikely to be completely stuck for very long. And there's always that Frobozz guy to liven things up...
If anything, the initial stages of the game are too wide open. You are very quickly presented with about ten different puzzles, and while the way through is to concentrate on them individually, the temptation to flit around without getting anywhere is strong. One puzzle in particular (you'll know it) really is too hard, even by Infocom standards. Finally, the ending isn't quite as good as that of Zork 1 and 3, though still extremely satisfying.
The Bottom Line
Zork 2 is a very worthy challenge for anyone who has cut their teeth on a few text adventures. It's most attractive quality is perhaps the Wizard himself - his random appearances make the game less static than other Infocom titles, and contribute to the uniquely sculpted atmosphere that the game presents. A large, tough, excellent sequel.
DOS · by Colin Rowsell (43) · 2002
(From The New Zork Times Vol.3 No.2 Spring 1984)
Some statistics about Zork 2: * Apparent number of rooms (those seen by the player): 81 * Number of rooms: 86 (for various arcane programming reasons, some locations are inaccessible to the player) * Number of different ways to die: 50 * Number of words in vocabulary: 628 * Number of takeable objects: 49
(Temporary) free distribution
As part of the release of Zork Grand Inquisitor, Activision released Zork II as freeware. (Currently the links to download the game are dead at activision.com, but the game is available at numerous fan sites.)
Other trivia submissions by Belboz and Chris Mikesell
Related Sites +
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The Commodore Zone: Zork II
introduction, images, related links and comments area.
The Infocom Gallery
High-quality scans of the grey box package and manual of Zork II.
Zork II on iFiction
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Brian Hirt.
TRS-80 CoCo added by Slik. Apple II added by Droog. Atari 8-bit, CP/M added by Kabushi. TRS-80 added by Martin Smith. Browser added by Pseudo_Intellectual. Macintosh, Amiga, Commodore 16, Plus/4 added by Terok Nor. Amstrad PCW, Tatung Einstein added by Игги Друге. Amstrad CPC added by LepricahnsGold. PC-8000, Mainframe added by vedder. Atari ST, Commodore 64 added by Belboz.
Game added March 1st, 1999. Last modified September 12th, 2023.