Tag Archives: History

So… Zork…

Yeah… Zork…

One thing I never though I’d get into, text adventures. I bought the Zork Anthology on GOG. Featuring, Zork 1, 2, 3, Zero, Beyond, and PlanetFall. Now yes you can technically get Zork 1 through 3 for free on Infocom’s website, but the version on GOG is guaranteed to work straight out of the box (well in this case download) on your brand spanking sparkling Windows 7 (or 8, if you’re a lunatic) machine. But what’s also cool about the GOG version is the content that they throw with it such as maps, manuals, history articles about the game and it’s lore. There’s a lot more in this package than just dumping Zork DAT files into a Frotz emulator.
So, whilst I was on a podcast with good ol’ IndieSeoul. I found a copy of Zork 1 for the Japanese Sega Saturn. First I thought, “A text adventure that fit on a 1.4 mega byte floppy on a 700 mega byte CD? What a waste!” But soon I discovered that even when the game is still a text adventure, it has a pretty cool looking FMV intro with music. and whilst playing the game, you have a monochrome image in the background of the scenery in the game behind the game’s text.
Interestingness, the game plays using the controller, but you string together pre-set verbs and nouns together to make a command using up and down on the directional pad. Mind you it’s all in Japanese, so I have no real idea what it says, though I can recognise the house and the forest in the beginning of the game.

In the last few days though, I had an odd hankering to play this Zork game, it was sitting on my hard drive doing a lot of nothing, so I booted it up and went on an adventure!

The famous first steps in Zork 1

There was just something that took me on Zork that I couldn’t describe, maybe it was the mystery about why I’m in front of this house, or why I’m in this world, but I have to do something, so try everything in the confines of typing commands on the screen. So if there’s a door you can open, you’d type “open door”, or if there’s a troll to fight you’d type “attack troll”. It’s a pretty cool experience, especially if you’re like me who went to University, did IT as a major, and learnt commands on Linux terminals. It took me back to my Uni days, despite the fact I went to university 23 years after the release of Zork 1.

One thing I found about this text adventure, is that I could totally imagine what’s happening in the game. It’s writing is very “direct”. Unlike my writing, where I like to waffle a lot, yeah I’m honest with myself, Zork 1 get’s the story directly to you with the least amount of text possible without feeling like you’ve missed out on anything.
Zork 1 running on my Nexus 7!
But one thing I do enjoy is how I know have Zork 1 running on almost everything! I have it on my PC through DOSBox. On my Raspberry Pi using Frotz. and on my tablet and smart phone with jFrotz. Now I wish there’s an English version of the Sega Saturn game to add to my “What can I put Zork on to” list. Maybe there’s a way to hack it onto the Wii, 360 and PS3, heh!
So yeah, I’m now going to see if I can beat Zork 1 and get onto Zork 2! 😀

Impressions and a peek at Hyrule Historia

OK, if you haven’t kept up with Stalking the Retro, RetroGaming Round up and my Twitter, you wouldn’t have known that I was a little excited about a certain Nintendo Art book…

I just made a #PreOrder for Hyrule Historia on @amazon
— Great Bit Blog (@GreatBitBlog) January 20, 2013

Check out what I got today! @nintendo #HyruleHistoria #ShigeruMiyamoto #EijiAomuna twitter.com/GreatBitBlog/s…
— Great Bit Blog (@GreatBitBlog) January 28, 2013

Oh yeah! I was a very lucky boy today and received my copy of Hyrule Historia almost a week before I was expecting to receive it! Not only that, but I didn’t even pay for Amazon’s overnight shipping, I went with their free five day delivery, yet I still receive the book a day before actual retail release!

A book for the fans. OK OK it’s not the £40 leather bound version, but it will still be a piece of history!
Open the book and you see the ancient mural seen in Skyward Sword. 

There are plenty of pictures and artwork from the Skyward Sword game. This itself almost takes up a third of the book!
The many faces of Link. Remember kiddies, there are more than one Link.
The famous “Official Zelda Time Line” Page on the right.
Shigeru’s Early art for the NES/Famicom Legend of Zelda.
Amazing colour sketches of the NES game’s concept art. I’ve never seen these before!
The art for Zelda in “Link to the Past” that shows the unused Futuristic Zelda.
The Story behind Ocarina of Time.
The Story behind Link to the past.
Details about the DS games and “New Hyrule”. I never got the beat Phatom Hourglass, and I didn’t get myself a copy of Spirit Tracks; maybe I should get myself a copy to learn more about “New Hyrule”.
The many-many different versions of Midna seen in Twilight Princess.
An article about Eiji Aonuma (The game’s producer) near the end of the book.
The Zelda Manga at the back of the book, remember kids, to read Manga, you read right to left!

The impression I got from the book is simply this, “This is the Zelda Fan’s book!”. It’s comprehensive, (despite most of the book is based on the latest game, Skyward Sword.), BIG! It has more than 270 pages with each page a little bigger than an A4 sheet of paper, and each sheet is glossy and thick, the quality of the book itself is very high and the hard cover itself feels like it can take a beating. Not only does this book show art work, it’s a descent history book that explains it’s confusing continuity very well, not only with it’s explained time line chart, but in the written articles for each game too. It’s nice to see artwork from characters  scenes, and levels that were not used in the games. The unused “Future Zelda” from Link to the Past was very interesting, the many faces of Midna from Twilight Princess, and all the characters seen from the DS games that I have yet to play stir my curiosity for the franchise even more than before. Even if maybe you’re not a Zelda fan, or maybe you haven’t played a Zelda game before, this book is still worth getting just to see the artwork and the amount of work that went into the Zelda franchise. It’s a definite purchase and read for any gamer!

What’s my greatest gaming possession?

The Crown Jewel of my gaming collection…
The greatest piece of gaming material I possess is my Game & Watch Multi screen Donkey Kong! Not only do I have this complete, with it’s battery cover in place, but it’s a historic piece of video game history, because of it’s worlds first…
…Direction Pad!
Yes, Nintendo created the first direction pad, and it was used first on the Game & Watch Multi Screen Donkey Kong.
More Instagram! …Hey at least it’s not food right?
That and the Multi Screen series of Game & Watches would be the inspiration towards Nintendo’s DS portable console!
The evolution of the Game & Watch Multi Screen.
The way that the two screens would work together is a very thin ribbon cable between the hinges made of laminate paper and copper strips that connect the two screens together.
When you install a pair of LR44 button cell batteries into a Game & Watch, the LCD screen does this, where it shows all the LCD on the screen until you press the Game or Time.
The game itself is Donkey Kong, but it plays a little different to it’s arcade predecessor. There are no hammers, you can get hurt from suspended girders, and Donkey Kong himself is standing on a platform raised with hooks.
The bottom screen, shown above here, plays pretty much like the original Donkey Kong, where you’re jumping over rolling barrels, but something new in this game are suspended girders that move from right to left just above Mario’s head on the second platform. If Mario jumps under one of these girders, he hurts his head and loses a life.
Not a great picture, but I managed to snap a picture of one of the girders in the game.
Fighting DK is a bit different, just as you enter the top you have to press left on the directional pad to activate a swing that raises a crane with a swinging hook on it. In a kind of Pitfall style, you have to time the jump right to reach the hook, whilst avoiding barrels been thrown at you and than grab another hook that’s holding up DK’s platform. There are four of these hooks holding up DK’s platform, grabbing the fourth hook and making DK fall awards you with twenty point, and you keep playing the game again with DK’s platform built, and with slightly faster moving barrels.
So ok, it’s not the original Donkey Kong machine by any stretch of the imagination, and there parts of the game where you might be stuck standing in the spot jumping over a horde of barrels. But this is a piece of video game history, plus it’s better than some other Game & Watch games too. It’s a shame that Donkey Kong Multi Screen on eBay fetches for a lot of money, especially if you don’t own one. But if you do find one at a reasonable price, get it! It’s enjoyable, and a part of history, which you can tell to your children to generations to come!