ZORK (this mainframe version) is a huge game. I spent maybe five hours just working on the game and making maps before I started to feel stuck. I finally gave in and starting using some hint files (life's too short to not use hint files). It is frustrating to find that you had the right idea - just not the right verb/noun. For example I tried to "eat Eat-Me cake" and apparently my version wanted "eat eatme cake". Yeah, those are the kinds of things that you're glad you used a hint file for!
I spent about 2-3 weeks working my way through the game and putting together a solution & hint file guide. When I was finally finished, I really felt a sense of accomplishment! Not only was there 616 treasure-hunting points to earn, but also an additional 100 point end game. It really is a wonder of its time... and even more interesting knowing that only a small minority of people had access or knowledge about this behemoth growing to the limits of its maximum 1MB file size.
While the individual ZORK games underwent further refinement, and indeed became better games in focus, fun and functionality... it was a real treat to go back to the origins of ZORK. Like many others, ZORK was my introduction to Interactive-Fiction... so it was a heady mix of nostalgia and new discovery. All the major players are here - the Troll, the Thief, the Rainbow Bridge, the Flood Control Dam, etc. It's just bigger and longer than you remember (especially since your memory is likely ZORK I).
It's definitely worth playing, and even more fun if you haven't revisited the old treadworn land of Zork in some time. But from an IF history perspective, this was a milestone in the making. Zork became the killer-app for a number of early computers... and Infocom went on to produce some of the greatest works ever in this genre.
- And it all started here.
BTW, I think the best version is the inform port. It has the most flexibility in the words you can use, with a few added responses and synonyms that are not available in WinGlux and others.
Paranoia is a game converted from a short CYOA magazine article in "Space/Fantasy Gamer - Jan/Feb 1987". As such, there isn't much depth... and you can play through the game easily within 20-30min. But sometimes that's all you really want. This is based on the PARANOIA role-playing game, and as such it thrusts you right into this world with little explanation. If you're not familiar with PARANOIA, it's a little confusing - although the game still has some decent sci-fi writing and atmosphere. Obviously its intended audience is fans of the game. I did enjoy how the Inform port does the dice-rolling, and clone-tracking for you. It's really better experiencing it in this format than jumping around in the article itself.
I initially played this game because it looked like it came from 1977, along with Dungeon (ie. Zork Mainframe). But really it's from an article in the mentioned magazine from 1987 - which happens to be ISSUE 77, so that's why the confusion.
Here's the link if you're interested: