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About the Story
The Wizard appears, floating nonchalantly in the air beside you. He grins sideways at you.
Language: English (en)
Current Version: Unknown
Development System: ZIL
Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
Sequel to Zork I, by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling
Adapted from Zork, by Tim Anderson, Marc Blank, Bruce Daniels, and Dave Lebling
Followed by sequel Zork III, by Dave Lebling, Marc Blank
Adventure Classic Gaming
Gameplay follows the tradition set by the previous game of the trilogy. It is totally absorbing. You meet the Wizard of Frobozz very early on when he tries to prevent you from completing your quest. He also appears at random places throughout the game and casts various spells at you that can delay you considerably, but it is well worth noting the names of them. [...] From the perspective of an adventure gamer with a passion for interactive fiction, I really enjoy the complexity of some of the puzzles. They require an awful lot of thinking!
-- Karen Tyers
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Zork II picks up where its predecessor left off in many ways -- the beginning deposits you inside the barrow that had marked the end of Zork I, your trusty lamp and sword are by your side, and your mission seems at the outset to be more treasure-gathering. But Zork II parts company with the first of the series in a variety of important ways as the game progresses -- that sword is useful, but in a way far more interesting than hack-and-slash -- and the changes suggest that the folks at Infocom were interested less in putting out more of the same than in refining their product and heightening ths challenge.
-- Duncan Stevens
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As usual in Infocom games there are plenty of puzzles, some easy and some very tricky. You meet many characters including a princess, (who is helpful), a dragon, a lizard's head embedded in a wall, (I never managed to locate his body) and a dog with three heads - a real pet once you give him what he wants.
-- Joan Dunn
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|Average Rating: |
Number of Reviews: 5
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Most Helpful Member Reviews
I'm trying to work my way through the Infocom catalog, posting my thoughts on a gaming forum all the while.
I find it hard to evaluate Zork II, but perhaps this is my problem alone. After all, it is the second best-rated Zork game on IFDB, surpassed only by the rather corpulent Zork Zero.
It contains what many consider the two worst puzzles in the Infocom canon. One, I am happy to forgive, considering the intent behind it. In creating the infamous "baseball maze," Dave Lebling wished make to something interesting out of Zork I's least interesting obstacle: the maze. It is, in other words, a failed attempt to innovate. The other notorious Zork II puzzle is the Bank of Zork, which is only inches away from being a worthwhile and challenging puzzle. Unfortunately, it was simply ported directly from the mainframe version of Zork. I wonder if Lebling was unwilling to alter Marc Blank's work (the puzzle was his creation). Judging from his talk at a GDC Post Mortem years ago, Lebling knew that the puzzle had issues. He knew that others at Infocom had problems with the puzzle. The Bank of Zork went in untouched, all the same.
So I will forgive one and begrudge the other.
In other good news: Zork II's map feels far more organic than Zork I's, despite the fact that they were largely cut from the same puzzle-laden cloth. My only complaint is that its central hub, the carousel, is a massive waste of your lantern's batteries, and there is no torch to save you this time. On your first playthrough, you may immediately stumble upon the source of the carousel's spinning, or you may not reach it until your lamp is flickering. Just as many game developers today do, Infocom was perhaps struggling to find the line between a challenge and a hassle.
The game's final act before victory appears to be unmotivated, and a related event can render the game unwinnable.
However, the game's new additions, the Wizard and the demon, take Zork II in an interesting and new direction. This time, the treasures are actually FOR something. There is a reasonable, in-game reason for collecting treasure that propels Zork, a game and a half later, beyond the reach of ADVENT's shadow. Slight as it is, we have something new here: a bona fide story.
The titular Wizard is a mixed bag. At the time, of course, he was a bit of a marvel, performing feats of magic that had differing effects based on multiple factors. He was additionally a font of Zorkian humor, alternately causing you to levitate out of a hot air baloon or... conjuring the smell of fudge.
By the time your second playthrough rolls around (the one where you are better able to conserve lantern batteries), you will likely have tired of him and his battery-burning abra kadabery. Though far less remarked-upon, the really compelling new character is the demon--Lebling obviously enjoyed writing him.
Zork II is an interesting pivot point for Infocom. The Adventurer is no longer *just* a looter of fallen civilizations. They are playing a bigger game now, defeating wizards and ordering demons about. While few saw it coming, the glum ambiance of Zork III makes sense. The time has come, as they say, to put away childish things.
I like Zork II more than Zork, and I think I am in the minority despite IFDB's numbers: these things are hardly scientific. I feel that, in Zork II, the confines of ADVENT's "cave game" have begun to buckle. Lebling's addition of Wizard, Demon, and modest plot are quite innovative for their time, and they were brought to life by what was then the world's most sophisticated parser.
Like Zork I, Zork II is historically significant. It is worth a visit if nothing else, and can be quite enjoyable if one is accepting of such an old game's eccentricities.
I give no rating for Zork II. I'm not sure that measuring it against contemporary standards is relevant.
In my effort to get through all of Infocom's games, I have determined that Zork I-III and Deadline are too big to judge. I'll give a rating for Starcross if/when I get there.
Zork II incorporates my favorite puzzles from MIT Zork: the palantirs, the tea room, the round room, the robot, the volcano, the glacier room. The dragon (a callback to Adventure) was a fun challenge, and the two or three NPCs made the game quite fun. I enjoyed watching the wizard travel around zapping me.
I prefer Zork I's treasure drop off system, however. It was annoying having a huge pile of treasure, not knowing what to do with it.
I used a walkthrough on a few places (especially the oddly-angled room), because I wanted to see the whole game. Having completed MIT Zork before made some of the hardest puzzles trivial.
The second installment in this landmark text series is a definite improvement over the original, though still has some maddening features that would never be tolerated today.
Rather than just collecting treasures, your goal is to face the evil wizard. Thus, the story has more inherent conflict and gives it more weight. The map is also more manageable, with no mazes (though there are some tricky room exits). Some of the puzzles are very clever, my favorites being the carousel room and the bank vault. Unfortunately, one requires familiarity with baseball, which isn’t fun for non-American players.
Probably my favorite of the three entries, though still not terribly satisfying with minimal plot and some obtuse puzzles.
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