Video Game / Return To Zork
Return to Zork
was the first graphical game in the Zork
series. The player character is a sweepstakes winner who won a trip to the Valley of the Sparrows, which turns out to be a rather depressing place. The PC enters the West Shanbar and hears from the townspeople that the East Shanbar mysteriously disappeared. As in many video games, the PC has to be the one to check it out, and ends up on a magical quest to stop the evil Morpheus from taking over. This game differed from past Zork
games as it incorporated full-motion video featuring a number of well-known actors ranging from Jason Hervey of The Wonder Years
, to Sam Jones, who played the title role in the 1980 Flash Gordon
movie, to A.J. Langer who went on to co-star in My So-Called Life
This game provides examples of:
- Adorkable: Rebecca Snoot. When she isn't pointing a rifle at you.
- The Alcoholic: Boos. No, not Booze. Boos. Yes, you read that right.
- And I Must Scream: When Morpheus turns people to stone they stay conscious. The old guy calling you through Tele-Orb is one of such victims. Fortunately for him, he's a telepath.
- Angry Guard Dog: Rebecca Snoot has one. In fact, you make a recording of his bark to get you past guards later in the game.
- Chess with Death: The final battle against Morpheus is a game of Survivor, which is somewhat similar to checkers or chess.
- Drinking Game: "Want some rye, course ya do!" The trick is to get Boos drunker than you are so you can get his keys and go to East Shanbar. The problem is he's so good at drinking he can take four to your one.
- Discreet Drink Disposal: Part of the secret to winning the drinking game against Boos. Toast him, pour out the rye into the plant, then "drink" the empty cup.
- Dungeon Bypass: Get a whistle and a magnet and you'll never have to wander around any of the mazelike maps looking for an exit again.
- Eloquent in My Native Tongue: The blacksmith. It's heavily implied that English is not his native language.
- Exposition Fairy: The teleorb.
- Final Exam Boss: About 1/4 of the way into the game, you play "Survivor" with Moodock, the one-armed man in the inn. You play Canuk, who can move to any square. He plays the wizard Trembyle, who has to move like a knight in chess, and makes a square into a "pit" every time he moves off of it. Canuk's objective is to stop Trembyle from moving, while Trembyle's is to make every square but two into pits. At the end of the game, you play Survivor again, except this time it's against Morpheus, and the roles are reversed.
- Guide Dang It: A trend of Zork games and adventure games in general. Perhaps the worst of these is learning that the wizard Trembyle can opt to pass a turn in Survivor, learned by talking to an NPC you had probably forgotten about by the time you need to learn it. This is crucial to winning the final game of Survivor against Morpheus. Good luck trying to win the game without passing your turn every once in a while.*
- Heel–Face Turn: Rebecca Snoot punches you in the face and gives you a riddle to solve. She will KILL YOU if you get the riddle wrong, but if you get it right she becomes the nicest lady ever and allows you to steal anything you want from her house. Understandably, she's threatening to kill you because you broke into her house. You bastard.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: There is a witch named Witch Itah.
- Inn of No Return: You will die in Molly's hotel unless you find a way to keep your bedroom illuminated when you go to sleep, as apparently, Grues (adventurer-eating beings who live within the dark) live inside it. For some reason, sleeping with the lights on simply isn't an option.
- The Lost Woods: The forest you visit is very difficult to navigate without the guide.
- Loophole Abuse: Drop all your items and stand in front of an annoying NPC. Then stab or strike them to kill them. Drop the sword, so then the guardian will come and then take away all your nothing. Meaning that once you're done with an NPC, you can just kill them and see some of the most hilarious death animations (and poses) ever.
- Lost in Transmission: When the Tele-Orb battery runs out.
- Magical Incantation: "Yozozzo!"
- The Many Deaths of You: All equally gruesome and disturbing.
- Mayor of a Ghost Town: The mayor of West Shanbar who has no idea what happened to the east side of town. There are only five people remaining in what's left of the town, including the mayor himself.
- Meaningful Name: Rebecca Snoot.
- Non Standard Game Over: Downplayed. Opening both doors of the incinerator kills the player in regular fashion, but the Evil Laugh that normally plays during death sequences is skipped. Justified, in that, while most other means of death (eaten by a grue, turned into a duck, drowning, petrified, murdered by a psychotic teacher, and depression, to name a few) allow for some amount of time for Morpheus to gloat (and the adventurer to still hear him), the explosion would kill the player instantly.
- Picked Flowers Are Dead: It features this with the appropriately-titled "bonding plant." If you pull the plant straight out of the ground, it instantly dies. The correct solution is to dig it up by the roots so that it likes you.
- Punny Name: Witch Itah.
- The Runaway: The Waif.
- Scenery Porn: For the time this game was made, this was Scenery Porn.
- Sadist Teacher: Failing a pop quiz with Ms. Peepers is punishable by death. A pop quiz on the names of the days of the week. While it is somewhat justified, as this was a form of Copy Protection, it still makes Ms. Peepers very unnerving, especially since she shows absolutely no other signs of her sadistic behavior.
- Shmuck Bait: As inviting as that skull and crossbones on the map looks, you don't wanna fly there.
- Shout-Out: If you look in a certain area in the bottled ship, you can find a skeleton dressed up like Guybrush Threepwood. Examining the skeleton gives you the message, "Looks like his ten minutes are up."note
- Taken for Granite: Several of the NPCs you meet in the game end up turned to stone by Morpheus. And if you fail the final game with Morpheus, you meet the same fate.
- Unwinnable by Design: All you have to do is:
- Put the rats into the box with the mice.
- Kill someone with your knife or sword. When this happens, a special character will appear on screen and take items from your inventory as punishment, which of course renders the game a dead end as everything has a use.
- Take the bra box from Pugney before he says you can have it. See the example above for what happens when you do that.
- Lose important items in the incinerator.
- Perform tasks too far out of order.
- Accidentally destroying or killing the bonding plant can make the game nearly unwinnable. There is a Guide Dang It way around this but few people know about it.
- Give the token to the ferry man on the way to Canuk's island (unless you are carrying the whistle).
- Feed the rotten meat to the vultures without drugging them first.
- Turn Canuk back into a duck before you get the disc piece from the bottle and have him read from the joke book. Or, after you do that, turn him back into a human anyway. Though that qualifies as Too Dumb to Live, since you have no reason to change him back.
- Videogame Cruelty Potential: Unlike pretty much every other Infocom adventure game (or most other adventure games in general), killing non-hostile NPCs is neither impossible or immediately punished by death. As a result you can stab to death almost every single NPC in the game. A vigilante guardian spirit will show up and destroy your inventory, rendering the game unwinnable (doubly so if you still needed the dead NPC to do something), but you're still allowed to wander around and do stuff.