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 Myller. No, not Booze. Boos. Yes, you read that right.
- All There in the Manual: Physical copies of the game included a book that discusses the game's lore, as well as provide hints. Digital versions also include this booklet in a PDF.
- And I Must Scream: When Morphius turns people to stone they stay conscious. The old wizard calling you through the Tele-Orb is one of such victims. Fortunately for him, he's a telepath.
- Angry Guard Dog: Rebecca Snoot has one named Alexis, although it never attacks, despite being called a hellhound. Although it's still intimidating enough to where a recording of its bark to get you past the Orc Leader later in the game.
- Anti-Frustration Feature: If the frozen meat turned rotten and cannot be used, you can always go back to Rebecca's freezer to grab another.
- Ran out of zork-mids? You can find a money tree in the forest. Smacking it tends to drop some zork-mids.
- Lost your chance to get the keys from Boos? You can challenge him at drinking at any time for another shot.
- If you have to go through the bogs again, the good news is that whatever marks you left before will still be there and the path will not change for that playthrough.
- Did you forget to pick up the mirror back at Rebecca's home? You can still reflect Canuk's spell by finding a dirty plate, and wiping it with a rag to turn it shiny. Shiny enough to reflect the spell.
- Baleful Polymorph: Canuk is a duck by the time you meet him. Being an immediate threat to him is a good way to get yourself turned into one.
- Witch Idah can turn you into a rodent if you manage to anger her.
- Chess with Death: The final battle against Morphius is a game of Survivor, which is somewhat similar to checkers or chess.
- Copy Protection: Two parts in the game (one with Ms. Peepers, and one where you encounter Rebecca Snoot) requires you to take a pop-quiz where the answer can be found in the hint book included with the game. Fail to answer three times, and it's game over.
- Demonic Possession: The Wizard Canuk is possessed by Morpheus, who barely tries to hide this fact.
- Dirty Coward: The Troll King, who is less intimidating than his thugs, and bargains for his life the moment you threaten him.
- Drinking Game: "Want some rye, course ya do!" The solution to the drinking game against Boos is to 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 maze-like 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 Morphius, 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 Morphius. Good luck trying to win the game without passing your turn every once in a while.*
- Hope Spot: If you opt to swim to West Shanbar, you do make it to the bridge. Too bad it's out of your reach and the currents are too strong.
- Seemingly invoked by Canuk, who tells you of a piece of a disc inside the bottle ship (which is used to discover Morpheus' location). There's a shark in there (if you hang at a certain spot long enough), you can drown if you take too long, and even when you do complete your quest, he's waiting for you to come out just so he can turn you into a duck.Solution
- 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.
- Interface Screw: Getting mauled by a vulture results in a shattered screen.
- Triggering a trap in the forest will turn the game 180*, and will remain as such in the game over screen.
- 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.
- Made of Evil: Morpheus is the accumulated Evil Magic of the Great Underground Empire; while magic was thought to have been erased from existence during the events of Spellbreaker and Beyond Zork, small amounts of evil magic actually accumulated underground within the illumynite over centuries, eventually gaining sentience and becoming Morpheus.
- The Many Deaths of You: Assaulted by a vulture, falling into the river, failing a pop quiz, putting a rodent in your pocket, being too depressing for comedy, you name it, it probably has it.
- 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, dying for failing a test, and depression, to name a few) allow for some amount of time for Morphius to gloat (and the adventurer to still hear him), the explosion would kill them instantly. This also applies for when you light the forest or barn on fire, which is not as instantaneous.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Of all the places you could meet your demise in, the mine-cart ride and maze is the safest part of the game, and it's a very unnerving ride down the cart on tracks where you have to decide where to turn.
- 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.
- Reality Ensues: Contrary to other adventure games, such as Maniac Mansion, putting a rodent in your pocket can have lethal results.
- The Runaway: The Waif.
- Sadist Teacher: Failing a pop quiz with Ms. Peepers is punishable by death. A pop quiz on things like the names of the days of the week, or lore. 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.
- Scenery Porn: For the time this game was made, this was Scenery Porn.
- 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
- Slasher Smile: The Orc when he attacks you.
- Smug Snake: Morpheus, who will give an nightmare-inducing Evil Laugh at your demise. He has Canuk under his influence and doesn't bother hiding this fact from you, but that doesn't stop him from charging you with a very dangerous quest, with a small possibility of success. He is also very proficient at survivor, and decides to test your intelligence by playing that with you, knowing he'll win. When he loses, he goes through a Villainous Breakdown of epic proportions.
- Spell My Name with an "S": The villain's name is spelled alternatively as Morpheus and Morphius in the subtitles.
- Stupidity Is the Only Option: If you attempt to use the front door to Rebecca's house, all you get is an unanswered knock. Even when Rebecca is perfectly fine with you using said door retrospectively, you must invade her home via the window, and be mistaken for a burglar.
- Super Drowning Skills: Most of the time, interacting with the water results in the player drowning. One notable exception is when you try to swim to West Shanbar, only to find that the bridge is beyond your reach, resulting in drowning.
- Another exception that averts this is when Canuk shrinks you to enter into a ship in a water bottle, though you are given only so many turns before you do eventually drown.
- Taken for Granite: Several of the NPCs you meet in the game end up turned to stone by Morphius. 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, the Guardian will appear on screen and wipe 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.
- Throw important items into 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 it 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.
- Not getting the joke is recoverable, since you only need 4, and you can actually play the joke the Wizard told you at the very beginning of the game for number 4.
- In order to reach the final battle, you're required to sacrifice all your inventory items into the pit of fire to raise the bridge to Morpheus' inner sanctum. This is calculated to require every collectible item you can pick up in your quest. If you happen to be missing one of them, you're pretty much screwed.
- 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 highwayman 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.