I’m an ardent bastion of almost every aspect of geekdom you care to mention. Video games and action figures have been obsessed over (and continue to be in some cases) far more than is surely warranted. Even so, one tentacle of The Almighty Octopus Overlord of Nerd (he’s the one with the myopic glare through the coke-bottle-rimmed glasses affixed with elastoplast, ostacised by much of his squelchy beloved by aquarium visitors and Asian cuisine alike brethren) that I had yet to experience was the text adventure. I could not conceive of anything geekier, which was reason enough to immerse myself nutsack-first. (Which, incidentally, is not the way to check the temperature of the water in the shower/bath. Just ask my eviscerated genitalia. It won’t reply, naturally. It’s terribly shy like that. Unless I’m at the local park in my trenchcoat, in which case Chris Jr. has a jovial greeting for all. )
And so to Zork. In the late 70‘s, this abomination was what optimistically passed for a video game. Supposedly a lofty adventure which unfolds merely by reading the text and issuing simple commands, ‘go north’, ‘open door’ or suchlike; all I managed to glean from the experience is a gargantuan ball-itch of righteous fury.
We begin, as you see from my failed endeavours above, in a field before a boarded-up house. The residence is completely inaccessible, perhaps I got pissed last night and slept in the field I appear to have suddenly materialised in. (I’m also naked, which is surely a sign of a night well spent.) After confirming that this month’s Jugs and Ammo wasn’t in the mailbox (which makes sense as nobody ever bothers confirming whether this is actually my house), I left in scornful disgust. Whether by divine provenance or just a fat bastard with body odour typing on a keyboard, the instruction came: GO NORTH. Setting out on a quest of biblical proportions, with nary a hint of impetus or purpose; or even a pair of underpants, is surely a flawless plan. No chance at all of this ill-advised venture coming back to bite me on the ass. Unlike the damn midges that occupy this field like a entrenched army. Of... midges. I wave about ten thousand of the little bastards away from my crotch and advance, member swinging freely as the good Lord intended, into that forest in the distance. Just, y’know, on a whim, apparently.
Once inside, I opted for my trusty GO NORTH inclination again, and thieved what appears to be a priceless Fabergé egg. Someone had cannily hidden this IN AN ACTUAL BIRD’S NEST in this godforsaken rabbit-shit-festooned Sodom, the wily devil. But, being far too awesome for such amateur stealthy shenanigans, thievery ensued anyway. I’ve tucked it into my armpit for the journey, as I’m carrying absolutely nada in the way of bag-tastic storage if the text is to be believed. I then saw- Get this!- SOME ACCUMULATED LEAVES ON THE FOREST FLOOR. Heroic colossus that I am, I dispatched them in a manful manner, by leaping like a gleeful wellington boot-clad child at a puddle. Betwixt this, and making a mental note to touch myself later in celebration of the glorious victory, a metal grate caught my eye. Not a standard one, mark you, but A METAL GRATE THAT A COUPLE OF WOLVES APPEAR TO HAVE SHAT ON. (I don’t know how much excitement is too much, but I think you’ll agree we’re getting perilously close here.) I leaned closer, and the farcical scene was resolved thusly:
A grating appears on the ground.
The grating is locked.
Kicking a grating has no effect.
I don’t understand that.
I would have to politely disavow the notion that this 'had no effect,’ as it caused both a spectacular bruise to form on my big toe, and a range of expletives you wouldn’t even hear from a pissed sailor to stream from my mouth. As my swears cleft the silence of the forest air, I began to realise just what a virulent skidmark on Satan’s undercarriage Zork really is.
Will I escape this infernal forest? Will anything even remotely registering on the interest-ometer occur? Join us for the second installment of The Zork Diaries, where I could well be set upon by ravenous wild beasts. (As it stands, I’ll be fighting them off with a limp, a Fabergé egg and an accumulation of rabbit shit if that’s the case.)
Images (if that's the operative term in this case) provided by About.