|System(s)||Commodore Amiga, Apple II, MS-DOS, Mac OS|
|Preceded by||Beyond Zork|
|Followed by||Return to Zork|
Zork Zero: The Revenge of Megaboz is an interactive fiction computer game, written by Steve Meretzky and published by Infocom in 1988. Although it is the ninth and last Zork game released by Infocom before the company's closing, Zork Zero takes place before the previous eight games. Unlike its predecessors, Zork Zero is a vast game, featuring a graphical interface with scene-based colours and borders, an interactive map, menus, an in-game hints system, an interactive Encyclopedia Frobozzica, and playable mini-games including Peggleboz and Double Fanucci. It is Infocom's thirty-second game.
Like most other Infocom games, Zork Zero comes with feelies, including a printed calendar with biographies of the twelve Flatheads. The feelies serve as a form of copy protection in that the game cannot be completed without information contained in these materials.
Lord Dimwit Flathead the Excessive certainly earned his nickname. Never one to do things on a small scale, when Dimwit decided in 789 GUE to have a statue erected in his honor, it had to be the largest statue ever. This angered a local resident of Fublio Valley (where the statue was built), Megaboz the Magnificent, who cast a deadly curse over Dimwit, the royal family, and the entire Empire before disappearing. The king's conjurers employed their most powerful magic in an effort to counteract the curse, but they were unable to save Dimwit and his eleven siblings; they only managed to delay the kingdom's destruction temporarily.
The game begins with a brief prelude in which the player is a humble servant in Lord Dimwit's scullery. Present when Megaboz appears and casts his fateful curse, the player manages to grab a small piece of parchment left behind in the chaos.
94 years later, the strength of the counter-curse is rapidly fading. If the curse can't be lifted by Curse Day, the anniversary of Dimwit's death, the Empire will surely fall. The reigning monarch, Wurb Flathead, has sent out a call in desperation: anyone who can save the Empire will be given half its riches! Predictably, this results in an avalanche of crackpot treasure seekers, none of whom have any more luck than did the royal sorcerers.
As the game begins in earnest, it is Mumberbur 14: Curse Day. The erstwhile curse-breakers have fled, along with everyone else in Flathead Castle. The player, a descendant of the servant from the prelude, awakes on the floor of the castle armed only with the scrap of parchment. The only other person around is the court's jester, who alternately helps and opposes the player in the quest to lift the curse.
Two items belonging to each of the "accursed twelve" (that is, Dimwit Flathead and his eleven siblings) must be placed into the cauldron and the magic word must be spoken. The game revolves around gathering these twenty-four objects and discovering the magic word. To accomplish this, the player will play the legendary game of Double Fanucci, travel to every corner of the Empire, solve a collection of riddles and logic puzzles, and visit the enormous statue that started all this trouble. There are even visits to locations such as the top of the world, and under the world (from which the player can fall). Flamingos, magic, bottomless pits and a unique sense of humor all feature along the way.
What happens when the curse is finally lifted is the game's final surprise. The stage is neatly set for Zork I and its successors.
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