Scorpion's Tale #2 (Zork III)
Feature by Scorpia
Computer Gaming World Volume 3 Number 5 (October 1983)

Welcome back! A chair is waiting for you by the fire, and Fred is pouring out a tall one (Spelunker Beer; only the best for my customers!) Now, settle in, and I'll tell you a little about ZORK III.

The first think you'll notice, as you wander through this part of the Great Underground Empire, is that it's not as extensive as the previous Zorks. Compared to the others, Zork ill is actually tiny. In fact, if you have a good memory, you might not even need to make a map, although having one is always helpful, especially in Shadow Land.

Right about now, you should be getting suspicious. If the game is that small, there can't be too many puzzles. And if there aren't many puzzles, the ones that ARE there must be mean ones. Which just happens to be the case. There are only 7 points to accumulate in this game, so that should give you an idea of what you're up against. Oddly enough, obtaining the points isn't hard. In the first two Zorks, you received points for accomplishing difficult tasks or gathering treasures. In Zork ill, you get the points for doing easy things, not for doing hard ones. As an example, you get one point for climbing down a cliff and finding a chest. That's the easy part. The hard part is getting the chest open, for which no points are awarded. This can make the game very puzzling; you find that you're picking up points very quickly, yet you are nowhere near finishing the game. In fact, you might have 5 or 6 points, and still have no idea of what's going on. So, keep in mind that your current score is only an indication of how you are doing. There is much more to Zork ill than meets the eye.

Now let's look at this mysterious land in a bit more detail. You start at the foot of an endless staircase, with the familiar brass lamp nearby. Those stairs really are endless, so don't waste time trying to climb back up. Instead, take the lamp and begin your explorations.You will first come to the four-way junction, with a sword in a rock. Yes, it's your old friend, the Elven sword. Don't bother trying to pull it from the rock, though, because there's no way to do that. Just leave it; in time, the sword will come to you. Moving west from the junction, you eventually come to the cliff mentioned above. Climbing down the handy rope, you come to the ledge with the chest. At this point, you will find that you can't climb back up the rope while carrying the chest. What to do? Well, just be patient, and remember not to be greedy. You aren't on a treasure hunt this time out. Climbing all the way down the cliff will lead you to the fabled Flathead Ocean. No swimming allowed, but if you hang around long enough, something should happen. You will have only one chance to do the right thing, so it's best to save the game before going to the beach (read a book from Zork I while you wait).

Another interesting spot is the lake area. Here's where you get to do a little swimming. You'd probably rather not, as the waters are pretty frigid. Alas, there's nothing to be done about that, so plunge in! Just be sure to drop what you're carrying first. You can't stay in the water very long, so make for another shore quickly. It's better to visit the western side of the lake first. This is where you'll find a strange place called "Scenic Vista". There doesn't seem to be much here, but everything in this room is quite important. Examine all objects with care, and don't be afraid to experiment. Get physical, if necessary.When you finally leave here, you should not be empty-handed.

When you re-enter the lake, you'll drop whatever you have with you. Don't worry, just dive down to the bottom, keeping an eye out for hungry fish. Pay careful attention to the description here, or you'll miss something. Since you can stay under for only a limited time, you may need to make more than one visit to the lake bottom. Once you're back on the surface, swim for the southern shore, and head into the cave. Yes, it sure is dark in there, and you don't have any light. However, if you did the right things at Scenic Vista, you won't need a light source here. Once inside, it will be fairly obvious what to do and where to go.

After that, you may want to pay a little visit to Shadow Land. It's a spooky sort of place, and a bit difficult to map. However, this area isn't a maze, and it can be mapped if you pay careful attention to the descriptions. What you're looking for here is a mysterious person in a hood and cloak. You must wander around until he appears. Be aware that he is not friendly, so trying to be nice will get you nowhere. On the other hand, killing him will not help you to win the game. Nor, for that matter, will running away (although you may have to do that if you're close to dying). It's a very tricky situation, so consider your remaining options carefully.

Sooner or later, probably later, you will make your way to the museum area. One of the rooms here is the Jewel Room, which contains some pretty items well-protected by a steel cage (make sure you read the plaque!). Of course, there is no way for you to open or break the cage, so you'll have to look around for another way of getting to the goodies. You might find something helpful in the Museum itself, which has three strange machines in it. Two of them are just decorations, but one can be very useful to you. Examine it "thoroughly". And remember: just because you find something in one room, that doesn't mean it has to stay there to work.

You're almost set for the end game, but there is still the Royal Pain, err, Puzzle (hehehe). This is the most tedious part of Zork III. It isn't a maze, but you probably wish it was. There is only one solution to it, and it will take you a while to work it out, so I'm just going to tell you what you have to do (you're gonna love it). The proper way to get out is to move the wall with the ladder on the west side to the hole where you first entered. Then, you can climb up the ladder and get out. You must exit this way with the book, or you won't be able to finish the game. It's a matter of moving the walls in the proper sequence, so take the time to map the Puzzle carefully, moving as few walls as possible. After that, advance planning, as well as trial and error, should get you out.

Now, at last, it's off to see the Dungeon Master. First, find a room with pictures. If there's nothing special about it when you get there, keep going out and coming back until there is. Then, of course, you have to do the right thing; I hope you picked up everything you came across in the game so far!

About now you should be through the secret door. You will find the sword helpful in the Beam Room. In fact, you should not take the sword with you beyond here, because there is a bug in the game (all versions). If you have the sword with you, Zork ill will hangjust before the end of the game. Of course, if you've done the right thing, you won't have the sword with you at that time. Nowthe mirror should be open. Inside it is rather bizarre room. Careful attention to the descriptions, and a little experimentation, should give you an idea of how the room works. When you leave, you may be confronted by the Guardians of Zork. This is the last obstacle before the end game; the solution to it is transparent. Cheers!

At last, you meet the Dungeon Master, who presents you with the final puzzle of the Zork trilogy. Keep in mind what he tells you; it's quite important. Also, notice that he follows you around, but there is one place he won't go. Finally, think about the robot in Zork II: the situation here is much the same.

That should be enough to see you through! Next issue, we'll take a look at Zork II. Meanwhile, it's time to toss off a few quick ones....

STARCROSS: Getting in is not hard. Count the number of bumps, and think about where you're from. As for the colored disks, they can help you in several ways. Try putting them on the floor, and work from there.
WIZARD & PRINCESS: Getting off the island should be done in a vial manner; keep in mind the general direction you've been going all this time.
SAVAGE ISLAND I: You know what the bear wants; what's in the ocean, and have you found a hot place yet?

Well, it's closing time again. Thanks for dropping by, and if you need help in between issues, you can reach me in the following ways: 1) Send a self addressed, stamped envelope to Scorpia, 1319 Second Ave, Suite 540 N.Y., N.Y. 10021; 2) On the Source: ST1030; 3) On CompuServe, Go GAM-310 or EMAIL 70001,1263.

Happy adventuring!


Scorpion's Tale #2 Errata (Zork III)
Errata by Unknown
Computer Gaming World Volume 3 Number 6 (December 1983)


Oops. Hope you are not still trying to find the ladder on the west wall in Zork III. In Scorpia's last column (CGW, Oct. '83) she indicated on pg. 46, paragraph two, that you need to move the ladder on the west side to the hole. Actually the ladder is on the east side. Scorpia caught the error before production but her corrective missive was lost in "editor-land." Sorry readers. Sorry Scorpia.


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