Scorpion's Tale #3 (Zork II)
Feature by Scorpia
Computer Gaming World Volume 3 Number 6 (December 1983)

Back for more, I see! Well, step right in, plenty of room tonight; everyone's out doing their holiday shopping. Take a seat by the fire while Fred pours out your usual, and we'll get started on Zork II. Once again, it's off to the Great Underground Empire! This time, however, it won't be quite so easy. For one thing, there's much more territory to cover, and for another, there's the Wizard of Frobozz.

This delightful (?) person will inevitably appear at the most inconvenient moment, and zap you with a spell. These spells all begin with the letter "F": Freeze, float, fall, fence, fantasize, ferment, etc. Some, such as float and fence, are merely annoyances, but others, such as fall, could cause you to end up dead. Therefore, it's best to save the game often, and restore any time the Wizard appears and hits you with a spell.

You start inside the barrow, with your old friends, the Elvish sword and the brass lantern. Picking those up, you move on through the underground area until you come to the Dark Tunnel, where the path forks. One leads to a stream, the other to a garden area with a Gazebo.

While investigating the Gazebo, you may catch a glimpse of a Unicorn with a ribbon and key around its neck. Whatever you do, he will always be out of reach, so you might as well leave him alone. Later, someone will help you get the key from the Unicorn. For now, just make sure you take everything off the table, because all those items will come in handy in the future.

Now, you might as well make your way through the Topiary and into the C:arousel Room. No one likes the Carousel Room, and the reason is obvious: no matter what direction you try to move, you will usually end up going in a different one. The room spins around, you see. So, you may want to go West and find you've gone Southeast instead.

Of course, there's a way to turn it off, but you'll have to get past the Riddle Room and into the Circular Room for that. The Riddle Room is well-named; you will have to answer a riddle to get the door open. Actually, the answer isn't all that difficult; think about being thirsty. And, as an added bonus, the answer to the riddle is also a clue to the Circular Room.

Because you'll have to do the right thing in the Circular Room to get to another set of rooms where you'll find some yummy tea cakes, a robot, and a red sphere, among other things. Examine those cakes carefully, and be sure to save the game before you do any experimenting! Also, remember to check out the pool in the Pool Room. The flask is important, but not in an obvious way ... and make sure you have the cakes with you.

The red sphere in the Dingy Closet is very important. However, as you might guess from the sign on the wall, it's trapped. You will find the robot helpful here. Keep in mind that, just because you can't see him, doesn't mean he isn't there ... or that he can't hear you. Don't forget to look into the sphere!

Once you have everything you need from this area, you can make your way back to the Carousel Room, which has become stationary. You can now use this room as a central point for your explorations, dropping off items and treasures that you don't need for the moment. In fact, you should leave all your treasures here, because you won't be needing them until the end of the game.

Now there are several ways to go, and for the most part, it doesn't matter which way you take first, so let's consider the Dreary Room. Peek in through the window, and the scene should look familiar. At least, it will if you have looked into the red sphere. Recall the scene from the sphere carefully, and then think about what you found back at the Gazebo. That should give you some ideas on how to open the door and get the blue sphere.

In your travels (and pretty close to the Dreary Room, too), you will come across a dragon. He is your typical fire-breathing dragon, so you want to be careful here. On the other hand, you don't want to be too careful, because you have to get rid of this scaly nuisance. You won't be able to do it where you find him; the trick is to get the dragon to follow you somewhere. Think about the opposite of fire, and you should be able to figure out where to go.

With the dragon out of the way, you can now investigate his lair. However, don't spend too much time on the trunk; the person in the room is more important at the moment. Keep her in view at all times, waiting when necessary. She will assist you in obtaining a small but important item. And remember to go back and check the dragon's trunk later on!

The bank is another interesting in place, and has one of the two most frustrating puzzles in the game. There are two treasures available here, a portrait in an office and some money in the vault. You will soon find that you can't leave the ordinary way with the portrait, and that there seems to be no way into the vault.

First, read the brochure on the floor of the Safe Depository. That should give you some idea of what's going on here. Then devote your attention to the curtain of blue light, for therein lies the method for obtaining the two treasures. Direction is very important here; keep in mind which way you are going, and alsp the fact that walls may not always be what they seem.

Sooner or later, you'll make your way to the bottom of the volcano. Here you will find a hot-air balloon. Now, if you could just figure out a way of blowing up the balloon, you could probably go places. It's not all that difficult; remember, hotair balloon.

Once aloft, just wait awhile, and you'll come to a ledge. Look around carefully before going anywhere, or you may find the balloon going on its way without you. The ledge has one treasure, and the library another, although the second one is not immediately obvious.

Back in the balloon, wait some more and you will eventually rise to the Wide Ledge. Again, look around before leaving the balloon. This time, no treasure is immediately evident. However, there might be something in that box in the Dusty Room, if only you could get it open. Examine the box carefully, and you will notice a brick-shaped hole in it.

It won't take you long to figure out that this is where the brick from the Marble Hall goes, but what to do after that is another matter. You'll need some string, that's certain. Just make sure you don't blow yourself away!

Now, you're getting close to the endgame, but you still have a few things to do before that. One of them is visiting the Oddly-Angled Room, which is one of the most treacherous and devious mazes ever devised. You'll want to save the game before going any further here; one mis-step and you could be hopelessly lost.

Move around until you find the club, and make sure that you look at the club, because it's a valuable clue to the nature of the maze. Another clue is the shape of the windows on the floor. Taken all together, these clues should help you discern the true nature of the maze, and the writing on the club should give you an idea of what you have to do here. Be persistent; you may not do it exactly right the first time, but that's why you saved the game before you started. Remember to hang on to the bat.

That about does it as far as preliminaries go; you should be ready for the endgame now. First, you have to get past the lizard head in the Guarded Room. This should be no problem, if you did the right thing back in the Pool Room. Go from the Guarded Room directly to the Aquarium, where you have to deal with the baby sea serpent. It's a little bit tricky, but some experimentation with the bat should help you find the solution.

Now it's off to the Wizard's Workroom. There are three stands here, each one a different color. Those colors ought to remind you of something, at which point you should do the obvious. This will cause a black sphere to appear. Take that into the Pentagram Room.

Properly used, the black sphere will help you summon (in case you hadn't guessed) a demon. Listen carefully to what he has to say. When you've satisfied his demands, you can ask for anything you want. What you want is something that will help you to move the Menhir statue. Meditate on that for awhile; only one thing will work. Once you have it, go to the Menhir Room and move the statue. Get the item, then return to the Oddly-Angled Room.

Go downstairs to the Cerberus Room, where, naturally, Cerberus is waiting. Fortunately, you should be able to easily handle this monstrous dog, thanks to the item from behind the Menhir. Now go on into the Crypt. This is the end of the game; there is one thing you have to do here, but I'll keep you in the dark as to what that is. When you've done it, you'll find yourself on the landing to the Endless Stairs of Zork III.

While you ponder that, I'll see what the regulars are having, now that the stores have closed.

PLANETFALL: The key isn't that hard to get; the solution is an attractive one. Been to the Tool Room yet?
ALI BABA: Go backwards from the Succubus Room; you will get to the Princess eventually.
ULYSSES & GOLDEN FLEECE: Only listening to the Siren's Song will get you to the fleece. Remember your mythology!
PRISONER II: A keyhole needs a key. If you've been taking the easy way out, this is the time to move around instead.

And now, I'll see you next year (!), when the feature will be Zork I. In the meantime, my very best wishes to all of you for a joyous holiday and a Happy, healthy (and adventure-filled) New Year! Scorpia (74045,221) is one of the two sysops on Compuserve's 'GameSIG'. The other is Patricia Fitzgibbons. You can send you adventure game questions to Scorpio via any of the following modes: Compuserve (email 70001, 1263J; The Source (ST1030); Pony Express; Scorpia, 1319 Second Ave., Suite 540, NY, NY 10021.


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