zRogue by Gevan Dutton(1998)

The Little Evil, Ugly Evil Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: This is my favorite z-code game of all time! Only Andrew Plotkin's "Lists and Lists" comes close. It rulezzzz!

The Little Nice, Handsome Guy On My Shoulder's Verdict: Surely this wasn't necessary? Surely? Please tell me that this was not necessary.

My Verdict: Woah, this game looks familiar!

Game Misinformation

Game Type: Inform

Author Info: Like most computer programmers, Gevan Dutton is just this guy with a funny name and too much time on his hands.

Other Games By This Author: None that I'm aware of.

Download Link: ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/inform/rogue.z5

The Review

In this game, you play the role of an at sign(@) who has nothing better to do than wander through a hazardous environment made up exclusively of dots, lines, and pound signs picking up all the question marks, exclamation marks, asterisks, and dollar signs it can find, while obliterating all the evil alphabetical letters who wish to interfere with its quest. No, this game is not the latest surrealistic smash by Mr. Rybread Celsius. Rather, this is Rogue, that game which gave birth to an entire genre of dungeon crawl games, and in so doing profoundly influenced the direction in which Role Playing Games(RPGs) would then take. Rogue is a game which we should all really respect. It is one of the cornerstones upon which the entire video gaming world is built upon - it's one of the true innovators in this medium. The only trouble is that, as a game, it kind of sucks compared to the hundreds of games which have improved on its interface, story, and gameplay. I'm pretty sure that Gevan Dutton just wrote this port for fun. It's not like Rogue hasn't already been ported to every other God-forsaken platform - why exactly did we need a z-code version? Eh? For those interested, Gevan's version is based upon Tim Stoehr's Rogue 5.3 clone. But does that really matter? Rogue is Rogue! You wander through these dungeons, descending and ascending levels, slaying mighty beasts, picking up objects, eating crap, reciting scrolls, drinking potions, and, hopefully, just hopefully...coming across the legendary Amulet which inspired you on your quest to begin with. If you've ever played a multi-user dungeon(MUD) before, you can now see what inspired them(Zork was a heavy influence, too). So I played with this port for a little bit, but quickly got bored after dying of hypothermia while fighting an ice monster. No matter. This game is fun. It's classic. Most importantly, it gave me an excuse to review a non-IF game on this page. All is well!

The trouble is that some really fantastic Rogue-like games have been made over the past ten years especially. My personal favorite is Ragnarok which takes place, appropriately enough, in the Nordic realm of mythological lore. Decent graphics and sound, and absolutely amazingly detailed gameplay. It's a shareware game that comes with a 77k size manual! Tons of items, tons of amazingly nice touches you might not expect to see, tons of realms to explore, tons of amazing enemies and creatures, not all of which you can kill. Death is permanent, but your character lives on in the high score list. It's such a gas of a game that improves on the in comparison crude Rogue that I have a hard time drooling over this or any other implementation. Rogue is just one of those classic games we owe a tremendous amount to, but have become dated over time because their innovative features have been so expanded and improved upon. The original is certainly worth toying around with, though - it is fun, especially if you've never played a game like it before. I'm really glad this is a text adventure review site, by the way, as text adventures are the only genre of gaming which can never truly become dated. Poor games are eternally poor games, and great games are eternally great, just as great and poor novels are. Stories and writing do not become dated(no matter what slimy literary critics/professors will try to tell you...there is no such thing as an antiquated literary style when we're dealing with a living language). Yes, parsers can seem crude and primitive as advances continue to occur, but 95% of parser problems result from the player being an ass and refusing to stick with the story line. If you show a little more patience, you'll find that very few text adventures have such poor parsers so as to be basically unplayable. If a particular combination of verb and noun works not, don't walk away in disgust - try, try again! At one time, Scott Adams' games were big sellers and people played them and enjoyed them, despite their simple VERB/NOUN parser. Of course, that doesn't mean that I allow a day to go by without thanking God, Graham Nelson, Mike Roberts, and that ALAN guy(Something Neilsen, I believe. Torsten?) for giving the IF community such quality parsers for our modern adventure games. Parsers will continue to advance, too, facing the resistance of some. Eventually, somebody's going to write a game that uses adverbs intelligently to enhance gameplay rather than simply increasing the amount of typing required by the players. I'm looking forward to that day, personally. IF is where it's at!

zRogue is a pretty solid implementation of a classic. I didn't spot any bugs. If you like dungeon crawls, text graphics, monsters, hit points, and fun, check this out immediately. If you prefer something a little more sophisticated, however, there's a lot more to choose from. And I still haven't figured out why we needed a z-code version of this. Ah, heck, it's cool.

Simple Rating: 4/10

Complicated Rating: 11/50

Story: 3/10

Writing: 2/10(The docs are okay)

Playability: 5/10

Parser Responsiveness: 0/10(The parser understood everything I threw at it! Unfortunately, that was limited to single letter commands listed in the command list.

Puzzle Quality: 1/10(No puzzles as such - just random obstacles and environments to overcome.)

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