Zoom 1.1.0 Review

Before Second Life, Half Life and, come to think of it, even before the web – there were text adventures. There were no 3D environments, fancy graphics or headshots here, just worlds made of words. The first of these was Colossal Cave Adventure – a vast game environment created entirely in text by one of the programmers who helped build the internet.

Players saw a paragraph of prose describing the environment they were in, followed by the immortal words “What now?” Using a limited number of direction, examination and action commands you could explore and interact with the environment, solving puzzles and meeting virtual characters along the way.

Zoom 1.1.0 brings the text adventure gaming format back to the Mac in a big way. During the 1980s, games developer Infocom created the Zcode system to create and release text adventures. Many of those original games are lost, but open-source game creators continue to release new adventures, made using a tool called Inform (www.inform-fiction.org/I7/). This text game design system is also available for Mac OS X.

Downloading Zoom 1.1.0 will give you free access to hundreds – possibly thousands – of text adventures. A good place to start is the Interactive Fiction archive (ftp.ifarchive.org/if-archive/games/infocom/). Of course, we haven’t tried every one, and the quality is highly variable, but Zoom makes accessing these and other interactive fiction formats easy.

OUR VERDICT

The software catalogues your default game folder so that you can select any text adventure on your system without having to search for it. The emulation of the environment is entirely faithful, displaying inline graphics (both ASCII and bitmap) exactly as they would have appeared on their original platforms. In some cases you may have to tweak you font settings to get a game to display correctly, but it’s small price to pay for such a rich resource.

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