- 1 Technical Information
- 2 The Game Packaging
- 3 Introduction
- 4 CHAPTER 1
- 5 CHAPTER 2
- 6 Battery Power-charged: Exploration of West Shambar
- 7 Return to Zork: Myth or Fact
- 8 External Links
- How can I play this game in my computer? - DOSBOX in the most recommended way to run DOS games in any computer platform nowadays. For more help on how to run it and your system requirements go to this page.
- I have the Macintosh version, but it doesn't play! - If you don't have a working 1993 era Macintosh just lying around (with a CD-ROM drive, of course), don't fret! Return to Zork for the Mac will run swimmingly under an emulation of System 7 using Sheepshaver. It even mounts the CD within the emulation! (Although System 7 has been released as a free download from Apple, you will still need to locate an appropriate Macintosh ROM (sometimes referred to as Apple ROM) file in order to run the emulator.)
- I don't have the retail version, but I still want to play the game - Activision hasn't confirmed that the game has been turned to the public domain. At the time of this writing the game is 18 years old. I very much doubt that any sales of remaining used Return To Zork (or even new unwrapped) will get them any profits. However, many fans think that Activision might be interested in relaunching the graphical trilogy of all Return To Zork, Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor someday; (which would explain why they wont release them into the Public Domain). It should go without saying:
- Just because the game is old does not mean it's ok to copy and distribute it without prior consent from Activision. Downloading ANY of the three graphical games (Return to Zork, Zork Nemesis or Zork Grand Inquisitor) is still very much illegal; unless you own the CD. If you already own any form of this game, be it a CD or diskette version that you can't install for whatever reason; take a look at the external links section at the bottom. You might find a way to download a workable version.
- The Zork games are awesome, did Activision make any more? - The following games in the Zork series that followed were Zork Nemesis and Zork Grand Inquisitor. You can pick them up very cheap throughout the net.
- Be advised, setting the graphical games up requires a lot of patience to make them work in new operating systems (Vista, Windows 7 and Mac OS X). The external links at the bottom might also help. If you happen to be trying to make ZGI work on OSX 10.4 try this setup guide.
- Jolt Online and Activision used to have a browser based Zork game called Legends of Zork from April 1, 2009 to May 31, 2011. However Legends of Zork was a short lived game and it's not possible to play it anymore.
The Game Packaging
Originally, when one purchased Return to Zork (and if you were one of the few who had bought a full retail copy) you received a rather convincing "Sweepstakes Winner" letter, along with a copy of the abridged "Encyclopedia Frobozzica". You also received a very brief pamphlet discussing the wonderful world of Zork and congratulating you for your purchase of the game. The manual for the game suggests in the back that, for a small fee of only $10.95, the official Return to Zork "Hint Book" could be yours.
This Hint Book (a 50-page booklet you could only order directly from Activision) included just essential information in order to help aid you in solving the game's puzzles and was certainly nothing fancy. To its detriment was the map section. In particular, the maps for the Whispering Woods and the Forest of the Spirits were a complete mess.
The official hint book was most definitely not the best strategy guide for Return to Zork that was available at the time. Instead, you could purchase the fully illustrated Unofficial Return To Zork Guide from BradyGames. The images and maps that were provided were much easier to work with, allowing for a more pleasant and complete experience overall.
The sweepstakes letter, which was an essential part of the game, provided a list of items that you had won (in addition to the trip): a Pholobloid Instant Camera, a Zony Tape Recorder, and an IT&L Tele-Orb. At the start of the game, it is revealed that you yourself have brought a box of matches, a photo album, and a map, as well as a knife from home. Soon enough, you will acquire many other items in your travels, including the three special welcome bonus items that you were promised in the Sweepstakes Winner letter. (Incidentally, the letter also mentions a free stay at the "scenic" West Shanbar Vacation Village Resort. And though this resort is nowhere to be found within the game, it is rumored to be along the "Road to the South".)
As you soon learn (when travelling through the Mountain Pass), the Road to the South is not merely full of vultures and death; it is most definitely impassable. On the bright side, you do get the opportunity to visit the famous "Inn of Isenough"; stay for just three zorkmids a night! And, if you are truly bored, you can get your late-night thrills at "Chuckles Comedy Club"–that would surely snap someone out of their depression!
The Sweepstakes Winner Letter
Encyclopedia Frobozzica: Copy Protection Answers
As the game progresses, you will encounter a character or two who will ask you copy protection questions, depending on which version of the game you are playing. Early on, Mavis Peepers will ask you a question, and it is mandatory that you answer it correctly in order to proceed within all versions of the game. Later, a character named Rebecca Snoot may ask you another (Mac users are off the hook for this one).
The questions are derived from the following information from the Encyclopedia Frobozzica that came with the game:
Days of the week
- Sand Day
- Mud Day
- Grues Day
- Wands Day
- Frob Day™
- Star Day
Months of the year
You find a clearing in the deep woods with a deserted white house, in the middle of nowhere. You move northwest then southwest (it doesn't make any sense but) you find yourself at the front where there's a mailbox. It is hard to believe a mailman would indeed come to a place like this to deliver mail. In reality this game acts as a sequel to Zork I, II and III in which you get a map, compass, knife, and you move around in a very similar way; looking for a way to move forward without any idea or expectations where you're going. Incidentally you also have no clue what you're doing, you don't know if there's anyone to rescue and (in some cases) you find yourself so involved in the plot, you CAN even forget you're playing a game. You open the mailbox and are greeted by Rufus Rooper, who congratulates you but shouts "No.... No.... HELP!!!" leaving you to wonder what the heck is going on!
After a beautiful display of scenery above the woods which I assume it's because a vulture just carried you from where you were; you're brought to the top of a rocky mountain path. And here your journey begins.
Your inventory can be accessed if you click the right mouse button. If you happen to be in the Mac version (and you have one of the early mice) you need to press the space bar to be able to get to your inventory. Every item in your inventory will have relevant options to choose from. By picking up an item you may have other options, for example you can recall the inventory and click on a second item (while holding the first one) and you may be given options like joining the items together, or using them with each other. If you observe some items you're given clues as to what they may be good for - "a rock: good for throwing at things". Don't be fooled, these type of hints are rare. Those matches are quite capable of burning things, be careful what you burn as items that are given to you by some people can not be recovered. If you misuse an item, you will certainly cripple the ability to finish the game!
A Tele-orb... What the heck is a Tele-orb? Well, it sort of looks like a glass ball like the ones fortune tellers use. But there is an actual wizard - Wizard Trembyle, who talks to you through this one; every now and then. You will find however that this sucker will not come on when you really are in trouble. He really doesn't say much. Sometimes he will come up when you're viewing some of your inventory items. The times this guy comes up however, whether is for gossip, useful information, or warnings; you should always listen since he's there for a purpose.
Later on, you will find out that the tele-orb is a mere prototype (a beta version of what the actual product was supposed to be), it can receive messages but it can't send. So basically he can "email" you but you can't "email" him back. Instead, there are certain things he can sense; but only those he's familiar with. Particularly, he doesn't know anything about nature (or spiders).
Your Knife (from home)
It is obvious what knives are for, but you wont be using it for the obvious things o_0 at least not yet...
This is your faithful companion! Do not underestimate the values of a picture, snapshot, photo, whatever you want to call it - take pictures of EVERYTHING! In this wonderful game (the only one with these attributes in the Zork series) you can show the pictures to the people you encounter. You WONT be able to solve some of the puzzles (or get certain items) unless you gather the appropriate photos! One that comes to mind is Rebecca, if you show her a picture of Canuk, you will trigger some very interesting comment; you wont get the same response if (for instance) you show her Canuk's hut in the map. All is not lost however, sometimes you might be able to recover those by using your recorder, sometimes it will trigger the missing responses. In reality, clues are just information you need to figure out the game on your own, which you wont need as long as you read a guide like this. =)
Your Voice Recorder
Same as pictures, except you DO NOT have to record, because the machine will do that for you. Whatever you hear will be recorded. Even Rebecca Snoot dog's bark will be recorded! If you're stuck, you can pull out the recorder and see if the person has anything to say about the recorded message.
Your trusty map will record locations as you encounter them. There's not much in it but there will be soon. The map will have a total of two pages eventually, but not yet.
Your Photo Album
Your second best friend, this is where your pictures will be stored. Show it off often to people!
Mountain Pass: Valley of the Sparrows
May also be called Mountain Path or Valley of the Vultures, whatever you prefer. Are you confused about the orb? Don't worry, there's a battery in the gift shop. Remember the Sweepstakes letter? That's the Gift Shop they speak about, but first things first!
- Take a photo to learn how to use the camera, your photos will store in your photo album.
- Roll your mouse all over the screen. There is a rock nearby.
- That vulture, hmm, be careful it's quite hungry!
- See the sign? There's a plant by the foot of that sign, be careful though!
- The upper left corner is your control panel, here you can restore or save your game. Save often.
- You have 99 save slots, no need to replace old saves!
- Red cursors arrows are for moving to the next screen, while the hand will explore the one you're in.
- Captions are important to let you know about places names and objects.
Well, the Vulture is very lethal! So talking to it once shall be enough, too much interaction and you'll be eaten. There is death all around you.
The knife wont do you any good as far as the vulture is concerned, use it just for kicks but the vulture needs to be hit by the rock. The knife will help you dig out the plant. DO NOT cut the plant, the plant needs to be alive for the Cliff's of Depression Comedy Club. Examine the plant once you're holding it, and the Wizard will inform you that it likes you!
NOTE: The bonding plant is an item which may be able to grow again by the sign, but the only way it will grow back is, IF you eat it. Remember, plants take time to grow, but do not throw it away, you will never get it back!
Move forward by clicking your red arrow and you'll see a majestic view of a lighthouse. From now on, you must remember to take a picture as soon as you enter an area. Things that can't be photographed are not meant for questioning others about (the rail on top of the lighthouse and the Tree Spirit are two examples). Go straight with your red arrow to approach it and the Wizard will tell you to ask about the Road to the South. Before you enter the lighthouse I suggest you take a picture at the Road to the South so click on your forward arrow once more and you will be facing the road. Be careful, once step forward and you're dead meat. If you encountered a few planks on the ground, ignore them for now. Now try to enter the lighthouse, don't worry it doesn't take much effort. He he!
- Highlight the Keeper's picture in your album or his lighthouse in your map, and he'll tell you about illumynite.
- Not really important, but try showing or giving your matches to the Keeper!
- Talking to people and your emotions:
- As you probably have been able to tell already, the emotions of your character will play an important role in the outcome of the conversation. Later on, things you hear will be collected in a notepad you will receive, so to be able to fill it; try to hear as much as possible from people. Like the recorder, the notes are recorded automatically as you travel and talk to people.
- All options in emotions are useful. Don't fell bad about threatening, but make sure to save your game before you do so. You NEED to threaten a couple of people to get what you need; but you can also trigger undesirable responses by threats. If a friendly person runs away they'll be gone for good, and this can eliminate your ability to complete the game. So keep that in mind.
Upstairs in the lighthouse, there really isn't anything you can actually do here yet, except throw things over the railing. You might be able to pick them up where the wood planks are behind the lighthouse, but if they are not there; you'll need to restore your last save or begin your game again!
Behind the Lighthouse
If you explore the lighthouse surroundings, you will find wood planks and vines behind the lighthouse. You're far from the luxurious boating you were promised in the Sweepstakes letter. You are stranded, and nobody is around to rent a boat from. You will be able to go "boating" eventually but at a cost, and you need some rodent power to be able to accomplish that (we'll cross that bridge when we get to it)!
Ahh, finally you get to use the knife for something other than gardening! Then again... ok nevermind, just think survival. You can cut the vines and built a raft with the planks.
West Shanbar: Off the Bridge
In the CD version of the game you will automatically jump off the raft onto the broken bridge. Yes you just read that right, the bridge is broken behind you, keep that in mind! The Northern River is deeper than you think...
If you are playing the diskette (floppy disk) version of RTZ, I strongly recommend you to download the CD version here (data only - digital soundtrack only available in original CD). There are many movies and details that will play in the CD version that were not terribly useful enough to include in the floppy disk version. You want the best gaming experience, don't you? ;)
So many things to do and, no sense of order in which they should be done. As hard as it is to admit, you need to reactivate that Tele-Orb as soon as possible. There are many clues you need, and he's the only one who can give them to you. Well, yeah I could help but I can't remember absolutely everything. ;)
Operation Tele-Orb Activation
If you pay close attention to figure 5, you will see there is a red arrow to turn around. The four buildings in front of you are not the only place you can go to. Whatever you do Do NOT attempt to cross the bridge, unless you're looking for a laugh. When you have turned around, three new options are available to you: go left, go under the bridge toward the right, or go straight. We want to go left like the illustration suggests (#6) to Booz Miller's house. Now would be a good time to take a few pictures.
Boos Myller lives here, and he's completely drunk. He loves to share though, and he's willing to share a few drinks with you. If you're persistent you can get other things from him too, but right now we want to focus on fixing the Tele-Orb. It should be important to note if you're disoriented, you came from the door to the right. You want to go to the door on the left... yet the back of his house it's a dead end. Don't even think you can make-off with Boos's corvette, it has an alarm (well, kind of - in the Macintosh version of the game, clicking on the car would trigger a honking sound and a voice from the truck that sang "you're standing too close, too, too, too, close!") you can imagine the big disappointment when I found the DOS version doesn't have it. Anyway, what you're here for is that golden key on the floor!
Make your way out of Boos house, the door to your right will take you back. You must turn around, then go straight to go back to West Shanbar.
Back To West Shanbar (2)
We are looking for a battery. The Gift Shop is the building made of bricks to the far left (figure 5). Wise of Boos to make his shop out of bricks! If you can remember the Sweepstakes Winner letter it says you can take 3 items of your choice. The shiny key you possess will open that door. This part is/was perplexing for many players without a Sweepstakes Winner letter, they claimed you could enter this shop and steal all you wanted; yet you wouldn't be punished? The Official Return to Zork Hint Book publication ©1993 from Activision, Inc. reinforces the suggestion in the letter:
- Think of the illumynite battery as a gift.
- Your sweepstakes letter will point you in the right direction.
- There are three items you can take from the Gift Shop
So make yourself at home. If you're one of those blessed to have the DOS game on CD, you'll be greeted with one of the best music tracks of the game while you make-off with the zorkmids and the tickets. The battery can be found on the shelf, and it's very shiny and weird looking; that's because it's an illuminyte battery. You should use the battery with the Tele-Orb as soon as you can.
Battery Power-charged: Exploration of West Shambar
There are three places you have not been to yet:
- The Hardware Store
- Mrs. Peeper's Schoolhouse
- The Mayor's Office
The order in which you visit these will not affect the outcome of the game. However the game somehow assumes you'd visit the Mayor before the School house. If you haven't already done so, take a picture of the Schoolhouse, as it seems it's the only photogenic thing here (LOL not, but the game says that, when there is something that it's unnecessary to photograph; due to it not being programmed to be required for the completion). The game is pretty fair though, a grand majority of things that can be photographed, can trigger responses if you've recorded a conversation with someone who mentions them (no need to panic if you were unable to take certain photos, consult your voice-recorder instead. This works most of the times, not ALL though).
The Hardware Store
The Hardware Store is (of course) abandoned. It seems that most valuable items were either taken by the owner, or looted by a thief. What? Do you really think there are no thieves in Zork? Hmm, interestingly, later on in the game Rebecca will mention that "you should count your fingers after you shake hands with..." the blacksmith. Just to show that not everyone who doesn't attack you is good in Zork. The point is, the Hardware Store doesn't have much. However, there are a few items that should catch your eye:
- Empty Box
- Old Crank
- Mice running on a table
You are probably already aware that you can use certain objects in conjunction with others. And you will also find that some objects you think should be used together, should not or do not interact with one another. Such is the case with the matches... Be careful what you use those with, you might accidentally burn something required to finish the game! The box here is an item that should follow you to the end. Come on! Don't tell me you're willing to walk away with a pair of real mice in your hands, really? Hey, what would you do in real life if you had a choice?
Wow, what a wonderful welcoming! This guy is so nice, I'd vote for him too! He is very informative and understanding, just make sure to apologize if you get a bit cranky. He's not too temperamental, but just to be nice (and trigger some desirable responses) try all your emotions with this guy. Everyone likes pictures of the Mayor and also, you should notice there is a file cabinet nearby (he speaks highly about it); reading has never hurt anyone so maybe we shall. The Muses is an interesting read and you will find more details about how East Shanbar disappeared with all it's inhabitants. As the Lighthouse Keeper said, the only thing left is half the bridge. Later you will find a portal to enter East Shanbar, it will catch you by surprise and not many people know about it in the game. Only problem is that people in West Shanbar, do not seem perplexed about your findings. They know something strange is happening but they also know about the powerful effect of magic.
- Zork has always been a magical land. Magic has never been a secret there, however, just like the world nowadays; some people love and understand computers and some just don't. Magic is known and understood by some, while some pretend it doesn't exist (and only want to believe what they see), others are neutral about it (the Mayor and Molly Moodock come to mind).
Return to Zork: Myth or Fact
This part of the guide will help you uncover the facts or myths about this game. You will find all kinds of claims against Infocom and Activision about this game, from modern gamers. Less than half of the things they claim are actually true, so don't get fooled:
- The maximum number of points in RTZ are 223 no matter what I do!
- MYTH/FACT (note the Mac highlights below): The game has a total of 225 points in ALL DOS versions, I've passed it a total of three times with the 225 score accomplishment. I also passed it at least 8 other times (DOS and Mac) in which I didn't bother to play for points. You don't need 225 to pass, but for kicks here's the screenshot with my last pass score.
- If you ARE playing the Mac version, points may be calculated a little differently. But be warned: When Boos faints, he will never come back again. Returning the keys during the toast is possible. Just keep trying (save during the process).
- If you are playing a bundled Mac version of Return to Zork, on a CD that brought other games (one I can remember now is Blackthorne) the toast of Boos has been shortened to 1 drink to save room in the disc. Unfortunately, in this version of the game you can only make 221-223 points.
- What the heck! I am punished if I take the stuff from Rebecca's trailer, but I wasn't punished for taking the Gift Shop items!?
- MYTH: Every game comes with documentation, if you read the Sweepstakes Winner letter (find it above) you will know you HAVE permission to take the items, Rufus Rooper said you could.
- Another benefit of playing the Mac version? You are not punished for stealing from her trailer; she knows you're on the right side of things.
- Stupid witch, I want that stick! She won't give it to me no matter how hard I try!
- MYTH: The witch will give you the cage with bats if you show her some pictures, but she wont give you the stick, unless you gain her trust.
- If you safely give her the letter Ben Fyshin sent to her, you will gain her trust. She will ask to use your boat and will give you permission to take her stick to navigate the bogs.
- If you didn't get the bats the first time you visited her, don't worry! Pay 2 zorkmids to Ben Fyshin to get on the boat again and she'll be there when you come back.
- This doesn't make sense: how can you scare a spider with a necklace?? It didn't scare me!
- MYTH: If you've been following the story, that's not just any necklace... that necklace used to belong to Witch Itah, and is supposed to cause fear and hallucinations to anyone who sees the bearer. The blessed True Bejeweled Dwarven Sword protected you from the hallucinations when you threatened the troll. The necklace has also been blessed with good magic and it only works against creatures that are evil.
- Stupid sword! If it's so great how come it didn't tear the spider to pieces?
- MYTH: Spiders have two sets of eyes, each one divided into eight segments, which makes a total of sixteen eyes. Did you really think you could stand a chance against a spider as big as yourself?
- Most of the things in this game DO NOT make sense, this is such a dumb game!
- MYTH: The history of Zork has existed since late 1970s. If you don't know the history of Zork, then you are the dumb one that makes no sense. All things that happen in that game make sense according to the Encyclopedia Frobozzica and other previous Zork documentations. :P
- There are NOT enough items for the bridge in the Citadel of Zork! HELP!!!
- FACT: Sometimes, throwing all your items at the Citadel will not cause it to be safe. This is a known bug. Right now you don't have many options but:
- Go see your friend the cow, she has hay!
- If you are still stranded, make sure to restore your last save and follow these tips:
- Throw everything in the Citadel except box and sword.
- Go back to the Forest of the Spirits, and retrieve more Zorkmids.
- Go back to the Hardware store, get the mice.
- This is a long shot, but try to see if you can get carrots, bat guano and bonding plant again (last time I checked I couldn't get them after I had thrown them in the Citadel). :(
- FACT: Sometimes, throwing all your items at the Citadel will not cause it to be safe. This is a known bug. Right now you don't have many options but:
Finally, if none of that works, restore a previous save, work your way in the Citadel and try again; it might change the course of things.