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Best-selling novelist and director Michael Crichton was a computer hobbyist who taught himself BASIC. In the early 1980s he, programmer Stephen Warady, and artist David Durand began developing an Apple IIgraphic adventure game based on Crichton's novel Congo; he sometimes programmed game sequences which Warady converted into much faster assembly language. They worked on the project for 18 months and, before Crichton found a publisher, Spinnaker Software approached him about adapting his novels for its Telarium division's new "bookware" games. The author revealed the game, amazing Spinnaker, and signed a contract in late 1983.
Crichton did not realize, however, that he had already sold all adaptation rights to Congo to another party. The team revised the game (renamed Amazon), moving the setting from Africa to South America and changing a diamond mine to an emerald mine; the novel's Amy the talking gorilla became Paco the talking parrot. Because the game was mostly complete, Telarium was able to port it to the Commodore 64 before Amazon 's release.
Amazon was the best-selling Telarium title with as many as 100,000 copies sold, the majority likely for the Commodore 64.Computer Gaming World praised its rarely used animated graphics and Crichton's cooperation with its designers, stating that "the cohesive manner in which the game's storyline unfolds reflects Crichton's skill as a writer". German reviewers recognized the suspenseful, atmospheric and elaborated prose. Storyline, graphics and text parser got the score "sehr gut" (very good). Historian Jimmy Maher in 2011 wrote that "Amazon is good enough that it makes me wish [Crichton] had done more work in interactive mediums ... it’s a fast-moving rush of a game that’s constantly throwing something new and interesting at you. And it really is relentlessly cinematic, replete with stylish little touches".
^Murphy, Jamie (May 13, 2013). Reported by Cristina Garcia. "Stepping into the Story: Players participate in 'interactive fiction'". Time125 (19): 64. Micheal Crichton (The Andromedia Strain, The Terminal Man) has actually created a software work from scratch: Amazon (Telarium; $39.95), which transports the player and a sidekick parrot named Paco into the jungles of South America in search of a lost city and hidden emeralds.