James Clavell's Shōgun

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
James Clavell's Shōgun
Infocom Shogun box art.jpg
Designer(s)Dave Lebling
Artist(s)Donald Langosy
Platform(s)Amiga, Apple II, MS-DOS, Macintosh
ReleaseMacintosh: March 14, 1989
Amiga: March 21, 1989
Apple II: May 10, 1989
MS-DOS: July 6, 1989
Genre(s)Interactive fiction

James Clavell's Shōgun is an interactive fiction video game written by Dave Lebling and published by Infocom in 1989. It was released for the Amiga, Apple II, MS-DOS, and Macintosh. The game is based on the 1975 novel Shōgun by James Clavell. It is Infocom's thirty-third game.


The game reproduces many of the novel's scenes, few of which are interconnected in any way. The player assumes the role of John Blackthorne, pilot-major of the Dutch trading ship Erasmus. During a voyage in the Pacific Ocean in the year 1600, the Erasmus is shipwrecked in Japan. Blackthorne must survive in a land where every custom is as unfamiliar to him as the language. After learning some of the society's ways, he is drawn into a political struggle between warlords and falls in love with a Japanese woman. Eventually, he embraces Japanese life and is honored as a samurai.


James Clavell contributed little to the design of the game, although he and Dave Lebling met several times. He treated the game as a traditional licensing agreement rather than a collaboration.[1] Consequently, the game contains many scenes from the novel presented verbatim or made thinly interactive.

Dave Lebling has said that he considers Shōgun the worst game he was ever responsible for overall, although he is proud of several of the timing puzzles.[2]


The Shōgun packaging includes two physical objects: a map representing John Blackthorne's "known world" of 1600, and The Soul of the Samurai, a booklet describing the history and significance of samurai swords.


Dave Arneson gave Shōgun a negative review in Computer Gaming World. He wrote that the linear nature of the game and poor hints contributed to guess-the-verb and trial-and-error gameplay, and that the illustrations—while "nice to look at"—did not provide information to play the game. Arneson praised the game's large size, but concluded that Shōgun was only "mildly interesting" and inferior to Zork Zero.[3]

Dave Morris reviewed James Clavell's Shōgun for Games International magazine, and gave it 1 star out of 5, and stated that "I would rather have seen this game taking the novel as a springboard for much more open adventure possibilities. As it stands, I can't see who could get anything out of it. Except Infocom and James Clavell, that is."[4]


  1. ^ "Milliways: Infocom's Unreleased Sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". 17 April 2008.
  2. ^ Granade, Stephen; Philip Jong (22 July 2001). "Dave Lebling Interview". Adventure Classic Gaming. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
  3. ^ Arneson, Dave (August 1989). "Shōgun". Computer Gaming World. No. 62. pp. 12–13. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  4. ^ Morris, Dave (December 1989). "Computer Games". Games International (11): 53.

External links[edit]