Jigsaw (video game)

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computer screenshot of the Jigsaw text-adventure, with the opening lines of the interactive-fiction storyline. "Prologue: Century Park. New Year's Eve, 1999, a quarter to midnight and where else to be but Century Park! Fireworks cascade across the sky, your stomach rumbles uneasily, music and lasers howl across the parkland... Not exactly your ideal party (especially as that rather attractive stranger in black has slipped back into the crowds) -- but cheer up, you won't live to see the next."
Jigsaw (online version)[a]
Developer(s)Graham Nelson
Publisher(s)Self published
Designer(s)Graham Nelson
Programmer(s)Graham Nelson
Platform(s)Z-machine for PCs, plus later[when?] browser[a]
Genre(s)time-travel romance,[1] Interactive Fiction, Aventure
Mode(s)Single player

Jigsaw is an interactive fiction (IF) game,[b][c] written by Graham Nelson in 1995.[d]

The game begins on New Year's Eve of 1999, with the player discovering a time machine enabling him or her to travel throughout the twentieth century (including voyage of The Titanic, discovery of penicillin, codebreaking of the enigma machine during World War II,[1] opening of the Suez Canal, and the recording of Abbey Road) to ensure history unfolds 'correctly'.[2]

Jigsaw contains references to other interactive fiction games, including Trinity.[e] Features of the game include attention to detail,[f] and a romantic relationship between the player's character and another central character whose gender is never revealed[2] (allowing the player to project the gender of their choice onto both).

Jigsaw has been described as "acclaimed,"[3] "epic...notable,"[1] and as "[perhaps] one of the most fun educational games in existence".[2] The gameplay is challenging.[2][d]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Jigsaw"an online version of the game which can be played in a web browser
  2. ^ Laurel Halbany. "XYZZYnews Game Reviews: Jigsaw, release 1".
  3. ^ Christopher E. Forman (February 5, 1996). "Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games: Game Reviews -- Jigsaw".
  4. ^ a b "The Interactive Fiction Database: Jigsaw by Graham Nelson". Forgiveness Rating: Cruel
  5. ^ a b Nelson, Graham. "On Jigsaw and 'I'". XYZZY News. Eileen Mullin. Archived from the original on 2008-10-30. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
  6. ^ Paul O'Brian (November 2002). "THE TEMPEST by Graham Nelson as William Shakespeare". Archived from the original on 2008-06-08. Retrieved 2015-07-13. ...attention to scholarly detail [in Nelson's 1997 interactive fiction videogame The Tempest] recalls some of the finer moments of Nelson's epics, especially Jigsaw.


  1. ^ a b c Dennis G. Jerz (2000-02-07). "Tasking Ariel in Graham Nelson's The Tempest". Seton Hill University website, also published in SPAG#24 newsletter by the Society for the Promotion of Adventure Games. Nelson -- who created the IF programming language Inform, and also some of the best IF of the 90s, is Marlowe (of the 'mighty line') and Shakespeare rolled into one. (His online persona also shares elements of Dr. Johnson, Lewis Carroll, and, of late, J.D. Salinger.) His epic works Curses (a delirious mythological and genealogical romp, 1993) and Jigsaw (a time-travel romance, 1995), did much to rekindle interest in 'serious' IF. While Nelson's IF stories are in and of themselves notable, even more remarkable is Nelson's creation of the programming language Inform, an authoring system for IF, which he has generously donated to the worldwide gaming community. ...the plots of most IF works are tightly constrained, such that the story does not advance until the player-reader has solved certain puzzles. The puzzles can range from uttering a magic word, to finding the right key, to successfully mastering a complex simulation of a World War II 'enigma machine' (from an extremely challenging chapter in Graham Nelson's Jigsaw); but owing to the technical difficulty of coding such puzzles, and the aesthetic difficulty of integrating such puzzles into the fabric of the story, the plots of most IF works are tightly constrained.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Andy Hughes (February 16, 2011). "The 10 Best Time Travel Videogames (Jigsaw, #3 of 10)". Topless Robot of Village Voice Media. Archived from the original on 2011-02-20. Retrieved 2015-08-16. ...sort of a sprawling, mystical version of Carmen Sandiego. It is New Year's Eve 1999, and as the celebration culminates you find yourself wandering away from the party and into a mysterious chamber outfitted with a long table and an Ormulu clock. Your nemesis/love interest is a sinister yet attractive character named Black (cleverly written so as to be whatever gender you prefer), and it becomes your goal to Gump your way through the highlights of the twentieth century and ensure history unfolds correctly. ...be prepared to save and restore often....
  3. ^ Edward Rothstein (1998-04-06). "TECHNOLOGY: CONNECTIONS; In the intricacy of a text game, no object is superfluous, no formulation too strange". New York Times. The New York Times Company. Archived from the original on 2008-11-13. Retrieved 2008-11-13. [in the videogame Colossal Cave Adventure the command-word] XYZZY was a spell that could instantly transport a spelunking nerd from one part of the cave to another. ...Mr. Nelson is a British mathematician who played Advent as a child in the 1970's, created his own text game programming language, and in the last few years, has written two acclaimed games -- Curses and Jigsaw (http://www.pond.com/russotto/zpletx/jigsaw.html) -- each freely available on the Internet. He is also one of the more ornately literate creators of interactive fiction. His guide begins with an invocation of Tom Stoppard. The epigram for Jigsaw is from T. S. Eliot. And any player who manages to solve its problems will find untranslated Latin mottos and puzzles involving Proust and Lenin. Mr. Nelson seems to love the intricate machinery of a text game, the way no object is superfluous to its unfolding and nothing required is missing. It is a mathematician's construction, a tightly knit universe of text and symbol. But he also has high ambitions -- that in this weird, stilted form of prose broken by puzzle, there may also be a sense of something more powerful and as-yet rarely realized in interactive fiction, the powers of language to magically transport or transform. Something like XYZZY.

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