Zork: Grand Inquisitor

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Zork: Grand Inquisitor
Zork Grand Inquisitor Coverart.png
Developer(s) Activision
Publisher(s) Activision
Director(s) Laird M. Malamed
Designer(s) Sara Margaret Stohl
Engine Z-Vision
Platform(s) Windows, Macintosh
Release date(s)
  • NA October 31, 1997
Genre(s) Graphic adventure
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a 1997 graphic adventure game developed by Activision and released for Windows and Macintosh. It builds upon the Zork and Enchanter series of interactive fiction video games originally released by Infocom. The cast includes Erick Avari, Dirk Benedict, and Rip Taylor.


Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a first-person point-and-click adventure game that allows the player a 360 degree view of each pre-rendered location (dubbed "Z-Vision"). This visual freedom applies to the horizontal axis only; looking up and down is restricted, although possible in some locations.

Zork: Grand Inquisitor was one of the first computer games to include true closed captioning so that the hearing impaired could play without missing any of the sound effects and spoken dialog in the game.[1]

Much of the humor in Zork: Grand Inquisitor stems from the ludicrous Inquisition policies and propaganda. Example quotes:

  • 'Shun magic, and shun the appearance of magic. Shun everything, and then shun shunning.' - the Grand Inquisitor (Mir Yannick), played by Erick Avari.
  • 'This is a paid announcement: "The Grand Inquisitor rules!"' - voice of the Inquisition, played by David Lander.
  • 'And never forget who is the boss of you—Me! I am the boss of you!' - The Grand Inquisitor (Mir Yannick), played by Erick Avari.

The game also makes frequent use of self-parody, and contains numerous references and asides to staples and clichés of the traditional adventure genre; for example, two items almost invariably found and heavily used in almost all Zork games, a tattered map and an elven sword, are to be found in a glass case at the start of the game, with the notice "In case of adventure, break glass!" When the player dies, the game cuts to a computer terminal on which the player's fatal action and its consequences appear in prose form, in the fashion of the original Zork trilogy.


The player character joins forces with the Dungeon Master Dalboz (voiced by Michael McKean), whose soul was imprisoned in a lantern by the Grand Inquisitor, Yannick. Dalboz calls the player "AFGNCAAP," a satirical, politically correct initialism for "Ageless, Faceless, Gender-Neutral, Culturally Ambiguous Adventure Person"—a joking reference to many adventure games, such as Infocom's original Zork games, in which the player's character has no identity, name, or background. AFGNCAAP and Dalboz attempt to find three legendary objects that will restore all magic to the realm and bring about the fall of the Inquisitor, who intends to purge all magic from Zork and replace it with technology. The three artifacts are: the Cube of Foundation, the Coconut of Quendor, and the Skull of Yoruk. Zork: Grand Inquisitor is set after the events of Zork Nemesis and before Return to Zork. Zork: The Undiscovered Underground was written and released as a promotional prequel to the game.

The game begins in Port Foozle, which has been occupied by the Inquisition. The evening curfew has just begun. Megaphones in the streets continuously spout ridiculous propaganda, including a reminder that all residents must have standard Inquisition loudspeakers in their homes, blaring standard Inquisition propaganda at all times. Violation of any of the numerous rules of the Inquisition will result in swift totemization "courtesy of Frobozz Electric" (formerly the Frobozz Magic Company, before magic was banished). The Totemizer machine was created by the Frobozz Magic Company as an effective alternative to the death penalty. The machine fell into disuse and locked in a deserted warehouse in Fenshire until the Inquisition found it following the fall of magic. It was refurbished by Frobozz Electric to be electrical rather than magical. The process confines a person's spirit into a small metal can, a "totem," for eternity.

The player ends up in the Great Underground Empire accompanied by Dalboz, where magic spells are hidden. Spells are added to the player's spell book as they are discovered, and include rezrov, throck, obidil and snavig, many of which originated in Infocom's original series of Zork and Enchanter games. Along the way, three other characters are met, all of whom have been subject to the totemizer: a fanciful dragon named Griff, a humanoid creature called Brog, and the rightful heir to the kingdom — Lucy Flathead (played by Amy D. Jacobson). To recover the three artifacts that will restore magic, each of these three characters must be sent through time tunnels to the places where the artifacts were last known. Once recovered, they are stored in a giant, living castle.

The villain is Mir Yannick, a magic-deficient failed wizard played by Erick Avari. He discovered the long-lost Totemizer and rose to the position of Grand Inquisitor and head of the Frobozz Magic Company, which he renamed Frobozz Electric. Persecuting all magical beings and magic users, Yannick plots to cement his power by brainwashing all of Quendor with a "radical new mind-numbing technology" ("Inquizivision," a 500-channel, 24-hour TV network), but the adventurer (with the help of Dalboz, Griff, Brog, and Lucy) uses the Time Tunnels to gather the lost artifacts, and tries to use them to stop him. Yannick climbs to the top of a large radio tower to stop this, but the ensuing magical blast from the artifacts' use causes him to lose his grip and fall. Lucy is restored as the rightful Queen of Quendor.


The music for the game was composed by John Beal and Mark Morgan.

The Macintosh port was developed by MacPlay.

The original release included a feelie poster with a timeline of the history of Zork up until the events of the game, with pictures and short descriptions of major events, including the backstory of some of the characters; this encompasses all released Zork games except Return to Zork, which takes place 580 years after Zork: Grand Inquisitor.


GameSpot rated Zork: Grand Inquisitor an 8/10, writing "Compact and unspectacular as it is, Zork: Grand Inquisitor is a model of adventure gaming as good entertainment. Many of the genre's conventions (FMV, item hunting, absurdist humor) get polished to a high sheen here. It is funny and reflexive without being geeky or pointlessly ironic. The third-string actors exploit their comic trademarks to good effect. Real attention is paid to the pacing of the whole affair, so there are no overly quiet dead zones of tedious activity. And the puzzles are fun to solve rather than gratuitous brain-teasing exercises."[2] Adventure Classic Gaming rated the game a 3/5 stars, writing "One of the more distinguished, entertaining games of the last several years, Zork Grand Inquisitor is light and amusing (and in some places, very funny). It strikes a good balance between its tone and subject matter. … Overall, Zork Grand Inquisitor is the best looking game among the next generation titles of the Zork series. While it is a very good adventure, it is not a very good Zork."[3] Destructoid wrote an article about it in the site's Games Time Forgot series, commenting "Not only is Zork: Grand Inquisitor a clever, well-written adventure game, but it's also one of the most singularly rewarding games a fan of Zork could ever play."[4]

Tap-Repeatedly/Four Fat Chicks gave it 5 Stars, PC Jeux gave 88 out of 100, PC Zone gave 8.8 out of 10, Adrenaline Vault gave 4 Stars, Quandary gave 4 Stars, Game Revolution gave a B, PC Games (Germany) gave 74 out of 100, Adventurespiele gave 3.5 Stars, and Power Play gave 68 out of 100.[5]


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