Zork II

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Zork II
Zork II box art.jpg
Commodore 64 box art
Designer(s)Tim Anderson
Marc Blank
Dave Lebling
Bruce Daniels
Platform(s)Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Apple II, Macintosh, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, Commodore 64, 128, Plus/4, CP/M, IBM PC, MSX, TRS-80
ReleaseRelease 7: 1981

Release 15: March 8, 1982
Release 17: April 27, 1982
Release 18: May 12, 1982
Release 19: July 21, 1982 Release 22: March 31, 1983
Release 23: April 11, 1983

Release 48: September 4, 1984
Genre(s)Text adventure

Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz is an interactive fiction computer game published by Infocom in 1981. It was written by Marc Blank, Dave Lebling, Bruce Daniels and Tim Anderson. It was the second game in the popular Zork trilogy and was released for a wide range of computer systems. It begins where Zork I left off and leads into Zork III. It is Infocom's second game.


The player begins in the Barrow from Zork I armed only with the trusty brass lantern and the elvish sword of great antiquity from before. The objective of the game is not initially clear.

The Wizard of Frobozz is soon introduced. The wizard was once a respected enchanter, but when his powers began to fade he was exiled by Lord Dimwit Flathead. Now bordering on senility, the wizard is still a force to be reckoned with. The player's goal in the wizard's realm is to avoid his capricious tricks and to learn to control his magic.

Like its predecessor, Zork II is largely a treasure hunt. The adventurer must figure out a way to use the treasures in order to reach the game's conclusion.


Zork II has 50 ways to die.[1] The game contains the difficult Bank of Zork vault puzzle, in which the player must walk through what appear to be solid walls. In this puzzle, the player controls his or her destination depending on the direction from which he or she entered the room. The game also includes the "Oddly-Angled Room" puzzle, which relied upon the player being familiar with baseball. Infocom apologized for the American-centric puzzle in their official hints for the game. [2] The Bank of Zork and Oddly-Angled Room puzzles have been called "infamously difficult."[3]

If a player gets stranded on a volcano ledge (e.g., by forgetting to tie the balloon to the hook), after some time a "volcano gnome" appears:

A volcano gnome seems to walk straight out of the wall and says, "I have a very busy appointment schedule and little time to waste on trespassers, but for a small fee, I'll show you the way out". You notice the gnome nervously glancing at his watch.

Similarly, if the player gets trapped in the bank, another gnome appears:

An epicene gnome of Zurich wearing a three-piece suit and carrying a safety-deposit box materializes in the room. "You seem to have forgotten to deposit your valuables," he says, tapping the lid of the box impatiently. "We don't usually allow customers to use the boxes here, but we can make this ONE exception, I suppose..." He looks askance at you over his wire-rimmed bifocals.

If the adventurer puts non-valuable items in the box, the gnome tosses them out and they disappear. If the adventurer doesn't give the gnome something valuable after a while, he will leave the player stranded. If the adventurer presents the lit brick (bomb) a suitably amusing response is made, followed also by abandonment.


Zork II sold 173,204 copies by 1986.[4] Softline praised the game's well-balanced mix of humor, wit, and wry puns". The magazine warned of its difficulty, but concluded that "Zork II is recommended to any novice or master adventurer who wants a feeling of satisfaction upon completion of a well-thought-out and imaginative adventure".[5] PC Magazine stated that "Zork II's appeal is universal" and that the game was "a challenge. It is interesting, difficult, frustrating, and most of all, enjoyable. For those who have plenty of time, the game is endlessly amusing".[6] The Addison-Wesley Book of Atari Software 1984 gave the game an overall A+ rating, stating that it "has the same outstanding command flexibility, wry humor, and word recognition of Zork".[7]


In the 2015 film The Martian starring Matt Damon, Zork II was referenced as being loaded on fellow astronaut Beth Johanssen's laptop.[8]


  1. ^ "Infocom Scoreboard" (PDF). The New Zork Times. 3 (2): 3. Spring 1984.
  2. ^ "It is admittedly a very difficult puzzle - apologies to non-American Zorkers" "InvisiClues(tm) Hint Booklet for Zork II". Infocom (Republished on the web by Peter Scheyen). Archived from the original on June 22, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
  3. ^ "The game is also noted for two infamously difficult puzzles called the 'Bank of Zork Vault' and the 'Oddly-Angled Room.'" Barton, Matt. "The History Of Zork". Gamasutra. CMP Media. Archived from the original on October 15, 2007. Retrieved December 26, 2007.
  4. ^ Carless, Simon (2008-09-20). "Great Scott: Infocom's All-Time Sales Numbers Revealed". GameSetWatch. Think Services. Archived from the original on 2008-09-24. Retrieved 2008-09-23.
  5. ^ Repstad, Tom (May 1982). "Zork II". Softline. p. 17. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  6. ^ Leibson, Steve (December 1982). "Space Wars and Earth Games". PC Magazine. p. 165. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  7. ^ Stanton, Jeffrey; Wells, Robert P.; Rochowansky, Sandra; Mellid, Michael, eds. (1984). The Addison-Wesley Book of Atari Software. Addison-Wesley. pp. 30–31. ISBN 0-201-16454-X.
  8. ^ Eisenberg, Eric (5 October 2015). "The Martian: 5 Cool Little References The Movie Works In". Cinemablend. Retrieved 23 February 2022.

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