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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA

Infocom's Journey, Unboxed

by intric8 Wed Apr 20, 2016 5:38 pm

After finishing a wonderful vacation in Hawaii on the island of Maui, the flight home was pretty long and tiresome. Such is the small price to pay for traveling to Hawaii. But I soon forgot the plane full of screaming children (not mine) when, upon arriving home, I saw a box waiting for me left by the Post Office.

And I knew exactly what was at rest inside: a never opened, glorious, Infocom interactive fiction fantasy classic Journey: The Quest Begins. The game was written and designed by legend Marc Blank in 1989.

Several things make this particular game noteworthy. First, Marc Blank was on the team that created the original Zork. Second, this game is the last ever created by Infocom in Massachusetts before the company was acquired by Activision (and all Infocom games after Journey were essentially in name only, and almost entirely reprints or reboots). Third, this is a very rare Infocom game indeed where the entire thing could be played with a mouse or joystick, which for some was quite a relief to avoid the keyboard.

The game itself is also considered to be highly enjoyable to play and re-play. Since like most text adventures the actual puzzles can be baffling at times, Journey innovated the genre by telling the player hints at the end of each game on how to do better the next time. And the next time. And the next time. In some ways, it's a bit like a literary version of Dragon's Lair, where the player really does need to know very specific pathways to end the game the "right" way. But being a silent interactive work of fiction can let the blood pressure lower a bit, and provide a very pleasurable experience.

If you're feeling the itch to play this game, I have a couple of extra bonuses for you to ponder. First, there is no annoying copy protection. You are actually encouraged to copy this (to floppy or HDD) as often as you feel the need. It all fits on one floppy, by the way. Also, it is highly inspired by J.R.R. Tolkein's Hobbit, which should be enough reason by itself. But I'll give a third - this game's limited graphics strike me as often evoking the style one sees in classical modern art akin to Renoir and other top shelf impressionists. Perhaps it is the somewhat limited color palette, but the story illustrations are truly lovely (IMO).

Anyhoo - every vacation trip deserves a few splurges. Knowing that this box included a few "feelies" I couldn't wait to open this 30+ year old relic.

Bonus: I passed the breath-halting install process, and even copied it to HDD successfully. Win-win!

Note how this originally sold in 1989 for $49.95! If sold today at retail, that would be about $98! Pity the poor iOS developer these days (not to mention Android) who are lucky to sell their apps for $1.99!

Read more about this fabulous game here: screenshots, full description, credits and more.
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Journey: The Quest [Opening] Begins

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Perfect shrink-wrap, never opened

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Originally delivered via 'Disk of the Month Club'. Where are they now?

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Unlike today, cool games used to come packed with freebies.

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One amazing "feelie" that came with the game was an actual crystal in a pouch. Behold! Feelies were "extra" items related in some way to the game that Infocom often packed into game boxes.

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Booted, and installed, flawlessly. Whew! And that right there is a very impressive intro screen. NTSC, full-screen, 'natch.

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The artistic style of the storybook images are simply museum worthy.

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