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“It’s been five years since your planetfall on Resida. Your heroics in saving that doomed world resulted in a big promotion, but your life of dull scrubwork has been replaced by a life of dull paperwork. Today you find yourself amidst the administrative maze of Deck Twelve on a typically exciting task: an emergency mission to Space Station Gamma 777- G 59/59 Sector Alpha-Mu-79 to pick up a supply of Request for Stellar Patrol Issue Regulation Black Form Binders Request Form Forms … “
* Excerpt from the opening of Stationfall copyright Infocom 1987.
And so begins Stationfall, the second adventure in the two part series that began with Planetfall. The series practically plays in real time because as five years elapsed in the story four years elapsed between Infocom’s releases of Planetfall and Stationfall. You wouldn’t know it, though, because Stationfall has the same feel and appeal that so many loved about Planetfall. Generally a sequel has a hard time living up to the original and Stationfall may not be quite as good as Planetfall was, but if it isn’t it is pretty darn close. Stationfall has the same main characters as Planetfall had. It has the same ingenious, often diabolical, sometimes silly, but always sensible inventory puzzles. It has the same type of setting with the same impending doom looming over your existence.
Maybe if there is a criticism that I would have for Stationfall it would be that it is, in fact, too much of the same as what we experienced in Planetfall. If so much time had not elapsed between the releases of the two games I would harp on that a little more but when you have four years to anticipate the next chapter I suppose you can get away with being genuine to the original without bringing much of anything new to the experience. I was ok with it and I suspect you will be too.
Can you play Stationfall without having first experienced Planetfall? Certainly. Should you? Probably not. The reason I say that is because Planetfall did a better job of developing the characters that are common to both stories. If I had played Stationfall first I might not have enjoyed it as much because I wouldn’t have known as much about myself, the main character, or Floyd, my dearest robot friend. Oh, I didn’t mention that did I? FLOYD LIVES!!! Yes, Floyd, the child-minded robot is back.Unlike Planetfall, however, there is at least a little interaction with other characters in this game. So what if they are robots. At least they can carry on a conversation. Or can they?
It’s hard to describe the story in either one of these two games without spoiling something for the player because the main emphasis in playing the game is to discover the story. When you begin you don’t have a clue what is happening. But, as you read articles, notes and texts that you discover on Station Gamma, the story unfolds and you discover that once again you have landed yourself unsuspectingly in a pile of you know what. That is really all I can say about that.
In this day and age fully enjoying the text adventures of the eighties is an acquired taste. Some people love them (like me) and some don’t get the attraction. That being said, if you have acquired the taste you will enjoy this game. After all, it is more of the same Steve Meretzky goodness that has manifested itself throughout the gaming world. In the text adventure gaming context, Stationfall deserves four out of five stars.
Available for download are the Technical Manual that will give text adventure newbies a quick rundown on how the Infocom text adventures work. Experienced players need not bother. Also available are a map of Station Gamma and the blueprints of each of the levels on the station. Finally, you can also download copies of the various forms that are referred to in the game. The maps and blueprints are advisable but not mandatory. The forms are needed to get by some pretty clever copy protection at the beginning of the game.
There is only one file in the game archive that is downloaded. That file (STATIONF.DAT) can be opened and played using the Winfrotz Interpreter. Winfrotz will manage your saved games and allow you to customize the interface to your greater comfort. It can be downloaded from the “Programs” section of the Abandonia website.