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In 1982 Steve Meretzky was working as a game tester for Infocom. In 1983 he was putting his name on one of the best selling games in Infocom’s history. That game was Planetfall. Meretzky would go on to leave quite a large impression on the adventure gaming genre with such works as (just to name a very few) Hithchikers Guide To The Galaxy, Leather Goddesses Of Phobos, Zork Zero, the Spellcasting Series and Superhero League Of Hoboken. Meretzky is recognized as one of the greatest writers of interactive science fiction today. I can honestly say that any game that I have ever experienced that he has been a part of has been an absolute delight.
If you haven’t ever tried playing a text adventure, Planetfall is a great game to introduce you to the paradigm of the eighties. The key is to get a handle on the key verbs and their abbreviations that are used to progress in the game. I strongly encourage you to read through the instruction manual. It will give you tips on how to communicate with the game. Once you master one of the Infocom text adventures you will catch on very quickly to any of them (and there are many).
One of the nice things about the old Infocom adventures were all the extra “feelies” that you would find inside the box when you first opened the game. Planetfall, for example, came with colored postcards from interplanetary space, an ID card, recruitment brochure and personal diary. These extras would add to the feeling of participation, which is important because in this adventure the main character is you. Many of them would lay the groundwork and develop characters before you started the game. In the case of Planetfall, the personal diary and Stellar Patrol recruitment brochure helped served this role. Along with the game download you have the opportunity to download copies of these documents. I would encourage you to do so. You will understand and enjoy the beginning of the game more if you do and, besides, anything Meretzky writes is fun to read.
The Planetfall story begins just after you have transferred to the Spaceship Feinstein where you’re superior, Ensign First Class Blather, is making your life miserable. You have been assigned the rank of Ensign 7th Class and your most important duties are that of custodian. Obviously this is not why you enlisted in the Stellar Patrol. Just as you are contemplating going absent without leave your fortunes take a dramatic turn and you find yourself in a situation that just may define the rest of your Stellar Patrol career. Will your dreams be fulfilled? Will you be able to continue your long family tradition of Stellar Patrol honors?
This game is full of inventory puzzles, and some very challenging ones at that. Even though you will spend 95 percent of the game without interacting with another living being, you will, during your adventure, hook up with one of the most beloved non-playing characters ever; Floyd the Robot. As much as I would like to, I had better not go into any more depth or I risk spoiling some of your fun.
Take my word for it and give this game a try. You won’t be sorry. If you are like me you will spend much of the time playing this game with your eyes closed as you paint the described images in your mind. If you are up for a good science fiction adventure with a twist of humor, Planetfall won’t disappoint. Some of you that need graphics to get involved in a game may not agree with me but as they say... to each their own.
Note: Another of the included extras is a map of the structure where you spend 95% of the game. If you want more of a challenge don’t use the map ... make your own. If you hate drawing maps, don’t worry. Even if you do use the map you will still have plenty of challenges.
Run PLANETF.BAT to start the game. The game can be played directly under Windows or DOSBox but I would suggest playing it using the WinFrotz interpreter. WinFrotz will handle the save and restore functions of the game much better than Windows or DOSBox. You will want to save often and have multiple save games so that you can backtrack if you discover you have missed an important item.