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Mini-Zork I

Infocom info, Zzap64 1988

Aka:
Mini Zork I
Language:
English
Authors:
Dave Lebling, Marc Blank, Steve Meretzky
Systems:
ZIL info
Platforms:
C64/128 info
Genres:
Fantasy, misc., Underground info, Zork info
Related:
1: Mini-Zork I, 2: Mini-Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz
Entered by:
Alex, ClockWyzass, Denk, FredrikR, Gunness, Strident
Added:
03-08-2010
Edited:
07-09-2022

Synopsis

Notes

This cut-down version of Zork I was the only Infocom title ever to be released on tape.

Steve Meretzky was tasked with the job of producing the slimmed down version of the game.

"Mini-Zork" was (at least planned to be) available as a retail version and on the C64 it was later given away as a freebie with issue 67 (November 1990) of Zzap! magazine.

Mini-Zork has been ported to other platforms, such as the Atari 8-bit conversion by Tom Hunt/CTH Enterprises. Various ready-made builds for other Z-machine compatible platforms exist.

There seem to have been a couple of different attempts to create a cut-down version of Zork by the team at Infocom. Torbjörn Andersson has made an earlier 1984 development version of the game playable.

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Images

Image
Mini-Zork_I_4.png Mini-Zork.png Mini_Zork_2.png Mini-Zork_I_3.png

Rating

Average User Rating: 8 (3 ratings)

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User Comments

Denk (13-10-2021 09:16)

I don't think this game was officially released on the Atari 400/800, only on tape for the C64, so that should be the only platform mentioned. If I'm wrong, it would be good if someone could add a comment under "Notes", explaining where and when the official Atari version was published.

Strident (13-10-2021 09:50)

I think the Atari version is running using the Tom Hunt CTH Enterprises' Z-machine, so is a later unofficial production?

Denk (13-10-2021 13:44)

I still feel a bit new here, so I am not completely sure of which versions are regarded as official. I have the impression that games that have not been released in the public domain but are published with permission, can be regarded as official versions and should be listen under "platforms". But if the game at the time was released as public domain, then the Atari version is only one of many unofficial ports.

Strident (13-10-2021 14:32)

Yes, you're correct about that. Site policy is that only official releases are listed under platforms, with third-party ports tending to be listed in the notes section. The Atari version probably shouldn't be listed as an official platform.

(It can get a little confusing as sometimes "official" releases can actually be published without the original author's permission. Also translations into other languages tend to get classed as a new derivative work with their own entries in the database.)

ClockWyzass (06-09-2022 23:28)

Regarding whether or not an Atari port was official, I did stumble across this page, which suggests that Infocom was SELLING Mini-Zork in the UK (on 5.25” disks, for Atari):

https://www.everygamegoing.com/litem/Mini-zork-I/157360/


In the following 1989 issue of Zzap!64, there is an ad-like article that talks about a C64 tape version being sold in the UK for £9.99.

https://archive.org/details/zzap64-magazine-049/page/n37/mode/1up

The way the article is worded, it sounds as though Zzap! may have been selling its Megatapes in stores BEFORE offering them for free with their magazine issues. In fact, I found a Megatape case inlay that has an extensive list of game stores printed on the inside of the inlay. I didn’t grow up in the UK, so I have no way of knowing if this was true, but if Zzap! wasn’t selling copies of their own tapes, then either Infocom or Commodore or Mastertronic must’ve been.

Strident (07-09-2022 06:04)

The store release of Mini-Zork is unconnected to Zzap. https://ifdb.org/viewgame?id=1rea34vqnz3mtyq1 The entry isn't meant to imply that the Zzap64 covertape was the only way the game was distributed, but I'll tweak that to make that clearer, as I have some additional information to add anyway.

ClockWyzass (07-09-2022 06:53)

Ha! I can't believe I missed the MZ1 r2 rebuild. I was so surprised by the MZ2 rebuild that I didn't look beyond that.

I've been digging through the Internet trying to find evidence of MZ1 sales, at least in the UK, and the only photographic evidence I've found so far is just the Zzap!64 Megatape 11. I haven't even found a tape inlay for it, assuming one ever existed. I know a couple of the early Megatapes had inlays.

Otherwise, only scant references to Commodore or Atari sales have surfaced, but without detailed data or photos of tapes, disks, or packaging. I haven't even found specific references to Mini-Zork tapes or disks being bundled as free demos, other than vague rumors. If physical copies are still floating around, they're rare, and probably in the hands of collectors. Nothing has popped up yet.

Strident (07-09-2022 07:18)

The trick with UK magazine covertapes is... if you can see the damage the Sellotape left on the tape label then you definitely know it didn't have an inlay. :) In the case of Megatape 11, there's a cut-out inlay in issue 67 of the magazine, so it won't have come in a box.

Yes, aside from that magazine mention, it all seems to be third-hand information regarding other retail/freebie releases. I personally would've expected more evidence if there really were retail copies released into the wild.

ClockWyzass (07-09-2022 07:41)

Oh! I was wondering why so many of the early Megatapes have a strip of the printing missing. That's a shockingly low-tech way of securing the tape. I was also wondering why the printed image inside the magazine sort of looked like an inlay. That's another shockingly thrifty way of providing one. I wonder how may readers mauled their magazine issue just to have an official Megatape inlay.

I think the next best strategy is to try to list all of the UK sellers who might've sold Zzap! and/or Mini-Zork. One of the inlays (cut from a magazine or not) has an extensive list of UK computer sellers. Some of them might have regular (UK) magazine ads with product listings and prices, that sometimes even include the format (disk or cassette). Many magazine archives, like archive.org, are searchable by text. And the time window is mostly around 1988-89.

Perhaps with the right mix of keywords (that perfectly fit a particular sale product), it'll be easier to find images and physical copies. I also need to stop limiting my searches to the US websites, and use the UK ones instead. Steve Meretzky said that Mini-Zork was (originally) meant for a UK computer, and I've never seen a single mention of any sales outside of the UK or Australia.

Strident (07-09-2022 09:29)

Yes, cassette was the main format for a lot of the early micros in the UK in the 1980s which is one of the reasons that we had our own, distinct text adventure scene that wasn't dominated by Infocom.

I've never seen any adverts referencing Mini-Zork and I think you're unlikely to find anything, especially if Activision didn't advertise it themselves. I spend a huge amount of time searching the Internet Archive, and I'm pretty good at searching it, but any references to Mini-Zork would be pretty difficult to spot as (going on the existing Zzap mentions) it's likely to be referred to just as "Zork" which will just flood your results and basically end up with you manually checking every single reference.