Beyond Zork If you go to the Pool of Radiance, then type "DIP ME IN POOL" (as opposed to "GET IN THE POOL"), it will say that you see yourself in the pool, even though you really aren't. However, you will now be unable to interact with yourself ("EXAMINE ME," "POINT WAND AT ME," etc.) for the remainder of the game, unless you are at the pool. There is no way to get "yourself" back out of the pool once you "put" yourself in. This works in any version.
In early versions (47/870915 and possibly 49/870917), you can take the hurdy-gurdy away from the Monkey Grinder using the levitation wand. He'll still be able to use it against you, though.
I've also received several reports of the "Butterfly Bug" in earlier releases. You were able to sell the butterfly in any of the shops, but it would still follow you around, enabling you to sell it again and get infinite zorkmids. It was even possible to win the game without obtaining the Crocodile's Tear by doing this. The version included with LTOI (57/871221) has this one fixed.
Also fixed in LTOI is a bug which allowed you to read the scroll of recall, then walk onto the lava without the aid of the ring of shielding.
For some reason, the potion of forgetfulness doesn't seem to erase your map in the LTOI version, although it did in earlier releases. Not sure whether this is a bug or an act of kindness on the part of Infocom.
Bureaucracy In the PC version (at
least), if you type
RING THE DOORBELL in front of the Mansion,
it works fine. However, you can stand in front of your own house and type
RING DOORBELL, and you get the same results as if you were in
front of the Mansion. (contributed by Doug Atkinson)
Deadline In the earliest version of Infocom's classic mystery (26/821108), after the murder of Ms. Dunbar, two Dunbars would sometimes be present -- one living and the other dead! Version 26 of Deadline does not have this bug.
[NZT] In release 19, the bathroom door on the first floor was impossible to open. "OPEN DOOR" would generate the response, "Which door do you mean, the door or the south closet door?" Answering "THE DOOR" would start the process all over again.
* All Deadline versions don't recognize the player as being in the room when he's sitting on a piece of furniture. For example, sitting on the couch and typing, "BAXTER, TELL ME ABOUT ROBNER" would respond with "You can't see any me here." * The six-letter recognition system used by Infocom's early parser often created problems. "LISTEN TO THE GARDENER" would generate a reply of "The roses make no sound." The game, looking at the first six letters, recognized "GARDEN" and "GARDENer" as the same word.
Enchanter A well-documented bug in the versions prior to release 10 allowed the player to fill the jug anywhere in the game simply by typing "FILL JUG" (provided that there was at least a small quantity of water already in it).
A similar error allowed the player to obtain any spell he wanted simply by typing "GNUSTO spell name." (Not sure if this worked with KULCAD, GUNCHO, or FILFRE.) This one was also corrected in the second release.
Normally, if the player continues to wander around without sleep for long enough, he'll drop from exhaustion. If you happen to be near the Engine Room when this occurs, however, you won't be able to sleep because of the noise. After you drop, try typing "DIAGNOSE," and you'll see garbage for the description of how rested you are. Repeat this several times, and eventually you'll start seeing the Rainbow Turtle's dialogue mixed in. This one works in all versions, including the one in LTOI (29/860820).
Here's a bug that erases the entire contents of your spell book. At the Landing, enter the following sequence: "MEMORIZE BLORB. EAST. KULCAD THE STAIRS. CAST BLORB ON ME." When Belboz restores you to life, your spell book will be empty when you try to read it! You can do this in any version.
[NZT] In an old version, sending the turtle into the temple would be interpreted by the game as though you'd gone in instead, and you would end up dying. * Casting Guncho to dispel the magic in the rope around the jewelled box would work, but the box would be empty, and typing "LOOK" would make the rope visible. Also, the portrait in the gallery would disappear if you moved it and typed "LOOK."
Infidel The wooden mast of the Royal Barge is responsible for several bugs in this game. According to the hint book, you're supposed to need both hands free to take the beam, which means you have to put the torch in the knothole. However, if you remove the shim, then go back up to the main deck of the barge, you'll be able to remove the beam no matter what you're holding. So you never have to put the torch in the knothole. Also, try dropping the beam aboard the barge or in the area immediately surrounding it. It will reappear on the central deck, no matter where you drop it. Sometimes I've even had it drop there just by passing through the central deck! As there was only one version of this game released (22/830916), the problems with the mast were never corrected.
[NZT] You can "LIGHT THE TORCH" anywhere in the game, regardless of whether or not the torch is present. (There was only one version, so this one's still out there.) After you put the beam in the niches, if you type "GET BEAM" from anywhere in the game, you fall into a pit of rats. * Filling the silver chalice when it's already full responds with "The silver chalice is filled with water. The silver chalice is now empty." * The container bug from Starcross and Zork I is also here.
Leather Goddesses of Phobos In the Solid Gold
version of Leather Goddesses you can manipulate
the purple or orange buttons on the barge, even when you're not in the
same place as the barge. The reply goes something like this:
>EXAMINE THE PURPLE BUTTON
Pushing the buttons works as well. This one is still present in
the Solid Gold release (4/880405).
You can't see any purple button.
The huge purple button reads: Go With The Flow.
Lurking Horror After you obtain the master key from the hacker, try losing it in a way which prevents you from retrieving it. (Dropping it into the pit beside the altar works well.) Now if you go back to the Terminal Room and ask the hacker for it again, he'll give it back to you. This works in 203/870506, the earliest version. Not sure if it's still there in the Mac or Amiga versions with the digitized sound effects.
When you encounter the rats in the steam tunnels, try escaping them by climbing on the coaxial cables above you. Eventually the rats will swarm up and start to bite you, making you fall. But if you try letting go of the cables before they do this, you'll get two descriptions of your death -- one sayi ng that you let go of the cables, and the other saying that the rats bit you and made you fall.
Moonmist If you give another character a sequence of commands, ending with a request that the character follow you, the character will instantly appear at your side, no matter where he or she is. For example, lead a character to the first-floor gallery. Now type: "character, GO DOWN THEN GO WEST THEN GO NORTH THEN GO WEST THEN GO DOWN THEN GO WEST THEN FOLLOW ME." The character should now be somewhere in the basement, but if you go east, into your room, he or she will instantly reappear at your side. This works in both versions of the game.
Nord and Bert Although I can't recall details, I once got the game into an unsolvable state by performing several actions out of sequence, with the skeleton in the bathtub in the "Meet the Mayor" scene. I remember being unable to interact with the skeleton, despite the fact that the room description said it was still there.
Planetfall At the end of the game, pushing the elevator button more than once will make it restart its descent, with no ill effects. In more recent releases, it's been fixed, and you go back up to the main floor where the mutants are eating. Not sure which versions this one is present in.
[NZT] Ordering Floyd to take an item was interpreted by the game as if the player typed "TAKE FLOYD." * Taking the fused bedistor, then dropping it, would make it impossible to pick up again, since the game thought it was still fused to the socket. * Floyd would bring you the shiny fromitz board over and over.
Quarterstaff Trying to burn anything with a sub-menu (such as any item acting as a container, or a creature holding an item) causes the game to crash. Several locations, such as the Charred Room, will eventually set your party on fire and also lead to the crash. This one caused so much trouble that Infocom even reported it in an issue of The Status Line.
Sorcerer Several sources informed me that, in earlier versions, it is possible to GNUSTO the Golmac spell and use it later, even though it has no effect. I couldn't get it to work in the PC LTOI version (15/851108), so I can only assume it's been fixed. In this version, trying to leave with the Golmac scroll causes a paradox, and you lose your grip on the rope if you try to enter the room with the spell book.
[NZT] As in Enchanter, you could TAKE any spell scroll at any point in the game, no matter where it was. You could even get a second Aimfiz scroll this way.
Spellbreaker In the first release (63/850916), if you tried using the knife to cut up the magic carpet while you were sitting on it, the status line would say you were still sitting on the carpet, even though it was destroyed. If you then got off the carpet, the status line would show garbage, and you would find yourself in a location with no description and no exits. Attempting to use the Blorple spell to get out of this location would make the game hang.
If you're playing the first release, it's impossible to offer the merchant an exact number of zorkmids in exchange for the magic carpet (for example, you can't "OFFER 250 ZORKMIDS"). All you can do is offer him the opal or the coin.
Also in the first release, typing "THANKS" gives you the response, "How do you do that with a <string of garbage>?" Weird, considering Infocom usually handled Q&A and rhetorical replies pretty well.
And then there's the famous Girgol/Blorple bug that caused quite a commotion in the rec.games.int-fiction newsgroup a couple months ago. Normally, if you try to get by the ogre by casting Girgol, the scroll and gold box will be frozen in time and you won't be able to take them until the spell wears off, at which point the ogre will come in and kill you. But casting the Blorple spell on a non-magical object, and then waiting in the Nondescript Room until Girgol wears off, would allow you to exit and take the Espnis spell and gold box without being killed by the ogre. There was considerable disagreement as to whether or not this was really a bug, but I recently discovered that, in the second release (version 87/860909), included with LTOI, the Girgol/Blorple solution to the ogre's cave does not work. Apparently the folks at Infocom decided that it was in fact a bug--Told you so!--and removed it from the game.
Starcross In the first PC release (which I believe is the one included with LTOI), you can put the red disk on the blue disk, then put the blue disk on the red disk. This causes them both to disappear, along with anything else that was on either of them. Similar bugs appear in early versions of a few other games that have items acting as containers.
Similarly, trying to shake an object would put the game into an infinite loop. This one has apparently been fixed, substituting the cute response, "You can't take it; thus you can't shake it."
[NZT] You were once able to get the red rod from the grue's nest by typing "NEST, DROP ROD." * Climbing the tree and typing "THROW HANDS" once resulted in, "The pair of hands sails away, drifting in a long arc towards the ground."
Suspect I received word that, in the first release of this mystery, it was possible to get to Veronica's office before her murder occurred. The path which must be taken is geographically longer, but requires fewer moves, and should allow you to reach the murder scene one turn before the body appears. Supposedly, typing "LOOK" again will display the text about the body, even though it wasn't there the turn before.
Suspended In the earliest version (5/830222), there was no way to determine which of Iris' chips was shorted and needed to be repaired. You don't need to use two robots to move Fred from the cabinet. In all versions, you can cheat and use just one: "BOTH SENSA AND SENSA, MOVE FRED."
In any release, you can configure the game on the second move, not just the first. This means you can make one move (most likely picking up an object) and then re-configure the game to put the robot with the object in a better position. This can be a great time-saver if used correctly.
While you can walk northeast from East End to the Alpha FC, there is no direct route back from Alpha FC to East End, and no indication that this is a one-way corridor. An attempt to backtrack results in the standard "You can't go that way" message, despite the fact that it directly contradicts the map. To get back to East End, you have to walk south through Primary Channel and Beta FC.
Trinity The Book of Hours is not reversed after passing through the Pergola in any version of the game. This could be considered more of a design flaw than an actual bug. (Or perhaps the book doesn't change because it represents time, which, unlike directions, cannot be reversed.)
When you're on the paper bird above Nagasaki, and you hear the plane approaching, type "LISTEN." You'll die, but the message will be the same as if you'd still been on the ground rather than flying on the paper bird.
ROADRUNNER, DROP ME results in "The roadrunner drops
yourself at your feet." The room
description then says "There's yourself here." Leaving the location and
coming back does not change the
situation. And strangely, referring to the dropped "yourself" is interpreted
by the game as an attempt to
interact with the roadrunner. The roadrunner will only drop "you" once --
trying it again causes the game
to say "The roadrunner doesn't have that."
Carrying the splinter into the bottom of the reservoir also reveals a small blooper. The room description talks about the lantern's beam, even if you are carrying the splinter instead of the lantern. Evidently the author never considered the possibility of someone going to the Trinity site without solving all the other puzzles first.
Wishbringer In version 68/850501, you could take the gold coin back from Miss Voss after buying a movie ticket, enabling you to repeat the action and earn an infinite number of points. The PC version of LTOI uses a later version (69/850920) , but this bug should s till be present in LTOI for the Mac.
[NZT] You could "GET A DRINK" anywhere in the game. * If a player got into the shower or the broken window, he would become trapped, as the game would think you needed to get up first, because it thought you were sitting in the chair.
Zork I The earliest release of Zork I (release 5, no serial number) would become very confused if you nested objects too deeply in your inventory. The output of the "INVENTORY" command would get spurious "Such language in a high-class establishment like this!" messages, with other random junk interspersed in it. This would also lead to the object hierarchy getting screwed up, in such a way that an "INVENTORY" would claim that you were carrying a bunch of rooms around. I'd LOVE to get my hands on a copy of this version and try it out. Here's a variation on the Starcross disk bug. If the sack and the bottle are both empty, it's possible to put the sack in the bottle, then put the bottle in the sack, causing both to vanish. This is still present even in 88/840726, the LTOI version (!), but I think the Solid Gold release (52/871125) finally fixed it.
[NZT] In early versions, shaking an open container that isn't empty may crash the game. * In early versions, you can bump your head on things such as the river by trying to enter them. * Commands such as GO DOOR or GO TREE can send players into bizarre locations.
Zork II When the wizard appears before you, but doesn't cast any
spell, you will see the following text:
The Wizard seems about to say something, but thinks better of it, and
peers at you from under his bushy eyebrows.
KILL THE WIZARD, and you will get the following reply:
The Wizard retreats, waving his wand and chanting. He says, "Fear!"
Nothing happens! With a terrified glance at the demon, the Wizard runs
past you and out of the room.
This text clearly belongs much later in the game, after you've freed the demon and ordered him to kill the wizard.
In older versions (not the one in LTOI), you were able to give commands to inanimate objects. For example, you could say "AQUARIUM, GO EAST," and the game would say "The aquarium has left the room." Typing "AQUARIUM, EAST. EAST" would result in a message saying that you have died, but in reality it is the aquarium that has "died." I don't have an older version of Zork II to confirm this myself.
Also in early versions, you could take immovable objects by reading them.
For instance, "READ UNICORN" will (provided the unicorn is actually present
in the first place) reply:
How can you read a unicorn?
Another example: Reading the stands on the Wizard's workbench will let you take them, even though the game claims they are firmly bolted to the table. However, since the text about the stands is a part of the room description, they remain attached to the table, even if you're carrying them, and even if you drop them elsewhere, even though the table itself doesn't move along with them.
Yet another early Zork II bug: If you looked into one of the three spheres when they were all in the same place, the game would recursively describe the room as seen through each sphere, which would overflow the interpreter stack.
I've also had a parser bug in early Zork II releases brought to my attention
by several people. It stems from having two objects of the same color in
the same room, and then referring to the object simply by its color, for
>TAKE THE RED
<several lines of garbage>
do you mean?
In the LTOI version (48/840904) the parser bug has been fixed, and the reply "There seems to be a noun missing in that sentence" replaces the garbage. (Early parser versions of other Infocom games may have similar bugs.)
Another minor parser bug: Restart the game, and try using a pronoun in
your first command, such as "EXAMINE IT." You should get the reply:
There's nothing special about the
<short string of garbage>
This happens in other games running early versions of the Infocom parser, but I first noticed it with Zork II.
If you time it right, you can blow up the base of the volcano while in the balloon. This requires dropping the bomb on the ground and lighting it, then crawling into the basket before it explodes. If you do it right, the computer should tell you that the balloon settles to the ground, followed by "You can't go that way." (contributed by John Payson)
Zork III In very early versions of Zork III, the chest was too big and could thus contain items that normally weren't supposed to fit. The most notable was the wooden staff, which, if put safely inside, would not get broken when the player fought and killed the man at the cliff ledge. Thus a player could get the treasure and keep the staff intact as well. Another interesting use of this bug involved using the chest to transport the lamp or torch across the lake, thus eliminating the need for the grue repellent and viewing table. This allowed the player to win with only 6 of the 7 possible points. It's incredibly difficult to find a version with this bug still intact.
Another bug in the early releases actually let the Dungeon Master follow the player outside the endgame area if you knocked on the dungeon door a second time, from the inside. LTOI doesn't have this one either.
After you've climbed down the rope to the cliff ledge, you can't climb back up again with the chest. However, typing "CLIMB THE ROPE" (as opposed to "CLIMB UP THE ROPE") will make you climb DOWN the rope again, putting you at the cliff base, even though the rope ends a few feet above the cliff ledge! This one's present in the version included with LTOI.
When you get to the Dungeon area, try this (in any version):
>DUNGEON MASTER, KILL ME WITH THE STAFF
"If you wish," he replies.
If you insist... Poof, you're dead!
**** The dungeon master has died ****
The dungeon master follows you.
Your sword has begun to glow very brightly.
>DUNGEON MASTER, KILL DUNGEON MASTER WITH STAFF
"If you wish," he replies.
"If you wish," he replies.
You aren't even holding the staff!
The last message appears even though you are holding the staff! Very surreal. I'm still scratching my head over these.
[NZT] At the very end of the first released version of Zork III, the sword was often a source of trouble. If the player happened to be holding the sword when he/she was in cell #4, the game would crash when the player asked the Dungeon Master to push the button. This was because there were two different possible exits to the north, and the sword routine got confused when it checked the adjacent rooms to see whether or not the sword should glow. Infocom's testers didn't find this originally, because they'd been leaving the sword to block the beam of light. * It's possible to get the Dungeon Master to follow you beyond the Dungeon area, if you get beyond the door, drop one of the items you need, then knock on the door again, from the INSIDE! It's even possible to get the DM stuck in the area from Zork I.
I found this bug in Zork III, but it also exists in most Dungeon/Zork ports. While you're shoving blocks around to solve the Royal Puzzle, drop the gold card in the slot to open the door, then move a block in front of the door and leave the usual way (via the ladder). Walk around to the side door and you'll find it's not blocked! You can walk through the solid stone block back into the puzzle, but you can't leave that way. I reported this bug to Infocom many years ago, but I doubt it was ever fixed. (contributed by Dave Newkirk) Zork Zero After you put John Paul Flathead's spyglass in the cauldron of Megaboz, you can go back to the Frigid River Valley and ask Otto for it again, which allows you to get infinite points. When you use this technique to throw more than 24 Flathead items into the cauldron, you'll start getting garbage to describe what the cauldron is doing. Unfortunately, the spell of Megaboz, which breaks the Curse, won't work once you get more than 1000 points.
LTOI also forgot to include the MCGA drivers. These can be obtained from ftp.gmd.de.
Well, that's all of 'em. Before I wrap this up, I'd like to mention that my intent here was not to nitpick every game Infocom ever released, as is frequently the case with discussions of other forms of entertainment on the 'net. I merely hoped to provide fellow Infocom fans with a new incentive to dig out your collections again and see some new things that you may not have known existed in them. As one of my contributors so eloquently put it, almost all of these are minor bugs which have little effect on gameplay and are unlikely to show themselves unless a user actively seeks them out. When we consider the scope for errors in games of this depth and complexity, it's really quite incredible that there were so few.
Speaking of contributors, if I've somehow forgotten to add your name here and I've screwed up everything else with this list, so that wouldn't surprise me in the least), just let me know and I'll update it and post a revision.
Contributors: Tim Anderson, Daniel Dobson, Paul David Doherty, Roger N. Dominick, Allen Garvin, Neil K. Guy, Eric Smith. Special thanks to Paul D. Smith for his Table of Infocom Games, which I used extensively as a reference in preparing this article, and to Alex Wai for forwarding the bugs listed in the New Zork Times "Exterminator" columns.