Up to now in adventure games you were brave but totally illiterate; the character you commanded had an IQ lower than the average shoe size, because he could only handle two words in a row. Now that problem has been dealt with by the Zork series by Infocom. These games can understand complete sentences and have vocabularies of well over 500 words. That's probably more than three times the number of different terms in the BASIC programming language.

The three Zorks are part of a series. Zork I puts you at the beginning of the great dungeon. You have to get in the house and explore the higher levels of the dungeon. Then if you are ready or willing to continue your exploration you can get Zork 77, in which you get to explore the middle of the dungeon. And if you want to finish off the dungeon get Zork III, which allows you to explore the bottom and meet the dreaded Dungeon Master.

The Zork games are an adventure-game purist's dream. They have absolutely no graphics and all the action is described in words. It reads pretty much like a good pulp fiction paperback, with some fascinating riddles thrown in. But you still have to get the phrasing almost perfect in order to achieve an above average understanding with the computer.

Speaking of understanding, another thing that sets the Zorks apart from most other games is that they are definitely not easy. As a matter of fact, the Zorks are excruciatingly difficult. You can go over the same thing time and time again without even realizing that you should do something with it. For example, kicking the dragon in order to get him to follow you (Zork II) doesn't sound like the most obvious solution. But if you are willing to spend the time to puzzle it out, this game will provide you with lots of fun.

These games are not for the short-tempered or the weak-brained. But if you are a stout individual with a lot of common sense and a warped imagination, these games are probably the best software buy for your dollar.

Unlike other companies, Infocom doesn't leave you all alone when it comes to dealing with their games. Just call (617)
492-1031 and ask for the hints partment. The people over there are extremely nice and helpful, and though they probably won't give you a straight answer, they will give you an extremely helpful hint. Or, if you don't wont to keep calling them, you con buy the complete map to all three games and some hints for about $10.