A clarification… I’m not looking for a review or feedback on the game… (like what you did/didn’t like). I’m looking for stories I can include in my presentation in Italy. What it was like playing the game, either with a friend, parent, sibling, or by yourself. Especially for those who played it long ago, did it affect your view of the world? Any fun stories to relate?
We learned English with it! True story. After playing Maniac Mansion my friends at school and I got huge fans of the point-and-click games. We read in German computer magazines that Zak is the next game with the same interface. There was a German version announced but we couldn’t wait for it. A friend of mine was able to get the English version of Zak. So we played that first. I learned a lot of new English words from your game - and I still use “see ya” at several occasions. Oh, and it was the first time I got in contact with the “face on Mars” myth.
My friends and I played the game together. Sometimes in front of one computer, but mostly each one for his own. Each day we shared our progress and the notes we made (on real paper!) on the schoolyard. Unfortunately we weren’t able to solve all puzzles at that time. And, yes, I had huge problems in the mazes. Some day one of my friends came with a copy of a walkthrough. The solution was published in a magazine and the one who made the copy hasn’t put the magazine correct on the copier - with the result that the last column was cut off at the right side. So we had one additional puzzle: To decipher the solution. And it got even more worse: We had to copy the copy and that made the text even more difficult to read. But together we managed to solve Zak at last!
Oh, and yes: Zak strengthen(*) the habit in me to close the fridge and turn of the lights if I leave my house.
(*) is that the right word?
I’ve heard from several people that they learned English from Zak or our other adventure games. Something I never thought of as a possibility while creating them.
Wait, the Face on Mars is a myth??
Right word: strengthened? reinforced?
And they showed us a little bit more of the American “way of life”. For example in Germany we haven’t (and hadn’t) those kitchen-sink-shredders. It seems to be a common tool in the US?
The others said that in another thread ( but I don’t believe them…)
Both. Let’s say that Zak implemented the habit to turn off the light in my brain.
Well, you all already know that Zak McKracken changed my life. But maybe I didn’t tell you when exactly it started.
It was in 1989. June the 20th, 1989.
I had finished Zak McKracken several times already (in English), and I had handwritten my best solution, to send to ZZap!
That day, I was connected to a sort of primitive internet, called Videotel, using a Commodore 64 and a Terminal Adaper 6499:a modem capable of the incredible speed of 1200 bytes/sec.
It was common to connect to the Videotel: there were pages made in a way very similar to the Teletext.
Suddenly, I receive a private message from an unknown person. He asks me if I want to join a new chat.
By the way, it was important not to reveal any personal information. A sort of secret meeting
That idea thrilled me very much.
I had to choose a name strange enough, and peculiar, to identify me.
It took me only a few seconds: Zak McKracken. Perfect. Magnificent.
So I entered that name in the chat room, and wrote a few welcome words.
After a few minutes, a guy says hello to me: “hi Zak nice to meet you.”
It worked! From that day on, Zak had became my first name. Even outside that chat room.
P.S.: that guy who said hello to me, is still my friend, one of my best friends. Even 29 years later.
Yes, most homes from the 1950s on have “garbage disposals”. Though now some of us compost our food waste instead. We rarely use our disposal any longer, except for making bread crumbs.
Was this an Italian network? It sounds familiar …
Did he chose also a name from a game?
Yes, only Italian, it was managed by the Phone Company of that time (SIP, now Telecom).
Eheh, no, he choose a humble “Ace” as nickname
This is what I remember the most:
My first play through was in 1993. I was in high school (Argentina). It took us me and a friend around two weeks of playing non-stop almost every night. I still remember waiting for the bus and falling asleep standing cause I only got like two or three hours of sleep. It was probably the ONLY time in my life I was looking forward to actually go to school I just couldn’t wait to catch up with my friend and see how much progress he made. In our own way we played it in offline co-op mode and we love it.
I was a child, I don’t remember the exact age, but I couldn’t have been more than 8 (that means it’s before 1993). I was probably at a friend’s house (there were two kids around my age in the building and we often gathered to play games), we got into adventure games with Indy3 and Monkey Island, so we tried this “Zak” thing which was from the same company.
We only had an English version (I’m not even sure it got ever translated to Italian, maybe @ZakPhoenixMcKracken can tell) and our English skills were more than basic, but I remember we thought it worked like Monkey Island, so “one puzzle, one solution”. I remember my friend’s oldest brother had dug the pile of dirt at Mt Rainier with the stale baguette, so we thought that was the only way of doing it, and when one day my friend shredded the baguette in the sink, I said “we have to start over, we needed it for digging”.
I also remember that we had no idea that there was a copy protection. In fact, leaving from Seattle asks you for a “visa”, and we thought it meant the credit card circuit (as I said, our English skills were not great). So when we got in jail getting the lecture on piracy, we thought it was a lecture on credit card frauds and that it was part of the game. We spent lots of time thinking we needed to find some credit card codes in the game.
After a while, we eventually gave up thinking “it’s probably just a demo”. Ah, the '90s.
The first time I actually played Zak was between 2000 and 2005. And it was after I learned that the visa thing was a copy protection system. It was still generally known as the hardest adventure game, so I had to finish it without walkthroughs. It was a bit tedious, being used to post-MI games, having to save often and avoiding doing stupid things just for fun, but it was instant love since after putting in the visa codes I could finally explore all the locations I could never see when I was a kid. I took lots of notes (with a red pen, I don’t know why) because my main fear was running out of money, so the first thing I did was drawing a map of all flight connections, prices and what you found on each city. I also drew all the labyrinths.
Ironically, “the first thing I did was drawing a map” was not in-game, which is the first thing you should do. So after getting the teleportation crystal I couldn’t do anything because it kept telling me he needed a map. That is the only time I consulted a solution, and it said “use the map you drew from your dream”. And I was like… what? Which map? That’s when I understood I had to start over I never gave attention to the “I should make a drawing of the map I saw”, I thought it was just random commentary.
But in the end I finished the game. It took me almost a month and lots of notes. I had lots of spare time, so it was probably summer and I wasn’t yet at the university. Good times.
Many years later, but yes, it has been translated in italian, in 2 versions. The first one was translated by a non-native speaker (there were embarassing errors), the second one was ok, all the errors gone.
That was my thought, too
But at that time, I played a cracked version: any combination of 4 symbols was OK, so I didn’t understand why there was that kind of request, but ok: the game was full of strange things!
Years later, when I had purchased my copy of Zak McKracken, I stumbled into the VISA codes and, one day, I entered the wrong codes on purpose, revealing somenthing never seen before…
I’m also very proud of that, Zak McKracken was my first adventure game that I had finished without hints!
Nor do I, I didn’t realise where I should have drawn a map. It happened by chance, during a “try-this-with-anything” phase that I used the yellow crayon on the torn wallpaper, opening another piece of that world.
I can second this: The discussions about the game at school were as funny as playing it.
And I miss these times: Today you find a solution to every adventure game in the Internet. There is no need to discuss the puzzles with friends or others. That’s why I enjoyed the “We are playing Zak McKracken together” thread in this forum.
Well, you can just avoid searching for them for TWP I discussed puzzles with my friends. The problem was that it was too non-linear and you couldn’t know whether your friends already encountered your same problem even if you knew they already had solved puzzles you hadn’t. Other than that, it was very cool.
That’s what I’ve done with TWP. But a lot of other peoples just won’t like to discuss the puzzles.
But isn’t that also true for Zak?
I found discussing Zak and its puzzles over here very relevant and more interesting than a one-dimensional walkthrough. It might be of course that Zak is filled with (un)intentional alternative solutions to a single puzzle and that they just don’t make these kind of games anymore…
That reminds me I still need to write down my Zak story.
Yes, of course. But you don’t need to do that anymore. Back then we hadn’t any solutions, so we had to discuss the puzzles.
Well, we had Zzap!
So we had like part 1 of the solution. And enough self-restraint to not read it. Or perhaps with squinting eyes. Until you saw a word that you didn’t want to see.
But you had to wait for the corresponding issue.
Yes, these damn additional words!
Which you had no way of telling when that might be… If I remember correctly, there was a couple of months between the review, the solution part 1 and again a few months until part 2. Which was in an issue I missed. (Availability of magazines like Zzap! wasn’t that consistent back then and neither the publishing dates.)
Luckily there’s archive.org now…
Just look at this issue for example…Indy3 review! What? No C64 version?
Advertising for games you can play on a Compact Disc?? This must be the futuristic year 1990 for sure!
Zzap! 64 Issue 057 (HQ) : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive
Here in Germany we had at least three monthly magazines at that time. So you had only to wait four (very long) weeks … (for the first part of the solution).
The day I read that was one of the saddest days of my whole life!
The German “1st CD Edition” from Rainbow Arts was 1989.