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Which version of Zak McKracken do you suggest I play?

So, a few decades after my first attempt to play ZMatAM (which didn’t go well because I don’t like very much adventure games in which it’s impossible to proceed) I’ve decided to give the game another try.

I would like to take advantage of the ridiculously disproportionate and almost pathological knowledge of the game that some of you have, asking: which version of the game do you suggest I play and, more importantly, why?

From a graphical point of view, I think that I might enjoy a little more the colorful FM Towns version, but I want to be 100% sure that this version doesn’t lack any piece of the original story or puzzles or locations or characters or other important elements.

Playing the EGA version would also be OK, I guess. But you should take in mind that I don’t remember much of my decades-old quick and ill-fated playthrough (which was on the Amiga) and as a consequence I don’t have any memory or nostalgia to bring out.

Thanks in advance to anyone who will decide to give advice to this Zak-newbie.

Can’t wait to play the infamous and iconic hamster-in-the-microwave scene!

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I definitely like your sense of humor.

In my humble personal disinteressed opinion:

the most complete immerseful best version to play Jason the journalist and the extraterrestrial people is the EGA version.
FM Towns version is just more colourful, but the feeling isn’t the same, it’s like playing The Secret of Monkey Island in enhanced mode.
Beautiful, but strange.

Oh, and play it in English, because the Italian translation has several gaps and funny mistakes.

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If you play it using ScummVM, you can save as many slots as you want.
That’s true, there are situations where you can say: “* beep * you, now I have to restart”, but they exist because of your actions. I mean, if you read a warning: “it’s really dangerous to press this button” and you press it anyway, it’s your fault.
Of course you should press it, that’s part of the fun, but save your game, first :grin:

I have to redeem myself for the OT I produced in this forums, so I’m gladly here to do the good action of helping a fellow in figuring out what version to play. Eheh.
As a mostly new player of the game, since you just did a few steps in it years ago, you will have less worries about nostalgia in choosing the version. FM-Towns version is colourful, and you will appreciate it mostly in the outdoors. Sometimes, like in Zak’s apartment, colour choice it’s too splendorous, not really catching the original style. But that happens rarely in my opinion. The huge pro is the soundtrack, that has CD quality! You really can’t miss that. (I played that version, too!)

If you want a visual experience that is more true to the original release, go for the Amiga version, it will be a good compromise: music for that computer is always well managed, and graphics are enhanced but more true to the original. Also you started playing it on that system, so it will be like you go on your old playtrough! You will need SCUMMVM to play it.
I personally don’t suggest the EGA version, since your first approach was already with the Amiga enhanced version.
About localization: it seems you have a good knowledge of English language so, go for the that version, as Zak said. (Even if there’s an unofficial patch that corrects some of the funny mistakes in translation, and works for the FM-towns version).

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There are dead ends, but not of the mean kind Larry 2 and 3 has them. In Zak, those are always very obvious and you won’t play for hours without knowing you are in an unwinnable state. You should save now and then of course, as there are ways to die and some mean surprises. And it is possible to do some stupid things, like starting the car on mars, making it impossible to proceed. You should find a way to make some money for all the traveling early on in the game, so you won’t go bankrupt.

It is important to have pencil and paper at hand to keep track of codes, drawings and paths.

I think, the FM Towns version is fine, if you prefer more colors and CD music. There are differences in gameplay as well, but those are very minor and for no obvious reason. Most notably, the order of the intro sequence is different.

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I thought that was in Maniac Mansion, not Zak!

Of course. He was joking.

Play the C64 version. No, I’m not kidding. I still like the graphics on the C64 more than the other versions.

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Well, I first played Zak McKracken on C64, and finished it on C64. But when it came to Amiga, I really double enjoyed the game. Improved graphic, sound and everything.

Doh! Hehehe…

Thanks for the suggestion! By “like playing The Secret of Monkey Island in enhanced mode”, do you mean that the graphics of the FM Towns version is somehow flawed or just that it’s very different from the EGA version?

I was planning to buy the GOG version, which is apparently based on ScummVM. Is it correct to assume that I can use the ScummVM save option in the GOG version?

Oh, thanks. I didn’t know that the soundtrack of the FM Town version had CD quality!

In which way the graphics of the Amiga version has been enhanced? I have counted the quantity of colors of the Amiga screenshots (from Moby Games) and their quantity matches with the quantity of colors of the EGA version.

I really don’t remember the Amiga version, in any case, so I don’t think that I can consider it more familiar (it was almost 30 years ago).

Thanks. Can I assume that these are just aesthetic differences that don’t influence the gameplay in any negative way?

Hmm… it’s a bit too old-style for me. It’s not just a matter of backgrounds but also the fact that the characters have completely different faces from the one that I have observed in tons of screenshots.

I admit that I first played it on the C64. :slight_smile: But I never liked the graphics of the other versions. They looked like the Lucasfilm management said to the artist: “You have 3 days to convert the C64 graphics to the Amiga/PC”. The graphics don’t use the capabilities of the Amiga and PC (hardware) and the colors are chosen wiser on the C64.

That’s another reason why I prefer the C64 version. :wink:

Well, as far as I know the only way to legally buy the game now is on GOG and that version is identical to the FM Towns version. It really has the best graphics, but what might be a dealbreaker is the fact that it has a soundtrack while all other versions only have very rare musical cues.

So unless you want to search for it used, that would be the one to go for, you can´t really go wrong. I would also go back to the C64 version, but if I had the choice between the enhanced Amiga/PC version and FM Towns I would probably pick FM Towns for the better sound and it goes back to Zak having a neutral look. I never really liked him having a permanent smirk on his face.

It’s quite different, and when Zak is walking, it is “a scatti”, which is fine for low-res graphic, but a fist in the eye for hi-res graphic.

A comment on GOG says: “Both the EGA and the much better looking FM-TOWNS ports are included.”.

Me neither.

Thanks for the information, I’ll try to understand if that’s acceptable to me.

That should make the decision easy.

That should help finalise it.

While on the C64 version he does the watusi.

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There are two EGA versions. The first one is very similar to the C64 version, and the latter is the enhanced version, which is basically identical to the Amiga and the Atari ST version just with slightly different colors. Both have 16 colors, but the latter has more detail as it isn’t emulating the limitations of the C64.
The GOG version comes with two versions, the FM-Towns version and the enhanced EGA version.
And it uses ScummVM, so you have 80 save slots, I think.

Of course.

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Is it OK (or even suggested) to read this newspaper before playing the game?

http://www.zak-site.com/newspaper.htm

Strongly!

I would even look at a few of the flight plans that are out there so you get a sense of how they connect and don´t waste any money. Though they probably mostly makes sense like you have to make a stopover in London to reach Cairo for instance.

Flight Plan

http://www.tentakelvilla.de/zak/zak_air_connect.jpg