Planetfall is one of Infocom’s biggest successes, updated and re-released as the “Solid Gold” edition in 1988. The entire Solid Gold line was sadly not very well known, perhaps because most people assumed it was simply a re-release of the original game. This is not the case: the Solid Gold edition games include Infocom’s “InvisiClues” hints as an in-game feature, the game engine (“Z machine”) was updated to version 5 (which features a more versatile parser), and most bugs were squashed. Thus "Solid Gold" was more like a "Director's Cut". |
As to this particular rerelease, Planetfall remains to this day one of my top favorite IF games, and has a special place in my heart for being the first game ever to make me cry. That’s right – a text-only game made me cry. That should tell you how extraordinary a tale this is, although the fact that I was only 13 when I played this (with my Dad’s help) may have something to do with it ;)
Similar to the Space Quest series, you start the game as a starship janitor who managed to escape the ship before it was destroyed, subsequently landing in a deserted building complex on an alien planet. With the help of your faithful robot companion B-19-7 (aka Floyd), you must discover what happened to the people and solve various problems before time runs out.
Planetfall is a great science fiction game that boasts a milestone in computer gaming: creating a believable and lifelike non-player character. Floyd is universally hailed as Infocom’s best NPC, and for good reason. Although he is directly useful for only three things in the game, Floyd constantly provides you with quips, amusing banter (including many tales of his life as a robot), and hints. The game is not a flat-out comedy the way Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was; it’s better described as a conventional sci-fi game with a charming sense of humor. One of the best things about Planetfall (and most games by Meretzsky) is the fact that many items have more than one use. Of course, there are also red herrings.
With excellent writing, fun plot, logical puzzles, and most importantly a genuinely charming NPC you will grow attached to, Planetfall is a masterpiece of interactive storytelling you simply must play. It is much better than Stationfall, the sequel, and the hard-to-find Solid Gold edition includes on-line InvisiClues hints and the same advanced parser that powered later Infocom games, from Beyond Zork onward. Two thumbs up, way up!
Reviewed by: Underdogs