Review: Zak McKracken

Zak McKracken

ST Amiga Format Review

My Review

Zak is the second release from Lucasarts using the Scumm engine, as later found in the Monkey Island games, Sam and Max, Grim Fandango, Day Of The Tentacle, etc. Classics, every one, but this is that rare thing, a Scumm game I’ve never played before. For anyone following along, you may wish to pick up the manual at https://openretro.org/file/4beafd838f3e71e98988cde8ab2df8ba2eb2120d/Manual (en).pdf – you might also want to look at playing the game on ScummVM if playing on the ST doesn’t do it for you. I’ll be playing the version found on Automation’s disk 192 which features some fabulous sampled music in the cracktro.

From the off it’s clear that this is a port from the 8-bit machines, not really utilising the ST’s capabilities in the way Monkey Island later would. It has a similar visual with flat colours and limited detail to Leisure Suit Larry 1 for instance, which doesn’t stack up so well against later releases like Operation Stealth. I won’t hold that against it though because if it has that Lucas magic then who cares about graphics, but if graphics do matter to you then you may wish to go for the 256 colour FM Towns version available on gog.com for a fairly sensible price.

We begin in the office of the National Inquisitor bitching to the boss about having to make up crap stories and being sent to Seattle to investigate a vicious two-headed squirrel and write about a UFO incident 50 years ago.

An intro with some crappy chip music and animation at 2 frames per second (I may be being a tad generous with that) ensues as our hero has a weird dream, and we are deposited in his room to figure out what to do next, with the hint that you should make a drawing of the map you saw in the dream (I’m pretty sure I couldn’t do that).

In typical adventure game fashion I leave the first room with a kazoo, a phone bill for $1138 (too many sex lines I presume) and a fish in its fish bowl. Sensing a clue I dial 1138 but get nothing. No messages on the answering machine either. God damn it this game is so slow and unresponsive.

Into a room with a huge TV. Let’s see what’s there. Meanwhile, in a secret room, aliens are plotting. The annoying noise emitted from my Atari ST however proves to be the final straw, my patience expired. I’d love to play Zak McKracken, but I don’t want to do it on an Atari ST as this version is absolute shite. I’ll recommend the GOG version instead.

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