Personal Computer Museum, Canada's Videogame Museum



SystemApple II
Floppy (5.25")1


Apple II

Release Date: 7/8/1983
Manufacturer: Infocom
Donated By: Steve Punter and Sylvia Gallus
Planetfall is a science fiction interactive fiction computer game written by Steve Meretzky, and the eighth title published by Infocom in 1983. Like most Infocom games, thanks to the portable Z-machine, it was released for several platforms simultaneously. The original release included versions for the PC (both as a booter and for DOS) and Apple II. The Atari ST and Commodore 64 versions were released in 1985. A version for CP/M was also released. Although Planetfall was Meretzky's first title, it proved one of his most popular works and a best-seller for Infocom; it was one of five top-selling titles to be re-released in Solid Gold versions including in-game hints. Planetfall utilizes the Z-machine originally developed for the Zork franchise and was added as a bonus to the "Zork Anthology". A review in Computer Gaming World considered the game a good place to start for those new to interactive fiction. It has been described as "still lovingly remembered".

The word planetfall is a portmanteau of planet and landfall, and occasionally used in science fiction to that effect.

The game starts with the user assuming the role of a lowly Ensign Seventh Class on the S.P.S. Feinstein, a starship of the Stellar Patrol. Overbearing superior Ensign First Class Blather assigns the player to mop decks, not exactly the glorious adventures promised by the recruiters on Gallium. But a sudden series of explosions aboard the ship sends the player scrambling for an escape pod, which eventually crash-lands on a nearby planet. There are signs of civilization, but curiously no traces of the beings that once lived there. Eventually encountering a helpful but childlike robot named Floyd, the player must unravel the mysteries of the single deserted structure on the planet, Resida, and find a way to get back home. As the fate of the planet's former inhabitants becomes clearer, a time limit also imposes itself.

The adventurer doesn't remain on S.P.S. Feinstein for long. Talking to the alien ambassador and performing the required task of scrubbing the floor don't accomplish much. Wandering to other parts of the ship merits demerits from Blather and an ultimately fatal run-in with the Brig unless the player returns to work. Soon, an explosion occurs and an escape pod door opens. The pod safety netting breaks the player's fall and an escape kit is produced, which proves critical to survival. With great exertion, the adventurer swims out of the pod and climbs up to a mysterious deserted base.

By putting together various clues, slowly the player realizes that the nearly-uninhabited island is in fact one of the last remaining landmasses on a planet on the verge of destruction. A deadly plague for which no cure existed threatened to kill off all inhabitants of the world. The inhabitants initiated a planetwide project to place everyone under suspended animation while automated systems of robots and computers worked towards finding a cure. Once the cure was found, the inhabitants could be revived.

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