Planetfall is a science fiction themed interactive fiction video game written by Steve Meretzky, and the eighth title published by Infocom in 1983. The original release included versions for Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, TRS-80, and IBM PC compatibles (both as a self-booting disk and for MS-DOS). 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 uses the Z-machine originally developed for the Zork franchise and was added as a bonus to the 'Zork Anthology'.
The word planetfall is a portmanteau of planet and landfall, and occasionally used in science fiction to that effect. The book Planetfall written by Arthur Byron Cover, uses the game image on the cover, and is marketed 'In the bestselling tradition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.' A sequel, Stationfall, was released in 1987.
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. In the diary provided in the 'feelies', the player is on the verge of deserting ship. 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 does not remain on S.P.S. Feinstein for long. Talking to the alien ambassador and performing the assigned 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.
By the time the player arrives, it is clear that the project is on the edge of success, but the planet itself is on the verge of destruction. The planetary orbit has decayed, leading to massive global warming and an enormous rise in the oceanic levels. Meteorites bombard the planet with ferocious intensity, and the project to find a cure for the plague is itself threatened by the failure of the main computer and repair systems. Adding to the challenge is the fact that some of the puzzles are not solvable. Determining which ones are impossible and avoiding even trying is essential.
Early on in the game, the player finds what at first appears to be the only remaining inhabitant of the island: Floyd, a childish yet endearing robot. He is both a constant source of comic relief (e.g. 'Oh, boy! Are we going to try something dangerous?' when the player saves the game in his presence), and also critical in advancing the plotline. Once Floyd realizes that the ProjCon repair robot (aptly named Achilles) is non-functional, and that the Project is close to completion, he performs the ultimate sacrifice and gives his life to retrieve the vital Miniaturization Card from the Bio-lab (the mutants within kill the player if he tries to get it himself). As Floyd lies dying, the player sings the 'Ballad of the Starcrossed Miner' to him (itself an allusion to the earlier Infocom game Starcross).
The adventurer then uses the Miniaturization Booth to access malfunctioning Relay Station #384 and repairs the main computer by removing an offending speck of dust with a laser. After defeating a giant microbe, the adventurer is informed that the primary Miniaturization Booth is malfunctioning and is rerouted to the Auxiliary Booth. Unfortunately, this puts a room full of mutants between the player and the endgame.
With a biomask and the help of the Laboratory's poison gas system, the player makes it through the Bio-lab but emerges with the mutants on his tail. However, the adventurer makes it to the Cryo-Elevator which is hidden behind a mural. The elevator takes the adventurer to a secret room where the survivors of the infection were cryogenically frozen, just as the entire facility staff is reanimated by the antidote discovered by the ProjCon Computer. The adventurer is proclaimed a hero, Floyd is repaired, and Blather is demoted.
There are 41 ways to die. The adventurer must sleep in a Dormitory each night and eat when hungry. Taking more than a few days causes the adventurer to succumb to the infection which apparently has ravaged the facility unless the antidote is obtained at the underground site. But even taking the antidote only buys a little time as the planet is nearing its sun. To achieve the optimum ending, the adventurer also must repair the three Planetary systems: the Communications System, the Planetary Defense System, and the Course Control System.
More details about this game can be found on
5 different online emulators are available for Planetfall. These emulators differ not only in the technology they use to emulate old games, but also in support of various game controllers, multiplayer mode, mobile phone touchscreen, emulation speed, absence or presence of embedded ads and in many other parameters. For
maximum gaming enjoyment, it's important to choose the right emulator, because on each PC and in different Internet browsers, the individual emulators behave differently. The basic
features of each emulator available for this game Planetfall are summarized in the following table: