Nethack

By on September 26, 2003

This week’s Friday diversion is not one to pick up lightly. Nethack has been destroying the social skills and tanned complexions of geeks for years.

It’s a “Rogue-like” game that was originally written for old UNIX systems in the early 80’s as an adventure game that could be played on a TTY terminal. Think Diablo meets ASCII. It seems simple and ridiculous at first (and you die a lot), but the depth and the varying nature of the gameplay experience will keep bringing you back to try again.

Nethack has advanced a lot over the years. The original version now includes a Windows port that has graphics, and you can even get versions offering isometric perspectives or full-blown 3D. The worst part is that there’s a very well-done version for the Pocket PC, which means that my addiction to this thing has followed me out of the computer room.

“Nethack is one of my all-time favorite games, one I’ve been playing since 1200 baud was smokin’ fast.”

— Actor Wil Wheaton, www.wilwheaton.net

“In short, NetHack 3.1.3 is the most elaborate role-playing environment you are ever likely to explore. This is a place to return again and again, each time for a different experience. You’re really going to have to play it for a year or two and see for yourself.”

— “Fatal Distractions” by David Gerrold

“Thank you for the latest release of gradewrecker. My GPA just went in the corner and shot itself.”

— USENET posting, author unknown

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