Star Wars has been inspiring videogames for nearly as long as videogames have existed, from the earliest vector-drawn Empire Strikes Back arcade cabinets to the heroes of Battlefront II. But director Rian Johnson revealed on the latest film’s commentary track that he’s taken inspiration from videogames, and even slipped a souvenir from the Infocom classic Zork into The Last Jedi.
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The Last Jedi comes out on Blu-ray next week, and Film School Rejects has had a chance to listen to the director’s commentary track. There’s apparently tons of interesting factoids in it – Johnson points out, for instance, how you can see Laura Dern (Admiral Holdo) saying “pew, pew” whenever she fires a blaster – but one that caught our eye here at PCGamesN is a shout-out to classic text adventures by Infocom. Johnson says he placed a coin that came with Zork Trilogy in one of the movie’s casino scenes.
Before fancy modern conveniences like “graphics” and “the mouse” entered the scene, Infocom was perfecting the text parser. They used a text-only game system called the Z-machine that would try to understand what the player typed, and adapted and expanded it in a library of adventure games that included The Lurking Horror, Enchanter, and Laether Goddesses of Phobos.
Infocom even worked with Douglas Adams to create the first videogame adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, which Johnson mentions by name in the track.
But Infocom’s most famous game was also their first: the legendary Zork. When Infocom released the Zork Trilogy in 1987, they had a special copper Zorkmid coin struck to include with each boxed copy as collector’s items.
One of those collectors turned out to Rian Johnson, and he’s kept his Zorkmid ever since. And it makes an appearance in The Last Jedi as one of the coins Benicio del Toro’s character DJ pockets during a scene in the casino, Canto Blight.
It’s a touching nod to a company that had a huge impact on early games development, and one that took a whimsical and often comical approach to science fiction and fantasy. Given the light-hearted touch Johnson brought to many of the scenes of the Last Jedi, it’s not hard to see how Zork might have had an influence on the film, 40 years after the game debuted.