Top Eighty

The Top Eighty (Or So) Works of Interactive Fiction
(In One Person’s Opinion)
For Use In Middle (Students Aged 10-13) and High Schools (Students Aged 14-18)

Stories that are available in the IF Archive are also at the Interactive Fiction Database (ifdb.tads.org), where online versions can usually be found. Many of the stories involve ancillary materials that can be obtained by Googling the stories’ websites.

  1.  Arthur: the Quest for Excalibur by Bob Bates (1989), a well-plotted version of the story of King Arthur as a boy, excellent for middle school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom, and other Infocom collections, often Offered at Ebay and Amazon)download
  2. Lost Pig by Admiral Jota (2007), hilarious tale of Grunk the orc, fun for readers of amost all ages. Winner of the 2007 Fall IF Competition. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive and the Interactive Fiction Database.
  3. Wishbringer by Brian Moriatry, (1985) a gentle fantasy-adventure, excellent for middle school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  4. The Firebird by Bonnie Montgomery (1998), a comic retelling of the Russian folk tale, excellent for middle school (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org. The archive is well catalogued at the Interactive Fiction Database (http://ifdb.tads.org)Sprite1
  5. Winter Wonderland by Laura Knauth (1999), a finely-crafted winter solstice story, excellent for middle school (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  6. Pepper’s Nasty Secret by Eric Eve and Jim Aiken (2008), a clever and lighthearted puzzle-fest, good for beginners.  (Available at http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=dcvk7bgbqeb0a71s)Bear
  7. A Bear’s Night Out by David Dyte (1997), a funny story of a teddy bear who comes to life (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  8. The Earth and Sky Trilogy–Earth and Sky by Paul O’Brian (2001), the first of three comic superhero stories (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  9. The Earth and Sky Trilogy–Another Earth, Another Sky by Paul O’Brian (2002), the second of three comic superhero stories (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  10. The Earth and Sky Trilogy–Luminous Horizon by Paul O’Brian (2004), the third of three comic superhero stories (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Photopia
  11. Photopia by Adam Cadre (With Censoring of Opening Scene of Some Versions, 1998), a challenging, beautiful, and very sad story of a middle school girl (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  12. The Matter of the Monster by Andrew Plotkin (2011), an inventive variation on the “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of story. Quite brief and very enjoyable.
  13. Chlorophyll by Steph Cherrywell (2015), feisty plant-girl breaks a few rules and rescues her mom in this inventive and humorous sci-fi tale. Contains some mild references to reproduction among the walking veggies. (Available at the IF Database, http://ifdb.tads.org)
  14. Bronze by Emily Short (2006) a Gothic retelling of Beauty and the Beast, with some references to sexuality and suicide, good for mature high schoolers. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org. A slightly-edited version for younger readers is at http://bdesilets.com/if/Bronze.z8.Hoist
  15. Hoist Sail for the Heliopause and Home by Andrew Plotkin (2010), a graceful space-exploration fantasy. Best for older students who have some literary-analysis skills. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive and the Interactive Fiction Database.)
  16. Untold Riches by Jason Ermer (2015), a funny treasure-hunt story, written especially for use in a classroom of pre-teens. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive and the Interactive Fiction Database.)
  17. Jack Toresal and the Secret Letter by Michael Gentry and David Cornelson, (2009) an exciting interactive novel with a suspenseful plot and wonderfully interactive characters. Some gender-roles stereotyping. (Available for purchase at http://textfyre.itch.io/jack-toresal-and-the-secret-letter)
  18. Robin & Orchid by Ryan Veeder and Emily Boegheim (2013), comic  story about high school students looking for a ghost in a Methodist church. Some readers may find mild irreverence here and there.  (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  19. Mother Loose by Irene Callaci (1998), an amusing retelling of some classic fairy tales, excellent for middle school (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Bonehead
  20. Bonehead by Sean M. Shore (2011), the mostly-true story of Fred Merkle, who made one of major league baseball’s most famous mistakes. Part of the 2011 Spring Thing Competition. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  21. Aoteoroa by Matt Wigdahl (2010), a lively tale of the modern world–with dinosaurs! (Available at the IF Database, http://ifdb.tads.org)
  22. Taco Fiction by Ryan Veeder (2011), a young man plans on making a big mistake, but thinks better of it. Recommended for older kids, sixteen and up. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  23. Brain Guzzlers from Beyond! by Steph Cherrywell (2015), funny sendup of the monster flicks of the fifties and sixties. Some sexual references make this story inappropriate for younger teens. Winner of the IF Comp 2015. (Available at the IF Database, http://ifdb.tads.org)
  24. History Repeating by Mark and Renee Choba (2005), a time travel story about a man who neglected an important assignment in his high school history class (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Warbler
  25. The Warbler’s Nest by Jason MacIntosh (2010), a brief, truly creepy, though non-graphic, horror tale. Best for older students. (Available at the IF Archive and the IF Database)
  26. Lost New York by Neil DeMause (1996), a detailed, well-researched time-travel story about the Big Apple; excellent for more mature middle schoolers and for high schoolers (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  27. Suspect by Dave Lebling (1984), a rather challenging murder mystery, set at a high-society costume party (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  28. Moonmist by Jim Lawrence and Stu Gally (1986), a mystery for kids, set in a Cornish castle, good for middle school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  29. Zork I by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling (1980), a fantasy treasure hunt (Available at http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/download.html)
  30. The One That Got Away by Leon Lin (1995), a brief, funny story about fishing (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  31. Glowgrassby Nate Cull (1997), a sad but graceful science fiction story, set in a post apocalyptic future (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  32. Small World by Andrew Pontius (1996), a fantasy about a boy who sets a mixed up world right (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Stew
  33. You’ve Got a Stew Going by Ryan Veeder (2011), funny tale with a rat progagonist. (Available at the IF Archive and at the IF Database.)
  34. The Magic Toyshop by Gareth Rees (1995), an imaginative puzzle fest (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  35. Mingsheng by Deane Saunders (2004), a sometimes mystical, always gentle story involving martial arts (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  36. Dragon Adventure by William Stott (2003), an adventure story for children aged nine and up (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)it
  37. It by Emily Boegheim (2011). Read this appealing story and learn to play “sardines.” (Available at the IF Archive and at the IF Database.)
  38. The Great Xavio by Reese Warner (2004), a comic detective story (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  39. The Dreamhold by Andrew Plotkin (2004), a difficult fantasy story with help for beginners (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  40. The Lost Islands of Alabaz by Michael Gentry (2011), an action-packed fantasy tale. Winner of the 2011 Spring Thing Competition.  (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Shadow
  41. The Shadow in the Cathedral by Ian Finley and John Ingold (2009), a fantasy puzzle fest with a compelling plot (Available for purchase at http://textfyre.itch.io/the-shadow-in-the-cathedral)
  42. The Witness by Stu Galley (1984), a mock-noir mystery, good for high school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  43. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Steve Meretzsky and Douglas Adams (1984), a sometimes-silly interactive story based loosely on a famous novel (Available at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game.shtml)
  44. Trinity by Brian Moriarty (1986), brilliant but difficult fantasy based on the origin of nuclear weaponry (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  45. A Mind Forever Voyaging by Steve Meretzsky (1985), soaringly literary but difficult tale of a dangerous future, good for high school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  46. Seastalker by Stu Galley and Jim Lawrence (1984), adventure in a futuristic submarine, good for middle school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  47. The Orion Agenda by Ryan Weisenberger (2004), a Star-Trek-like story of a distant planet (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  48. Ballyhoo by Jeff O’Neill (1985), mystery-adventure, set in a circus (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  49. At the Bottom of the Garden by Adam Biltcliff (2000), a comic tale of an invasion by miniature dragons (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Arrival
  50. Arrival by Stephen Granade (1998), funny sendup of low-budget science fiction movies (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  51. Plantefall by Steve Meretzsky (1983), a comic science fiction story with some tough puzzles, good for high school (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)Savoir
  52. Savoir Faire by Emily Short (2002), a beautifully written, difficult puzzle fest, with a romantic twist, excellent for high school (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  53. Zork III by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling, (1982) a fantasy story with interesting character interaction. (Available at http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/games.html)
  54. Christminster by Gareth Rees (1995), a difficult, detailed, finely crafted tale of alchemy and intrigue, set at a British university (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  55. Plundered Hearts by Amy Briggs (1987), a spoof or romance novels, with some mild sexual references, good for mature high-school students (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  56. Sherlock: the Riddle of the Crown Jewels by Bob Bates (1987), a complex mystery with a realistic map of Victorian London (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  57. MythTale by Temari Seikaiha (2002), a clever blending of several Greek myths (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)Six
  58. Six by Wade Clarke (2011), playful story with a six-year-old protagonist. Second Place in the 2011 Fall IF Competition. (Available at the IF Archive and at the IF Database)
  59. The Colour Pink by Robert Street (2005), a space-exploration story with some clever twists, a mild sexual reference or two, sometimes simplistic prose styles, some avoidable violence (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  60. Galatea by Emily Short (2000), lovely and challenging retelling of the Pygmalion myth, good for high school (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  61. Curses! by Graham Nelson (1993), a difficult, witty, atmospheric tale of a haunted house (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)SAMSUNG
  62. Wetlands by Clara Raubertas (2011), a rather difficult fantasy story with lots of atmosphere. Part of the 2011 Spring Thing Competition. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)1893
  63. 1893: A World’s Fair Mystery, by Peter Napstad (2002), a remarkably detailed story, set at America’s most important world’s fair, a bit gory at times, with one mild sexual reference (Available at the Interactive Fiction Database)
  64. Worlds Apart by Suzanne Britton (1999), an extraordinarily rich fantasy story for skilled readers (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  65. The Meteor, the Stone, and a Long Glass of Sherbet by Graham Nelson (1993), a funny and cohesive fantasy tale (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  66. Zork Zero by Steve Meretzsky (1988), a very funny fantasy adventure, good for high school  (Available in Masterpiece of Infocom)
  67. Spider and Web by Andrew Plotkin (1998), a spy story with an unusual plot structure and theme, ideal for skilled readers. Often appears at the top of all-time best IF lists. (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)MoonShaped
  68. Moon-Shaped by Jason Ermer (2006), a compelling, somewhat Gothic fairy tale.  Though sad and intense, this story is accessible to some teenagers.   (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  69. Once and Future by Kevin Wilson (1998), a time-travel adventure that combines Arthurian legends and the Vietnam War. For mature readers (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  70. Zork II by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling (1981), a challenging fantasy treasure hunt with an amusing wizard character (Available at http://www.csd.uwo.ca/Infocom/games.html)
  71. Enchanter by Marc Blank and Dave Lebling (1983), a challenging tale of spells and magic (Available in Masterpiece of Infocom)Floatpoint
  72. Floatpoint by Emily Short (2006), an artistically-crafted story of interplanetary diplomacy.  Themes of genetic engineering of sentient life make this story better for older students.  (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  73. Beyond Zork by Brian Moriaty (1987), a detailed and difficult fantasy tale, with some options for shaping the player-character, good for high school (Available in Masterpiece of Infocom)
  74. The Light: Shelby’s Addendum, by Colm McCarthy (1995), a complex science fiction tale with a carefully crafted map and difficult problems (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  75. Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Head or Tail of It by Jeff O’Neil (1987), a hilarious collection of short stories based on word play (Available in Masterpieces of Infocom)
  76. The Beetmonger’s Journal by Scott Sharkey (2001), well-written, enjoyable tale of archeology (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)tales
  77. Tales of the Traveling Swordsman by Mike Snyder (2006), a swashbuckling  adventure with a twist at the end (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  78. Metamorphoses by Emily Short (2000), a challenging story of magical transformations (Available at the Interactive Fiction Archive, http://www.ifarchive.org)
  79. Deadline by Marc Blank (1982), a really hard mystery story with good character interaction (Available in Masterpiece of Infocom)Jacqueline
  80. Jacqueline, Jungle Queen! by Steph Cherrywell (2014), an amusing story with some relatively easy puzzles. Includes a short, bawdy poem that can be avoided.  Third Place Winner in the 2014 Fall IF Competition. (Available at http://ifdb.tads.org/viewgame?id=h63kzv5acq9s7dak)