Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
James Clavell's Shogun
James Clavell's Shōgun is an interactive fiction computer game written by Dave Lebling and released by Infocom in 1989. Like most of Infocom's games, it was released simultaneously for several popular computer platforms of the time, such as the Commodore 64, Apple II, and PC. As the title indicates, the game is based on the book Shōgun by James Clavell.
The game reproduces many of the novel's "scenes", few of which are interconnected in any way. The player assumes the role of John Blackthorne, Pilot-Major of the Dutch trading ship Erasmus. During a voyage in the Pacific Ocean in the year 1600, the Erasmus is shipwrecked in Japan. Blackthorne must survive in a land where every custom is as unfamiliar to him as the language. After learning some of the society's ways, he is drawn into a political struggle between warlords and falls in love with a Japanese woman. Eventually he embraces Japanese life and is honored as samurai.
Infocom continued its tradition of feelies, or extra items included in the game package. The feelies included with Shogun were:
- a map representing John Blackthorne's "known world" of 1600
- The Soul of the Samurai, describing the history and significance of the swords of the samurai
By 1989, Infocom no longer categorized its games according to estimated difficulty level. Shogun could be said to fall anywhere from Infocom's former "Standard" level to "Expert". Players who are intimately familiar with the novel, of course, may find the game to be much easier than those who have not read the book.
Shogun features several illustrations in the style of Japanese Ukiyo-e woodcuts. While graphics of any kind were disdained in Infocom's early years, many of their final games included at least incidental illustrations and images.
In sharp contrast to Douglas Adams' close work with Steve Meretzky on Infocom's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy game, Dave Lebling reportedly had no contact whatsoever with James Clavell during the making of Shogun. Consequently, the game is largely a collection of scenes presented verbatim from the novel.
Dave Lebling has said that he considers Shogun the worst game he was ever responsible for. 
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