A downloadable z-machine interpreter for Windows, macOS, and Linux

A z-machine interpreter
for the Pico-8

>play Zork on the Pico-8
You can't do that.

>say the magic word xyzzy
OK, now you can play Zork on the Pico-8.

>play Zork
West of House
You are standing in an open field west of a white house, with a boarded front door.
There is a small mailbox here.

Welcome to Status Line

Status Line is a z-machine interpreter for the Pico-8. This allows the Pico-8 to run z-machine game files (past, present, and future), a game format best known from the classic Infocom text adventures of days gone by. Famous classics like Zork, Planetfall, Enchanter, and more can be enjoyed in the "cozy space" of the Pico-8.


  • Game graphics drawn "from the limitless imagery of your imagination" (according to an old Infocom advertisement)
  • Can play any game in the "z3" format (yes, even Seastalker)
  • Save/restore games in progress (see details below)
  • Multiple color themes to recreate that "classic feel"
  • Multiple cursor types for fellow pedants
  • Player-selectable text scroll speed
  • Choose 24 or 12-hour clock for time-based games

Where Do I Find z3 Games to Play?

How Do I Use Status Line?

When you launch Status Line, on-screen instructions will explain, "Drag a z3 file into Status Line to begin playing." Simply do as instructed. The game will load and its introductory text will appear. The Pico-8 has a very small screen, so sometimes "MORE" will appear for long text passages. Hit any key to have the next page of text scroll onto screen.

I've Never Played a Text Adventure... Help!

Here's a handy guide for understanding the quirks and nuances that can often frustrate new players. Here's another great page with information for beginners.

I'm Inspired to Write My Own Text Adventure!

Great! To write a z3 game compatible with Status Line, I recommend PunyInform

I Was Hoping for Cool CRT Effects :(

If you're on Windows try ShaderGlass. It is the tool I used to create the CRT effects for the banner graphic on this page. You can run it on top of *ANY* program, even the desktop. It's fun and passes all mouse/keyboard/controller input through to the underlying applications. Here's Status Line with and without the effect.

Setting Preferences

At the title screen, hit the "Enter" key to open standard Pico-8 preferences. Player-selectable color themes, scroll speeds, cursor styles, and in-game clock options are found there. Your selections will persist as the defaults with each launch of Status Line, and will carry over across updates.

Saved Games

When you `save` your game, you may use whatever filename you wish. Status Line will modify the filename with a unique identifier for the game you're playing.

Example: you save your game of Enchanter with the name `bedroom`. Later, when you `Restore` your saved game, you will find the file has been named `bedroom_32a7_save.p8l`. Status Line has appended your save game title with a unique identifier that associates it with the game in progress, and uses Pico-8's default file extension ".p8l"

Because all saved games share the same folder, this ensures that saved games from different games don't overwrite each other. Keeping your saved games in the default save folder will allow the `Restore` command to function smoothly.

When `restoring` a saved game, Status Line will ask you to "Drag in a <identifier>_save.p8l file" and will open the default save folder for you. Drag-and-drop any save game with a matching identifier into Status Line to load and continue playing.

The Future of Status Line?

I am going to do my best to bring extended support with later updates. However, the tight limits of the Pico-8 may make some things impossible. Comprehensive support will likely need to wait until the debut of the Picotron.

Current goals are:

  • Rework the memory subsystem to handle games over 128K (needed for z4/z5 support)
  • Add support for z4 game files (esp. Trinity and A Mind Forever Voyaging)
  • Add support for z5 game files (e.g. a vast library of indie Inform games)
  • General rework of the text layout engine, especially to get extended cursor control implemented (it's currently difficult)
  • Some opcodes that are tricky to handle gracefully on the Pico-8 are unimplemented
  • General performance improvements
  • Blog with notes of my learning process (useful to future me)

Known Issues

None at this time

Notes on Downloads

  • On first launch, the game may default to fullscreen. At the title screen, open Status Line prefs ("enter" or "esc" key) and set Options > Fullscreen to off. This will allow you to use the drag-and-drop function and is a one-time setting.
  • Windows and Mac users will likely get a security warning on first launch. I'm looking into ways to fix this, but right now the developer accounts that could "sign" the app look expensive. If this is a deal-breaker, I totally understand.
  • In the source code I tried to keep in comments to explain some decisions I made, and you can turn on logging for the various functions to watch the machine think (output to a text file).
Updated 24 days ago
Published 29 days ago
PlatformsWindows, macOS, Linux
AuthorChristopher Drum
GenreInteractive Fiction
Made withPICO-8
Tagsinfocom, inform, PICO-8, punyinform, z3, z-machine
Average sessionAbout a half-hour


Status Line 1.1, for Windows 962 kB
Status Line 1.1, for macOS 3 MB
Status Line 1.1, for Linux 720 kB
Status Line 1.1, Pico-8 source code 18 kB

Development log


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where can I get the .z3 zork file for this?


(4 edits)

Look above at the section called "Where do I find z3 games to play?". That contains a link to github (source code AND .z3 files), and a link to another site, where the classics are archived. There are probably more sites than those, now that they've been archived publically. Zork I, II, and III are all there. :)



very good

It's not too bad, is it?