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ZOOM 1893
A World's Fair Mystery
Sold Out (Win95/98/Me/2000/XP/Mac) (Jewel Case) (1893DJ)

Publisher: The Illuminated Lantern

Game: Text Adventure


4.5 from Adventure Gamers

A Theft on the Fairgrounds!

Precious diamonds stolen from the Kimberly Diamond Mining Exhibit! An urgent telegram from your old partner arrives, requesting your help to solve the mystery. How can you refuse? And besides, you've been dying to see the wonder of the age everyone has been talking about, this Columbian Exposition. And so, dossier in hand, you take the next train to Chicago.

But this is no simple theft. And as theft turns to kidnapping, and kidnapping to murder, you find yourself at the center of a plot the extent of which you can only begin to imagine...

Here are just some of the 1893: A World's Fair Mystery game features:

  • Hundreds of locations on the fairgrounds to explore, as if you were really there
  • Over 500 archival photographs illustrate the places you go and the people you meet
  • Dozens of truly interactive characters to encounter
  • Carefully researched and historically accurate
  • Non-linear gameplay -- you control where you want to go and when
  • Challenging and unique puzzles
  • In-game hint system
  • Over thirty hours of gameplay


The game takes place in the year 1893, the setting, Chicago, on the grounds of the World’s Columbian Exposition. The Exposition was held to celebrate – one year late -- the 400th anniversary of Columbus’s discovery of the New World. It was the largest tourist attraction America has ever known, before or since, drawing an estimated 27 million visitors before closing on October 31.

It was the greatest of all the American World's Fairs, the only one to rival in grandeur and spectacle the fairs of Paris. In fact the World's first Ferris Wheel, a towering giant with carriages the size of streetcars, was built here in response to the Eiffel Tower. And all the fairs to follow were made in its image.

Chicago at the end of the ninteenth century was a city of unbounded creative energy, a city that seemed able to accomplish anything. No one could have predicted it, except perhaps Chicagoans themselves. After all, it was as recently as 1871 -- 22 years before the fair -- that a Great Fire swept through the city and effectively erased it from the Earth. But shortly afterwards, the Chicago Tribune editor wrote "CHICAGO SHALL RISE AGAIN," and sure enough, it did. By 1893, Chicago had the most modern downtown of any city, and had become the World's first city of Skyscrapers. It had a host of cultural attractions, including a symphony and art museum. And it was a leader in the field of business, with Pullman railcars, Armour meat processing and packaging, Marshall Field's department stores, Sears mail order catalogues, McCormick reapers. Chicago had built itself up from nothing to become a near rival to New York.

When Chicago was selected to host the Columbian Exposition, East Coast papers collectively dismissed the fair to be as a disaster. But when it was finally unveiled, a joint effort between Chicago and East Coast architects, the fair could no longer be dismissed: it was something more grand than anyone could have imagined. Its great, classically styled buildings and formal plan was so admired it became the template, not just for fairs to come, but for capitals and cultural centers in cities all over the nation. When the buildings were lit, spectacularly, with electric lights using Tesla and Westinghouse's AC current, it proved AC's superiority to Edison's DC, and this grand test proved so successful it paved the way for electric lighting all over the globe, and put to rest the debate over which was better, much to Edison's chagrin.

Nations from all over the World participated in the Exposition, tourists from all over the World filed in to see the sights. The 1893 World's Fair was, in many ways, a miniature replica of the World itself: a snapshot of the time, not only its great mechanical and industrial achievements, but also its world view, the division of nations between the "civilized" and the "savage," the struggle of Women to have a more prominent place, leading to having their own building on the grounds, the struggle of blacks to have their place as well, leading to very little at all. To wander the streets and halls of the Columbian Exposition is to see for a moment the World as it was, as the sponsors thought it should be, to see the energy, the excitement, the naivety, the hope, that was the Gilded Age.


Windows 95/98/Me/2000/XP

Mac OS 7-9/X


Adventure Gamers by Evan Dickens

"Peter Nepstad, a Chicago native who lives within walking distance of the site of the 1893 World's Fair, has spent the better portion of the last four years of his life designing a game that would bring every element of the World's Fair to the gamer; not in a first-person graphical format, as the psuedo-historical Cryo adventures utilized, but rather a text adventure, with a parser interface and supplemental authentic photographs. Injected into the non-fiction World's Fair environment is a fictional jewel theft storyline. The end result, 1893: A World's Fair Mystery, is fascinating, entertaining, deviously educational, and simply one of the most fantastic adventure games I have ever played, text or otherwise."

"To complete 1893 successfully, you'll need proper detective skills to piece together the clues. You'll also need map-following skills; the World's Fair is an immense and confusing place, and thankfully Nepstad is courteous enough to include an authentic World's Fair Guidebook, complete with historical background and ground maps. Without these maps, you will be lost beyond belief (as, indeed, you would have been in 1893 at the real fairgrounds without a map). Beyond these skills, you'll have to have good conversational instinct, as winning the trust of many characters is crucial to your mission. You'll also need to pay attention to textual detail; inventory collection and puzzle-solving is essential, and the items you'll need are not found in the photographs.

"Above all, you must have the toleration for lots and lots of reading. This is not a game for those with short attention spans; it is a game for those who enjoy filling their imagination with images of the things they are reading about..."

"...1893 is joyously entertaining, with a well-told story and a well-captured spirit of wonder, but it is at the same time one of the most educational adventures since Pepper's Adventures in Time. The World's Fair was not just an American spirit rally; it was a microcosm of the global situation, the state of affairs of women and minorities, a symbol of the peak of the Progressive Era that would come crashing down with the advent of the first World War, and the irrepressible spirit of a city nearly destroyed by The Great Fire. I don't understand this because I've studied it in the course of my education; I understand this because in 1893 I sincerely experienced the World's Fair. I saw the ferris wheel, ate at the restaurants (eating is required at regular intervals, but you've got a nice spending allowance), and even took a piece of cheese from the largest cheese in the world. I spent well over twenty hours there, could have spent more. Not only did I solve a crime, I saw amazing sights that they'll probably still be talking about a hundred and ten years from now."

Quandary Review by Rosemary Young

"The actual game is fun and the puzzles are interesting although it is an extremely large gameworld and it’s easy to get lost. Getting lost, however, isn’t such a bad thing because you get to see more as you find your way around. It’s only a problem (or a challenge) if you are trying to arrive at a particular place at an appointed time (i.e. to meet someone) because the game includes a ‘clock’ that advances incrementally as you perform actions. Just looking at an object or moving one step takes only a minute, but dining out takes longer, and sleeping passes the night away. Because the gameworld is so large, drawing maps is absolutely essential."

"A huge amount of research obviously went into putting this package together, collating the photographs and organising the information on the various exhibits. And there are other touches, too, that fill in the picture and make it more interesting. Ads in the newspaper, which you can buy every day, give a feel for the various consumer items of the time such as medicinal ‘cures’, pocket watches and beer, and you can read about visiting dignitaries and other familiar figures such as Nikola Tesla who attended the exhibition. There’s also information on some behind-the-scenes goings-on such as workers suing exhibitors for damages and squabbles between exhibitors from different nations over perceived slights. It must, indeed, have been a grand event but people are people wherever and whenever … not only do they give orations and musical recitals, they also pack into trains leaving not even blinking space, they get hurt, they get lost … and steal valuable diamonds."

Chicago Sun-Times by Nick Wadhams

"A World's Fair Mystery proves convincingly that the best games aren't about razzle-dazzle special effects or cheap gimmickry. They're about story, character, and especially here, location, location, location.

"Nepstad's creation is a wonderful journey back to the heady, early days of gaming, when the best titles, though they could fit on a floppy disk, painted beautiful pictures with words."

Copyright © 1993-2000, Inc.