I must warn you. Nethack is addictive. I have banned it from my harddrive about 2 years ago and I'm pretty sure that I'm safe from its wrath now. But back then in 1996 when I started playing with it, I tell you .. I didn't get to do anything else. The worst part was when I was on vacation with a useless old laptop and while the sun was shining and naked girls were begging me to join them in wild orgies of mud wrestling and stuff, the only thing I could think of was finding a power outlet and trying to get to the Amulet of Yendor, fighting trolls and killer bees, attacking shop-owners, robbing the gold-vault and hiding away from the kops using a wand of invisibility. I even had a version of the game where one level consisted only of weird Douglas Adams characters. Have you ever listened to Vogon poetry? In Nethack, everything is possible. It's like the Nexus in that Star Trek movie, you know.

But as I said, be warned. This game will cause your friends and family to scorn you and strip you off the remaining social life you may still have. You will sit in front of a computer screen (in text mode) all day, moving a white @-symbol across the screen and trying to remove other symbols, like brown Ts and pink xs from the very same screen, delightfully smiling when an especially nasty one disappears. All these symbols have deeper meanings which you will gradually discover.

At first, you will look for secret doors in the dungeon rooms you find yourself in. Jackals and other lame monsters will try to bite you, sometimes they come in hordes, which can really be annoying. If you make noises, they will attack you more often, the little fuckers. You will even have to take care of your own pet, which can be practically anything, but at the beginning of the game is usually a cat or a dog. If you don't anger it, it will come to your aid when you need it. But don't forget to feed it when it doesn't find anything to eat. Of course, you shouldn't forget to eat either. But remember: Only eat fresh corpses. If nothing helps anymore, you can pray to your deity. But don't do it too often, or they will throw lightning bolts at you.

You can bring statues to life and turn monsters into statues. You can turn into a werewolf or even a wererat. You can eat the corpses of your enemies and you can laugh at your gods. You can have wild, uninhibited sex with incubi, and you can ask released water demons for a +4 two-handed sword. You can learn numerous magic spells and drink lots of weird potions. You can throw all kinds of objects around and hope that they don't hit someone who is stronger than you are. You can ask the oracle for advice and you can write messages in the sand.

But as I told you, don't play it. Don't go to <www.nethack.org> now and get your copy of this game. It's a devious plan by the mice to take over the world by turning normal, intelligent human beings into slobbering idiots who can only say one sentence: "The kitten eats the jackal corpse". You've been warned.