Anchorhead Classic vs. Anchorhead 20th Anniversary Illustrated edition

I’m kind of astonished not to spot previous discussion of this…

For those who have played both the original Anchorhead and the 20th anniversary illustrated commercial edition, do you feel there are any solid reasons to choose one of them over the other? How interesting/beneficial are the revisions the illustrated version’s description refers to?

I’ve never played it, so basically the question is "which should I play?

(I’ve already bought the 20th Anniversary edition, so we can assume price isn’t a criterion and that I’m willing to tolerate its Steam-only nature.)


I’ve played them both, the original in like… 2002? And the 20th Anniversary version when it came out. I can’t say I recall there being significant changes, beyond the nice illustrations.

…actually, I just decided to Google to see if I could pull up a list of specific changes, and the first hit is a post I completely forgot having made on the Steam forums laying out what I could find. That list is spoilery, but basically the scenery and descriptions are a bit more focused, a couple puzzles have been swapped out (the old newspaper-under-the-door-to-get-the-key trick gets dropped), and it’s generally a bit more plausible and less adventure-gamey.

Anyway 2018 Mike concludes by recommending the updated version, so I’ll defer to his judgment.


I haven’t played the two back-to-back, but I did enjoy the art and thought the paid version made for a very smooth playing experience. However, the original was an outstanding game back then and still is. While the core experience of the new version won’t be very different, the graphics and interface enhancements make it the definitive release. How much that is worth is hard to measure.

I primarily paid because I thought it was worth the money as one of my favorite IF games of all time. I have paid for other games that I enjoyed far, far less and can scarcely remember.

Sounds like you already bought it on Steam, but I’ll note that it is on as well.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have over the years!


I recommend the new version over the old. (Except the old version is free, and the new version costs money.)

After you’ve played one version, you can compare and contrast the hints for the 1998 version against the 2018 version here: - IF Archive Unboxing Service

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doh. Thanks. I’d forgotten that though it was in my Itch collection that serves as a reminder list. And while I can play a lot of Steam games for Windows on Linux with Proton I couldn’t play this one, so I got a refund on Steam and bought it on itch.

And with itch, you get a zipfile that includes a gblorb and life is much easier.

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I played the classic version a couple years ago. I enjoyed and wanted to support the author and bought the new version. As I remember they where similiar but the new one had some puzzles simplified a little. I liked the classic one better…

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Yeah, actually, I should make it clear that I liked the new version better precisely because I’m really not a fan of Anchorhead’s puzzle structure. Anchorhead is too hard for me

In particular, this post is where I figured out my main complaint:

In brief, the problem is that the map is giant and full of puzzles, but usually only one of the puzzles can be solved right now, and there’s no way of knowing which puzzle to work on, even in hindsight.

In Anchorhead, you just have to pick a puzzle at random and bang your head on it, and fail, and then give up on that puzzle and try another one. You have to keep trying that again, and again, until eventually you happen to luck upon the puzzle that you actually can solve on the current day.

Reading the thread, apparently a lot of people really like that. As far as I can tell, what people like about Anchorhead is that the game is big, time consuming, and “difficult.”

IMO good puzzles, like good jokes, are supposed to have surprising solutions that are inevitable in hindsight. Anchorhead has many good puzzles, both in its 1998 version and the 2018 version, but the central puzzle of Anchorhead is “which puzzle should I be working on right now?” and that puzzle is no good. It’s a “guess what Mike was thinking of” puzzle, which is “hard” but in a meaningless way.

The 2018 puzzles make more sense than the 1998 puzzles, which I guess makes them “easier.” If you don’t care if the puzzles makes sense, (especially the puzzle “which puzzle should I solve now?”) and you just want a challenge, well, I suppose guessing what the author was thinking of is “hard” and you might like the 1998 version better for that reason.


ARGH! I ditched the broom and need it again and can’t find it and think I might have left it in the Church, which I can’t get back into!


As much as I love the game, it can be unfriendly at times. When I last played it in 2020, I think I had to start over twice. Either getting locked out is easy to do, or else I was quite unlucky. :frowning:

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You know, I almost said “whichever version you play, you might want to keep lots of backup saves” but then thought that might come off patronizing. Sorry! If it’s any consolation you are definitely having the authentic Anchorhead experience.


I died early on so I have been doing lots of saves, which I almost never do…