Where can I get Yapok-Sundria?
Released: Oct. 22, 1995
Yapok-Sundria Starring Louis the Hispid Cotton Rat is one of those ZZT worlds where I had heard the name countless times, but not once actually played it myself. It's the only title released by Yapok Jr and had to have had some impact or legacy, or maybe it's just a fun name to say.
The game was released in 1995, which seems to be right in the middle of a turning point for ZZT. Alexis Janson had released Super Tool Kit, giving ZZTers reasonable access to special colors, and so Sundria (let's just call the game Sundria and the author Yapok to prevent confusion) benefits from nicer graphics than early ZZT worlds. At the same time, ZZT's full graphical potential hadn't really been realized, so you'll find trees with brown trunks, but no complex shading.
Gameplay is at a crossroads as well. The early days of Town knockoffs and generic fantasy being phased out for a more surreal and whimsical world with oddball humor. Shooting lions and solving slider puzzles are giving way for a game which tells a story with characters who are more than props to guide the player through puzzles. Sundria is an adventure game about exploring the world and seeing what strange creatures live in it.
The title screen is just some blocky colors and flashing color line walls covering the screen's edges. There's no insight as to what the game is about, just a title and who you'll be taking the role of while playing.
Sundria begins with Louis's alarm clock in his tree home going off and getting ready to start his day with some coffee. The player is immediately presented with a choice of which mug to drink from.
Choosing wrong results in an additional message about drinking grease instead, but with no penalty suffered as the other correct cup is drank immediately afterwards.
With the message window closed, the player gets a look at Louis's tree house home. The game benefits from its access to browns and dark reds, but still comes off as a very primitive looking home. A table made out of normal walls, and a slider to represent a chair come off as very crude representations.
There's a bathroom to the right, but that's really only established by being the smallest room in the house and being mostly white. The front-most room has a yellow solid surrounded by some purple breakables which I can give no definitive meaning to. Perhaps it's a carpet that the player is unable to walk on?
I of course head straight for the bathroom, and confirm the upper object as a toilet.
The toilet of course has an eject button which leads to a secret passageway. Sundria likes its slapstick.
A more modern ZZT game might have had an object push the player into the secret passage to represent being launched, but Sundria just has the toilet object disappear and lets the player walk into the fake wall or not at their leisure.
Following the secret path gives the player some equipment including torches which will become essential later on.
Washing your hands scores the player a towel. Whether or not picking up a towel counts as a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference is an exercise left up to the reader.
That's all there is to see in Louis's home, so it's time to head outside. There's something about mid 90s ZZT games where they love to not give the player any motivation from the onset. Anywhere the player goes is solely because the person behind the keyboard picked that direction. Louis himself has no goals yet.
Sundria also likes text labels. In later years this sort of thing would be frowned upon for breaking "show, don't tell". Of course, I don't know how one would indicate that this tree is a "bee fly ptarmigan" tree. The signs for the rubbish heap and possum gardens do have little stumps to make them appear less as text written on a board and more as signs within the world itself so there is some attempt to keep things within the world itself.
The first place I opted to explore was the Pocket Gopher's Burrow. It was a dark room and torches were lit.
The red object in the corner is a grub.
Don't eat the grub.
You smash the grub with a stale biscuit.
Its pitiful body stains the floor.
Louis: How are you?
Grub: Fine. How are you?
Grub: Nice day isn't it.
Louis: Outside, yeah.
Louis: Think it'll rain?
Grub: Nope. Maybe tommorow.
Louis: Gee. I thought we'd get wet for
Grub: Ain't gonna rain today. I can feel
it in my labrial palpis.
Louis: So, hows the family doing?
Grub: Family? Ma and Pa died shortly
after the eggs were layed. I don't
have a wife or kids. Heck, I'm not
even pupated yet!
Grub: See ya round.
Louis: See ya, Grub.
The Grub greedily devores the really stale
Grub: Munch smack. Glorp chew. Good!
• • • • • • • • •
The other options are safe. Actually, so is eating the grub due to an accidental space in the #endgame command causing the game keep going. The grub exists solely as something for the player to interact with.
The gopher is trying to find the meaning of life, and if you request that they stop, you'll be killed instantly. There are quite a lot of instant game overs in Sundria, but generally they're all mitigated by saving before touching objects. It's not exactly good design, but it's easy to avoid losing progress by being proactive.
That's all there is to the Pocket Gopher's Burrow. Upon returning to the surface I headed west towards the rubbish heap.
There's a hovel along the way. I'm not quite sure what's going on with the front facing wall, but the rest of the building is very well made for how few elements are used to construct it. The sky seems to have gone missing here as well with a solid black background instead. Perhaps the cyan roof would have blended in too much with the blue sky seen earlier.
The hag's hovel is again very abstract with furniture made out of angular walls. She has a lot of advice to offer Louis, some of which is completely meaningless, and some of which is crucial information. There's no easy way to tell.
Want some advice, sonny? Don't end up like
me. NYAAAHAHAHAHA! No really. I've got
some real advice. Straight from Bee Fly
Ptarmigan. Want some?
Always remember that doilies were once
rancid meat that crawls, and treat them
with the respect they deserve.
Cheerios is good.
Yapok, yut-yut, yamane, and yak... One
more letter and you're all the way back.
Umbachucka, umbachucka, umbachucka, oom!
Umbachucka, umbachucka, umbachucka, oom!
I place a pox on your forebears if they
eat mashed grub.
A ptarmigan in the rough is worth two in
When walking through a rubbish heap,
carry a possum in each armpit to ward off
A pinch of dromedary saliva is a peck of
Life is an avocado. When you drop it,
it goes bald.
That's all I know. Have some meatloaf.
• • • • • • • • •
The fireplace contains some meatloaf. Rotten meatloaf which gives the player a single unit of ammo. Don't waste it!
With the hovel explored, it's back to the western path towards the rubbish heap.
Or perhaps not. We'll come back here later and instead head to the eastern possum gardens.
The possum gardens consist of vicious doilies, and a smattering of green plantlife to serve as obstacles for the player to get around.
Opening the gate causes them to spring to life and begin trying to move towards the player. With some clever juking it's possible to get past them safely. Of course, what I didn't realize is that this is supposed to be where you use the meatloaf acquired from the hag's hovel.
You hurl the disgusting meatloaf at the
doily. It stops short.
DOILY: That's my brother! You found my
long lost brother! Thank you!!
The brothers embrace and talk all at once
The other doilies watch in tearfull
LOUIS: The meatloaf's his brother?!
DOILY: You know not the story!? Let me
explain. All doilies were once Rancid-
Meat-that-Crawls. We lived in bliss until
Bee Fly Ptarmigan turned us into doilies.
LOUIS: Why'd Bee Fly Ptarmigan do that?
DOILY: One does not question the ways of
Bee Fly Ptarmigan. He hath decreed it!
Why, he lives on top of Ptarmigan Bluffs.
(That means it is so!)
LOUIS: Well, I'd better be going. Thanks
for not eating me!
DOILIES: Our pleasure!
• • • • • • • • •
Shooting one of them causes them all to disappear allowing safe travel. I just made my life difficult for no reason.
Across the winding river is the Possum Garden, which is of course populated by some possums. It's really difficult to tell what anything here is supposed to be.
The correct choice is to tuck them into your armpits. This will be useful in the rubbish heap according to the hag's advice from earlier.
Singing with the possums results in some fun times until your mother finds out about all the awful things you've been singing.
And if you share your meatloaf...
Another game over!
Again, the correct choice is the armpits, and with those possums tucked safely within it's time to head all the way back the rubbish heap.
Crossing back past the doilies that haven't been defeated is a lot harder than making the first trip. I of course immediately recognized the swearing as being from a Calvin and Hobbes strip.
Back in the rubbish heap, armed with possums this time, its possible to get past the tentacle and make your way to Ptarmigan Bluffs.
The walls on this board are blinking between bright and dark green, and my initial assumption was that this was deliberate. Blinking colors were never used too much in ZZT games, but as a way of signifying radiation was probably one of a few uses you would see, so I didn't think anything was too out of the ordinary here.
Once past the tentacle, there's no other danger to be found, and it's a walk directly to the mountains.
The player has to make a _very_ long climb up the mountain. They wrap around four sides before returning to the first side at a higher level. It is incredibly tedious.
Eventually the player will reach the third level with something blocking the path.
You have to pay the toll troll.
The billy goat gruff options all result in the player being killed. This troll doesn't care about the size of goats.
If you say you're the third goat, you get your imaginary goat horns cut off before being devoured.
Tell him that you're Barney the dinosaur and you won't be killed, but you won't make progress either.
That classic IRS humor. I was surprised with the way this board was designed that him jumping to his demise didn't play any animation, he just #dies in place and the player can proceed.
With the peak of the mountain in sight the player's long climb is almost at an end. At the top of the mountain lives Bee Fly Ptarmigan, who is basically the player's goal for the game's first act.
"Then get some!"
And with that, after the first third of the game has been completed, the player finally has a goal to accomplish of finding some knickerbockers for the ptarmigan.
Unfortunately the player still has to climb all the way back down the mountain again...