Dec. 9, 2003
46.0 KB
37 / 38
4.30 / 5.00

Closer Look: Wasteland

By: Dr. Dos
Published: April 29, 2018

Commodore takes his first step on the journey of becoming one of ZZT's best in this 2003 post-apocalyptic adventure



By: Commodore
Published Under: Mirror Image Games
Released: December 12, 2003
Download | Play Online | View Files

Commodore. Commodore. Commodore. If there's any merit to being recognized by these articles, Commodore is definitely the one benefiting the most. A comparative latecomer to the ZZT community, he released roughly a dozen games from 2004 and onward, and while he got recognition at the time, the general decline of the ZZT community in that era ensured that it really wasn't enough.

Commodore keeps showing up in this series, with The Living Dead, Cat, Cat, That Damn Cat, Psychic Solar War Adventure, and the yet to be released article on Angelis Finale, Wasteland is the fifth game by Commodore featured here, and I honestly expect to cover several more in the future.

Commodore showed up late enough that not as many people likely played his works, which is an absolute shame because I can very easily say that since I've started this project, Commodore has demonstrated such high levels of quality in his work that I think he's my personal favorite author at this point. I don't think there's anyone else out there that quite compares to his level of breadth and depth across his games.

Though, like any ZZTer, this wasn't some innate talent. It was something earned through his constant efforts to improve his games. His earlier works are definitely rougher around the edges, while his later games feature some incredibly well thought out mechanics that really go beyond what you'd expect from ZZT worlds. Today's game, Wasteland, sits in the middle. There's a lot of effort here (especially given its original concept as a 24 Hours of ZZT contest entry), but it still runs against the seemingly hard rules of ZZT that later games would transcend. It's easy to see the lineage here from Wasteland to both Angelis Finale's excellent action gameplay as well as Psychic Solar War Adventure's RPG mechanics unmatched by anything else available for ZZT.


Like much of Commodore's work, Wasteland is published under the Mirror Image Games label, and opens with the usual company intro of a mirrored copy of a board that the player walks down before the game can begin.


The origin on the nuclear war that ended civilization as we know it is still an unfortunately appropriate one for 2018. Despite this early justification of the politics of all this, the game will take on some more fantastical (though not too much so) elements.


Not unexpectedly, Wasteland is a game loosely based on the old Commodore 64 and MS-DOS game of the same name, most well known for being the primary inspiration for the Fallout series of games.


What's most surprising, is learning the game was intended to be an entry for the Fall 2003 24 Hours of ZZT contest where the topic was "Disaster". There's still a spot in the menu where the development log was going to go. This origin for the game does make it a bit difficult to judge fairly today. There's no real indication of how far the game was developed before deciding to make it into a full game free of a time limit, and it's hard to say if the flaws that will be encountered are the result of sticking with early development concepts or what Commodore was satisfied with at the time.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

    You start the game with a pistol at
the Ranger Centre. Your goal is to do good
deeds throughout the wasteland. Eventually
there will be a final goal which will be
revealed later. Many missions you are not
required to complete, but provide much
needed money and supplies to help you out

    The game has three different scenes.
The world map scene, the close-up scene,
and the combat scene.

World Map

    Move around the world map using the
cursor keys. Each move you make on the
world map will consume water(score). Enter
an area by standing adjacent to the
location. It will ask you if you want to
enter that area.

    Refill your water at the Ranger Centre
or places in cities and camps.

Close Up

    This is played like a normal ZZT game
board. Touching things will interact with
them. You can shoot and occasionally you
will enter engage hostiles, but most
combat will not occour here.


    Combat generally will not come
unexpectedly. There will usually be
graphical or textual clues that will tell
you when you are getting close to a
battle. Depending on what you've found,
you will have a selection of weapons at
your disposal. To switch weapons, during
combat type: ?-p then press return.


  Vesper Pistol - Slow rate of fire, light
Sub Machine Gun - Fast rate of fire, light
  Assault Rifle - Medium rate of fire,
                  medium damage.
  Raptor Pistol - Slow rate of fire, heavy

    If you obtain a defensive shield then
damage to you is reduced by half so long
as the shield has a charge(torches).
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Like its source material (and Psychic Solar War Adventure), the game is structured "non-linearly". The player is free to go where the please for the most part, but the reality is that obstacles and the requirements for having water when navigating the map will pretty much corral the player into following a set path with one or two quests that can be set aside for whenever the player wants to complete them.

Again like the later PSWA, Commodore divides the game up into an overworld, regular scenes, and combat. The combat is where the big difference between Wasteland and Psychic Solar War Adventure show up, with this game opting for a crude attempt of a tactical combat engine compared to Solar War's fleshed out RPG battle system.

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#send commodore:yep

The following is an excerpt from The
History of the Desert Rangers, the Early
Years, by Karl Allard, 2087, Allard
Press, Ranger Centre. Hardbound pp. 293,

    Tensions grew with the coming of 2004.
The United States' Citadel Starstation
was slated to be fully operational by
March. Korean charges that the space
station was merely a military launching
platform alarmed a number of non-aligned
nations. The right wing governments in
the South and Central Americas, many of
them set up by the U.S. during the Drug
Wars (1987- 1993), pledged their support
to the U.S.. The NATO nations, including
the new African members, also declared
their alliance with the U.S.. That move
forced most of the remaining neutral
powers to join the Chinese protest. In
six short weeks, only Switzerland, Sweden,
and Ireland continued to declare
themselves neutral nations. Two weeks
before Citadel was due for full operation,
the station transmitted a distress signal.
Immediately after the message was sent,
most of the satellites orbiting the planet
were swept clean from the sky, leaving the
great powers blind. In military panic,
each sent 90% of their nuclear arsenals
skyward. Although the destruction was
tremendous, it was not complete. Pockets
of civilisation remained.


Shortly after the nuclear attack began,
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, seeking
shelter, took over a federal prison and
expelled the prisoners into the desert to
complete their sentences. As the weeks
passed, they invited the nearby
survivalist communities to join them and
to help them build a new society. Because
of each community's suspicions toward one
another, times were difficult at first.
But as time nurtured trust, this
settlement - which came to be known as
Ranger Centre - grew to be one of the
strongest outposts. Ranger Centre even
proved powerful enough to repel the bands
of rancorous criminals who repeatedly
attacked in attempts to claim what was
once "rightfully theirs."

    The citizens of Ranger Center, after
first believing that they were the only
ones who survived the nuclear maelstrom,
soon realised that communities beyond the
desert's grip had also survived. Because
they had such success in constructing a
new community, they felt compelled to
help other survivors rebuild and live in

    Toward this end, the Desert Rangers,
in the great tradition of the Texas
and Arizona Rangers a century before,
were born.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

A more detailed background story is provided as well, providing some background on the cause of the war, humanity's survival, and the creation of the Desert Rangers that the protagonist is a part of.


Wasteland opens on its world map. The player character is represented with the traditional roguelike "@" character, and is free to wander around the wasteland in search of people to help. All of this comes at a cost though, as every step involves consuming water to survive in the desert.

The wasteland has seven locations the player can visit, though some will be restricted at first by radiation or not having enough water to make it on a single trip.

The Ranger Centre - The Ranger Centre is the organization's headquarters and sounds important enough, but it's actually the location the player will spend the least amount of time at. It's the only location on the map that can't actually be entered. However, the player can still freely resupply on water and health without worry, making it very difficult to wind up in an unwinnable state.

Needles - The closest location to the ranger centre is the town of Needles. It's a town currently suffering from regular raider attacks and provides a few quests to help the player get going.

Nomad Camp - Crossing the river leads to this second pocket of civilization. The nomad camp is... not particularly nomadic, seeing as their main occupation is mining for plastic nearby. The camp is located along railroad tracks with some of the nomads living in box cars of an old train. (The train may be meant to be functional and where the nomadic part comes from.)

E.T. Cartridge Mine - Close to the nomad's camp are the mines where they dig for plastic, the former Alamogoro landfill where Atari buried their unsellable cartridges which are now a valuable source of increasingly rare plastics.

Las Vegas - No, not New Vegas. In the world of Wasteland the city itself wasn't a primary target, but a nearby military installation was, leading to the city's near ruin, but the strip remains full of run-down casinos, as well as a still functioning hospital.

Military Outpost - To the west lies this abandoned outpost, safely buried in the mountains in order to be able to survive a nuclear attack. Unfortunately, it was not built to deal with the excessive radiation, and is now filled with the dead and some mutated wildlife.

Factory - The final location on the map is a mysterious factory in very good condition despite being so close to ground zero of a nuclear blast. The surrounding area is still highly contaminated and the player won't last long without protection.

With the context of this being intended for a 24 Hours of ZZT competition, this is really ambitious. Most of the locations are pretty sparse, with little more than the requisite water and weapon shops, a few NPCs, and a quest to complete, but it's still a lot for the expected time frame. Taken as a full game, Wasteland's locations feel a bit too small. In the future, Commodore would be able to get more out of this setup with random RPG battles in Psychic Solar War Adventure. Here, it all comes off as empty, which I suppose is fitting giving it being a post apocalyptic setting.


Upon entering each location, the player is treated to a short description of the location before being free to explore. Most towns fit on a single board.


In Needles, there are two points of interest, city hall, and a saloon. The other buildings are all boarded up, however it's clear they're not completely abandoned as the windows will occasionally flicker with a smiley character indicating people moving about inside.


The ranger is made clear that he's not welcome the moment he enters city hall. The building has been taken over by a local gang and a later quest will reveal that the mayor and his wife are being held hostage.


There's clearly more inside, but the ranger has no options available.


The local saloon is a bit better. There are a lot of people congregating here, mostly drunk, with quite a few ogling a naked woman on stage.


Most of the people inside are harmless, but a small time punk doesn't like the ranger being there and will eventually attack once provoked. He draws a knife and the ranger is permitted to defend himself from the threat.


And so, the new guy in town shoots a man to death in front of a crowd of people. Fortunately, being a ranger has its perks, as the owner of the bar is more than fine with this. The rest of the crowd doesn't react at all either.


The bartender is not a fan of the crowd his bar's been drawing lately, and is definitely on board with the ranger's unique way of solving problems in the wasteland. The player is given their first official quest, to get rid of some gang members who have been causing a lot of trouble lately.


Opening the back door actually makes the door swing open! This is a nice little detail that takes up precious moments when you're on a time limit.


Upstairs is the player's first real combat experience. Though the game does allow for shooting on most boards, there's very rarely any reason to do so, and events like the punk fight are pretty rare. The meat of Wasteland's action comes into play via this combat engine.

If you're expecting classic Fallout style action point based commands, you'll be disappointed. This engine is very simplistic and honestly hinders its action more than it helps, other than dressing it up a little via being an engine.

The player element sits in the bottom corner where they're surrounded by arrows to capture movement, with a player clone surrounded by breakables to capture shooting. These are used to make the white object in the combat arena move and shoot. The one thing the engine does offer lies in its ability to select from different weapons. Depending on the active weapon selected, adjustments are made to how much damage enemies take when shot, as well as how much of a delay is before the player can fire another shot.


The help section in the main menu offers a complete list of weapons. The ranger begins with a Vesper Pistol, and it is definitely slower to fire than fighting the punk from earlier. The idea of multiple weapons like this, and balancing them by their firing rate is a good one in theory, but ZZT's limitations conspire against it in practice.

Firstly, using an object to represent the player rather than using the actual player drastically limits the code you can write for enemies, as you no longer can rely on the SEEK direction. This means foes typically just wander around aimlessly firing arbitrarily. Then of course, is the usual issue with enemies shooting each other more than the player. Here, it's more of a problem because there's no way for objects to recognize who shot them, meaning that if you're using a powerful Raptor Pistol, the enemies will take as much damage as if it was the player that shot them.

Commodore tries to mitigate this by having enemies generally move in strict patterns with positions that don't align enemies to help reduce crossfire. It also ensures that the player will have to risk themselves being exposed to enemy fire in order to shoot back. In smaller areas like this first encounter, it works well enough, but in larger rooms a lot of the player's time is spent casually walking through safe spots to get near their next target.


One last cute little detail is that some parts of the environment are destructible. Shooting most junk will turn it into a breakable wall which will disappear on the next hit. This goes underutilized, as the breakable scenery is often piled in corners and hit by stray bullets rather than used as shields. I can imagine a more complex engine where the enemies are scripted to hide behind debris, and upon discovering it's no longer there, run off to another area and begin a new pattern.


Defeating the gang drives home the point that a lot of these quests are all or nothing. For a reward the ranger gets 100 gems.


Moving along to the nomad's camp where you'll be treated to an excellent depiction of a train on its tracks. The Nomad camp is an even smaller settlement than Needles, but it's also got quite a bit to discover.


The preferred drink of wasteland dwellers, "Snake Squeezin's", is available for sale here. Back in the bar in Needles is an NPC that mentions the gang responsible for taking over city hall is hooked on the stuff. It could be a valuable tool for gaining entry back there.


There's a weapon store as well, as there was one in Needles, but here there's some flavor in how the player isn't meant to get their gun until they leave town since a guard requires you to drop your weapons before entering the camp.


Unfortunately, the nomads are in a bad situation as they have no source of clean drinking water of their own, requiring them to trade for any. Currently they have none to spare. Talking with the leader of the nomads will explain everything.

Nomad Leader
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Nomad Leader: What brings you to our camp

You: The Desert Rangers are dedicated to
     protecting the peace and restoring
     order to the wasteland. I come as a
     friend if you will have me as one.

Nomad Leader: Do the rangers seek to
              control the wasteland?

You: No, we mearly wish to bring about
     peace. We do not seek to bring you
     and your followers under our rule, so
     long as you do not harm or manipulate
     other people.

Nomad Leader: It is hard not to harm other
              people when there are many
              around that are against us.

You: Who is against you?

Nomad Leader: Our mine was recently
              attacked and is now being
              held by vagrants. Our mine
              is our only source of
              income. Because we do not
              have a water purifier, we
              need to buy our water from
              traveling merchants. We are
              running low.

You: As a gesture of the ranger's good
     will I will liberate your mine if you
     would let me.

Nomad Leader: If you put no value on your
              life you may attempt to
              liberate our mine.

You: The value of my life is equal only
     to those that I have helped.

Nomad Leader: I see. The main entrance to
              the mine is guarded heavily.
              But there is a second
              entrance. Here is the key.
              Good luck ranger.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

The nomad leader explains their situation. Vagrants have taken over the mine, the sole income source the community requires in order to obtain water. The ranger volunteers to solve the problem.

In Needles, the player is able to do the city hall and bar quests when they wanted to, but at the camp, the player will likely be low on water supplies themselves if they haven't stocked up in advance. This quest keeps the player committed unless they want to risk dying of thirst.


The leader also has a wife who is a very well developed character.


One tent can be entered, and it's devoid of people. One area is full of cooking utensils, while another is littered with gems. The way this board is set up really makes it feel like a trap.


That the gems are actually objects that give a gem when collected makes this even more suspicious. Instead, it turns out to just be Commodore not wanting the player to gain health when picking up money. None of the nomads react to the gems being stolen, and the peace-bringing ranger is free to rob them blind.


The mine entrance is closed off by several guards armed with machine guns. They're polite enough to simply tell the ranger that they can't enter, but will retaliate if shot at. Of course, there's no need for any of that as there's a secret alternate entrance as well.


This board is a nice example of graphics being created with ZZT's limits in mind. The secret passage has to already exist on the board, so Commodore leaves all the rocky terrain speckled with gray solids knowing that one will be needed to hide a hidden passage in.


The mine itself takes on a side view, limiting the player's vertical movement via hidden walls except along the ropes which the player can climb. There's a puzzle here where various switches will open some gates and close others, requiring you to discover an arrangement that will allow access to the depths of the mine.


The ranger can also leave the mine from the main entrance and get themselves killed that way.


If the massive fossil revealed by the cut-away view was a cute joke, the bottom of the mine practically reaching hell itself is even better.


The ranger reveals themselves and gets into another fight. This one is split into two halves as some sort of force field protects the brown object that only goes away once the yellow enemies are killed.


Unfortunately, Commodore mistakenly made the exit from combat happen after defeating the first three enemies. Likely the board was copied from an earlier fight with three enemies total. That this wasn't caught makes me wonder what play testing the game received however, and makes me think the released game is mostly the same as the scrapped 24 Hours of ZZT entry.


With the mines cleared out, the rest of the gang runs off and the ranger can walk out without issue. Fortunately the gate puzzle is designed so that the exit is also opened when the gates to the depths are opened.


The reward for all of this is just ammo and water. There's no real main quest line to this game, with almost everything being optional quests to gain more resources. The combat is easy enough that you could totally speedrun it and skip probably every optional quest.


The water seller opens up shop after the mines are free as well, but after collecting water for a reward there's not much reason to purchase any.


Having been to the nomad camp means it's possible to backtrack to Needles to wrap up this quest.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Guard: Let me see that!

    With that the guard snatches to bottle
from your hands and opens it. After a
precautionary sniff, be tilts his head
back and begins to gulp the liquid with
amazing speed. When the bottle is empty
he lets it fall and shatter on the floor.
His head is still tilted back as you begin
to hear the guard gurgle. When he finally
lowers his head, you notice that he is
drooling and that his eyes are severly

You: You better disarm that bomb you got
     there... You're in no condition to
     keep holding that detenator.

Guard: Yeah.... Disarm.... I don't want to
       take my arms off... oh man...

    Obviously he is in no condition to
communicate. You run over to him and
gently take the dead-man switch from his
slowly laxing hand. You discover that it
is a rather simple bomb and that there is
an on/off button on the detenator. You
turn of the bomb. Suddenly the guard keels
over and passes out.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

This is the first problem the ranger has solved without killing anybody.

Access to city hall opens up a lot to investigate.

The storage room contains several boxes of bullets, and a plant that I looked at to do the usual ZZT thing and see if there was a gem on it. Instead I found a mysterious keypad!


The other storage room contains nothing but fish and office supplies.


The bathroom gives us a toilet! Commodore chose a rather interesting two character design.

The offices themselves contain desks which sometimes have documents to read:

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
     Searching through the desk you find a

Dearest Sara,

    Is has been over a month since we
have been apart. It's hard to realise what
has happened to us. Who could have guessed
that I could fall for you in within the
space of a week? I don't now exactly how
to explain my feelings, as I am not sure
exactly what they are. I think the best
thing to call it is "FIRE". It could lead

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
    Searching through the desk you find a
page torn out of a book.

    ...with furious gusto. His head was
bleeding badly and he started to feel a
little woozy. He had been counting
bullets. He was currently two shots away
from becoming a dead man.
    RATATAT! and the window above his
hiding spot suddenly shattered and rained
glass around him. Then four distinct
clunks and an explosion of wood as his
opponnet let loose on the old couch. One
wouldn't normally consider wood splinters
to be aerodynamic, but Burt was convinced
soon enough as shards of wood seemed to
attack him from every angle...
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
     Searching through the desk you find a
rather old printed out e-mail:

Computer Orientation Details Enclosed

    Since the last meeting there have
been several updates. First off I'd just
like to say congrats to Maggie who got
married last week-end. Have you seen her
    Anyways, a new virus called TurtleDove
has recently invaded the system. Our team
is working on it, but please do not open
e-mail with subjects relating to the
French and their hens.
    Also a reminder to the Ladies Dancing
Club, do not use the computer lab for
looking after your dogs. Thanks.

-Tree_Loving_Bird (John)

P.S. Merry christmas to all!
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

These are the hints to that keypad from earlier, I think?


The mayor's office is really no different, one last note and revealing the keypad in the plant in case the you don't obsessively check every plant like I do.

Anyway, the password to the lower level is 5-2-3-9-1. I did not solve this puzzle and I have no idea how you're supposed to. The saved messages have a lot of numbers written out, but they don't all match up with the ones here. If anybody knows what the deal is, I'd love to figure out what this puzzle was getting at. I wound up not seeing the lower part here until I remembered it after beating the game and backtracking.

Update 2018-04-29: I've been tweeted where the solution comes from. Most of the notes are red herrings except for the one about computer orientation which talks about rings, turtle doves, french hens, dancing ladies, and "tree loving bird". Those all correspond to different days in the 12 Days of Christmas song and are where the correct numbers come from!

Behold! The largest table in the wasteland!

Scale aside, entering the last room of city hall brings the player to another fight. There's honestly very little to say at this point about it, especially since new weapons are so expensive that I'm still stuck with the starting pistol.

Without the password for the lower level, this quest just kind of stalls without any rewards.


Stupidly, I walk all the way to Las Vegas without buying any water, and arrive at the town just in time to suffer damage from thirst. Each step taken without water reduces the player's health by 5, which is pretty generous honestly.


Ruined Vegas has a wonderful design with its functioning casino having flashing neon lighting, and more than a few dead tubes. The city's not a total loss.


Once again I managed to accidentally uncover a secret area. This battle scarred building isn't properly boarded up, and there's something inside...


A nice amount of cash.

Children of the Mushroom Cloud....

We have failed.

Though our cause is just,

The great one did not allow us to succeed.

But that does not me we can not try again!

We brought about the atomic fire...

but the robots refuse to be controlled.

We can still achive our goals.

We must reprogram the master computer.

More on that later.

Now, let's all break for milk and cookies.

And also a cult bent on the complete destruction of the human race. They also seem to be the ones responsible for the whole nuclear annihilation thing as well. This room is the plot dump room. There are robots and a computer that needs to be reprogrammed in order for them to achieve the goals.


There's also a password for a location still unvisited.


Commodore again does his best to make sure that these secret areas aren't obtuse to find. Nobody in Vegas has much to say other than there's a cult and robots.


The still functional casino isn't actually used to gamble, but rather just as a community center. There are more people in this room than anywhere else in the game, and again the current topic is doomsday cults and killer robots.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Man: Some call me the Boss, other call me
     Frank. I used to own this place. What
     can I do for you?

You: I've heard rumors of a cult...

Man: Yeah. A cult. Followers of the
     Mushroom Cloud. A bunch of loonies.
     If you ask me, I think them and the
     robots are related.

You: Robots?

Man: Mean looking military attack robots.
     They attacked once, trying to get to
     a television station.

You: Sounds like they were trying to
     establish a communications base.

Man: Yeah, whatever you say. All I know is
     they killed 15 armed individuals
     before we could repel them.

You: Where might I find the cult?

Man: Beats me. But there are only so many
     places in town. Look around.

You: Thanks for the information.

Man: No problem.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Off towards the back corner is the one person with more than one line of dialog. Frank, the former casino owner explains what's been going on in Vegas. He seems pretty disinterested honestly, but it sounds like the Followers of the Mushroom Cloud are trying to take out the last remnants of humanity.


Las Vegas is also unique in that it's the only town in the game that takes up more than a single board. A lot of its length is basically fluff however. The other towns simply have the ranger talk to somebody at the entrance to buy guns and water, but here we get some small additional boards with objects to fulfill that same purpose.


Vegas's infrastructure isn't too badly damaged, and the water is the cheapest in the entire game. The building appears to have a functioning tap still!


The gun store also has wares on display, including some large two character rifles. For once I had enough cash on hand to actually buy a new weapon, so I picked up the SMG, which is supposed to be low damage but with a high rate of fire.

There's also a defensive shield and batteries for sale which halve the damage taken when shot at the cost of a single torch/battery. I wound up never buying this and it seems way too expensive to justify the cost given how little money there is in this game to buy expensive equipment.


In an alley between the weapons and water stores is a strange man and his dog who offers to boost your health. In my case I was so close to the 150 health he'd raise the ranger to that it just wasn't worth it.


Lastly is the hospital. For $50 the ranger can restore their health to full. I was a little disappointed that there was nothing else to the hospital, since such a place with presumably running water and electricity should be incredibly important in this setting, rather than just being a place to tweak your health. No quests or anything.

Now that I think about it, Vegas doesn't have a single quest. 24 hours will do that I suppose.


If Vegas doesn't hold your interest, there's always the abandoned military outpost.


The outpost is devoid of human life, but plenty of mutated spiders have found the place to be a good home. Wasteland goes back to the traditional ZZT combat here. It can actually be pretty difficult since the spiders move so fast. If the player finds themselves being attacked in a hallway it's hard to be able to break away to be able to fire a shot.


The most important thing to find is the radiation suit that can be procured from a corpse. This is needed to enter the final location without being damaged by radiation on the way there. The radiation takes 10 health per step so there's no way to get there without it.


The radiation suit may be the only mandatory portion of the outpost, but the basement is where the real good stuff is. There's a lot of gems and ammo here.


Story-wise, there's a data disk that can be picked up and used on the still functioning computer in the corner.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
A computer terminal.

You instert the disk into the computer...

Capt. Morgan Lewis, U.S. National Guard

January 4th, 2004

    The attacks have ended at last, but I
can feel the damaging effects of the
radiation. We must remain here. It is our
duty. We are the last line of defense
against the robots! I must wipe the
computer system of all data. If whatever
mastermind behind those things gets ahold
of the information held in our mainframe,
all of Nevada, or worse, all of the
continent, could be in danger.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

It all comes down to robots. Something big is gonna go down with this cult and those robots.


Really though, the lore isn't what's important here, it's that you can find a new weapon here: the extremely powerful Raptor Pistol> It's the strongest and slowest weapon available to the ranger. Due to the previously mentioned issues with friendly fire, it's even better than intended as it deals enough damage to kill a lot of enemies in a single hit.


There's only one area of the map left unexplored, and that's the factory to the northwest. The area is still highly irradiated, and without the suit the player will lose 10 health per step across this terrain. You can see the cutoff point based on the background color of the desert.


The factory is definitely ominous, being so pristine despite being next to a blast site.


The factory is where the game begins to dump money at the player. It's easy to buy any missing weapons or a defensive shield if the player doesn't mind making one last trip to Vegas.


Of course, this involves getting inside first. Here things get tied together with the passcode from the cult being needed to access the factory.


There's a cute little robot friend happy to help answer the ranger's questions.

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
    This poor robot seems to have lost
it's mind.

You: Hello?

GreetBot: Greetings, Madam. I am GreetBot.
          Welcome to the-- Welcome to the
          Sinclair System's Robot Factory.
          What is it that are you
          interested in knowing about that
          you are interested in knowing
          about that you are interested in
          knowing about?

You: Who's in charge here?

GreetBot: The master is watching always.
          *BEEP* Monitoring systems. Hey
          did you hear the one about the
          JewBot? Did you hear the one--
          The master is watching. The
          factory is controlled by the
          Sinclair Systems 308-X Super

You: How do I get to the computer?

GreetBot: The central control room access.

You: How do I get in?

GreetBot: The key dummy. Dummy. Dummy.

You: Stupid robot.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

There's enough to figure out what the ranger's goal here is at least. Whose idea was it to program anti-semitic jokes into GreetBot? Thank goodness for small malfunctions.


Hopefully GreetBot wasn't too endearing of a character, as the ranger has to shoot them in order to get one of the keys for the facility.


The factory is pretty sparse looking, but there's still some really nice decoration. The conveyor belt and various machines are all great to look at. Again there's a lot of gems to collect and a chest with some ammo, another 50 gems, and batteries for a shield.


Heading towards the smaller room takes the player into an invisible passage into another fight sequence. This one is handled pretty decently as in addition to two robots there's also a gun endlessly firing into the room which makes it difficult for the player to stand still.


It's also _finally_ an opportunity to use a different weapon. I decide to start with the SMG since I spent good money on it.


You can see the large quantity of bullets the player was able to fire with the increased firing speed. It's easy to rack up a lot of hits with it, even if those hits do the same amount of damage as the default pistol.


With one robot left I switched over the the Raptor Pistol to see just how slow and how much damage we're talking about. It's definitely powerful. A single shot dealing three damage compared to the one done by my other available weapons, and while it does fire slower, it's not so slow as to make it not worthwhile.


A single shot is all it takes to take down the gun on the wall.


Robots defeated, the player can leave the combat and return to the factory to properly collect the green key.

There's another room I didn't actually get to explore, with a similar setup only with a ton of ammo for the reward.


With the final key obtained, all that's left is to deal with the main computer and stop the robots.


The master computer is the game's final boss, and it's pretty straightforward about wanting to destroy humanity. The cult seems to want to destroy humanity with robots, and the robots seem to want to destroy humanity, and the now dead military personnel seem to not want the robots to destroy humanity. That is, if I understand all this correctly.


The fight is mostly defending yourself from a rain of bullets, both the computer shooting downwards as well as automatic guns running up and down the sides. At first the computer is protected by shielding which prevents the ranger from being able to fight back.

The shield is lowered by moving onto two pressure plates on opposite ends of the room. It's a bit reminiscent of the first boss in the original Quake. Here however, once the shield is lowered it will never re-raise, which makes it easy to just stand on the one row where the side guns will never shoot and fire upwards.


This makes for a very easy fight honestly. It's a little bit disappointing that you step on the plates once and that's it, but it would get pretty tedious having to hit them constantly I suppose. Eventually the computer will be defeated and explode, but the engine never seems to realize that the fight is over, leading to a rather disappointing moment where your final action in the game is to open the cheat prompt to ZAP out of the board.


The ending is fairly basic as well. The world's been saved, but there's a lot of work to do still. I definitely think people would believe the ranger's story though! Vegas was attacked by a bunch of robots and will now no longer be attacked by robots.


But at least it's a happy ending!

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Design: Commodore

Programming: Commodore

Writing: Commodore (Except one small bit!)

Graphics: Commodore

Beta Testers: Snika
              My Liver Hurtz
              Master Raze

Thanks: All those at mig for being there
        and being mig! And also Flaming_O
        or Dr. Dos, whoever picked the
        2003 fall 24hozzt topic, which
        gave me an excuse to make this.

Also thanks to MadTom, cause I'm his
little bitch and have to drop names. <3


-Jeff C=
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

I definitely did not pick the 24 Hours of ZZT topic.

Anyway, that's all of Wasteland, well, aside from the one quest I never figured out all the way back in Needles...


But that's what looking at code is for. With the now correct password of 5-2-3-9-1, a wall moves out of the way revealing a secret passage beneath city hall.


To a bomb shelter!

Immediately accessible to the player is a supply room with some ammo, and a control room to mess around in.


There are a few different systems that can be adjusted. For the most part though, the correct thing to do is not play with anything. The ranger only needs to open the blast door. Messing with the water system is harmless, but shutting down the environmental control systems results in all the air in the shelter being removed, killing everybody inside including the mayor and his wife instantly.


What's even more fun is trying to open the other door that's stuck after removing all the air by shooting it.


Big Jim, the leader of the gang that took over the place attacks once the ranger arrives for a rescue mission. Seeing as I did this at the very end of the game, I was able to very quickly end the fight with two shots from the Raptor Pistol.


The reward is a _massive_ 500 gems! Had I figured out how to get here earlier any woes about being able to afford weaponry would have been long gone.


Now that everybody's happy, the game can really come to an end.

Final Thoughts

Wasteland is a ZZT game that really exemplifies how to create a ZZT version of an existing game. We've seen Doom, Goldeneye, King's Quest and others, but Wasteland to me, is smart enough to capture what about the source material works in ZZT (the setting, quest based gameplay in an openly explorable world), throws out the sort of thing that won't (multiple party members and recruitment), and brings in its own spin on things. It feels like Commodore's own interpretation, and that's what makes it ultimately succeed.

The world it builds can be humorous at times like mining E.T. cartridges for a living, but it feels cohesive, and creates an environment that the player is both rewarded for exploring and motivated to do so. I always felt like I had something to do despite the game ultimately not being all that long. As a potential 24 Hours of ZZT game, it's incredibly ambitious (explaining once more why it never got submitted). It feels like a light adventure where the focus is more on the journey than the destination.

Commodore's two follow ups to Wasteland both took the concepts here and refined them into some of ZZT's finest action and RPG games. The gameplay here isn't as polished, but this is clearly the turning point for Commodore. From here on out, all his releases show a nearly unparalleled understanding of what makes a ZZT game work. Wasteland itself feels like it's 90% there. A few tweaks to the pricing of weapons, and a bit more depth to the combat engine would really have made this one to remember. Regardless, Wasteland is still an excellent ZZT world and one I can highly recommend playing even today.

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