Invasion ZZT Revision

Released
Nov. 29, 2002
Genre
Adventure
Company
JPI/antiWARE
Size
172.3 KB
Boards
86 / 86
Rating
4.50 / 5.00

Closer Look: Invasion ZZT Revision (Part 1)

By: Dr. Dos
Date: June 30, 2020
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This month's Closer Look poll had two runaway leads with Z-Files v2.5.1 and Invasion ZZT Revision that ultimately ended in a tie. With both having been nominated by Worlds of ZZT patrons I had to make the decision between a collection of tool kits that I'm hoping I can do justice with and what seemed to be a simple "stop the evil aliens" adventure. Obviously I went with Invasion, and in this case it was just because I felt like playing a ZZT world, something you don't really do with a collection of tool kits.

Good news though: This was a fantastic choice. This game turned out to be one of the better ones I've played for this project. It has a very unique look and voice to it that made it an enjoyable experience from beginning to end.

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Invasion ZZT Revision

By: Princess Alena
Published Under: JPI/antiWARE
Released: November 11, 2002
Download | Play Online | View Files

Originally Invasion ZZT was credited to solely JPI/antiWARE, a company name that changed from the original release and this updated version. This game and its original version are the sole releases of both companies which is definitely a shame. The author, Princess Alena, was clearly on to something here and I'm quite curious what happened to her (I'm guessing on the pronouns based on "princess"). There's a full two year gap between the original as this update so they were certainly around for a time, yet this is all we have of her work.

We've yet to even start, but let me say that Invasion ZZT definitely deserved more attention than it seems to have gotten. This one is definitely featured game material and was released during some pretty active times for the ZZT community. Perhaps its squeaky-clean positivity was seen as more of a detriment at the time, but all we've got for reviews are one on each version by Stak which don't go very in-depth. Of course, this being patron nominated, at least somebody out there played this and recognized it as something worth revisiting. I'm glad to have the opportunity to give this game the credit it deserves!

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The opening title screen is pretty simple, just basic text, a starry background, and three blinking objects in the sky. It's reminiscent of Compound but less visually busy and significantly more clear that you're looking at some UFOs.

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Alena quickly sets herself apart from her peers just by looking at this opening board. Most furniture and household objects are composed from ZZT's basic walls. This can cause some problems as it's difficult to tell what can be interacted with, but for the vast majority of objects, you don't actually need to.

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The story starts out with a UFO hanging in the sky and the protagonist deciding to make sure their dog is okay. The narration isn't kidding about the clicking sound. The game does get off to an admittedly rocky start by having the UFO endlessly play some clicking sound effects that will quickly get on your nerves.

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There's a good number of things to find around the room that help give some details to just who the player is controlling. They're a young child with a love of Nintendo. Despite some of the items sounding like they're being put in an inventory, none of the items actually do anything. You won't need the Game Boy or radio to progress, only to pick up some bonus points.

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Alena doesn't waste the player's time and dumps them right into the back yard where two aliens block the protagonist from doing anything about the third alien luring doggy on to the UFO.

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Once doggy is on the ship, the aliens promptly teleport back and fly off. Because the ship disappears, there's a large black spot in the yard. Most games would design around this by just having the backyard be black or opt to live with it (this is ZZT after all), but Alena is clever and quickly works it into the game, transforming an unsightly spot into an important sign.

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It's ominous! This dog-napping isn't seen as an impossible event, but concrete evidence of some suspicious events being alien phenomena. Note the moment spent to decry humanity's own treatment of animals. The reviews for this game bring up the idea that Alena is affiliated with a group like P‍E‍T‍‍A or Greenpeace. Taking some basic sympathy to the degree that the author is part of a large organization is quite a leap, but we'll see throughout this game that Alena won't shy away from her beliefs. A lot of the writing in this game clearly comes from the heart and she manages to nail bringing attention to serious issues and upholding an inspirational level of positivity without detracting from the game. It always feels properly integrated into the world in which these events are unfolding and never preachy.

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While our hero's mom won't believe in aliens, his friends are definitely more the type. This lays down a goal and turns a seemingly hopeless situation into something that might be tackled.

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On returning to the house, this time you get to see the first floor. You can see what I mean by the lack of objects as furniture. Couches and tables are obvious enough, but some more creativity is used for the TV or kitchen sink.

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And speaking of the sink, it's a good example of the kind of care Alena puts towards world-building. I would fully expect a ZZT game to have a kitchen sink. What I wouldn't expect is for that sink to give insight onto a character. Up to this point you're not even aware that the protagonist has a sister, but now we know a little bit about her and her secret late night snacking.

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I want to thank this game for teaching me about Eugène Poubelle who introduced dustbins to Paris and did such a good job that they just named them after him. I don't know why Alena thought to share this information, and in fact many many garbage cans throughout the game will bring up this same message.

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Nothing about this game explains when it takes place. This may just be an eventful Saturday night and Sam needs to rescue his dog from aliens before returning to school on Monday. The only other thing to examine here is one of the dressers in the dining room that contains a camera. Again it's just for points, but in this case it's kind of a shame since we're dealing with evidence of beings from another planet. If you're taking a camera, it should absolutely come up throughout the game.

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Oh there's a second and third floor. I really like this visible roof making this home not just a perfect rectangle. The first thing to do is obviously check out the bathroom where I am shocked to find not a single message. This is unprecedented. The lower bedroom is your sisters and is locked. She's got a significantly smaller bedroom than Sam's penthouse suite.

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The proper thing to do is for Sam to sneak into his mother's room, rummage through her dresser, and find the key to the shed in the back yard which should contain a spare key to the front so he can leave the house, find his friends, and then hopefully doggy.

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This is a cool shed. Love the snowmobile, love the random toilet in the corner, and I adored the lighting after realizing that the bright spots on the floor are in fact moonlight coming in from the windows. This game makes a lot of unconventional choices graphically, and this one really exemplifies the positives of those choices.

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lmao

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Again we see Alena's ability to take the unrealistic aspects of a video game and give them a context in which they make sense.

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And then things get quite serious for a moment. Sam had a brother and a father and lost them both within the past two years. That's extremely rough on a kid. Sam has no problems letting his feelings out, and the blunt emotional honesty seen throughout this game is what really makes it special. His mourning is cut short however, as another alien comes out of hiding and approaches him.

Alien
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
The alien is just standing there looking
at you with a puzzled look on its face.
He reaches into a box and pulls out a
small green helmet. He puts it on.

What could it want?
It already has your doggy!

Greetings, I have come as a renegade.
I mean you no harm. I once fell in love
with a human woman but alas...
She was destroyed. I have made a vow,
as you humans call it, to defend human
life as my gift to her. She had a
family and wanted them safe.
There is a threat that is neering your
planet. I can't give you too much
information for fear I may be heard, but
be warned, we are not humans, and laws
and weapons for humans are useless
against us. The comet that will arrive
at your planet soon carries with it
a terrible plot. Take this weapon. It
can destroy creatures that are not carbon
based. Protect yourself and prepare your
culture... there will be an invasion.

Just then two alien beings come out of
nowhere!
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
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This is escalating into far more than an abduction.

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Quite a lot happens all at once! Earth is in grave danger, an alien sympathetic to humanity has been killed, marking the first death of this invasion, and more aliens are out there. All of this happens before the player can even get a chance to pick up the key to the front door.

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It's a whole new world. That night sky, those dark mountains with a great sense of height and depth, that tiny little house for scale. This board is wonderful.

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Progress in Invasion ZZT is a very linear. You always have one thing to do and need to do it before advancing. Despite this, there are these more open spaces to explore as you work on achieving those goals. This could easily be a detriment as it can be a bit of a nuisance to enter a home and find nothing inside, but because this game's world is so much fun to explore (and very rarely has enemies or danger to deal with) it didn't really bother me any when I picked a wrong direction. In this case, Sam needs to find his friends and there's a decently sized set of boards to explore until you find the two of them. One thing this game reminds me of in a lot of ways is the SNES RPG EarthBound. There are a few decent comparisons to make with a group of children saving the planet from alien invaders, an early ally from the stars who explains the situation and is promptly defeated, but also these mountains and ropes. If you take a look at an early EarthBound dungeon, I don't think the similarities are a coincidence, especially when Princess Alena here is named after an RPG protagonist and has been doing product placement for two Nintendo systems so far.

Scared boy
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Aaaah! Please don't hurt me...

...

Your'e not one of them?

▓░> Sam <▓░
No, it's me, Sam. Some aliens took my
dog and I want him back... I'm headed
down to the old mill to find some clues
What are you doing out Andrew?

I wouldn't go there. I was just there and
these aliens were trying to kill some
other alien... Imagine what they would
do to us if they found us...

▓░> Sam <▓░
The aliens that were after the other
alien, found him. I was there, he was
a good alien and even gave me a special
gun that can damage them.

cool

▓░> Sam <▓░
Not as much as it could be. They killed
him and teleported away. Before he died
he warned me of an upcomming invaion plan

Oh no! What can we do?

▓░> Sam <▓░
I suggest you hide at your house where
they can't get you. Maybe you should
alert someone...

They won't believe this!

▓░> Sam <▓░
You're probably right, then they would
try to stop us, and we would have even
bigger problems...

Maybe I can help... I have some hobby
electronics at my place.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Great, what do you have in mind?

Well.. I may be able to develop some
ammo and a line of defence in my lab.
If you want to get in knock on the
wall left to the door. It will deactivate
the barrier, then you can get in with
the key.

I'm sorry that I want you to use the key.
I don't think I'm brave enough to let
anyone in..

▓░> Sam <▓░
Even grown-ups have trouble admiting
When there scared. I think you are very
brave.

Thanks. I'm gonna try to get home.
I'll call Anne first..

It's ringing!

Yea, Anne! Unlock your door. Sam and I
have to talk to you.

Please!

Great! Thanks!

Alright Sam, she should be awake. You get
her over to my lab A.S.A.P. so we can
figure some stuff out.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

There's a massive amount of text dropped here. Sam's friend Andrew is close by and definitely won't need to be convinced about an alien threat after witnessing them himself. The nonchalant "cool" in response to finding out Sam has a weapon that can harm them is great. We get another excellent look at the honest and positive attitudes this game offers constantly. Andrew is scared and willing to admit it. Sam praises his courage in being able to discuss it and being willing to help out. One of the more unusual things about this conversation to me is that this child has a phone. We're talking about a game made in 2000 and even the re-release here is from 2002, hardly an era where kids would have their own phone. Still, all it does is speeds things up a little by making sure Anne will be receptive. Andrew leaves for his lab placing a white key for Sam to pick up so he can enter later.

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This actually goes beyond EarthBound (I think), taking time to comment on these ropes to upper levels rather than just asking the player to accept them because this is a video game and they need to be able to access this higher level.

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The mysterious clubhouse can't be accessed and there's this strange purple gel all over the place. If there's any meaning to it, it's unknown for now.

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Descending from the clubhouse we get another great looking board. The upper mountainous areas are split from the main grassy valley so this left half is cut off from the rest. I really like when ZZT games do this arrangement where there are multiple trips through the same board, but different areas of it. Regardless of which path the player takes, they find something to examine and something out of reach. It's a quick way to build anticipation. Thanks to talking with Andrew, the player at least has some idea what the mill will be like, but these boxes and the additional purple stuff must be examined to know what they're all about.

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The first box has a gem. The game's documentation mentions that if you find all of them you'll be able to access a bonus dungeon at the end of the game. Actually finding all of them on your own would be quite a challenge, but the revised edition includes a document with a complete list and some screenshots of harder to find gems. We'll get to the pros and cons of this system as they come up, but this first gem is almost certain to be found unless you're purposely avoiding it.

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I really can't stress how much this game encourages sympathy for its characters. This poor kid just wants his dog back.

GameStory
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
You think about the Purple gel, and the
crate. You think about the odd cabin that
seems to have appeared out of nowhere.

You continue to dream about that happened
to you, the rumor about the UFO visits to
the old mill and your uncle, who as much
of a drinker as he is, usually tells the
truth. There must be a reason for the
abduction, the sites that were chosen,
and the reason the cabin was made.

You can't seem to picture a connection.

You know the dying words of the rebel
alien, you also know That Annie and
Andrew are the best bet to talk to for
tech ideas. If there was to be an up-
comming invasion, you would have to be
ones to fight it off...

As you climb further down you realize what
the cabin, the crates and the gel may have
in common...

It may have been a temporary base. It is
near the old mill, maybe that is what all
the sightings were about.

Maybe the aliens plan to cover this all
up when they leave, but have just sealed
it temporarily to protect it until it's
cleaned up...

That means the future base is almost
ready....
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

As Sam descends the last rope, he spends a moment trying to piece everything together and connects the present events with more mysterious ones in the past. This UFO business is nothing new with sightings at the mill by none other than Sam's uncle. It's a rough situation and the lack of people who would even consider listening to some kids means that it's up to the trio to do anything about it.

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Lastly in this final blob of gel at the bottom is a weird diagram that tries to shed some light onto the gems and the gel, but it will take more than Sam to figure this out.

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Climbing back up and going around to the mill itself and it's currently gelled-up tight, but not as tightly as the clubhouse. For now he needs to keep moving and find his friends.

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A quick trip along the path past some more great looking mountains with caves leads to something a little more populated looking. This also happens to be just east of Sam's home so it's possible to do make this trip in the opposite direction as well.

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After finding Andrew out and about, I assumed this must be Anne, only to be tricked by an ineffective scarecrow.

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Yes this is a Canadian flag, and yes the author is Canadian as well.

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This happens to be Anne's house and he quickly explains the situation to her.

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You get this entire home and there's almost nothing to interact with. It's so odd for a game to just not bother with this stuff, but really it just asks how necessary any of it is. (You can learn about the poubelle from another trash can though.) Possibly the one useful factoid is that Anne has a brother named Marc, though this will never come up.

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Sam heads upstairs to Anne's room where once again we see a sibling get favored treatment in the amount of space they have claim to.

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This moment right here is 100% where I knew this game had me in its grasp. There's a truthful answer to Anne's first question here. I talked to Andrew. But I paused on this prompt. Sam has snuck out of his home. Aliens are planning to invade Earth. Anne's parents and brother are nowhere to be found. (Sam refuses to go up some other stairs to the parents' bedroom.) Could I trust Anne? Is Anne really Anne? Can the aliens disguise themselves as people? Would I be protecting Andrew if I didn't mention him? Would I be endangering him if I did? It was one of the most intensely psychological questions I had ever been asked in a ZZT game.

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Or at least the most intensely psychological question until this second one.

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The options are make a joke answer and revealing a lot of information. The first question was a test for me, but this one is more of a test for Sam. Maybe I was the paranoid one, but if Anne turned out to be some sort of fake that was a part of the invasion I'd say Sam was the one at fault for revealing that he has a weapon capable of defeating the aliens.

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SAM.

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SAM SAM SAM SAM SAM.

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Oh, this actually isn't nearly as worrying as it sounded at first.

Anne
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
They left behind an odd set of bullets.
Let me check...

OhmyGosh!
It is a match!

That means they have been here before.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Maybe they just shop at the same place..

You're so silly sometimes.
My research area is technologically
handicapped. I kinda got in trouble with
my dad and he cut my allowance.

I know! Let's take this over to Andrew's
lab. I bet he can help us understand
it and maybe even get more ammunition.

If there is going to be an invasion, we
had better hurry and get ready.

▓░> Sam <▓░
My uncle had seen lights recently in the
woods and around the old mill. Do you
think they have already started?

Hmm... good thinking.
I can't say for sure, but I can say that
the old mill has been a hot spot for
paranormal activity for a long while.
Unfortunately when I tried to expose it,
my classmates laughed at me and took my
lunch money, caling me dummy the ugly cow.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Why would anyone act like that? I
totally think your very smart... and very
pretty...

Oh. *blush*
Let's get over to Andrew's lab. Race ya!
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Time for another lore dump. First off I love that cuts in allowance are causing funding issues for Anne's research. Then I love the accurate depiction of children going with "dummy the ugly cow" for their insult towards this girl who believes in paranormal activity. And lastly we get Sam coming to her defense and doing some very mild flirting that you'd expect from a gradeschooler. Anne falls for it. There will definitely be more hints at a blossoming romance between the two as the game progresses. This is definitely a case where the pitifully low standards for convincing romance in ZZT games works in this game's favor, as what should be incredibly generic ends up being one of the better romances of ZZT I can recall, especially going by the time this game was originally created.

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Anne runs off to Andrew's lab which gives Sam a chance to check out the place. By now though, the nature of the game is understood and despite a reasonably full set of rooms here your options for interacting with things are this junk pile, a bunch of books about the paranormal on Anne's shelves, and Artho the cat who is eating from his food dish.

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Well this is another nice board. I still haven't come across Andrew's lab so I'm just wandering outside where there's this man fishing on the beach and something out in the water.

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I think it's a duck.

Fisherman
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
There sure aren't a lot of fishies 'round
here anymore.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Pollution is killing us all. We are
one day going to be without air and
water, but we'll have money. It
seriously disgusts me how people waste
there one precious life reaching for
greed. What good is it when you are
dead?

The animals are hurting because of this
and we are so silly we fail to realize
there exists a delicate ecosystem.
If you take out the bottom domino, the
top one will eventually fall...

Of course there are less selfish reasons
to respect our animal friends. They also
are stuck on this planet for which may or
may have purpose or just be a floating
coffin where all life eventually falls...

Um... yea.....

Wait! I found the reason! I forgot to
put bait on my fishing pole!

▓░> Sam <▓░
Um... yea, that would do it too...
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

No, but seriously Sam rules.

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After a thorough examination of the overworld, Sam finally makes it to Andrew's lab. The tiny red building is his home, and the massive structure in the back is the lab proper. Sam has the key but Andrew mentioned a barrier needing to be shut off. That's done by hitting a switch on the odd spot on the wall. This is also where things meet up. You can't actually go inside without talking to Anne first as Sam won't deactivate the barrier until he's talked to her. It's a little clunky if you try to do things out of sequence. (Perhaps it would've been better to have Andrew reveal how to disarm the barrier and for Anne to have a spare key instead.) I managed to keep on the path the game wanted so no issues for me at least.

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Anne gives a status update and then it's time to speak with Andrew. For a moment I was glad Princess Alena put Andrew in the doorway so that I wouldn't be tempted to interact with all the things inside the lab that probably won't have any code.

Andrew
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Hey Sam, Anne filled me in on further
details. I don't know if you went to the
old mill or not, but I found some odd
purple gel. I've been working on a small
analysis of that stuff, my results should
be ready soon.

As for our first and only line of
defence... that weapon of yours. I have
used Anne's sample ammunition and have
made some duplicates, well A LOT. They
too are in the final testing stage.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Well, what about everyone else, we can't
stop an invasion all by ourselves, I
couldn't even save my doggy.

Your doggy may be ok, I doubt anyone will
hurt him, these aliens seem very picky.
They visit the woods near your uncle and
the old mill, which Anne and everyone
else know deep down, has ALOT of
paranormal activity.

▓░> Sam <▓░
That still does not answer my question.

Oh, sorry. I am working on a weapon that
we can use to defend our base via
remote.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Base?

Er, our homes. Since you have a weapon
and we will soon have ammo, we should
likely look for clues and develop a
plan.

I think the old mill is a great place to
go, then we can check out your uncle's
for some clues...

▓░> Sam <▓░
Sounds good. The mill and my uncle are
so far the only real clues we may have.

However if there are any clues, we are
not going to get at them until we
remove the purple gel in front of the old
mill.

I may however have the answer. Follow me.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Things are starting to come together. Sam's weapon and Anne's ammunition are strange alien technology, but Andrew has been able to figure things out enough to replicate the ammo. With just one gun though, the only person who can stop the invasion is Sam, and it seems like the old mill is going to be the best place to start learning just what's going on.

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Andrew is making himself extremely useful and just dumps hundreds of ammo on the player. It's a massive amount and will be all the ammo in the game until about 90% through it. Limited, but not so much that the player needs to think twice about shooting. It wouldn't have taken much to just give several thousand ammo and not have the slightest doubt, but this large but not massive number and the dialog warning about making it last does a lot of work to coerce the player's style of shooting.

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Andrew does move and let everybody inside, so you'll get to look around a bit after all.

Andrew
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
This my friends is a small sample of some
gel found near the cabin and another
found near the old mill. Look how the
gel at the mill is more dull.

▓░> Sam <▓░
???

It seems that this gel is weaker than
the other gel. I still don't know what it
is but I do know that a simple torch can
burn away the weaker gel. It does
nothing for the normal gel. But if we
equip a torch or two we may be able to
get inside the old mill.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Great. Annie and I should go check it
out. If you can get a protective
weapon going or any other clues, it
will be appreciated.

I'll work here.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Talking with Andrew again reveals his early analysis of the purple gel. The details remain sketchy, but it sounds like a few torches will be enough to get into the mill where the gel is a bit weaker. Andrew provides the torch and vows to keep working on recreating Sam's weapon so that more of the squad can defend themselves.

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The first think I want to know about is what appears to be a body suspended in a tank. That's a bit extreme for a child's science lab.

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It's... very peculiar. Even rereading this after having completed the game, I'm still very unsure what this is supposed to mean in the context of this game if anything at all. Also it must suck to have saved the world and be a hero and be labeled an alcoholic in your memorial. Sorry Dollar, I hope you got the help you needed.

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In the middle is this cool robot.

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Even the robot is bursting with positivity.

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There's one last part of the overworld to check out before going to the mill (well, you're supposed to go here afterwards), and that's Sam's uncle's farm. I really love the sense of scale the mountains get by having all these buildings be just a few tiles tall.

Bessey the talking moo
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Hey Sam. It's me, Bessey the talking moo.
How have you been lately?
Me? Well, I guess I can't complain. I
have all the love and respect from your
uncle, whos name escapes me. I also
have all the pretty dandilions to look at.

You know, evolution made a cow a cow, or
a person a person and we all have good
and bad. A cow for istance, cannot create
but unlike a person it cannot destroy.

I love all life on this planet. Even if
some of it has only 2 legs... what the
heck can you do with only 2 legs anyway?

I think if all animals put there good
qualities together, the intelligence of
a human and say, the kindness and good
looks of a cow, we would have a nice
little place, our Earth.

Oh well, I'm rambling..
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Bessey is amazing and comes completely out of nowhere. By this point these gestures about peace and harmony are to be expected, but "talking cow" not so much. She does really kind of break the rules of the world though. Not one other animal will speak in this game, and not one character will be surprised that Bessey does.

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Sam's Uncle's house actually does have a few things to examine to learn a bit about his nameless uncle. For now, there's nothing you can actually do here, but the locked door and connection to another board obviously points to this being a sort of checkpoint for later.

Uncle
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
▓░> Sam <▓░
Uncle, I saw a UFO and it took my doggy!
Since I knew you have seen a UFO near
here before, I was hoping you could
help us track it down!

Wha? What time is it anyway?
Forget it! I am not letting you go any
further..

▓░> Sam ▓░
But...

No buts! Get home and go to bed!
UFO's, Sheesh! I'm too tired for this
unsubstantiated foolishness...
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Right now, Sam's uncle has no interest in Sam's claims, but that "unsubstantiated" line hints that perhaps he could be convinced with some proof. As long as we're here, let's explore the rest of the house.

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Haha this is great.

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See, this is the good exploratory content I'm after. Exploring this home teaches you more about Sam's uncle than a lot of ZZT games will teach you about even a major character.

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And then Sam just chugs cough syrup. Sounds like a great time to check out the mill.

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The torch burns away the gel at the old mill and Sam enters, beating Anne here despite his detour. The weird abstract objects being made up of ZZT's various walls works really nicely here. I have no idea what anything here is supposed to be, but I don't think I'm supposed to. It's a creepy old mill filled with purple alien gel.

Anne
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
Hey Sam, Sorry I'm late...
I looked over some results from my
Satelite searcher screen saver.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Find anything?

Maybe. I didn't fully finish analyzing the
results, but it appears that something
within the last hour or so entered our
planet's atmosphere.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Don't you listen? I told you anout the
UFO already. That's why we're here
looking for clues remember?

Yes. Still that's no reason to be rude.

Anyway, the point is that the object
has yet to leave a trail indicating that
it has returned to space.

▓░> Sam <▓░
You mean it's still on Earth?!?

Maybe. Also there is this comet that
everyone is talking about...
I'm not sure what to make of the data.

Oh well...
If we hurry we may be able to track
it down and get your doggy.

I suggest we split up and report back
to eachother later.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Agreed. But you don't have a weapon..

*blush* Aw! You want to protect me?
*he-he*
I'll be fine, I'm going upstairs to look
around.

▓░> Sam <▓░
I'm comming too...
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Anne brings some new information. Atmospheric disturbances show that something has landed on Earth, but not taken off. This is good news as it's not too late to find doggy if the aliens have yet to leave. Of course, it also means that the aliens are still here. There's a little more flirting about Sam protecting Anne which is definitely her reading into things in this case.

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As you move through the mill, the two will converse a bit. This helps explain the layout the place which is split across a basement, ground floor, and upper area with a sort of conveyor for transporting grain running over each level.

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There's purple gel all over the place which blocks off access to the lower-left room entirely guiding the player to the upper level instead.

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With more gel it looks like a dead-end. However, one of the two boxes has a white key inside. Sam and Anne are unable to see past the gel, but you can and it's definitely enticing with some strange device in the larger room that definitely doesn't look to be grain-related.

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The key unlocks the door to the basement where Sam and Anne are about to have their first violent encounter with an alien.

Alien/Anne
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
You miserable fools! You couldn't ever
possibly understand our plans. And I
believe you know what happened to the
last fool who stood in our way!

There is nothing that can stop the
progression of our plans. We see your
world, studied your species and find you
all guilty of horrible crimes, even
agianst your own, you wicked idiots stay
cruel and greedy.

My hatred is stronger than yours. Soon
you will know the answer to "Is there
life after a messy, messy death?"

Like I said, it will be a messy, messy
death!

▓░> Sam <▓░
We didn't want to fight you, we just want
answers, but sadly if there comes a time
when reason fails, force remains.
I will not give up.
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

There's quite a lot of dialog going on here, but it does reveal a little bit about what the invaders are up to. Basically, humanity sucks too bad to be allowed to live. This isn't that unique of a theme in science fiction, where an "enlightened" alien race wants to prevent humanity from messing things up outside of Earth too. The criticism is valid, but in this game it doesn't work all that well with how overtly fascist these aliens will end up being. This isn't a quest to convince these aliens of humanity's worth or that they can change, or even to hold up a mirror to their own injustices. The plot would function the same if the aliens simply didn't care about human because they weren't the same beings as themselves.

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After what feels like quite a bit, Invasion ZZT finally offers up some action. I had my fingers crossed here. Everything was in the game's favor already. Some badly programmed enemies could quickly run what's been a really captivating experience into the ground.

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The shooting aspects of the game are fortunately reasonable. The alien just moves and shoots in Sam's direction at a slow enough pace that it doesn't take much to dodge. Though the aliens do take seven shots which is quite a few for some generic baddies.

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Sam is on the record as being against ethnic cleansing.

Anne
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
You are right.

Although, I'm sure more aliens heard
the commotion from here. We had better
find a safe way to the top.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Well, we now know Aliens have infiltrated
this mill. I doubt it is there base.
I bet they have a more secure base
somewhere else...

I wonder why they are here? What's there
plan anyway?

▓░> Sam <▓░
I have no idea.

Let's find out! I'm going back upstairs.
I'll wait for you there. Hurry though.

▓░> Sam <▓░
Got it. I'll just take a look around
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Even after their encounter, Sam and Anne don't really know what exactly the aliens are going to do, and now they suspect the noises will have alerted any other aliens in the mill. It's time to find a way upstairs.

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The conveyor runs through the mill and should be safe to move across provided it remains off...

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This run across the conveyors is another excellent example of the suspense Alena is capable of building. In reality, you're perfectly safe. You can't fall off, the machinery won't start (although those white blinkwalls on the right side make it seem otherwise), and it's just a walk from one passage to the next. Yet with just a few words about the possibility of the machine being activated, you can't help but step cautiously. There's a real fear that at any moment something will happen and you'll need to react to it or be killed. Being able to make a... run-of-the-mill... walk like this into something worrisome demonstrates the strengths of Princess Alena's writing.

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