LandLand 1+2 (Decorrupted)

Released
Feb. 6, 1993
Company
Size
124.3 KB
Boards
139 / 216
Rating
2.00 / 5.00

Closer Look: The Lands of the World of ZZT

By: Dr. Dos
Published: July 10, 2021

After restoring a corrupt world to playability for the first time in decades we can now say this game ain't great.

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This month's poll winner was a double feature with quite the backstory to it. LandLand 1+2 (Decorrupted) is a combined restoration of two corrupt ZZT worlds, The Lands of the World of ZZT and LandLand 2. These worlds have been readily available for download for years and years in their corrupt state, not only on z2, but on early software collections as well. Of course, in their original state these worlds don't get very far before hitting malformed data and being rendered unplayable. So despite these games being dated 1993 (and the first's title screen stating 1992) it is very much likely that not a single person has been able to complete them prior to GreaseMonkey's restoration. No matter how many copies were found, every single one had the same corruption issues which caused both games to abruptly end after about a dozen boards when corruption set in.

Luckily for us though, GreaseMonkey was able to determine where things went wrong and write a script to do the necessary repair work on the files to make them finally playable.

Exactly how these were corrupted is unknown, but it may be due to a defective XMODEM server. The reason I believe this to be the case is due to there being duplicated aligned 128-byte blocks in the corrupted versions of the games, and also due to the file being padded to a length divisible by 128 bytes. — GreaseMonkey

There was of course some excitement at these infamous games finally being playable after so long. Here poor Joe Moone developed two early ZZT worlds which stood the test of time, migrating from platform to platform for literal decades without anybody actually getting to see the finished creations in their entirety. Shortly after the restoration, Agent Orange played through the games left some detailed reviews for each of the two games delivering a verdict of: Bad.

That's fair. Not to spoil my own playthrough of the games but Agent Orange's opinions aren't exactly hot takes. The LandLand series is known specifically because it couldn't be played. Nothing about what was there showed a promise of greatness or implied that we had been missing out on something wonderful for all these years. No, if the games hadn't needed to be restored they'd almost certainly have been forgotten, not nominated for polls.

Regardless though, they're still a journey to take, and there are definitely far worse worlds out there. Moone's games here hardly hold up to today's standards, but as early works in ZZT's history they still offer some insight as to what ZZT games were in the distant past. There's potential in them and the sequel certainly improves on the original giving Moone an upwards trajectory for what could have been the start of a decent enough ZZTing legacy. Alas, the only other world we have credited to him is ZZT Casino which shares the inaccurate Feb. 6, 1993 date with the corrupt LandLand originals. Oh well.

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LandLand 1+2 (Decorrupted)

By: Joe Moone/GreaseMonkey
Released: February 02, 1993
Played Using: SolidHUD v4 via Zeta v33
Download | Play Online | View Files

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As is typical for the era (remember this first one is from 1992), the game features strong influences from the original ZZT worlds above all else. The large ZZT text with the title written on top of it fits right in with Town and is all the information the player is going to get.

Some blinkwalls animate alone the background but not in a way that makes sense. In action they fire rapidly and seemingly at random with no attempt at doing any sort of effect like you'd see in Dungeons. While it's purely decorative here, Moone's ideas of how to time blinkwalls will be a common source of difficulty throughout the adventure.

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LandLand 1 immediately makes it clear that yes, this is indeed another ZZT game in the Town style with its central hub and four buildings which all match up with locations from Town save for the house of blues turning into a house of rap. There is however a notable omission of a path to this game's equivalent of the palace so without reading that starting scroll the goal isn't as obvious as it might otherwise be. Also of interest is that the four paths out of town are all locked with purple doors. LandLand sticks to the Town formula for sure, but Moone does try to keep things from being completely identical.
Scroll
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
HINT : Go south, east , west , then UP !!!
NOTE : Go up anytime you get a cyan key !
This is LANDLAND, a great game created by

      █ ████ ████
      █ █  █ █
      █ █  █ ████
   █  █ █  █ █
   ████ ████ ████

        ██    ██ ████ ████ ██   █ █████
        ███  ███ █  █ █  █ ███  █ █
        █ ████ █ █  █ █  █ █ ██ █ █████
        █  ██  █ █  █ █  █ █  ███ █
        █  ██  █ ████ ████ █   ██ █████

So, play and enjoy! You are an adventurer,
wishing to explore the world. So,

E      X     P     L     O     R     E  !
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

Right away the game begins contradicting itself by providing a specific order to explore the outer world in which says to go up last immediately before saying to go up whenever you get a cyan key. Moone doesn't make it fully clear that cyan keys are this game's purple keys and purple keys are just keys to open up other paths and there's going to be some confusion right away trying to figure out if I should be going north or not.

The story itself manages to be even more simplistic than Town's. "Explore!" isn't a lot of motivation.

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If we're just going to be playing Town, then the armory is the first choice for where to go. It's much more sparse and wet than the original. There are no puzzles to get a key nor secret passages to reveal a code which really makes the whole separate board feel pretty pointless when this vendor could have just been an object on the hub board to begin with.

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The "Fat Armory Owner" takes on the shopkeeper role and explains his job before offering up a sizable selection of goods for sale compared to the single option for ammo, torches, or Led Zeppelin lyrics in Town.

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So far so good though honestly. Town's biggest flaw is... well it's probably the way you can soft-lock the game immediately in the bank, but its second biggest flaw is how incredibly limited health is. At first glance Moone seems to have a better grasp on the game's difficulty offering not just health in addition to ammo and torches, but offering them in two quantities to help speed up the time the player spends shopping.

And rather than force the player to solve puzzles or bash their head against a wall there are also opportunities to buy a hint to the bank vault's combination or just pay to get the code and skip things entirely. It feels forward thinking to provide a chance for the player to opt out of such things if they so choose.

Unfortunately, none of this matters just yet as there aren't any gems available at the moment.

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There aren't any torches either so I don't know what I was expecting by just walking into the bank.

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Let's be real though, nobody wanted to see any of these buildings before the Rapper House.

It's definitely an interesting take. Unlike the House of Blues there's no puzzle to be solved here, just opening up the back half of the building which is bustling with tigers. Luckily some ammo is provided, but 50 bullets is almost certainly not going to be enough to get rid of that many tigers. If it was lions or ruffians or any other ZZT creature then maybe, but the tigers' bullets are going to make it quite difficult to get through everything.

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A rap machine 2000 lays down a beat entierly via ZZT's drum sound effects which credit to them, sounds decent enough though it's not really a "beat" per se. Still, it's a big improvement over the results you get when your ZZT music is randomly typing musical notes. The drums are much more in sync tonally making it harder to produce unpleasant noise.

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Oh, and I can't ignore the stereo equalizer. This is a genuinely clever use of blinkwalls with various timings to create a dynamic arrangement of values on the screen. The blinkwall rays are just blocked by invisibles so it's not entirely random as each blinkwall will produce a ray of the same length every time, but the variety in timing keeps it from repeating a specific pattern anytime soon.

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The slow dance room is more of a stop dance room with none of the occupants moving or having any code at all! A single tiger is the only thing that isn't fully rigid and its surrounded by a perimeter of invisible walls so that the player is actually kept safe. I'm really unsure what Moone was going for with it.

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Two of the three keys to get inside the tigers' den are near the stage while the final key needs to be taken by shooting a breakable that divides the stage from the rest of the rapper house. This isn't a tricky puzzle by any means though I did have to stop and scan the room for the third key as previously I was interpreting it as a microphone.

Talking to Jason on stage nets the player a 1000 point bonus to go along with their third key.

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One thing you'll learn quickly about LandLand is that it absolutely loves boards designed around bringing keys to doors one at a time. It's reasonable here, but it's only going to get much much worse as the game goes on.

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There was a clear moment of relief once I realized that this board was offering up four red keys for three red doors. It seems like a bit of a trick for the player to notice that they can keep one of the regions shut and avoid a bunch of tigers if their sense of observation is strong enough.

It meant that the ammo provided was just barely enough. Getting these first purple and cyan keys also took off more than half my health so I was hoping for some gems to show up in the near future if I was going to get through this without having to cheat for supplies.

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There was still the issue of what to do with those keys though. The opening hint said to go south first, but also to take cyan keys north. I decided the best way to handle it would be to save before opening one of the purple doors and head north and check out what I'd be dealing with.

The answer was a split gauntlet that provided no clear answer for where the cyan keys were going.

The right side was rapidly filling with slimes and with just six ammo on hand was obviously going to be impossible to get through. I opted to go left instead where a bit of luck might let me survive the more manageable number of ruffians while dodging the spinning guns.

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Hmmmm... nope. Although the firing rate on the guns was left on its default middle value they still fired too frequently to have a chance of getting past the ruffians as well. Standing still to shoot would likely mean being shot, and just running would mean running into a bunch of ruffians. I guess that's why the game didn't say to go north first.

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I could at least continue to be indecisive though. The jail hasn't been explored yet and might provide some more supplies.

Sure enough it did. The jail continues to be derivative of Town's with a similar blinkwall opening and ending with some spinning guns to be blocked by boulders before freeing a prisoner. Other components, ironically like the segment where you have to collect a bunch of white keys and turn them in one by one have been removed, replaced with four possible rooms to open using the provided key that all had a scroll, some ammo, and (excluding the last one) a single enemy.

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In Town's jail, the blinkwalls are arranged so the player needs to wait for a clear moment and then race across. Moone opts instead to play with the timings in a way to make things much more annoying. I hoped this one odd wall might be fake, but no dice. Instead the player has to get lucky (or do quite a bit of waiting) for an arrangement that lets the player get through, but it really just boils down to hoping for a good cycle as the combination of very fast rays and very slow ones doesn't lend itself to being safe to cross in one go. You'll wind up stepping into the first one's line of fire and hoping the middle beam disappears before the first one zaps you.

This board also has re-enter when zapped enabled as well so you're sent back to the start which is going to be miserable when fighting those ruffians as well.

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After a few tries I was through and had cleared out the first set of ruffians. I decided to just save and try each door to see if any scrolls were of particular note.

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...they weren't.

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The third cell with the tiger happens to be one that throws stars and has an increased firing rate. I genuinely don't think you can get in this one without getting hit and being sent back to the beginning. Sadly this meant never seeing the "Yo mama blows Nucular Bombs!" message.

So since all the scrolls were just insults and not anything useful, the bottom door is the clear winner offering the same 10 ammo without the risk of damage. Just make sure you push the sliders north and not south lest you block off the path to the rest of the board.

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The next set of ruffians pose much less of a threat thanks to the narrower corridor and the boulder puzzle is a breeze as well. Exercise some caution though as if you make the mistake of thinking there are so many boulders that your movements won't matter you can potentially find yourself unable to block the whole path.

Finally though it's time to get some torches and gems as a reward plus figuring out what the deal with this game's ZZT Bandit is going to be. I hope they were also imprisoned for unlawful syntax error.

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No, this is not as good.

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His advice isn't all that great either.

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Investigating the machine multiple times proves futile and the blue walls around it don't hold any secrets either. We'll get back to what the bandit is actually talking about when it becomes relevant.

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The ammo and health situation improved a little bit, but not enough for me to keep attempting to head north. Following the order prescribed to me I went south where several angry objects began screaming at me and oh my lord those are tigers behind duplicators.

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So far LandLand has been okay. It's definitely a tough game and resources remain pretty scarce, but it's been doable. It felt like the kind of game where you could get through without cheating, but it would involve being very committed to saving and reloading away damage or too many missed shots. That level of criticism could apply to half of Alex Janson's older titles that have a nasty habit of depriving the player of resources at the start before finally dumping heaps of them onto them. I still had hope that the game could pull itself up a bit.

Until this board.

I have 35 ammo and this board doesn't have any more visible. I again need to pick up keys one at a time. This time five. All while tiger duplicators are running.

And the objects? They move in a fixed up and down pattern. They can't be shot, and the "Hiya!" message when you touch one isn't a friendly hello but a "hi-yah!" as they take ten health and then fire to the west and east. (They want to fire a lot more but have invalid code.)

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Luckily they can only do their attack once before getting tired.

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It hardly matters though as the long walks quickly become unmanageable due to all the tigers. This is a board that will very easily end up hitting the stat limit which makes things really hopeless as the player will be unable to spawn a bullet when shooting if that happens.

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After my first death here the cheats come out. For health because I'm not typing ?AMMO when I can get 50 health at a time instead and tank damage with my smiling face.

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But then, a breakthrough! Once the object enemies are tired touching them one more time will result in a coup de grace that actually gives the player some items. Each decapitation provides 10 health, 20 ammo, 100 points, and a single torch. It's still nowhere near enough to get through this room, but it can provide some critical ammo to squander.

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It is very much not enough still, and the duplicators continue to make things awkward as even cheating myself back from the dead and having tigers rush towards the player while the game is in super speed from being dead won't put a dent in the duplication rate. The stat limit is hit and it's not going to be reduced to a playable level anytime soon.

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For players brave enough to make it through the infinite tiger room, they can advance to the finite tiger room. Again, this is not enough resources to get through without cheating.

What's incredible about this to me though, is that this isn't a case of me choosing the wrong path to open with my purple key from earlier. Moone explicitly said in the opening to go south first. This is the direction the author thought I should conquer first. I was not looking forward to the other areas if this was the starting one.

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A heart on the lake provides 100 health, but it's too little too late. All this accomplishes is saving me from typing ?HEALTH two more times.

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Shockingly, with a plan of hugging the walls and shooting some cover fire I actually did make it to the end without using any more cheats. It took pretty much everything I had though.

Oh yeah and also the "Ruffian Code" is written here. Whatever that might be.

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I was fully expecting this person outside the BlueTyger Base to be another assassin from the previous screen, and was pleased to learn they're indeed a friend.

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The remaining tigers were all transformed into gems providing some more health and some money that could be used back in the armory shop. Would it be enough? Probably not.

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Okay hold up this is just the jail again. Agent Orange's review of the game rightfully describes it as Town but more so expect plenty of the game's iconography to be repeated like this. Now it's the "Computer Center" in this "Tyger" base.

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Here at least the blinkwalls are timed better and the ammo is even more plentiful. The player also won't be returned to the start of the board if they get hit which is good since there's once again a race against duplicators with the final room providing a boss fight of some "leader" creatures which are still just regular creatures.

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Oh yeah, and obviously part of that means collecting eight white keys one at a time and bringing them to these doors. I happened to have a spare from the last time as I ended up reloading a save before I opened a door in the previous jail and just never bothered to use it again for 10 ammo.

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This time the challenge does revert to Town's format with some water and spinning guns to get past. The bonus gems for those willing to spare the time are replaced by "Payroll" here which I genuinely think is great.

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The boss room isn't looking great though. Maybe the magician can help?

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There are two objects here with the one on the left giving ten thousand gems as soon as the player enters the board. This screams debug object and now I'm terrified that this version of game that was restored is itself a modified copy. Unlike MST3K though this seems to be the only modification.

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The sudden riches make short work of the rest of the board at least. For a comparatively small fee the magician will transform the creatures into something else.

The tigers become energizers which honestly is enough to get to one and the pick up the keys and get out of here, but with this much money why not see what the other options do?

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The centipedes become bombs and with that the threat is neutralized for sure.

...except I don't have a red key.

Where's the red key? Maybe one of the other magician's options will do something about it? Was I supposed to leave a tiger alive to turn them into red keys?

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The ruffians become torches and the lions become tigers by mistake requiring a second transformation into energizers.

No red key though.

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Here's the red key. That spare in the rap house that I wouldn't have had the ammo to get to? Yeah you're supposed to get that. Even if I had the ammo to do so I would've assumed the extra key was an oversight! It's far more likely that picking up a key like that would lead to a situation where I couldn't pick up another one and was blocked, but no, you're supposed to get this one.

And if you don't the game just stops here. You can't exit the base once you enter unless you go through the red door.

My opinion on this game was plummeting fast.

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So cheating it was then. Plus, since I hadn't gone north yet I was still holding onto a cyan key so I'd have to find where those go and then backtrack to collect this. It couldn't get any worse.

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...Moone didn't connect this board back to the previous one.

It got worse.

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One custom ?PASSAGE cheat later and things were back on track.

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The thousands of gems at least meant I could buy health and ammo without it feeling like cheating. I also checked out the hint for the bank combination. (And then just bought the combination because why not at this point?)

Full disclosure: I did not realize that one object gave me the 10,000 gems at the time. I noticed when I talked to the magician that I had them and my best guess was that maybe checking the rap machine a second time gave me the gems and that I wasn't looking at the HUD updating when it happened. To me these gems were fully intended.

It seemed nice at least, this definitely gets rid of any resource problems, but now knowing that it wasn't a reward from the bandit is just going to ruin the uh, "balance" of this game.

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By "rap machine" they mean the equalizer. The blinkwalls actually spell out the combination of 463451 in how far they reach! It's tragic that this game has betrayed my trust so much already because this is incredibly clever. I adore that this is how you're meant to figure out the combination. It's brilliant.

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But with all the disasters of this game I was going to go north no matter what. With ammo to spare this time I opted for the path with the blinkwalls and slimes. The blinkwalls are again awkwardly timed, enough that I regretted taking the path afterwards once I realized that I'd be forced to do it in reverse on the return trip. At least the spinning guns also meant danger on the return trip.

This gentlemen here has nothing to say but "Good..........." before walking off screen.

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Up ahead is yet more forest which seems to have its design backwards. Duplicators spawn in enemies at the start of the board rather than the end so it's easy for the player to get past and keep the numbers fair. The back half being a pile of ruffians in set number to harass the player into spending time getting past.

Flip it around and this board's concept would work a bit better. Although I couldn't say for sure if this board is going to involve backtracking through later, giving the duplicators time to do their work if the player doesn't deliberate stand in front and get hit.

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Ah. It's not quite as easy as it could be. A few invisible walls mean the player has to find a path through although they also keep the enemies confined pretty well and give an easy path for the player to focus on shooting through.

This screenshot is taken with the player outside the magician's home so you can see enemies aren't exactly rapidly populating the start of the board.

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It's another dark room and it turns out to be another bank vault. Can't have just one.

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It gets more confusing when I put the lights on. First the vault has four inputs, so I assumed 1-2-3-4 would be the password going by the hint at the start, and while that combination does indeed work it also doesn't matter at all as the sliders aren't positioned properly. You can skip playing with the digits at all and you'll get your two keys.

Also important: The northern path does not have the cyan doors I am so desperately trying to find at this point. Right now I have two cyan keys just lying on completed boards that can't be picked up because of my first cyan key!

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On the way back to the central hub I had a new problem of how to cross these blinkwalls. The pattern didn't look like it would be possible to do in reverse. Lucky for me getting hit by one pushes the player up so I was carried across for 20 health. I'm very curious if I'd have been better off taking the path with the ruffians spinning guns instead.

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Still stuck with a cyan key, I figured there was no harm in checking out the bank which would likely provide yet another. The activation mechanism says to push it three times but it can only be pushed once. I think this might be meant to reference the false hints on Town's Rube Board.

Again the vault is set up improperly and you can just push here without messing with the combination inputs at all. It's slightly improved in that if you do enter the combination correctly a row of boulders will be in place where they'd need to be for a proper bank vault system.

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The bank is more involved than its Town counterpart though. You do still get some gems, but there's a second board still attached to the right side.

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It's another dark room normally, and one that tries its hand at one more puzzle. It also gives something like 500 ammo so the earlier you can get into the bank the more viable this game is without cheating.

On the right side is a weird structure that seems like it's meant to be some sort of one way gate to get the white key though you can just hold right or push some of the first boulders and be able to reach it just fine so I'm really not sure what Moone was going for here.

The actual "puzzle" is more in the center where the player needs to find the correct path to run up in the dark. The "Period" text is meant to tell you that number five is the way to go. Periods end sentences and games I suppose. The wrong paths all have scrolls that say "You're trapped!" which will be blocked by the slider and can never be read without cheating.

This leads to a blue key to get out and use the white key to open the door to a purple key (but no cyan one). Though thanks to LandLand's terrible key system, I was entering this board with a white and purple key to begin with.

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Also if you push up on one of these first boulders you can skip the "Period" puzzle and blue key entirely or if you're really daring, take the blue key and leave without opening the blue door. Lord only knows what that will let you break later though.

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Is east anything? I don't know why I was still following Moone's advice on which paths to take since they have been the opposite of helpful.

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