MegaZeux Adventure

86.0 KB
0.50 / 5.00
(6 Reviews)
Board Count
31 / 38

Closer Look: MegaZeux Adventure

A MegaZeux community themed ZZT game that flipflips between decent and purposely bad. I'd expect nothing less from a hot igmo. (nmiaow)

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: May 14, 2024
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Imagine if you will:

You work hard to create a game. You pour your soul into it. Everything you make is carefully considered, tweaked after several passes of playtesting, hand-crafted to absolute perfection.

You present your game to the world, bracing yourself for scathing criticism that never comes. Why would it? The people love your creation. They get it. They know. They sing songs about your gradients. They paint murals about your PC speaker symphonies. Five stars. Purple keys. Community awards left and right. The world is your oyster.

Then one day, when you feel like you don't have a care in the world, suddenly a newbie "fixes" your game.

Folks. It can happen to you.

This game is here to scare you straight. It will teach you to beware the newbies that lurk at the heart of every community. If you're not vigilant, they can take over, and tear down everything around them. And what would you do then?

Played Using: SolidHUD v7 via zeta v1.0.6

#MegaZeux Adventure is a ZZT game inspired by the #MegaZeux Saga, a series of writings that can be explained in four cursed words: Fanfiction of real people. The ZZT community was no stranger to sagas as well, and the intermingling of the communities meant that both groups have thousands of words written and often presented in the form of fake IRC logs in realities where IRC channels are real places where ZZTers/MZXers would hang out.

Some of these works survive, and some don't. Many were unfinished. I think I read a bunch when I was thirteen. They are all the sort of thing though where it's impossible to feel good about sharing them today. They've been pretty quietly swept under the rug, best left un-tread. Those that dare to gaze upon them today won't see much appeal. If you weren't around when they were written, they're basically incomprehensible. And that's without getting into the quality of the writing or way certain people may have been portrayed. Yet, despite being the sort of thing best left untouched, they did play an important part in community culture back in their heyday.

On the ZZT side of things, where I can offer any sort of expertise, these sagas fell out of favor by the turn of the century. In their place, a few alternatives sprung up: ZZT games set in IRC channels like #darkdigital: the sim, actual IRC logs being converted into comic form using StripCreator, or IRCMan the ZZT community's personal clone. (content warning: The example quotes from include slurs, but also include a slur-free ZZT community quote).[1]

All of this spells complete disaster for #MegaZeux Adventure, but don't despair. For as much as it is indeed a product of its time, the bulk of it is quite tame. I was a bit apprehensive about playing it for the MonthaZeux, but the hostility contained within is hard to read as particularly intimidating these days.

The Lamer Invasion


The story begins on the title screen, which has been defaced beyond recognition into a yellow bordered monstrosity where author ZZTDude/WeirdMan/Dustin Hubbard is appalled to discover his title screen looks like your choice of low-quality AOL ZZT games, with none other than BHirsh13 taking credit for fixing things. After trying too shoo him away, he opts to shoot him away, before doing what little title screen repair he can muster.

It's very easy to make a deliberately bad ZZT world in this style. Start by keeping your yellow border, and then just do whatever ZZT Syndromes says not to do.

ZZTDude isn't about to take the easy way out though. The game is clearly made with genuine effort. The game is a comedy, not a joke. It tries to work in the newbie tropes without ever actually becoming insufferable for players to get through. You could do a lot worse with your yellow bordered boards than anything found here.


Once players begin, Majick awakens to discover that the world has changed, having been transformed into that primitive ugly old DOS game ZZT, instead of that high-tech DOS game MegaZeux. After a moment of wondering if the cause of the trouble was Windows 95 being installed, Majick heads out to visit #MegaZeux and figure out what's going on.


The building is nothing more than a smoking crater! It's fine though, a sign explains that they changed IRC servers from Austnet to HELLNET to SpaceNet, and thus they can be found in space now. opposed to Australia.


Up on the space station that is #MegaZeux, a small group of MegaZeuxers are enjoying a live musical performance by the MZX band which sings (with no music) a parody of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 theme song. The parody doubles as an exposition as to what exactly has happened. This is the most unique way to deliver the plot in a ZZT I've ever seen.

You can sing along if you like.

The MZX Band!
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
░▒▓The Music Starts and the 3 sing!▓▒░

In this not so distant future.
It's 1997 A.D.
We're hot igmos.
Lots different than all of thee.

We work at MegaZeux 2.51
Every single day and the works never done!
We did a good job making a lame-free place
But the lamers took over and made us go in

Now we're forced to play horrible games!
The worst they can find! Lalala!
Like Blue Buckaroo and Danny 2.
And they totally mess up our minds! Lalala

Now keep in mind we can't control when
the games will begin or end!
Because we used those special parts to
make our robot friend!

░▒▓Robot Roll-Call▓▒░

chanop! Hi girls!

So if your wondering how we eat and
breathe.. And other r****d facts! lalala!
Just remind yourself it's just a game and
you should really just relax.. On..

░▒▓MegaZeux Stupid Things 3k▓▒░

░▒▓Guitar Twang▓▒░ (Thanks yennie!)

░▒▓Crowd Cheers.. The singers bow▓▒░
  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •

The parody tries its best I suppose, at least until the robot roll-call featuring one robot's name repeated four times. It also taught me about igmos, a term that was new to me at least.

After the show the player can speak with a few MZXers featured in cameo roles scattered around the tables. They don't have anything too exciting to say, discussing their colors being wrong due to a lack of STK, refusing to specify release dates for upcoming MegaZeux games, praising Sailor Moon, and promoting Eggplant Adventure as a must-play.

There's nothing else to actually do other than speak with MegaZeuxers. To actually advance the game at all, players need to head into the heart of the space station to speak with ChanOp: the Austnet IRC bot that was used to make it easy to run channel operator commands. She is (to me) unexpectedly personified here. Gem Hunter 3 features a fight with ChanOp where they are an emotionless robot. Here she's uh "the almighty goddess bot". How Boten Anna.


ChanOp does fill the player in on the details. The lameness barrier that keeps #MegaZeux safe from AOL has been destroyed, allowing lamers to run around freely as opposed to the norm of them appearing in small numbers and being swiftly banned. As the lameness increases, MegaZeux degrades back into ZZT, and at current levels, even STK has been removed from their world. If the lamer invasion isn't stopped soon, then all MegaZeuxers will revert back to their newbie selves, PERMANENTLY.


The only way to stop this from happening is to rid the #MegaZeux world of lameness by hand. The player is then dropped to a small hub board, given a solid amount of supplies, and offered up six passages that lead to different parts of the world. In each stage a different MegaZeuxer must find and eliminate a newbie, collect their key, and then confront the mastermind behind the invasion.

Who And Where

Each passage is accompanied by a scroll that gives some background as to who will be traveling, where they're going, and who their target is. The six stages available consist of:

When presented as a list like this, it's all very exciting. The decision of which stage to check out first is tough when you know you could be fighting Hanson or Bill Gates. In the game itself though, the stages are labeled only with scrolls that disappear when touched and ASCII depictions of the stage's protagonist. If you opt not to go to Barkness, odds are you won't remember that passage leads to Barkness when you do get around to it. This hub could really have done with some objects for signage instead.

As for the characters, they're a tougher sell on a modern audience. Recognizing only a few of these names, a lot of stages simply meant I'd be playing as some random dude. Even when it was a familiar name, these folks were before my time, leaving only the stages themselves to really entice me to heading somewhere first.

But who am I kidding? Give me an unnumbered series of passages, and I'm going try and divine an order to follow, making sure to skip ahead at some point so as to take advantage of the ability to play any stage in any order. I gotta make sure the ammo and health management plays fair regardless of when you play the third stage.

The actual order, as going by the arrangement of boards in the world itself suggests Hanson, Linux, Yenrab, Barkness, Darrow, Town. That's chaotic enough an arrangement that no seemingly logical order players may take would actually match up. I'm kind of glad this is the case. You've got to play around with the stage order when you can IMO, and here good luck not deviating without looking at the ordering yourself.

The Evil Town of ZZT


I bet Tim got a lot of that in elementary school.


It's not even a one-off joke here. MegaZeux Adventure throws off its shackles and makes a villain out of ZZT's creator. This homage (is that the right term if you're making it evil?) does what ZZTers do best, lift boards from Town.


What was once the opening scroll reveals "Sweeny's" motivation. This is Town of ZZT the way he always intended it to be. But Alan Pilgrim refused to permit it. Now, thanks to the powers given to him by the master, Mr. Sweeny can finally create the game he's always dreamed of.

It's not all that different aside from the influx of creatures. Obviously, this isn't going to be a full length parody, with the town distilled down into the bank and the armory.

Being copies of iconic boards, there's not much to show off here. The bank has had its "Push" button removed allowing players access into the main vault mechanism which now has lions, bears, and ruffians running around, as well as a key to a second entrance to the vault.

The actual mechanism has been disabled, so there's no sneaky way of knowing your history and getting in that way.


The moment Kev breaches the armory, Sweeny gives up, dropping a key and leaving. What a weenie.

You've still got to get the key to the storeroom to get the key and make it to the exit, which means solving the unchanged guardian of the key puzzle.


The vendor is also evil, no longer actually selling anything or singing Led Zeppelin songs. Not being able to use the store at all isn't a major loss given how miserable the store is normally.


Between the unchanged guardian puzzle and the lack of any secret behind the boulders, I feel like the opportunity to re-present such a familiar place to an audience of ZZTers doesn't do nearly as much as it could have.

This is pretty much what to expect of these worlds. Lots of default ZZT creatures, a few boards to quickly zip through, and then a boss. Well, the other stages have boss fights.

The Hanson Concert


Things I (and probably everyone else) remembers about Hanson:

  1. Mmm-Bop
  2. Mean-spirited jokes about if they were boys or girls

A charming little board awaits.

Well, aside from the gender digs plastered on the building at the concert.

The folks outside here must be fans as they're not too happy to see zed. You're put straight into danger with this one. Not a whole lot of danger with the passage in being just a few steps away. Running is viable if you don't mind losing a little bit of health rather than sticking around shooting and using ammo up instead.


The setup here is goofy, and I strongly disagree with zed's opinion on the aesthetics. I have seen my share of ugly boards, and this is not one of them.

Even as a board meant to look bad as part of the plot, it's cute more than anything else. Plenty of ZZT boards look like this one does, and it's not bad at all. It clearly communicates everything in the scene. I see no need to demand shaded skylines or a third dimension to the building. Games that look like this get finished instead of just having demos.

Anyway, this path explains that your ammo here is in fact some kind of anti-Hanson CD. The rest don't make this any distinction about the player's weaponry, so I'd just assume it's bullets all the way down.

I could imagine wanting to avoid non-fantastic weaponry when depicting a MZXer shooting up a concert, but ZZT's "bullets" are so tame in everything other than name that it's hard to get that antisocial vibe unless authors are explicitly leaning into it.

Of course, the last stage referred to defeating Mr. Sweeny as "assassination" so who knows.


At the venue the other Hanson joke appears.

The crowd of ruffian fans rise from their seats to attack zed while the band refuses to stop performing their smash hit "Mmmm... Gay". This is so fucking funny to me. It's indistinguishable from parody.

The band is killed for their homosexual music and zed proceeds deeper into the concert hall to meet his actual adversary, BHirsh13. Reminder that the Hanson concert has zero connection to the lamer invasion. This was just a pleasure killing.


Of early ZZT community punching bags, BHirsh is kind of a novelty. A few folks had the misfortune of having their low quality games become their legacy to be remembered even decades later. When you go back and play them, yeah, they are pretty bad. With BHirsh though, we don't get to do that. Despite him being an icon of what a "newbie" is, there aren't any games of his that have been preserved. Evan Darrow found himself with a similar reputation, but we have a number of his games to see how he got it. Surely we're missing out on something.

Of course, if my streams of previously unpreserved ZZT games have taught us anything, it's that Darrow and presumably BHirsh as well were more victims of bad press than de facto horrible little game designers. Darrow's games may have been bad, and BHirsh's no better if parody board has any connection to reality, but they were far far from unique in that regard. Their names became the definitive examples of "bad at ZZT" and got echoed in games like this, keeping their association with bad games ongoing for eternity.

Despite the lack of any known releases, BHirsh isn't a complete enigma. Helios Interactive message board logs mean we can read a few of his posts! They do not contain the infamous "I can fix your games" or "Byebyebyebyebye" that are constantly attributed to him, but they do reveal that he was nine years old in 1996.

This ire was (originally) being directed at a second grader.

Boy zed ain't getting painted in the best light with these enemies, huh?


Long since played out jokes about annoying ZZTers or whatever aside, the yellow bordered arena with BHirsh lying in wait at the end (he doesn't know how to program moving) has one genuinely really funny gag in the form of a bunch of beached sharks that zed has to get bit by to get through.

It should come as no surprise that the small child that can't move doesn't put up much of a fight. He tries though, unlike Sweeny. Despite being unable to move, he still does his best, shooting a steady stream of bullets in the player's direction. Only by beating the force of the bullet stream can zed get a shot (of CD) in, resulting in an immediate victory. Here kid, listen to this music.




Barkness brings MegaZeuxers into their own personal Hell. Out of all the stages here, this one has the biggest opportunity to do something interesting with its location, a place recognizable by name, but not something so strictly defined as the town of ZZT.


Instead of merely upsetting the stage's protagonist xf with yellow borders and built-ins as has been the norm so far, Barkness is designed to drive him insane. xf arrives at a meeting of bizarre characters, being ran by Sam The Talking Salmon. The scene is just a lot of characters to talk to, with no real development to make it particularly notable. "Jimmy Da C with a tail", "Cassie the Friendly Torch", "Newbie", "Psycho Door", etc. If these are themselves Cans references, they are unfortunately lost on me.


I didn't think I'd ever see a defense of ZZT's standard door colors. This poor door is suffering for actually having clear readable colors! Please be nice to this door. They're my favorite kind of door.


A random dude also includes (with typo) the rarely seen opposite of nmiaow: mitmowp for "meant in the most obscene way possible".

Despite the purpose of this room being entirely to drive xf insane, he's completely free to go, with no character interaction occurring that isn't initiated by him touching an object.

There's also something funny about MegaZeux Adventure that I first noticed here. The graphics here are a little nice huh? Fancy dark red water you got there in your wall shading. Quite a super addition to your tool kit. Be a real shame if some lamers had invaded and took that away...

The use of STK here is minor enough that you might give it a pass, but the circumstances of its inclusion are really strange. This game predates any external editors, making any inclusion of STK graphics incredibly deliberate due to the extra effort involved in getting them into the world. ZZTDude had to be very much aware of what he was doing putting this water in. First, a toolkit had to be imported into this world where lamers have led to the loss of STK colors! Then he had to grab the water and the board changed a second time to start placing it down. You don't do all that on accident.

This may be the most obvious example, but it won't be the only time some STK slips in. A yet unseen stage that appears earlier in the world's board list is the original instigator. With this plot though, it's still very amusing to me that a tool kit was just imported unthinkingly in the middle of the board list like this.

In fact, we've even seen some STK already, in such small amount that it's easy to overlook completely. zed has been shown in dark purple on the hub and aboard the #mzx space station as well. Talking to him there includes a note that it's "traditional" for zed to be dark purple. He just gets to be an exception, which is fair enough as ZZT/MZXers invested in the community will absolutely recognize certain cameos by their colors. Barkness seems to forget about the no-STK rule entirely.

There's more STK to come in the game's final stage, but at least by that point you could make the argument that enough lamers have been defeated for things to be improving.

Phew. That was a lot about inappropriately colored water. Let's go back to Barkness.


The escape is similarly straightforward. The back room has a few damned souls that were forced to play Darkness for eternity. This is supposed to be xf's fate as well were it not for his brilliant strategy of "No thank you". Rather than give in, he opts instead to shoot the computer until it explodes into 0.23 pieces, including the white key needed to get through the next gauntlet where there's finally some action.

...The gauntlet is also over rather quickly. There's a small pile of creatures that politely line themselves up at the door, making them mostly fodder. Technically some of the dozens of bombs might also help in getting rid of them as well. They're definitely intended to be an obstacle rather than a helpful tool, forcing players to think carefully before they light one blocking the exit or at the very least, being patient and setting a few off to clear the way forward.


The final non-boss board is considerably more dangerous. You'll find yourself having a hard time getting through it entirely unscathed. The many tigers close in quickly in a room this small.

In the end though, you'll still likely leave with more health than you entered. The hearts restore fifty health, a symptom of the game being a bit too easy.

While I was hardly expecting the game to be difficult, it ends up being trivially easy. I think there was a fear that because of the non-linear stage selection, it might be possible for players to enter any stage with dangerously low health. Since there's no object to reset health and ammo between stages or even a shop to use, ZZTDude has to be extra generous to make sure that players don't get stuck in a level that they can't reasonably complete. As a consequence, the difficulty instead skews very easy, which hey, that's perfectly fine for a game that's meant more as an interactive little story than anything else.


Upon reaching the boss players discover that Sam the Talking Salmon (who I am not familiar with) is none other than Popper, (who I am also not familiar with).

This is finally an actual fight. A boss that doesn't immediately give up, and can move and shoot! Pepper uses ole' reliable: Move randomly. Shoot seek. Repeat.

Which still isn't much of a fight. Six shots brings him down and the key goes to xf.

Slackware Inc.


For a real treat, majick's level warns us of a terrifying future where Microsoft has conquered Linux. Except here it's still the 90s so the OS the world is going to be stuck with is this newfangled Windows 2000. I'm not gonna lie, I'd be tempted to return to Win2K again.

Really all the Linux references in this game are very funny to me due thanks to the mid-2000s ZZT community perception that MegaZeuxers were nerds (derogatory) who spent their free time recompiling Linux kernels (derogatory) and philosophizing over the merits of the GPL (derogatory). Obviously all us ZZTers were cool teenagers who were funny and smart and attractive and absolutely not insufferable and used Windows. There's a non-zero chance this stereotype has roots in this ZZT game ZZTers would've played about MegaZeux.


The HQ's exterior is one of the game's nicer looking boards. Luckily, this time majick doesn't criticize it immediately, letting the scene be soaked in without comment. Without the text, I think this would be an excellent depiction of non-STK ZZT board design. With the text, it's still solid, certainly nicer than the Hanson concert sign, only now nobody anyone that looks at it is going to be far more distracted wondering what the heck the game is about rather than appreciate the design.

To me, pre-STK ZZT is bridges with line walls, forests, and playing card suit trees. This screams adventure to me. Of course, with the text, it's much more a silly ZZT board that's fun to share devoid of context.


On the inside, the visuals are a bit less exciting, though the alternating solid/normal pattern does help ease the visual monotony that would be here if everything was just solid (or I suppose normal) white. As an adventure, it looked more fun from the outside.

Though drab visually, this too is a pleasant little board that would also feel right at home in an early ZZT world. Dodge the blink walls, mind the bears, proceed to the next layer, watch out for bullets being bounced back by the ricochets... it's a nice board to keep your fingers busy while not being overwhelming. It uses the whole board but you only need to traverse half of it really, as all roads to lead to the center.

This board has the misfortune of suffering from a bug that manages to be a buzzkill from what otherwise would have been the best stage seen up to this point. The first door opens immediately, while the second does nothing. My assumption was that this was simply a requirement to defeat all the creatures in a layer before being able to move on. Were that the issue, it'd just be a moment's confusion that could have been averted by just telling the player "Hey kill those tigers first" if you touched a door before it would open.

In reality, you don't need to defeat the enemies. The second door just has no code in it whatsoever, forcing usage of the ?ZAP cheat.

This could be an oversight, designing the layout of the board and forgetting to go back and code one of the doors. It could also be that ZZTDude was a victim of the ZZT editor's habit of sometimes just wiping an object's code. We used to live like this![2]

There's no excuse for the final stretch though. A half-hearted maze of water that can just be walked around isn't a particularly satisfying end to the board, exacerbated by the door stuck issue. Putting a mirrored copy of the current water feature to the right would make for a better looking, and better playing experience (that still wouldn't be a maze).


It winds up being a rather short stage, even by this game's standards. Almost as soon as you enter the Slackware building, you'll already fighting Bill Gates in his Windows 2000 mecha. This upcoming operating system is a force to be reckoned with, thanks to the NT kernel I guess.

Bill Gates keeps players on their toes changing the rules of engagement. No run and gun tactics here. Instead Bill sits comfy up top and lets his assorted duplicators create an endless gauntlet of creatures to attack players. It's just as Steve Ballmer once said, "Duplicators. Duplicators. Duplicators. Duplicators."

This board is a good example of how player feedback makes or breaks fights like these. Like in Barkness before, bombs are used as an obstacle for players rather than intended to be a tool to help. Still, my immediate assumption was that I was to use bombs to attack the suspicious looking characters sprinkled around the mech.

Not so. You simply shoot them.

But! It takes a number of shots to have any effect, and every attack prior to the final blow on one of these pieces provides zero feedback that you're accomplishing anything. No character changes, no sound effects, no message flashing across the screen. With six shots required to break a piece, unless you decide to hold down the fire button, it's easy to think that bullets have no effect.

The limited options and generous ammo make it reasonable to figure out after some confusion at least. When neither bombs nor bullets seem to be doing anything, shooting just to be sure while waiting for a bomb to tick down (also just to be sure) allows the solution to be discovered, albeit in an un-exciting manner.

Especially if you take advantage of the bombs to blow up the enemies that are being duplicated in the first place. The mech is really more of a statue, with no offensive capabilities of its own.


As each of the little thingies is destroyed, a few of door-like objects surrounding the mech head disappear until players can finally confront the man directly. If you try to touch Bill Gates you get shot. (Probably true IRL.) Shooting him once yourself is enough to end the fight with all the components vanishing and Bill dropping his red key.

I respect the fight for at least attempting something different. While it may not be very good, it's still better than deliberately busted newbie combat.


Before majick can return to base, there's a strange intermission cutscene. This _mzx_ fellow has joined the lame side as their robot, and is indeed running the accursed Windows 2000.


This seems to be this OS's big feature.


Some electricity crackles just once during this scene while the actual player gets to head to the next passage to return to the main hub. I'm unsure if _mzx_ is supposed to be the mech? This whole board is hard to understand. Maybe it's just making sure a newbie is defeated, and Bill Gates just happened to be in the way, just as Hanson also had nothing to do with the lamer invasion.

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