Mark Land 3: Escape from The Dungeons!

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Wildcard Stream Vol. 86 - Mark Land 3 and Mark Town

Some well meaning derivatives of Dungeons and Town of ZZT that unfortunately miss the Mark.

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Jul 6, 2024
Part of Series: Wildcard Streams
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♦ Livestream of 2 ZZT worlds. ♦

The rest of the Mark series!

The third game picks up where the last left off. After having defeated the evil Dr. Bob, putting an end to his plans of conquering Mark Land, the people have you thrown in the dungeons.

You see, they didn't know Dr. Bob was up to no good, and instead see the player as an assassin.

Escape is step one, with a very Dungeons of ZZT inspired dungeon to escape from. The board parallels are pretty obvious. A lot of times with games like this I feel like it's a two-cakes situation where you're getting more of the same thing, but that thing is understood to be good. Here, while that is true at times, some of the designs really bring out the worst in ZZT.

Its shoot-the-target board offers no refuge from the stars when you miss, saved only by the object moving in a much easier to predict pattern where once you find a spot to shoot from, you can park yourself there and shoot at the same time on every pass.

Perhaps its worst board is one not from Dungeons, but from City. A board inspired by the Atrium needs players to collect several identical keys, dodging bullets shot from a gun that are bounced around the board by ricochets. In City, there are eight keys to collect. In Markland ...TWENTY-ONE. (With a significantly longer path to follow to reach a door)!

But it's not without its good ideas. Upon finally escaping the dungeons, the expecation was for the game to be over. Instead, quite a number of boards remain with villagers afraid of Mark, and more work to be done to be able to finally clear your name.

It would almost make it all worthwhile if you didn't suddenly need to do things like talk to a baby that says "Goo goo gaa gaa" five times before giving the player a key. It gets a bit too arbitrary to appreciate, requiring a lot of trips into the editor to figure out what needs to be done.

Mark Town then is a standalone release that strangely resets back to being a game modeled after Town itself. Except there's a movie theater now.

Despite being patterned after a non-linear game, there are some definite restrictions on what you can do when, and I found myself getting stuck even when I could do something do to varying levels of obtuse design. I was right that I needed to mow all the forest tiles on one board, but only tried talking to the person complaining about them and not opening the locked door afterward.

For this most part, this one is a two-cakes game, providing servicable recreations of iconic boards in Town. It's still a close call on whether or not they're different enough to justify playing compared to town, but I think this one mostly did better than Mark Land 3.

Except for the haunted house that replaces the house of blues. Just find an invisible key on a big empty board. Go ahead. Touch every space.

At least the movie playing at the theater was good.

When these games aren't being needlessly cruel, they're not so bad. Weaker than the source material, and derivative enough to feel more like replicas rather than games with obvious inspiration, but generally playable and enjoyable enough. Combined with the needless hostilities though, and these are some tough games to recommend.

♦ Stream Contents ♦
• (1:10) "Mark Land 3: Escape from The Dungeons!" by Mark McIntyre (1994) []
• (49:03) "Mark Town" by Mark McIntyre (1995) []

♦ Play these worlds directly in your browser ♦

♦ Originally streamed on June 30th, 2024 ♦

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