Closer Look: Merbotia

HEY, MOM, THE BED RAN AWAY AGAIN, you shout. -- It's Merbotia, a short and humorous adventure by Sonic256!

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Oct 8, 2016

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Although the passage could've just dumped the player on the ship, instead the actual player is pinned in the corner, and the ship's teleporter produces a player clone. When you move, you'll get warped next to the clone and the clone is then destroyed. Funnily enough that's the opposite of how teleporters typically work. Once on board the player has to get themselves out of the transport room.


Destroy Jeffrey Poole


Ok, this joke still makes me laugh.

5-minute perm


Escort service to main hall

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After paying all your gems, the computer lets you through, and a pusher pushes you towards the rest of the ship as your escort. (Kicking the computer just makes it kick back and hurt you.) If you don't have any gems you get to beg the computer to let you through and it will, but telling you to pick up some of Quatsch's gems next time.

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Moving up ahead, you find a more suitable weapon, a gun that shoots saw blades. Valve would later go on to steal this mechanic for the critically acclaimed Half-Life 2.


This joke got me good too. The object actually takes one ammo away and shoots you. Even if you noticed it there's no room to avoid it. Imagine dying here.

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You then go on to actually practice with the gun, taking a few more shots before finally being allowed to proceed to the main portion of the ship.


You are immediately attacked by a whole lot of tigers representing the ship's guards. It doesn't take long to clear them out thanks to the additional piles of sawblades just lying around, alleviating the player's concern for ammo.


Heading north is another room full of tigers and supplies. Like most of the forest earlier it's optional, but there's a lot of ammo to grab.


The western path is more of a breather with just five tigers and some ammo. There's another sign here as well.


You can also investigate the signpost itself.

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I don't know if having a sign in a game counts as a reference to Ace of Base's The Sign. Unless I'm missing something here.

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The next room contains the ship's boss. As in the captain, not a boss fight. You actually need to pull up the chair to talk with him.

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Durr, Me forget. Me not dat smart.


Take me baby, I'm all yours.


Choosing this option ends the game!

I'd like to not kill you.


I'd like to kill you.


Bludgeoning you with a Sponge!

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Sitting on your head, of course.

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Shooting you, of course.

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And with that the boss is dead. (Acting dumb gets the same response as earlier.) The player is now free to play with his corpse.


Search his pockets


Chop off his arm


Remove his brains out of his nose

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The objects shoots at you a few times as punishment for making this choice. It's rude to offer it if you don't want the player to take it!!

Throw his body at a wall


No complaints about throwing a dead body around to make it splatter blood. It's time to head back to the door in the main hub which required a hand print to be scanned to open.

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Having solved the severed arm puzzle, it's time for an actual sort of puzzle. It seems a bit out of place compared to the rest of the game which favored simple action and gratuitous violence.

The walls blink on and off from bottom to the top, so getting hit will push the player upward repeatedly. You need to push the bombs and boulders in such a way to be able to make it across, and also be able to use a bomb on a grate to proceed

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There's not much thought necessary to get through. Ideally you'd use the boulder to push several bombs around and block off most of the blink walls with bombs but pretty much any sized gap is enough to get the player through.


The last room of the ship shows the earth being shot at as soon as you enter it. Fortunately, they're shooting it with regular bullets.


It would be quite dead by now, then.


It would take at LEAST a cobalt bomb.

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It would take at LEAST two more shots

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A countdown starts, and the player needs to load themselves into the firing bay. Doing this will shoot them off the ship and back to planet Earth!

  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
You land with a loud *thump* on the

You stand up, and brush off.
You look around.
"Did I actually make it back to Earth?"
you think.

You look up, and notice the thick clouds
of smog.

"Yup, this must be Earth."
you realize.

As you begin to walk home, you think...

"Ah, the smoggy air... The cracked
sidewalks... The dead grass... The
pungent aroma of Urine... Sounds
of screams from nearby alleys.....

"Hey, wait a minute,"
you realize.

"This place is a DUMP!"

You run home, to find somebody else living
in your house!

You run to a phone booth to try and call
somebody you know, but nobody's name is in
the phone book who is related to you.

As a last ditch effort, you look up your
younger brother in the phone book, and
find his name. You realize that you don't
have a quarter, and begin to walk to where
the phone book claims his address is.
On the way, you get mugged by a group of
five people. Instead of giving them your
money, you pull out that strange gun you
found on the ship, and chop off various
limbs of theirs with your excellent
You finally arrive at his house.
An old man greets you with a Shotgun.

"Who are you." he states.

Is... Is Charles There?

"I am Charles." he says.

Remember me? It's your old pal, Player!

"Player?" he thinks. "Is that you?"

He lets you in.

You both hug for a very long time, before
you ask him,

"What happened to you? How'd you get so
old? Where are my parents?"

Your parents died 7 years ago in a car
accident. You didn't even show up at their
funeral. Don't you remember anything?

"If this is your idea of a joke, then..."

You happen to glance at a newspaper by his
foot. It reads 2074.

Your mind races. What were my parents
like? Where is my sister? What became of
her? Why didn't I age with them?

You collapse on the floor, your heart
aching. Your brother stands there
confused, and helpless. You are rushed to
the hospital, but it is too late. You die
of a heartattack.

2 days later, in the obituary section of
the New York Times, your name is there.

Died of Heart Failure at the age of 104.
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Worth noting is that when you land on earth you actually lose a large amount of health. There's supposed to be an :ending2 label to jump to if you don't have enough to survive the crash, but it's not programmed in. Similarly, getting mugged and having zero ammo left causes you to get beat up and possibly killed.

And with that, the game ends. It's a very dark ending compared to the silly mood the rest of the game had. Earth sucks, and your whole quest kind of ruined your chances at leading a normal life.

Aside from its grim ending, Merbotia's got a lot of charm to it. The writing is humorous, and while a lot of the jokes don't hold up to a more mature audience, there are still a few good lines scattered throughout. It's short enough that it's simplistic gameplay doesn't get a chance to drag the game down. Sonic256 never released any other games for ZZT which is a shame. Merbotia feels like a good first step in the process of making ZZT games, but there never was a second here.

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