Hello sir, I am Sir Belfry of the Bat
Kingdom and I came here because voices
in my waffles told me it was my destiny.
I demand an explanation for these
I have no idea what you are talking about
No, in all seriousness, I'm on a quest to
PENGUINS KNOW EVERYTHING!
Anyway, thanks man.
Hi, my name is Dron. Sorry for randomly
walking in, I had no idea anybody except
cannibal bushes and a bunch of people who
think they're mayors lived here.
I saw it, just was curious if it was true
or another clever trick by an underground
sign planting monster from Tokyo.
On some side of the forest; I think I'm
I got really bored and wandered into the
forest. Some talking tree claiming to be
a prophet told me to hunt down and kill
this Bob Dole fellow. So that's what I'm
going to do.
According to the tree...prophet...person,
he is plotting the destruction of
Neo-Atlantis. It might seem strange, but
I've always been convinced that's where
I'm really from. And even if that's just
confabulation, it still seems like a fun
adventure! Sadly I have no clue where on
Earth Bob Dole OR Neo-Atlantis are
located. However, the leader of the
Village of the Mayors told me to head to
Castle Edible Salt.
Of course not!
WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS OF WYOMING??
• • • • • • • • •
Dron - IS THAT REALLY YOU ZEUS? OR
ANOTHER CARDBOARD CUTOUT?
Dron - MOON CARDBOARD CAN DO ANYTHING!
Dron - THANK YOU FOR THE KNOWLEDGE ZEUS!
Dron: What's with the forest in the
middle of a desert again?
Dron: Being able to launch forests at
other planets for no reason is the best
cure for boredom in history.
Dron: YOU ARE NOT NELSON MANDELA!
• • • • • • • • •
Dron: WHAT HAS SCIENCE DONE?!
Dron: There's one right there you silly
Dron: How does Bob Dole know we're after
Dron: Nixon said Bob Dole sent him.
Dron: IS THIS A SIGN FROM THE GODS?
Dron: I didn't eat toast this morning.
Dron: WHY MUST YOU INSULT MY MOTHER?
Dron: Edgar, where the heck is the top
of this tower?
Dron: Thanks man.
• • • • • • • • •
Poor Aeris (author). This game is too little too late. Its humor via nonsense is grating here in the last month of 2018, but even in 2008 this sort of thing was old news. Algorithm marks Aeris's return to the mainstream ZZT community, but offers little to a community already at a low point.
The game's story and humor are so unappealing that it's a disservice to the few positive aspects here, namely the graphics. Aeris's graphical prowess seems to fluctuate wildly throughout the game, and while its best art is above average, everything gets dragged down by the lack of reason for anything. This feels less like a game Aeris wanted to put out there, and more like an excuse to draw some environments and justify that by stitching them together with a thread of nonsense. It just doesn't work. I want to draw a comparison to Creator's It's The End of The World which way back in 1996 was also a game set in a modern Earth that also begins with the player in their average home and involves traveling through unusual locations likes castles and ice palaces. End of The World stays pretty silent on its absurdities like this, but Aeris seems to want to justify it with aliens shooting forests from space. The former game fosters a "don't worry about it" mood, but by trying to offer explanation Aeris invites criticism on whether that explanation makes any sense.
At the same time Aeris seems to want to ditch having any consequences by purposely being nonsensical. ZZT has a massive history of the bizarre, experimental, and random, but Aeris's feels like it's being used to escape criticism. Algorithm comes off as pointless, not because Aeris doesn't have anything to say, but because they seem to be afraid to say something lest they be judged for it.
Which, admittedly, giving their reputation in the early 2000s of the community isn't entirely unjustified. Had this exact game been released in 2004, Aeris absolutely would have been mocked for this, solely to pick on somebody who was already cast as an outsider. I can almost guarantee you that a teenaged administrator of z2 would have changed Aeris's forum avatar to that terrifying Dron portrait. It would've been plastered everywhere. The same community that made "YAY SRIS" a catchphrase would have for certain mocked any line of dialog in the game and made no mention of its generally solid graphics, simple but bug-free RPG engine, or plethora of varied environments.
(Honestly in 2004 we could've just called Aeris a furry and that would have been enough despite the intense amount of hypocrisy.) Aeris opting for a new name and a new start was a wise idea, but putting this game out to a community on life-support meant that nothing ever came of it.
What makes Algorithm compelling in 2018 is the unexplained and unexplored dynamic between Dron/Aeris, both as the characters as well as the author. I have no idea if they're intended to be friends, lovers, Aeris (author) exploring gender, Aeris exploring the differences between their current self and their past "Dron" self, or something else entirely. Hell, maybe it's all just a big joke on self-inserts where the author being not one, but two characters is meant to be played for laughs. The random nonsense the game relies on once again detracts because seeing Aeris sincerely exploring any of these possibilities would be something I"d definitely be interested in seeing.
I don't know what to make of Algorithm, but I do hope that Aeris is doing well today. Lord knows we all put them through enough 15 years ago.
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