This particular Featured Game will not come as much of a surprise to anyone active in the community. The game marking the return of ZZTing legend Zenith Nadir to full-game ZZTing after a hiatus of three years, Frost 1; Power, is an astonishing powerhouse of a cinema game that will be a lasting testament to his perhaps unequalled skill.
The action of this first part of Frost, after a short and spooky teaser in the Xal Highlands, takes place on the planet Ilititoa. We join our heroine Penny Sha?well in a Gian highschool, reading Speeduck and about to begin her swordplay lessons; all is therefore well in the world of anthropomorphic bushy-tailed canids. Later that afternoon, however, an unfortunate mishap involving unintentionally blasting the living shit out of a school bully means she is forced to undergo the decidedly unpleasant punishment of exile from her homeland, so she makes her way South to Alsace, leaving her friends, parents, and younger brother Mist behind.
Equipped with her mother's sword, for which competence is now so necessary, and slaying such dreaded foes as polliwogs and bloodflies, Penny is forced to make a detour to a haunted swamp. There, she meets ... or rather gets her ass saved by ... the mysterious swamp witch Henna Sullrune, student of the late Silver Blood, with whom she continues her journey ...
As the screenshots shown here imply, the main strength of this cinema game is its graphics, in my mind pretty much unprecedented in a full game. Zenith's graphical competence was always improving (compare, for example, subsequent versions of Chickenwire), but he's in his element, here. The characters and the setting (forest and swamp) are drawn with meticulous attention to details such as weather, with Zenith's trademark skylines permeating throughout. The mood of the game is well set by its graphics, and the whole thing is actually complete eye candy.
The gameplay involved here is nothing fantastically original, but it works; there's a nice sword-practice engine at the start, and the rest of the game is either fight or flight from the numerous foes who seem rather hellbent on being a serious impediment to Penny's journey. The writing itself is detailed (and rather lengthy, but fortunately interesting enough to keep the player reading) and clever, with occasional authorial interjections such as "I AM CONSUMED WITH MISPLACED GUILT", which have received mixed reactions from reviewers; personally, I rather like them. They prevent the game from getting too melancholy, too soon, which is a risk it could otherwise have seriously run.
The music, unfortunately, sucks.
Those of you interested in ancient history (see Ultra Wack, for example) will be well aware that the development of the world and the characters in Frost has been going on for a long time, resulting in what seems a very cohesive and well-planned setting. Granted, that makes for a lot of "exposition" (word borrowed from John W. Wells), but with purdy art and dialogue and the occasional quip, that isn't really so bad.
Frost 1; Power is a new entry on my list of favourite ZZT games (yes, I do keep a written list), and I would definitely recommend it for download. The next few games in this series are to be looked forward to!
This review is nominally adapted from MadTom's original MTP review, which can be found here.