The City of ZZT

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Closer Looks: Six Games With Six Boards

All cop-outs are bastards as we explore Police Quest plus five other extremely short worlds of dubious quality

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Feb 15, 2020
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This next game is fascinating just because of the strange circumstances behind why we even have this game. While a sizable chunk of worlds on the Museum comes from either z2's files or new uploads of old games, this one is kind of from a weird place. Namely TIMMY.ZZT was just included with a copy of one of the more obscure versions of ZZT (3.0 or 3.1). It's since been removed since it's pretty obviously not by Timmy Sweeney and instead republished as its own release.

I have no idea where this came from. My best guess, judging by the almost bootleg looking Town of ZZT style logo is that a young Timmy played Town and wanted to play City, and was forced to make their own version instead.

Will this one be better or worse than Police Quest? We'll see!


Its opening is roughly on par. Once again we're treated to a large room with a single building. This time it's Joe's House. Unlike PQ, there are boards beyond the building and a passage with a locked door to indicate there should be some content to this.


Well hey! This looks playable! Joe's house isn't exactly comfortable looking, but it's certainly a standard ZZT board with enemies to shoot and dodge while collecting some keys.


It's got a nice little story. There's something about the basic elements of ZZT that inevitably makes people immediately want to design a security burglary system. Blink walls and spinning guns just lend themselves naturally to such an interpretation.


It opens simply enough, some ammo to collect, a room with some bears, and large section dedicated to spinning guns. In the lower right, guard centipedes (no doubt) patrol narrow halls forcing the player to use a lot of ammo or tread very carefully through the areas that are a little wider. One inner area contains the blue key to the next section.


Admittedly this is just a shooting gallery here with a long corridor of bears and lions pretty much trapped and easily picked off.


There have been a few sets of pushers for the player to ride, and there's an expectation that you can do so safely established, but if the player gets greedy and goes for the gems, they'll be trapped inside.

This isn't exactly great design with such an extreme punishment, but it's clear evidence to me, that Timmy was putting thought into this board. This is much more cohesive and entertaining than Police Quest.


Pushing onward through more lions and getting more keys, the path splits here. It's easy to miss the red key among the lions and have to turn around, giving the lions some more time to scatter around.


At the end of it all is a purple key and a scroll to congratulate the player.


Joe's house has been successfully robbed and this child said the a-word. I like the reversal between this game and Police Quest.


The passage out leads to this area on the starting board which means committing to this path since pushers mean you can't backtrack. I had to ?ZAP my way across to explore the rest of the game before proceeding.



The editor calls this board "Forest of Nottignham [sic]". There is nothing on it other than a lone centipede isolated in the corner.


The board to the north manages to be even less interesting. It's titled "Bridge to Palace", and despite the exit up top, the only way out is to turn around.


Moving along with the game that's actually complete, (sort of,) is this dark room.

TIMMY.ZZT does not have any torches in it.


Putting the lights on reveals a board that if you tried to navigate blindly you'd probably wind up running in circles on the vast empty plane that makes up right half of the screen.

What a shame! This game was off to a decent start honestly.


Other than that though, this board can't compete with the burglary system from earlier. A pocketful of lions to open up a door to a pocketful of bears with some gems.


That's the end!

Final Thoughts

Compared to Police Quest, this is much more enjoyable. Joe's house is actually reasonably fun to play and there are no real major flaws in it depending on how you feel about the gem trap towards the end. This isn't anything remotely noteworthy, but it's a playable experience nonetheless.

It's almost certainly incomplete, and I suspect that somebody was messing around with ZZT and then somebody else decided to zip the folder up and upload it somewhere. It's kind of amazing that it survived to this point.

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