Merbotia is an exemplary short ZZT game. Sonic256's only release, the game follows the ZZT staple "wake up and save the world" plot mixing plenty of humour and some clever programming tricks. The game opens with you waking up in a cave and getting a quest to kill a mean dude. You then roam around an open field area killing some pre-fab enemies and collecting goods to prepare for your dive into a cave and fight with a boss. After you are teleported to a spaceship hovering over the world and from there on you can either prevent or cause the Earth's destruction. The ending is different depending on how much health and ammo you have.
Game play is simple and uses ZZT's built in enemies as fodder, but this is a short game and it does not require much effort to progress the plot or make something interesting happen. Indeed the charm of this game (past its well structured design) is the humour and choices you can make. Do you bribe the computer? or kick it? Make a pass at the evil leader? Well written dialogue combined with a sharp wit makes this game very enjoyable. Though there are a few pop references, they are just as humourous if taken as non-sequitur. The boss in the middle of the game is a good fight as he spews enemies that change into gems and ammo after you hit him with a shot. The game's only puzzles, outside of making the correct menu choice, are good ones yet don't require a lot of effort.
The game looks its age, but the graphics are clean and there is a good number of musical pieces that really set the mood well. The title screen is a neat little animation and you can already tell what sort of game you are going to play just by looking at it. It does not succumb to any syndromes and from what I could tell the game is bug free if you don't count a door that doesn't #lock. (You shouldn't have touched it twice anyways.) The STK in the game is used well for the time, though a lot of areas in the field lack texture, in the end it doesn't matter. There is a simplistic looking city cut scene at the end that serves its purpose very well.
This game is a featured game because it does everything right. Its charm and humour lift it above its tired appearance and into legend, and it isn't long enough to get tedious. Merbotia is a quality game for all to play and enjoy. Learn well.