Today I'll be showing off EdC468's Speed Racer X, the first of his two ZZT racing games!
Racing games are kind of an interesting one for ZZT. Like with platformers, the rigid grid-based layout of everything makes it difficult to create a smooth experience, but Ed does an admirable job with this first entry.
Racing in ZZT has been done before. We've actually seen Hydra78's attempt at it in the sidescroller Freak Da Cat which takes a sharp turn (get it) at the last moment and goes from side-scroller to kart racer. The engine there worked decently enough with adjustable speeds and running a few laps around a track. A few months after the release of the first Speed Racer X, MadGuy's NextGame 33 also had one of its scenarios end with a race, this time on foot.
For these other examples of racing in ZZT, the engine was a small subset of the game. Ed here is taking on the challenge of creating a racing engine that isn't just some one-off minigame, but something that can carry its weight for an entire game. (And eventually a sequel too!)
There are quite a few challenges with making a good racer in ZZT. Firstly, your vehicle will be making 90 degree turns for its steering. Then if you slow your vehicle down by increasing its cycle, you run the risk of dropped inputs if the player tries to issue commands faster than the vehicle can process it. Lastly, you can't easily have multiple vehicles to race against. Some of these can be managed somewhat, but Ed doesn't do anything with any of these issues. Your car can turn at-will, the cycle adjustments can drop inputs, and the entire game is a time trial with a goal of simply beating the clock on each track.
And yet it's a blast to play. It's one I played frequently as a child, and have been wanting to return to for some time. So fasten your seatbelt and let's see how Ed's first ZZT release beat the odds and got the gold. And by gold I mean it won a Game of the Month award. (Interestingly, the GOTM review mentions a previous racer by eJECTION13 that I can remember playing, but at this time isn't preserved on the Museum.)
Speed Racer XBy: Smiley X (EdC)
Published Under: Team Smiley X
Released: February 02, 1999
Download | Play Online | View Files