March 2001 was mainly dominated by three big ZZT releasals, those being "Deceiving Guidance" (by me and Hydra), "Purposedly Produced Dynamic Visualties II" (by Viovis) and "Los Refritos 9" (by Chuck). Easy enough -- I cannot make my own game GOTM. =) However, the race between PPDVII and Los Refritos 9 was a close one and my choice fell on LR9, by Chuck. Before starting the real review on LR9, I'd like to congratulate Viovis on his piece of ZZT art, PPDVII. Well, let's proceed to the review.
Los Refritos is Chuck's well-known ZZT series about the ZZT scene and that's mainly the IRC (Internet Relay Chat -- see www.mirc.com for info) ZZT scene. Chuck released part 1-8 a while ago and they never were a big success, although they were still decent. Los Refritos 9, however, is different. And different means better, here. LR9 turned out to be a game that was well-received by the community.
While part 1-8 were mainly cinemas about arguements and events in the IRC ZZT scene, part 9 offers a coherent plot along with it. This makes it more worthwhile and playable for ZZTers who do not know much about the scene itself, unlike the previous parts in the series.
I won't reveal much of the plot here, as it'd spoil the fun (mainly because the game consists of cinemas for a large part). What you can expect is an appearance of people like Blazer, Tseng, Lemmer, FishFood, Chuck, Zamros, Master Walnut and more. They're all back. You'll venture into the worlds of the IRC servers Austnet and Espernet, with channels like #darkdigital, #sledgehammer, #loungeact and #asd.
People who know the ZZT scene well and have met most of (or all of) the people in LR9 are most likely to find this game much more enjoyable than others. I'm not saying you won't like it if you're not involved in the scene, but if you understand what some things are about, the game is most likely to appeal a lot more to you.
As for graphics, LR9 offers you decent visuals done by Chuck and Blazer. The game is using a font (which, by the way, I was never too fond of, but that doesn't really matter), too. You won't find outstanding graphics, but they are definitely not bad.
As far as gameplay goes, the game offers quite some variation, which the previous LR episodes lacked. The variation includes cinemas, playable boards, action boards, battles and puzzles. An enjoyable mix, though the action boards where you have to shoot enemies are a bit tedious.
Overall, LR9 is longer than the older episodes, offers a wider variety in gameplay, has less pointless newbie-bashing, has a neat plot and is defintely the shining gem of the series so far. Some of the scene-references are funny, deep and sugar- sweet and the 3rd file (the aftermath) is excellent. A game that will appeal most to ZZTers involved in the commune, but still a must-add-to-your-ZZT-collection for every ZZTer!