The Tower

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Wildcard Stream Vol. 42 - The Tower and The Tower 2

Spiders, Gargolyes, Magic, and Zeus in these fun and ambitious mid-90s adventures

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: May 5, 2023
Part of Series: Wildcard Streams
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♦ Livestream of 2 ZZT worlds. ♦

♦ Stream Contents ♦
• (0:00) "The Tower" by Robert Lynn (1995) []
• (43:32) "The Tower Part Two" by Robert Lynn (1995) []

A pair of games with some neat design choices! The first Tower is a pretty straightforward adventure as you ascend to the top of a tower nobody has ever reached the top of. To do this you'll fight your share of ZZT baddies and solve some basic slider puzzles. On your quest you'll acquire a few orbs of varying color required to succeed.

A reasonable game with a few fun ideas, such as the alternate tower exits that let you venture into other worlds for brief moments. It was overall pretty enjoyable.

The sequel is much more ambitious, and because of that has many more apparent flaws. The sequel is branded as a demo, and a few boards have had exits removed to ask players to register the full game. Luckily for us, while the exits are removed, the boards themselves aren't allowing the entire game to be experienced with the use of some cheats to change the current board.

The sequel has monster spawners that fill boards with creatures to ensure that there's always danger. In some instances these spawners can be shot to shut them down, while on other boards it seems the flow of enemies is endless. It's not a bad idea to make completed boards still dangerous, though it often gets out of hand. This causes the stat limit to be reached in extreme cases, and in others means constantly hearing the noise of a creature being crushed as a new one spawns in and pushes the others away.

Additionally, a magic system is introduced where touching a special object on certain boards allows spells to be cast. Most spells are used to turn barriers of fire and ice to breakable walls, though others can attack creatures on the board. This is a cool concept that suffers a bit from the spells being mandatory and expensive. It's easy to find yourself having to actually grind for points to buy them in order to be able to continue if you purchase them in the wrong order.

A later game would likely have implemented the system using a custom cheat like ?+S. A more modern one might use something like Weave for the increased usability of such a system. In 1995, this was likely the only known way to implement this functionality.

There are also some rather tedious boss fights. The first game is generous with its resources, and at first the sequel seems to be the same, but eventually supplies start to run low. Health bars made entirely from objects seem like an extreme solution, but in some fights they allow bosses to heal damage making it the right tool for the job.

Overall, a still impressive game for the era. And check out the amazing marquee for the bank at 47:35!

♦ Play these worlds directly in your browser ♦

♦ Originally streamed on May 7th, 2023 ♦

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