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Wildcard Stream Vol. 48 - Arena Games

Keebler Elves, Loan Sharks, Smashing Pumpkins, and Nick himself in these strange yet fun arena-based combat games

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Jul 9, 2023
Part of Series: Wildcard Streams
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Due to technical issues, this set of worlds had to split across two streams. All timestamps are for the second video. The first starts and ends with "Coliseum".

♦ Livestream of 3 ZZT worlds. ♦

♦ Stream Contents ♦
• (0:00) "Coliseum" by Steven Backus (1995) []
• (14:37) "The Ultimate Arena" by Nzenik (1995) []
• (33:40) "Doomsday Arena" by Nicholas S. Midolo (1997) []

Checking out a type of ZZT game that I don't particularly enjoy: arena shooters. These games tend to be very very repeitive, and wildly imbalanced, but as it turned out, all three of them were pretty enjoyable!

Firstly, Coliseum with its weird story about defeating MeMan by fighting in the arena until you can get enough points to buy a blue key to fight him. This involves dealing with four unique enemies: ManMan, ThatguyoverthereMan, The Keebler Elves (and their cookie chainguns), and the dreaded PootPeople.

Despite the opening making it seem as if the game was made with little care, it ended up being pretty fun. The enemies are distributed into the four corners of the arena and duplicated in at a rate steady enough that you won't get overwhelmed but fast enough to prevent dry spells. The enemy behavior makes things work with some foes moving erratically, some firing off a barrage of bullets when aligned with the player, some firing all over the place, and some charging at the player. This minimizes enemies shooting each other and the set complements each other rather nicely!

A shop allows points to be exchanged for supplies, and there are controls that let players disable specific enemies if they prefer not to fight a certain kind at the expense of it taking longer for enough enemies to show up to reach the point goal. The biggest problem here was that point value was a tad too high, especially with the mystery orb option that allows you to get a ton of supplies, but at such a large upfront cost that you're better off holding out for the key instead.

Afterwards you do fight a not so great fight against MeMan and then celebrate on the dance floor.

The Ultimate Arena follows in similar footsteps, but this time with eight different enemies, and an arena covered in ricochets that ensure bullets are constantly flying around. The variety in enemies is appreciated, and the game mixes things up by having a few enemies that can only be harmed with melee attacks, as well as a loan shark enemy that drains your gems. The variety is nice, but everything spawns in the same corner and things can get out of hand quickly.

Both of these games have the risk of exploding enemies knocking out critical transporters used to navigate to other sections of the game as well so you really have to be careful.

Afterwards you celebrate on the dance floor, this time to tunes by bands like Live and the Smashing Pumpkins. The similarities between these games is uncanny.

Lastly, Doomsday Arena breaks from the arcade style of the previous two titles. Instead it's a compilation of bosses seen in the author's Doomsday series of which only the first two entries of the series have been preserved.

The quality here is mixed. Some of the bosses are fine, some have unique designs that help you overlook their flaws, and then some just go way too heavy on the stars. Regardless, it was good enough to make me curious and commit to playing the Doomsday games they were from for the next Sunday stream!

For three games I didn't have much hope for, all of them had some pleasant surprises. Maybe there's something to this style of game after all!

♦ Play these worlds directly in your browser ♦

♦ Originally streamed on July 2nd, 2023 ♦

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