Featuring a whole lot of previously unpreserved worlds that have since been streamed and uploaded. There's just one new release in this set specifically so I can get through a bunch of oldies without knocking anything off the front page. So instead, enjoy a lot of games that really showcase how ZZT allows a younger audience to create games, and how strange and wonderful they can be.
“Cowhead: The Wholesome Search” by Anonymous, Robert Huerto, Robert Pena (2023)
Cowhead, prior to the Museum getting its influx of unpreserved worlds thanks to asie (and others) archival efforts had the distinction of being the oldest preserved world that wasn't part of an official ZZT release. It also immediately discouraged me from "what if I played every ZZT world chronologically". Normally the game is about searching for a cure to an unnamed "scourge", revealed in the end to be a tasteless (and toothless) joke.
An anonymous brave soul has chosen to revisit this historic piece, updating this scourge to something more palatable, while giving it a bit of a graphical overhaul as well to give you reason to actually check it out rather than just jumping to the last screen and seeing the textual changes. Also more plugging of Bible verses, as was the style at the time.
“Tony and the 30 ft. Drop” by Aaron Sorvari
A wish fulfillment game I'm sure many of us can relate to. "If only my brother would fall down a pit and land on some spikes". Tony and the 30 ft. Drop is the ultimate expression of sibling frustration, and shows us what happens when you give someone the chance to author their demise. (They start thinking about who else could do with a surprise 30 foot drop.)
This one really won myself and the crowd and over on stream. It is a very pure experience where the author then invites others to add more pages to the comic inside.
Tony is survived by his brother Aaron.
“Adventures in RyanWorld (v1.1)” by Ryan Williams (1993)
Unlike Aaron, Ryan uses his newfound creative powers with ZZT to construct a marketplace where players can fuck around, and if they aren't careful, find out. Explore John's Junk. Visit the oracle. Perform some espionage for the gangsters. What is ultimately a very short world still feels loaded with things to do thanks to the variety of vendors and secrets to be found.
“Svynar's Quest” by Lincoln Sayger, Tony Sayger (1999)
A classic save the kingdom adventure set in a sprawling fantasy world. Svynar must defeat the evil sorcerer Maligentris who has conquered the kingdom in order to allow princess Lana to be free from hiding from his forces. A pretty charming game with a few quirks in how easily avoidable most combat is. Plus a nice offering of puzzles made this one an enjoyable quest that was a bit rough around the edges.
“Svynar's 2nd Quest” by Lincoln Sayger, Tony Sayger (1999)
So undoubtedly the sequel would offer more and better adventuring. Sadly, not so. While the issues with avoiding combat are resolved, the sequel instead suffers from far too many boards demanding players pick up a dozen keys, one at a time, unlocking a door on the other end of the screen before returning for the next. This makes for a very tedious adventure compared to the first.
Self-described as the "best ZZT add-on", Have Fun is an editor playaround game full of strange shapes built from where ever the author's cursor keys led them, sprinkled with creatures including the ever popular giant centipede, something no new ZZTer can resist the allure of constructing. It doesn't exactly live up to its claims, but while it may not be all that fun for the player, I suspect the author had plenty of fun seeing how easy it was to create with ZZT.
“Video Arcade” by ThePiper
One hundred gems, one dozen arcade games to play. The bulk of which can be recognized as having been taken from other ZZT worlds, enough that I can't help but wonder if none of them are the author's original creations.
If you're going to steal, steal from the best. Unfortunately, even the best ZZT arcade ports of the era were very crude facsimiles, with even modern arcade games rarely doing much better. Still, these kind of games seem to be popular choices for new programmers to try to port to ZZT, which has the kind of style to it that things like "Space Invaders", "Pac-Man", and "Centipede" seem like natural fits well within reach even for the inexperienced. This uncredited compilation that pulls from multiple other worlds is a fast way to experience what they're like.
“The Zone” by Kersoft, Kyle Givani, Miles Lundahl, Popa Good, Shawn Hunt
This title screen feels like it was designed for an Apple 2.
The rest of it is another fuck around and find out game, where the child protagonist's mother demands they go outside instead of sitting on the computer all day. I can relate.
What I can't relate to is the many bizarre interactions the player can perform. Dying to poisoned hot dogs, eating crumbs from a homeless person's beard, manning the cash register to cover for a fleeing Sears employee, and more await you here. This one's strange design makes it fun to explore, though the game has some severe flag management issues that make it trivial to put the game in an unwinnable state as the 10 flag limit is quickly hit and successive flags overwrite existing ones.
“The Adventures of Future Deg Part 1”
The game begins with a lovely Jetsons-like look at the morning routine of the future as a young student is escorted via pusher through the shower, eating breakfast, grabbing their school supplies, and hopping into their racecar. In this refreshingly optimistic view of the future you are enrolled at the "Bill Clinton School Of Cyber-Genetics" where you design new lifeforms with your fellow students. The world-building here, though limited will leave you wanting more as you discover the game to be only a few boards long before telling players to keep an eye open for the sequel. We could only be so lucky.
“The Adventures of L. E. Phant” by Phish574 (1994)
Average 17 year old Leonard Edward Phant is kind of an idiot, and this will not stand. Your mission is to buy a new brain from the Buy A Brain Corp. To do so you'll travel through a number of yellow-bordered screens with various clubs to explore, frequently filled with enemies or piles of supplies to collect. Eventually you'll buy your brain, and then be killed by tigers as the author didn't seem to know how to end the game via ZZT-OOP code.
“Total War” (1997)
A ZZT fighting game! That alone makes this a rare find, and one that immediately raises a lot of questions from those familiar with ZZT wondering how in the world you could pull that off.
Well, you pretty much can't. This world is a good demonstration of doing what you can, and quickly realizing how that experience is a flop.
Choose from seven different characters all of whom seem to be related to worlds created by Lord Kadro (though it is unclear if he's the author or not). Each one has some unique attacks. Then fight your way through, using a system of objects to move side to side, shoot left/right, jump up, or activate one of your specials. The specials all amount to set movement and firing patterns. The jumping only lets you jump straight up. Several of the fights are completely bugged, and even when working, the goal is to just out-spam your opponents that eventually get so much health that battles are agonizingly long.
To its credit though, each character has a unique ending and they're all pretty fantastic to read.
“Jay's 'Hood I and ][” by Jay Meagher (1996)
One childhood fantasy is for your annoying sibling to perish in a violent accident. The other less gloomy one is "what if me and all my friends were rich and had huge mansions"? And that is what you get in this compilation of Jay's Hood games. Jay, Kristel, Jeff, Jessi, Jodi, Steve, Jamie, Charlie, Curt, and of course America's rascal Jerf all live in the same neighborhood and all have lovely houses.
It's not just wish fulfillment though, these houses are loaded with monsters and traps to make sure that there's some attempt at the tried-and-true permanent-structures-of-zzt gameplay. It's still got heavy editor playaround vibes with lots of fake wall mazes and needlessly winding paths. The second game is also not afraid to lift boards from Tour, slap on a less pleasing color-scheme and welcome you to the new "Mixer" screen or "Engineer Required" puzzle.
It can get a little tough to follow, with keys being handed out with little care in what door you open, always giving you the feeling that at any moment you'll ruin your ability to progress. You probably will! But then again, this game seems like it was made specifically for this group of friends who would be playing it with Jay watching over their shoulder ready to guide them to the next mansion where they could watch Ren and Stimpy, or catch an episode of Barney and die from the exposure.