content warnings at the end of the review
"Do not be fooled by the title screen," says the title screen. "This game is a text adventure."
OK, so someone's being a smart aleck, you tell yourself. ZZT is a text-mode game anyhow? And with the bad-ass title screen animation, you can expect something good, right? Right?
First of all, it turns out that this is a text adventure in ZZT. You are dropped into a tiny field of play with a yellow boulder and text about buns and an Atomic Dustbin on the borders of the board (these are important). Touching the boulder reveals that this is a cave, and gives you three options on what to do next. Only one is the best and will let you progress to...three more choices.
Thus begins the 'action'- what essentially is a Choose Your Own Adventure in dialogue scrolls. Muddle through trial-and-error to get the best choice each time (to the author's credit, he always gives you the option to backtrack when you reach a bad ending). Stylistically, it's all very anything-goes, with very British (or even English) pop culture references that would make the average ZZTer think a lot of this is more random than it actually is. Eventually, you end up taking part in the invasion of a country most people have never heard of (except, perhaps, with regards to COVID-19 statistics). All laced with random and offensive humour. Some jokes do hit home, and the persistent onslaught of madcap ALL CAPS attempts to shock may make you smirk.
All in all, it's more an interesting experiment than anything else. The coding is good (see the title screen), and I never got myself locked out of the CYoA segment. Bark P is probably the most unapologetically British of the British ZZTers, and so off the wall that I wonder how much Zenith and Fishfood/Igsel were inspired by him in terms of randomness. Years later, did he vote Leave?
CONTENT WARNINGS: ableism, excessive anti-Italian sentiment ('making fun of foreigners' is a staple of British 'humour', but this could be related to football too), racism, cannibalism, implied animal cruelty, and one 'joke' that thinks it's being witty about diversity and inclusion...LOOK HERE IT'S ONE OF THOSE ZZT GAMES, WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?