Ahh, the days of my youth, sitting around in front of a computer with a 40 Mb hard drive, running COMit off of a floppy disc and dialing into local BBS systems just to see what new Shareware I could spend the next 3 hours downloading while nobody else could make a phone call. The days of ASCII and ANSI, where we were lucky to have even 16 colors on the screen at once.
One such game I ended up downloading was ZZT by a company you may all recognize, Epic Megagames.
Trust me, in the early 90's this was awesome
ZZT is at its most basic, an action/adventure game with puzzle elements. The player controls a smiley face who can be moved in all four directions. Holding shift and pressing a direction, or pressing space will fire a bullet if the player has any ammo. Along with this, there are also locked doors and keys, blocks that can be pushed, switches, traps and various enemies to flesh out the game.
ZZT got by not on the strength of its graphics, but on the quality of the games and one other important aspect. The community. Certainly Epic has a recent history of both helping out and benefiting from the player community, what with UT3 supporting mods in every version and a fairly large amount of user created content for older versions of Unreal Tournament as well, keeping the products alive long after ship date. However, none of these have yet to live up to the support that ZZT still
receives from its community. And she's got huuuuuuge....pixels.
Of the community sites out there, Z2
is one of the largest, with a myriad of user created games waiting to be downloaded and played by anyone with ZZT. Of course, with anything that allows user created content, you're sure to find 30 duds for each diamond, but the good games are out there and it's often quite amazing to see what people can do with tools that are so old. Z2 also offers downloads of utilities that can be used to make the editing easier if you are not a fan of the built-in editor.
In the future, Mr. Destructoid will be in every game, including those in the past.
The built-in editor allows you to paint floors, enemies, items, and set up level links, but the most useful part of it is placing the special Objects which are then programmed in a language called ZZT-OOP. That's right, ZZT has its own object oriented programming language used to program the special NPCs. Because of this, ZZT has often been used as a stepping stone for getting into more serious programming.
ZZT was originally released as Shareware, however, it was released as Freeware some time ago and is now freely downloadable. If you're at all interested in programming, old games, or feel like re-living the early 90's, make sure to give it a shot. It seems to work just fine under Windows XP with no need for DosBOX or other utilities. I haven't been able to test it under Vista so your mileage may vary.
Links: Download ZZT at Z2 Z2 ZZT community site ZUltimate - ZZT Wiki
Finally, I end with a shameless plug. Remember to check out my RPG Spotlight Contest
, ending March 24th