Okay, so Nuclear Madman isn't all that great of a game, but I like it? I might not like it as strongly as other games of questionable quality like the eternal cinematics of November Eve or the endless boards full of lions and tigers that make up Link's Adventure, but there's something to this game that makes it feel just a little bit different.
I'll go easy on Nuclear Madman because it does the most important thing a generally mediocre ZZT world can do, and that is: be a reasonable length. There's not actually all that much to this game, and that makes an overall uneventful game be a little easier to swallow. What the game does best is in its humor, and to be fair there's not even a whole lot of that. Crane is very clearly making everything up as he goes along, which is hardly uncommon for ZZT worlds. It falls into the all-too-common trap of being presented as a multi-game epic that never actually gets completed, but it's structured in a way that it feels cohesive. It wouldn't take much to make this fulfill the overarching plot about stolen nukes, just replace the henchman with the madman and say the nukes are in the waterpark. That however, would destroy the natural hook for the sequel that Cane chose to go with instead. I don't doubt that he had grand ideas in his head and fully expected to make a whole series out of this.
Though the game has some goofy humor, and plenty of moment where you can tell the author is having a ton of fun making it, I can't imagine it holding for several more worlds of similar length. A lot of what is memorable about this game comes from its setting. ZZT waterslides, fun houses, and carnival sideshows work great with the chaotic designs of making whatever in a way I can't see "Amazon rainforest" accomplishing. I think I could enjoy a little more of the off-beat humor this game offers, but I don't think that setting would lend itself nearly as well to it. This is a cute little game that struggles with providing enough health. It's no classic, and there's good reason why ultimately I forgot it for all these years, yet I did enjoy myself overall. It's a solid C+ of a game that's tough to try and sell somebody on, but won't leave anybody who plays it feeling like they wasted their time.