LandLand 1+2 (Decorrupted)

Released
Feb. 6, 1993
Company
Size
124.3 KB
Boards
139 / 216
Rating
2.00 / 5.00

Closer Look: The Lands of the World of ZZT

By: Dr. Dos
Published: July 10, 2021

After restoring a corrupt world to playability for the first time in decades we can now say this game ain't great.

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If you guessed "picking up multiple keys one at a time to open some doors" you win a prize.

This board is weird even for this game though with a bunch of spinning guns positioned in a way that doesn't really threaten the player much while also filling them with ruffians that are just trapped forever. THIS REALLY SUCKS!!!!!!!

At this point though, any board you can finish without taking any damage is a good one.

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The Tyger Base is followed up with one for ruffians, but this time it's even bigger. Just by being ruffians rather than tigers it's probably going to be a lot easier and even this opening mess before entering the building is a lot more simple.

The base is outlined with objects that are kind of an outlier in ZZT in that they're as likely to be "land mines" as they are "magic gems" or something. It's one of the few kinds of characters that the first time you encounter it you might want to save before trying to interact with them.

In this case, they're nothing more than decorations. No code at all.

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It's a little sad that a board like this looks to be a highlight of the game so far. I've got the ammo and health to survive. The maze isn't anything too complex. It combines action with a simple puzzle of paying attention to which doors you open to make sure you keep getting keys.

Obviously you can soft-lock it if you're not careful and that's never fun to have to drop out and reload, but this is a game from 1992 and as far as this game's crimes go it's nothing.

Oh, it does send the player back to the start when they get hit. That's a bit of a nuisance.

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There's a secret passage to continue that has a big hint provided by this scroll which is a welcome piece of help. Without it though you might still get lucky and have a ruffian step on the fake wall (I did) and you also had the clue outside implying this building to be multiple floors and thus multiple boards.

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You can snag an extra purple key here by not opening the gem closet which I assume by the text was meant to trick the player into having to restart.

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But no, actually you need to not have a purple key before entering this board. Two pushers start to trap the player and if they can't run in and grab the key they won't be able to get inside in time. This game just doesn't have any kind of internal logic for the player to learn which means just constantly having to guess what to do if you see a key that seems to be a spare.

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I just said to heck with it an noclipped my way across a bit only for things to get weirder.

That scroll is surrounded by invisibles and if you open that door normally you lose your key and have to restart while the scroll mocks you for getting trapped.

But you're not actually trapped thanks to the most hilarious oversight yet.

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It looks like Moone forgot he had fake walls selected when working on this board. Everything in yellow here is actually a fake wall that makes both the scroll trick and pusher trap both actually meaningless. It looks like Moone replaced the yellow normal border with purple fakes by mistake, probably drew the initial entrance way with fakes before overwriting it with text and then switched over to purple normals to draw the interior. Poor guy.

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That same oversight has the benefit of letting the player go across the top of the board instead of collecting yet more keys. In practice of course, the player probably won't be thinking to look for fakes, but it's clear that something is up with how often a ruffian will wander onto one and reveal that the walls aren't what they seem.

After collecting the two purple keys in the middle region it was time to collect two purple keys in the right region.

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Another dark room.

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ANOTHER BANK VAULT.

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It still has the same issues with not needing to enter a combination. That combination was given outside the Tyger base. Without it, you'd be unable to get a purple key for the next area . I think if you went here early enough you might just be unable to win without the code.

Baffling decisions continue as well as the left side of the room has a purple door which has a purple key behind it. What

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As always two keys come out, and yet again I am unable to pick them up at all.

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Exiting the vault doesn't return the player to the ruffian base and instead leads to the dragon's lair. Yet another bug occurs here where ZZT puts the player on the passage that's intended as the exit.

The intent would be for the player to spawn in the lower left room with the ammo and green key fight their way through the invincible dragons and grab the two cyan keys to open the two cyan doors and reach the tower's exit.

Instead you end up opening one of the doors, then touching that green object.

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That object turns all the dragons into ammo. Then stuck, the assumption is to go back into the passage and pick up that cyan key thinking that the game was now expecting you to have come with a spare.

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Except that passage is actually the exit so you wind up back outside and without a cyan key. So now the only way forward is to walk across the entire tower sequence again and pick up the cyan key this time.

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Which you'll probably believe to be impossible as the pushers here imply that this path can't be traversed! So unless you realize there are fake walls you'll have to cheat regardless and taking the fake walls is itself almost certainly not intended anyway.

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And finally thanks to ZZT's horrid default door colors you'll discover that this mysterious passage is inaccessible because it's green and not cyan and begin to piece together that the passage situation was all messed up on this board.

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Progress in Town is so easily measured. You need five purple keys and as you get each one you'll open up more doors to the palace. Here in LandLand I have so many keys just lying all over the world. There's only one path remaining and I still haven't found where I'm meant to be taking these cyan keys.

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This is the last path! It feels like I haven't made any progress.

It's a three lakes ripoff. There's not really anything to add because of all the borrowed ideas from Town this isn't different in any way other than being able to shoot on the board which makes it a little easier if you're taking this path after getting some ammo.

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I began to count my blessings that this game wasn't attempting a Rube Board. Instead I got more forest and some busywork in the form of having to block spinning guns with boulders. The boulders are already lined up where they need to be so it's just a matter of clearing out the forest so they can be pushed into place.

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The lions and ruffians offer little challenge in these tight spaces. So far this probably would've been a much better direction to head first. Plus the duplicators here would slowly but surely provide infinite gems and thus let the player buy as much ammo and health as they wanted in the shops. It'd would be a pretty slow and painful process, but it is there.

There's another greed trap here, but again the game suffers from bugs and nothing comes of it. The two green keys in this center area are both objects. One has no code. The other is missing its :touch label so it also does nothing. It's supposed to be an "Evil Ankh" that deals 100 damage to the player. It's a good thing it's broken too because it's also missing a #end so that if it damaged the player it would continue to run code and just hit the #endgame that triggers a game over intended to be called if the player can't survive losing 100 health.

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One touch of the actual green key on the board and it's time to head to... oh my goodness it's the fabled cyan doors of LandLand! After going through basically the entire game I can finally use a cyan key.

It appears as if only three cyan keys are needed to get inside the tower but once inside a fourth is needed. For a refresher cyan keys have been in the rap house, in the magician's house, in the tiger base, and in the ruffian base. When I first came across the gate I thought only three were actually needed and that the player could get away with skipping the awful tiger base which would probably be enough on its own to turns this game from a miserable one to merely below average.

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For now though, it's a trip to the jazz house. While the location is taken from Town there's no puzzle here. There are just a whole bunch of transporters pointing right and a scroll that makes the player ask "Where is Jazz Man".

This board also just gives the code to the vault in the magician's home. Imagine having to backtrack all the way there.

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I can't believe Moone killed off the best character in Town.

Now it's time for the ultimate puzzle: Picking up multiple white keys in order to open up multiple white doors, but also there are fake walls you need to find to be able to do any of that.

The House of Blues is the most complex coding in Town and it's such a shame that of all things LandLand is willing to take from the original that it got left behind. I suspect this is because this early on folks didn't know how to edit locked worlds and couldn't reference its code. I think that puzzle would have been a bit much for Moone to recreate from scratch going by the programming issues already encountered throughout this game.

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It ends up being quite a long walk for this board too.

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There aren't any hints where to go. You just need to find every fake wall by trying every wall until it works.

My keys are still a hot mess so as soon as I reached a key and realized I couldn't pick it up I decided I was done with this little puzzle.

It ends with just a purple key in case the player has more paths they need to open still.

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There was no chance that I was going to actually go back for the other cyan keys I had to leave behind because this game can't even communicate basic information to the player! It's time to enter the tower and wrap this whole thing up already.

I still have a second game to get through too. I made the mistake of playing them back-to-back.

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The tower leads to a kind of interesting idea with the passages set up so you basically go from one floor to the next.

Everything seems to be going smoothly with each passage bringing the player down a level and providing a bunch of items to collect to prepare for the final challenge. It does a good job of framing that you're almost at the end and sets the atmosphere that whatever is coming is next is going to be difficult to make it through.

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At the very bottom there's a final warning again stressing the importance of resources for the player and the need for a final cyan key.

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...The passage then leads you back outside. I should've seen this coming, it's another instance of ZZT's passage priority not being considered. Like the room with the dragons from before the player actually enters the room on top of what's meant to be the passage out. The board makes more sense that way as it would mean the player was meant to ascend the tower with all those passages.

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Game design.

By this point the player is going to have enough ammo to deal with something as dull as a giant cluster of tigers, but the stat limit is hit immediately so the player can't fire any bullets until they get hit once. You're probably better off just running along the wall and not even bothering.

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For some reason, I bothered.

The treasure room helps recover lost health but it's still a pretty large loss for me overall.

The scroll says that the next floor is "The Pipelines!".

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Honestly all it takes is to give a board a name for the player to see and that's enough to get me to like it.

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A complete set of keys is provided with an ominous warning about how to use them. It's clear by just looking at the board that you can open any of the six doors and follow a pipe to one last spinning gun plus water obstacle. A bad game might have you wind up needing a specific key from here later on so I made sure to open a white door since I already had a white key and could pick up another to keep a full set.

This fear was unfounded though, and there's only one more door in the game after this with a key provided to open it. This still makes the key situation here pretty poorly thought out as the next key is given by defeating the final boss so unless the player happens to arbitrarily decide on blue they can just skip that fight entirely if they want.

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Moone hasn't done a very good job of understanding passage mechanics so far so when I showed up on this board on a random passage out of fifty, I immediately assumed this was not the tile I was expected to land on.

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This is proven quickly enough as the actual entrance has a scroll that provides a hint on which passage of all of these to take along with some text on the board suggesting that now's a good time to save your game.

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Enter any of the wrong passages and you'll be dumped into a room with a bunch of ruffians that are corralled by an invisible wall and this one yellow object that ends your game when touched. Glorious.

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Again, things get unwinnable. The algorithm for figuring out where to put the player when they enter a passage is simply to scan the board column by column from top to bottom. If the colors match those coordinates are used so the last match gets priority which makes this puzzle impossible without cheating.

To fix this, well, first you'd need to fix the color of the passage the player is meant to arrive on. Let's say that one was green instead. Then don't use any green passages in the room with all of them. Then either the red passage in the hall of passages needs to be moved left by one tile or the passage up top that's intended as the exit needs to be to the right of it.

Do all this and you'd have a still not very fun puzzle, but it would be a working one.

The player should be put up here and run along this hall of what I guess are statues as they have no code, and then reading one last scroll before entering the final boss room.

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By this point my expectations had hit rock-bottom so I was pleasantly surprised to enter the evil queen's chambers and get this strange giant reptilian-looking creature.

A friendly dragon by the name of "AMMO KING" provides another 500 ammo when touched so the player is definitely covered.

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I didn't think much of this kind of boss fight against an over-sized monster than can't move as its made of terrain when I was playing. I've certainly seen it before, but flipping through games released in 1991, there's a very real possibility that this is actually the first ZZT game to actually do this! If that's the case, then LandLand has some legit claim to fame. Super ZZT's giant Land Squid would still predate it as the original release is from October 1991, but in vanilla ZZT I can't find an earlier example.

The fight avoids stars which I was thankful for though it means that if you're not lined up with a spinning gun you're completely safe. Getting hit will send you back to the start of the board so you do have to run past a wide row to be able to get around the monster and start blasting some bombs.

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There aren't any restrictions on shooting (well, 10 shots but still) so the player can just shoot into the belly of the beast and begin detonating bombs. Despite the hint from earlier bombing the heart does nothing, nor does shooting it. I got stuck enough that I had to take a look at the editor to figure out what I was supposed to do here.

The queen's eye has no code and the person in her mouth will give the player "the staff of dakar" when touched, but all that does is gives back 70 health. Good luck getting it when the queen is still alive since if a single gun decides to fire when you run in there you'll be zapped back to the entrance.

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You touch the heart. Okay. So the bombs are just there to trick the player really as all they do is block the way to the heart.

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The queen turns breakable and the eye turns into the final key that I've already had this whole time. This provides a good opportunity to pick up the staff that's held by the man so close to the key anyway. That 70 health isn't going to be helpful for very long since the queen is the last fighting the player will be doing in LandLand.

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I think this is intended to be stairs that are climbed to reach victory. I love that they're slightly messed up.

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The king and his kingdom are saved! I didn't know they were in danger.

This game didn't really have a story at all. It was just a series of boards.

A score bonus is provided with one point awarded for every ammo remaining. The object runs at the default cycle 3 speed and so this takes a moment where you have to wait for the king to finally move aside so the game can end. The true final boss.

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Here's where our 1992 date comes from. Moone also provides a bestiary implying the player has been fighting Nazis, bowmen, thieves, and thugs despite the game using the creatures actual names frequently. There's a plug for another game on a BBS that may or may not have been a ZZT world and may or may not have existed.

Also torches. I don't know why.

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Things come to a close with a final message from Mr. Moone explaining that the sequel is already out and that you should consider giving him money and feedback. No address is provided.

LandLand also seems to have been meant to be a trilogy. No evidence of a third game's release has ever been found, and since the corrupt versions of the first two games was scraped onto a few early shareware collections I suspect (but of course there's nothing definitive) that it wasn't finished since it was never included on any of these collections with the first two games.

Final Thoughts

That wasn't good.

It's always the hope that when an unpreserved game is discovered that it'll be a long-lost treasure. LandLand's corrupt state and the unavailability of the game for so long could certainly get your hopes up. Imagine what a fantastic story it would be to discover the fate that befell these files and more than two decades later restore a classic into playability. That kind of thinking is a bit too optimistic and the reality is that most old worlds that are found don't impress on quite that level.

For a ZZT world this early, it's hard to be completely down on LandLand. Following the example set by Town is a safe way of making a ZZT world and Moone seems to have some decent ideas. The rap house at the start is a fun set piece, and the equalizer being the combination to the bank vault is genuinely brilliant. As a game made in 1992 the graphics are decent enough. LandLand often uses Town as the source for its style of normals filled with breakables seen in many early ZZT worlds that give those games a classic look.

The problems begin though when you put this game up against Town, the one game anybody would have had at this point. If you're going down that route there has to be something to set it apart. Most of what Moone does is a downgrade from the original. The utter frustration at trying to find where the cyan keys go, a shameful lack of ammo, numerous vault boards which are broken in the player's favor, and action boards that when they aren't directly referencing Town create unfun situations against hundreds of foes. Key collecting pads out the gameplay in an incredibly tedious way. I confess that the bug maze in Town was a favorite of mine as a child, but it's also one that today feels like it takes ages to complete. So much of LandLand is taking that design and tripling the enemy count.

Normally, this would be a respectable if flawed first attempt at a ZZT world. The numbers are skewed with too many keys, too little ammo, and way too many tigers. Unfortunately some far more serious bugs make it difficult to forgive the game's issues as a just early ZZT naivety. Several objects are broken, boards don't connect back properly, passages place the player on the wrong tile, and it just keeps happening. The longer you play LandLand the harder and harder it gets to brush aside the problems found throughout.

All of this could be fixed too! Moone's general ideas are well founded, but the execution leaves too much to be desired. LandLand is notable solely based on an unfortunate upload error that kept the game in an unknowable state for so long that it gained a reputation as a lost title that we were always on the cusp of having. GreaseMonkey's effort in reviving the game deserves applause, and ZZT's history is better for us having it. It's just unfortunate that in making the game playable once more it meant pulling back the curtain and taking away the sense of wonder this game had by revealing its true and much uglier nature.

There's still LandLand 2 of course and there is a noticeable amount of improvement there to look forward to. As for the original, now that you finally can play it, it's safe to say that there's not much reason to do so yourself. Today LandLand is just a rough early adventure for ZZT with plenty of titles that have long since gone on to do what LandLand is trying in far more palatable ways.

====== A Worlds of ZZT Production ======

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