Few of the older ZZT games can compare to the detail and scope of more modern ones. Yet even without STK, Ryan Riegel's Legend of Brandonia is an excellent adventure game with a great story that takes you to all sorts of weird and excellent places.
You play Alex, a knight of Brandonia, serving under King Brandon. You start out just after escorting the king to the castle, returing from a mission. You get to wander the castle and talk to your wife, and it's not long before you learn about the contest.
Every forty years, the dragon lays its eggs. When this happens a race is held in Brandonia to be the first one back with an undamaged egg. Alex decides to join the race, but before the race begins, Alex learns about his father's death. He goes to investigate and discovers that a man named Acro stole Alex's father's teleportation device. Acro plans to use the device to win the race. Alex tries to tell the king, but the race begins and Acro is long gone. So the adventure begins...
Legend of Brandonia is a long game, 256k, that is actually the first part of a game that was never finished. The game play is typical, shooting at enemies, but rarely gets tedious. All of the enemies are objects, no prefab lions and tigers. There are puzzles, but nothing daunting. All around, Legend of Brandonia is a fairly easy game. There are a few difficult spots, like the cave and the fight on the dock, but in general the challenge is moderate. The programming is quite tight, with good use of zap/restore, allowing characters to progress different parts of the story at different times, and some good effects including a ship coming into port.
The only music in the game is on the title, but it is excellent.1 Throughout the game there are short chimes and sounds to mark when something has been done and some of the sounds come directly from ZZT, like the unlocking a door sound effect.
Legend of Brandonia is an epic game with a well written story that will keep you playing to the end. It's a shame Ryan Riegel never stayed around to do the second part, it would have been brilliant. Still this game stands well on its own, and should be played, along with Warlock Domain, by anyone even considering doing a fantasy game in ZZT. It's simply a classic piece of top notch ZZTing.
1 Taken from Alexis Janson's Music Box.