Invasion ZZT Revision

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Closer Look: Invasion ZZT Revision (Part 1)

An alien abudction of the family dog turns into a fight for mankind's survival. Three kids on a heartwarming quest to save the Earth

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Jun 30, 2020
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The passage leads from the basement to the ground floor and puts Sam and Anne in this corner they couldn't access earlier.


I confess it took me a moment to realize I was supposed to just go back through the passage to continue upwards. Rarely are passages used as dividers like this, and I think it could have been communicated better or things could have been rearranged to avoid having a passage like this.

The positioning of everything does force Sam to pick up a gem. While they are optional, this one is mandatory and becomes somewhat relevant for the plot later.


When you continue up the conveyor belt this pops up immediately. It's not as elegant as having Sam consider what would happen if the belt was turned on, but it continues to instill fear nonetheless!


Really it's just about how there's going to be a boss fight soon and telling you to save so you don't have to walk up this conveyor again if you haven't been saving regularly.


As expected, the conveyor leads to the top floor and on the other side of the gel.


This leads to another alien fight that plays out just like the previous one.

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You miserable brat!

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
What are you doing here anyway?

Fool! You could never understand...
We are producing engine glue which has the
power to produce energy. This recycling
of energy means it's unlimited! Together
with the energy gems we can super power
our ship so NOTHING can damage it! Then
with a super power ship we can conquer
e v e r y t h i n g.....

Why are you doing it on Earth?
And Where is my doggy!

Weak one, your'e planet is so filthy and
toxic, it makes the engine glue free to
produce and has even stronger properties.
Toxins are a rarity where we are from.
Your dump is rich in them. Not to mention
it gives a nice purple glow..

Foolish human, you may have beaten me,
but there will allways be more...
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This is kind of a weird plan. The gel is "engine glue" that is essentially a source of infinite energy. The aliens will use this glue to create an invincible ship and conquer the whole universe. The whole "humanity is cruel" thing is pretty quickly thrown out the window here.

It is at least all starting here on Earth because the pollution actually makes the gel more potent, but again these aliens would be taking over Earth even if it was a paradise free of pollution and cruelty.

With the second alien defeated, the tube dudes can be checked out finally.


I still have no idea. Credit where it's due, in most games seeing something like these strange memorials I'd wind up wishing I was playing the game about Dollar and Linda rather than the actual game. Here, as much as I want to know who these characters are, Alena has managed to keep me interested in what kind of adventure Sam, Andrew, and Anne will have.


Upon reaching the roof of the mill, Anne is found to have been captured, and two more aliens are ready to confront Sam.

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Hmm.. Seems they were the ones in the
processing room, causing all the

You two are not the first to oppose us,
nor will you be the last, I'm sure.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
Look monster! Leave her alone! She
Hasn't hurt you any!

You both now have seen our factory.
By this crime alone, I shall punish you.

You planet will be the first to be

Kill them.
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The last regular alien is almost the same as the rest. The one difference is that once they're low on health they'll start to counter being shot by firing two bullets in every direction. It's not enough to make them any more of a threat really.

Also take note of the design of this rooftop! I almost missed the fact that the large red thing at the bottom that gives it its irregular shape is actually the blades on the windmill itself!


There's finally an actual boss fight against this alien and they have some very cool names for their attacks. Well, okay, they're not that good at all except for the incredible "White Lightning protocol".


There's definitely some variety at least. The boss does cycle through four attack patterns named for each attack, but the game doesn't announce them so you can't really appreciate which one is "Cyber Psychic attack" and which is "Fire Probe".

"Weapon Attack" is just shooting towards the player and then shooting in all four directions.

"Cyber Psychic Attack" is automatically taking one health and one ammo from the player. You won't even notice.

"Fire Probe" is firing five shots in every direction.

Lastly, "White Lightning protocol" mixes it up and instead causes the green arrows to fire a bullet.

The boss simply loops all of these in order endlessly. There's missed potential here by not having the boss announce which move is being used which makes giving the attacks names in the first place pointless.

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We have stumbeled into something really
scarry Sam...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I'm scared too. Are you O.K.
if they hurt you!!....

Relax.. I'm O.K. *blush*

[Andrew enters and begins to speak]

I got here as soon as I could...
Is everyone O.K.?

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
Yea, we sure did learn a lot about the
invsion plans.


โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
It seems the purple junk is some kind
of energy producing adhesive for an
engine. They plan on mixing them with
some kind of gems to make a super vessel.


โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I'll be honest, I found a gem earlier
but forgot all about it...

Give it to me...
Hmm... what an odd specimin...

[Anne resumes speaking]

I want to take a look.

Hmm... Oh dear!
I had seen one of these before...

Sam, Your uncle showed me one once.
Maybe he knows what it is..

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I doubt it, he's kinda crazy...

Maybe he is, but we just killed an alien.
Thats crazy....

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I see your point...
I guess it can't hurt to ask him.

Great I'll meet you there. I have some
work to do.

By the way... *kiss*
Thanks for rescuing me...
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Andrew finally shows up and the gang gives him a brief summary of the alien plan. The strange gems are the next lead to investigate, as it seems like Sam's weird uncle might know something about them.

Anne also just straight up goes for the kiss. Sam doesn't react at all, neither reciprocating nor rejecting her advances. I cannot imagine how awkward that is for Anne.


Leaving the mill, all the gel melts away. There's no particular reason for this other than to mark the area as cleared. I forgot to check the cabin from earlier during my playthrough, but it too is completely erased.

It may be that this isn't supposed to be the gel being destroyed, but harvested as the aliens taking their gel for the ship will come up later on which would explain the cabin's removal as well as that little base on the hill which would also no longer be necessary.


Now it's actually time to visit your uncle with your proof of a UFO which is... a gem.

Not some purple gel they took or Sam's alien gun, just a gem.

He's not impressed, but from Anne mentioning he should have a similar gem Sam knows his uncle isn't being honest here.

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Hey Sam, Sorry we were late again.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
No problem.

Uncle, um...
*whisper* What is his name anyway?

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
*shrugs* Uncle I guess...

Anyway, Sam knows about the gem. He has
one too...

Sam's uncle speaks


Hmm... Well I don't know what it is
Show me yours..

It looks like yours Sammy boy.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
Just Sam, Uncle.

Well Sam Uncle, Bessey and I saw a UFO
the other day. Some lights hoverin' over
the pond on the other side of 'da

I've seen 3 UFO's in my lifetime, boy
they sure like 'dat woods..

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
We have to go check out the woods.

We think they are still here and have
some incredible plans...

Hmm... Well, you got to go through my
shed to get to the bridge. I'll get
the key for ya. I made the bridge just
connect to my house So I could get fresh
water in the winter without gettin'
cold, ya see...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

I'll show ya the gem too.
Oh No!!
It's not here!
Someone must have taken it in a cruel
plot to kill me!

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

Oh wait. Here it is, forgot to open the
drawer... Silly me.

Anyway, here's the key and the gem.
Good luck in the cold dangerous woods
on your way to a U.F.O. with no
saftey equipment in order to solve an
extraterestrial war. I'm gonna take a
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It is important to highlight the dad joke here with "Sam Uncle".

Alena justifies here game's world again with the back exit to the house existing so Sam's uncle can get water without getting cold.

And when she doesn't have a good explanation, like why this adult is going to let three kids go fight off an alien invasion while he sleeps, she just runs with it as a joke.

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I think we should all split up, We can
cover more ground that way...

Andrew speaks

Thought only you had a weapon?

Not quite true bud.
I have duplicated the weapon so we all
now have one...

I think we should split up as well.
We can meet near the pond at a set time.
Then we can pool our findings together.

This is gonna be tough. So keep your
guard up.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
You guys promise you'll be O.K.

We promise, if you do

Hey, Sam, grab some cough medicine from
your uncle's medicine cabinet, you
seem to be comming down with a cold...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
*smile* Gotcha.

Race Ya!

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Andrew not tagging along for the mill pays off as now all three children have guns.

More logical explanations for things as he suggests Sam take some cough medicine for a developing cold. Little does he know that Sam already broke into his uncle's house and drank his cough medicine earlier that night just because he could.


Although you can turn back, this is a pretty clear divider as the game moves from its first act into its second. Joking about kids with guns aside, the reality is that so far they've all managed to stay safe, learned the purpose of the gel, its vulnerability to fire, and Sam has defeated a few aliens. Though the trio still isn't too sure on how to save the world, they're definitely a lot more confident that they can do it.

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Hmm... take a look at the sky people...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

[Anne speaks]

Oh dear...
The comet...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
(looking up) Whoa! Anne, Andrew! What
is going on?

If you ask me, something bad is going on.
Something severely, mega bad.

Sorry to be so redundant...

[Andrew speaks]

Sam, Anne. I fear the comet is a bad
omen as well... I think we should look for
any kind of clue...

[Anne speaks]


โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
What is it Anne?

Well, remember the results I talked about
in the old mill?

โ–“โ–‘> Sam โ–“โ–‘
Um... sure...

*Frowns* Anyway, I mentioned that
something may have entered our planet's

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
Oh Yea! And it may still be here...

Exactly. The reason I mention this is that
the comet seems to be orbiting the entry
point of what I think was a U.F.O.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
What does this mean then?

[Andrew speaks]

It means that the comet is artificial.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I really don't get it...

It's like this...
The U.F.O. that you saw entered our world
via a specific place in the sky.

The comet is also at that point of entry.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I get that, but where is the U.F.O. and
why is the comet there?

According to Anne's research the U.F.O.
hasn't made any escape yet. It's here,

I think either the comet knows where it
is and is aligning itself with it for
communication or a plan phase.

It is also possible that they too have
lost track of the U.F.O. and are looking
at the last known spot.

Or as always, this could be a complete
natural but bizarre event, meaning
nothing to our cause...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I see...

[Anne speaks]

I seriously doubt they lost track if it.
Remember Sam, in the Mill?

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
What part?

The development of the purple gel was
going as planned, and the cabin that was
there, disapeared...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

So... I think that there plan is going
well, don't ya think?

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
You're right! They were working like
nothing was wrong...

Maybe because nothing is wrong...

[Andrew speaks]

Nice work Anne.
That leaves us with the options of a
cosmic accident or a deliberate move to
the location.

[Anne speaks]

Right. According to there position, an
Eartlhy equivalent would be North /
North-East from here...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
And maybe the U.F.O.
Only one problem. The woods are very
big, and North of here is a river
and south is a mountain range.
We really are going to have to split up.


โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
There is an old hang-out pond in the
North-East region. Maybe we can all meet
there at a given time and report all
the info we gathered.

Excelent idea. We all have weapons, so
there is no problem there.

There will likely be a ton of guards if
we are indeed near the ship.

Keep carefull.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
1 hour max. We'll meet at the pond.

We'll be there...
Good luck!

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That's not a bad thing, I'm just hoping to get your attention on this side here before you commit to reading all of it. Within ZZT itself Alena is constantly juggling between objects sending messages to each other as non-Sam characters speak so that it will say "Anne" up top when Anne is speaking or "Andrew" for Andrew. It's very strange that she does this when she's labeling all of Sam's text and could just as easily label the other characters as needed. Please appreciate my effort to copy/paste these conversations piece by piece.

As for the text itself, the comet and UFO are likely related as they seem to have both entered the Earth's atmosphere from the same point. Some discussion on whether this may be a coincidence or not leads to a consensus that the aliens' plans are going well ends with the group splitting up and agreeing to meet at a nearby pond. The UFO is probably close and that means alien defenses as well.

Very little of this is essential, but there's something to be said about how rational they all are. This amount of thought and analysis is really unprecedented for a ZZT game. "Run through the woods and shoot the aliens until you reach the UFO" would have sufficed for any other ZZT game, but Alena here is making this game so much more memorable by putting in the details. It's definitely working. The action is fine, but it's the storyline that makes this game stand apart from so many others.


When everybody runs off Sam is free to eat some apples off the ground for health and provide some criticisms about genetic engineering and chemical preservatives. I'm all on board for these natural apples though this is perhaps the one instance where I feel the author's views come off as a tad naive, neglecting the issue of accessibility to fresh produce.

But this apple doesn't need a whole can of worms so let's move on.


This is what I mean by "the action is fine". So far all these fights Sam has been involved in were one-on-one affairs. The moment he steps onto this board the aliens begin to attack and shoot each other instead of Sam who is incredibly safe since this small lake is made of normals which will block any bullets and not water which would let the bullets travel across.


The journey is somewhat open-ended, and very same-y as far as how each board plays, but I wanted to show off each board at least once because of how nice this game looks.

Click for full

This game is a great candidate for the use of DavidN's "Atlas", tool for stitching together boards into one image like this. The maps are very cohesive. (I'll include a map of the woods once we're through it so as not to spoil some things.)

The one board that is unique is this one where another alien sympathetic to humanity also meets their demise. With how few aliens the player has seen so far, it seems like there's definitely some discontent among the aliens for this invasion thing.


Back in the mill Alena was being vague about how dangerous things were, but now she's just being loud and clear. Instant death. Be careful.

It's actually a fairly idle threat. There are moments where Sam can indeed be killed instantly, but the all involve doing some very obviously stupid things. We're talking on the level of being told "There are too many aliens out there, we have to hide and come up with a plan" and "If I go here without a disguise I'm sure to be caught". Whether or not it's worth killing the player versus just not letting them run into a group of aliens or go past a point without a disguise is up for debate, but it's important to know that this game isn't about to become a source of frustration with game overs left and right.


Just outside the pond Sam meets up with his friends.


I'm not a fan of Sam's only acknowledgment of any feelings for Anne being this sort of disappointment that it was Andrew who saved her instead of himself. The trio of characters are surprisingly developed, but the romance never feels genuine even with all of them doing a great job of being open and honest with each other. As it is, this romance subplot just doesn't feel convincing to how the characters are otherwise behaving. It feels forced rather than natural.

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It seems that we were right about our
hunch. It looks as if the comet is
aligning itself with something. It is
sending an odd sequence of colors
followed by an almost undetectable

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
Sequence of colors?

Yes, it's odd. It's kinda like the
Canadian flag with an odd twist.

Red - White - Pink.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
There's no pink in our flag...

That's the twist part.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

[Anne speaks]

Hey guys! it's starting to act oddly!

I'm going to the pond for a closer look!
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Getting back to more pressing matters, Andrew brings up that the comet is definitely related to the invasion in some way. The details of the science here get glossed over, but there are colors and those colors are red, white, and pink. The almost Canadian flag.


The two go to the pond for a "closer look" at the comet, which is a bit silly when we're talking about a cosmic scale here. There's a short discussion on how they feel looking at it, a mixture of being scared and admiring its beauty, but then suddenly the comet begins to flash and move across the sky. Andrew and Anne rush off to "follow" it, while the player gets to take their time and check out the pond first.


There is nothing sadder than losing your Pokรฉmon Squirtle gun in a pond.


Sam can actually take a swim here.


This is the first time a gem has been properly hidden. The only reason I got this one was because I kept glancing at the included list the game comes with. I would not have thought the pond itself could be interacted with otherwise.


And there it is, the UFO they've been looking for.

There's more conversation about what to do to get inside, and how trying to go in directly would result in the well-trained guards certainly shooting them. (Surprise, this is one of those instant game overs that Alena warned us about.)

While hiding behind the trees the group overhears one alien ordering the other to put a crate in the underground storage. This is the opening they're all waiting for as the alien with the crate narrates how they can't lock the door behind them while they're carrying the big crate. The sequence goes just short of saying "wink wink" afterwards.

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Ladies and Gentelmen! We have our way in!

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
How do you know it goes anywhere?
It may just be a storage area..

Maybe, but they mentioned transporting it.
Maybe there is a transporting room in
the underground...

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
I guess we can't just charge the front

Exactly. I think one of us should stay
here and wait for a time when the Alien
guard is down and the rest of us should
go to the underground...

We'll make the best of our time that way.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
Who stays?

[Anne speaks]

I'll stay here. To be honest, I'm afraid
of small spaces.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

Yea. I hate to admit it

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
It's ok. We all have things we hate
to admit but it's cool you are not
terribly afraid to admit it to me.

Thanks Sam. Besides, I doubt the cave
actually leads anywhere cool. I'm gonna
get some supplies and wait for the
enterance to clear up.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
You sure?

Yea. trust me, I'll be fine. I think I
have an idea that can get me in.

I'm off!

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘
See ya Anne. It's almost over I hope

Yea. I hope so to. Although it sure is
kinda fun.

โ–“โ–‘> Sam <โ–“โ–‘

See ya soon I hope.
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The plan is hatched and Sam and Andrew sneak into the storage in hopes of boarding the UFO.

Anne's plan is to find another way inside which I didn't have much faith in panning out. I was a bit worried that this was Alena's way of avoiding having to juggle three characters on the UFO. Sam and Andrew would go on the ship, Andrew would be captured, Sam would stop the invasion and rescue Andrew and then Anne would cheer the two on when they returned. It would be an easy way to return the game to a state where it's just Sam running around without having to deal with Andrew and/or Anne also being there when fighting aliens and having to help out.

Click for full

And now that the UFO at the end of the woods has been revealed, it's a good time to check out the map of the second area and see how well it stitches together before Sam and Andrew head underground.

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