Invasion ZZT Revision

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172.3 KB
Rating
4.50 / 5.00
(1 Review)
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86 / 86

Closer Look: Invasion ZZT Revision (Part 2)

The long drawn out conclusion and a lot of PSAs about drinking and driving

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Jul 15, 2020
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So yeah, ultimately I think the gem mechanic is well intentioned but flawed. Once the player is given the list, the expectation is that they'll have missed some of the more hidden gems like the one in the pond, and play through the game a second time to see this dungeon.

Overall this game is definitely good enough that I could see interest in playing the game a second time, but since it's so story heavy, I can't imagine wanting to do so immediately after finishing the game. It's the kind of thing you'd want to wait a few months on before returning to it, and by then you'd need to find that list of gems again.

Again, this is the revised edition which just includes the list in the text file so that's not really a concern. Still though, if you've enjoyed Invasion ZZT enough to return to the game in the future, you'd probably rather just see the bonus dungeon right now and get that last bit of content right away.

We saw something similar with the third file of November Eve expecting the player to (mostly) play through the game a second time and it was a pain to imagine doing so there as well. Both games focus more on story than gameplay making for a very similar experience on subsequent playthroughs.

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Ironically, the bonus dungeon is actually far more heavy on traditional ZZT gameplay than the rest of the game. This is the part that would be the most fun to do again on a second playthrough. You can tell by the stream of bullets and a key up top.

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The cave opens up to this wider area with a weird structure and a lot of exits.

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Alena definitely nails the feel of secret RPG content. It certainly feels like you're in a strange place you aren't meant to be with the tone of this dialog compared to the rest of the game.

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The excitement is a bit short lived as my first challenge for these keys is just an invisible wall maze.

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This is where playing with my Solid HUD ZZT modification pays off, as I have a cheat to reveal invisible walls.

As far as invisible mazes go, this one isn't too mean. There are plenty of wide paths to travel down instead of nearly every single step resulting in hitting more wall.

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Things gets weird in the western part of the cave. There are some people named Slim and Tom stealing the treasure for a "Furguson". They immediately begin attacking Sam with a hefty barrage of bullets.

This board makes great use of space and the enemies work to make crossing the path a fun challenge.

Sure enough the treasure chests here have been emptied, but all Sam's really after is that green key.

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Wait a minute, suddenly it all makes sense. All these names have showed up before, with the weird memorials throughout the game. Daniel and Dollar were the ones who defeated the monster Mr. Furguson, and his accomplices, Slider, Tom, Slim, and Jim.

Well, this would have all landed better if it wasn't so so long ago that the player was told about these people. I only made the connection when writing this article.

It's also worth noting that when defeated they teleport in the same manner as the aliens, but have distinctly human names.

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There's one final key to collect by turning back towards the start, and then it's off to meet with Furguson.

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The actual final boss lies just beyond this board. One last supply chest "blesses" the player with health and ammo.

Ten health... and ten ammo. That is not much of a blessing.

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Nice.

Furguson here is yet another giant boss, but the illusion that he's coming forward out from the darkness does a lot to make him look more intimidating that drawing an entire body on the screen.

Furguson
  â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢
Welcome Daniel..
Er.. You are not the mighty Daniel?
Then I guess the dog wasn't yours then...

It was!?

You have some nerve!

▓░> Sam <▓░
Wh..What are you?

I am Furguson. Years ago Daniel destroyed
my body an imrpisioned me in the void of
this cavern. To keep my sanity I have been
collecting objects from your world. It
seems that your doggy has become my newest
colection peice!

▓░> Sam <▓░
I will not allow you to take him!

Do as you please...
You need a good lesson I think..
Be seing ya, friend!
Ha-Ha-Ha!!!
  â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢

So this dude is the ultimate evil I guess. Sam please get your dog a leash after this.

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It plays pretty much exactly the same as fighting MysteryX. Sam again has to push a bomb from the bottom of the screen to the top, but this time instead of dealing with bullets there are some spinning guns throwing stars instead.

The claws on Furguson's hand manage to block them a bit and the firing rate is low enough that you can kind of wait out the stars (though it's a lot of waiting since they fade out naturally rather than having an object forcibly erase them).

It feels better though. MysteryX had a flashy opening, but this guy feels far more threatening even if you're more likely to be defeated fighting the former.

FurgusonHP
  â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢
Arrrgghhh!!!
You wretched fool!

▓░> Sam <▓░
Let my doggy go or I'll make YOU cry!

Darn! You win human... By the way...
I could have beaten you,. I just didn't
want to!

▓░> Sam <▓░
Sure...
Hey, you can have this torch.
It will be a replacement for my doggy and
it may be able to help you find your way
around the caverns...

Huh? Th..Thanks...
Nobody has ever been this kind to me
before... Take care human, I shall never
forget this...

▓░> Sam <▓░
Don't mention it!

Now you will be taken back to your world
with no memory of this event...
I cannot have people knowing about this
you know...

▓░> Sam <▓░
Take care Mr. Furguson!

See ya friend!
  â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢    â€¢

I love Sam's threat to make this demonic entity cry.

True to form, Sam manages to begin Furguson's rehabilitation by giving him a present. MysteryX was just completely eradicated. Well, maybe. I have no idea what happened with the time rewinding thing. It's kind of sad that none of the other renegades contacted Sam and Anne afterwards.

Speaking of sad, after Sam says his goodbye here the passage just jumps right back to a copy of the board where doggy runs off and the ending plays out as it would if you didn't get all the gems. The only change is that the cave isn't drawn at all. The bonus dungeon is kind of fun, and I would've appreciated if some of its challenges showed up in the game's other sort of "dungeons", which I guess is really just the old mill.

That this bonus dungeon doesn't change anything in the ending is a disappointment really. Between this and the fisherman mentioning how lots of people were coming out of the woods, I was really hoping all this would result in the return of Sam's long lost brother. I'm really surprised that there was no mention of him outside of Sam's breakdown in the shed, and if Alena was willing to bring Andrew back from the dead, having this brother have been captured by the aliens or something and rescued with the destruction of the comet or the defeat of Furguson would've been a nice touch.

Final Thoughts

I promise that the saltiness towards the end of this game wasn't because of the game but just because these two-part articles burn me out by the end (and that so much of the ending is a ton of text to have to rip and format due to the game's way of flipping between objects as each one speak). Invasion ZZT Revision was loads of fun from start to finish. Usually when I describe a ZZT world as being gorgeous, it's something with amazingly detailed art boards like Frost or Angelis Finale. Really there have been all sorts of great looking boards over on the Worlds of ZZT Twitter. Invasion feels very visually distinct. Alena's boards don't feel beautiful because of their detail, but because they exude a natural beauty to them. There's an underlying theme of this game about humanity's effects on the Earth and how the planet needs to be treated better. She is very much able to capture that beauty using little more than normal/fake walls.

Actually, you know what? I meant that as just a way to commend her skills at creating scenery with limited shading that you'd see in most games, but I took a look back at that first board outside of Sam's house from part one and changed all the normals/fakes to to gems. It really is almost the entire board. That's astonishing.

This is a game that has a lot more to love than quick looks at the visuals though. Unlike the art, a glance at the story does little to impress. "Aliens kidnapped a dog and are going to conquer the universe. Stop them. Oh good job you did." The character interactions here really take a very simple plot and turn it into a memorable experience. The trio (as I keep calling them) all behave so believably? They're just kids, but they want to make the world a better place and their journey really has them learn that niceties aren't always enough. Sam goes from crying to himself in a shed over his lost dog, missing brother, and deceased father, to steeling himself as he watches Andrew get killed, to unabashedly believing the violence is a tool that can be used to save humanity. It would be very easy for this journey to be one that's a loss of innocence. Sam could have fallen into the same trap the invaders (sans renegades) did of believing the entire species to need to be destructed, but he doesn't.

Sam never loses touch with his emotional side. He still shows that vulnerability when MysteryX brings doggy onto the bridge. His transformation is one of summoning courage. He becomes far more decisive and prepared to actively fight for what's right, and mourn for those who have fallen when there's time to do so. He never mentions Andrew's death to Anne when they meet in the UFO's cafeteria because he knows that it will bring pain to the both of them in a moment where a steady resolve is needed, but when he's able to take a moment to stop his fight with the sympathetic renegades in the engine room he can let his guard down and share the tragic incident with her.

I just really can't praise this game's writing enough. There's definitely a lot of it which can begin dragging things down towards the end. Plenty of the aliens Sam speaks with on the ship don't really do a whole lot, which is a big part of why I feel the lead-up to the UFO is superior to the UFO itself. Ultimately though, Alena has created some extremely memorable ZZT characters in the span on a single adventure, something that in ZZT worlds mostly happens through endlessly reusing those characters in other games *cough* *cough*.

The gameplay itself is light. It takes quite a while before Sam is put into a situation where he can be harmed or inflict harm on a hostile alien. Invasion's action sequences mostly serve to escalate the stakes and provide a minute without somebody talking. Nobody is going to play this game and talk about exciting shootouts with aliens in the woods on their way to the ship or that fight on the comet. Those things happen because they make sense in the story rather than because they make the game fun. They're good diversions for the basic fights and help make things feel a bit more climatic at the end, but this is a story told through the medium of a ZZT game first and foremost.

Honestly, in the end I'm just surprised this game didn't get more attention. Whether we're talking the original release in 2000 or this 2002 update, I feel like this game should have been recognized for how much it does right. It may have just had the misfortune of being drowned out by an era when a lot of the big names were still active. Looking at z2's Game of the Month awards for 2000 to see what this game might have lost to and we get titles by WiL and Nadir with reviews mentioning games by Eurakarte, Chronos, and Hydra78. Seeing as how I had to correct the author field in the database prior to writing these articles, I suppose it's a case of an unknown author being unable to get the community spotlight to take a moment to shine on them. I think Invasion ZZT is something that should have gotten more respect than it did in its time, and would definitely recommend it to ZZTers new and old who are looking for an adventure that isn't afraid to be positive.

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