LandLand 1+2 (Decorrupted)

124.3 KB
2.00 / 5.00
(2 Reviews)
Board Count
139 / 216

Closer Look: LandLand 2

An improvement over the original, but also not.

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Jul 31, 2021
Part of Series: Landland Closer Look
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Welcome back! I trust you've all seen the previous article covering the first game in the LandLand series and are awkwardly looking for an exit as we move on to its sequel. Don't get too worried! Or maybe do actually! While the original LandLand ended up going from a standard Town clone to a disaster of broken puzzles its sequel is ...more playable. Yet again though the history of the series being surrounded in mystery as a corrupt upload proliferated across the Internet remains the game's biggest claim to fame. LandLand 2 is improved in nearly every way. Are there still bugs? Yes. Are there still frustrating design choices. Yes. The difference here though is that LandLand 2 is significantly more cohesive and original compared to its predecessor. There's an actual story and a much better understanding of how to distribute resources. This sequel is tragically also still full of bugs and goes from okay-ish to its own disaster as things move along.

So don't expect this one to end up being a lost classic, but do expect a world that starts off decently enough to get your hopes up. It's the kind of game you'd probably get some entertainment out of as a young child browsing random ZZT worlds. Again though, the corruption in the upload meant that no young child had the opportunity to see this game to the end in more than 25 years. Let's see how much improvement there is and where LandLand 2 stands in contrast to other ZZT worlds of its vintage.

Played Using: SolidHUD v4 via Zeta v33

Author Joe Moone realizes instantly that his skills have risen slapping on some "NEW AND IMPROVED" text to the title screen. The clunky "Lands of the World of ZZT" has been dropped in favor of the still unusual but far more easily remembered "LandLand". The predecessor does have a filename of LANDLAND.ZZT so this isn't coming out of nowhere.

Its strange subtitle comes off as more inscrutable and unwieldy. "But no evil queen" I guess means that the large reptilian queen fought at the end of the first game isn't going to appear? It's just such weird phrasing.


Right away things look to be more unique with a sort of castle that's only really recognizable as such when you realize that the fellow up top is the king and that the bridge is a drawbridge. Likely it's still not completely original, and much like how Alexis Janson's games went from being Town-likes to Best-of-ZZT-likes, I suspect something similar is happening here, though the structure of the two games will begin to split quickly enough that it's not the most concrete analysis.


The king gives you a quest to acquire an important bow that will be critical in the third game of the series. There's also a bit of a joke about the player not actually having a name. This tracks quite well with the early official ZZT releases that rarely try to give the protagonist any sort of characterization.

LandLand 2 is far better with giving the player the ammo they'll need. One big way to ensure this is that the game throws out its predecessor's non-linear structure and opts for a linear journey that very rarely offers any forks in the road to the player. The linear nature makes it far easier to anticipate what the player will have at any given point, and the brutal difficulty of dozens of tigers behind duplicators and no ammo have thankfully gone by the wayside. The end result here is that the player starts with a far friendlier 105 ammo compared to the original's rap house board giving 50 and then expecting the player to deal with a bunch of tigers immediately.

I'd argue that the game is better looking as well. These graphics aren't anything to write home about, even for 1993. (Consider that by this point we had games like The Lost Monkeys.) There are still lots of very-intact borders produced by the editor that make most screens feel inorganic in nature, but never really anything painful to look at. This is a ZZT forest in the style of Town once more with its defining untouchable-torch trees adding some brown to the mix.

One thing Moone is very fond of in this game are giant centipedes. Right away the player has to move quickly lest they remain on the top row as the centipede approaches and be forced to shoot the entire thing. Having to fight it not only wastes ammo but gives the duplicators more time to populate the forest with more threats. Otherwise the player can pretty much just make a run for it, collecting a few gems towards the start and then working on moving quickly to the next screen.


Are there big centipedes? Oh yes.

But there are a mere two keys to pick up instead of eight! That's a significant improvement.

The forest-filled layout of the board means that it's easy to create a tunnel to let any centipedes you may need to fight turn into an effortless shooting gallery. They provide the option to instead try and lure them out and go around as well. That green centipede up top is particularly interesting in how it might be possible to ignore it entirely depending on which tile you enter the board from.

The green centipede on the bottom... is another story.


This nasty zig-zagging path means a lot of tedium as the centipede moves slower than your bullets preventing the player from just holding down fire but having to alternate between shooting and not. It's not as bad as it might seem though as with a bit of luck eventually the centipede will try to move into a bullet and be blocked, turning itself around and getting it out of the twisty path and back towards the nice straight corridor where it can be blasted to bits.


Like so!

This is still poor design. It's not fun walking the path. It's not fun shooting a centipede in that path, and let's be honest shooting 50 bullets in a row at a centipede is pretty much only fun the first time it happens to you in a ZZT game. Afterwards, you kind of get the idea and just want to move on.


As you may have also guessed, some ammo is hidden behind a fake wall. It's politely telegraphed by the two green walls which is a lot better than the puzzles in the previous game that either outright tell you where a fake wall is hidden or make the player try every single wall until they find the hidden path.


There's a far better sense of being on a journey in this one. The previous game really felt like aimless wandering for keys. Here we've already gone from castle to forest to cave. Plus I think the zig-zagging path might have been intended to represent climbing up a mountain.


A far more generous column of blinkwalls again shows clear improvement. Now it really is a matter of just timing when you run across instead of basically guessing if you'll cross a nasty mess of walls set to random intervals. This blue ammo object in front of them also provides another 200 ammo really ensuring that the player doesn't need to be afraid to miss their shots.


The blinkwalls also serve as a one-way gate. There's no reason to want to turn around of course. Instead you get a sense that the journey has truly begun.




Oh. Um.


I'm scary.



You better run.

I'm gonna change things to monsters.

Right now.

Don't get me mad.

I'm mad.

You are going to die.


Our first antagonist? Not quite. This demon will never be seen again. The dark board also makes it difficult to see what they actually do. Some blue solids up ahead are transformed into lions with the player probably being completely unaware that there weren't any there before. The solids blend in too much with the rest of the cave's appearance for the player to notice their disappearance. You can see them in torchlight from the entrance where they'll just look like more walls to the cave and be nondescript.


More worrying than the lions is this sign for the centipede of the cave which is obviously far larger than the three pieces seen here.


This time the centipede is a lot more dangerous. They can cut off the path like this which forces the player to either split the centipede apart and run or to search for the head and trim things down more safely. Hot off of playing LandLand 1, I opted to start shooting and made a mess of things very quickly.


Next are the bears which are so nonthreatening that they're already gone here.

You can see lions are up next which are unrelated to the one's summoned by the demon. This pride's been waiting down here the entire time. Still, some smartly placed walls that jut out of the side of their starting place help keep them corralled. Any time they try to move towards the player it's going to be north, east, or west, the three directions they're blocked. It's actually a smart way to keep things reasonably grouped up without resorting to barriers like transporters, forests, or using objects to get rid of invisible walls surrounding them until the player gets to a certain point.


A second demon is far nicer. They restore a modest 30 health before also disappearing from the game permanently.


Finally after getting past those last few lions, the exit is reached. It originally has a nice blue solid trim around it which of course didn't survive the demon's transformation so you get this weird door that looks like the player can just go around it. In practice the way the next board's walls are placed means you're still required to go through the center.


Tigers! Our old friend.

And yet this board is so much more reasonable. The tigers are kept at a distance giving the player ample time to react to their bullets and attempt to dodge. The ammo supply is in the triple-digits. They aren't infinitely spawning. This is how you use tigers.

Somewhat rougher though are the lions that are just packed and require the player to step on a forest tile and immediately step back or start shooting on the next cycle. Whether or not this is possible depends on whether or not ZZT is running a cycle that lets the lions take a turn or not. In recent times this has been become known as "Sweeney's Gambit" and it's something frowned upon that comes up quite a bit in earlier ZZT worlds.


The two keys collected through a tiny path of sliders that make a fun little structure that could have just been regular walls, but looks more like a constructed path to me when built like this.

It leads us to "Unkba's GAME HUT" with the main path continuing back towards the cave and a small group of trees by the river blocking off what looks like it would be a more direct route to the east.


The game hut offers the player a chance to do some gambling. This is entirely optional, which is good because this whole board is just some stereotype of a "primitive" culture. On its own you might just say it's supposed to be a caveman, but this won't be the only such ethnic stereotype LandLand 2 will be showing us. You can spend ten gems to play a guessing game with Unkba to guess which of the three heads has a brain still inside.

There's no randomness to it, with a 1/3 chance of guessing correctly and getting twenty gems back. A rather out of place fourth options also exists to "Mug the medievel muttonhead!" which brings us to our first programming error:

:x4 You try to take his money, but a searing pain in your head screeches" NO!!!!" #TAKE HEALTH 50 Die #END [...] :Die #ENDGAME

The intent is for the player's awful behavior to result in the loss of a significant amount of health and being killed if you don't have enough. Instead though, ZZT parses the #die not as a label but as the command which means instead of the player being killed Unkba dies instead.


There's also the vault which attempting to open by merely touching the door will activate the security system.


This must be an homage to the original LandLand.


Moving on to some more palatable gameplay it's time to follow the path back north and wrap around the cave board. Even though it's considered outside by the game with its green walls rather than blue, ZZT can't get picky about its darkness so instead you get to walk in a small empty green rectangle and head out on the other side of the path here.


Some respect should be given here to the more organic structure with the river flowing from the previous board and establishing a sense that background is part of the actual world, just inaccessible due to the trees outside the game hut. A little more effort like this could do wonders in making this game stand out a little better by breaking away from green rectangles.


Chills suddenly run down my spine as I read this scroll. It's not just one unfun invisible maze, but three uniquely bad mazes.


It's just a huge regression to the original LandLand's design philosophy. Four keys that have to be collected one at a time while constantly bumping into walls. The transporters help somewhat in letting the player cover ground faster, but that only applies on the trips back to the doors. While you're filling out the maze you can't be sure if a key will require taking a transporter or not to reach it.


The second maze based around fake walls elicits a sigh of relief. This is not good or fun by any means. It's just when you say "fake maze" my brain goes to something like Middle Earth where every tile on the board is either a fake wall or a normal wall. I don't want to play this, but it could be worse.


I got to be extra annoyed by it as the only way to get to the room with the green key is to take the path to the north to reach it. I didn't go north so I got to navigate the bulk of the maze and realize that I had to find another route and do it all again.

Crappy as it may be, the maze being made up of small spaces does make it go by a lot faster than large and dense traditional invisible mazes. Even with the detour to get the key I'm sure it would go faster than the previous maze normally. In my case, I just flipped on the fake wall highlight option in the file viewer.


Finally we have the transporter maze. This is the kind of maze I'm generally willing to come to bat for. They're still little more than a waste of the player's time, but the player can cover a lot of ground quickly thanks to warping around. Combine that with the pleasing sound effect of transporters (especially if you get to take a few in quick succession) and you end up with something that's fun for maybe an entire minute. City of ZZT's The Headache Room is probably the ideal transporter maze with the only time the player isn't surrounded by walls and transporters being in the key rooms.

The briskness isn't nearly as apparent here with wider gaps between the transporters, and the requirement to collect six keys and run to the doors every time.


I'm beginning to rethink my complimenting of this game's graphics. This river crossing is just so incredibly bland.

After that gauntlet of mazes though, it was definitely a welcome change of pace. I will gladly cross a big empty room after witnessing how the previous three were filled.


The object at the end destroys the bridge making the player even more stuck than they were prior.


It unintentionally looks hilarious. This mistake isn't actually Moone's fault. Rather, it's Sweeney's. Every element with a special color like dark cyan ammo or black on dark green forests is caught by a check comparing the default color against a minimum value used for elements with special considerations. This is why #put n red gem will create a red on black gem while #put n red passage will create a white on dark-red passage. Through sheer coincidence, water's default color happens to exactly match this threshold, fails the comparisons for specific special color handling values, and ends up defaulting to simply using the color passed in the command. This oversight is likely because evidence suggests that water had a last minute change of color compared to the example water used in Demo.

This has the fun effect that you can't actually make water with ZZT-OOP that matches water as placed via the editor so the existing cyan is used with no color specified.


Yeah then we get to this part.

Conveniently this is the first corrupt board in the non-restored release. Now all these years later we can finally see some authentic early 90s Asian stereotypes.

I've never been so thankful as for all these buildings to be inaccessible. Only the registration hut can be entered. The other buildings with their text labels being meant to be the closest thing ASCII can provide to non-Latin characters. The effect really doesn't work though and instead the buildings seem to be labeled with grawlixes.


Despite appearance, there is no way out to the north of the town. The player can pick up an "ultra gem" for 100 gems with none of the point or health benefits you'd get by picking up regular gems.


I was very relieved that none of the characters themselves were stereotypes. The blue person on the right asks you to wait in line while the first two tellers or whatever they may be are on break. It's hardly brilliant humor, but much like the fake wall maze from earlier, it could've been far worse.


And hey, some foresight. The ultra gem is the only way to be able to afford to pay this gentleman to do something. A lower price would make it optional though the player is cutoff by the bridge having collapsed. I feel like LandLand 1 would've had no problem with the player being forced to restart and get more gems. Here it's just a test of your observational skills.


Payment opens the door to the side allowing progress. It does this in the bizarre way of changing every white object to forest which impacts the three tellers as well. Why not just send a message to the doors to open or disappear?


Up ahead things get weird. A group of evil " Guys" (Every object in this game seems to have a space at the start of ts name.) randomly move north or south while shooting in all directions.

Needless to say this is buggy.


Most readily apparent is that because they can only move vertically several of them can't move at all which includes this line that forms an impenetrable wall.

Shooting them results in the "Uhhhhhhhh!" message but then mistakenly runs #zap touch instead of #zap shot. They don't return to their attack loop meaning that once they get shot they freeze in place.

:TOUCH You take his paycheck. #GIVE GEMS 5 #DIE

Meanwhile touching them is supposed to result in the extremely good message that does make them disappear, but because the label gets zapped when shot and because the objects just shoot each other you're probably not going to be able to see this message and get rid of a body.


There is a bomb that destroys all of them by changing them into forests, but it's on the other side of the wall of guys. Your only hope is to be fast enough to touch the two on the bottom row in your way before they're shot. Nautrally though the player is going to assume that these objects should be shot rather than touched.

Lastly, there are two locked blue door objects that paradoxically only open when there are no blue objects. The bomb gets rid of them too of course.

Thanks to the race condition of being fast allowing the player to get through this board without cheating though, I think we're on a better run than the original LandLand in terms of how long until I just had to give up.


Our nameless protagonist heads into the next cave by first being so jacked that he can just rip apart the gate inside. I admit it, this was fun enough that I made sure to rip out the other pieces too.


Since torches are visible in the dark this center ring is the obvious first part of the caverns to explore. Since I was just collecting torches and there wasn't any danger nearby I didn't think twice about fumbling in the dark and touching one yellow object that looked like a torch, expecting it to be a mega torch or something and just provide some large quantity like the gem from earlier.


Nope. Sorry IDIOT. That was a SLIME TORCH. You utter BUFFOON.


Moone seriously does this to you. The extra ammo in the corner means that it would be possible to shoot my way through, but how about I just don't touch the slime torch?

And to add insult to injury the slime torch also changes some breakable walls into lions to give an actual threat to the player, or perhaps to give the player a way to die instead of quitting out of the game and reload their last save.


There is no slime ammo at least.


The caverns are split into two paths, but the one to the north requires a key forcing the player east. The darkness is gone and a scroll suggests picking up all the gems. Something that is pretty obviously in my interests.


I'm glad Moone is having fun at least. Not only does this board contain an invisible wall maze, but each batch of gems has a hidden object that turns one of the blobs of walls into creatures. You know, he was doing alright for a bit there, but now he's back to his old ways of piles of monsters.


There's actually quite a lot going on in this board. The cyan walls turning into tigers led me to believe that the red walls would be turned into lions to match. They also become tigers.

Then to actually reach the door you have to take this long winding path from the start of the board essentially. I am also a dummy who revealed the path to the green key while getting the second set of gems, but never went and picked it up.

Also there's a time limit on this board! It hardly matters since getting hit by an enemy will reset it, and the re-enter when zapped option isn't on so you just get to keep going. It's only potentially an issue to cost yet more health when you get down to the end here like this.


The path continues to a puzzle board! With numerous broken vaults in the first game and an unwinnable passage puzzle it's safe to say that this is an area that Moone was in desperate need of improvement on. As if tempting fate the first thing the player needs to do is enter a passage to go to another passage on this same board.


This time the passage mechanics are in Moone's favor. The player can't go back, but that's okay because they're supposed to get locked in by these pushers and a shover robot object akin to the opening board of Dungeons of ZZT.


Suddenly we shift instead to City of ZZT with some controls for a robot to push a key through some conveyors so the player can proceed.


It certainly feels more fun than the puzzles from the first game. It still ends up being extremely easy. Like with the vaults, you'll think there's more of a puzzle than there actually is. You can see I wiggled my way past the pushers out of a fear of trapping myself. In reality there's enough room for the sliders that you can just hold up on either column and there will be enough room to safely get the north-south sliders out of the way.

I'll still give Moone some credit here. This is a new puzzle. The one in City is just shooting some breakables and pushing out the keys with the only danger being pushing a key against a wall and getting it stuck. The introduction of sliders and pushers would actually lend itself quite well (and quite ironically given Moone's previous game) to having there be multiple keys that need to be pushed to the exit. This way you could do something with having to be mindful of the pushers and where you leave your sliders in order to be able to reach the other keys without blocking access to them while also maintaining an exit to the player.

Moone doesn't do this, and just makes another janky puzzle. I feel like there's some originality in here though. This could be a good puzzle and not just one that mimics what Sweeney did before.

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