Adventure Part 2: The Journey to Ang-Mar

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Closer Look: Adventure Part 2 (Part 2 Finale)

How to make friends and influence kingdoms as we finish Adventure's redemption arc

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Mar 31, 2023
Part of Series: Adventure Closer Looks
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Eccch Bugs! Look Out!

With the game's main story covered, there's still plenty to discuss about Adventure. One of those things is the number of bugs found. The original game had its share with code executing in ways that made it difficult to not be hurt when attacking successfully, multiple instances of boss doors locking players out rather than in, and a few issues with movement that could get certain enemies stuck. These were pretty bad, but usually could be dealt with to some degree, even if that meant constantly reloading saves.

For Part 2, the code gets more ambitious, and the bugs in turn become even more of a problem.


In the previous article, I mentioned the star throwing statues in the mountain fortress near Liondellia. Their ability to accidentally confuse ZZT and create super tigers that fired non-stop while moving at maximum speed is enough of a potential problem to to be included here. There's actually something else with the statues that's even worse. With the tigers, trying the board again might be enough to prevent one from unintentionally spawning. (Again, this one is Sweeney's fault, not Rivera's.) Some of the statues are capable of doing much worse than altering tiger behavior, suffering from a coding oversight that's entirely Rivera's fault.


  •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •    •
#become tiger
#throwstar seek
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Looking at the statue code, there are some leftovers with a :tp label indicating that they originally had some other behavior. They may have harmed the player when touched or shot instead. The code shown here is very notably missing an #end after the star is thrown. A handful of statues on the board lack the command. This means that at any point after entering the board, a tiger may shoot the statue causing the game to instantly be over!

Obviously, this is a pretty nasty one. It applies to the two left-most statues in the top-left room, as well as the top-left statue in the top-center room. The rest are all properly coded.

This didn't actually happen to me during my playthrough, and I only discovered it when looking at code later to see if any of the statues I didn't touch had any reason to touch them. Realistically, this won't happen as the statues are all placed in such a way that the tigers, which are more focused on the player, won't actually shoot in the statues' direction. The enemies tend to clump up by the doors keeping them away from the offending statues. For players foolish enough to run inside a room filled with tigers rather than trying to funnel them through the doorways, it is a real possibility.

And one that I imagine is incredibly awkward to fall prey to. Just a completely arbitrary game over that occurs without warning. In the darkness you wouldn't even be able to piece it together that an object being shot caused the death. Be sure to watch your aim and hope your enemies do the same!


Meanwhile, for players that decide to visit Xranth first, they'll run into their own troubles in the goblin's den, breaking in a way similar to issues seen in the previous game. Something acts up here, and I've been unable to make it happen again, but in my playthrough two goblins simply became unresponsive, never actually dying. Each one sets a flag when killed, and when they're all defeated the barrier blocking the blue key should fall. If they don't die, then that barrier isn't going anywhere. Likely something is either not being unlocked or got a little over zealous and zapped one label too many causing them to become unresponsive.


Plenty of problems stem from the guard that blocks the path to Xranth. As mentioned, this object checks for quite a large number of flags to determine what to say when touched. Some flags don't clear properly though, which requires manual intervention in order to get by. Players that go to Liondellia first and get assigned the quest to visit the swamp cave for the crown jewels will find that the flag remains set and takes precedence over the jewels being carried, so they'll never be able to finish the quest without opening the cheat prompt to clear the CAVEQUEST flag.


The king of Xranth is no better. Once both Liondellia and Xranth are united, the guard tells players to check out the southern gate before returning. Another flag is used to mark that players know about the locked gate to the southern kingdoms upon which they can ask either the king or queen about where to find the key. Both of them have text explaining that the key is in the possession of their castle's own shopkeeper. Xranth only checks if players know about that gate when they present the scroll from Liondellia, making it impossible to ask about the key. Liondellia seems to make the check correctly so this one should be able to be ignored, though it means another walk out west.


At the time, I was unaware that Liondellia was another source of a working key, so I cheated the flag in instead. This brought up another issue with the guard to Xranth not being willing to move when talked to afterwards, trapping me in Xranth.


And of course, there's the friend, a major part of the game's second half. Rivera provides an option for players to not let him travel with David, fully intending for it to be another one of the game's meaningful choices. A pusher will prevent returning to this board if players skip it the first time and head south instead of east to the the southern kingdoms. Skipping the friends is pretty easy to do since both paths forward are unmarked, leaving it entirely up to which way players decide to travel first. I guess if you go south and get trapped you should reload your save and head east instead?

The pusher seems to be a clumsy way to prevent players from returning to the friend board and northern kingdoms. It doesn't seem necessary to me. Obviously, Rivera didn't code the friend on every board on the game in case players turn around. Instead, the gate board just has the friend appear and say that he'll wait for you to come back before continuing to travel together.

Rivera doesn't want the friend to be mandatory. There shouldn't be an issue for players that head directly past the pusher beyond the questionable design of not giving players the opportunity to meet him. There are checks repeatedly in the southern kingdoms that alter text based on whether or not the friend is with David. The corpse of the friend's brother won't be seen as anything special without him. The king of Winchester will ask David alone to get revenge on the orcs. The secret passage to Chagaluk's quarters won't be brought up either, forcing players to go in from the front gates on the suicide mission as David calls it. There are consequences for skipping the friend whether intentionally or not, but nothing to imply the game should become unwinnable.

Except there are still more errors with code that make it so not having the friend does prevent progress. While the king of Winchester still tells players to fight off the orcs, he fails to give David the token, meaning that Arantinuel remains off limits. Without being able to enter the castle, the actual quest to kill Chagaluk is never given, and the reward of the key that leads to the Dark Tower can never be received. In order to complete this area as it is actually coded, players need to have the friend.


David's reluctance to attack the castle head-on and alone is also well-founded. When the main hall is entered, the orcs close the gate behind David, destroying the passage out. The orcs are pretty overwhelming, but even if David manages to defeat them all, an invisible object simply says "There is no escape!" when trying to move ahead into the rest of the castle. Even if you could, there are no green keys to open any of the doors, and none of the other orcs on the board actually have any code whatsoever. It's more unfinished than bugged. Regardless, it prevents the game from being completed normally.


Lastly, while not nearly on the same level as the other issues. There's a misplaced invisible orc just south of the player in this screenshot that acts like the ones on the waterfront. This hilariously led to me being shot as I was trying to dodge a bullet that had gotten too close. I have the worst luck since Chagaluk.

Ezanya? I Hardly Know Ya!

The influences on this game are pretty clear. I've linked more than enough Tolkien references that the love of Middle-earth should be obvious by now.


Both games' title screens describe themselves as adaptions of "Ultimate Adventure!: ~MINI-QUESTS!~" given ZZT form. These terms are SEO sludge, and mean nothing to me. I would love to know what specifically is being adapted here, and to what extent. It all seems like fairly straightforward fantasy stuff which I could easily see coming from short stories or as supplementary material to aid those running tabletop RPG campaigns. Anything I've searched that wasn't connected to Tolkien has been unhelpful.

The same can't be said about Ezanya, the Beth Daggert classic from 1991 that was released as part of the ZZT's Revenge compilation. I had gotten some vibes of the game in the previous Adventure, but mostly chalked it up to both games being the same sort of fantasy adventure. Ezanya being an official ZZT world also meant that it undoubtedly spread rather far. There's nothing wrong with making a ZZT world inspired by another, and if it was just my imagination then it didn't matter.

But Adventure Part 2 makes it very clear what an impact Ezanya had on Rivera's ideas of what ZZT games should be.


This sounds familiar...

Perhaps my luck wasn't as bad as I thought as coincidentally after playing through this game, I streamed RT-55J's Ezanya Remastered, giving me a refresher on the source material.


Of course, the real giveaway was in the goblin's den, which was so blatantly Ezanya that I could hardly believe it. I recognized it as being a rehash the moment I stepped onto the board. This time the similarities went from homage to Rivera lifting the board directly from Ezanya and using it as a base for his game. If you use the file viewer's ability to render the board's empties as text, any doubt is removed.

In ZZT, this is more rude than harmful. It would have been nice if he just was impressed with Ezanya and wanted to make something similar, rather than just quietly taking things without credit. It's really weird to swipe just a single board like this, especially given how well a lot of the game's dungeons were designed. Rivera was more than capable of creating a suitable goblin kingdom. Was he just after the slick elevator?

What's really funny though, is the Ezanya reference that I didn't get to see until I was studying code to learn how the non-linear quest lines functioned and discovered this extra dialog from Queen Liondellia.

Queen Liondellia

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"What you dare touch me again? You are an
enemy spy! Die like the scum you are!"

With this, a sonic boom resounds through
the castle, and you are vaporized
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Not nearly as good as the source material, but it's nice to see that everybody recognized the hilarity of attempting to speak with Exasperata a second time.

Final Thoughts (Finally)

What a game that was. I think I've said quite enough about Part 1 by the point, and would much rather focus on what the sequel brings.

And what it brings, is a hell of a lot of ambition. The open-ended world, unique quests, and David's friend all do wonders to make Adventure Part 2 a really impressive game. The world is fun to explore from the get-go, with Rivera doing a fantastic job of creating a vast world that's enjoyable to move through, and pleasant enough to look at that even when backtracking things don't seem so bad. The game is designed in such a way that there isn't actually too much backtracking that needs to be done, at least nothing on the level of walking back to Shre-La and/or Tre 'La in the first game. A now well-equipped David carries all sorts of weapons of legend allowing Rivera to focus on basic action. The use of built-ins is considerably above average, making the dungeons and caves David conquers provide a reasonable challenge without getting overwhelming, and using enough variety between locations as well as consistency within the same location that everything just comes together. The opening to this game is incredibly strong.

How strong it would be for players that opt to visit Xranth first is another story. The non-linearity is impressive to see implemented such that what players get to do varies from playthrough to playthrough. However, it's also the source of many of the game's flaws. For the initial two kingdoms, Adventure Part 2 suffers from an extreme disparity in quality between the dungeons. While the shared non-linear content of the path to Liondellia or the swamp to Xranth are both very well designed, the Goblin Den is just really bad. Players get the short end of the stick if they choose poorly, and that first impression really makes or breaks the experience, especially for those coming in fresh off of Part 1 with its own severe swings in quality.

In the southern kingdoms, the friend's presence or absence shouldn't have much of an impact. The dialog is tweaked here and there, with only the assassination of Chagaluk playing out differently. At least, that seems to have been the plan. Here the games seems unfinished, requiring a debug scroll to force the friend into David's party. Even this isn't necessarily enough, as players that can't get the token from the king of Arantinuel due to a lack of friend are unable to activate the dialog a second time after grabbing the debug friend.

In both instances, some tweaks to actually remove these choices, would have made for a more solid game experience. Players will enjoy Adventure Part 2 if they head to Liondellia first and make a friend when given the chance. Though this means giving up on the impressive idea of creating a game this open-ended with ZZT in the mid-90s. Rivera seemed to really want players to be able to do all sorts of things. I didn't even get to bring up that you can shoot Queen Liondellia for no reason, killing her, and causing the walls blocking the spinning guns from Liondellia to the crossroads to lower, letting players get attacked for their crimes. There's no reason to do this, or honestly to want to, but it is there.

It seems to me that Rivera just ran out of steam beyond a certain point, and got sloppy with his code. Regardless of what choices you make, I don't think it's possible to get through Part 2 without cheating here and there. I'm a little more forgiving when it's due to bugs in a game this complex and not a lack of health and ammo that even the most token amount of play-testing should catch. It's unfortunate that this game suffers from as many bugs as it does, since were they fixed, I do believe that Adventure as a whole not only redeems itself, but that Adventure Part 2 would be remembered as one of the better games of its kind to this day, and an absolute must-play in around the time of release.

You should probably skip Part 1 if you're not a completionist. What little story it has is all quickly recapped at the start of Part 2 and has little bearing on the events of the game beyond introducing the main villain. Part 2 is definitely worth your time, just to see what Rivera was trying to accomplish, even though he isn't able to reach the lofty highs he's aiming for. The bugs make the difference between this being an easy recommendation for beginners to one best played by those who can manipulate flags and ?ZAP their way around broken objects.

Rivera's legacy doesn't really seem to exist. A few folks remembered Town of Balrog! when I streamed it, and ESCAPE: From the Isle of Peril was okay to take a glimpse at, with neither having much of a recorded impact on the ZZT community. This absolutely should have been the game that gave him a bit of fame. I have to wonder though, with ZZT games meaning players would have no trouble accessing the first game, if that just scared everybody off of this brilliant sequel that comes so close to being great.

The trilogy being unfinished isn't doing any favors either. If such a world was available, I would immediately be starting a playthrough. Given the continuous improvement shown, I think a part three could have really been something great. What we're left with instead, is a game that's almost a classic. I enjoyed it enough that I'd be eager to replay this one again, perhaps even suffering through the original once more so others could see just what a metamorphosis this series undertakes. Part 1 captivated me as a child, and here I am now being just as engaged with Part 2. Maybe in twenty years somebody will find that the finale was finished and upload it.

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