Cave of Death

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Wildcard Stream Vol. 35 - X of Y

A lot of unexpected and iconic moments in worlds with no programming, with too-realistic shops, and mazes that aren't really.

Authored By: Dr. Dos
Published: Feb 27, 2023
Part of Series: Wildcard Streams
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♦ Livestream of the following 4 ZZT worlds. Originally streamed on February 26th, 2023 ♦
• (0:00) "The Sword of Destiny" by Unknown (1997) []
• (30:05) "Mazes of ZZT" by Syas669 (1995) []
• (38:14) "Cave of Death" by Unknown []
• (45:35) "Forest of Doom" by Jacob Parslow, Thomas Parslow (1997) []
• (36:00) End of Ad Break 1

A series of things of things, and quite a pleasant set overall!

The Sword of Destiny is an incomplete fantasy adventure with a catch. The author doesn't know how to program objects at all. Despite this setback, scrolls litter the landscape as players explore a few small towns in search of the sword required to defeat a great evil. There's a little bit of action with the player casting fireballs from a fire rod that add a little more to the game than solely exploration. Many of the ways the author implements logic and plot devices without code are pretty clever. A password is entered by opening one of several locked doors with numbers next to them using the only key. Keys are quest items found in dungeons, but described as being unique artifacts like swords instead. (Some sort of keyed-blade?) Ends abruptly, to much letdown as everyone was really enjoying the world that had been built up.

Also every store has a "trash dragon" and I'm not entirely sure what that is, but we do love them.

Mazes of ZZT fared better than the name would imply as well. A series of single board challenges, which rarely were mazes at all, and when they were, had very few wrong turns to make. That's still not super great, but every board doubled as a race against slow-spreading slime that would overtake the exit passage, which was enough to make the game feel like more than busywork. This one mostly worked because it was so short and because of its excellent title screen animation introducing us to the phrase "Don't let this happen to you!"

Followed up by Cave of Death, the weakest of the bunch as there was surprisingly little death in it. Most of the boards were pretty empty, and more maze-like than Mazes of ZZT. It took a bit to even find a room with ammo, which can be used to trivialize what's here as so many walls are breakable. Given that one board is a spiral that would take minutes to reach the center of without shooting, that's a lucky break.

Lastly, we ended with Forest of Doom, a game tasking players with slaying the "greate slobering monster", which requires doing a bit of travel to another planet to get the key to the monster's lair. Some weird visuals give the game an odd look, and it had some fun typos. The real highlight ended up being a shop where upon making a purchase players were forced to wait for the shopkeep to walk to the back room, grab the ammo or whatever, and then bring it to the counter. Afterwards they'd walk to their vault and deposit the money before another purchase could be made! It was incredible.

So, kind of a weird set really. The highlights of everything but Sword of Destiny stemmed more from the strangeness than any exciting gameplay or elaborate story. And then Sword of Destiny managed to be the best game of all without using any programming.

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