LandLand 1+2 (Decorrupted)
(CW: one board in the game contains unskippable anti-Asian racist 'gags'. Player discretion is advised.)
The Lands of the World of ZZT (also known as LandLand, the ZZT world's filemane) and its sequel, LandLand 2, were a pair of worlds by Joe Moone whose only surviving copies were corrupted. However, asie and GreaseMonkey were able to de-corrupt the two once the source of the corruption was figured out and they now are available to play for the first time in God knows how many years.
LandLand 2 (which ditches the 'Lands of the World of ZZT' title of the first), was much more of a surprise as less of the game was visible before de-corruption. Though it has its issues, LandLand 2 is a bigger and better sequel.
LandLand 2 appears to be set some time after LandLand and has more a of a fantasy setting. It is a sprawling, more linear adventure game that is more of its own thing, rather than being inspired by an official ZZT world. Gameplay is a mixture of action (with an over-reliance on 'kill all the creatures to progress'), mazes and simple slider and object-based puzzles. Eventually, about a third of the way through the game, you meet the villain of the game, an unnamed Warlock Lord who you encounter and fight several times in the game's course (a neat touch if you ask me). Chasing him and finally defeating him makes up the rest of the game. And it's quite the game.
Like several ZZTers who made a sequel to their first game, Joe Moone gets more ambitious with his game's length, graphics and coding. Through the course of the game, you venture through forests, caves, the sea, a temple in the sky and a trash compactor. While uneven, the graphics are overall well-done, with good use of linewalls, non-STK gradients and the darker colours accessible from text. The final two bosses are graphical highlights.
The ending uses some clever board linkage and has a very well drawn (for 1992-3) teaser for a LandLand 3 that was never made. The writing has some amusing touches: for example, the character starts out unnamed, and only gets one a third into the game. Later in the game, a boss just decides he doesn't want to fight you and lets you through.
The coding is generally solid but stumbles at times, like the author confusing #end/endgame and #change/#put/#become occasionally. Nowadays, some judicious #zapping can take care of those obstacles. As with LandLand, there are some board linkage errors but given the very linear nature of the game, this is not a problem. Some invisible mazes are tedious but this was on par for the time.
More dicey is Moone's fondness for stars and spinning guns; at several points you will be stopped dead in your tracks by spammed stars, either as obstacle courses or as boss attacks. Some more ambitious objects break easily, forcing you to save and restore a number of times. Another badly-placed object on a blinkwall gauntlet makes it very easy to get murdered by the blinkwalls if your timing isn't perfect.
Enemies are set to be quite aggressive (and far too many centipedes), but ammo is quite plentiful. What isn't is health. Health items and gem caches turn up but not frequently enough in a game this size. As in LandLand 2, there is someone selling health but very, very late into the game. Sigh. Be prepared to '?+health' and/or save a lot. Curiously, you get a lot of torches but not that many boards need them.
Balancing the good and bad, the game is still overall recommended -but remember the content warning. With some more testing and editing, this would have been an early classic. It remains better structured, coded (in spite of all I've said so far) and more playable than other early large games of 1991-92 like the Portal of ZZT or the Lost Crown (and its sequels). We'll never know if Joe Moone abandoned LandLand 3, or if it was finished and is lost to time (for now).
For some reason, I experienced some weird glitching and crashes at different points in the game when using the Museum's player. I suggest playing it offline and saving often and in multiple files to avoid irreversibly losing progress.
The Lands of the World of ZZT (also known as LandLand, the ZZT world's filemane) and its sequel, LandLand 2, were a pair of worlds by Joe Moone whose only surviving copies were corrupted. However, asie and GreaseMonkey were able to decorrupt the two once the source of the corruption was figured out and they now are available to play for the first time in God knows how many years. Coding errors make it not worth the wait.
LandLand was created some time in 1992 (according to information at the end of the game) and plays along the lines 'Town of ZZT, but with more of such-and-such elements'. There are more Three Lakes-type gauntlets, more Bank Vault-type combinations to crack, and purple AND cyan keys to collect to progress. Parts of the game could be called remixes of Town staples: there is a new Jail with a different hint, a new House of Blues-type board with its secrets AND a Rap house to stay contemporary.
As with Town, you can start out in any four directions to get cyan keys: however, the areas they cover need to be unlocked with four purple keys. Clear each area and you get both. The aforementioned Rap House gives you the first purple and cyan keys to unlock another purple door and so on. By accident or design, you can skip one path as you only need three cyan keys. The game makes some things easier than Town: several hints are dropped for the vault combinations (provided you complete the game in a specific order), you can buy health AND a vault combination in this game's Armory, and the game is good with supplies (as well as unintentionally providing you with infinite gems). There appears to be a fantasy plot which Moone didn't pursue seriously and hints to an object you needed to progress, but doesn't seem to be coded in.
The game has a few neat graphical touches. The Rap House has a giant graphical equalizer set up with linewalls,there are several nice-looking linewall buildings and the game never feels ugly. If you have the gems, there are points in the game where you can clear out enemies in a room. And the final palace has a proper final boss!
However, the 'Town but more of it' style of the game often works against it. We did not need two Three Lakes-type boards, one of which has to be negotiated EVERY TIME YOU HAVE TO UNLOCK A CYAN DOOR. Allowing the player to shoot on these boards doesn't help. The multiple vaults (I think there are four) are annoying. As mentioned earlier, you can get their combinations but only if you play the game in a specific order. Other annoyances in the gameplay include badly synced blinkwalls and overly aggressive spinning guns with little room to maneuver in general. And some rooms, though correctly linked, don't have passageways the same width, so you will spend some time bumping against the edge of a board unless you remember where the paths line up.
So far, all of these are simply poor design choices that would frustrate, but not put off, a patient (or cheat code-wielding) player. Bad passage linkages sink it, rendering it effectively unwinnable without some restructuring with the editor. There are a few points in the game, most critically in a passage maze, where like-coloured passages send you to the wrong board or wrong location on the right board, preventing you from progressing. This would've been picked up during testing, but it's possible Moone only tested the game board by board. Other issues, like an unlinked board and a key you wouldn't think you needed to pick early in the game but must to avoid softlocking, pale in comparison.
This is enough to knock the game's score from a 2.5 or 3 to a 1.5. What a pity. No one was expecting a lost gem based on what you could see or play in the corrupted world, but it's still a letdown.
Reviewed: Mar 25, 2023
Rating: out of 5.0 This user has opted out of providing a numeric rating