You Are Brainless And You Like Buns
content warnings at the end of the review
"Do not be fooled by the title screen," says the title screen. "This game is a text adventure."
OK, so someone's being a smart aleck, you tell yourself. ZZT is a text-mode game anyhow? And with the bad-ass title screen animation, you can expect something good, right? Right?
First of all, it turns out that this is a text adventure in ZZT. You are dropped into a tiny field of play with a yellow boulder and text about buns and an Atomic Dustbin on the borders of the board (these are important). Touching the boulder reveals that this is a cave, and gives you three options on what to do next. Only one is the best and will let you progress to...three more choices.
Thus begins the 'action'- what essentially is a Choose Your Own Adventure in dialogue scrolls. Muddle through trial-and-error to get the best choice each time (to the author's credit, he always gives you the option to backtrack when you reach a bad ending). Stylistically, it's all very anything-goes, with very British (or even English) pop culture references that would make the average ZZTer think a lot of this is more random than it actually is. Eventually, you end up taking part in the invasion of a country most people have never heard of (except, perhaps, with regards to COVID-19 statistics). All laced with random and offensive humour. Some jokes do hit home, and the persistent onslaught of madcap ALL CAPS attempts to shock may make you smirk.
All in all, it's more an interesting experiment than anything else. The coding is good (see the title screen), and I never got myself locked out of the CYoA segment. Bark P is probably the most unapologetically British of the British ZZTers, and so off the wall that I wonder how much Zenith and Fishfood/Igsel were inspired by him in terms of randomness. Years later, did he vote Leave?
CONTENT WARNINGS: ableism, excessive anti-Italian sentiment ('making fun of foreigners' is a staple of British 'humour', but this could be related to football too), racism, cannibalism, implied animal cruelty, and one 'joke' that thinks it's being witty about diversity and inclusion...LOOK HERE IT'S ONE OF THOSE ZZT GAMES, WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?
this realy is a good game but I think that TTTPPP is right, only one board and 10 minutes to complete, but it's still quite funny.
I want to give this game a 3.5, dammit. Anyway, this is a rather novel concept, bringing a text adventure into ZZT format, although it feels more like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, and much easier, too- most of the time, when you screw up, you're given an option to undo and try the other route, making it nearly impossible to die. But even despite this, the game has just enough branchiness to make it good for two or three playthroughs.
The humor is a good hybrid of stupid/random/trippy, and holds up long enough for you to see everything without getting tired of the jokes. They wear thin eventually, though.
As it is, this game, although not a classic by any means, is quite amusing and worth a download. Play through it a few times, have fun, then forget it. I had fun, so I round the 3.5 up to 4.
I want half-point increments, dammit.
The game is indeed a text adventure, and so maybe ZZT was the wrong format to release it in. However it does have only 1 board, and takes about 10 mins to complete, so by playing it you don't really lose anything. The writing is at times very humourous, with interesting views on real life things (eg. Screwball-Scramball). The main problem I have with this game is that the plot is thin / non-existant. I start off in a cave, and get told I have no brains but like buns. This fact comes up I think twice in the game, as I jump randomly from my cave to Italy to America, etc. I think that by combining the ideas in this game, and some of the humour, with an engine (like '4' by jojoisjo has) a very good text adventure game could be made.