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ZZT is a action/puzzler created by Epic Games. Running entirely in text mode, it is basically their answer to Apogee's Kingdom Of Kroz series. It consists of three games (or rather, three scenarios for the same game), as well as the sequel Super ZZT, which is essentially the same but in a scrolling lower-resolution screen with a few extra objects. A ZZT fan named Gregory Janson (they have since changed their name to Alexis Janson) later released MegaZeux, a Spiritual Sequel to ZZT that massively improves on the extensibility of ZZT's engine.
It is best known for its editor, allowing users to create their own games. It uses a simple programming language that can be used to make objects do whatever you want. This is one of the earliest games with a modding community, and literally thousands of such games can be found on the 'net.
ZZT was very popular in its heyday and there is still a sizable ZZT community, though they rarely make games or even talk about ZZT... Back in the day, the community cranked out great games such as Teen Priest, Burger Joint and Evil Sorcerer's Party.
ZZT became a Freeware Game several years ago. The source code has been lost, but it has been reconstructed in 2020 with permission from the original author.
- ASCII Art
- Blackout Basement: Some screens are dark, requiring the use of a torch to have limited sight.
- Bottomless Magazines: Varies by game world. By default, you have finite ammunition but need not reload; your gun can store 32767 ammunitions at once. Some worlds continually give you fresh ammo so that you will never run out, and others set a much smaller limit to how much you can carry at once.
- Destroyable Items: Diamonds can be destroyed if shot.
- Destructible Projectiles: Bullets can be broken by other bullets.
- Dialogue Tree: An option for characters.
- Excuse Plot: most of the scenarios
- Fun with Acronyms: Though ZZT didn't originally stand for anything, it has been joked that it means "Zoo of Zero Tolerance".
- Good Bad Bugs: Very common, especially in newer worlds. Even though the source code is now released, many of these kind of bugs are deliberately not fixed. Here are just a few of them:
- Duplicating a passage onto a player to teleport the player to another board. Even this bug has a bug: The parameters of the stat with the same index number on the target board will be affected, which is usually undesirable, but it is possible to mitigate it and/or to take advantage of it. (You can also do this with the "board edge" piece described below.) Duplicating a key onto a player can also be helpful, and this usage doesn't have the secondary bug.
- Writing #BECOME, #CHANGE, or #PUT without specifying what kind of piece you want to make will make a tile that acts like the edge of the board when stepped on (this is because it is the first element in the table of elements which has not been given a name).
- The #GIVE TIME and #TAKE TIME commands work with time elapsed, not with time remaining. This means that you cannot exceed the time limit in this way, however it works even in boards without time limits, and can be used as a temporary counter if you are careful.
- Stepping from one passage to another that is right next to it will remove the first passage. This is usually undesirable, but you can take advantage of it.
- There are many uses of player clones (teleporting the player to another location on the same board, detecting directions or shooting the player pushes even when elsewhere, making energizers expire more quickly, and more).
- If a program dies and the next stat has a direction, it will move if not blocked. This is usually undesirable, but it is possible to mitigate it, and to take advantage of it.
- Interchangeable Antimatter Keys: Mostly - keys come in 7 colors, but if you already have one key, another key of the same color cannot be collected and will instead block your path (although they are still indirectly pushable). Many puzzles are deliberately centered around this behavior.
- Level Editor: Most people agree that this is the best part of the game (much to the surprise of the game's creator).
- Locked Door: The original episodes revolve around getting purple keys to reach the final area.
- Nintendo Hard: The game tells you from the start that you'll need to save a lot. (Despite that, it isn't difficult enough.)
- Old Format, New Work: People still make ZZT worlds as of 2020.
- One Bullet At a Time: Some areas have limits to how many bullets you can shoot at once, often just one.
- Painfully-Slow Projectile: Bullets move at the same speed as the player.
- Power-Up Motif: Collecting an energizer (which provides temporary invincibility) causes the player to flash and also plays a jaunty tune. When the tune finishes, the energizer effect also stops.
- Respawn Point: Some rooms are set up so the player warps to where they entered whenever they are hurt.
- Space-Filling Path: This is a problem in some games.
- Ten-Second Flashlight: Torches
- Universal Ammunition: Very common.
- Unwinnable: It is possible to end up in e.g. a position where you need ammunition, but with none left.
- Xtreme Kool Letterz: The name ZZT was chosen so that it would appear on the bottom of Usenet listings.