To celebrate today's retro Tuesday I decided to dust off a DOS classic, ZZT. ZZT isn't one of those classic retro DOS games that garners a ton of critical acclaim like Commander Keen, Warcraft or Doom but that doesn't mean I don't look back on it fondly. As most DOS games at the time were moving on to CGA, EGA and the super-ultra-deluxe-epic VGA graphics, ZZT games lived entirely in ANSI. When ZZT came out, it wasn't entirely original as the ANSI style was pioneered in other games like The Kingdom of Kroz and others. I really enjoyed Kroz, but the quirky nature of the ZZT kept me coming back to it. Well that and they were all available as some form of shareware.

I heavily played the original ZZT and Super ZZT the most. As they were both Shareware, I never did actually beat them but played the hell out of what the shareware versions did include. I always dreamt about making my own levels in the "for pay" version but never had the money to actually spring for it.

I think one of the reasons I love MUDS, ANSI adventure games like ZZT and the like and find more modern incarnations in games like Dwarf Fortress is because of the imagination you have to bring to the game. When the player is a simple smile on a screen the epicness of what you are doing lies in your mind. Another reason these games are awesome is because they are often simple to play.

One awesome trival-bit about ZZT is that it was made by Tim Sweeney and a very early Epic MegaGames. Yes, ZZT was made by THAT Tim Sweeney and THAT Epic Games... the folks that brought us Gears of War and Unreal Tournament. Kind of awesome to see how far the company came from making ANSI based adventure games to writing the tech that powers the majority of triple A games in the industry.

To many ZZT wasn't a huge footnote in gaming for them, but for me it was a pretty large DOS staple back in the day. If you could download it off a BBS in an hour or less I played it and ZZT was one of those games I played the hell out of.

CapnCurry   Supporter wrote on 04/10/2013 at 05:22pm

I played a little ZZT back in the day. I had a hard time getting past the graphics, I'll admit, and that probably kept my relationship with the game shorter than it could have been.

You know what blows me away, though? "Shareware." That word conjures up images of Windows 3.1 and 3 1/2" floppy disks. I can't remember the last time I tweaked my system clock so that I'd have a few extra days of "free play" time. We still have free demos of games that you can distribute, then you pay to "unlock" the whole thing - when did we stop calling that "shareware"? Was it when we got comfortable enough with digital delivery and the Internet that we no longer rely on customers to "share" the demos? The mind boggles. :)

jdodson   Admin   Post Author wrote on 04/10/2013 at 07:16pm

Yeah for sure. Shareware -> Demos was an odd thing for me too. I remember when disks were too small to transmit shareware so I started moving to game downloads on a site called Happy Puppy. It had "demos" and it was strange to hear that at first for certain.

Its seems demo's are pretty rare on PC and fairly common on the consoles. Well at least for triple A titles it seems that they are. I wonder if its that the price point is more reasonable or, since I have a job its not as much of a problem. Not to say I haven't played a demo then picked up the full meal deal, I did that with TL2 for certain.

But yeah, it used to be that all games would have a Shareware/demo copy and now... not so much.

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