Where can I get Smiley Guy?
Released: Nov. 1991
Smiley Guy is one of ZZT's earliest games. It's also an official release! In the earliest days of ZZT, Tim Sweeney was taking submissions for boards and games to sell with ZZT and offer the creators royalties or other prizes.
These contests led to the creation of Best of ZZT and Best of ZZT 2, two worlds where all the boards were contributed by other users and then stitched together and modified to create cohesive games out of them.
Another contest was for complete games, and these were packaged together and sold as ZZT's Revenge, a collection of six worlds created by some of the first ZZTers. Revenge consisted of Crypt, Darbytown, Ezanya, Fantasy, Manor, and Al Payne's Smiley Guy, which we'll be taking a look at today.
(The games in ZZT's Revenge are all split on z2, and Smiley Guy can be found packed with its sequel Toxic Terminator which won't be covered here.)
The games that are a part of ZZT's Revenge are mostly similar in style to ZZT's original worlds or standard fantasy adventure fare, but Smiley Guy stands out the most among them with its unique setting.
Right from the title screen the game gives the player an insight into who they are and what they'll be doing, and openly admits that things may get a bit weird.
The game opens to an introduction elaborating on the various things you'll find in the game, as well as its own unique hint system.
The hint system stands out here. Nearly every board in the game will have an easily accessible "H" which the player can use to get advice on what they should be doing or in some cases offering outright solutions to puzzles which makes the game very accessible.
ZZT's sequel Super ZZT went as far as adding a built in hint system where the "H" key would make every object jump to a :hint label if they had one, but in vanilla ZZT this is the best that can be done.
The game begins proper in Bog Woods, where swamp flies are slowly duplicated onto the board while the player has to navigate winding paths which give them time to spawn.
The bugs aren't much of a threat, moving slowly and being defeated with a single shot.
The hint objects offer a lot of information, just looking at the questions is enough to let the player know that there's more to this board than what is clearly visible.
The first order of business is to head to Bog's cabin, to try and help out Smiley's friend Bog who seems to be in trouble.
There's a red key behind a transporter which appears to trap the player inside, but of course one of the walls is fake allowing for a safe exit. In my own playthrough one of the centipedes went through the fake wall before I even went through the transporter.
The hint object will offer advice if you're stuck in the key area, except if you're stuck in the key area you can't interact with the hint object unless you quit and reloaded the game.
Bog explains to the player that Dr. Z is up to no good and planning to destroy the environment and conquer the world. The game doesn't really go into depth with its environmentalism, but the plot has pro-environmental touches that you'd see out of an episode of Captain Planet or a Sonic the Hedgehog game of the era.
Bog also offers Smiley some pepper? It seems kinda weird, but will all make sense in time.
Back outside, I checked out the woods more thoroughly in search of bonus points and gems. You can find some hikers that are lost and get bonus points, and most of the dead ends have gems if you search the area nearby. This means more flies, but the player can opt to just shoot through the breakable walls of the woods to get around them rather than risking a confrontation.
Speaking of environmentalism, Dr. Z revels in toxic waste and barrels like this one are often found throughout the game when there's danger nearby.
Smiley Guy wastes no time and get right to it, just north of Bog's woods are the living labs of Dr. Z, and with the key from Bog's cabin, Smiley Guy can enter the grounds where he immediately has to fight a giant spider to gain the key to the labs.
The livings labs are arranged like some not quite human monstrosity. The entrance is via the jaws, and the player is given two paths they may take. But first, there's somebody else in here with the player.
Smiley finds a postman groggy from the
outflow of toxic fumes. He sees a
postcard on the floor next to the mail
bag. It's a card Smiley just mailed.
Get a free Smiley Guy momento. Make
a return envelope. Be sure it is
stamped, self-addressed, and letter
size or larger.
Send it to:
c/o Al Payne
Route 2 Box 30
Danville, IA 52623
Smiley hands back the card and returns
his attention to the lab.
The postman looks up with admiration
and says, "What a guy!"
• • • • • • • • •
Well, there's not much there. To proceed, the player has to carefully move around the many teeth in the jaws, making sure not to touch any or else they'll lose health.
Moving through this board is very slow and it's very easy to mistime a step and lose 10 health for it. It makes for a very ungenerous opening to the game, and worst of all at some point the player will have to navigate the jaws a second time later.
I opted to take the southern route through the passage, into the heart of the labs. Both chambers are one way trips due to transporters and both are full of white cells ready to destroy any intruders in the body.
A series of buttons and some arrows in the left chamber are used to work a puzzle on the right.
Pressing a button causes the corresponding arrows in the blue chamber to move in the direction they're pointing if they can. The player has to create a path that will let them access the green key later. The hints will offer an exact solution to the puzzle, but since it's past the transporter, the player will have a lot of backtracking to do before they can attempt the puzzle again.
South of the heart, are the intestines. Don't use this game to learn anatomy. The intestines are a maze that spans two boards. There's no real danger, just tedium, so I can't say I'm fond of this segment, although it works thematically.
At the end of the intestines is this closed off room. Dr. Z has plans.
Our hero finds and struggles to inflate a balloon.
The rest of the intestines are more of the same, but offer two more exits to explore in addition to the still untaken path to the right heart chamber.
The other intestines connect to a leg. They start with the thigh.
Down onto the knee.
Through the calf. All these boards are normally dark, so the message about the game and its development period are normally invisible to the player. This Easter egg gives a firm date for the game at least.
And finally down to the foot where the player just needs to dodge the blink walls and pick up a cyan key for their troubles.
Going north from the second lower plumbing board connects to the toxic stomach. The stomach is lined with worms that feed on the toxic waste that the labs consume. There's also a blue key and some bonus points up for grabs.
Or perhaps not. Getting the bonus points causes the worms to spring to action and rush the player, quickly trapping them and draining their life away.
Fortunately some friendly hints are here to help. There's a J-shaped King Worm just outside the stomach gorging himself with a direct line to the toxic waste.
Simply shoot at the barrel of toxic waste to destroy the food supply, and the worms all die off allowing the player to get the key at their leisure.
West of the stomach is the deep throat maze. There are four identical rooms here which connect to each other and various other areas of the living labs.
One board has a second cyan key which I was forced to ignore as I already had one.
Sure enough, the deep throat's connected to the jaws. The mucus is thankfully placed in a way that the play can still shoot from it from this side. ZZT's built in creatures like lions and ruffians can be shot when the player stands next to them, but objects cannot.
The brain cells give Smiley Guy his ultimate goal, picking up the five keys to get to Dr. Z. Oddly though it's not that Dr. Z is hiding, but that Bog has him trapped inside.
This time heading east from the jaws to the neck. There's a green object that repeatedly bounces up and down against one of the toxic waste pipelines.
The object is revealed to be a bouncing booger. Yuck. Bouncer offers some advice on how to get to Dr. Z and offers help if the player can build a sneeze bomb allowing it to escape.
The balloon that was found in the closed off corridor is the first step towards making the bomb.
East of the neck, is of course, the supply store. It's a bit sparse, and the cost for health is a bit much when you realize it takes 10 gems to heal as much health as the player loses from a single hit, but for once it seems like there's no reason to save any gems for some game mandatory purchase that the player doesn't know about.
Ha. ha. ha. I'm only kidding. Every store in ZZT is out for blood.
The neck is also connected to the deep throat, and I navigated the maze back to the intestines to finally pick up this green key in the heart. It was also a good time to traverse the jaws for a second time to head back outside.
The cyan key is traded for a purple one, which allows the player to pick up the other cyan key in the deep throat. Going back in means navigating the jaws for a third time.
Still another exit from the deep throat maze is the lung, which contains what I thought was some sort of rocket?
In reality, it's a rather large air pump, which can be used to inflate the balloon found earlier.
Of course, the sneeze bomb can't be complete with just a balloon. There's something still missing...