ZZT was released commercially in 1991. It was pretty far behind as far as graphics and sound went, but extremely rich in the creative element. You see, ZZT had a built-in game editor that you could use to make your very own adventures, however you wish. There's a ton of preset tiles, enemies, items and the like, or you can create your own objects using ZZT's language, ZZT-OOP. The game became a popular community experience, as users would create their own games and tweak ZZT for years. The four games that come prepackaged with ZZT are rubbish compared to some of the community games.
Rating the gameplay with ZZT is impossible. If I were to review the one of the four games that game with it, say, Town of ZZT, I'd be giving this a pretty horrible rating. But that's not where the awesomeness lies in ZZT. The editor is very basic to learn, but extremely difficult to master, and with enough time playing around with it, you can do some pretty neat things. The enemies that are preprogrammed in ZZT are worthless when you learn how to make your own.
Again, it's really hard to rate the graphics. You see, by most standards, ZZT has horrible graphics and not very many capabilities. However, users have created some brilliant works, figuring out how to bypass the natural limitations of ZZT. I've seen some badly drawn stuff and I've seen stuff with color and shading. When it comes to ZZT, it's what you make it.
ZZT's sound comes from a PC speaker. Back when they still had them. My PC would be beeping and booping little tunes that users had created using the difficult-but not impossible music code. Otherwise, ZZT's sound effects sound like this: Beep. Bop. Bonk. Click. That's about it. -6 points for superannoying.
ZZT is badass. That's all there is to it. You can tell whatever story you want, make your game play how you want, and make the art good or bad. ZZT's limitations are its strengths, the real secret is pushing past them and doing something extraordinary for the game. Some of the best games were made by other ZZT users throughout the years, you can hop over to Z2, a community of ZZT users, download the game and get started immediately.