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I'm not really sure if pressing Z does anything because it just immediately turns into a wall and I don't get enough time to observe any changes before or after pressing Z.

(1 edit)

Don't press it immediately - the game has you start angled slightly to the right to give you more time before you have to react.

You also don't generally want to hold Z, just tap it. Because of how PICO-8 works holding it essentially will make you angle a bit then drive straight (usually into a wall).