The problem with early arcade adventures

edited June 2004 in Games
Whether it was a programming reason or not, you find that a lot of the early arcade adventures on the Spectrum (1984-85) had 256 screens.
I think "Project Future" was one of those. "Wriggler" was another, and there was "Wizards Lair" too, I think. The problem with this is that 40K of programming memory is not big enough to do a game of that size with variety on each screen.
You tend to find that several screens in these games look virtually the same, making it harder to find where you are as well as making the game less interesting as a whole.
I think that this is the one drawback of early Spectrum games of this type. I would have much preferred games to follow the approach of games like Rapscallion, where games had a few dozen screens. Obviously there is Jet Set Willy too, which had about 80. Seeing a new screen for the first time was an event. In the bigger games it wasn't, because all the screens looked the same.

Airwolf wasn't the greatest Spectrum game, but the lack of screens kept you playing because the graphics were so good and you wanted to see what was round the corner. "Rocky Horror Show" was the same. A smaller playing area, and more atmosphere as a result.
Would anyone agree with me that those 256 screen games could sometimes bore you to death before you got to the end because of the sameyness of the world you explored?
Post edited by Spector on


  • edited June 2004
    I would argue that it's a lack of creativity in the use of the techniques employed to squeeze extra screens in myself - given that the only reason to do this was to boast on the box about how many rooms a game had actually making them interesting is secondary.
  • edited June 2004
    Cutting corners like that isn't so bad considering many of them were maze games and if you've ever been in a proper hedge lined maze you'll know one corridor looks much like any other!

    The skill is in keeping your bearings when your surroundings are telling you you've been here before.

    Nonterraqueous is the worst one for this scenario. And Underwurlde! Same blooming screen after another.
  • edited June 2004
    I imagine the programmer used a single byte as an index to accessing the various screen in a maze. A single byte has the range of 0 to 255, hence the 256 screens.

    Similarly, Doomdark's Revenge has 128 characters in the game, so 0-127 (7 bits) was the indexing system used. Dunno what the extra bit was for?

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