Tuesday, October 29, 2019

ZX81 Game: TuT-TuT

For the October 2019 issue of Paleotronic Magazine I took on the challenge of writing a ZX Spectrum game in BASIC. The result being the fast paced Halloween inspired, Ancient Egyptian themed arcade puzzler Tut-Tut. Now with the Spectrum version sorted, how about a ZX81 version of the same game, only better?!

Tomb Raiding with a ZX81

It's coming to the end of 1921's digging season in Egypt. Your excavations have not gone so well this year, failing to find any trace of the legendary and as yet undiscovered Pharaohs tomb. Then in your final weeks wild stories recounting the wrath of vengeful mummies strangling would be tomb local raiders filter back to base camp.

At last some concrete leads worth looking into, and opportunities to good to pass up. Oculist tales of curses be dammed, you're an Egyptologist and grand adventurer, such nonsense can't possibly hurt you. Or can it?

How far into the tomb of the Pharaoh can you make it? 

Playing the Game

Tut-Tut is one part puzzle, two parts arcade action. The game is comprised of 28 levels, plus a hidden treasure chamber which may only be opened if you are deemed worthy.

Collect gems, amulets and bracelets for points, you'll need 5000 before the end of "Sutekh's Eye" (level 28) for the treasure chamber to open. Amulets and Bracelets will freeze the player or halt mummies respectively.

To complete each level the player will need to collect keys, open doors, move blocks before finding exits to lower crypt levels. Keep an eye out for Pharaohs roaming guardians, they're not the smartest of the undead but they are relentless.

Keys are: O’ left, ‘P’ right, ‘Q’ up, ‘A’ for down and ‘R’ to reset the level (at a cost).

Details on where and how to acquire a copy of TuT-Tut are listed at the end of this blog entry.

The reMaking of TuT-TuT

The original version of Tut-Tut was written as a type-in game for the ZX Spectrum and published in Paleotronic Magazine. The game was entirely constructed in BASIC, this presented numerous challenges, the the greatest being the problem of speed and squeezing enough of it out of the machine. The trials and tribulations of undertaking that task on the ZX Spectrum is pretty well documented in the magazine.

I had considered re-pointing the BASIC game to the ZX81, but the challenge of writing a good game in BASIC had kind of been dealt with. The greater challenge on the ZX81 is in presenting an atmospheric game that transcends the limits imposed by the machines most obvious shortcomings; black and white predefined chunky graphics. To that end the ZX81 version of Tut-Tut has been written in C, targeted towards Z88dk for compilation.

TuT-TuT: ZX Spectrum vs ZX81 Version
I've been careful to maintain the core game play between versions. The choice not to use BASIC could have been a catalyst to greatly enhance elements such as enemy mummy movement for example. The choice not to change to much has however kept the feel of the game, and ensured the overall design feels consistent.

Despite remaining essentially the same game, opportunities have been taken to add additional elements. The size and scope of TuT-TuT has increased, there are now 28 normal levels, plus 1 special level. Extra levels necessitated the creation of a couple of additional items to hold player interest; Amulets and Bracelets provide chances for scoring extra points alongside the potential disadvantage of actually interacting with the items.

That's about it, be sure to check out the article in Paleotronic and enjoy both the original and especially this ZX81 enhancements. Special thanks to Paleotronic for both suggesting and providing the space the Spectrum game and a shout out to Rod Bell for supporting the project.

Be sure to check out Rods video review of the ZX81 TuT-TuT Demo Version

Getting a Copy of TuT-TuT

ZX81 Versions

ZX Spectrum Versions

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  1. Great game. Ported it to TRS-80 MC-10 (similar to the ZX81). If you're interested you can see it here: https://youtu.be/j2P5wuhX8iI
    My son noticed something strange about the "Well of Osiris" level. The location of the exit (Paleotronic source) seemed to make the level unwinable. Could be my port but, I've checked the source and everything seems in order and everything else seems to play fine. Also, antichamber vs antechamber? Thanks again for a great game.

    1. Wow, the TRS-80 MC-10 port is all kinds of awesome. I checked the source for the antechamber, it is wrong. Looks like I included one of the test versions in the Spectrum listing. I'll have to post a fix.