One of the first Spectrum games I played way back in 1983 was PSS's
Maze Death Race,
a port of the arcade classic Rally-X which is a personal favourite of mine.
A lot of the elements of the original arcade are there although it only seems to have one maze, albeit much larger than the arcade.
It also ran on a 16k Spectrum (and ZX81!) which is impressive but means a lot was cut out and you can definitely tell it is from the
early years of the Spectrum. The Mazes take many seconds to create before each round and the enemy cars have practically no AI and will
completely ignore you even if you are literally next to them.
As it so happened I noticed the 2018s ZXDev competition covered Missing in Action (MIA) and Remakes and this gave me the perfect excuse
to remake the game as my entry to the competition. The main aim of the remake would be to make the game much closer to the arcade original,
as well as adding some elements of my own.
To give the game an authentic feel I spent the majority of the early coding making
the players car move as close as I could get to the arcade, allowing such things as sliding round corners and completing
180s to give you an edge on the enemy cars which can't do the same maneuvers.
The end result is a game which I believe plays very similar to the arcade.
Fans of the original will notice that the remake is a hybrid of Rally-X and the slightly updated version
New Rally-X. For example the in game AY music is from New Rally-X, and so are the number of enemy cars on each level, however,
the maze layout including colours and graphics are from the original Rally-X.
The main reason for this hybrid approach, and not just going with New Rally-X, was some of compromises I had to make to get the game to run on a
48k ZX Spectrum.
The main compromise, as per usual with Spectrum games, is not having the pixel perfect scrolling of the arcade original. My version scrolls the maze in
8x8 chars squares at 12.5fps (sprites can move at 25fps) which, although giving a good feeling of speed and allowing full colour, does
have one downside in that it is hard to implement the small increments in enemy speed you see after each round on the arcade.
The enemy cars in this version only have
2 speeds, normal (same as the player) and fast (1.5x the player). When the cars go 1.5x faster the game becomes very difficult so I decided to use
original Rally-X mazes, which are harder with more dead-ends to get trapped in, but keep the enemies at the same speed for the first 16 rounds.
Difficulty increases for each of the early rounds as the number of cars and rocks goes up and the mazes get more difficult to navigate.
After you complete the first 16 rounds the game goes into what I've called
"hardcore mode" were you repeat the first 16 levels again but with the faster cars, this gets very tough once you get past around 3 cars.
At round 32 you repeat again (ad infinitum) but now with maximum cars (7)
and rocks (12) for each round. The game is extremely difficult at this point and I will be amazed if anybody gets this far.