Mazogs, ZX81

Mazogs is a maze action adventure game designed and programmed by Don Priestley and published by Bug-Byte for the 16K ZX81 in 1982. It is the predecessor to the classic ZX Spectrum game, Maziacs.

Apart from the black and white graphics and the lack of sound, Mazogs is essentially the same game as Maziacs. The aim of Mazogs being: to guide a brave adventurer through a maze of monsters, looking for treasure, weapons, and the exit, and to escape within a set number of moves.

The titular Mazogs are actually the monsters of the maze and an encounter with one will start a battle that is played-out in a real-time animated manner. If the adventurer has found a weapon then their chance of killing a Mazog is high. If they risk a fight with a Mazog without a weapon then their chance of survival is fifty-fifty at best. Which creates a lot of tension during play.

Mazogs has three skill levels of play; the first being an easy training game; the second being a decent challenge, and the third being for hardened adventurers only.

When you begin a new game the program generates a random maze and shows you the start point. It then asks you whether you want to start by going left or right. The game then calculates the distance to the treasure, and tells you how many moves it’s possible to find it in, plus your quota of moves for finding it. Your job is then to explore the maze, find the treasure, and take it back to the exit. There are also ‘prisoners’ (blinking eyes in the wall) that will tell you the way if you ask them (by walking into them), but their guidance only stays on-screen for about thirty seconds. It’s some help, at least.

When you’ve found the treasure you pick it up (again by walking into it) and replace your sword with it (if you’re carrying one). You must then carry the treasure back to the starting point (the exit), without the reassurance of a weapon. The good thing is – if you’re confronted with a Mazog while carrying the treasure – you can find a sword and swap it back, so you can go and fight the monster. After you’ve (hopefully) beaten it you can then return to pick up the treasure and continue looking the exit. Pressing ‘V’ will bring up a view of the local area, although this will cost you a certain number of moves on anything but the easiest difficulty level. This ‘cost’ is obviously to stop you referring to map every ten seconds. You’re supposed to use it sparingly.

On the highest difficulty setting (“Maniac Mobile Mazogs“) the monsters move around erratically, which makes the game much harder and arguably more interesting. Getting the treasure back to the exit with Mazogs swarming your path is quite tricky.

Considering that Mazogs uses the ZX81‘s basic graphics system the game has a lot of character and is still enjoyable to play now. I think it’s one of the best games on Sir Clive’s 16K black and white home computer.

More: Mazogs on Wikipedia

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