Rogue, ZX Spectrum

Rogue on the ZX Spectrum was developed by Icon Design and published by Mastertronic Added Diminsion in 1988. And it’s a pretty poor conversion of the classic dungeon-crawler.

The gameplay in Rogue is mostly intact – at least from what I can tell. You explore a maze of dungeons, looking for the stairs down the next level, on a quest to find the Amulet of Yendor. While exploring you’ll find weapons, armour, potions and scrolls, and various monsters that will try to kill you. The aim is to survive for as long as possible, going as deep into the dungeon as you can.

Unlike the C64 version the screen starts zoomed-out by default. Pressing ‘T’ zooms in and gives you a more detailed view of the dungeon, and really should have been the default view. Also: unlike the C64 version you can move around in the zoomed-out view, which is useful. Combat is turn-based in this conversion (as it should be, but which is different to the C64 version, where movement and combat seem to be automatic and continual) and you have to click the arrow cursor onto a monster to attack it.

In this version you have to remove the armour you’re wearing before putting on something new, which is in keeping with the original Rogue, but unnecessary. In every other conversion of Rogue I’ve played, wearing new armour simply replaces whatever you’re currently wearing, which is obviously better.

There are also bugs in this version that will mess with you, like – for example – entering a room, seeing an item, then it disappearing when you try to pick it up. The summary screen when you die is also sometimes bugged and doesn’t display properly. Overall, though, the Spectrum version is less buggy than the C64 version, but that’s hardly a recommendation.

The biggest issue I have with this conversion is the arrow cursor, which seems to have a mind of its own and isn’t nearly as accurate as it should be. When you try to move it carefully it usually moves twice, making it difficult to position accurately. The cursor is also very slow-moving and leads to unnecessary frustration.

Rogue is a missed opportunity on the Spectrum. It could’ve worked really well on the system, but the developers did a poor job of converting it and the publisher seemingly released it unfinished. Which is a shame.

More: Rogue on Wikipedia

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