Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Dead By Dawn : New Game for the ZX Spectrum!

30 years ago, a man unleashed something into this world, the likes of which had never before been seen by mortal eyes. A thing which changed forever all who came into contact with it. That man was Clive Sinclair, and that thing was the ZX Spectrum.

One year previously, the first Evil Dead film had also been unleashed upon an unsuspecting public.

Now these two pop culture phenomenomenomena have been forever fused together into a disturbing game what I did. (Actually there was another spectrum game years ago, that kind of already did that, but forget about that for now).

Dead By Dawn is actually based on the second film in the series, Evil Dead 2 : Dead By Dawn, a film which mixed the original's horror with a large dollop of dark cartoony comedy.  Both films have  constantly been homaged, referenced, parodied and ripped off over the years, in everything from cartoons to music videos to other films like Cabin In The Woods. There was a final sequel in 1992, Army of Darkness, (not really a horror film at all), and next year sees a suitably nasty-looking remake of the first movie being released.

Anyway, back to the game...

I first had the idea for Dead By Dawn, around the same time I was using 3D Construction Kit to create Loups Garoux, (more info about that HERE).  Evil Dead 2 was, (and still is), one of my favourite films and I found myself figuring out how different scenarios from the film could be implemented within the confines of the Freescape game engine. Of course, this was at the time the Spectrum's commercial life was ending, and I had little motivation to get the thing made. It was only a number of years later, when I became aware of just how big the retro gaming scene had become, that I decided to sit down and make a start on it.


You are Bruce Charcoal, you've accidentally awoken an ancient evil and now you must find 12 pages of a magical spellbook in order to banish that evil forever. There are a few beasties you'll have to defeat on the way, but luckily, you're armed with a shotgun and you also get access to a chainsaw, which you'll need for one big beasty in particular, but you'll have to find it first.


O : Forward
K : Back
Z : Left
X : Right
Q : Turn left
W : Turn right
P : Look up
L : Look down
R : Stand up
F : Crouch
A : Activate object
SPACE : Toggle gun-sight
B : Fire
U : U-turn
I : Centre view
symbol shift : run (different emulators may use different keys for this one, but it's most likely to be CTRL on your keyboard)

There's a work in progress video of the game HERE, (I've altered the border around the main play area since I recorded that).

The zip file contains the game as tzx, z80 and sna files, and there's also a jpeg of a mock cassette inlay for the game. You'll need a spectrum emulator in order to play the thing, but you should be able to find something suitable HERE. 


Addendum 24/11/12 : Now also includes a tap file, that I noticed had been posted on the World of Spectrum forums, courtesy of Frank Triggs. Ta, Frank.

I'll leave you with an iconic scene from the film which inspired it...



  1. Fantastic game, thank you!

  2. You're all very welcome.

    Zip file now also includes a tap file for anyone who'd prefer it in that format.

  3. As an 8-bit 3D Construction Kit user myself I really appreciate the technical polish that is present in your fantastic new game. I love the details of the head in the shed, the moose on the wall and various other details that show that you have truely mastered the scale and object points positioning of 8-bit Freescape, to a finer degree than any other 8-Bit freescape game that I have seen, including the Incentive games.

    I love the way that you have cleverly used the text messages to do the graphics for the chainsaw. Finially, I love the rich animations that you have provided in the game, both for the player and for certain objects. Thank you for finishing and sharing this game.

    Have you considered making a variant version for speeded up emulation? I have tried it on my games, and the result is highly effective.

  4. Whoops. Sorry, Steven. Didn't notice you'd said anything until just now. Thanks for your comments. I might upload a fiddled-about-with version at some point in the future, but it probably won't be for a while yet.

  5. Hi Malcolm. I'd like to make a version of this fantastic "Dead by Dawn" (and later perhaps "Loups Garoux" too) for Amstrad CPC. Of course, those will be public domain version, I don't want to earn any doing this, it's only a hobby (same for you, I think). Actually, I got it in an advanced status but Steven Flanagan suggested me could be a nice idea ask you before release it. What do you think about this? Thanks in advance.

    1. I've absolutely no problem with you doing that, so go ahead. Just mention somewhere that I made the original version and let me know when it's finished. I'll look forward to seeing it.

  6. Great ! Of course, I'll tell you when ready. Thanks !!

  7. Very cool news. Keep up the good work. :)

  8. Ok. It's Halloween. We have a game :)

    1. Excellent! I'll do a blog post about it once I've found a decent emulator and had a play.

  9. Try it with or
    At the prompt write RUN"DEAD"

  10. I'm currently playing it at 100% speed on my tablet. Hoping to get find more pages this time. That car model is amazing, and so is the house.

  11. I am currently playing the game. I just found the excellently modelled chainsaw. Some of the 3D models in the game are the best 8 bit Freescape I have ever seen. The projector scene was fantastic too. One technical question; how did you disable player movements during the set scenes? For example, if I hold down q for left during the set scenes, the camera doesn't turn left. I don't know how you did that. Hopefully I will be able to complete the game myself. I hope lots more people get further in your game to see amazing graphics an effects.

    1. I wasn't sure how I did that either. The only one that goes a bit wrong if you press q or w or whatever, is the scene you see upon completing the game. I can remember not being able to figure out how to stop it for that.

      I've just looked at it again and it seems to be the only one I had to use any "IF...THEN..." commands for. I'm guessing the player movements aren't an issue in the other scenes because the program isn't being told to check for anything, just "do this, this, this and this" with no exceptions, (if that makes sense).

      I'll probably be uploading a walkthrough to youtube in the not too distant future. Keep meaning to, but just haven't got around to it yet.

    2. Thanks for clearing that up for me. I've collected 9 pages so far so, and have been extremely impressed by the techniques that you have employed in the game. I have actively looked for any bugs, but there are none that I can find. For example, in the room where you climb up high and crawl on the highest ledge, I pressed 'r' anticipating this would raise me above the ceiling and give me a look outside, but "bump!" I hit my head, so you must have covered that issue by employing a bounding cube ceiling. The graphics are so good that you absolutely must create a youtube video, but be sure to side step a lot as this shows off the 3d modelling. Otherwise most players will never get to see the graphics because of the steep learning curve due to the necessary keys that have to be memorised to play these 3D Construction Kit games.

  12. How about this for awesomeness - the Amstrad CPC conversion of Dawn By Dead and my A Chance In Hell are mentioned, with screenshots, in issue 10 of RetroManiac magazine, page 203. Email me if you would like me to point you to the URL.

    1. I really need to check these comments more often... Thanks for bringing that to my attention, Steven. I did a bit of quick Googling and found it. Groovy.