PETSCII Robots released for the ZX Spectrum

PETSCII Robots title

So yeah on the surface, it’s an 8 bit game on another platform. Not that exciting but this isn’t a 6502, the Spectrum is a Z80! So yes it’s been manually ported by mr287cc with music from Shiru.

faux petscii mode

So this is pretty cool watching the game break out of the 6502 that spawned it. So overall yeah, it’s the same game, but new platform. And the first image is the traditional game, which works fine, but where would be the fun in that? Instead you get a whopping 4 versions of the game, along with a program that plays all the sountracks, a full 184kb worth of fun. I suspect it’s a full tapes worth.

Gripes on strange and foreign platforms…

The biggest and weirdest thing to me is loading the tape files into an emulator. I have to admit I never even heard of a Spectrum until college, and it was largely that it’d been emulated better before anything Commodore, and that it too had an extensive (although 100% tape based) library, which really restricted things like RGP’s and Adventure games, having to run from the incredibly limited 8bit ram.

Anyways to load from tape the command is:

LOAD "".

But the spectrum doesn’t have a Microsoft Basic, rather you type in J for the load command. Yes. J.

Spectrum Keyboard matrix

I had to google around a fair bit to find this, butt here is a keyboard matrix.

The P key

Yes seriously. And because it’s the most pressed key, many of them are impossible to tell from images that they have the double quote. Also it’s a “symbol shift” key so in emulators it maybe a control or alt key, so it’s J CTRL+P CTRL+P, then play on your virtual tape deck and listen to the screeching data (just like a modem). The game loads in a minute or so, and off you go!

The Microbots image

Adding to the keyboard fun, this is the game keyboard layout:

So it’s not too bad.

Colour Micro Robots banner

Is it worth it?

Absolutely! You do get several versions for your $10, and the ZX-Microbots version is the best by far, with music, and of course a high resolution screen letting you see far more of the action!

I’ve tried it in a bunch of emulators, and it works fine, so compatibility seems to be very good, but I don’t have any hardware to run it native. You do get WAV & TAP files in the sizeable download, along with PDF’s of the manuals. I haven’t seen anything about mastering tapes, so I don’t think there will be a physical release.

You can pick it up on David’s site for $10 USD. It’s totally worth it in my opinion.

My disclosure is that I’ve bought it for the Pet/c64 twice (once by accident), ZX and Amiga, 100% on my own money.

68000/Amiga

As a bonus non 6502, there is also an Amiga version, which sounds great, plays fine, but compared to the Spectrum version, it just feels cramped.

4 thoughts on “PETSCII Robots released for the ZX Spectrum

  1. “L” is Let, used for variable assignment. Programming was probably assumed to be the primary use, which is why Load gets relegated to J, still nearby if you’re looking for it.

    • It’s just a very different experience from what I’m used to computer wise.. and that tiny space bar!!

      I think I might buy one, the 128+ looks pretty sexy with the external heat sink but it seems there is so many 48ks that they are much easier to get a hold of

      • Yeah, looks it was not intentional. This is the keymap that will be useful when you are using emulators, i.e. the space key should be under your thumbs. I completely forgot the classic Spectrum 48 space key is located on the bottom right. That is why the classic Spectrum “fire” is the “M” key usually.
        But yes, you can run this on 48+ or 128 models, they have a more human spacebar.

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