Return to Sorcerer's Island

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The Introvert
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Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2024 8:41 am

Return to Sorcerer's Island

Post by The Introvert »

Fantasy Games from Psion was one of the precious few games I could afford to order for my ZX81 (after a bit of persuasion of my parents) and I remember being immediately fascinated by Sorcerer's Island and the vast island to explore, with secrets and lethal perils around every corner.

It also required quite a bit of undisturbed time to play, which is why I more often turned to the more casual Perilous Swamp, which featured the mandatory princess to rescue amidst vile goblins, annoying eagles and bunyips. (I still to this day don't know what a bunyip is, but I always envisioned it as a frog-like huge monster on two legs, and no, I don't want to spoil it by googling :D )

On a nostalgic spree, I played Sorcerer's Island a few years back on emulator, and while it still retained its mysterious charm, the cumbersome interface wore my patience thin quite fast. When walking, something you do ever so often, you can't just type "NE" to go north east, but instead you have to first say "GO" and then state your wanted direction in the next prompt. This wore thin quite quickly, as did displaying the map, which you have to refer to frequently I might add, which takes several minutes - in FAST mode! (I remember my friend who had the luxury of owning the ZX Printer actually printed the map to have at hand, while I had to make a hard copy using pen and paper).
Return to Sorcerers Island.png
Thus, the idea to update the original game to more modern specs was born. And two weeks ago, as I came down with a cold, I finally found the time to do it. The game is written from scratch in C, with a few assembly routines (most notably scrolling of text) for good measure. From the original game, I reverse-engineered the obfuscated map (which intriguingly enough contains not only the landscape, but also landmarks and special places) and the algorithms for fighting, fleeing, bribing your way through the map, as well as all original descriptions and monsters (almost- see below).

These are the changes in this updated version, which I hereby call Return to Sorcerer's Island:
  • Much faster gameplay due to C/assembly instead of BASIC
  • Map is always visible when playing
  • One of the strategies in the original game was figuring out how much of your life points to spend when fighting, or gold to buy your way out of a fight. As this quickly became "double his amount plus ten" I have eliminated this part, and the game simply makes a reasonable estimate for you, using the randomness of the original formulas of course.
  • One-key gameplay where your available actions are always visible, using the inverted letter as the command key (movement as depicted by the compass using keys 1-8)
  • A high score has been added, to encourage repeat play (even if you happen to die - which happens a lot)
I now look for someone nostalgic (or crazy) enough to help me playtest the current version. I have tested it a lot myself (and ironed out quite a few bugs) but now I need help to find any remaining bugs and/or gameplay issues.

I was surprised at how fast I ran out of memory. I actually had to shoehorn the code in 16k! (Which is the required minimum). Originally, I had planned to add more functionality, a bit of graphics, and so on, but most of that had to go, including any dreams of a title screen or even instructions! Well, it's quite self-explanatory, or so I hope.
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GCHarder
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Re: Return to Sorcerer's Island

Post by GCHarder »

Here's some docs for the original game.

The Psion insert is rather generic but the Sinclair one is pretty good.

Regards;

Greg
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The Introvert
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Re: Return to Sorcerer's Island

Post by The Introvert »

Thank you Greg! I have to say I love the art on the Sinclair cassette inlay.
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