Dungeonette is the first official boxed game to be released for the ZX Spectrum Next, due out for release next month.
Fans of Atic Atac will remember this one instantly as it’s like a modern update on that, ‘modern’ being in terms of the ZX Spectrum Next, that is, but if you love the retro charm from that day, as well as seeing it brought into a new gaming age, then this is the game for you.
If I had any complaints, initially, I felt that that the game is short, but that’s not quite the problem you might think for reasons I’ll explain later.
There are just three levels, and after sussing out the state of play in level one, in terms of what I can and can’t bump into, as well as working out how the baddies move (eg. if there are two in a room, one will run while the other dawdles, so shoot at the fast one first) – and dying a fair few times, I went on to the second level and completed that in one go.
In fact, since it takes several shots to the baddies to kill them, that explains why I did so badly at first, as I kept thinking I couldn’t kill them at all so often didn’t attempt to try!
Level 3 took three attempts to complete, and as you learn how the game works, you realise also not to rush into rooms so you don’t end up running into something that can injure you, as well as memorising the map layout so you can make your way back if the exit is near the start of the level, but you’ve got to go hither and thither to achieve your goals.
At the end of the first two levels is a ‘Next level’ door which takes you exactly where you’d expect. Level 3 has a ‘Way Out’ at the end. Of course, I was hoping for more, and I’ve clearly forgotten how short most games were back in the day, such as with shooters that would have a few levels and then just repeat them ad infinitum, or even a game like Donkey Kong where the arcade original had only four levels. As programmer Adrian Cummings explained, what we have here is as a result of the memory available within the machine, so this is understandable. Plus, there are 91 rooms in this game, so that was a lot more than I remembered.
Of course, there’s a lot more memory available in current consoles, but I know I’m far more looking forward to additional games on the ZX Spectrum Next than Call of Duty Vol.34.
For those unfamiliar with the ZX Spectrum Next and wondering why there’s no colour clash, it’s because that’s not how the machine was developed. It has a palette of 256 colours, plus the ability to produce some fantastic sound which is better than the original Spectrum, but also keeping that retro feel… as this game does in spades with the usual ‘click-clack’ you remember from Atic Atac. This can be switched off, but I kept it on for that retro feel, and I urge you to do the same.
So, should you buy? Yes, of course. Dungeonette blasts you back into the nostalgia zone with a wonderful graphical update and a great score on the menu and ‘win’ screen, and now I’ve completed it, I should really go back and run through it again to try and complete it more quickly, so it certainly has a replay factor, and will encourage ‘speedruns’ with players attempting to beat everyone else’s time.
Dungeonette will be released in May, priced at £4.99 to download and £9.99 in boxed form, as shown in my unboxing, so it’s comparable with the prices of the ZX Spectrum games in the ’80s. Of course, back then, £9.99 meant saving up for a few weeks and/or doing extra chores ronud the house, whereas 30 years on, it’s around the price of two-and-a-half pints of lager or a nightclub where they charge a tenner for four Jagerbombs.
And is it just me that feels like the harmonising middle part of the 50-second piece of menu music sounds rather like David Bowie’s Modern Love when he’s singing the “Church on time” bit?
Dungeonette is out now on ZX Spectrum Next in download and physical SD card form. As I type, the first batch of 200 physical ones have sold out, but more will be coming soon. However, there will only be 1000 of these!
for the ZX Spectrum Next!!! (inc. Unboxing) – DVDfeverGames
- Developer: Spectrum Next Games
- Publisher: Spectrum Next Games
- Players: single-player
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.