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Tomb of Dracula

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Released: 1980

Genre: Adventure

Format reviewed: ZX 80/81

Publisher: J K Greye Software

Developer: Malcolm Evans

Submitted by: Andrew Masters

Tomb of Dracula was a very good game on the ZX81. A friend and I would sit there on the ZX81, with its metal keys growing increasingly hot, playing this game. Similar to 3D Monster Maze by Malcolm Evans, Tomb of Dracula was in 3D on the humble ZX81.

The game would start with you entering Dracula's tomb. At the start of the game you are shown a map of the floor you are on, with different letters representing different things (extra stakes to kill zombies, stairs down to next level, stores of silver stakes and locations of slime pits). You had to memorise this, and then down into the tomb.

You would travel from chamber to chamber, with the computer telling you '30 minutes until sunset' and then '25 minutes' and so on. Dracula inevitably awoke at sunset. When Dracula awoke you would get updates saying 'Dracula is close'. I think the furthest into the game the friend and I got was about 7th level down (taking the stairs down each time). At the start of each level you see that level's map to memorise. Dracula follows you down to each level. When you meet zombies, ghouls or Dracula, as long as you have enough silver stakes, you use some and carry on. When you have no silver stakes to kill enemies, you are dead. At the end of the game you are told 'you got to level 10' (or whatever), 'and survived 80 vaults'. The Spectrum version (just a straight conversion adding in some colour and basic music) was written in BASIC, and you can break into it by pressing CAPS and SPACE.

We even read of a way in Sinclair User magazine to endow the humble ZX81 with sound, by pressing play on the tape recorder and putting it next to the TV. This made the tape deck give off weird atmospheric buzzing sounds like a church organ. So it really was like watching a proper 1930s black and white Dracula film (with this 'music').

We would play the game for ages like this, then alternate to putting on the soundtrack to Fraggle Rock on the tape recorder and playing this for hours instead (the only tape we had). Sometimes we would take a break, and go to the Spar shop for some Rola Cola. If you were feeling particularly flush and extravagant, you would get a 20-pence mix-up of sweets as well (cola bottles and stuff). Then it was back to playing Tomb of Dracula and other excellent ZX81 games like 3D Defender (which was superb). In those days we would also read Sinclair User and go to computer shops. It was always hard to find shops which stocked ZX81 games, and finding one was always a good feeling. We also played Mazogs on the ZX81.

OK, I'm off to start this game again and break into it, giving myself 100,000 silver stakes (don't tell Malcolm Evans!).

– STOP PRESS –

I have just managed to get down into level 27, after doing the method above. I hacked into the game and gave myself 999,999 silver stakes, and made Dracula not wake up for 24 hours. When I got into level 27, I got a message saying “CONGRATULATIONS! It leads to the Vampire's Treasure Vault with £500,000-worth of jewels. A tunnel leads out of the tomb. After braving 209 vaults, you leave with 30,888 silver stakes worth £7,772,000 and the jewels, a grand total of £8,222,000.”