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Bandit Gaming- Dragon’s Lair Running on Sinclair ZX81

Alright, homebrew coders are getting scary with some of these projects they are creating.  Sure, Jim Bagley may not be your normal definition of a homebrew coder since he used to work for Ocean Software.  He got Dragon’s Lair running on a Sinclair ZX81 at the recent Retro Computer Museum Valentine’s Event 2015 show.  How cool is that?  Check out the gameplay video for proof of concept here, it is quite interesting considering the limitations of the computer.

For those that do not know what Dragon’s Lair is, it is one of the earliest Full Motion Video/Laser Disc games available in arcades.  It was created by Don Bluth, former Disney animator, and used cutting edge technology that tried to catch on in gaming for about a decade before being retired completely.  Dragon’s Lair was literally like playing a cartoon.  You made snap decisions at key moments in the video and depending on how you did, you either died a comical death or Dirk the Daring continued his adventure.

This type of game had a resurgence in the early 90’s when CD-ROM became a big thing for a short period of time.  CD-ROM did not take off at this time but did show developers the future.  Dragon’s Lair hit nearly every CD-ROM based platform available to date, nearly.

Before people start calling foul on this feat of programming prowess, it is running on a Sinclair ZX81, just not a stock model.  The one used at the show to run Dragon’s Lair has the ZXPand attachment in play.  The ZXPand is an SD card adapter with 32K of RAM to assist in getting the huge game file over to the Sinclair ZX81 in more manageable chunks.  Still, the underlying hardware that is producing the game is a freaking Sinclair ZX81 computer, a computer that is 33 years old!  Give the NES such an adapter and see if it can run Dragon’s Lair.  Doubt it will.

Source: Youtube

Carl Williams

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3 Responses to “Bandit Gaming- Dragon’s Lair Running on Sinclair ZX81”

  1. beefbeef says:

    Well, Sir Clive did famously say that the ZX81 has enough processing power to be able to run a nuclear power station.

    • Carl Williams says:

      The ZX81 was more powerful than all of the computers used on the first manned mission to the moon so I believe Sir Clive was not exaggerating in his comment.

  2. […] like the port of Dragon’s Lair to the Sinclair ZX81, this port to the Commodore 64 is not running on stock hardware.  That would be freaking awesome […]

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