ZX Spectrum: 256 bytes competition

Feb 22, 04:15 PM by SanderFocus

Screenshot from Mangy3 by Debris

What could you say in 256 characters? To get an idea; it’s a little more than one and a half text messages on your mobile phone. Now if you had to program something in 256 characters, what would, or maybe mostly could that be? It’s the same idea like our article on Artefacts by Plush, working with artificial limitations on limited hardware.

Earlier this month, a demoparty was held in England, called ‘Rawwy.Orgy2009’. Possibly the most popular demoparty for the ZX Spectrum demoscene. The ZX spectrum is an 8bit machine from the 80ties, mainly popular in Eastern Europe. Today’s active ZX demosceners are mostly concentrated around Poland and Russia. Compared to its brother the Commodore 64, their scene has lost a lot of its members during the years, but as always – some of the most qualified people are tend to stick around.

When you have so little to spend, yet try to achieve as much as possible, among the first things you care less about are the aesthetics, which on its own causes a very raw style of productions. In many cases the screen will show different artefacts from the code/machine, which is usually hidden in ‘normal’ productions. I like to think of this as a raw code sculpturing, just enough to show the concept but too little to make it really pretty, often resulting in blocky and glitchy screens. Around this point of tension the success lies.

I selected 4 of the 10 entries.

Mangy 3 by Debris

From a programming perspective, this one is the moral winner. It shows 3 variations of the effects, amazing technical achievement. The original production contains an audio loop.

Brainwasher by Dox

Very impressive features, suggestive 3d-ish objects moving around the screen, with looks of shading. Smart approach, it stretches some kind of waveform looking graphics on a fixed colour gradient. The original demo has an audio loop, generated by code.

RGB by Dox

A charming stage of 3 balls bouncing in a defined order. Blocky as they may look, they charmingly bounce like elastic balls. It sounds as simple as that, but instead of simulating or imitating more spectacular effects, this production is what it shows.

Starlet Guitarlet by HOOY-PROGRAM

My personal favourite, taking the 256 bytes out of the technologic scenery, showing a parallax drive by of a pine tree wood. Where the other entries rely on typical demoscene effects, this one in the perspective of the 256 bytes approach, could even appeal to non technical people. Something which is too rare in the demoscene.

See the other entries here. Download a ZX Spectrum emulator for PC or for MAC to view these.

Related articles:
Artefacts by Plush
Russian Speccy demoscene history



i liked brainwasher most :)

elfh, 23.02.09  [link]


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