First Playable

Screen Shot 2012 11 04 at 21 53 37Screen Shot 2012 11 04 at 21 54 18

Screen Shot 2012 11 04 at 21 55 04

Screen Shot 2012 11 04 at 21 55 37

Screen Shot 2012 11 04 at 21 56 11

At long last, here is a playable (some might call it a pre-alpha, or something modern like that) of Chimera, the game I made in the early part of 1985, when everything changed for me.

For now, there is a link to the use-at-your-own-risk Mac version near the bottom of the post. There’s no installer or anything fancy, so you had better know what you’re doing.

A PC version (without the trademark “Chimera” and “aaarrggh” scream sadly due to a bug) will be made available here shortly too.

I wrote this in C++, with low-level duties provided by the excellent Cinder library. No GameMaker or Unity, I wanted to write in C++ and that’s probably because I’m a stubborn old git. I used my MacBook Air and a Dell laptop. My day job is exceptionally demanding and rewarding, so this took me a long time, working mainly on weekends, with some morning or evening duty.

The graphics are straight from the original, having been unearthed for me by @sokurah, an amazing digital archaeologist if ever there was one. I took the graphics sheet, cut the masks and images, recoloured them and multiplied them by 4 in each axis. The scream and the chimera sample were also unearthed by @sokurah. I edited them to remove some glitches and they went straight in. For some reason, I can’t get them working on the PC version yet, which might be a Cinder issue.

The room data was taken straight from a paper listing I still had of the original data, which I typed in by hand. It was an old listing, so I had to do a fair amount of manual editing to get everything right again, but also wrote a little map editor to make the fixing easier. 

The puzzles are as per the original, inserted by hand.

Major changes from the ZX Spectrum original include:

  • Interactive objects get their own colours
  • Spaceman animation is independent of movement
  • Animation and movement are not hardwired to one another anymore and the player doesn’t have to move a block at a time
  • All movement is directional using the cursor keys
  • I implemented the brilliant collision push system used in Knight Lore to make manoeuvring around blocks and exits easier
  • A screen shake has been added, you might or might not get to see that
  • The spaceman is always in yellow
  • I’ve renamed “bread” and “water” to “energy” and “coolant”

Some notes:

You place a spaceman on the Chimera ghost-ship. You have to destroy it and escape. To do that, you have to solve a series of stupid puzzles, whose logic defies me and will probably defy you too. 

For the first puzzle, you need to find the spanner to disable electric fences before combining the spanner with a bolt to form a warhead. Take the warhead to a blue missile room and arm it by swapping it for the bread. (Don’t ask…)

Once you have armed all the warheads, get the hell off the ship before it self-destructs, heading for the green room.

Remember, this is not even an alpha really, it’s a first playable and no doubt has many bugs. If you want me to keep on working on this, I really could use your feedback and would be grateful. It’s rough around the edges and is still missing a huge amount of polish. The terminals don’t work, there is no real UI or front end. It will all come together.


Cursor keys to move

Space bar to pick up or use

Once you die, and you will probably die often (if you grab something you shouldn’t, or your energy or coolant runs out, or the ship blows up) you will need to load the game again by pressing the ‘L’ key – make it lower-case, I typed it upper case so you didn’t confuse it with a ‘1’, but you’re probably confused already…

You can cheat, really easily in fact, but I’m not going to tell you how. I would prefer it if you didn’t use WASD, but you will anyway, out of reflex, and you will realise what one of the cheats is. Don’t press ‘t’ to get the torch as a cheat either. I’d rather you just found it. Or press ‘m’ to immediately get a missile, because that’s just cheating.

Anyway, please, please, please let me have your feedback. This game will not make much sense to you. I don’t care. It means more to me than you could possibly imagine, and it will only get better. I aim to have a finished version of this remake by the end of the month.

Link to Mac version:

 Link to PC version:

(Thanks to @sokurah, @retroremakes, @kommanderklobb, @eastmad and many more)



7 thoughts on “First Playable”

  1. Hi,

    To be honest I saw the game on C64 first and I found it extremely difficult but that was just probably me.

    I like the idea of the re-release (it’s not a remake per definition as you’re the original author too) and played the developer version too. It’s good to see that the nearly infinite processing power is used for proper collision detection, sprites without the slowdown. Although the C64 version didn’t suffer from it as much as the Spectrum or Atari version.

    Looking at isometric remakes (Head Over Heels, Knight Lore, Alien 8, Batman) the graphics is gorgeous, music is brilliant but somehow I get the feeling as I don’t play the same games again. Kinda like “just” a facelift. Apart from this I respect the Retrospec guys a lot and the games are really awesome. They however never had the opportunity (or have they?) to re-release a game.
    How would your game look like if you made it, like now? Any new puzzles or going over the limits of the original hardware? You’re not bound by the RAM or the clock speed nor the display speed. I am not saying it should be 3D and all but could be one free from compromises.

    I know people might hate me for this who want the original to be remade but here are some ideas:

    – elevators with multiple levels?
    – floor?
    – transparent objects in the rooms?
    – holes?
    – shadows, lights? (the remakes love these)

    If it sounds rubbish just disregard it. I am sure the game will be great when you release it again.

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