ZX Spectrum – Odds & Sods found


Overview

This page will host any oddities that I find in ZX Spectrum games, whilst I’m browsing their content with tools such as ZX Preview.

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I also use ZX Block Editor (by the same coder as ZX Preview) to extract saved arrays/binary files when I’ve got a shedload of text to extract.

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The block of data is then edited in either Notepad++ or WinHex (my favourite hex editor). See my tip below on how I remove all the non-ASCII characters first.

ZX Preview is part of the ZX Modules and I host a copy of them here (via my Dropbox) as the original developer stopped updating them.


Cheats Found

Boxing Coach by Alfo Software (1989)

I think this cheat routine is very subtle. Unless you were in the know (or had hacked the game), it wasn’t going to jump out and shout it from the rooftops.

    8 INPUT PLEASE ENTER NAME";N$
    9 IF LEN N$>10 THEN GOTO 8
   10 IF N$="ABCDEFZY" THEN MONEY=MONEY+99999999

The daft thing is that I was actually looking for “The Boxer” by Cult Software and looked inside this game’s .TAP file by accident!


Questions and Answers from Quiz-type games

The following table will show you all of the ZX Spectrum games that I’ve been perusing in order to extract all of the questions and answers from. I didn’t include the stuff from Party Quiz above though as these are proper quiz games.

Some of the downloads are plain text, others are Excel spreadsheets and occasionally a PDF output of it as well. I use whichever is easiest for me to re-format the data once it’s extracted.

Note: Some of the questions/answers are a “bit dated” either due to their subject matter, such as:

  • a smattering of ex-TV stars and singers who are now known these days for ‘other things’ that they were doing in the shadows back then … *cough* Jimmy, Gary and Rolf *cough*
  • old currencies no longer in use, especially in European countries
  • the names that things were called back in the early 80s, e.g. Mohammedian instead of Muslim
  • countries that were together (e.g. Yugoslavia) and now apart .. and vice versa (West & East Germany).

What’s been done so far

Game (inc. URL)Extract data DownloadSource?NotesDone?
01Pop Quizz (R.D. Foord,1985)DownloadBASICIt was easy to extract and re-format from the code.Jan 2024
02The Blandford Family Quiz Book (1984)DownloadBASICData came out easily enough.Jan 2024
03BBC Mastermind (Mirrorsoft, 1984)DownloadArray(s)Questions were spread out in text arrays across both sides of the tape. Extracted and reformatted in an Excel spreadsheet.

Watch out for some really bad spelling!
Jan 2024
04Blockbusters (1984)DownloadArray(s)ASCII extract from the text arrays stored on tape. Jan 2024
05Blockbusters Question Master (1985)DownloadArray(s)ASCII extract from the text arrays stored on tape.Jan 2024
06Breakpoint (Airline Software, 1989)DownloadBASICExtracted questions and all possible sets of answers, with the correct answer listed in final column. Download contains Excel and PDF versions of the info.
(Also found a bug in the question set as one had 5 answers, instead of 4).
Jan 2024
07CashCade (Fastback UK, 1990)DownloadBASICArrays were stored in the BASIC program, so a simple text extract and rejigging into an Excel file.Feb 2024
08Party Quiz (1986)DownloadBASICA typical 80’s rude quiz. Definitely aimed at Viz readers et al! No-one admitted to coding it!
All questions were stored in the BASIC listing.
Feb 2024
09Hi Q Quiz (Blue Ribbon,1989)DownloadBASICAll stored within program. Quite a few spelling mistakes (highlighted in PDF & Excel).Feb 2024
10Micro IQ (M.K.Circuits,1983)DownloadBASIC9 separate programs on tape, each with a set of questions and answers stored within the code.Feb 2024
11Hotline Quiz (Chalksoft)DownloadArraysEach set of questions (there are 9) consist of three separate arrays stored on side B. Laid out as Questions, then all four Multiple Choice answers, then the correct Answers.

I’ve included a snapshot of the game at the loading prompt so you don’t have to suffer the intro. But turn the volume down – especially if you win 🙂

One (!!) question in Medley #1 uses the Spectrum’s Extended Graphics to display a code that you need to break!
March 2024
12The Ultimate Soccer Quiz (Marksman,1985)DownloadBASICI know next to nothing about football, so exporting the two arrays from BASIC into Notepad++ and then trying to align them both, took some time. Excel and PDF versions included.March 2024
13Stuart Henry’s Pop Quiz (Bellflower,1984)DownloadBASICThis was a big lot of data to extract. All stored in DATA statements which were fiddly to extract into Excel easily. There are 54 separate question types with 14 questions inside each, giving 756 different questions overall.

I had to look up who he was, as it wasn’t someone I knew from when I was 14. He was a Scottish Radio DJ when this game was created. Unfortunately he passed away at 53 due to multiple sclerosis.
March 2024
14Micro Trivia (Harold Gale,1987)DownloadArraysTwo arrays. One used to hold the majority of the question text and a code to denote which one it was. The main bulk of the questions and the 4 x multiple choice answers were stored in the other array.

The Excel/PDF version highlights the correct answer, but in the original array, this was denoted with an asterisk.
March 2024
15Birds (Chalksoft,1984)DownloadBASICAll Questions & Answers from two of the games on this tape, plus a quick password hack for another game.March 2024
16Super Quiz 1, 2 & 3DownloadBASICAll three Bible quizzes released by the same firm and all coded by the same person. They were all written in BASIC. I had some odd Bing searches when looking for the answers that I wasn’t sure of, but in the end (esp. for SuperQuiz 2) the coder decided to make the first answer of the three multiple choice options to be the correct one – over 100 times! The same data for SuperQuiz 2 is also used in SuperQuiz 3.March 2024
17Christmas QuizDownloadBASICA rip by Gerard Sweeney of The Tipshop. This game was included on Issue #25 of the 16/48 tape magazine.March 2024
18General Knowledge Quiz (Chezron)DownloadBASICAnother rip by Gerard Sweeney of The Tipshop. This time it’s a quiz that appeared on Outlet Magazine #64.March 2024
19Micro-De-Bug Consultancy (UK) Educational QuizzesDownloadBASICMicro-De-Bug Consultancy (UK) released a few educational quiz games and Gerard’s done them all. Each game was in a separate sheet, so I’ve merged them all into a single one.

Includes: Biology O-Level & CSE, Knowledge Quiz 9-99 Years, Reasoning 11+ and Science 12-14 quizzes by Micro-De-Bug Constultancy.

I did the Knowledge Quiz myself and was shocked by the awful spelling, but then I’m a pedant and a technical author by trade 🙂
March 2024
20All of Clever Clogs games Download in a few daysArraysThis collection was a nightmare to extract, catalogue, tidy up all of the text, then import it into a single Excel spreadsheet (with multiple sheets).

Some games had 1 set of questions whilst others had 6 sets … I got there in the end.
April 2024.

Working on the following …

  • SoccerQ (Crash) – minor tweaks to double-check data now that it’s in Excel. After a lot of help from “Spectrum For Everyone” group on Facebook, all but one of the questions now has the correct answer as they weren’t easily marked in the datasets.
  • The Triple Crown Quiz (Sport & Racing,1985) – all ripped. Just needs arranging in Excel and then to generate a PDF. Who knew that a quiz on ancient horse races and their winners would be soooo exciting 🙂
  • Superquiz – appeared twice on a football compilation, but with two separate sets of questions. I’m wading through the BASIC listing and extracting the text.
  • All of the Clever Clogs extra question data tapes (double-sided). These were imported into a range of their educational titles. An early form of DLC 🙂

Ones that we couldn’t extract

There were a few that I (and Gerard Sweeney of The Tipshop) attempted but either couldn’t rip the data out due to encryption, lack of answers (or even just the correct answer) and/or dictionary compression used.

For the latter I mean where certain words were replaced by a single byte to save memory. Unless you know what each byte represents, you’re on a hiding to nothing.

Mike Read’s Pop Quiz by Elite

This one uses a dictionary compression technique (as above). I’ve looked at the ZX Spectrum, Atari ST and MS-DOS versions and they are all using the same technique. I can rip everything out, but it would need some severe editing to “fill in the blanks” where the dictionary reference bytes have been inserted.

The Quiz by Alligata

We’ve both tried this and both of us have managed to extract the questions and multiple choice answers from the files on the tap. But neither of us can find any obvious table that points to the correct answer. We’d have to create it all in an Excel file and then hammer Google or Bing to work out the ones we don’t already know. Painful process.

Treasure Hunt by MacMillan

Based on the TV show, this one is a pain. Unless you have the book that came with the game, you’ll be completely stuck. I only managed to extract the first set of correct answers because I found them online. There is no solution available anywhere that would help me complete this one.

QuizTron 48000 series

Multi-part quiz game, but like Mike Read’s Pop Quiz, uses some kind of dictionary compression to save memory. Without someone working out the full list of replacement bytes and their words, this would be an impossible task by hand.

I’m sure that there are others out there that are a PITA to be added to the list ….


A quick tip to remove non-ASCII characters from arrays

This may seem like an obvious fix, but I wasn’t aware of the full power of using RegEx parameters in Notepad++, even though I’ve been using it for a loooong time.

If you open up an array that you’ve extracted from a ZX Spectrum .TAP/.TZX file, you will notice a lot of non-ASCII characters appearing. These are the extra bits that the ZX Spectrum ROM had embedded in the file to denote the end of an array value and other bits and pieces. AKA there’s probably a better explanation out there about what these byte values mean, but I didn’t bother Googling for it!

You can remove them all in one quick search and replace by using the RegEx parameter of [\x00-\x1F]+ – these are the hex values for 00 to 31. Make sure you select the Regular expression option before clicking the Replace All button.

This doesn’t rearrange all of the text you’ve extracted into a neat list, that’s still down to you. But it will leave behind all the normal ASCII characters, which makes editing them a lot, lot easier.