Prince of Persia zx spectrum version (Nicodim/Magic Soft, 1996)

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Prince of Persia - ZX Spectrum version (Nicodim/Magic Soft, 1996)
version 1.3

Official version was not developed for the ZX Spectrum from Prince of Persia, and nor for Commodore 64. By the contemporary press, it is impossible to write the game for the ZX Spectrum, because the hardware is too weak.

Initially Entropy Group (Simon Cooke and Chris White), who were developing the Sam version of Prince of Persia, contacted Domark with the idea of a ZX Spectrum game. Here they get negative answer, as 1993 was the last (half) year of commercial life of the Spectrum. And it was impossible to publish it by themselves, as too many licence royalties were asked.

The ZX Spectrum version of Prince of Persia finally saw the light in 1996 in Russia. Funnily enough, despite of the prognostications of professional press, this became the best conversion ever made for the Spectrum!

Strictly sad it is a pirated release, because the program made without the permission of original developers. Very probably they did not know even about the existence of it for a long time. Additionally, also not think, that Spectrum between 1991 and 1998 with nearly 90% of market share was the most popular computer in the territory of ex-USSR. So the developer and trader of program could earn nice money with it.

We have to know, that originally Soviet Union signed the international copyright laws, and interpreting words by words the paragraphs, they are not relevant for the post-states, so not for Russia too. Certainly, the post-states resigned after this agreement, but when the program was born, this fairly uncertain situation was stand - so unlawful piracy was not forbidden. The situation is getting more strange: another groups also pirating this pirated edition, like it was their own game. Above Nicodim and Magic Soft, numerous cracked versions were available in the quite huge area of country: Another World Corp, ChuckaByte, Omega (Hackers) Group, Phantom Family, Ticklish Jim and Phantasy all had their own versions. Last group is also released it on tape, and further more promised the Euro-conform Plus D floppy version too. These groups even competing with each other's, who can crack faster the game. Of course, it was resulted in decreased number of sales of the "original" game.

If it is even not enough, there are persons, who further pirated these pirated editions. Mac Buster from Magic Soft made the .SLT version of the game, which is easy to load into the European emulators (SLT = super loader track - where levels are putted after each other's in sequence). This was probably done because the ordinary emulators could not handle the Russian originated emulator formats at this time (.TRD, . SCL etc.). With this, Prince of Persia among the firsts (or it was the very first?) could prove, what the machine can do, as well to introduce, that in Russia ZX Spectrum still a living platform.

This .SLT version was restored to tape version by the ex-Yugoslavian Tomac Kaz. Version of Phantasy was 615K and Tomac's only 465K... This was partly realised by removing the picture of the floppy disk while loading, which was anyway unnecessary with cassette loading. He also made some bugfixes.

Let's see now the background of the game. Nor Nicodim, and neither Magic Soft were not software companies in usual terms. Nicodim (Yaroslavl B. Roman Romnaov) was a very talented programmer. He was assembled his Pentagon 128 clone in 1993, and in the next year, purchased an Amiga 600. Green light for game conversion! He made the coding and graphics works by himself alone. Music was converted by D. J. Musicsoft (Dmitry Hiseynov). Nicodim above the PoP, adopted Pirates for the Spectrum too, but after the military service, he did not published another programmes. Magic Soft (often shortened to: MC Soft) is a cracker, demo, swapper group from Moscow. They were ranked among the elite groups, in fact they were the leader distributors of Moscow. Magic Soft worked in the same way, as most similar groups: they made different game collections, disc magazines, which they sent from the centre of Moscow to smaller villages, where "regional dealers" (mostly enthusiast youngs) sold it, getting royalties from each sold software.

Their co-operation with Nicodim is not a fortune, because early demo versions of PoP and Pirates also spreaded by MC Soft. They were copied as appetisers them into the previously mentioned discs.

The program was originally promised for November of 1995, at last it was ready for February of 1996. It was counted into the five best and well-known games (another classics are: Star Inheritance: Black Cobra , Black Raven and UFO 1-2). Almost unbelievable, but succeed to realise the smooth sprite animation too.

By the way, regional dealers got a two-disks 'distribution pack', with which they could make unlimited numbers of copy protected disks.

The password entering method was inspired by NES version, as different versions of Nintendo clones, the Dendy consoles were the most popular gaming platform beside the Spectrum (and later the Amiga). So, in that way Nicodim never see original Spectrum, also did not get in contact with original NES consoles, only with the clones.

Curiosity of the game is the contraction of last three levels, making the game a harder.

Some sources regard a little bit tenuous the version of PoP for ZX Spectrum, mainly because of lack of sprite details. Well, it has got also its own reason. Those, who tried to convert games directly from Amiga, soon faced with the lack of memory. Most of Russians had only 128K ZX Spectrum clone, as well Nicodim himself. The very talented programmers (for example XL Design: Mortal Kombat, Alien Factory: Walker) nearly unbelievable, but succeed to realise the smooth animation on an 8 bit, 3,5MHz machine, but simultaneously they run out from 128K. Until now, all conversion examples show: minimum 256K needed to realise an Amiga game in Spectrum. But with this, they commercially failed, because not were very widedspreaded the 256K or more memory machines. Mortal Kombat and Walker were terminated mostly because of that reason.

We can declare, that Nicodim surely should do a more faithful Amiga-conversion if he had a 256K clone, but that would be practically unsalable. This is also proven by the fact, that the 8 bit SAM version also runs on a 256K machine...

In April of 2002 the Russian ZX-News Internet magazine published an article, which hinted, that Domark was finally released the game. Of course, it was only a 1st April joke, the screenshots were grabbed from the Entropy game from 1993.

All these things show, we faced with a programming excellence. So worth to try the program, to get know, how expanded the limits of the hardware to the maximum in the territory of ex-USSR.

Comparison of the different versions:

  • Nicodim/Magic Soft: the original version

  • Another World: password generator, cheat mode

  • ChuckaByte: only copy protection was removed (?)

  • MacBuster: .SLT format conversion

  • Omega Hackers Group: only copy protection was removed (?)

  • Phantasy: trainer mode, cassette version

  • Phantom Family: passwords of the levels in the intro, compression

  • Ticklish Jim: copy protection was removed

  • Tomac Kaz: optimised, bugfixed tape version

Esztergom (Hungary), 21 February, 2009.

Tarjan Richard Gabor


Loading screen of the Entropy version

The planned game from 1993

Title screen of the Nicodim demo

The black and white preview
Version of Omega (Hackers) Group

Cracked version from Phantasy

Again a different version -from Phantom Family

"Freecopy version" from Ticklish Jim

Another World - another crack

Three cracks will be enough? (Tomaz Kac)

The "original" Nicodim game

Intro of the game

The game itself

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