ZX Recoloring project

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Welcome to ZX Recoloring project!

This webpage will help you to give a more modern look to your favorite ZX Spectrum games and make them attractive even to the new generation of gamers.

Many fine Spectrum games are still playable enough. Unfortunately, low screen resulution, poor color palette and known problems with attribute clashes do not avert, perhaps, hardcore fans only. Though, the games themselves are still insteresting (at least, their remakes appear regularly on sites Retro Remakes, Retrospec, and Computer Emuzone; the website World of Spectrum also keeps track of newly appearing implementations of older games). Sometimes the remake can be truly treated as a new game, just inspired by the original (Lumen), sometimes the game introduces modern sound and graphical effects (Exolon DX). But not too rarely authors try to follow the original firmly by preserving familiar gameplay, and to limit themselves with reworked graphics and individual touches to the user interface. Among known remakes of the latter kind it is possible to mention popular Head Over Heels Remake and Sir Fred — El Remake.

When playing such a game, one might experience mixed feelings. On the one hand, a great job has been done, and the game obviously became more interesting and enjoyable. On the other hand, isn't it like using a sledge-hammer to crack nuts??

That's how the original version and the remake of Head Over Heels look like:

original remake

Obviously, the only true difference between the original and the remake is in updated graphics. And if so, why make a fuss over the remake, i.e. why to rewrite the whole game engine from scratch? Naturally, gamemakers love to program, and apparently had a lot of fun while doing the remake job. Though, generally it would be probably better, if such cosmetic changes would be achievable with less efforts (and then it would be possible to concentrate the main resources on the development of truly innovative remakes, if one is so eager to recreate a favorite game of childhood).

A possible method of introducing such simple changes suggests itself: it is enough to replace old game sprites with new ones, large and colorful:

This idea was implemented already in Spec256 project (though one should note that Spec256 deals with extended color palette only; sprite dimensions were left intact). Despite generally good results, this "recoloring" didn't advance far away. The main reason, most likely, lies is in the difficulty of the process. For instance, in the course of recoloring, it is necessary to examine dumps of Spectrum memory in order to find original sprites, and this is not an easy task sometimes. Some games cannot be recolored using this approach at all.

The proposed method works differently. Original sprites are sought directly in the video memory of Spectrum while the game is running. Thus, no programming or dump scrutiny is not required. It is enough to pass two collections of sprites to the input ("before" and "after"), and all the remaining job will be done automatically!

If this idea still sounds reasonable, read on and proceed to the business!

Maxim Mozgovoy aka RG_Software

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©2009 RG_Software