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April 02, 2020, 05:23:10 AM

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The ZX Spectrum Next has finally begun shipping to the backers around the world, starting with the Base model, followed by the Plus model within the next week, and then the Accelerated model (which is the one I backed) hopefully shortly after that.

The software distribution contains an updated version of The Lords of Midnight by Matt Davies, with enhanced graphics from Simon Butler... check out the screenshots below to see how it has transformed the original game for the Next. Fantastic work all round!

Now what are the odds that this is the first game that gets booted up when it arrives ;)

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Well together with 3112 like-minded ZXSpectrum fans, I contributed to the kickstarter development and production of the ZX Spectrum Next: "a new machine, fully compatible with the original computer, and packed with improvements and expansions". In the 30 days since the campaigns launch, £723,390 was pledged beating the funding target of £250,000 within the first few days!

"Spectrum Next is an expanded and updated version of the ZX Spectrum, fully compatible (software and hardware) with the original. You can play any games, demos, use original hardware, you name it. And it also runs new software created more recently to make use of expanded hardware, including new graphics modes and faster processor speeds."

I opted for the "ZX Next Accelerated" model for which the specifications are:

  • Processor: Z80 3.5Mhz and 7Mhz modes
  • Memory: 1Mb RAM (expandable to 1.5Mb internally and 2.5Mb externally)
  • Video: Hardware sprites, 256 colours mode, Timex 8x1 mode etc.
  • Video Output: RGB, VGA, HDMI
  • Storage: SD Card slot, with DivMMC-compatible protocol
  • Audio: 3x AY-3-8912 audio chips with stereo output + FM sound
  • Joystick ports: 2 x DB9 compatible with Cursor, Kempston and Interface 2 protocols (selectable)
  • PS/2 port: Mouse with Kempston mode emulation and an external keyboard
  • Special: Multiface functionality for memory access, savegames, cheats etc.
  • Tape support: Mic and Ear ports for tape loading and saving
  • Expansion: Original external bus expansion port and accelerator expansion port
  • Raspberry Pi Zero Accelerator board: GPU / 1Ghz CPU / 512Mb RAM
  • Network: Wi Fi module
  • Real Time Clock, internal speaker

The following additional stretch goals were also unlocked as a result of the funding success:

  • A box to die for...
  • Printed manual upgrade
  • Internet Toolbox: Tools and an API for multiplayer gaming and Twitter
  • Nodes of Yesod: Remade for the Next by Steve Wetherill
  • A whole new game in the Dizzy series made exclusively for the Next
  • Ren Next: Jas Austin's classic game reworked for the Next
  • Two new games: Dreamworld Pogie for the Next, and Castlevania: Spectral Interlude

Looking forward to unwrapping a new ZX Spectrum and seeing what development potential lies within!

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I spent some time recently exploring what potential Unity might offer for Midnight related development. Not being so familiar with the game engine it was a bit of an eye opener to see what assets are up for purchase in the Asset Store. A quick search came up with the following interesting assets which caught my eye… 🙂

Map Magic Terrain generator / Winter ground pack


Time of Day / Fir Trees


Cave System / Knights