3D Monster Maze
Still terrifying me, three decades on
The ZX81 classic scared the bejesus out of Darran in 1982 and is still making him yelp in his seat today
» ZX81 » Malcolm Evans » 1982
I’ll never forget my first encounter with Malcolm
Evans’ epic 3D Monster Maze. I was playing around a friend’s house and he was proudly telling me about his new game and proclaiming to me how amazing it was. Of course, this wasn’t the first time that Paul had hoodwinked me with grand claims over a ZX81 game, so my guard was up somewhat. I’d been uninterested with his stories on how lifelike Chess was, while Flight Simulator was simply too complicated for me to play. So when he earnestly told me that 3D Monster Maze was the scariest game I would ever play I smiled patiently to myself and simply waited for the game to load up.
Ushering me to have the first go (Paul was nothing if not generous when we played his new games) I found myself in an astonishing-looking 3D maze and I gingerly started to explore it, fully aware that a gigantic dinosaur was trapped somewhere in there with me. There was no sound, but prompts like ‘Rex Lies In Wait’, ‘Rex Has Seen You’ or ‘Run He Is Behind You’ were no less terrifying and I’m not ashamed to say that I squeaked with fright the first time he caught me – I was nine, after all.
Of course, I’m a grown, adult man now. I’ve played the likes of Alien: Isolation, Amnesia: The Dark Descent, Outlast and various other survival horror games, I’m certainly not going to be frightened of something as basic as 3D Monster Maze…
“Are you frightened, Darran?” Drew asked me, roughly three minutes into my playthrough after I jerked back in my chair and made a noise not that dissimilar to the one I emitted in 1982. “Did you have a little scare?” He might have been teasing me but he was right. For a brief moment I forgot I was in an office and I was once again that frightened little nine-year-old who had jumped out of his skin thanks to the skill of a developer who was able to turn a bunch of ASCII characters into a ferocious and dangerous T-rex.