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The Evil Dead was an adventure game of "skill and strategy" originally published in 1984 by Palace Software for the Commodore 64, and then ported to the BBC Model B & ZX Spectrum 48K systems in 1985, all on cassette tape. The Spectrum conversion was only released as a B-side to Palace's 1985 title Cauldron.


ZX Spectrum 48K loading screen

All three formats of the game appear more or less identical. The game is played from a top-down scrolling viewpoint of the cabin. Doors are represented by a short white line which disappear and reappear upon opening and closing, and windows are represented by dotted lines which function in the same way. There is also a swing on the porch which is gently moving in the wind, the fire place, and two old beds.


Commodore 64 complete gameplay area overview


BBC Model B complete gameplay area overview


ZX Spectrum 48K complete gameplay area overview

You take control of Ash, earning points for dispatching your friends, who have been possessed and turned into green Deadites by the evil force. Each Deadite can be dismembered into disembodied arms, and legs, and a head. You score points for each one dispatched. Amassing 100,000 points will conjure up the Book of the Dead, which you can destroy by throwing on the fire, which will earn you 5000 points and restart the game at a harder level. Ash's health is expressed as a number, initially 10,000. As you are attacked, this number will diminish. At zero, you loose one of your three lives. Periodically, weapons will spawn around the area which increase Ash's health, including an axe, club, spade and sword.

Commodore 64 title screen
BBC Model B intro text
 
 
BBC Model B title screen
 
 
ZX Spectrum 48K title screen

While the game may seem utterly arcane by modern standards, this would have been both top-notch and controversial back in 1984/5; chopping people up and having their dismembered parts still coming after you! Further, this is the only game to date, to feature the lurid artwork of Graham Humpreys on the inlay/cover, making it popular with collectors today.

BBC Model B loading screen
BBC Model B graphics key

The official launch of Palace Software's first title did not go according to plan, something they had spent thousands of pounds developing & marketing. A press conference was called, held in the tourist attraction 'The London Dungeon'. Nik Powell made a speech about the future of the video games market, and how palace was leading the way. Just as the game's demonstration was about to begin, a Palace employee whispered in his ear that the disks had a bug. Nik had to cancel the entire launch and apologise to all the guests.

Commodore 64 screenshot 1
Commodore 64 screenshot 2

Palace Games had big visions for bringing famed horror franchises to home gaming in the 1980s. Evil Dead was to be the first in a line of games including Halloween and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre (work had actually begun on Halloween before it was scrapped). Palace Software continued to publish games up until 1988 when their parent company began to get into financial trouble. It eventually filed for bankruptcy in 1990 taking the software house with it. Everyone involved has long since moved on; Chris Neary ran Micro Blitz, a computer shop in Torquay up until 2007, but this went out of business, and it's unknown what he's currently doing. As of 2003, and the rest of the team; Richard Lienfellner is a Director of Electronic Arts. Pete Stone works for Konami, Stan Schembri for IBM, and Richard Joseph has his own website.

Publisher: 
Palace Software (UK)
 
Developer: 
Virgin Palace Gold
 
Platforms: 
ZX Spectrum 48K
Commodore 64
BBC Model B
 
Players: 
1
 
Game Type: 
Arcade/Action
 
Language: 
English



 
 
Released: 
September 1, 1984
 
Price: 
6.99
 
Format: 
Single Cassette
 
 
 
Writer: 
Richard Leinfellner
 
Graphics: 
Chris Neary
 
Music: 
Keith Miller



 
 
Released: 
February 1, 1985
 
Price: 
6.99
 
Format: 
Single Cassette
 
 
 
Writer: 
Colin Tanner
 
With: 
Christopher Pratt
Phillip Smith



 
 
Released: 
July 1, 1985
 
Price: 
7.99
 
Format: 
Single Cassette
 
 
 
Writer: 
Michael Fox
 
 
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