ENDZONE for the ZX Spectrum Next
ENDZONE for the ZX Spectrum Next is an enhanced and updated version of the Spectrum 128K version of the game which was published and sold by mail order between in 1991. It is a text-only single-game simulation which allows you to play any one of 32 NFL teams each of which has up to date statistics for offensive and defensive players.
The game can be played player v player, player v computer, or computer v computer. On offense you choose which of your RBs/TEs/WRs you want on the field, and choose your play (qb sneak, inside run, off tackle run, sweep run, quick pass, short pass, long pass, bomb, punt, fga). You can choose to run a draw play or play action pass to fool the defense. On defense you can choose a short yardage, run, pass, prevent defense or blitz, and you can choose which player to key on. Need to manage the clock? Go to a hurry-up offense or take a time out.
The game keeps track of game statistics. There is sudden death OT for tied games. The intention is to get as close to real NFL gameplay as possible. You can view the readme.txt file here (opens in new window).
The game costs ₤10 and comes with rosters for the 1991 season, the last ever produced for the original game, and for the 2019 season, and for the early part of the 2020 season. The original game had rosters and statistics updated twice a year, and I'll be doing the same going forward. Updated team data files will cost ₤5.
I'm keeping production costs and process simple - thank goodness no more tape duplication, buying cassettes and labelling them and creating inserts for the tape boxes! Send a ₤10 PayPal payment to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you a .zip file with all the game files and team data files, at the earliest possible opportunity.
The game works well on the CSpect emulator. Feel free to drop me an email if you have any questions or comments. You're welcome to browse the BASIC code, but do bear in mind most of it was written in the late 80s/early90s, so don't look for code taking advantage of the new NEXT capabilities. Yet.
You can read about the development of the original ENDZONE below.
American Football didn't have any kind of profile in the UK until the early 1980s. In the 1970s ITV's Saturday afternoon 'World of Sport' would show very short highlights of what must have been the Superbowl each year. It looked intriguing, but bafflingly complex.
In 1982 Channel 4 started a weekly NFL programme each Sunday, showing highlights of one of the previous week's games. This of course enabled them to choose the best matches, memorably one match being San Diego 43 v 46 Miami, where they showed just the fourth quarter, with Dan Fouts and Dan Marino slugging it out TD for TD.
Intrigued, I bought the Statis-Pro NFL board game - a real 'anorak's' game, it translated the violent, fast-moving, blood and thunder that was gridiron into a statistics-based exercise which took several hours to play.
On the basis that it took way too long to play, and that playing solo was not an option, it seemed a sensible option for me (having just done a cricket sim) to program a version for my home computer, the humble 48K Sinclair Spectrum.
A year or two later, spending lots of time coding and trying to locate team and individual player statistics, the 48K Spectrum version of ENDZONE was launched. The game featured rosters and player stats for all the 28 NFL teams. It was a two-player game with each player able to choose who to have onfield at WR, RB, TE on any given play. The limited memory of the 48K Spectrum was a nuisance, and required users to load in datafiles for each team from a separate tape, save the data to tape, and reload it into the main game. And player-vs-computer routines couldn't fit into the 48K.
However, there was a lot of good feedback, and a number of users came back year after year to buy the updated data tapes for the new season.
The game sold almost 1,000 copies by mail order over the next few years, advertising mostly in the UK newspaper First Down, although a couple of reviews in Computer Gamesweek in January 1989 helped. One advert in the monthly glossy Touchdown magazine garnered more orders than could be cranked out through my tape-to-tape machine, requiring a trip to a specialist tape duplicator!
Slightly confusingly, and rather annoyingly, a season by season American Football management gme came out from Alternative Software, which they also called Endzone. Neither that, or a similar 'HeadCoach' game, came anywhere near close enough to real NFL action for me.
I then began working on an improved 128K version (left), featuring some game enhancements and a player-vs-computer option. This was stymied by the increasing number of flavours of Spectrum 128Ks, all with different variations on the BASIC, in which the program was written, and which caused a big headache. And it turned out that not all of the 128K RAM was available to BASIC, so I had to pare down the program to the bone to get it to run. Working versions for each of these Spectrums were finished in 1991, just as the the market for home computers like the Spectrum, Commodore, Timex etc quickly ceased to exist as people moved to consoles! And what with having started a family, and my computer room becoming a nursery, that was pretty much that for Endzone.
The availability of Sinclair emulators on PC enabled the game to be played, although updating player stats through the emulator proved rather too be too awkward.
I did have a dalliance in the mid-2000s with a PC-emulator of the SAM (Spectrum Architecture Machine), an enhanced 8bit machine based on the Spectrum which was rather late to the game when it came out in the early 1990s. I did get some way into a SAM version of Endzone, but not far enough.
Fast forward to 2020 when a Kickstarter delivered a 'Spectrum Next' computer, an enhanced version of the beloved Speccie. I backed the Kickstarter and I got cracking on updating the game!.