Netflix Drops ZX Spectrum Homebrew Title Nohzdyve

The dark, dystopian future is ever-present in the Netflix show Black Mirror, but the latest release in the series, Bandersnatch, presents a decidedly different narrative. Bandersnatch is a branching story that follows the fictional events of a garage-programmer named Stephan who develops the titular game, Bandersnatch, for the Tuckersoft company set in 1980s England. The whole thing plays out as a choose-your-own adventure game fit straight off the Sega CD (albeit with actual full motion video) by allowing watchers to pick what happens next in the story. Not one to miss a cross-promotional opportunity, Netflix also released a playable ZX Spectrum homebrew title, Nohzdyve, developed by a friend of Hackaday, [Matt Westcott].

Keen viewers of Bandersnatch were able to ascertain that the screeching sound at the end of the show when loaded into a ZX Spectrum would display a QR code. That in turn led to a real website for the fake Tuckersoft company (thankfully in HTML). The website itself showcases the fictional company’s software library and upcoming releases, but it also took things a step further. The duality of Bandersnatch is carried over to the website as there are branching paths for those that remove ‘www’ from the URL. Doing so reveals Tuckersoft’s website from an alternate timeline where Bandersnatch was never created, however, a downloadable copy of Nohzdyve in a .tap file is there for the taking.

The Nohzdyve game itself is a vertically scrolling action game that uses the ZX Spectrum’s garish color palette to great effect. Racking up a high score in the game can be done via emulator (for example Speccy) or for the most authentic experience, on real hardware. This may be the best reason to fire up a tape drive in a while, but for those seeking the less-analog approach there is always this gameplay footage from Mr. Tom FTW’s channel:

via Techcrunch

For more on the classic micro computer that is the ZX Spectrum, there is this article on the creation of aonther project from [Matt], the very un-micro Speczilla.

13 thoughts on “Netflix Drops ZX Spectrum Homebrew Title Nohzdyve

    1. Jeff Minter made a cameo appearance too. Plus the JavaScript running the choose-your-own-adventure engine included comments aimed at curious viewers to assist in cueing up arbitrary scenes.

      This episode seemed like a love letter to early home computing first, and the typical techno-cautionary tale second.

  1. Correction, the alternate website omits the game Nohzdyve, not Bandersnatch.

    BTW, if you are infuriated at Firefox, like me, you have to turn off browser.fixup.alternate.enabled to see the alternate website.

    1. Just from watching the short video – no, they’re just decoration.
      The only things I could tell was that the balloons give you points, the teeth & aircon units kill you and you get three lives to get as many points as you can.
      Unclear if you can bounce off the walls or if, like the aircon units, it’s death on any wall decoration. Nor is it clear if the vertical scrolling speeds up the longer you live.

  2. “The duality of Bandersnatch is carried over to the website as there are branching paths for those that remove ‘www’ from the URL.”

    Just a coincidence – this changes the domain, therefore your existing cookie isn’t used. There’s another built in way to change the timeline (and there’s more than 2)!

  3. Got bored with it 20 minutes in. The movie. Not the game. Waxed nostalgic of the 80s tech. Turned on VIC-20 emulator on tablet and played Omega Race. All better now and didnt have to dig zx spectrum emulator out. FWIW can play movie without clicking.

  4. Bandersnatch, such a let down.
    I mean really, “smooth sprites”? “Sprite overrun video memory”? sprites on Spectrum? smooth anything on Spectrum? C64 mentioned only for good audio? Games written in Basic? smooth anything written in Basic? anyone actually using dead fish keyboard shortcuts to write Basic? This was indeed alternate reality!
    oh and that electronic safe was totally not period correct! :P

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