In the early 1980's 3-D was seeing a brief resurgence.
Originally developed in the the mid 1850's, the anaglyph
(Red/Blue) 3-D process takes two different images (one red, one
blue) and offsets them slightly. When viewed through special
glasses with one blue eye and one red eye it makes the image
look like it's three dimensional. Although movies briefly
experimented with the idea in the early 1920's, it wouldn't be
until the 1950's when 3-D movies and comic books enjoyed wide,
yet brief, popularity. Why the 3-D gimmick
came back is anyone's guess, but the trend died again
quickly. But not before giving us such classics as Friday
the 13th Part 3 in 3-D, Jaws 3 in 3-D, and 3-D Zapper?
Ok so 3-D Zapper wasn't a movie, but rather it was an
attempt by Wickstead Design to design a 3-D based shooter on the
2600 to cash in on the current craze. Wickstead Design
wasn't the only company perusing a 3-D 2600 game at the time,
Amiga (through Videosoft) was developing several 3-D based games
that actually made it to the prototype stage (3-D
Ghost Attack, 3-D
Genesis, and 3-D
Havok). Activision and Spectravideo had also expressed
interest in the possibility of doing a 3-D game, but it's not
known how far those plans got.
In its current state 3-D Zapper is only a tech demo. The
player can move the zapper at the bottom of the screen left and
right and shoot at the various geometry shapes that fly around the
screen. By pressing up and down the player can select the
distance into the background they want to shoot. When
pushing up and down the two parts of the zapper (the red and blue)
will move further apart or merge together and the beam they fire
will either get smaller and thinner or larger and thicker.
It's a rather nice effect that really stands out in this early
Unfortunately that's really all there is to the demo.
While the player can technically hit the various shapes (indicated
by the screen flashing red briefly), they don't explode or
disappear in any way. The collision detection (as is usually
the case with 3-D games) is also a bit dodgy. The shapes
themselves don't fire back or attack the player in any way and
there is no sound in the demo. The demo will continually run
until it is turned off as there is no way to win or lose yet.
Although it's somewhat simplistic looking in its
early state, 3-D Zapper was showing some interesting
potential. Internal memos show that in addition to the
simple one screen version of the game (limited to 4K), there were
plans for a deluxe 8K version that would add two additional stages
to the game and improve on the gameplay. The second stage
would consist of a large mothership style boss (possibly looking
like the large UFO from the earlier demo), while the third stage
would have the player control a robot that needed to travel down a
long road and enter a castle while avoiding enemies.
Interestingly this proposed third stage looked very similar to the
second stage in Amiga's 3-D
Ghost Attack. Unfortunately neither version of the
game was to be, and the project was canceled for unknown reasons.
||3D Space 12/15/82
to 2600 Software