Sqij 2018 (Arcade)

SQIJ 2018 (Arcade version) is an action game for the Taito L System arcade hardware.
It’s a maze game, programmed in pure Z80 assembler, with 64 screens to explore.

Sqij has an interesting story. It was originally released for the C64 in 1986. It also recieved an official “port” for the ZX Spectrum in 1987, but that version has famously been called “the worst Spectrum game ever“, so I’ve taken it upon myself to remake the C64 version for the ZX Spectrum and arcade hardware. SQIJ lives again, LOL. Read more about the original Spectrum version at the bottom of this page.

So what is Sqij? Well, at its feathery heart the game is a multi-screen maze game. You play as Sqij – a bird tasked with collecting the lost 6 pieces of a tree – and bringing them to a holy cave where it can grow. The caverns are full of nasties you’ll have to dispose of, and you’ll also have to find keys to unlock barriers that block parts of the caves.

I coded the Spectrum version and then decided to port it to Taito’s L System arcade hardware a few months later. Well, not really “port” – this version has been completely rewritten from scratch – with just the data reused. Most people will probably have to run this through the MAME emulator but it can also be burned onto EPROMS – or EEPROMS – and run on an actual JAMMA arcade cabinet – providing you have the right hardware.


Download ROM file for use with the MAME emulator (49 KB).

Current version v1.5 (released November 2nd, 2018).

Here is a couple of screenshots from the game.



Video coming here … as soon as someone makes one I can pinch. 😉

Gameplay description:
You’re Sqij – a bird tasked with finding and collecting the six lost pieces of a holy tree – and bringing them to a sacred cave where it can grow. The caverns are full of nasties you’ll have to dispose of, and you’ll also have to find keys to unlock barriers that block parts of the caves. The keys won’t look like keys – some of the inhabitants of the caves will give them to you. Can you find them?


Place the ‘plotting.zip’ file in your ROMS folder under your MAME installation folder (you don’t have to unpack it … but you can also unpack the files into a ‘Plotting’ folder).
Notice that the file is called ‘plotting.zip’ because it will replace that game in MAME. You will also have to start the game from the commandprompt with “mame plotting” as trying to run the game from the GUI will throw up an error. Alternatively, I’m sure it’ll be included in HBMAME (HomeBrewMAME).

Use the joystick and the buttons mentioned on the screen. As this is an arcade game remember to “insert coin” before you can play.

Legal Blurb
This game is FREEWARE and must remain freeware. I would also ask that the game will only be available from this website.

Idea and design of original C64 game: Jason Kendall
Graphics by Lobo.
Music by Spacefractal.


Version history.
v1.0 – May 4th, 2018
v1.1 – May 5th, 2018 – a bug in the ‘poof’ code affected the difficulty. Fixed. Also tweaked the main menu.
v1.5 – November 2nd, 2018 – All bugs finally fixed so it runs 100% as it should on the real hardware.


Disclaimer / possible future improvements.
This version hasn’t been tested out on the real hardware yet. Hopefully it will soon and if there’s any problems I will fix them and upload a new version.
Perhaps I will also be able to have music during the game later, but for now the music doesn’t play well with soundeffects.


Extra info.
The original Spectrum game from 1987 has, by many many people, been called “the worst Spectrum game ever” … and it’s not a totally unfounded accusation, as the game was completely unplayable when it was released. I could write a long story about why the original game was so bad, but this Eurogamer article, as well as this one, does pretty good jobs telling the story. There’s also plenty of YouTube videos – I like this one and this very entertaining one by Ashens (go in 47 minutes to see the bit about Sqij, but do watch all of it if you can find the time). I’m not really sure how I got the idea to remake it, but here it is, complete with the exact same map and item positions as the C64 version. Perhaps not a mega-game, but a fun little project to make anyway, so now the game is not only available on the C64 and the Spectrum, but also on arcade hardware. Amazeballs 🙂 Enjoy.