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Video Game / 3D Monster Maze

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"Roll up, roll up, see the amazing Tyrannosaurus Rex, king of the dinosaurs in his lair. Perfectly preserved in silicon since prehistoric times, he is brought to you for your entertainment and exhilaration."
Part of the intro narration

3D Monster Maze is a video game released in 1982 for the ZX81. The game was initially released by J. K. Greye Software in December 1981 before being re-released the following year by programmer Malcolm Evans' own company. It is one of the first ever 3D games, as well one of the first Survival Horror games ever made, coming out seven years before Sweet Home (1989). In it, you roam in a maze to find the exit while avoiding a Tyrannosaurus rex that chases you. The goal is to collect as many points as possible by avoiding getting eaten and getting to the exit.

This game provides examples of:

  • And I Must Scream: After dying, the game tells you you were sentenced to roam the maze forever. You do have the option to appeal in attempt to get out, which basically ends the game.
  • Beast in the Maze: Rex, he's a T. rex living in a maze.
  • Circus of Fear: The amusement attraction has brought a T. rex from across time perfectly preserved in silicon for your entertainment. The management accept no responsibility if the monster catches you.
  • Endless Game: No matter how many mazes you clear, there's no escape.
  • Faux First Person 3D: Among the first of its kind, but can make navigating the maze disorientating as you have no map, and panicky when running away from Rex.
  • Getting Eaten Is Harmless: Subverted. Getting caught by Rex means you'll be trapped with him in his labyrinth forever.
  • It Can Think: Successfully eluding Rex will make him very angry, and the game states more luck is needed to escape him again.
  • "Jaws" First-Person Perspective: The first example in video games. When Rex is dangerously close to you, your POV becomes his mouth. Death always immediately follows.
  • Jump Scare: When you see Rex from the front, he'll walk into you and then kill you. It was rather intimidating for the time. Rex can also sometimes wait for you to come straight to him, blindsiding you from round a corner.
  • Living Dinosaurs: Rex is a Tyrannosaurus that got preserved in silicon during the Cretaceous and was released in modern times.
  • Noob Bridge: The ZX81 had no directional arrow keys. To move you have to use the "5", "7" and "8" numeric keys instead. This contributed to the Survival horror aspect of the game (and maybe considered the first example of Tank Controls); seeing the monster coming at you, turning around and sprinting the other way, was a manic dance across the keyboard.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Technical limitations of the ZX81 prevented the game from having any sound... which makes being stalked by Rex even creepier.
  • Scoring Points: Five for each step you take in the maze when Rex hunts for you.
  • Slasher Smile: Once Rex has got you in his sights, he sports a creepy smile on his face, before he puts those pearly whites to good use.
  • Terrifying Tyrannosaur: The first example in video game history. The presence of a T. rex hunting for you in the maze is what makes the game pure horror.
  • Visibility Meter: You will receive different warnings depending on how close Rex is to you. From farthest to closest: "REX LIES IN WAIT", "HE IS HUNTING FOR YOU", "FOOTSTEPS APPROACHING", "REX HAS SEEN YOU" and "RUN HE IS BESIDE/BEHIND YOU".
  • You Can Run, but You Can't Hide: There's no safe haven in the labyrinths of time, if you idle, Rex will eventually find you.

To appeal press STOP, else press CONT.