Ant Attack

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Ant Attack
Ant Attack cassette cover art
Cover art
Developer(s) Sandy White
Publisher(s) Quicksilva
Engine Softsolid 3D
Platform(s) ZX Spectrum
Commodore 64
Release date(s) 1983 (Spectrum)
1984 (Commodore 64)
Genre(s) Action
Mode(s) Single-player

Ant Attack is a ZX Spectrum computer game by Sandy White. It was published in 1983 by Quicksilva, and converted to the Commodore 64 in 1984. It was one of the first, if not the first, isometric 3D games.


Gameplay screenshot

The player controls either a boy or a girl (the game allows to choose at the start) who has to enter the walled city of Antescher (a reference to the artist M. C. Escher) in order to rescue their significant other who has been captured and tied up somewhere in the city. The city is inhabited by giant ants which chase and attempt to bite the player. The player can defend themselves by throwing grenades at the ants. Once the hostage is rescued, the two must escape the city. After this, the whole thing starts again with the hostage located in a different part of the city, with each location being progressively more difficult to reach than the previous.


It was written almost entirely, by hand, in Z80 machine code,[1] with some incidental routines added using Sinclair BASIC.[2] The same type of isometric projection was used in Sandy White's later Zombie Zombie.

While both Q*bert and Zaxxon used isometric projection, the shading and extra degree of freedom (ability to go up and down instead of just north, south, east and west) introduced in Ant Attack were innovative for personal computer games of the time. The author argued that it "was the first true isometric 3D game".[3]

Ant Attack was the first title developed with the action viewable from an isometric perspective,[citation needed] pre-dating Knight Lore by a year. According to the staff of Edge it "marked the very beginnings of the survival horror genre".[4]

Almost all of the game code, including all of the main routines, was written by hand on paper using assembler mnemonics, then manually assembled,[3] with the resulting hexadecimal digits typed sequentially into an external EEPROM emulator device (aka SoftROM[5] or "softie") attached to a host Spectrum.[1] Similarly, the character graphics and other custom sprites were all hand-drawn on squared paper and manually converted to strings of hex data, although this was at the time a relatively common method of creating sprite graphics. Additionally, some minor add-on routines such as high score registration were finally added on to the core game using regular Sinclair BASIC.[2]


Ant Attack was well received by gaming press.[6][7] The game was nominated in the 1983 Golden Joystick Awards for Best Original Game of the Year, eventually coming second to Ah Diddums.[8] The ZX Spectrum version was rated number 14 in the Your Sinclair's Official Top 100 Games of All Time.[9]


  1. ^ a b "Video interview with Sandy White". Youtube. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  2. ^ a b "Comments guestbook with owner's replies, page one". Sandy White personal homepage. Retrieved 1 October 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Sandy White. "Sandy White - an Ant Attack homepage". Archived from the original on 6 April 2006. Retrieved 2006-03-28. 
  4. ^ Edge staff (2009-07-31). "The Making Of: Ant Attack". Edge. Retrieved 2009-12-08. 
  5. ^ "SoftROM mini feature, Issue 2, March 1984". Your Sinclair online archive. 
  6. ^ CRASH review
  7. ^ Your Spectrum review
  8. ^ "The Golden Joystick Award", C&VG, Issue 29.
  9. ^ "Readers' Top 100 Games of All Time". Your Sinclair. September 1993. 

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