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Cart #pico_dictator-0 | 2019-07-11 | Code ▽ | Embed ▽ | License: CC4-BY-NC-SA

pico dictator 1.00

This is a pico-8 demake of one of my childhood memories, the turn based strategy game "DICTATOR" for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.

I didn't recreate it 100% but instead tried to recreate the look and feel of the game (I added some more graphics etc). The internal engine for the game rules though should be nearly identical.

In DICTATOR you are the ruler of the African banana republic Ritimba and you need keep the different factions of the country - the army, the peasants and the landowners - happy while working tightly together with your secret police. Other parties you need to manage are the guerillas, the neighbor Leftoto, the Russians and the Americans.
Try to grab as much money as you can and stay alive as long as you are able to.

The complete manual of the game is down below in the comments.

See here for more info about the original game:
URL world of spectrum info

See here for a video of the game:

This is the C source code I based my version on:
URL github repo of c version

I initially converted it to an iPhone app called LowRes coder in BASIC and then converted the BASIC code semi automatically to pico-8 - that's why the code doesn't look very lua-like...

And I had to ditch the comments so that I came below the compressed limit of 15360 chars.
(I had to replace my color constants also...)

Have fun!

PS: To be honest - I haven't tested it very deeply - so it could be that there are still some errors - feedback appreciated!

P#65774 2019-07-11 19:58 ( Edited 2019-12-08 17:23)

the manual:

dictator - dk'tronics ltd


originally for 48k spectrum

now for pico-8

you have just become president
of ritimba, a small 'banana
republic' somewhere vaguely
equatorial. like all previous
presidents, of which there have
been very very many, your
position is unenviable. the
instability of the country
guarantees that your rule will
be brief and you will end up
either very dead or in exile.

your main purpose, therefore,
is to rule for as long as
possible, during which time you
need to siphon off into a swiss
bank account as much of your
country's meagre treasury
balance as possible, ready for
your inevitable early
retirement. you must, of
course, manage to flee ritimba
at the appropriate time in
order to enjoy your ill-gotten

these notes will take you into
your first attempt at being

when loaded please stand for
the ritimban national anthem!
(do you recognise it?).

press any key when you can't
stand it any longer.

the flashing 'button' at the
bottom of the screen features
throughout and means

  • press any button to continue

  • press 'o' for yes or 'x' for
    no if required

there are sections where you
need to select one entry with
up and down and choose it with
the button 'a' or optionally
cancel it with 'b'.

press any button for a treasury
report in ritimban dollars.

press any button for a secret
police report.

within ritimba there are three
main populations. the army, the
peasants and the landowners. as
their interests often conflict
and each is jealous of the
others' relative strengths they
are known as factions.

the army is small, housed in
one barracks, and is poorly
equipped. they have nobody to
fight but bands of guerillas,
and are not noted for their
loyalty to the president.

the peasants work and live at
serf level on the banana
plantations. (bananas are the
only export through a rundown
port on the short ritimban
coastline.) both the army and
the guerillas recruit from
their numbers, which are

the landowners, though few in
number, have the financial
clout to buy trouble for you if
they so wish.

also listed on the police
report are various other groups
who can have a strong influence
on ritimba's turbulent history.

the guerillas inhabit the
mountainous border regions and
are solely dedicated to
overthrowing any
(that's you!) and substituting
their own brand of socialism.
they will readily join any
disgruntled faction.

the secret police, your eyes
and ears, who prepared this
report, are formidable allies
or enemies. without their co-
operation you will have little
idea of what's going on, and as
they can either protect you
from assassination or join a
revolution they need to be
treated with due respect.

leftoto is your neighbour
sharing all your land border.
the leftotans also grow and
export bananas. they will not
make war but can give support
to either side in a revolution.
rather left-wing - more
sympathy with russian or
peasant interests. should you
be ousted and flee to leftoto
you will be received
sympathetically, even if the
leftotans helped in your

the superpowers are no direct
threat, but the amount of
'foreign aid' they dish out to
prop up the shaky ritimban
economy is directly related to
their opinion of your rule.

the (green) numbered bars on
the left, indicating your
popularity with factions or
groups will vary in length. at
present, you are equally
popular will all expect the
guerillas. you will never gain
their support.

the (red) numbered bars
indicate the relative strengths
of groups or factions.
superpower superstrength is a
foregone conclusion.

your strength is 4. it
represents the strength of the
only loyal support you have, a
small private army of thugs,
your bodyguard. although not
bright enough to protect you
from assassination they will
fight for you in any revolution
but such is there devotion they
will gun you down should you
attempt to leave them, i.e.
flee the country. the only time
you will be able to do this is
when they are fully occupied
fighting for you.

notice that your rule is
measured in months!

every month you are obliged to
take part in an old but
tiresome ritimban tradition. a
member of one of the factions
will, at this presidential
audience, make a request which
you may grant or refuse.

you can get advice on this

this tells you the consequences
of granting the request, how it
affects your popularity with
and the strengths of the
factions and groups. sometimes
there is little effect. at
other times, the consequences,
depending on your position at
the time, may be disastrous.
you will never be able to
please all of the people all of
the time.

if you decide to refuse the
request the status of each will
not be affected except that
your popularity with the
faction concerned will go down
(minus) by the amount indicated
by the arrow.

press any button afterwards to
show the financial consequences
of granting the request. now
you have to decide.

if you accept the request you
get an updated treasury report.
the first monthly reduction
will have been made as will any
adjustments caused by granting
the request.

an optional police report costs
1,000 dollars. it's always
worth it.

press 'a' for the police
report. the strength and
popularity indicators will have
altered. they can never exceed
9 or drop below 0, so if your
rating with a faction or group
is 0 you can't make things

if your popularity with a
faction drops to 4 or less then
it may plot against you. no
faction is ever strong enough
or confident enough to start a
revolution alone and needs an
ally; another faction or group
with whom you are unpopular.
also, such an alliance can only
be made if the combined
strengths of the two parties
equals or exceeds strength for
revolution (which itself will
vary!). if an alliance is made,
the faction name will get red
and an 'r' will be shown to the
right. the name of the ally
will also get red. thus
forewarned of a plot you will
have time to take appropriate

if a faction cannot find a
suitable ally then it will plot
your assassination. this will
show as an 'a' next to its
name. no strength is needed and
only the secret police can
protect you.

presidential decisions.

these are a selection of
decisions you can choose from
to alter the course of events.
they can be examined and advice
sought concerning the

on screen at first there are
the decision headings. once
selected you are shown
possible decisipns in this

once taken, a decision is
irrevocable. neither can it be
repeated. it won't even be
listed. there are two
exceptions to this and they are
marked with an asterisk.

'increasing your bodyguard'
will increase your strength by

'see to your swiss bank
account' will immediately dump
half the treasury into it. the
move is 'secret' so there are
no changes to strength or

presidential decisions: raise
some cash

the russians and the americans
do not interfere in any way
with your rule, but they will
each give you a lump sum once
only. the amount given will
depend on how popular you are
with them at the time of
asking. if you are very
unpopular they will refuse (but
you can ask again). they will
also need time to assess your
rule, perhaps as long as 5
months, but you can try
earlier. cultivate support -
then ask!

you can also look through other
presidential decisions. after
making one, you will get
another treasury report,
another police report, and then
move on to the next month's

however, during your rule
various other events may occur.

newsflash is a random event
having minor or disastrous
consequences. the advice given
following a newsflash is to let
you know what's happened in

bankruptcy: if the treasury
goes broke you will steadily
lose any support from your
unpaid army, your unpaid
bodyguard and you will get no
police reports. you will be
unable to grant requests or
make decisions which need

assassination attempt: the
strength of the secret police
and your popularity with them
will reflect your chances of
surviving an attack, which can
come at any time. if you are
getting regular police reports
you will probably survive. but,
if all three factions plot
assassinations simultaneously,
the attack will succeed.

revolution occurs only after a
presidential decision, so if a
police report gives you
warning, you will have the
opportunity to de-fuse the
situation if you wish. when a
revolution starts you are given
the opportunity to flee the
country. if you have bought a
helicopter then you will be
safe (assuming that it starts.
ritimban helicopter maintenance
is mainly spit and polish!)
otherwise you will attempt to
escape through the mountains to
leftoto. the strength of the
guerillas will determine your
likelihood of survival. part of
your rule should be devoted to
making escape possible. or you
can stay and fight. the
revolutionary strength is given
and you have the chance to pick
a suitable ally. if the
strengths are matched, you will
win. if the revolutionaries are
a little stronger you may still
win. (god is on your side!)
after winning, your ally goes
to strength 9 and you are given
a chance to 'punish' both
revolutionary parties by
reducing their strengths to
zero. (not always a good idea).

score: your rule is ended when
you have escaped or you're
dead. you are given a
presidential rating based on

1) your current overall

2) your length of rule

3) being alive - a small score
but it allows a score for...

4) the amount in the swiss bank

the score is saved for
comparison with any subsequent

other points: no revolutions or
assassination attempts are made
in the first two months of rule
or for two months following a

you can't take money from your
swiss bank account during a

the level of popularity at
which plots can be hatched can
be as low as 2 or as high as 4.
this level varies from month to

apart from a very few hints,
you have been given no clear
guidelines as to the best way
to success. neither have you
been given all the information.

how many requests are there? do
factions take it in turns to
make them? what's the best way
to rule? subjugate the
population? placate them? a
mixture of the two? how to stop
a revolution? how to start one?
can i manage without the secret

don't expect success at your
first attempt. later you will
gain enough knowledge to
manipulate events so that you
can rule longer, get richer and
escape. you can have both good
and bad luck. how much luck
plays a part is a matter of

P#65775 2019-07-11 19:59

Can't believe I missed this one—it's great! I lasted 14 months and crushed a revolution before I bankrupted the treasury and the game crashed.

Would love to see a version with even more nefarious options.

P#70665 2019-12-07 18:17

Ah, I should have playtested it even better. :-( I had some tests up and running but somehow I missed out this one :-( I'll post a bug fix version 1.01.

P#70700 2019-12-08 15:25

Find here an update version of it: https://www.lexaloffle.com/bbs/?tid=36140

P#70702 2019-12-08 15:34

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