zapm had four or five roles to pick from, but PRIME expands the list to more than a dozen. zapm allowed for a few chuckles at its own expense, but much of PRIME reads like a catalog of pop culture sci-fi references, with little green men, killer tomatoes and random rolls of duct tape. zapm allowed for a few space-adventure monsters and tools, but PRIME takes everything from the last 50 years of Hollywood tropes, shakes it vigorously and pours it through an ncurses filter.
The title page for PRIME suggests it’s a spinoff of a specific version of zapm, but I see updates to the PRIME versions as recently as August, which says to me it’s its own project now.
PRIME seems to keep the same style as zapm, with a few embellishments. vi-like and arrow key navigation is back by default, and levels are fast and quick with only 80×24 as the playing field. Some of the conventions from zapm — such as exploding barrels, which are lethal at level 1 in zapm — are still present in PRIME, but come with slight adjustments, such a one-time warning if you attempt to collide with them.
So while PRIME pulls its main body from zapm, which of course pulls its framework from the long-standing rogue tradition, PRIME is more than a few extra items and an additional role to pick from. It has definitely taken a step beyond its progenitor.
I like it. It’s fast and funny, and seems to pull out some of the stumbling blocks that didn’t appeal to me in zapm. While it’s no more innovative in terms of interface or gameplay than any of the other dozens of titles that preclude it, PRIME has a flavor of its own.