It’s not 2015 any more. Looking for the CSSCGC 2016? Here it is. You might need some dark glasses to read it.
It’s 2016 now, surely I don’t have anything left to do now I’ve passed the baton on to this year’s host. What do you mean, I haven’t chosen this year’s host yet? Of course I have, it’s… oh bollocks.
Ladies and gentlemen, the results of the 20th CSSCGC are now in. I was going to do this in a Eurovision stylee, but we’ve had enough nul points in this competition already, so on to the categories. Fanfare! Drum roll! R Tape loading error, 0:1!
So many to choose from! From the drugged-up cocaine binge of catmeows‘ Line Overdrive, to the obsessive attention to detail in GReW‘s Advanced Fiesta Simulator 3D, you lot really do have far too much time on your hands. But for me the game that came first (f’nar), the one that ended up on top (oo-er), was Sex On First Date, an utterly realistic (as far as I can remember, it’s been a long time) s(t)imulator by Gabriele Amore, which was impressive on so many levels – it was written in machine code, featured great Chunk-O-Vision graphics, and even boasted a sexy font. Sqij Towers’ BloodBaz was impressed too, because of its 100% MACHINE CODE-ness: “I like coding in assembly and like doing it native rather than using toolkits for that bare metal feel. However this game had a different kind of “bare” in mind and made me laugh quite a bit. I’m sure the objective of a first date isn’t to re-enact a poor quality 1970’s porn star, however but the sentiment is there! Just need some 1970s porn-music to go with it.”
Who knew sex with a rubber could be so much fun? Well done Gab! And quite an appropriate winner too, as today is Valentine’s Day! (Erm, no it’s not, except on Baker Island, and nobody lives there. Ed.)
Look, they’re all crap! However Simon Ferré‘s buggy, slow, BASIC piece of chod Honey I Shrank The Screen has to take the (arse) biscuit. The eye-watering loading screen, the tiny playing area, the topsy-turvy key combination, and the sheer sloth of the thing… given a choice between playing this game ever again and inserting habanero peppers into one or more of my orifices, I think I’ll take the chilli enema. Well done Simon!
Sex On First Date was a contender here too, as were Gab’s other two games Stickman Olympic Challenge and Training Of The Warrior, Guesser’s Advanced Screechy Seagull Torturing Simulator (apparently p13z did the graphics, but I can understand why he wouldn’t put his name to the whole thing), and pretty much everything by Sqij Towers’ very own Myke-P. My personal favourite was Myke’s Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Shelf Challenge, with graphics which, if Ocean or Hewson Consultants had seen them back in 1987, would’ve at the very least passed on Myke’s phone number to the head of Mastertronic. Yep, they’re that good. But what about all those Chunk-O-Vision extravaganzas, I hear you cry? Never fear…
“Best” Chunk-O-Vision Game
There were loads of funky chunky games to choose from this year – GReW‘s Swingball Wizard, most of Gab or Myke’s games, almost everything produced for the ZX81, Simon Ferré‘s cat squashing simulator… but MatGubbins has this category pretty well sewn up. Almost any of his games could’ve won, but my favourite was Point At A Pirate, which was elevated from simple gambling game to one of the most fun entries of the competition with the inclusion of those fantastically colourful and detailed characters, including pixellated Emilia Fox with no clothes on. Rrowwrrrr!
I have to say I loved the concept of Sunteam‘s R-Type for the Blind, and nearly gave it the “Best” Sound gong on the basis that the game contains very little else other than sound (same goes for deKay’s BEEP) but I couldn’t deny the effort that Sqij Towers’ very own Chris Young put in – I’m sure if Mozart was alive today he too would have downloaded a load of Midi files off the internet and converted them using Midi2AY, instead of learning to play the piano. So Europe-Vision 2015 it is!
“Best” ZX81 Game
An almost unanimous vote here for Advanced Fiesta Simulator 3D by GReW – a game so realistic that when I played it I’m sure I could hear a mechanic sucking his teeth in and going “It’s gonna cost yer mate”. I did like Angus Gulliver’s Advanced Toaster Simulator too – what is it with ZX81s that brings out the advanced simulators? Whatever next, Advanced ZX81 Simulator? Oh.
Keyword Challenge Winner
So many to choose from that it’s almost impossible. R-Tape’s VERIFY THE PIE OR NOT was a particular favourite (almost a year on and I still can’t get rid of the taste of tarpaulin and sellotape), but I feel MatGubbins has to take the prize again here, with his trilogy of CAT-based games, not to mention such delights as LENTILS FOR SATAN and CLINT AND FORESKIN (both of whom, incidentally, are supporting Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts on their worldwide tour this year).
CSSCGC Remake Challenge Winner
However it didn’t contain nearly enough digitised pictures of 1980s models for my liking, so Andrew Green is the winner here, with his
remake of Maria Whittaker Strip Snap. Hubba hubba!
Crap Idea Generator Challenge Winner
The, by Myke-P. OK, so it was the only entry in this category. Anyone would think Myke wanted to host the CSSCGC again. Well don’t worry, he’s not.
“Best” Celebrity Tie-In
Another tricky category – this year we had Stephen Hawking, Wally, another Wally, a whole host of “slebs” in Strictly Come Dancing, and, erm, Archer Maclean (I think he was the bloke in Monarch Of The Glen who wasn’t Richard Briers). I was going to award this to Geff Capes’ Number Crunch, but then I remembered that Geff Capes (unlike Geoff Capes) isn’t a celebrity at all. However, the three different Jeremy Clarkson games were all suitably crap in their own way, and I can’t choose a “winner”, so the authors will just have to fight it out amongst themselves.
“Best” Machine Code Game
We were spoilt for choice with machine code games this year, but my vote goes to the original BEEF by Uncle “Jonathan” Chicken, a platform game that would almost be good enough for inclusion on a Beau-Jolly Computer Hits compilation if it didn’t keep skipping screens.
“Best” Adventure Game
Alessandro Grussu’s The Trunk wins by default – it was the only adventure in the whole competition. Not that it’s a bad game as such, and not being able to do anything at all makes a refreshing change from being stabbed in the left nipple by Edwin, The Goblin King of Huddersfield or whoever it was I was usually trying to avoid in all those adventure games in the 1980s.
Most Pointless Entry
It would be unkind of me to say “all 81 of them”, – I thought it would be a toss-up between MatGubbins’ AND IT CONTINUED TO RAIN, Fly Catcher by Patricia Routledge’s Octopus Smells Musty, and BloodBaz’s RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RAND(Oh, do shut up. Ed.), but then I remembered Mat’s LAZY CLINT, a game so utterly without purpose that I couldn’t even be bothered to review it properly.
Best Convolution in a game
Here’s what BloodBaz thinks of R-Tape’s maze game: “I’ve nominated this award to Marginal Pain due to the huge amount of time that it takes to render the playing maze prior to the game start. This is something that a 12 byte machine code program could do in a quarter of a second, however Mr Hughes (in his infinite wisdom) decided to in half a dozen BASIC statements line 870.” Other nominations in this category include Eye Gambler, Guess My Wait and Watching Paint Dry, all of which I would recommend if you want a boring Sunday afternoon to become even more longer and boringer-er.
“Best” Game Featuring a Cat
Quoting BloodBaz again. You can tell I’m bored of this now, can’t you? “I was going to nominate Fly Catcher until a letter came down from management on the 43rd floor to tell me that ‘featuring a cat’ doesn’t mean ‘title contains Cat in the title’. Shame really as it smells of all things Sqij. Therefore I am nominating Plot To Go To And Run Over The Cat because I like the chunky graphics and you get the save the cat with your horn. Rosco The Cat 2: Egyptian Hi-Jinx was a second place entry for me.” Personally I would’ve gone with Next Cat Up Or Down, but what do I know, eh?
“Best” Loading Screen
This is the very final category, because you lot have been pestering me for the results for six weeks, to the point where I’m utterly sick of this competition now and just want to hand it over to Gab and whoever else we can rope in to help him with the CSSCGC2016. There were so many fantastic loading screens that if I try to choose one I’ll be here until next February. Myke helpfully knocked up a collage of all the loaders in one go so we Sqij reviewers could compare the things. What do you mean “it’s a bit small, isn’t it?” Sheesh, you lot are never satisfied. Well then, I’ll award it to Dave Hughes’ Driver, because after over a year of doing this shit, I look exactly like this bloke:
Post-competition waffly bit
And that’s it! I’d just like to say a HUGE thank you to my co-reviewers: Myke-P, Chris Young, BloodBaz and DeKay, for all their help over the last year. A HUGE thank you to everyone reading this and those of you who commented on the games. And the HUGEST thank you of all to this year’s crap game authors… here goes, in order of how much time they wasted on this shit over the last twelve months:
MatGubbins (this year’s most prolific author, with 14 games), Chris Young (9 games), Simon Ferré (9 games), sunteam (8), Andrew Green (5), Dave Hughes (5), unclechicken (5), GReW (4), Myke-P (4), Gabriele Amore (3), PROSM (2), absinthe_boy (1), Alessandro Grussu (1), Antonio Silva (1), ben soundhog (1), BloodBaz (1), Bob Harris (1), catmeows (1), Colin Woodcock (1), David Pagett (1), deKay (1), Guesser (1), Insert Coin (1), and Jamie Bradbury (1).
Thank you, and goodnight! (It’s eleven o’clock in the morning, you dolt! Ed.)
It’s the last game of the competition! Hurrah! Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Etc. This is the first ever CGC entry from Ben Soundhog, but he knows what he’s doing – as well as being a proper C64 coder for a while back in the early ’90s, I have it on good authority that he was also responsible for the Speccy theme tune to one of those kids’ TV tie-in games by Alternative Software. Fireman Pat And His Black And White SuperTed, I think it was. Despite these impressive credentials, he claims to have not written a game in Sinclair BASIC since 1984, and only started writing this an hour before the deadline, finally sending it in just after 5am in the morning (to paraphrase Moonlight Shadow by Mike Oldfield). Still, I can think of far worse ways to spend New Year than writing a crap game. HOOTENANNY! Oh boogie-woogie off, Jools.
Not only do we get a loading message plastered across the screen, but also a series of ascending beeps, just like all those Ultimate games from 1983! This has got to be good, right? Right?
Wow, that’s the best loading screen I’ve seen for ages, and not at all spoilt by the obliteratory (LMLWD) message. I wouldn’t be surprised if it took Ben six whole hours to draw that!
I particularly like the way the problem of word wrap is solved by mis-spelling some words. Nice use of “scroll?”, too. Imagine if this was the first Speccy game you’d ever loaded, and you actually pressed Space at that point. Doesn’t bear thinking about. A bit like thirty-odd years ago when I, erm, a friend of a friend of a friend unwrapped his Spectrum+ for Christmas, loaded up the User Guide Companion Cassette, it asked him to press a key and in his infinite wisdom I, erm, he chose “BREAK”. Cough.
Anyway. A member of the public is trying to cross a river, but there isn’t a bridge available. That doesn’t seem to stop him though. He just keep plodding along, expecting a bridge to fall from the sky right in front of his feet. Luckily you are “one of te countries leading experts in buildng stuff”, and you can save the hapless pillock by dropping girdles from your aeroplane to make a bridge. I assume “girdles” is a regional pronunciation of girders. Or was “girdles” what Irn Bru was made in Scotland from? I can’t remember which is which now, I need to do some research on “girdles”. Back in a minute.
(some time passes)
(Advanced Lingerie Section Of The Freemans Catalogue Simulator, anyone?)
Ahem. Where was I? Yes. River, pillock, aeroplane, bridge. You fly along from left to right, and you have to drop the girder in the correct spot so that when the dozy twonk takes a step onto the bridge, there’s a bridge there to step on to. Exhibit A:
UDGs? Never heard of ’em, guv. You see that sideways Tetris block thingy? That’s you in your aeroplane, that is. You see that asterisk on the right-hand side? That’s the cranially challenged member of the public (“member” being the operative word), that is. Simply press Space to drop your girder (represented by an INV VIDEOed letter X) and it’ll miraculously float on the water, a bit like that bloke with a beard Cliff Richard’s always banging on about (Dave Lee Travis? Ed.). But here’s the catch – you have to drop it next to an existing part of the bridge, or it’ll sink! Whether these “girdles” have magnetic properties causing them to stick to each other is not explained, but that’s how it is.
It’s a good job this is written in BASIC, as machine code would be far too fast to drop the girders accurately. As it is, you’ll still need cat-like reflexes and eagle eyes more eagle-eyed than the eagle eyes of Eagle-Eye Cherry. Curiously, dropping a girder on Asterisk Man’s head has no effect at all – a shame really, as in real life it would either kill him stone dead or knock some sense into him and make him go the long way round (via Crewkerne, or the Black Cat Roundabout on the A1). My first couple of goes ended in a drowning, accompanied by a dirgey rendition of the death march that makes Gloomy Sunday sound like the Bubble Bobble theme tune.
However I soon get into my stride and, whistling Bridge To Your Heart by Wax as I go, my massive erection starts to takes shape. F’nar.
After completion of a level, the whole thing starts again, except Asterix the Twat is closer to the river, meaning you have even less time to get him across. Ben says in his email “By level 6 you can’t make a mistake or it’s curtains for you, sunshine”. There’s a level 6?!
This is a crap game in the original spirit of the CGC – a game that I can easily imagine being included on Cassette 50 or in the type-ins section of Your World of Comp.Sys.Sinclair Spectrum User magazine. I look forward to more crap games from soundhog and Corse Hair Software, but I’m equally pleased I won’t have to review them.
By the way, I have to mention soundhog’s other talent, for DJ mixes, remixes, re-edits and – no, I won’t call them m*sh*ps, as I know he hates the word, but those things where someone gets the vocal from one song and the backing from another completely different song and puts it together in a clever way. If you’re not completely tone deaf (and I’m aware that excludes at least half of the CGC entrants this year, judging by the copious quantities of atonal blooping they wrung out of their collective Speccies) then you’ll want to have a listen to this stuff. In fact, why not do it now, while you’re all waiting for the Sqij Towers team to decide on a “winner”? Click on the soundhog website to start.
Download .tap here.
Remember Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout? I’ve spent the last month trying to forget about it, but Myke-P just won’t let me, with this additional pack (sorry, Trak Pak) of Christmas (s)hits. You know that sinking feeling you get when you’re at work, and it’s five to five on a Friday evening, and you’re just about to go down the pub, and then your boss walks past your desk and goes “Oh, if I could just have that sales report on my desk by seventeen hundred hours today, there’s a good chap”? That’s what it felt like when I read the “Oh, and by the way” at the very bottom of Myke’s email about his last game, “The“.
It’s a cover tape bonus, so I won’t waste too much time on it, as I’ve still got one last proper game (remember those? Proper ZX Spectrum games? No, me neither) to review. In the tradition of bonus giveaways like Moley Christmas, Myke was commissioned to make this by Your World of Comp.Sys.Sinclair Spectrum User magazine, a publication I’m not familiar with, but I’m sure is even funkier, twice as skillo and infinitely more crapola than the competition (Your Sinkplunger, Computer & Vegetable Games and so on)
Merry Christmas! Today is January 14th. I feel about as Christmassy as Wham did in their video for Club Tropicana. I ran out of pickled walnuts on Boxing Day, I have no interest in my colleagues’ leftover Christmas cake, and if anyone so much as whistles half a bar of that godawful Paul McCartney song within earshot, I’m liable to punch them in the baubles. Mind you, that applies at any time of year.
Right. As this is a Trak Pak and not a proper game (and I’ve already wasted 250-odd words on it) you’ll need your original copy of Karaoke Kamikaze Shootout. This can be found here. Then load it in, stick the Christmas tzx thingy in the festive virtual wossname, read the on-screen instructions (which to Myke’s credit are very easy to follow – he’s certainly aware of the mental capacity of his target audience) and marvel at the awful beepy rendition of whichever Chrimble tune Myke chose to, erm, rend. Rendite. Renditionize?
Is that 400 words yet? Oh, that’ll do. It’s not as if it hasn’t already been reviewed once. Either play the thing now and feel all nostalgic for three weeks ago when it was actually Christmas, or shove it in the attic until the middle of November and then go “What’s this crap?” and throw it away.
Download tzx here.
Picture the scene. The date: early January, 2016. The location: Sqij Towers. It’s a lonely place now. Everyone’s packed up and gone home. BloodBaz has gone back to his day job as taster of finest ales, Myke-P has joined a Beastie Boys tribute act, and as for DeKay, I’ve made sure to notify the police that he’s on the loose again. And if I peer at the horizon I can just make out the smoke from Chris Young’s beloved 1985 Vauxhall Skova (a cross between a Skoda and a Nova, with none of the redeeming features of both) as he makes the tortuous 17-hour journey over the wooden hills to Bedfordshire. Time to make myself a cup of strong coffee and review the last couple of games, then… hang on a minute, what’s happened to the Sqij Towers finest cutlery? Chris! CHRIS! Get back here, y’bast!
So (having followed Chris’s Czechoslovenian deathmobile at a light amble and retrieved my spoons) there’s just little old me and the last couple of games now. I can see why the ex-Sqij Towers residents have left this one, although to be fair to Myke, I couldn’t ask him to review his own game. It’s a bloody ZX81 effort again, which means I have to dust off the EightyOne emulator. Again. Oh joy! I’m almost nostalgic for the days of Sunteam and his +3 disks! Almost.
The Easter Bunny has to water the garden with a bad cough by firstly figuring out the controls, then. I considered leaving the review until Easter, which is only a couple of months away, but as I can’t remember if I paid for a years’ hosting or two years, I suppose I’d better get on with it. “TEBHTWTGWABCBFFOTC” – no, even that’s too long – “The”, as The Easter Bunny has to water the garden with a bad cough by firstly figuring out the controls shall henceforth be known, is a game in which you are the Easter Bunny and you have to water your garden with a bad cough by firstly figuring out the controls. At least I think it is. I haven’t managed to find EightyOne yet. Where the hell did I put it?
While I’m looking for it, I’ll take the advice Myke gave me a couple of days ago – “guess what the game will be and then play it to see if you were right”. Well, as “The” is a ZX81 game, I’m guessing it’ll be an explosion of colour and cacophony of multichannel sound, and not a piece of monochrome, sluggish crap featuring a blocky representation of the Easter Bunny that looks more like a cockroach.
I’ve found EightyOne now, it was in a folder marked “Kitchen Drawer” along with PetrolReceiptFrom2011.jpg, OldMobilePhoneCharger.exe, and 17DeadAABatteries.rar. Should’ve looked there in the first place.
Well, whaddaya know? “The” is not a piece of monochrome, sluggish crap featuring a blocky representation of the Easter Bunny that looks more like a cockroach at all! It’s actually a piece of monochrome, sluggish crap featuring a blocky representation of the Easter Bunny that looks more like a beetle!
I certainly wouldn’t want to meet this particular character on a dark night, anyway. Myke hasn’t included any instructions, but if you have a logical brain, you’ll work out the controls and the aim of the game soon enough. Unfortunately I don’t have a logical brain (why else would I have agreed to host this competition?), so I spend seventeen minutes jabbing at keys, some of which I think might be doing something, but it’s hard to tell because the rabbit/beetle/mutant termite thingy disappears every time.
This is Myke’s first ZX81 game. It’d be churlish of me to follow that statement with “…and it shows!”, and I suppose we’ve all got to start somewhere, but stick to Speccy games next time, eh?
Download .p file here.
And so, as we near the end of another great year of game crapness, I return from an extended leave of absence to the Towers of Sqij (still lofty, still menacing) to review one last effort from Andrew Green.
Not a game but a games designer. And not just any games designer but The Ultimate Games Designer for the ZX Spectrum. Are you beside yourself with trepidation? Maybe!
The title page if full of guarantees to produce the best game ever; so much so that Mr. Green has even gone to the extra effort of using CAPITAL LETTERS to emphasise the fact. The mention of complex algorithms however basically comes down to the ZX BASIC “RND” function and the NB at the end mentions a time to build this game is approximately the lifetime of the earth to date. “program” – maybe; “design” – maybe not.
Now, I’m glad I got to review this program because I reviewed a program very similar to this back in 2010. Advanced UDG Generator promised to create your perfect UDG simply outputting every combination of bits in an 8×8 pixel square. This program takes this to a whole new level and I’ll explain why…
*** SPOILER ALERT ***
The program basically fills a large chunk of the Spectrum’s memory with random data before executing it. Where Advanced UDG Generator would take a mere 2.2 million years to run through every UDG graphic, this program populates 36,612 bytes of RAM (between 28775 and 65367 (immediately below the UDG area) before attempting to execute it. This is humongous leap in entropy space compared to UDG designer’s 8 bytes.
As with Advanced UDG Generator however, there are some flaws, and more so here:
- The game has been submitted as a Z80 Snapshot with no means to seed the random number generator. Consequently, the sequence of bytes generated is exactly the same every time you run it from initial load up! We get just one generated game code instead of the potential 2^292896 possibilities (that is a number that is over 88 thousand digits long by the way)! Oh how the opportunity was missed. Major fail!
- Assuming the above flaw was solved, the Spectrum’s implementation of RND is far too limited to generate all 2^292896 possible states. See my own program RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE for more details on that matter.
- The aforementioned “lifetime of the earth to date” to make the greatest game.
- Despite checking the location of the machine stack, the program is supposed to display “PRESS ANY KEY TO RUN PROGRAM“, and give you the opportunity to press a key before running your masterpiece. However, I kept getting “C Nonsense in BASIC, 20:1” at this point. Now you might think, that the generated program might simply have bombed out with a “C” Report, however it hasn’t actually ran the generated program at this point! I don’t know what gives here but I suspect Mr Green has some damage already built into the snapshot file. It should be on line 50 at this point, not 20!
So, credit where it is due, the program is crap beyond comprehension and probably took less time to write than it took me to review it. But, if you like WAITING and DISAPPOINTMENT and ENTROPY SPACE and BLUE then you might get something out of this. Personally I am a CYAN type of guy!
Score: 1 / 2^292896
Right, let’s get this over and done with. These games are starting to get on my tits now, I mean, we’re well into 2016 and the competition should have closed already.
Oh, hello readers. Didn’t see you there, due to the nuclear fallout damaging my eyesight and/or giving me six arms or whatever, but it’s OK as hiding under the table with a tin of beans has largely helped me get out of the bombing unscathed.
Yes: this is Protect and Survive: Threads: The Computer Game, which I’m going to call Protect and Survive, Threads or PAS:T:TCG interchangeably at will.
It’s GReW‘s latest effort, and it’s based on the Threads TV show from the 80s. I don’t think I ever saw Threads, however it was repeated on BBC4 some years back and I taped it, and then didn’t bother to watch it. It’s probably in the loft now. I’m not sure it matters, the basic gist of the game is there’s a nuclear war on, and you’ve hidden in the cupboard under the stairs with – apparently – a bed, a cooker, the world’s biggest bottle of water and a latrine (as GrEw politely calls it).
There doesn’t appear to be any food, and I couldn’t get the cooker to do much – probably because the nuclear blast has cut off both the electricity and gas. I could, however, use the lavatory at my pleasure, wipe my arse as much as I liked, and go to sleep. Well, I could go to sleep once, and then the game would insist I wasn’t tired. Oh, there’s also a door, but you can’t go out that way.
It’s all rendered in 3D Speccyvision (aka Freescape), Total Eclipse-style, and just like Total Eclipse I don’t really know what I’m supposed to be doing, don’t know how to do it and am probably going to get very old before I walk all the way over to the only object I can see at less than one frame a second.
I’m being unkind, the 3D works very well and is quick. It’s a little too technically competent for the CGC (although appears to be created with 3D Construction Kit, so not that technically competent), but thankfully gREW doesn’t appear to have put any gameplay in, so that’s OK.
As far as I can tell, you can either wait until you get radiation poisoning and die, or you can wait until your health deteriorates so much that you die. I drank all the water, cranked the emulator up to max and took the former way out. (You can also unplug the Speccy, which is quicker. Ed)
Of course the irony is that you wouldn’t be able to play this whilst waiting for the bombs to fall, as it takes precisely one-and-a-half minutes longer to load than the four minute warning allows.
I advise playing this directly after Gardener of Doom, for the full apocalyptic experience. Actually I don’t advise that at all, I think that’s the radiation sickness talking.
Score: One tin of SPAM out of an arbitrary amount of tins of corned beef.
After confusing everyone with Fly Catcher – which had the look of a ZX81 game but that no-one seemed to be able to figure out how to play – PROSM is back with an actual ZX81 game which is moderately easier to fathom.
Shortly after submitting this game we received a follow up email in which PROSM admitted he’d left a line out of the program. Rather than attaching an amended .P file, however, we were advised how we could correct the omission ourselves; “before running the program, please insert the line: 90 RAND 0.”
Bug fixes and revised versions are generally frowned upon in CSSCGC as it is (under the assumption that a mistake or lack of attention to detail is a positive trait,) however, I think it’s a bold move to ask us to implement them! 😀
Of course I could’ve amended the .P file to issue a ‘corrected’ version – but why deny you the fun as well?
Load the .P file in EightyOne (or your choice of Zeddy Emulator) and, when it shows “0/0,” type the following:
90T0[Enter] (0=zero, no spaces)
Congratulations! Our collective hard work has paid off; we can finally get to play the game as PROSM (henceforth known fully as ‘Peter Serafinowicz Obliterated My Sinclair’) intended.
It turns out that the RAM pack on a ZX81 was a little top heavy and prone to working loose from the Edge Connector during normal use – which usually resulted in a system reset and the loss of any data or, more critically, that program you just spent three hours typing!
In this tense simulation you are programming very own 3D Monster Maze-beater directly into the Zeddy as machine code. You’ve noted down each byte to enter on your notepad and all you need to do is type each decimal value in turn at the bottom of the screen.
There are only ten thousand or so to get through, however, the problem is that if you hit Enter* too hard then your RAM pack might wobble (or outright fall off) and you’ll lose the lot.
* or someone breathes too heavily, or opens a window, or a butterfly flaps its wings in Japan etc..
So, in a ‘gameplay’ style reminiscent of last year’s Ultimate ZX Spectrum Games Designer, you type your numbers and (gently) press Enter.
If you type the number correctly your score increases, if you type the number incorrectly your score is reset to 0 and you have to start from the beginning of the list. Alternatively, if the program deems you to be the heavy handed type, there’s a roughly one in 12 chance that your ZX81 will reboot each time you press the Enter key. Nailbiting stuff!
As I understand it PROSM is working on a sequel in which the in-game XP system reduces the chances of wobble over time by offering the user the likes of chewing gum, Blu-tack™ or Velcro® in order to try and secure the RAM pack in place.
Download .p file
Andrew Green opened last year’s competition with a bit of a programming gaff that meant only the most dedicated of csscgc-ers would see his game’s (literally) blinding opening sequence.
He’s not making that mistake again and has cleverly left the snapshot file provided at a RUN prompt – all you need to do is tap [Enter] and the show can begin!
Andrew’s title screen is rendered predominantly in Chunk-o-vision™ and augmented with a number of strategically placed diagonal lines and some painfully slow-to-draw concentric circles.
You get to see this display every time you restart the game and, to me at least, was reminiscent of the boss’ Christmas jokes – mildly entertaining the first time around and increasingly grating with each subsequent experience.
Archer Maclean, in case you’re wondering, is responsible for some pretty great games; Dropzone, IK+, the ‘Jimmy White’ series and, of course, his self-titled; “Pool” simulation.
All that time hunched over a keyboard on an 80s office chair, however, has taken it’s toll and he is now suffering from a painful case of the old Chalfonts*.
A quick introductory text (to that effect) and it’s onto the game proper; you ‘control’ the red brick – here representing the titular poo – and, if I interpret the rest correctly, those ‘crystal blue waters’ are actually a reservoir of stomach acid caused by the falling yellow blobs? Nice.
I’m no doctor, however, I’ve an inkling that Archer should be even more concerned about faecal matter passing up though his stomach (rather than down through his intestines) than the throbbing pain between his buttocks?
Medical questions aside, however, your job is to judge the optimal time to propel Archer’s stool across the screen by way of the Space Bar.
* Ask your Dad and watch him wince.
As it makes its way across the screen the acid drops fall in a largely unpredictable manner which show complete disregard for the laws of gravity.
If you collide with one it’s a prompt Game Over, however, make it to the other side (by pure luck, natch – Ed) then congratulations are in order. Huzzah!
Subsequent level brings more and more acid drops, and an inversely proportional drop in ‘framerate,’ as you mash the Space Bar in the vain hope of a response.
Andrew believes that this game has a “hypnotic quality” that makes you “want to see how far you can go” and, as I sat playing it on the bog, I certainly felt relaxed so I guess that counts as an endorsement?
The High Score Challenge is set at level 9 and, looking at the BASIC, there are 25 of them to get through** before Archer can finally sit down comfortably to a happy New Year.
** Although, at this point, your Spectrum will be screaming in agony on the floor as its Z80 processor melts.
Score: Crap on so many levels!
Download .z80 file
I’m not sure if this is a challenge entry based on the crap idea generator or if Sqij Towers’ very own Sir Christopheles of Youngington came up with the idea himself. The 4th Earl of Sandwich (a small town on the Kent coast – Sandwich that is, not the 4th Earl, who as far as I know was a human and not a small town at all) is widely acclaimed as the inventor of the tasty filling inside two slices of bread combo known to all (except the Scandinavians, who haven’t quite grasped the idea of the second slice yet) as the “sandwich”.
Sandwich-related fact #1: if the Earl of Sandwich had been the Earl of Cheddar, and Cheddar cheese had been invented in Sandwich, we’d all be eating a “sandwich and pickle cheddar” for our lunch. Which is just silly, unless Yoda your name is (obligatory topical reference to Star Wars to prove I’m not writing these posts in February and saving them up for now)
Sandwich-related fact #2: a member of the Dutch beat combo from the ’90s The Vengaboys (of We’re Going To Ibiza “fame”) is called Cor Sangers, which is what an Australian says when it’s lunchtime.
You’re the Earl of Sandwich and you have to travel around looking for your missing sandwich. The game features a horrible multiload system reminiscent of Chris’s previous Eurovision game. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that some recycling has gone on. In which universe are Australia and Israel part of Europe? The Eurovision universe, that’s where. Hmmmm.
You choose your destination, and when you get there you have to listen to the country’s national anthem before the search can begin for your lost sandwich (or as the 4th Earl of Sandwich calls it, a “me”). It isn’t bloody there. So you traipse around, loading a lot of data, listening to a lot of anthems and looking for your lost lunch, which is invariably in the last place you look. I assume Chris has employed some sort of MIDI to beeper thing again to write the music, as there’s tons of it – I was particularly taken by the the national anthem of Azerbaijan, which seemed to go on for several weeks without an end.
How long you spend on this “game” depends on whether you like the sound of beepy national anthems interspersed with loading noises. Right up my street, then! Assuming my street is in Copenhagen:
Things I learnt today – the Danish national anthem sounds a bit like O Come All Ye Faithful. And, erm, that’s it.
Score: exactly the same score as I gave Chris for his Eurovision 2015 game, except with the crusts cut off.