The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

it's crap! In a funky skillo sort of a way.

Month: March 2015

Stephen Hawking’s Advanced Wheelchair Flight Simulator

Stephen Hawking: A brilliant mind, trapped in a barely functioning body, with the voice of a robot. This may sound like the trailer for next summer’s sci-fi blockbuster (read it again in your best “trailer voiceover man” voice, preferably loudly if you’re on the bus or something), but this is science fact, not science fiction.

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it's Stephen Hawking!

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s Stephen Hawking!


The UK’s second favourite professor is the leading authority on black holes, although it was Einstein who originally predicted their existence, before fudging the equations as he believed them impossible. Black holes are strange creatures. So strange, in fact, that they aren’t actually creatures at all. You couldn’t keep one as a pet. Well, you could, but it would – quite literally – eat you out of house and home planet.
The UK's favourite professor is Brian Cox (not pictured)

The UK’s favourite professor is Brian Cox (not pictured)


Black holes are virtually impossible to detect. This is partly because they emit no light, and partly because space and time are intertwined, and massive objects like black holes warp this. If you look at a black hole invariably you’ll see what is behind it, due to an effect known as gravitational lensing. If you get really close to a black hole time slows down. If you get even closer, time will stop. By that point you would have had your atoms torn apart by the excessive gravity so you’d never actually experience this.
Daley Thompson for the Stephen Hawking generation.

Daley Thompson for the Stephen Hawking generation.


In Stephen Hawking’s Advanced Wheelchair Flight Simulator by Paul Weller…. Yes, that’s right. In between embarking on a national tour and promoting his new album (Saturn’s Pattern, out May 11th), the Modfather likes nothing more than writing crap games for his favourite 1980s computer (I think this is why he prefers us to call him “sunteam” – Ed). Thankfully the former The Jam singer managed to sneak this in before Stephen Hawking trademarked his own name, so the legal bill should be reduced.
hawking1
Anyway, the plot goes that the robotic professor is trying to get up close and personal with the black hole at the centre of our galaxy. There is a theory that everything sucked in by a black hole is spat out into a parallel universe. I’m not sure if this is what he is trying to achieve here, it isn’t really adequately explained. It’s also not explained why he doesn’t use a rocket to escape the Earth’s gravity, as a lump of dark matter is unlikely to provide the propulsion needed – especially as nobody really knows what dark matter is, not even Stephen Hawking knows, and you’d think he would do some research first if he’s going to be utilising such a thing. Anti-matter would possibly be a more useful propellent, as it might cause a massive emission of energy before the matter of the young scientist and the lump of anti-matter cause neither to continue to exist.
High score challenge.

High score challenge.


Basically it’s a button-masher. I would explain more but we’ve run out of space-time. How inconvenient.

Score: entrophy

Download +3 .dsk here (it’s a +3 Lee, it’s not fucking rocket science)

Achievements

Developer 1: “So I think we’ve finally finished the Tutorial mission, sir.”
Manager: “Wow! It looks great, but… How long does it take to complete?”
Developer 2: “Only 15 hours or so, sir?”
Manager: “What!? That’s nowhere near long enough… Throw in a couple of save points, a mini boss battle and a task that means you have to trudge back and forth across the whole level a couple of times – you need to be aiming for at least 2 days!”
Developer 1: “Yes sir, sorry sir.”
Developer 2: (smugly) “Told you!”

 

I’m not saying modern games are rubbish, or dumbed-down to the point my Auntie can play them (she sure loves murdering those hookers in Vice City – Ed) but there are definitely a few trends, no doubt brought in by Marketing Departments, Business Analytics and Social Meeeeeedjaaaa that I, personally, could do without, i.e.: Freemium, DLC, Sharing every high score on Facebook, App Updates every ten minutes etc.

Achievements, by Sqij Tower’s very own Chris Young, makes fun of another now-familiar experience in modern gaming where we’re presented with an award every five minutes for anything and everything from simply finishing Level 3, to running around in a circle until the NPCs get dizzy and fall over in an amusing fashion!

In fact, no sooner than the game finishes loading, I score my first achievement! Game Loaded. Well done me!

Well Done!

Achievement Unlocked! Game Loaded

 

The game itself* is a sort of Rogue-a-like-affair, a bit like last year’s Hobohemia, but not as pretty looking. I start off by selecting and naming my Elf character – for which, naturally, I am congratulated. (Good job, player 1! – Ed)

Next I find myself in Kent, on the 20th March 2015, unable to see much of anything and unsure of what exactly I’m supposed to be doing. In fact, before I even make out the flickering UDGs, I am set upon by a chuffing great dragon! Achievement Unlocked!

Personally I favour whacking things with a big sword, rather than doing card tricks, but on this occasion I decide to try my hand at some magic. Achievement Unlocked!

Cast a Spell

Achievement Unlocked! Used Magic

 

A few spells and the odd whack later and the dragon is slain (Achievement Unlocked!) I return to the fog and venture a guess at QAOP to move my little stick-Elf – which works and I’m instantly rewarded for my ingenuity.

I can also – just about – make out a flickering yellow trophy so I head towards it and start racking up even more movement-based awards.

Left Then Right

Achievement Unlocked! Moved North

 

Looking at the code I think collecting the ‘trophy’ should “Levv” me up (and, for which, I should receive another achievement.)

Unfortunately I never make it as I’m persistently attacked by wizards, kobolds(?) and more dragons and inevitably, with my stamina depleted, I die… Achievement Unlocked!

Game Over

Achievement Unlocked! Died

 

All in all a biting satire of modern gaming ruined ever-so-slightly by Chris accidentally including a more-or-less playable game where he could easily have got away without one.

There are 29 Achievements to collect in total and I urge you to seek them all out – if you’d paid upwards of £50 for this game it’s only natural you’d need to justify the cost by wringing out every possible mundane second from it!

 

Trivia: Chris originally intended to include a 30th Achievement – for BREAKing into the BASIC code and reading them all from the DATA statements starting at LINE 9019 – but couldn’t figure out how.

 

Score: 9 of 50. Only 6 to go until your first medal!

Download: .tap

Achievement Unlocked! Review Finished.

Lentils for Satan

There is no stopping MatGubbins at the moment with his latest entry for the 10 char challenge.  This little venture, thus named Lentils for Satan clearly speaks of a desperation for putting two completely unrelated words together in order to meet the 10 character/token objective – and as it happens, it does so in style!lentils-loader

After carefully checking the loader to ensure all rules are correctly adhered to (we wouldn’t want any cheating now would we?!), the now-familiar loading scheme used by Mat can be seen whereby the title graphic is loaded into the top third of the screen about 90% of the way through.  This time we have a rather picturesque, pleasant and colourful looking representation of the anthropomorphic personification of Beelzebub, (ruler of demons, Law Breaker, Evil Degenerate).  And he even sports a rather fetching two pronged trident (shouldn’t that be a bident? – ed.), cute pink mitts and matching booties.

In MatGubbins fashion, the title screen provides all you need to know about the game background.  Satan is hosting a party and needs lentils but needs to soak them overnight for heath and safety reasons.  Righto!lentils-title

The game has a familiar feel to previous releases by the author, particularly Clint And Da Crabs and the Rosco the Cat series.  Another familiarity is the choice of keys: { W, A, D, X } which I find very difficult to use – the standard “holy four” would make things easier.

lentils-game

You can’t help thinking this is money for old rope.  In this edition, there appears to be no score or means of progress, nor anything to avoid (not that anyone will be foolish enough to take on Satan for God’s sake!)  After I collected my 16384th sack of lentils and chucked them in the soaker, I started to wonder how many people are expected.  I can only assume that there are a LOT of naughty people out there!!!

Colourful and well written but very almost no gameplay.

Overall Score: 666

Download the .tap from the Gates of Hell here.

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #8: The Butter Principle

In the early 1990s, with 16-bit games consoles firmly established as the dominant force in game entertainment, several companies hopped on board the money train with their supposedly better products, only to find said train derailed worse than Potters Bar. Atari released their fake 64-bit Jaguar, Samsung brought out the poorly named Samsung Hardware Interactive Technology Box, which used unusual architecture based around a 19-bit RISC CPU, and Trip Hawkins (grandfather of Justin and Dan Hawkins from UK rock band The Darkness) from Electronic Arts set up the 3DO Company to release their 32-bit monstrosity: the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer device.

Hawkins (grandfather of Justin and Dan Hawkins from UK rock band The Darkness) was looking for strong lineup of launch titles for his new console. Coming from EA, he convinced them to port some of their successful Megadrive and Super NES titles to the 3DO in enhanced form, adding more features, better graphics, and full motion video. These titles, and others from the likes of Capcom and Bullfrog were to be part of a three-pronged attack on 16-bit consoles:

  1. to deliver the same titles as competitors, but higher quality (e.g. Street Fighter II and FIFA Soccer)
  2. to deliver new titles that would not be possible on older hardware, using new 3D and FMV hardware (e.g. Twisted: The Game Show and Need For Speed)
  3. to deliver new titles that were possible on older hardware, but exclusive to the 3DO

One of those games developed in-house at 3DO was The Butter Principle. Hawkins (grandfather of Justin and Dan Hawkins from UK rock band The Darkness) was directly involved in its creation, even coding much of the game and drawing the toast graphics himself.

In his autobiography, “I Was The Most Important Man In Gaming”, Hawkins (grandfather of Justin and Dan Hawkins from UK rock band The Darkness) recounts how he came up with the idea:

“Long before we had ‘casual gamers’, I realized there was a completely untapped market of people who didn’t play video games. I theorized that these potential customers saw complexized rules in games as the main barrier to play, so sought to developize titles not unlike those single moms find so addictivizing on their mobile tablet phones today. One of my best ideas was a simple game where you had to predictivize which way up slices of digitalized buttered toast would land.”

This idea became The Butter Principle, and it was released alongside the 3DO Interactive Multiplayer at launch to dismal reviews. “It was ahead of its time, “ explains Hawkins (grandfather of Justin and Dan Hawkins from UK rock band The Darkness) “and the public weren’t yet ready. I don’t think reviewers understized it properly. It was never meant to be the next Sonic the Hedgehog or Madden NFL.”.

In reality, its failure was more down to the very nature of the real life Butter Principle. In the game, just as in real life, the toast would always land butter side down, making every single outcome exactly the same. That and the fact it cost $100.

“The failure of The Butter Principle at retail is the overriderzing reason why my 3DO did not perform as well, saleswize, as expected. Ultimately, I place the blame of my downfall entirely on Edge magazine, and their review of The Butter Principle. They awardized it just 4/10, and my career never recoverized. One day I will have my vengence.”.

Clint & Foreskin

Introducing one of the fastest sequels to hit the Speccy, MatGubbins brings us the next instalment of our hero Clint in this 10-char keyword challenge.  Horace had his Spiders, Clint had his Crabs.  Sabreman had his Wulf, now Clint has his Foreskin to contend with.  In this particular case, the nemesis Dr. Foreskin (pronounced Foh-ress-kiyne – obviously! Doh!).clint-foreskin-loader

The title page explains all, but basically our budding protagonist was rescued by a Doctor who suffered a severe upbringing as result of his much mocked surname that he’s decided to take it out on any random shipwrecked blighter that he might happen to stumble upon!clint-foreskin-title

And so it is, Clint finds himself on your stereotypical moving platform which randomly moves side to side.  In the top left is Dr. Foreskin taunting and generally throwing rude remarks at you a la Monty Python Holy Grail (French Scene).  Unfortunately, no vaches are to be seen though.  Clint however needs his wits about him if he is to stay on the platform (using A and D keys by the way) and not fall to his demise on a row of deadly spikes below.  If you can manage this long enough, the platform reaches the other side and raises up a level just to repeat the process.clint-foreskin-ingame

If you can hold on for long enough, you will be able to jump on a conveniently located boat and escape.

So, unlike the first game in the series, this one is written in BASIC with a few UDGs thrown in.  A very pretty title banner on the title makes good use of colours and the game itself looks half reasonable.

Game physics however have a little more to be desired.  The platform on which you stand appears to move completely at random and so you can be waiting a long time doing your little back-and-forth dance while you wait for the platform to reach the opposite side, just to have to repeat the process a few more times.

In summary, a reasonably crap game although a little too polished to take the crap-pot.  We are looking forward to see what capers Clint appears in next.  Let the saga continue!

Grab hold of your foreskin here!

Score: 1 skin… 2 skins… 3 skins out of 4 skins. F’nar!

And It Continued To Rain

In the words of Edwin Starr: “Rain. Hurgh! What is it good for?” Absolutely bloody nothing, that’s what. All it ever does is make you wet (in a non-f’narr f’narr sort of a way), and it always turns up at the exact point when you’ve got the washing out/barbecue going/whole way to the nearest beach. Yes, I know it’s probably pretty useful for making things grow and stuff, but most of the time I wish it would just sod off and leave us all alone.

However, a recent study by Professor Bertie Ollocks from Merda-Taurorum University suggests that 90% of the planet will be uninhabitable desert by the year 2016. So the one thing that defines Britain and the British – incessant bloody rain, every second or third day from the first of January to the last of December – could very soon become a thing of the past. In which case, as we sit there dying of thirst and stinking of B.O. we’ll start moaning (for the other thing that defines Britain and the British is incessant bloody moaning) that we’d quite like it to rain now, please, just a little bit, from midnight to 6am every week-night, if it’s not too much trouble, but not this Thursday because we’re going to the cinema and it doesn’t finish until five past twelve and we don’t want to get soaked on the way back to the car.

 Rain1

I almost forgot I was supposed to be reviewing this thing from MatGubbins. Here we have the longest keyword challenge name yet, apart from RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RAN(Oh Gawd, don’t start all that again. Ed.), as well as a nice bit of word un-wrapping. Crap points ahoy!

There follows one of Mat’s trademark Chunk-o-vision™ screens, and a charmingly titled block of machine code:

Rain2

And then… well, I won’t completely spoil the surprise, but let’s just say that this program does exactly what you’d expect a program called “And It Continued To Rain” to do. The joke wore off quicker than I could google “Supertramp – It’s Raining Again”, but I was vaguely impressed by the use of a machine code routine which meant I couldn’t break out of the thing at all. And if you’ve got no idea what “rain” is because you’ve spent your whole life somewhere nice and sunny, like Spain, Australia or the surface of the sun, or if Professor Ollocks’s predictions for next year turn out to be true, then this is the advanced crappy British weather simulator for you!

I’ve just this second looked out of the window. It’s raining again. Curses! *shakes fist at sky*

Score: 972 millibars out of an occluded front. Whatever that means.

Download .tap here.

Piss in a Pint

Note: This review, like the game, is recycled from last year’s Touch the Ring by R Tape, which in turn was recycled from 2013’s Kick the Ballboy by Rebelstar without a Cause.

To be honest I can’t believe I’m getting away with this twice!

 

Well, you can’t accuse the Spectrum community of not having its finger on the pulse – barely a day has passed since the last big Boozed-up Britain story and a satirical game has appeared. You don’t have to know much about bar work to enjoy this game, if you can recognise Al Murray doing his famous “White wine for the ladies” routine you will know this game refers to the ongoing challenge of owning a bar and having to deal with inebriated and obnoxious customers.

Backstory

Setting the scene

 

The opening screen creates a dramatic atmosphere, and tells you what you need to do: PISS IN A PINT! The game boasts some animated sprites of Massivepubian proportions, and as the customer’s eyes scan the pub left and right, you need to press P to piss while he’s looking the other way. The customer is a creature of habit, and his eyes follow a somewhat hypnotic (and very predictable!) rhythm.

Title Screen

Lovely pint of Chunk-o-vision™ Piss

 

My best score is 102, and it’s harder than you might imagine as you become impatient and attempt to squeeze another one in before the customer sees. In this way PIAP is a very clever, if open ended game. However, it is silent and cries out for some grating BEEP effects.

Rumbled!

High Score Challenge!

 

I may not have said many negative things about this game yet, but rest assured, it is most definitely CRAP! An excellent third Keyword Challenge entry from MatGubbins.

 

Tipshack: When the customer’s eyes have just moved away from the right, you can squeeze out 6 or 7 good drips.

HACK PACK: Zoned-out customer: 2040 LET count=0

 

Score: Piss poor

Download: .tap

Type-in: Advanced Kentish Eclipse Simulator

It may have escaped your attention that there was an eclipse this morning in parts of the northern hemisphere. This is what it was supposed to have looked like:

eclipse

Impressive, huh? However, not half as impressive as the spectacle we saw in the south-east of England. Prolific crap game churner-outerer MatGubbins has sent me a type-in program which emulates exactly what happened in Kent today. I also live in Kent, and can confirm this is an accurate simulation of what happened. Scroll down to reveal the Advanced Simulator in all its glory! (I added the very first command, just to make it 100% accurate…)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1 BRIGHT 0: PAPER 7: CLS: GOTO 1

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #7: Fire Equals Pain

Many, many school games can fall into the category of “crap”, like marbles, football and Hang Mr Frobisher, but few are both crap and stupid in the way Fire Equals Pain is. Or rather, was, as it is banned from every school across the whole of the UK, and has been since a well publicised incident in 1984. Up until then it was a common winter sport in Physical Education lessons, and even had inter-school competitions, with a national Fire Equals Pain league set up in 1956, initially for boys only but girls were allowed to take part after 1966.

It’s unknown who originally came up with the idea for Fire Equals Pain, and informally it was known by many names in different parts of the country. In Cornwall, it was called simply “Burn”, in parts of Wales it was known as “Fireboys” (as in “Choirboys Play Fireboys”), and in Newcastle school children referred to it as “Aye, That’ll Hurt”.

The premise is simple, and stupid, and you’ve probably played it or a variant yourself at some point: hold your hand over a lit candle, match, or lighter for as long as possible. Whoever can do it longest, wins. There’s a doubles version, where both players on one team hold each other’s hands over the flame. Unsurprisingly, a lot of people got burnt.

However, the Fire Equals Pain League Association (FEPLA) put an end to playing the game in any form after an important league match ran into overtime. Usually, when it’s a draw, the players play again, only hold their hands half an inch closer to the flame. A normal Scarborough Rules match starts with hands at four inches, but when tied, another round at three and a half inches is played. If the players are still tied, this is moved to three, then two and a half, then two inches. In this match between Paul Tripping of Dagenham and previous champion Rhys Anpeace from Aberystwyth, the pair were exactly level after all these additional tie break rounds.

The crowd were tiring, the referee wanted an end to the match. He consulted the FEPLA officials and it was decided to swap out the regulation candles for bunsen burners for one final round. It was a tragic decision.

No sooner had the round started, it was noted that the bunsens were set to a blue flame. The match recorder wrote in her witness statement that both Tripping and Anpeace alerted the referee to this mistake, but the referee insisted they play on at a deadly one inch elevation. The crowd gasped, and the whistle blew. Within seconds both Tripping and Anpeace’s hands were alight. Both struggled hard to maintain their stance, and quickly both were completely ablaze. Members of the crowd shouted for them to stop the game, but the referee insisted play continued. A man on the front row, John Johnsonson, grabbed a fire extinguisher but before he could use it the referee wrestled him to the ground, knocking him out. What happened next is unclear, as the flames had spread from the two players to the surrounding area, and everyone except the players and referee fled the scene, just in time to survive a massive explosion that fire investigators later attributed to Paul’s superheated bladder swelling like a hot air balloon, then rupturing.

The game was never officially played again.

Clint And Da Crabs

MatGubbins is back with his second Keyword Challenge entry; CLINT AND DA CRABS, and once again, sneaks in a second (LOAD CLINT & CRABS CODE) to load in a large block of data.

[Looks at program listing…] Hang on… what’s this… machine code? MACHINE CODE!?

MatG clearly has ideas above his station – give him a month or so and he’ll be doing Alcatraz loading screen$ and 128K AY music! Let’s hope the game itself was at least programmed with the assistance of Andrew Green’s UZXSGD?

Loader

Keyword Challenge – double strike!

 

More Chunk-o-vision™ graphics, starting with that PRINT-based ‘loader,’ are included but this time they’re in glorious Color-o-matic™.

After a good 2½ minutes of screeching the instructions appear and, well, it doesn’t look good for our Clint – he’s stranded on a beach and about to be attacked by a giant crab*!

* Anyone who’s been to the Blackpool Sealife museum knows how scary that can be!

Not much more to see here (except some scores and keyboard controls) so it’s on to the game.

Title screen

Look at those keys!? My fingers hurt already

 

It’s good to see MatG’s use of machine code hasn’t descended into complete madness – he’s stuck with solid UDGs, rather than sprites, moving in comfortable 8×8 block jumps and PRINT statements throughout.

Clint, who also appeared (uncredited) in Return Ink to Move Cat In To A Bin, begins at the top of the screen. Scattered around him are what – I think – are rocks (although they could be turds – Ed.) Coupled with a yellow background and blue border I’d say that passes for a beach. Nicely done.

 

A red UDG, representing the titular crab(s) (You’ll want to see a doctor about that – Ed,) appears at the bottom of the screen and… SH*T!… it’s heading right for me… FAST!

There’s not much to the AI in this game, the crab just heads towards you in the straightest line possible, and if you move it blindly follows you… FAST!

Luckily you can use this to your advantage as, if you skillfully place yourself behind a rock, you can cause the crab to crash and disappear in a puff of magenta smoke.

Unluckily, however, he’s got friends and very quickly you find yourself being chased by loads of the terrifying little blighters!

Avoid-em-up

Run for your life or you’ll get crabs, or something…

 

Unfortunately, in his machine code experiments, Mat hasn’t got to the stage where he can muster a decent control system.

Instead we’re left with a cramp-inducing 8 (eight!) directional keys, for which I couldn’t find a comfortable or logical way to position my fingers over simultaneously, meaning I was at an immediate disadvantage against my creepy little pursuers and got to see this screen – a lot!

They got me!

What a chirpy looking Crustacean!

 

I found this to be a genuinely heart-pounding and traumatic ‘gameplay’ experience as I tried in vain to avoid the crabs while my intertwined barman’s hands ached more with every passing second.

Perhaps you’ll do better and, to be fair, I managed a high score of 10 (Challenge set – Ed) by pure luck in one sitting but, overall, I can’t recommend this game.

 

Scores:

  • Graphics: 5
  • Sound: 1
  • Music: 0
  • Gameplay: 2
  • Overall: Decapod out of a possible Centipede!

 

Download: .tap

MatG’s choice of filename interested me; “clint48only” – suggesting that this only runs on a 48K Speccy? I fired up Fuse in 128K mode and used the Tape Loader and, sure enough, it crashed spectacularly with a B Integer out of range error. Thanks for the warning Mr Gubbins!

 

©2015 Sinclair Research Ltd sqij.co.uk