Month: March 2015

Advanced Screechy Seagull Torturing Simulator

Once again I find myself whistling Bigmouth Strikes Again under my breath, as a throwaway comment I made a fortnight ago – about loading noises sounding like seagulls being tortured – comes back to haunt me today. This time it’s an Advanced Simulator (yay!) from previous CGC host Guesser, with sprites drawn by p13z. I can just picture the pair of them now, giggling away at the back of the #speccy IRC channel like a couple of schoolboys, going “Let’s wind up the host of the Crap Games competition!”

OK, let’s see how many annoyance boxes it ticks. +3 disk? Check! Like sunteam’s games, this will only run on one of those new-fangled Amstrad things with the diskette drivette thingette on the right-hand side, despite the code being a mere 8 or 9K. If this had come out back in the day I would’ve had to be content with just drooling over the reviews in Your Sinclair while sitting there waiting an absolute dog’s age for Out Run to multiload into my battered old 48k machine. Of course, under emulation anyone can “own” a +3, but that’s not the point, is it? There’s no fun at all in opening a file for it to load straight away – no loading screen, no anticipation, no Schrödinger’s Loader (will it work, or won’t it?) and no loading noises!

Anti-piracy mechanism? Check! Despite Guesser’s admission that the game doesn’t need a +3 to run, when I converted the game to tap and reloaded in a “normal” Speccy, I got this message:


Ha. Hahaha. Very droll. Now I suppose I could go through the code and work out how to disable this message, but I think I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader (if there are any left, that is).

To the game. Guesser wrote a comprehensive blurb when sending in this entry, which I’ll reproduce here to save myself some valuable review time:

Picture the scene, you’re standing on the promenade at Whitby, about to tuck into your chips. However, as you open the awful polystyrene box with a squeak, a squadron of herring gulls surround you with their beady eyes locked on the greasy fried potato morsels.
It’s every gull for himself and in the ensuing carnage you are lucky to escape alive. Hungry, and with clothes in tatters you sneak away vowing to have your revenge.

In this exciting game, you turn the tables on those pesky critters. Armed with a pointy stick you return to the scene of the crime and merrily take your revenge.

When you have had enough of prodding marine fowl, don’t forget to press the Q key to exit and see your score!

Couldn’t have put it better myself. So the game begins, and oh my word look at those graphics! I haven’t seen such artwork on a Spectrum since the days of Trap Door and Flunky – if I didn’t know better I’d wonder whether p13z is actually a pseudonym for Don Priestley.


Being a soft southern shandy-drinker I’ve never been to Whitby, but now I won’t ever need to – this game is so realistic that I can almost smell the fish and chips wafting across the bay from the direction of that giant yellow trouser-snake on the right-hand side. (That’s supposed to be a lighthouse! Ed.) Guesser is rightly proud of his sprite engine, as it features “buffered drawing”, “screen flipping”, and a technique he calles “repurposing the flash bit in the sprite data as a transparent paper colour flag”. No, me neither.

So with the curious key combination of E, R and T, you set about bothering those nasty squawking buggers who keep eyeing up your lunch. It must be cold in Whitby, judging by the long-sleeved knitted jumper worn by the protagonist. But look what happens when you give old Cedric the seagull a vengeful prod with the pointy stick:


That’s right, he flies up in the air and emits a short SQWAAAAWWWK, via the medium of the Speccy’s loading routine, which contrary to what I previously thought, sounds absolutely nothing like a seagull at all! (or indeed any type of gull, for as we all know, there is no such thing as “a seagull”, this being a layperson’s term and not one used by wildlife experts like Kate Humble. Although on the other hand, there are such things as “tits”. Mmmmm, Kate Humb{There’s only one tit round here, and it doesn’t belong to Kate Humble. Ed.} )

After the novelty has worn off, which takes about three seconds, I realised just how bad ASSTS is. The scoring system is rubbish – you don’t even know what you’ve scored until you quit the game. It only works on a machine which most people don’t have, and other than sending me completely over the edge it has no purpose or point whatsoever (unless you count the point of the pointy stick).

But on the plus side it’s a crap idea well executed, which certainly makes a change from a crap idea executed crappily, and it gives those poor deprived +3 owners a chance to endure the loading noises suffered for years by us lesser mortals. Plus it did make me laugh, so I award this piece of gull guano from Guesser a whopping +3 percent!

Download .dsk here.

Rosco The Cat 2: Egyptian HiJinx

You’d be forgiven for thinking this blog had turned into the ramblings of a crazy cat man lately. First MatGubbins’ keyword challenge entry starring Mr. Fluffykins and Steve the cat, then a game written by a cat (catmeows), and now this moggy-based game from Jamie Bradbury, the sequel to 2013’s Rosco The Cat Burglar In Cyprus Extraction. As I recall, the original game was a pretty BASIC UDG affair in which you (the titular Rosco the Cat) had to wander around the screen collecting as much money as you can whilst avoiding a badly-drawn dog thingy. So I’m thrilled to bits to report that in this sequel you have to wander around the screen collecting as much money as you can whilst avoiding two badly-drawn dog thingies!

Jamie immediately wins a ton of bonus crap points for his choice of filename – rather than “ROSCO THE CAT 2”, which would’ve been a 10-character Keyword Challenge entry, he’s plumped for “loaderr2”. Well done! There’s quite a nice loading screen too, and Jamie’s thoughtfully obliterated part of it with the next block of code (another surefire way to win crap points):


Once the game has loaded there’s an instructions screen (badly word wrapped, natch) with a rather jaunty tune reminiscent of Everyone’s A Wally – clearly Jamie has some musical talent, although a BEEPy rendition of Walk Like An Egyptian wouldn’t have gone amiss. He’s already proven he can write a crap game in BASIC – but can he do it in machine code?


The game starts and immediately proves that he can! Rosco the pixellated puss has definitely got bigger in the last two years – in fact he’s four times his original size. He’s stuck in an Egyptian tomb forever with only a couple of hell hounds and the bitter taste of his own greedy tears for company, and his mission before he dies is to grab as much loot as he can to take to the afterlife and become the richest cat in heaven. Clearly his granny never told him “You can’t take it with you”.

Being a cat, Rosco has nine lives – which is lucky, as those hell hounds are very tricky to avoid. Jamie has chosen WSAD as the (non-redefinable) key combination of choice, which is probably fine if you’re left-handed or were born later than 1979, but useless for old fogeys like me who are used to QAOP. Tch. Bloody hipsters and their silly key combinations and disk images and new-fangled Amstrad copyright messages.

The game actually isn’t half bad – or at least the programming of it isn’t. The sprites move as smoothly as any game from 1984 (I’m not sure whether the author used AGD but either way it’s miles better than the usual blocky BASIC), the cat wiggles his tail about in a fairly feline fashion, and the hell hounds look far more like dogs than the mutant Sticklebrick of the previous game. There’s no sound, but you could always record the title tune onto tape and play it over and over again while Rosco gets killed by the dogs over and over again. But on the crap side, there’s no real point to the game other than collecting loads of wonga – it’s not as if poor Rosco can spend or even eat his dollars, as he can’t escape – and look at what happens once you’ve lost all of your lives:


That’s right, it returns to BASIC! You’ve played the game once, so why on earth would you want to play the thing again? A very good question. But despite the general whiff of cat shit I can’t help thinking there’s a good game in here waiting to escape – a bit like Rosco himself.

Score: 9 lives out of 100.

Download .tap here.

The WOS Forum Experience

I gained a bit of a reputation last year for unintentionally disarming potentially earth-shattering satire, by failing to review entries while the subject of said mockery was still topical.

So, when I saw that sunteam had put in the (Minimal – Ed) effort for a topical gag about the currently unavailable World of Spectrum forums, I figured it was my responsibility to get the review up before Fogarty and the boys get the blasted thing fixed!

My first challenge, however, was to figure out how to load a .dsk file in Fuse.


To begin I open the .dsk file from the File Menu. The Spectrum resets and displays an unfamiliar copyright message… Who is this Amstrad!?

I select +3 BASIC from the menu and press enter, then type load “forum.wos” (only because leespoons told me that’s what I had to do!)

I press enter once more but, aside from an ‘OK’ message at the bottom of the screen, nothing happens…

+3 Loader

Manual loading? What is this, 1987?


… Minutes pass before I give in to curiosity and press a key – the program listing appears and nearly takes up a whole screen! (Gasp – Ed!)

Aha so it has worked. With the smell of victory filling my nostrils, I type run, press enter and wait…

A solitary (and, if I might say, quite rude) BEEP alerts me to the fact the program has started and that I must now “Press any key to recreate the complete WOS forum feel.”

A small group of onlookers has now gathered around my workstation and, as I move my finger towards the keyboard, you could hear a pin drop…

Press a key

Are you ready?


sunteam finally justifies their choice of +3 .dsk format by taking mere seconds to deliver the punchline – albeit to a generally disappointed crowd.

(If this had been a standard Spectrum 48K .tap file we’d have be waiting close to half a minute for this*!)


B’dum t’sh. I’ll be here all week!


* Unless we’d turned on fast load, natch.

Unfortunately the issue with WoS doesn’t look to be your common-or-garden client-side 404 error, but rather a server-side 503 or “Bejeezuz – what the hell happened to my f*#@in’ server!?” error, so better luck next time sunteam!


Score: A clip ’round the ear you cheeky scamp – and think yoursel’ lucky!

Download: .dsk

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #6: Alan Whicker’s World of Wicker

As the end of the 8-bit era drew near, very few companies remained committed to developing games for the Spectrum and Commodore 64. Sometimes an easy port of a 16-bit or arcade title would appear, along with a few games rehashed as sequels and several versions of Fun School, but as potential buyers dwindled so did the number of releases.

One way of maximising sales in a small market was to buy cheap licences for known media, such as Charlie Chalk and Rentaghost. Well known enough to pique interest, but not well known or popular enough (at the time, at least) to demand large licensing fees. One such bargain basement buy were the rights to Alan Whicker, snapped up by IJK Software.

Not his TV show “Whicker’s World”, though. That was still out of the price range of such small time game producers. To get around this, IJK decided to carefully choose a game name that contained the words “Whicker’s World”, but not actually be “Whicker’s World”. They decided upon “Alan Whicker’s World of Cane Furniture”. This quickly caused problems, as the low resolution of the Spectrum’s screen meant that the title would not fit on a single line, so it was changed to something that would – “Alan Whicker’s World of Wicker”, which manages it with just two characters to spare.

IJK brought in long-time associate Harry S. Price to create the game for them. Well known for being able to quickly create original ideas, cheaply, Price was ideal. You could say The Price was Right.

No, I suppose you couldn’t.

Price set to work turning the name into a playable game. As he’d done before, he borrowed a game engine from another title to save some time, and redrew some of the graphics. Within a week he’d created a totally original game, where you as Benhouse Barry have to visit locations around the world, collecting wicker furniture while avoiding Alan and his Angry Red Ostriches. IJK Software were pleased with Harry’s work, and paid him £150, equal to the Alan Whicker rights.


Your Sinclair, the only Spectrum magazine left at the time, reviewed it but it scored poorly. Their main complaint was that it reminded them too much of an earlier Spectrum game, although they couldn’t quite remember which. They also mentioned that each level, although named after a famous city, bore no resemblance to it, unlike, for example, Pang, or Short’s Fuse. Finally, they slated the way Alan’s comical head bounced around after Benhouse Barry in a completely unrealistic manner. “A total waste of a good licence”, they concluded.

By the time the sequel, Alan Whicker’s World of Wicker 2 (fully using all the available screen space), was announced, the 8-bit game market had completely collapsed and even Your Sinclair had folded – and not just down the middle where the staples were. Promises of a more open world game, with flick-screen platforming and set in the “IJK Wicker Furniture Factory” fell on deaf eyes and the title was cancelled shortly after Harry S. Price was arrested (and subsequently executed) in an unrelated plagorism case. Rumours of a 2013 Xbox One launch title reboot by Rare turned out to be unfounded.

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #5: Bore

Perhaps the worst thing, besides swingers, to come out of the 1970s Dinner Party movement, was the word game “Bore”.

Those who who have heard Radio 4 intellectual panel game Just A Minute will be familiar with Bore, albeit in a refined and more enjoyable form. Like Just A Minute, Bore involves the player being given a topic to talk about, but unlike Just A Minute, there are no other rules, except that everyone else must listen.

Since repetition, hesitation and deviation are not only allowed but actively encouraged, the game is relatively simple to play. The player continues to talk until all the other dinner party guests make their excuses and leave, or overdose on Babycham. In one famous case a guest actually shot themselves in the ear just to stop the lecture the player was giving about how Tarmac consistency differs throughout the United Kingdom. Bore was briefly banned in response, but this was quickly overturned when the Lord Justice David Quincepipe ruled that tedium was not a crime.

Line Overdrive

lineovrdrv [2015-03-13 18:45:15]Unlike most folks, I’m not a big fan of dessert. I’ll eat some types of cake or icecream, but almost anything else gets a no thanks from me. Cheesecake, for instance. In theory, I should enjoy it, as I like all the component parts. Somehow, when combined into a cheesecake (which, I should point out isn’t really cheese and certainly isn’t cake) I can’t bear it. I’m also totally against the idea of chocolate with any sort of fruit. They’re just wrong together. Unless it’s Terrys Chocolate Orange, of course.

Line Overdrive is a game by catmeows that starts off with a lie. The title screen explains you use the letters Q and A to control your little manface. This is a LIE. You should use O and P.

lineovrdrv [2015-03-13 18:50:36]

Apple pie, and most puddings and crumbles however, I’m all over. And custard. Can’t beat a bit of custard. Tinned custard especially, in fact, which I know upsets some people as it isn’t made from scratch. I particularly like that cold, which I know also upsets a few folk.

Mint too is an odd one. I like mint-as-in-polo and mint-as-in-herb, but mint chocolate? No. Not even mint Aero. Evil stuff. Mint icecream? Get right out.

lineovrdrv [2015-03-13 18:53:54]

After the longest ever wait for the level to “build” on the screen, you’re finally given control (O and P remember). I maybe missed the plot, but you appear to be at some sort of party, although I did think for a while you were a train. Your manface-onna-stick travels along a line and you rotate it round the point at which the stick touches the line. You have to avoid red things with your face. Then you reach the end of the line and the next level slowly appears on the screen.

These pudding prejudices have been known to cause issues when out for a meal. Too many places seem to have cheesecake or fruit-and-chocolate based desserts. Rare indeed is a sticky toffee pudding, jam holy moly roly poly, or, hens teeth tier spotted dick. Which is a shame.

lineovrdrv [2015-03-13 18:59:45]

Oh wait. The instructions are on the title screen. I didn’t read them. Yeah, you’re at a party. Each level seems to be a different stage of the party. And the line is cocaine you’re snorting? Right.

Black Forest Gateau seems to have fallen out of favour with shops and restaurants alike, which is excellent news as I can’t stand it. Fruit and chocolate together you see. Horrible mix. Jam, cherries and chocolate in fact. Many a nightmare has featured a BFG.

The problem with Line Overdrive isn’t so much the game, but how terrible it plays. The controls are unresponsive and every death is because of that. Aside from my first 15 deaths, which were down to Q and A not working. Did I mention the game lies? LIES. But there are bonus points for using LINE and OVER keywords. And DRIVE.

I made a cheesecake once. It was disgusting.

Are you telling me DRIVE isn’t a keyword? Really? But there was a Microdrive and everything. And a floppy drive on the +3. Surely there was a DRIVE command. LOAD m you say? I see. More lies.

Final score: CHEESE/CAKE%. Don’t do drugs, kids.

Download ze tap here. No wait, here. Actually it’s here.

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #4: Super Trouser

Many companies now associated with other things once dabbled in card and board games. Nintendo used to make playing cards, General Motors invented Ludo, and Argos were originally known for their ivory domino sets.

Another such company was Moss Bros. These days, they’re the go-to place for wedding trousers and cravats, but during World War II their main business was creating pocket board games that wives and mothers sent to their men on the front to keep their morale high and their minds occupied. In the “keep them sharp” way, not the “like Poland” way. They produced many popular games, such as The Cockerel And The Farmer, It’s A Long Way To Tip O’er Mary and My Three Laces, but it was Super Trouser that was their undoing in the pocket gaming sector.

Simon Goss of the Moss Bros Museum explains:

“Super Trouser was a miracle of miniaturisation at the time. All of Moss Bros’ pocket games were designed to be about the size of a packet of cigarettes for easy transport to our boys in the trenches, but the sheer number of parts and game complexity meant for some genius packet stuffing. Three new previously unthinkable origami folds were devised for the game board alone, and there were some two hundred tiny hand carved tokens, each unique and barely larger than a matchstick tip in every set. With no cheap overseas labour to construct them, Moss Bros had to hire London street urchins and train them up with advanced whittling techniques. It was unprecedentedly expensive and intensive work.”

This expense up front would have taken the company under, but it was made even worse by Super Trouser being too fiddly to unpack and repack, and too difficult to understand. The rules were bizarre and complicated, and the instructions needed a magnifying glass to read, as they were printed small to save space.

“It was even worse than that,” continues Goss “since even those learned few who managed to decypher the rulebook were stymied by the strange decision to not include the necessary seven sided die. It was impossible to play without it, and they weren’t exactly easy to come by in Flanders.”

“Some tried to make do with a standard six sided die, but it was ultimately futile. Some squares on the board could never be landed on without rolling a seven, meaning the endgame ‘Pocket Wrestle’ stage was never reached.”

With a die of the correct number of faces, the game was still baffling to most. The basic premise was simple to understand – three to nine players each moved a small canvas trouser counter around the board, collecting the carved token items as they progressed. These tokens were stuffed into the bulging pockets on each pair of trousers. Different tokens, when owned, changed various rules or routes on the board, and players could deploy a number of tactics to improve their own chances of winning, such as drawing a “frayed stitching” card, or making a “pocket shuffle” move where they could steal another player’s gained tokens. Once all the tokens had been collected, the game moved into “Pocket Wrestle”, where the two players with the most tokens could make a grab for the tokens owned by the other players.

“Of course,” says Goss “it was far more involved than any short description can suggest. I have documents from the original designers stating that even they got confused after the first three hours of play. Even Alan Turing gave up at fourteen hours having studied the rules for over a month. He never even reached Pocket Wrestle.”

All was not lost for Moss Bros, though. With funds almost depleted by the end of the war, they sold their pocket games division to Nestle and sought out another market. It didn’t take them long, as the elder Moss brother realised that all those returning soldiers would need new trousers, and the modern Moss Bros as we know it today was (re)born. Super Trouser was forgotten as a failed game, but the game is still remembered as an ironic note in Moss Bros history.

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #3: Big Boy Barry Bubbly Binge Bingo Bloodbath

In the mid 1990s Sky television in the United Kingdom broadcast a “television programme” called Games World. It was a poor relative of the obviously superior Gamesmaster, but did have the advantage of a low audience share due to being available only on the satellite channel. These rock bottom viewing figures ended the show’s run well short of Gamesmaster, although the demon bosses at Sky reran Games World so frequently in the subsequent years that 95 percent of the channel’s output for the whole of 1998 consisted of The Simpsons and Games World, with the remaining 5 percent being The Simpsons special episode of Games World.

One of the recurring sections of Games World was presented by “games expert” and “professional food eater” Big Boy Barry. His play tips and banter enthralled and entertained all six of the show’s viewers, none of whom were actually old enough to own a Sega Megadrive so couldn’t even make use of his hints on beating Dr Doom on level seven of Sonic the Hedgehog.

Barry (real name Barrymondo) was the closest thing Sky had to a celebrity, so they decided to make use of his likeness in increasingly confused and unsuccessful ways. At first, they simply used him in print adverts in Saga Magazine and Your Stepladder Monthly, pimping their The Simpsons exclusivity. Then they moved into merchandise, with Big Boy Barry brand baked beans, lighter fluid and flypaper.

Barry tried to distance himself from Sky, stating that with the cancelling of the Games World TV show, they no longer owned neither him nor his likeness. His lawyers prepared to sue the Emperor Of Sky Television, but Sky produced a contract signed by Barry’s birth parents stating they willingly sold Barry, Barry’s likeness, Barry’s milk teeth, Barry’s soul and all of Barry’s future offspring to Sky Television for the sum of five magic beans. Sky’s Barry-fuelled media onslaught carried on unchallenged.

Some badly directed TV adverts featuring Barry in compromising sexual situations with assorted hand puppets were mistakenly broadcast during CITV’s Children’s Ward rather than after 10pm on Channel 4 before ER, and Sky decided it best to shelve Barry as an asset. His personal life suffered and he hit the bottle hard, spending his dirty Sky money on case after case of Moet.

Until 2003 when they decided to reboot Big Boy Barry as a grown-up. A new series of Games World was commissioned, and filming began on the new, more adult, video game show. Sex and violence were to feature more heavily, and Vinnie Jones was to present a strand each week showcasing real life knife fighters playing Street Fighter II and Barbie Horse Adventures. Taking their cue from Gamesmaster (again), it was decided a humourous location for the show was a good idea, and so a deal was struck with Mecca Bingo to film the studio segments in one of their swankiest bingo halls.

Then one of the producers had a brainwave: why not create an actual video game, about the All New Mecca Bingo Games World Show, to go with the series? Veteran crap game developers Titus were approached to program something that fitted in with Barry, the new adult direction the show was moving in, knife fighting, and Mecca Bingo. “Big Boy Barry Bubbly Binge Bingo Bloodbath” was born.

Released for the Nintendo Gamecube just days before the new series was due to air, the title immediately caused controversy. Barry was portrayed as a drunken oaf, swilling champagne and threatening little old ladies with shouts of “One and eight, I’LL KNIFE YA!” and “Two fat ladies GETTIN’ KNIFED!”. This was neither in keeping with Nintendo’s usual family friendly output, nor the game Sky expected from Titus. Somehow, not a single person at Sky had even seen the game in any form before it was on the shelves, and the bad publicity caused outrage amongst the armchair Daily Mail readership. Sky had no choice but to not only recall the game, but cancel the show – replacing it with more episodes of The Simpsons.

Very few copies of the game still exist in the wild, but rumour has it Titus sold the game engine and assets to Rockstar Games, who repurposed it as the more media-friendly Manhunt.


Here’s the first entry from Sqij Towers’ very own (curiously monikered, as his real name isn’t even Barry) BloodBaz. Now when I set the Keyword Challenge I was kind of expecting a game called RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE to appear, and I wasn’t disappointed! RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE is the longest program name you can have by using keywords (well, apart from CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6 CHR$ 6, but nobody can really see that, can they?) And here’s the proof:


I like the way that even though there’s no word wrapping, every word makes sense – as well as RANDOMIZE you’ve got “RAN” (past participle of “run”), “DOMIZE” (another word for death), “RANDO” (Portuguese restaurant), “MIZE” (plural of mouse in Somerset), “RANDOMI” (ancient tribe from Kidderminster or somewhere) and “ZE” (last letter of the alphabet, according to Americans). So really, this game should be called RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RAN DOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDO MIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMI ZE RANDOMIZE, not RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE. I’ll overlook this error just this once.


A rather colourful menu appears, which explains the premise of the game… although I’m not convinced RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZ(Yes, yes, we get it. Ed.) is a game yet. However, it does feature a “raison etre”. Oh goody, another one of those French biscuits! Anyway, a well known factoid amongst crap game authors is that the Speccy’s random number function – RND – is only random once RANDOMIZE is used. If you reset your machine and type LET n=RND without first RANDOMIZing, a value of .0011291504 will always be returned. It’s why Watching Paint Dry had such predictable scoring – there was no RANDOMIZE in there, so the same numbers were generated each time the game was run.

RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE avoids this pitfall, by RANDOMIZing not once, not twice, but ten times! So the numbers should be ten times as random as they would be if they were just randomized once! (If you have the cash to spare, there’s also a pro version available – contact BloodBaz for full details, including some sort of shady repayment plan involving a guy called “Dodgy Tony” and a baseball bat)


By now you’re probably wondering what the point of all this is, and to be honest, so am I, which is why I’ve repeatedly padded out the review with the title – which, in case you’ve forgotten, is RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RAN(Oh, shut up. Ed.) I suppose if you’re a crap game author and you need some genuinely random numbers, you could do a lot worse than use this utility. On the other hand, there’s no gameplay element whatsoever. Still, to paraphrase William Shakespeare (or was it William Shatner?) “Never let gameplay get in the way of a truly crap CSSCGC entry you’ve just wasted over half an hour of your life reviewing”.


Score: an utterly predictable .0011291504%.

Download .tzx here.


Australian Typing Tutor

On first glance this is a variation on the rash of translation utilities from previous CGCs, I’m not sure if Simon Ferré‘s latest pile of dingo doings is influenced by my own Teach Yerself Australian – but if I find out he’s pinched my idea I’ll belt ‘im in the billabong with a wet wallaby, Bruce! Ahem.


A short block is loaded with the instructions. Apparently they do it differently down under – but put your Finbarr Saunders pictures away, I’m on about touch typing! This “game” (and I suppose it loosely constitutes a game) will certainly help you if you ever find yourself working as a secretary in Wagga Wagga or Wollonggong. After letting the instructions sink in for a moment, they suddenly change before the second block is loaded:


What the hell is that? Some sort of ancient Aboriginal script? I was expecting it to be similar to the aforementioned Teach Yerself Australian, the “joke” being Australia is on the other side of the world and hence everyone’s upside-down. ɹɐɥ ʎpoolq ǝp ɹɐɥ ‘ɥO. But looking at it the other way up reveals it’s actually upside-down and back-to-front, like Australian mirror writing. I quickly grab a mirror, to make the writing the right way round – but I’m very disappointed when I turn the mirror upside down and the writing stays the same. Bah. Useless!


A short introduction, and then we’re away! I can see the word “NOM” flashing at the bottom of the screen in a strange back-to-front way. Perhaps my Spectrum is hungry. Oh hang on, it says “NOW” doesn’t it? I’d better start typing… what the hell does that say? Looks a little bit like “g p!a taf tlh trem ph” with some extra bits here and there. Or maybe it’s…


A big fat fly flew by! Of course! Now one of the endearing things about this game is it doesn’t allow you to type the wrong answer – it just does nothing until you hit the correct key. So although you’re playing against the clock, the game can easily be beaten just by bashing away at the keyboard. In practice, once I’d worked out that the “g” was an “a” and got the hang of my “p” and “b”, I found this pretty easy with a bit of educated guesswork. In fact, I’d go so far as to say this topsy-turvy backsy-frontsy font is still marginally easier to decipher than the custom designed one on Simon’s last CGC entry!


However, it’s still a crap game for the following reason. Beyond the “ha ha, Australians are all upside-down” joke, it has absolutely bugger-all to do with Australia. There’s no pixellated Kylie Minogue (shame), no beepy version of Men At Work’s Down Under, not even one solitary reference to kangaroos or cans of Castlemaine Four X! Strewth! Chuck another crap game in the thunderbox, Sheila!

Score: 52% (that’s 25%, but written upside-down)

Download .tap here.