The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Month: December 2015

Archer Macleans Poo

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!

Helpful

Helpful

 

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.

Missed an 'L'

Missed an ‘L’?

 

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.

You made it!

Go on. Go on.. You made it!

 

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.

Level 9

Level 9

 

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.

You didn't make it!

You didn’t make it!

 

Score: Crap on so many levels!

Download .z80 file

European Sandwich Hunt

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”.

ESH01

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.

ESH02

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.

ESH03

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.

ESH06

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:

ESH09

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.

Download here.

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #10: Gin, Rummy

Everyone who is of a certain age and social class will have heard of, and probably played, Gin Rummy. That two player card game where each person has to create sets of cards – runs and matching values, rather like Mahjongg for children. This is not Gin, Rummy.

To play Gin, Rummy (the comma is important) each player had a number of shot glasses and several bottles of both gin and rum. Any number of people can play, although local laws may dictate that players are over the age of 18, 21, or not from alcohol barring religious orders.

The game is quite simple: in Round One, each player downs enough rum to kill a buffalo. Any survivors move onto Round Two. In Round Two, all remaining players simultaneously down one shot of gin at a time. The last person alive wins, and can help themselves to the contents of the losers’ pockets/handbags/pants as appropriate.

You would think there is perhaps nothing crap about this game at all, but there is a sad side to all the fun. Since 1960 more than 7 million people have died from liver related diseases, every single one of which has been irrefutably linked to playing Gin, Rummy. Even worse, two men were arrested in 2006 having between them stolen more than £3.50 in change from the pockets of their friends. They’d cheated the game by watering down their own rum and using a cow in a buffalo suit as their reference measure.

Gin, Rummy is now illegal in 27 US states and is outlawed in Ghana and Denmark. In 2013 Essex County Council attempted to ban the game in the county’s pubs, against fierce opposition from members of the local heavy drinking industry. They unwisely chose to ban or not based on the outcome of, you guessed it, a game of Gin, Rummy. Three councillors died, a buffalo was arrested, and two publicans woke up in Zeebrugge with very dry mouths.

Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout

In a fit of efficiency, I’ve started writing this review ON THE DAY Sqij’s own Myke-P sent it in. He has already completed the forfeit of reviewing some other piece of crap before I even had chance to “suggest” he “might want to help Lee out a bit”, and since I’d bothered to actually have a go on the damn thing it seemed only fair to make some sort of attempt to review it.

But who will win Kamikaze Shoot-out? PLACE BETS NOW!

But who will win Kamikaze Shoot-out? PLACE BETS NOW!

Like the greatest games and movie releases, Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout was announced way before it was any more than a title, and Myke has been beavering away on it for at least a year and a half, which is way more than the average CSSCGC entry. Although, having said that, when I was the host in 2007, I was sent rather a lot of games that had been written back in the 1980s, some of which hadn’t even been finished after twenty years or so (Rickard Berglind’s Haunted House, I’m looking at you)

Come on! Bet! Bet! Bet!

Come on! Bet! Bet! Bet!

Anyway, KKS only existed because of a Videogame Name Generator which I hadn’t noticed, or perhaps had forgotten, existed. I gave it a whirl, and my next CGC entry will be called “Enormous Kabuki Underground” (That sounds like a shit nightclub. Ed), or “Monty Python’s Unicorn Beta” (I think that was on Radio 4. Ed) or maybe “Create Your Own Assault Raider” (That’s a Partworks series out January. Ed), or even “Post-Apocalyptic Racing in the Middle East” (They show that late night on Channel 5. Ed), or perhaps “Fantastic Blade Collection” (That’s also a Partworks series, are you sure this isn’t a Partworks idea generator? Ed). A-Ha! “Deranged Plumber Experience”, now that’s finally a game I can get behind! (Facebook. Ed) “Boring Stick Knights”? (You wrote that way back in 2001. Ed) “Sexy Monster Tournament”? (Give up. Ed)*

BETTING ENDS!

BETTING ENDS!

Thankfully, Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout is what Myke settled on, and it’s… woefully competent (you can use that quote on the box), sort of SingStar meets HIGNFY’s missing words round.

I’ve never played SingStar, but I have played Guitar Hero, which has a singing option (which I’ve never tried as I don’t own a USB mic). KKS has a bit of a Guitar Hero vibe to it, so I imagine the lead singer bit of Guitar Hero is pretty much the same as in KKS, just at Glastonbury instead of a dive in Croydon.

I’ve also “performed” actual karaoke, and this is a fairly accurate simulation of that experience, albeit one that is hosted by a sadist who has removed random words from the song lyrics.

Das ist ROCKMEISTER!

Das ist ROCKMEISTER!

Quite simply, you sing along to the song using the lyrics provided (this step is entirely optional). Myke has helpfully not provided the complete tracks usually present on Side B of the cassette tape, so you’ll need to find your own copies (or not bother; playing the backing track is entirely optional). It’s a shame the game doesn’t play a crap beeper or AY rendition of the song in question, but I suspect memory is a bit tight – it’s a multi-load as it is. There are four songs to choose from in the “base game” (more on that later), only two of which I immediately recognised.

Let's ROCK!

Let’s ROCK!

Every two screens’ worth of lyrics there is a word missing. On screen is a multiple choice option as to what it could be. If you “sing” the correct word the little Kamikaze singer gets increasingly more animated, and you get a whole bunch of points to boot. Repeatedly getting the lyrics right, and getting them early, nets you more points, Guitar Hero-style. Sing the wrong word and the crowd boos you off stage (probably) and you have to work your way up to the big multipliers again. The multipliers aren’t shown on screen (although the enthusiasm emanating from the little guy might offer some clue as to what it is), which is a bit of an oversight, but otherwise the presentation is lovely and functional, and looks the part of a karaoke machine.

At the end of the game, again Guitar Hero style (I’m sure the letters from Activision’s lawyers are in the post), you get to see your lyric streak and how well you did.

YOUCH!

YOUCH!

In a move befitting of an EA wannabe, the game also offers what the kids are calling “DLC”. This is overpriced extra content which should have come with the game but, for extortion reasons, didn’t. One hooky copy of a so-called “Trak:Pak” is included. I’m not sure why it’s a hooky copy since Myke wrote it and he’s the one who sent us our review copy, but it turns out this pack contains “Ballads”. What will it be? I love a power ballad. Maybe there’s a bit of Cher or something in it? With some trepidation I loaded it up.

James Blunt! (we all remember that weapon in Frogger)

James Blunt! (We all remember that weapon in Frogger)

I quickly reset the Spectrum having realised why Myke wasn’t taking full responsibility for this Trak:Pak TZX. I can’t help thinking a Christmas Trak:Pak would have been a better cash-in for this time of year.

All Myke needs to do is port this to PS4 and add a speech recognition routine (instead of the multiple-choice-’em-up), and he’s got next Christmas’ hit game. I can almost hear Activision wishing they’d thought of it first.

Score: 99 red balloons out of 9,000,000 bicycles
Download: .zip

* Incidentally, European Sandwich Hunter is coming to a WHSmith near you soon… probably… except I got the name wrong.

Blobby, Mr.

Back in 1999 – in CSSCGC #4 – Derek Jolly created “Think of a Number,” in which the player was invited to guess a number between 1 and 100. Upon its release one C&VG reviewer famously choked on a can of Tizer IceTM!

Over the years people have tried in vain to repeat that success with increasingly convoluted variations on the same theme;

  • Try guessing 2 (two!) random numbers at once in either “Quest for the Golden Egg” by Digital Prawn (2007) and “Quest for ye Flask” by Yoshiatom (2014.)
  • Lose your breakfast over the multi-platform extravaganza; “More Tea Vicar” by Gavin Callard (2010)
  • Move iteratively closer in “Guess the Number” by Iceman (2010) as the program gives you ‘higher or lower than’ type hints.
  • Extend the tedious act of guessing a number between 1 and 176 even further in Andrew Green’s; “Ultimate Horse Racing Simulator” (2014) as the pixel-high nags PLOT their way across the screen… eventually.

This year it’s Simon Ferré’s turn to give the old formula a new airing. Future Publishing have confiscated everyone’s soft drink cans as a precaution.

 

In Blobby, Mr. the (bright pink) screen fills with a random number of yellow blobs (the game’s one and only UDG) acting as a visual, but unwelcome, reminder of the titular 90s Saturday Night ‘Entertainer.’ Your job is simply to guess how many there are.

How many blobs, Mr?

How many blobs, Mr?

 

Whether you attempt to count the blobs on the screen (Tipshop says: I wouldn’t bother, if I were you,) or just take a wild stab in the dark, chances are you’ll be wrong and you’ll be seeing a lot of this screen*.

* Simon has (expertly) managed to get this screen-filling effect to go on for just the right amount of time to get on your nerves.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

Wrong!! Wrong!! Wrong!!

 

But if you think that’s all there is to this game… you’re Wrong!!

Monsieur Ferré has also, whether intentionally or not, managed to enter not one, but two Sqij Tower Challenges simultaneously… “How” you may ask? Behold…!

 

The CSSCGC Remake Challenge

Firstly this is, albeit very subtly, an homage to Blood’s CSSCGC #1 entry; “Mr Blobby Goes Down the Newsagents*.” He’s sensibly dispensed with all the playable elements of Blood’s original, however, Simon has recreated the end sequence with painstaking accuracy.

* Which, we finally confirmed last year, was also previously entered into Sinclair User’s Worst Game in the World compo!

Mr Blobby Goes Down the Newsagents by Blood

“Mr Blobby Goes Down the Newsagents” by Blood

 

Secondly, substituting rocks for blobs, surely this also qualifies as a remake of Dr.Sputnik’s “Rocks: Count Them!” from last year’s compo – albeit without the drunk guys?

 

The Crap Idea Generator Challenge

Not content with a double-hit in challenge #1, however, Simon has also managed to enter the latest Sqij Challenge based on his own Crap Idea Generator* entry from earlier this year.

Nostradamus would have been impressed!

Nostradamus would have soiled himself!

* Possibly

 

In conclusion, against all odds, this simple entry turns out to be rich and rewarding CSSCGC experience.

All it needs is a loading SCREEN$ featuring the bearded Deal or No Deal star, possibly mooning us with his Crinkley Bottom for maximum ‘comedy’ value, and I think we’d have had a winner.

 

Score: Think of a number between 100 and 200 – then divide by 500!

Download here: .TZX file

Arcade Attacks!

Here’s a new (well, submitted on 15th October, but don’t tell anyone) game from WoS forum member Insert Coin, entitled Arcade Attacks! As a big fan of arcade games I have high hopes for this game. Let’s see how soon my hopes will be dashed, then…

ArcadeAttacks01

What a fantastic loading screen! This is far too professional for the CGC. I’m positively salivating during the short loading sequence. It won’t last…

ArcadeAttacks02

Yes, thankfully the whiff of general craptitude soon sets in with the title screen, with its bog standard Speccy font and minimalist instructions. Speaking of which, Mr. Coin has helpfully provided some more detailed instructions in the zip file to save me the bother of having to type too much, so here they are:

A dusty arcade console in a dark corner of an off-licence boots up, passes its ROM check and is now demanding more than just your money. After studying Galaxian A.I. over a number of years it has assembled firm plans on world domination by unleashing a torrent of fear on its screen. Your team, having co-incidentally just entered said off-licence, recognise the symptoms and offer to help the owner get it back under control. 15 minutes later, and having infiltrated the offending ROM’s sprite code (using the elusive red 48K Spectrum), you must take down 5 waves of baddies by firing character code 138s at raining cherries.

That’s what I like, a blurb that says everything and nothing at once. Just like the old days, when the back story to a game took longer to write than the game itself.

ArcadeAttacks03

And here it is. You control the two teeny tiny stick men holding the normal-sized Spectrum, or the two normal-sized stick men holding the humungous Spectrum. You have to shoot character 138s at the cherries. I’m not sure what the eye thing is, but it doesn’t seem to do you as much harm as not shooting the cherries. What’s wrong with cherries anyway? Can’t it be dried apricots, or those horrible slimy Medjool dates that get passed around every Christmas and have the texture – and quite possibly the taste – of slug intestines? It’s not as if they would’ve had to be the same colour as real fruit in this game, given that the cherries you’re firing at are yellow. Mind you, I have a cherry tree in my back garden and the cherries do go yellow first, before turning red and getting eaten by birds (they’re welcome to them, they taste sour anyway). So perhaps Mr. Coin knows what he’s on about after all.

This game is clearly a load of old bobbins. On the other hand, as I’m stupidly busy at work at the moment and have about ten minutes a month in which to write reviews, I only played it a couple of times, so perhaps there’s a hidden level in which you have to do something other than fire ASCII characters at fruit. Somehow I doubt it though. About time I finished this review really so I can take another six weeks procrastinating over the next one, by which time it’ll be January and nobody will care any more.

Score: 3 goes for 50p.

Download here: zip file

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