The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Category: Challenges

The Easter Bunny has to water the garden with a bad cough by firstly figuring out the controls

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.

EasterBunny01

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!

EasterBunny02

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?

Score: -81%

Download .p file here.

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.

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

Maria Whittaker Strip Snap

I’m sure Lee prefers it if I’m reviewing crap games, because it means I’m not adding more to the dung heap. Anyway, he seems to be avoiding this one, I’m assuming because he doesn’t want to get caught playing it. No such problem for me, I live on my own, and unless I’ve invited somebody human (or, erm, K8TI the sexy robot from UDG Strip Snap) around to play actual Strip Snap, I can just close the curtains and set the volume to one notch above absolute zero, and nobody’s any the wiser. Quite frankly, if they’re the sort of person who would come round and play Strip Snap, I doubt they would care about mildly obscene ZX Spectrum games anyway. btw, if any girls reading this fancy a game of Strip Snap, you can get me on Twitter. I can throw in some two-player Top Shelf (<snip!> – that’s quite enough of that, this isn’t Tinder – Ed)
Maria_Whittaker_Strip_Snap.z80_6
So, as Sqij Tower’s unintentionally self-appointed censor, I took it upon myself to check out Andrew Green‘s Maria Whittaker Strip Snap. It’s a remake of Sam Fox Strip Snap, which I’m sure you all remember. If you don’t remember it, it doesn’t really matter, because this game is largely identical.

For some reason it starts with a plain green screen stating “ANY KEY”.
Maria_Whittaker_Strip_Snap.z80_1
After that, there’s a digitised picture which should probably be a loading screen, followed by the instructions.
Maria_Whittaker_Strip_Snap.z80_3
In my school, there was a joke that if you played Strip Poker (Strip Snap hadn’t been invented) against Pamela Anderson (the teenage boy’s crush of choice at the time), she’d turn up wearing several jumpers, a big coat, scarf, sunglasses, hat, wig, false beard etc. The teenage boy in question (in Smash Hits tradition, let’s call him “Ken”) would be there just in his pants…. and still win! Or was it the other way round? I forget.

How to play

How to play


I’d assume you know how to play Snap, but it came to my attention recently that a friend of mine didn’t know the rules. So, in case you’ve also been living in Poland, here’s a brief synopsis: Each of you starts with half a deck of cards, then in turn – no peeking (that’s for the latter stages of the strip version, and if you get really lucky there’ll be some poking taking place too) – you turn the top card and place it in front of you. If the numbers match, shout “Snap!” (and then press ‘S’, unless you have a voice controlled Speccy), and take the stack of played cards (or, in Strip Snap, an item of your opponent’s attire, such as that nice scarf you’ve been eyeing up since Christmas). If you call out when they don’t match, or the other player calls out first, they get the cards (clothes) instead. When you run out of cards (clothes), you lose. I should point out that in Strip Snap, you don’t actually get to put on the clothes the other player has been forced to discard, although that’s certainly a version of the game I’d like to see.
SNAP!  No, wait.  Bollocks. *removes bow-tie*

SNAP! No, wait. Bollocks. *removes bow-tie*


In this game, Ms Whittaker is wearing five items of clothing. She removes her dress first, then her shoes… hold on, I wouldn’t have even let her in without making her remove her shoes at the door, she’ll only make the carpet muddy and I need to check for explosives, and anyway, even if she had got past my security without taking them off, why the fuck is she removing her dress before her shoes? And counting her shoes as one item? This certainly isn’t the way I’d be playing Strip Snap, mind you I’ve seen, erm, I mean, heard about, porn where the woman is completely naked but never removes her shoes, and they’re always high heels too, there’s no way I’d stand for that sort of behaviour in the bedroom, or on the kitchen worktop, it’s a food preparation area (*ahem* – Ed) so maybe Andrew has it right here… er… where was I?
Maria_Whittaker_Strip_Snap.z80
Ah, yes. You also start with five items of clothing. No, I don’t care how many items you are actually wearing (unless you’re female and it’s less than three, in which case send pictures), for the purposes of the game it’s irrelevant as you’re not going to need them – unless you’re insane, you’re not going to be physically removing your underwear for the benefit of a virtual Maria Whittaker, and even if you do, she’s probably only going to laugh at the size of your penis and then run back home to her husband. The game also fails to pose much of a challenge until you’ve reduced Maria to her panties, at which point she gets desperate.
SNA...aargh!  *removes hair clip*

SNA…aargh! *removes hair clip*


When either of you lose an item of clothing, you are treated to a picture of Ms Whittaker either celebrating or looking a bit annoyed. Andrew has missed a trick here, as he could have included some extra pictures showing Maria in the various states of undress as you de-clothe her. There is a bit of an extra treat if you win, which caters for the target audience just as you’d expect.
*removes bandana* (Why are you wearing a banana? - Ed)

*removes bandana* (Why are you wearing a banana? – Ed)

Score: Out of ten I’d give her one. Not much chance of that, though, she’s married.

Download: .Z80 (128K only)

1D 1D Tetris

Chris Young seems to think that his ridiculous 1999 entry, 1D Tetris, would be improved by adding a boy band to the mix. One Direction, for you lucky people who have lived in a cave since 2010, work in the finance department of a large record company, extracting large sums of money from nine-year-olds and their gullible parents, and passing most of it to Simon Cowell, in exchange for music which, if it had come out in 1989, even the likes of Big Fun and Yell would’ve called “a bit rubbish”. The perfect band for a crap game, then.

1d1dtetris1

Now it hasn’t escaped my attention that every time I mention I don’t like something in a review, some bastard includes it in their next game. Perhaps I’ll try a bit of reverse psychology; I really don’t like looking at women with their clothes off*. Anyway, it’s the bloody WASD keys which have set off my irk-o-meter again this time. What’s wrong with good old fashioned QAOP, and proper music made by proper musicians on proper musical instruments, and I remember when you could leave your door open all day and all this was fields and jumpers for goalposts and you could get a pint of hand shandy and a pickled egg surprise for two-and-six down at the docks on a Wednesday afternoon… Nurse? Nurse?!

1d1dtetris2

Not that it matters about the keys, as it’s 1D Tetris you can’t move the bloody blocks anyway. Just hold down S and your score whizzes up faster than you can say “Whatever happened to One True Voice?”. But look at what Chris has done to poor Niall? Either he’s mashed his face in with a toffee hammer and he really looks like that, or this is the worst pixellated celebrity rendering since the loading screen for Peter Beardsley’s International FootballHe might well want to “marry food”, but even a plate of tripe and onions would probably stand him up on the first date.

1d1dtetris3

It’s Louis! Or is it a teddy bear with leprosy? Hard to tell, I was running the emulator in 128 mode meaning one of the components of Louis’ “face” has been replaced by the SPECTRUM keyword, which amusingly stays on the screen for the rest of the game.

1d1dtetris4

Now Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene. He’s got a daytime job (as a potato, or a meteorite, or a pile of dung), he’s doing alright.

1d1dtetris5

It’s good to see Chris has his finger on the pulse too, as Zayn left the band back in March this year. Not sure vhy he is haffink ze fake Tscherman accent eizher, but at least he looks recognisably human. He seems to be holding some sort of walkie-talkie too – perhaps he’s the band’s security guard now?

If you’re a fan of the fifth member of One Direction – and I’ve completely forgotten his name, but in the tradition of Smash Hits magazine circa 1988 I shall call him “Ken” – then I’m sorry to disappoint you but I gave up at this point and hurled my laptop off the top floor of a multi-storey car park, closely followed by myself. So you’ll just have to play the game to find out what atrocities Chris has done to Ken’s face.

I say “play the game”. You don’t actually need to do anything. It’s 1D Tetris, you fool! You can’t lose! The perfect crap game for crap gamers and crap fans of crap boy bands! Crap!

Score: No. 37 in the charts for one week, followed by obscurity.

Download here.

*They don’t much like it when I put their clothes on again, either.

Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Shelf Challenge

MykeP joins the CSSCGC Remake Challenge with this re-imagining of Derek Jolly‘s cult hit, Top Shelf Challenge.

Top Gear Challenge!

Top Gear Challenge!

For those of you living under a rock for the past fifteen years, the original TSC had you playing as a spotty teenager in your local branch of John Menzies, trying to get a shufty of the jazz mags without the built-like-a-brick-shithouse of a newsagent catching you and throwing you out of the shop by your ear. Should you succeed you were rewarded with some gratuitous 8-bit nudity which we can only assume Derek didn’t enjoy searching for on Altavista.

The game was such an unexpected success that Derek released a number of cash-in sequels, the last of which had you searching for porn stashes in the bushes. The other sequels nobody remembers anything about. One of them may have been in colour.

Menu screen

Menu screen

Needless to say, Myke has upped the stakes with this remake and tried to make it into the game it should have been. Rather than the original text-adventure style, we now have the entire shop layout graphically presented, with the shopkeeper reading the Racing Post between checking for shoplifters and spotty oiks. Other customers come and go through inter-dimensional time portals. The layout of magazines on the shelves are randomly generated, although alas it’s not possible to walk around – I assume you’ve already figured out where the magazines of interest are and if you wander off you’re likely to only end up flicking through Gardener’s World or Your Sinclair or something. (I normally hide Sinclair User in the pages of Playboy to avoid embarrassment – Ed)

Come on Birdseye, clear off!

Come on Birdseye, clear off!

You also play as Jeremy Clarkson. Yes, this is called Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear – erm, I mean Shelf – Challenge for precisely that reason. Instead of browsing through Razzle you’re checking out the hotties standing next to a highly-polished supercar. Quite why the newsie frowns upon this is not explained, as it’s not 18-rated stuff. Perhaps the young Jeremy gets his cock out or something.

Anyway, once the coast is clear merely pressing a key is enough to whip What Car? Magazine off the shelf, and get an eyeful of the glamorous scantily-clad leggy blonde draped over the bonnet of a Ferrari, in glorious Chunk-o-vision.

This girl is rather overdressed for the game.

This girl is rather overdressed for the game.

Yes, it may be a bit of a shock, but Myke has gone for high colour chunky pixels comprising non-naked ladies, as opposed to the excessive higher definition albeit monochromatic everything-on-show visual feast of the original. As a result, even if everything was on show you wouldn’t be able to tell what it was that was being shown – it’s like Myke has employed Mary Whitehouse to pixellate the naughty bits and, of course, she’s determined the entire picture is objectionable.

This is what you see if you activate "safe mode".  Filth!

This is what you see if you activate “safe mode”. Filth!

Despite this, there’s even a “safer for work” mode. As an employee in a modern office, I can assure you that every desk these days is equipped with a ZX Spectrum. You wouldn’t want to get caught playing MykeP’s UDG Strip Snap, but this – oh, yes – it’s as office-friendly as you can get.

I’m not entirely convinced about the historical accuracy of this game. Jezza’s getting on a bit now, and it seems likely that he was well into his twenties by the time these cars were released. Also there’s a National Lottery logo on the door of the shop, which sets it in the 1990s at the earliest.

Get out of my shop!

Get out of my shop!

Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Shelf Challenge is everything the original should have been, and less. The original worked, because it was a game that promised risqué content without the tedium of playing poker against Sam Fox. This improves the core game, but manages to remove the main reason why you’d want to play it.

Score: 1 nipple out of two (if you squint a bit)
Download: .tzx

Eurovision 2015

Chris Young gets the remake ball rolling with an updated (and almost topical) version of his 1999 game, EuropeVision, and by god it’s almost unspeakably awful. I had the misfortune to sit through the Eurovision Song Contest a couple of weeks ago – for some bizarre reason I chose to watch it while sober – and by the end I wanted to hack my eardrums out with a rusty grapefruit spoon, but that’s nothing compared to this game.

EV01

Once again Chris outdoes himself with a perfectly rendered loading screen (including obliterating filename, natch) which wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate Gallery. Sadly, this is the best bit of the game – it’s not looking good, is it?

EV2

Did I mention it’s 128k only? Chris has very helpfully declined to save this to +3 disk, knowing how much these things annoy me. So it’s a .zip file, which when unzipped reveals a 358K .tap file. This can only mean one thing… a multiload!

I wonder if Edvard Munch ever played Out Run?

Not an actual screenshot, but I wonder if Edvard Munch ever played Out Run on a 48k Speccy?

There’s only one thing worse than a multiload, and that’s a multiload that multiloads from tape. Come back sunteam, all is forgiven.

So you choose your country, choose your song, choose your gimmick (although I’m not sure if Cliff Richard or Dana were ever “DRESSED AS A FUCKING CROW”), and wait an absolute sloth’s age for the semi-finals to progress. Finally, assuming you qualify, or there’s a “Press play on tape” message, followed by the most tedious multiload sequence I’ve ever known. You press play on the (virtual) tape, and it searches for one particular block, seemingly at random, out of 39 blocks. Aaaaaaaargh! I tried turning on tape acceleration on in Spectaculator, but then it loaded the block super-quick and whizzed past the performance sequence. So in the end I resorted to sitting there clicking on each block of code hoping it was the right one, and weeping tears of rage and fury every time the border went red and cyan again.

Nearly halfway there...

Nearly halfway there…

 

Finally, the thing loaded – it was Australia’s rendition of Let’s Get Happy, which I’d never heard before, but presumably was something to do with dwarves. It wasn’t a bad rendition actually, making me wonder if Chris has some hidden musical talents (and far too much time on his hands). Sadly not, he admitted that he cheated and used a nifty program called MIDI2AY, which you can find here, if you’re so inclined. Anyway, the song rather amusingly stopped in the middle of the second verse, and then the dreaded “PRESS PLAY ON TAPE” prompt, which I recreate here in all its glory:

sigh

sigh

This rigmarole continued for several weeks, until I got so thoroughly bored that I climbed up the nearest tall building and hurled myself off – so I never did find out what happened at the end. But before this, I managed to record one of the songs – and here it is, France’s entry for the Eurovision AY Contest, 2015… Making Your Mind Up! (sorry but the Sqij Towers budget couldn’t stretch to a pixellated Cheryl Baker whipping her skirt off)

Score: an almost inevitable nul points.

Download here (zip file).

Total Clint

MatGubbins returns with the last Keyword Challenge entry for now (although apparently he has about 70 more ideas waiting in the wings), based around maths – yes, you heard me correctly. It’s reminiscent of all those dull-as-ditchwater educational games your parents used to buy at Christmas “to help with your homework“, which you loaded up precisely once to keep Mum happy, before going back to more exciting stuff like Captain Kill-O-Zap Blasts The Aliens or something. I was a bit of a geek at school and quite liked maths, but once we were allowed to use calculators and spent whole lessons typing in 81980085 there wasn’t much point in learning how to do long division, and I only lasted a year in A-level maths before ditching it for a far more useful subject – sociology. Stop laughing.

Bak to skool!

Bak to skool!

The usual Chunk-O-Vision (can’t remember the code for the trademark symbol) title appears. It’s 1986, Clint’s back at school, and he’s been singled out by the teacher to solve some maths problems. Don’t you hate it when that happens? You sit there at the back of the class, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible without staring out of the window too much, sending subliminal messages to the teacher: “Don’t pick me, pick Gary!” It never worked though. Now I always thought “sums” meant addition, but there’s also some division and multiplication thrown in, which made my brain go into meltdown…

TotalClint3

231, Shirley?

Mat has devised a cunning way to input the number. Rather than simply typing it, you use the Q and A keys for up and down, you start with the lowest number (units), then press Space to move on to the tens, and so on. This all reminds me of the SMP – Scottish Maths Project – which I seem to remember placed great emphasis on thousands, hundreds, tens and units, and for some unearthly reason was forced upon the children of Bedfordshire in the early ’80s, despite Bedfordshire being closer to Belgium and France than Scotland (citation needed). This also means that there’s no way of starting again if you get it wrong… and I had lots of practice at getting it wrong.

So many ways to be wrong, but only one to be right.

Haaa-haaa! – W. Shakespeare, 1982

One redeeming feature is the rather fetching (and not remotely Chunk-O-Vision) Miss Natalie Red – if she’s based on one of Mat’s teachers from thirty-odd years ago, then all I have to say is lucky old Mat. My maths teacher in 1986 was 57 years old, completely bald, and had a luxuriant handlebar moustache. I think she’s retired now though.

To be fair, this is all very well programmed (I think there may even be some machine code involved) and it did make me use my brain, feeble though it may be. But just like those educational games from back in the day, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to play this again. Now where did I put my copy of Captain Kill-O-Zap Blasts The Aliens?

Score: 2112÷33 percent.

Download here.

Paint The Line Red

Paint the Line Red” is (we at Sqij Towers are really hoping!) the last entry into the 10 character competition.  I’m actually quite impressed by the title as I couldn’t work out how MatGubbins actually did it (‘the’ and ‘red’ are written out in full leaving only 4 chars left).

So after the brief diversion of MatGubbins last entry, we return to the tried and tested Gubbins game style and quality.  Lovely artwork on the opening title screen as per usual but nothing particularly new.

Paint The Line Red - Opening Title

Title Screen

Two keys – I can manage that (just) – for Left and Right controls.  At this point, I had in mind one of those games where you had to walk around the rectangles and paint the squares but two keys is two too few.

Instead, we’ve got ourselves a ‘Horace Goes Skiing‘ type affair…

Paint The Line Red - Start of Game

Ooh, Chunk-O-Crowd™?

This game is pretty playable although keyboard responsiveness is a bit poor on account that this is a game written in BASIC, requires full screen scrolling, a delay between the scroll and redrawing of your red line and the use of a sadly lacking INKEY$ in the middle of it all.  Pretty hard stuff when you come to those tricky spots where holes appear in the course – they can be pretty tricky to navigate.  At every 50 steps a chequered line is passed which helps towards your sense of achievement, however no bonus appears to be given for passing one. Still, I did manage to score 115 and for once the high score is shown and retained on the title screen.

Paint The Line Red - End of Game

Darn those non-bright attribute squares!

Personally, I think this game is a more polished version of Bobsleigh from The Spectrum Book of Games although I wouldn’t have fancied typing in all of that Chunk-O-Crowd stuff from a book.  That would’ve have been a bloody nightmare!

Score: 80% (would’ve given 82.5% if it was a BLUE line!)

Download: Paint The Line Red.tap

PRINTs LINEd PAPER

Hello Crapsters!  Missed me?  No? Oh well… on to the review.

Next one sitting inconspicuously at the bottom of the crap game pile is another one (yawn!) from the now legendary MatGubbins.  With a notable departure from Mat’s usual Clint/cat fetish releases, this one is very minimal.  Even the featured Chunk-O-Vision™ is “black and white” only…

prints-lined-paper-titleAnd there is a reason for that I suppose – the clue is in the title.
So what does it do? DON’T LOOK AT THE SCREENSHOT YET!!! – IT’LL GIVE IT AWAY!  Oh too late!

After dusting off the ZX Printer...

After dusting off the ZX Printer…

Yes, it basically allows you to print pages and pages of lined paper on your trusty ZX Spectrum.  I assume this software is aimed at the 80s school kid for writing out 50 lines of “I must do my homework instead of playing on my Spectrum all night“.  I can however think of much cheaper ways of procuring such stationary.  I mean, who would want to write on silver ZX Paper?  The spacing between lines is far too small for god’s sake!  In fact, I’ve got a good mind to actually brush off my ZX Printer, plug it in and run this software just to show you how crap the output is – except for the fact that my one and only ZX Printer doesn’t work quite right and actually massively overspaces the line feeds anyway, thus nullifying my argument!

Oh, and if you think this program qualifies for the 10 character compo, this again, only 7 characters were actually used in the Program: title!

Score: On the lines of 22!

Download here: PrintsLinedPaper.tap

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