The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Tag: Andrew Green

Ultimate Games Designer for the ZX Spectrum

And so, as we near the end of another great year of game crapness, I return from an extended leave of absence to the Towers of Sqij (still lofty, still menacing) to review one last effort from Andrew Green.

Not a game but a games designer.  And not just any games designer but The Ultimate Games Designer for the ZX Spectrum.  Are you beside yourself with trepidation?  Maybe!

Title Page

Title Page

The title page if full of guarantees to produce the best game ever; so much so that Mr. Green has even gone to the extra effort of using CAPITAL LETTERS to emphasise the fact.  The mention of complex algorithms however basically comes down to the ZX BASIC “RND” function and the NB at the end mentions a time to build this game is approximately the lifetime of the earth to date.  “program” – maybe; “design” – maybe not.

Now, I’m glad I got to review this program because I reviewed a program very similar to this back in 2010.  Advanced UDG Generator promised to create your perfect UDG simply outputting every combination of bits in an 8×8 pixel square.  This program takes this to a whole new level and I’ll explain why…

*** SPOILER ALERT ***

The program basically fills a large chunk of the Spectrum’s memory with random data before executing it.  Where Advanced UDG Generator would take a mere 2.2 million years to run through every UDG graphic, this program populates 36,612 bytes of RAM (between 28775 and 65367 (immediately below the UDG area) before attempting to execute it.  This is humongous leap in entropy space compared to UDG designer’s 8 bytes.

Ultimate-Games-Designer-InGame

Yawn. I wonder what those numbers mean.

 

As with Advanced UDG Generator however, there are some flaws, and more so here:

  1. The game has been submitted as a Z80 Snapshot with no means to seed the random number generator.  Consequently, the sequence of bytes generated is exactly the same every time you run it from initial load up! We get just one generated game code instead of the potential 2^292896 possibilities (that is a number that is over 88 thousand digits long by the way)! Oh how the opportunity was missed.  Major fail!
  2. Assuming the above flaw was solved, the Spectrum’s implementation of RND is far too limited to generate all 2^292896 possible states.  See my own program RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE RANDOMIZE for more details on that matter.
  3. The aforementioned “lifetime of the earth to date” to make the greatest game.
  4. Despite checking the location of the machine stack, the program is supposed to display “PRESS ANY KEY TO RUN PROGRAM“, and give you the opportunity to press a key before running your masterpiece.  However, I kept getting “C Nonsense in BASIC, 20:1” at this point.  Now you might think, that the generated program might simply have bombed out with a “C” Report, however it hasn’t actually ran the generated program at this point!  I don’t know what gives here but I suspect Mr Green has some damage already built into the snapshot file.  It should be on line 50 at this point, not 20!
C Nonsense in BASIC, 20:1

Wha…?

So, credit where it is due, the program is crap beyond comprehension and probably took less time to write than it took me to review it.  But, if you like WAITING and DISAPPOINTMENT and ENTROPY SPACE and BLUE then you might get something out of this.  Personally I am a CYAN type of guy!

Score: 1 / 2^292896

Download: .z80

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

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)

Jeremy Clarkson’s Punch A Top Gear Producer Simulator

Never let it be said we don’t have our collective finger on the pulse here at Sqij Towers. Only seven weeks since the Punchygate incident and two-and-a-half weeks since Andrew Green sent in this highly topical game, and here’s the review!

Unlike Dave R-Tape and his “Geff Capes”, Andrew doesn’t pussyfoot around – this really is Jeremy Clarkson. Look!

Jezza1

The effect is better if you stand on the other side of the room and take your glasses off, but that’s definitely the best Chunk-O-Vision rendition of Jeremy Clarkson I’ve seen all day! And as if that wasn’t enough, there’s a short beepy rendition of the Top Gear theme (a.k.a. Jessica by the Allman Brothers) which contains more bum notes than, erm, a load of five pound notes with butt-cheeks drawn on them. (Nice anal-ogy! Ed.)

If only the game was as enjoyable. You are Jeremy Clarkson, and you’re hungry and angry – hangry in fact – because some selfish producer hasn’t managed to rustle up the half a cow’s arse in between two bread vans you ordered for lunch. There’s only one way to settle this – act like a spoilt three-year-old and punch them in the face. The producer is sensibly cowering over the other side of the screen, but luckily you’re armed with one of those boxing gloves on an extendable arm you’ve only ever seen in cartoons. All you need to do is whack him in the head and you’ve won – perhaps if you hit him hard enough you can have produceur a l’orange for dinner.

Jezza2

This started out as an enjoyable BASIC game – I particularly liked the oversized Clarkson head graphic – but it’s actually quite tricky, as the producer has the astounding ability to teleport up and down at will. Punching him in the legs has no effect either, and when I first played the game I couldn’t land a single blow to the head, making me wonder if it was possible to complete it at all. However I kept going for a full minute, and finally felt the immense satisfaction of socking some poor sod in the face for no good reason apart from the size of my ego/bank balance/willy (delete as appropriate).

I could get used to this! *clicks fingers* Oi, Chris*! Fetch me my dinner NOW!

Score: 376 inaccurate punches out of 377.

Download .z80 here.

*either of the Sqij Towers Chrises will do. Or Myke. Not sure about deKay though, the last time he made me a cup of tea the milk tasted a bit off…

Eye Gambler

From the guy that brought you such greats as the legendary Sam Fox Strip Snap, Alan Whicker simulator and, of course, Good Night’s Sleep Simulator, we have a new work of art called Eye Gambler.  Here is the synopsis straight from the horse’s mouth:

“Geoffrey Bong has a problem with his eyes. He just can’t control them!”

OK so far, and oh, don’t I just know that feeling!

“So, taking advantage of this poor guy’s misfortune, you (and a friend/enemy/casual acquaintance) get to gamble on which of his eyeballs will reach the edge of his eye first.”

Err..  yes, just as you do when your friend/enemy/casual acquaintance has myriad abnormalities!

Ethical debates aside, let’s see what this box of tricks has in store for us…

Mr Andrew Green is really trying hard here.  Not only has he delivered his game in an emulator friendly “Z80” format, he has also gone to the rather extreme lengths of designing cover art for the cassette:

Eye Gambler Cover Art

 

Impressed?  We, (sitting at the top of the menacing heights of sqij towers) are.  A first for this year’s competition anyway.  A full 90 minutes extra work must have gone into that.

Fortunately, the cover art offsets the fact that we have no loader or loading screen to bulk at enjoy so right into the game it is.  The loading page is colourful making full use of the attributes file and a JSW-paused-screen-style colour cycling thingy.  This is swiftly followed by story background and game instructions.  Luckily, I have a mildly worryingly passion for both gambling and eyes so this game sounds right up my street.

Eye-Gambler-01

Basically the gist is… gamble your £100 by betting which pupil will reach the edge of the eye first.  Crap points are duly awarded on account that the instructions say to “bet on which eyeball will reach the edge of the eye first”.  Surely your eyeballs are in constant contact with the edge of the eye?  I know mine are!

After choosing between 1 or 2 player mode (on the slim possibility that happen to be sitting there with a playmate, or that you even have any mates!), you enter your names and are off.

Each player chooses an eye (L for Left, R for Right) and the amount of dosh they are willing to risk.   Clear signs if quality are noted as it checks that you can’t bet more than you have so I opted to bet 10*PI and EXP 4 for my two players.

Geoffrey Bong is then drawn up on the screen and his pixel-eyes start moving around in a very disconcerting fashion.

Geoffrey Bong face with moving eyes

Geoffrey Bong with his independently moving pixel eyes

Clearly the bookies only accept whole number of £££ as when both players happen to win, they were each awarded £31 and £54 respectively, thus pocketing the extra 41.592653589p and 59.815p (also) respectively.Eye-Gambler-02

After that, it is basically rinse and repeat, except for the fact that if you lose all your money you are still expected to bet even though betting £0 is “too low”.

In all, Eye Gambler is reasonably decent.  It certainly wouldn’t look out of place on the Cascade Cassette 50 tape.  With a very comical storyline and some amusing graphics along the way, this game wins some valuable points along the way.  Certainly, it’s nice not to have your eyes burn or ears melt at some really badly designed game.  All in all, a thumbs up!

Download here: .z80 snapshot.

 

 

©2015 Sinclair Research Ltd sqij.co.uk