The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Tag: chunk-o-vision

European Flag Quiz

Billy Armstrong, 13, from Middlesbrough writes to Sqij Corner this week concerned that some “obviously-not-so-die-hard” CSSCGC followers might have missed out on one of the highlights of recent Chris Young multi-load epic; Europe-Vision 2015.

Unfortunately we can’t print his letter in full as, due to the sheer number of colourful metaphors he chose to employ on a single sheet of A4, the necessary censorship would render it incomprehensible.

The gist, however, was that the users in question may have prematurely reset their virtual Spectrums after only a handful of songs (that’s optimistic – Ed) and not had time to fully appreciate the time that Chris had obviously spent keying in the Chunkels™ for the 40 Nation’s flags.

Fear not though, Billy, as Chris is back with this Edutainment entry which caters nicely for the very same “lazy ****head casual ****ing gamer” audience you were referring to.

(not pictured; Israel or Australia)

(not pictured; Israel or Australia)

 

This is altogether a much simpler affair than Chris’ previous entry (which is not necessarily just a nice way of saying “hastily knocked-up” – Ed) and begins with this hastily knocked-up (Oh – Ed) map of Europe.

After selecting “how many questions” you would like it’s straight into the game with one of the 40 flags randomly selected and displayed at the top of the screen. At the bottom you’re prompted to enter the name of the country to which it belongs.

Simple stuff; type the correct answer and hit Enter. Get it wrong and the Spectrum gives you an angry BEEP, but get it right and you’re rewarded with aural pleasure (Wha-huh? Ed.)

Ooh, ooh, I know this one!

Ooh, ooh, I know this one!

 

Unfortunately, even if you’re referring to this handy ‘High Definition’ flag chart, the necessary pixilation that has occurred rendering the flag into a 6×4 Chunk-o-vision™®©(pat. pending) block means that you’re probably going to struggle to recognize all but the simplest of them.

The REM statements in Chris’ BASIC show that he at least considered this problem with comments such as “UDG may be required?” and “same as Austria.”

Ca5E SeNs1tiV3!

That’s what I said!?

 

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, you’ve done your homework (or cheated – Ed,) squinted and/or even guessed correctly. Is there any reason why you still might get the answer wrong? Why yes:-

  • As noted above, some flags look almost identical, i.e.: Latvia and Austria separated only by a BRIGHT flag.
  • Spectrum BASIC doesn’t provide an easy UCASE / UPPER-type function to make case insensitive string comparison easy (Today’s programmers don’t know they’re born! – Ed.) Chris could have knocked one together, or even locked the CAPS on with a quick POKE, but alas, didn’t bother so just remember to type everything in CAPITALS as if you were speaking to an elderly relative.
  • The String$ Array used to hold the country names is too short leading to a couple of country names being truncated, for example, if you typed “SWITZERLAND” then you’d be wrong (even if you were right) as it should be “SWITZERLAN”.
Not a bad score?

Not a bad score?

 

All of this makes for a surprisingly challenging game, even when cheating, and one that I’d like to say I enjoyed.

Eventually you get to the end of your self-imposed questions, your score is displayed (for better or worse) and the program ends in abrupt STOP (much like this review – Ed.)

 

Score: 1 out of 4-letter words from Billy.

Download: .TAP.

 

UPDATE: I phoned Billy’s Mum to talk to her about his foul language, however, it turns out she’s also got a bit of a potty-mouth and told me “where I could take my opinions” with surprisingly little ambiguity.

 

COMPETITION TIME

Set the number of questions to 100 and then record an RZX of your answers.

The first person to send in a competition-grade RZX correctly identifying all 100 flags in sequence will win a signed poster of Gerri Halliwell wearing that dodgy Union Jack dress from back in the 90s!

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

Fracas

As the BBC are still toying with a replacement Top Gear line-up* it’s been over two months since the original bust-up on which this game is based and nearly a month since Sqij Tower’s finest; Chris Young actually submitted it.

The game begins with an Unsatisfactory logo followed by the proud exclamation; “presented in Chunk-o-vision… a trademark of MatGubbins, used under license.” Tricia from Accounts tells me that MatG’s cheque is in the post, however, can I ask that he lets us know before he cashes it as we’ll be a bit short this month after leespoons took ‘advantage’ of completely inappropriate web-marketing opportunity.

* My money is on Coleen Nolan, Janet Street-Porter and Jamelia from Loose Women.

Offensive? Oo-eck!

Title screen

 

Back in 1985 Pete Moreland (then still at Beyond Software) bet Mike Singleton that he couldn’t get the Speccy to move around screen-sized sprites convincingly. Two years later Dark Sceptre was published, at least one Sinclair mag reviewer was rushed to hospital with palpitations and Commodore briefly considered recalling early Amiga 500 models in order to completely overhaul the graphics chip.

A few years later and Pit Fighter, followed by the even more commercially successful Mortal Kombat, popularised the use of poorly digitized sprites in arcade fighting games. In fact, when the home computer ports appeared, CU Amiga’s John Sloan nearly wet himself after seeing Sonya Blade’s pixelated bouncing bits!

So, as you can imagine, when this entry appeared in the Sqij inbox featuring poorly-digitized-full-screen sprites I went stark raving mad and had to go into therapy for several weeks – hence the delay in this review (Clever – Ed.)

Croeso i Gymru

Welcome to Wales

 

The screen fills with multi-coloured Chunk-o-vision™®©(pat. pending) blocks which, it turns out, are meant to represent Wales. I’m guessing it’s South Wales specifically because I’m originally from the North and it’s pretty much shades of brown and grey up there!?

A positively monolithic Jeremy (or is it Ian ‘Lovejoy’ McShane?) introduces the scene causing a perfectly measured quantity of offence finished off with a topical quip.

As the game-proper begins we find ourselves (for we play as Clarkson) on the left about to face off against an oddly orange and pink member of the production team. Disappointingly there’s no verbal exchange between the two before the ‘fight’ breaks out.

The keys are O, P and Space**, but you’d best hold them down (or turn up your emu speed) because the price we pay for such large sprites is that things move pretty sluggishly.

** O and P do what you’d expect and Space initiates the one and only fighting move in the game – a sort of lazy prod to the opponent’s abdomen.

Punch Out!

Jeremy gets one in

 

Much like my own UDG Fighterz effort, as long as you get the first punch in, you can pretty much get away with holding down the Space key until your opponent is KO’d – resulting in some hot FLASH action and a verbal warning!

We also get to visit Italy (featuring a vaguely recognizable Tower of Pisa, no less!) and then Canada before, inevitably, Mr C gets his marching orders from Sally in HR…

Victory in Wales!

Victory in Wales!

 

Now I don’t mean to brag, however, I completed this one-handed on my first go whilst drinking a cup of tea. (Okay, okay, form a queue and I’ll sign autographs at the end.)

Curious as to whether it was even possible to lose I tried to experiment (slowly) by walking into my opponent (and not attacking,) and edging back from him one step at a time in an effort to make him feel comfortable enough to put a jab in.

Occasionally he would land a punch, however, if I have one criticism of this game it’s that I’m not even sure the producer is up for this fight? In the end I had to stand there, motionless, for nearly 5 minutes before he finally put in enough hits to floor me. What a wuss!

Oinsin's Revenge

Lost in Italy!?

 

I would have liked a BEEPER rendition of the Top Gear theme and a food-themed Pirate Insult-esque mini game prior to each bout to set the scene – but I’m just greedy.

I don’t think there’s any denying that Mat Gubbin’s Chunkels™ are gathered together in an altogether more attractive manner***, but for sheer ambition I think Chris has done us proud on this one.

*** Translation: He does prettier pictures

 

Score: More Kelly Clarkson, than Jeremy!

Download .tap 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

Plot To Go To And Run Over The Cat

I’m at the Sqij Towers Caturday party. There’s tons of cheap booze (Tesco Value Vodka – virtually indistinguishable from water in every sense), and some scantily-clad girlies I’ll be getting off with later (you wish – Ed). We invited the entire cast of Derek Jolly’s Top Shelf Challenge series, but most of them were washing their hair (<snip rude joke about pubes> – Ed). It’s not too dissimilar to the plot of Line Overdrive, which was actually written by a cat. We didn’t invite Lee, because last time he just stood there with his arms folded, tutting at the mess we’d made of the carpet.

The Sqij Towers party. This is not relevant to the game being reviewed, merely filler.

The Sqij Towers party. This is not relevant to the game being reviewed, merely filler.

Anyway, as it’s caturday I’ve snuck off for a few minutes to check out Simon Ferré‘s latest offering. His personal review butler is off reviewing MatGubbins‘ pussy-related fare, so I’m afraid the substitute review butler will be handling this one. So, yeah, if you can STOP TALKING and read Chapter 8 in your textbooks whilst I go and get myself a coffee*, that’d be grand. (I think you’ve confused “review butler” with “teacher” – Ed)

There are only two possible screenshots.  This is the first one.

There are only two possible screenshots. This is the first one.

The game is in patented Chunk-O-Vision®, which seems to be the new black or something. In it, you drive a car along a road, which a cat appears to be standing in the middle of.

There are only three controls, and one of them is useless, so there are two options really. You can either (a) run over the poor defenceless kitten or (b) beep the horn to make the fearless feline move out of the way. You only get points for the former, so realistically, if you want to “win”, you only have one option, and that is to (PLOT TO – Ed) GO TO AND RUN OVER THE CAT.

...and this is the second.  You've seen the entire game.

…and this is the second. You’ve seen the entire game.

If you want to be a pacifist, that’s fine but you won’t get much satisfaction (or points) out of saving virtual moggies. If you are an evil cat hater, like the author clearly is, then you might want to download this covertly before somebody calls the RSPCA.

I did particularly enjoy the realistic engine noises, but the horn needs looking at.

Score: One dead cat out of ∞ live cats.
Download .tzx

* For “get myself a coffee” read “load up this pile of crud”.

And It Continued To Rain

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

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

 Rain1

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

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

Rain2

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

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

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

Download .tap here.

©2015 Sinclair Research Ltd sqij.co.uk