The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Tag: Simon Ferré

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

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”.

Optical Illusions

Two reviews in one day? Anyone would think I’d been moaned at for the lack of updates. Right, I’ll make this (mercifully) short then.
OpticalIllusions
It’s a game by Simon Ferré that doesn’t feature pirates (although oddly enough, Simon’s covering email was written in pirate language). You have to work out if the optical illusions are optical illusions or not.

OI2

If you want to experience the full slow loading horror then turn fast loading off in your emulator. And, erm, that’s more or less all I’m going to write, because I’ve still got nine more games to review, I’m being shouted at from upstairs because I haven’t poured out the gin and tonic yet, and I’m about to watch some telly. So you should go and play the thing for yourself, shouldn’t you?

Score: ∞ out of 100 (Who are you – M.C. Escher? Ed.)

Download here.

Honey I Shrank The Screen

I’m having horrendous trouble with my home broadband at the moment, to the point where I can see the piles of crap games clogging up my inbox, but I can’t log in to my website to review them (other than via the WordPress app for Android, which with my fat fingers is like using an elephant with a sledgehammer to crack a nut for a squirrel). The upshot of this is until my connection gets sorted next week, I can only review games sporadically via a process of Notepad++ files, screenshots saved onto USB sticks and sneakily-grabbed moments at work. I’d already planned to spend the first seven hours and twenty-nine minutes of my first day back after the Easter break reviewing Myke-P’s Grand Prix 2015, before realising that Chris had already nabbed it. So I move to the next game on the list, once again by Simon Ferré, who must think I’m his own personal review butler by now. And once again, there’s a fully animated (and rather cleverly-done) loading screen!

Honey

If I was being paid to review this game, I’d include the following marketing blurb from Simon’s email: “This imaginatively titled game will have you in total awe of the sheer brilliance of word play, smooth animated sprite control and real time drawing, complete with near interrupt-driven background sound, familiar controls, beautiful full-colour sprites, immersive game play and built in game level increase, not to mention fully animated loading screen.  There is also a custom designed screen font, clear screen effect, animated game over text and two types of enemy movement.” However, the original placeholder text I typed, to stop somebody else nabbing the game, was “Lorem ipsum wibble goats-cheese aardvark teapot helicopter jockstrap Yehudi Menuin” – it would probably be doing Simon an injustice to leave it at that, but it’s very tempting.

Honey2

“In this game, your a bee”. My a bee what? Clearly Simon has succumbed to some form of Muphry’s Law here – only three days ago he pointed out a double “the” in one of my reviews, and now he’s made an grammatarical errer off he’s owen! As the title suggests, it’s a tiny little screen, and another near-illegible font – not quite Arabic, but still high on the squint-o-meter. There’s also a beepy little riff in an odd time signature (9/8 or something) which sounds a bit like a tone-deaf version of psychedelic prog-rockers (much listened to in my corner of Sqij Towers), Ozric Tentacles, if they’d had Spectrums instead of proper synths. And the screen-clearing routine is reminiscent of Horace Goes Skiing (only with more beeps) – a nice touch. Well, it’s a highlight, anyway.

Honey3

At least the keys are sensible. Well, except that Q and A control left and right, and O and P are up and down! Perhaps all those 12-year-old WASD fanatics were right after all.

Anyway, this game can best be described as a bimble-em-up. You bimble around the screen, collecting honey and avoiding caterpillars and butterflies. Immediately this throws up far more questions than it does answers:

  1. Why would a bee, equipped with a nasty stingy arse, be killed so easily by cute caterpillars and beautiful butterflies?
  2. What are caterpillars and butterflies doing on the same screen anyway? That’s just weird, the insectian equivalent of sixth formers hanging out with all the smelly 12-year-olds in Year 7. Not going to happen.
  3. Why would a bee need to collect honey? Surely it collects nectar and makes it into honey?
  4. How would a bee carry a jar of honey – typically weighing 500 grams or thereabouts – with its puny little legs?
  5. Why am I sitting here writing this crap?

Answers on a postcard to Sqij Towers.

Honey4

 This is Simon’s first proper arcade game entry, and it certainly shows. What makes this game unplayable isn’t so much the topsy-turvy controls, but the sheer sloth of the thing – in part due to the aforementioned psychedelic 9/8 tune which continues to play throughout the game (even adding 8001 RETURN only speeds it up slightly). And you only get one measly life. On the other hand, as with all the best crap games, I get the hint of a good – or at least well thought-out – game. But on the other hand (how many hands have you got? Ed.) I didn’t want to play it more than once – in fact you could say it brought me out in hives! (the last sentence was sponsored by Bad Dad Jokes ‘R’ Us. You can stop laughing now.)

Simon said in his email “If this doesn’t win the competition, I don’t know what will.” Be careful what you wish for, Simon!

Score: 9/8 percent.

Download .tap here.

Crap Idea Generator

So the competition’s been running for a few weeks now, and we’re already up to 30 entries, with lots more still on the dung heap and a whole nine months left to go – yikes! But what about those of you who want to produce a crap game but find yourselves lacking in inspiration? Fear not! This great utility from Simon “Simon Ferré” Ferré takes the hard work out of game design by coming up with the idea, leaving you to concentrate on the actual gameplay:

cig1

It’s a simple principle, a something has to do something with something by doing something. However with over 50 RANDOMIZEd somethings for each something (Or something. Ed.) the crap game possibilities are almost endless, as you’ll see in the forthcoming screenshots – and I really liked the name of the variables used to construct the game ideas – i$, d$, e$ and a$!

cig4

Note to self – there’s not much to review here really, the readers just need to load the thing up for themselves and find out what it does, so you probably need to pad this out a bit. Just put any old shit here and you can always change it later if need be. It’s not as if anybody reads these reviews anyway. They’re all far too busy watching cat videos, or uploading cat videos, or watching videos of cats uploading cat videos… how’s my word count now? … watching cats videoing cats watching videos of cats uploading cat videos…

 cig6

…only 250-odd words? Bugger, that’s not even two tweets’ worth. Perhaps I’ll write a poem to bulk it out a bit more. There was a young fellow called Tucker, whose girlfriend was a chicken plucker. Whilst having a punt*, he opened her (picnic basket. Ed), and promptly proceeded to (have a nice cup of tea and a couple of cucumber and bloater-paste sandwiches with the crusts cut off. Ed).  Is that 500 words yet? Oh, that’ll do.

cig7

 So at some point I’ll be setting the CIG challenge… although with potentially over 7 million different crap game ideas, I may live to regret it!

cig5

Score: 7,171,008 crap ideas out of 100%!

Download herré (do you see what I did therré?)

*A punt down the Cam (a river in Cambridge), in a punt (a type of boat which you punt along). I was really struggling to think of anything else that rhymed with “picnic basket”.

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.

ATT1

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:

ATT2

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!

ATT3

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…

ATT4

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!

ATT5

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.

 

Tongue-Tied in the Dungeon

Simon Ferré is fast catching up with Dave Hughes and Sunteam in the prolificacy (LMLWD)* stakes. This, his third entry so far, is a direct result of a throwaway comment I made in the competition’s Facebook group. With the opening bars of the Smiths’ ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again’ echoing around my skull, I load the game…

Ooh, the screen’s gone black and I can see from the information in Spectaculator there’s a 6912-byte block. A loading screen! Simon obviously means business. And here it is:

Dungeon

Now for those of you who are thinking “It’s just a blank screen, what was the point of that?” – you’re absolutely right. However it’s still a great satire on all those “screens” that could’ve easily been done from BASIC but still took ages to appear because of some custom loading routine (I, Ball 2 and the They Sold A Million re-release of JSW, I’m looking at you)

The game loads, and the instructions appear in another custom font – that’s two in two days! I haven’t been this spoiled since I attended the Ambassador’s reception in 1993 and ended up getting my stomach pumped after an overdose of cheap Italian chocolate. I don’t know if Simon designed the font or not, but either way it’s a great choice for a crap game, as it’s barely legible even in full screen mode.

Dungeon2

Now going by the title of the game I was expecting it to feature dungeons, skeletons, goblins and creepy spidery things. In reality it’s very different – it’s a tongue twister game. A tongue twister, for those of you who have been living in a cave since human beings first learnt to say “Ug”, is a short phrase designed to, well, twist your tongue – like “She sells sea shells on the sea shore”, or “The sixth sheik’s sixth sheep’s sick”. You’re given a time to beat, the tongue twister appears and you say it out loud before pressing Space to move on.

Dungeon3

Because the Spectrum can’t hear you, it’s taken on trust that you won’t cheat and press Space before you’ve said the tongue twister. However the combination of white INK on black PAPER with the hard-to-read font soon proved too much for me – I was half-expecting there to be some anti-cheat mode, but nope…

Dungeon4

For such a simple game this is actually entertaining fun for all the family (although you might want to take out the “pheasant plucker”, “stunt kite” and “sheet slitter” rounds if you have small children), whilst still retaining a general whiff of craptitude that all competition entries should aspire to.

Score: six sheep out of sixteen sheiks.

Download .tzx here

 

 

*Lloyd Mangram’s Long Word Dictionary, as used in Crash magazine

Where’s Wally?

Another Simon Ferré effort, and at least this time he’s bothered to include a game. Despite the name, Where’s Wally isn’t the long-awaited follow-up to the last Wally Week title, Three Weeks In Paradise. Instead it’s (loosely) based on Martin Handford’s books of the same name, in which you have to find the bespectacled, behatted, bestripey-bejumpered Wally. Curiously Wally has different names in different languages (Waldo in North America, Charlie in France) so perhaps with a bit of tweaking Simon could, if you’ll allow me to lapse into corporate bollockspeak for a moment, “leverage the game’s multi-territory excremence value going forward”. I particularly look forward to the Norwegian version, Where’s Willy?

It starts well, with a FULLY ANIMATED loading screen, an astounding feat of programming skill that would have made the creators of the Moon Strike loader weep with rage if it had come out in 1988:

WheresWally

Hypnotic, isn’t it? In fact I’m guessing you’re all still looking at it right now, so I might as well write any old shite in this paragraph, just to pad out the review. Ultimate Play The Game were a rubbish software house. Glenn Medeiros was the greatest singer of the 1980s. The Commodore 64 is the best computer ever made.

Ahem. Now I’ve got that out of my system, let’s take a look at the game. Simon very helpfully hasn’t given any instructions, so after pressing a key you’re left to work proceedings out for yourself. Luckily Simon’s gone for the traditional key option of Q, A, O, P and Space – although U, D, L, R, F would’ve gained him more crap points! The game is pretty self-explanatory – you have to find Wally in a sea of stripy-jumpered people. Wally and his friends look very similar, comprising of a head (with no hat or glasses), a pair of stubby little legs, and the stripy jumper, which comes in a multitude of randomly-generated colours. Rather disturbingly Simon has forgotten to draw arms on his Wallies, which makes me wonder what they all do for a living when they’re not loafing about in a Spectrum game. Perhaps they take it in turns as Def Leppard’s drummer.

WheresWally2

In an amazing feat of detection I worked out how to play the game almost straight away – you move your cursor around and highlight the correct Wally. Just to make it clear, the chap you’re looking for is the original Wally, who looks something like this (Microsoft Paint hasn’t been kind to him, but you get the idea)

bigwally

The game is pretty tough at first. Choose the wrong Wally – and there are a few stripy red herrings thrown in there – and it’s Game Over, which made me wonder if Simon Ferré used to work for Dinamic. However I pretty soon worked out how to find him – I won’t completely spoil the fun for the rest of you, but if you stare at the screen without blinking you might get the idea…

And if you’re still not convinced by this game’s charms, there’s a snapshot available to download. In the author’s own words, “I was utterly captivated by this game and lost all sense of time while scouring the screen looking for Wally, and all I can say is that eventually I decided to give up after a whopping 109 score, as you can see from the snapshot I have provided.  Let us see if anyone can beat this.”

I must admit after about 3 goes I was more bored than my kids on a wet Sunday afternoon in November during a power cut – but if you’re the sort of person who has far too much time on their hands, 109 is the score to beat!

Download: .tap / .sna

Advanced ZX81 Simulator

The CGC has long had a tradition of people writing “advanced simulators” of their favourite (second favourite – Ed) computer platforms for the humble Speccy. From the short:

10 REM ZX SPECTRUM EMULATOR
20 NEW

All the way up to James Smith‘s Virtual ZX Spectrum – an actual ZX Spectrum emulator that runs on the Spectrum itself – and his potentially genuinely useful Twenty Commodes, Vic-20 emulator.

The question here was “which category is this going to fall into?”. Is it the usual cheap one-joke effort, or is it a fully fledged ZX81 emulator for the Spectrum capable of playing such classics as 3D Monster Maze and Barcode Hangman? (such things do already exist)

One of the delights that isn't playable with Advanced ZX81 Simulator, running here under a proper ZX81 emulator for the Speccy.

One of the delights that isn’t playable with Advanced ZX81 Simulator, running here under a proper ZX81 emulator for the Speccy.

It started off well, configuring my 16K RAM Pack with extra blu-tack to avoid the dreaded RAM Pack Wobble(TM) after three hours on Crap Castle Master. The ZX81’s K prompt stared back.

Ah... the dreams of every ZX81 owner... so this is what's "advanced" about it...

Ah… the dreams of every ZX81 owner… so this is what’s “advanced” about it…

Predictably, it’s a cheap one joke effort. Extra marks for entirely failing to mimic the ZX81’s error messages, and providing a polite wordy error rather than the abrasive unexpected reboot, screen corruption and freeze that plagued ZX81 owners in the early 1980s.

It appears that the “Advanced” in the title means “More advanced than an actual ZX81” and “Simulator” means “Not even trying to be a ZX81”.

I rate this ZX80 out of QL.

Download here.

©2015 Sinclair Research Ltd sqij.co.uk