The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Tag: simulator

Achievements

Developer 1: “So I think we’ve finally finished the Tutorial mission, sir.”
Manager: “Wow! It looks great, but… How long does it take to complete?”
Developer 2: “Only 15 hours or so, sir?”
Manager: “What!? That’s nowhere near long enough… Throw in a couple of save points, a mini boss battle and a task that means you have to trudge back and forth across the whole level a couple of times – you need to be aiming for at least 2 days!”
Developer 1: “Yes sir, sorry sir.”
Developer 2: (smugly) “Told you!”

 

I’m not saying modern games are rubbish, or dumbed-down to the point my Auntie can play them (she sure loves murdering those hookers in Vice City – Ed) but there are definitely a few trends, no doubt brought in by Marketing Departments, Business Analytics and Social Meeeeeedjaaaa that I, personally, could do without, i.e.: Freemium, DLC, Sharing every high score on Facebook, App Updates every ten minutes etc.

Achievements, by Sqij Tower’s very own Chris Young, makes fun of another now-familiar experience in modern gaming where we’re presented with an award every five minutes for anything and everything from simply finishing Level 3, to running around in a circle until the NPCs get dizzy and fall over in an amusing fashion!

In fact, no sooner than the game finishes loading, I score my first achievement! Game Loaded. Well done me!

Well Done!

Achievement Unlocked! Game Loaded

 

The game itself* is a sort of Rogue-a-like-affair, a bit like last year’s Hobohemia, but not as pretty looking. I start off by selecting and naming my Elf character – for which, naturally, I am congratulated. (Good job, player 1! – Ed)

Next I find myself in Kent, on the 20th March 2015, unable to see much of anything and unsure of what exactly I’m supposed to be doing. In fact, before I even make out the flickering UDGs, I am set upon by a chuffing great dragon! Achievement Unlocked!

Personally I favour whacking things with a big sword, rather than doing card tricks, but on this occasion I decide to try my hand at some magic. Achievement Unlocked!

Cast a Spell

Achievement Unlocked! Used Magic

 

A few spells and the odd whack later and the dragon is slain (Achievement Unlocked!) I return to the fog and venture a guess at QAOP to move my little stick-Elf – which works and I’m instantly rewarded for my ingenuity.

I can also – just about – make out a flickering yellow trophy so I head towards it and start racking up even more movement-based awards.

Left Then Right

Achievement Unlocked! Moved North

 

Looking at the code I think collecting the ‘trophy’ should “Levv” me up (and, for which, I should receive another achievement.)

Unfortunately I never make it as I’m persistently attacked by wizards, kobolds(?) and more dragons and inevitably, with my stamina depleted, I die… Achievement Unlocked!

Game Over

Achievement Unlocked! Died

 

All in all a biting satire of modern gaming ruined ever-so-slightly by Chris accidentally including a more-or-less playable game where he could easily have got away without one.

There are 29 Achievements to collect in total and I urge you to seek them all out – if you’d paid upwards of £50 for this game it’s only natural you’d need to justify the cost by wringing out every possible mundane second from it!

 

Trivia: Chris originally intended to include a 30th Achievement – for BREAKing into the BASIC code and reading them all from the DATA statements starting at LINE 9019 – but couldn’t figure out how.

 

Score: 9 of 50. Only 6 to go until your first medal!

Download: .tap

Achievement Unlocked! Review Finished.

Advanced Fiesta Simulator 3D

I owned a Ford Fiesta over ten years ago. The blower stopped working except on position “4”, which necessitated turning the radio up, not that the speaker on the driver’s side worked properly anyway. One winter the internal heater decided to fail. Some time afterwards the radiator developed a leak, requiring a top-up every morning and an emergency spare bottle of water in the boot. In summer, my commute to work largely involved watching the temperature gauge slowly increase, praying that the “Road To Nowhere” wouldn’t be at a standstill, as the only way to keep the engine cool was to drive fast enough for the surrounding air to do the job. In winter I was dressed as the Michelin Man, praying that the “Road To Nowhere” wouldn’t be at a standstill, so I could get to work before I froze to death.

I figured this was qualification enough to review Garry Wishart’s Advanced Fiesta Simulator 3D for the ZX81.

I had a piece of shit car like this myself once.

I had a piece of shit car like this myself once.

The first thing which struck me was this game is HUGE. It needs a 16K ZX81, and the author advises against running it on a real machine because it “takes nearly 15 minutes to load”. However, he also advises there is a version with sound (“not included”) which only works on a real ZX81 – and requires a radio tuned to the specific frequency of 600kHz in the vicinity. That’s dedication, and I’m willing to take Garry’s word that such a thing both exists and works, as the rest of the code is unbelievably thorough – there’s even a mention of “friction coefficients”, though he has hand-rendered everything (which explains why the code takes up so much memory) rather than using his mathematical genius coupled with the ZX81’s UNPLOT command. Maybe the ZX81 wasn’t up to calculating the full first-person view of the road quick enough.

This advert was actually found next to Jim's wife in the back of Fiesta magazine, due to an administrative error.

This advert was actually found next to Jim’s wife in the back of Fiesta magazine, due to an administrative error.

The game starts with you purchasing a used car, for less than the price of a Sinclair Black Watch (probably). “One careful lady owner”, the advert states – omitting the twenty or so buffoons who also owned it at one point or another.

After that you’re straight into the action. With as many controls as your average ZX81 flight simulator[1], you can do everything from accelerating to adjusting the mirrors. Even the horn has a key despite the ZX81 having no ability to output sound. Bizarrely, there’s no option to turn on the hazards, which are the first things I’d check are working in a MkI Fiesta. Ah, well, it’s a game, you won’t need them. The game helpfully tells you the controls no matter what you answer to the question “Instructions?”, so somebody’s been reading my old guide to writing a crap game.

The main display is your classic pseudo-driver’s view – a road disappearing into the distance – but with a few features not normally found on 8-bit era driving games. Firstly, the game has a five speed gearbox (one of the speeds is “reverse”, but it still counts), whereas you’d be lucky to get Lo/Hi gears back in the 1980s. Secondly, there’s a rear view mirror, despite there being no other traffic on the road. Garry has also kitted it out with the usual computer game dashboard components – speedo, clock, brake fluid low indicator (Huh? – Ed), that sort of thing.

The A14 near Creeting St Mary.

The A14 near Creeting St Mary.

Unfortunately, the warning lights appear to be dead (It’s probably the fuse – Ed), as the first you’ll know about the engine overheating is when it’s on fire. The gearbox is faulty. The electrics are screwed up. If you slow down for the lights you’ll stall and be needing those hazard lights that haven’t been mapped to the ZX81’s keyboard. If you adjust the mirror it’ll come off in your hand.

I dare say that if you stay at a constant speed between about 20 and 40 mph, stay on the road and DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING you might reach Carlisle. Or you might still break down due to lack of fuel, an oil leakage, flat tyre or total boredom.

And.... stop.

And…. stop.

Mr Lake, co-host of the 2007 CSSCGC, also had an old Fiesta. Exiting the vehicle involved winding the window down and operating the handle on the exterior of the door, although I believe in later years that failed too, and the only reasonable way to leave was via the passenger’s side.

I strongly suspect this game is based on a true story. It’s also entirely as advertised – advanced, accurate and in 3D. If you took out all the bits about the car breaking down, this would have sold as a full price title back in 1982. With them, though, it’s a superbly executed crap game which has had far too much effort spent on it. Top marks!

Download HERE

[1] There’s only one – Psion Flight Simulation, and it has twelve keys, but three of them have nothing to do with controlling the plane so I’ve ignored them.

The Amazing Thinking Brain

A large picture of a brain with the title of the program in large friendly letters!

Opening Screen

Screenshot of first page of text.  Plugs itself as "so complex that it is indistinguishable from a real human"

Opening Page

Well, today is my misfortune to be slapped across the metaphorical cheeks with another one of sunteam’s submissions.  According to the author, Thinking Brain is “possibly the most advanced AI ever written“.  I think the most important word to cling to in this statement is “possibly”.  It is not however without at least one attribute that you would normally associate with greatness: “anticipation”.

The initial load displays a rather impressive loading screen titled “THE AMAZING THINKING BRAIN” and the enticing phrase “PRESS ANY KEY TO BE AMAZED”.  OK, good so far, let’s see where this leads.  Well, it leads to a reasonably colourful page basically plugging itself as an advanced AI that would pass the Turing Test and a warning to use with care.  Another prompt for a key press leads to …

Screenshot of a well rendered of image of a famous picture of a scientist holding a flask in both hands

Scientist Screenshot

 

… another loading screen.  This time of a mad scientist just slightly too passionately embracing a round bottomed flash, and another prompt to continue.  “OK, stay with it” my inner optimist hails.  More plug.  More anticipation.  Slightly more scepticism.   American info-mercials start to come to mind at this point. Next is yet another screen…

Monochrome (blue on black) screenshot of a brain with insert of a single neuron with its nucleus lit up like a spark

Insane in the brain!

A brain this time with a neuron insert.  A decent graphic in all.  Another screen about Neurons and another random splattering of random noises.  Our final graphic is Arnold Schwarzenegger in what is presumably one of the Terminator movies.

Screenshot of side profile image of The Terminator with robotic arm outstretched

Hasta la vista speccy baby!

Again, very well put together with decent colour to add.  One final screen of text keeps us from the bounty for which we seek.

And so we get to the program itself.  Presumably, a sudden cash flow crisis meant that colour had to be stripped from program development at this point, however we are still sold the myth that the program will “will simulate and replicate human language with 100% accuracy” and “YOU CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE”.  Pressing the final key to begin, presents you with a blank screen asking for an “Input statement” where you get to enter (presumably), a statement, a jest, a verse of prose maybe or even the complete works of Shakespeare.  Whichever you chose, I will leave you to try for yourself to see if you think this program delivers on all that it promises!

"BRAIN says ..." followed by whatever you type in on the INPUT string!

The Simulator in action

 

If it wasn’t for pretty decent lead-in screens and the fact that the plug screens are well laid out, with good spelling, grammar and layout, and a splash of colour to add, this game could have been a whole lot more crappier.  Even the occasional sound phrases which pop out over 30 seconds or so are certainly no worse than mediocre.  One “almost” saving grace is the fact that sunteam has once again published this what-ever-it-is on +3 .dsk even though I was able to run the hacked .tap version straight off of my 16K Spectrum.  What is the +3 bells and whistles in that?

As a result, I doubt this program will be top of the CGC listings.  Try again sunteam! … Or not! 😉

Download .dsk version (provided by author) or .tap version (cunningly converted by spoons for all our sanity) here.

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