The comp.sys.sinclair crap games competition 2015 -

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

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #10: Gin, Rummy

Everyone who is of a certain age and social class will have heard of, and probably played, Gin Rummy. That two player card game where each person has to create sets of cards – runs and matching values, rather like Mahjongg for children. This is not Gin, Rummy.

To play Gin, Rummy (the comma is important) each player had a number of shot glasses and several bottles of both gin and rum. Any number of people can play, although local laws may dictate that players are over the age of 18, 21, or not from alcohol barring religious orders.

The game is quite simple: in Round One, each player downs enough rum to kill a buffalo. Any survivors move onto Round Two. In Round Two, all remaining players simultaneously down one shot of gin at a time. The last person alive wins, and can help themselves to the contents of the losers’ pockets/handbags/pants as appropriate.

You would think there is perhaps nothing crap about this game at all, but there is a sad side to all the fun. Since 1960 more than 7 million people have died from liver related diseases, every single one of which has been irrefutably linked to playing Gin, Rummy. Even worse, two men were arrested in 2006 having between them stolen more than £3.50 in change from the pockets of their friends. They’d cheated the game by watering down their own rum and using a cow in a buffalo suit as their reference measure.

Gin, Rummy is now illegal in 27 US states and is outlawed in Ghana and Denmark. In 2013 Essex County Council attempted to ban the game in the county’s pubs, against fierce opposition from members of the local heavy drinking industry. They unwisely chose to ban or not based on the outcome of, you guessed it, a game of Gin, Rummy. Three councillors died, a buffalo was arrested, and two publicans woke up in Zeebrugge with very dry mouths.

Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout

In a fit of efficiency, I’ve started writing this review ON THE DAY Sqij’s own Myke-P sent it in. He has already completed the forfeit of reviewing some other piece of crap before I even had chance to “suggest” he “might want to help Lee out a bit”, and since I’d bothered to actually have a go on the damn thing it seemed only fair to make some sort of attempt to review it.

But who will win Kamikaze Shoot-out? PLACE BETS NOW!

But who will win Kamikaze Shoot-out? PLACE BETS NOW!

Like the greatest games and movie releases, Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout was announced way before it was any more than a title, and Myke has been beavering away on it for at least a year and a half, which is way more than the average CSSCGC entry. Although, having said that, when I was the host in 2007, I was sent rather a lot of games that had been written back in the 1980s, some of which hadn’t even been finished after twenty years or so (Rickard Berglind’s Haunted House, I’m looking at you)

Come on! Bet! Bet! Bet!

Come on! Bet! Bet! Bet!

Anyway, KKS only existed because of a Videogame Name Generator which I hadn’t noticed, or perhaps had forgotten, existed. I gave it a whirl, and my next CGC entry will be called “Enormous Kabuki Underground” (That sounds like a shit nightclub. Ed), or “Monty Python’s Unicorn Beta” (I think that was on Radio 4. Ed) or maybe “Create Your Own Assault Raider” (That’s a Partworks series out January. Ed), or even “Post-Apocalyptic Racing in the Middle East” (They show that late night on Channel 5. Ed), or perhaps “Fantastic Blade Collection” (That’s also a Partworks series, are you sure this isn’t a Partworks idea generator? Ed). A-Ha! “Deranged Plumber Experience”, now that’s finally a game I can get behind! (Facebook. Ed) “Boring Stick Knights”? (You wrote that way back in 2001. Ed) “Sexy Monster Tournament”? (Give up. Ed)*

BETTING ENDS!

BETTING ENDS!

Thankfully, Kamikaze Karaoke Shootout is what Myke settled on, and it’s… woefully competent (you can use that quote on the box), sort of SingStar meets HIGNFY’s missing words round.

I’ve never played SingStar, but I have played Guitar Hero, which has a singing option (which I’ve never tried as I don’t own a USB mic). KKS has a bit of a Guitar Hero vibe to it, so I imagine the lead singer bit of Guitar Hero is pretty much the same as in KKS, just at Glastonbury instead of a dive in Croydon.

I’ve also “performed” actual karaoke, and this is a fairly accurate simulation of that experience, albeit one that is hosted by a sadist who has removed random words from the song lyrics.

Das ist ROCKMEISTER!

Das ist ROCKMEISTER!

Quite simply, you sing along to the song using the lyrics provided (this step is entirely optional). Myke has helpfully not provided the complete tracks usually present on Side B of the cassette tape, so you’ll need to find your own copies (or not bother; playing the backing track is entirely optional). It’s a shame the game doesn’t play a crap beeper or AY rendition of the song in question, but I suspect memory is a bit tight – it’s a multi-load as it is. There are four songs to choose from in the “base game” (more on that later), only two of which I immediately recognised.

Let's ROCK!

Let’s ROCK!

Every two screens’ worth of lyrics there is a word missing. On screen is a multiple choice option as to what it could be. If you “sing” the correct word the little Kamikaze singer gets increasingly more animated, and you get a whole bunch of points to boot. Repeatedly getting the lyrics right, and getting them early, nets you more points, Guitar Hero-style. Sing the wrong word and the crowd boos you off stage (probably) and you have to work your way up to the big multipliers again. The multipliers aren’t shown on screen (although the enthusiasm emanating from the little guy might offer some clue as to what it is), which is a bit of an oversight, but otherwise the presentation is lovely and functional, and looks the part of a karaoke machine.

At the end of the game, again Guitar Hero style (I’m sure the letters from Activision’s lawyers are in the post), you get to see your lyric streak and how well you did.

YOUCH!

YOUCH!

In a move befitting of an EA wannabe, the game also offers what the kids are calling “DLC”. This is overpriced extra content which should have come with the game but, for extortion reasons, didn’t. One hooky copy of a so-called “Trak:Pak” is included. I’m not sure why it’s a hooky copy since Myke wrote it and he’s the one who sent us our review copy, but it turns out this pack contains “Ballads”. What will it be? I love a power ballad. Maybe there’s a bit of Cher or something in it? With some trepidation I loaded it up.

James Blunt! (we all remember that weapon in Frogger)

James Blunt! (We all remember that weapon in Frogger)

I quickly reset the Spectrum having realised why Myke wasn’t taking full responsibility for this Trak:Pak TZX. I can’t help thinking a Christmas Trak:Pak would have been a better cash-in for this time of year.

All Myke needs to do is port this to PS4 and add a speech recognition routine (instead of the multiple-choice-’em-up), and he’s got next Christmas’ hit game. I can almost hear Activision wishing they’d thought of it first.

Score: 99 red balloons out of 9,000,000 bicycles
Download: .zip

* Incidentally, European Sandwich Hunter is coming to a WHSmith near you soon… probably… except I got the name wrong.

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

Arcade Attacks!

Here’s a new (well, submitted on 15th October, but don’t tell anyone) game from WoS forum member Insert Coin, entitled Arcade Attacks! As a big fan of arcade games I have high hopes for this game. Let’s see how soon my hopes will be dashed, then…

ArcadeAttacks01

What a fantastic loading screen! This is far too professional for the CGC. I’m positively salivating during the short loading sequence. It won’t last…

ArcadeAttacks02

Yes, thankfully the whiff of general craptitude soon sets in with the title screen, with its bog standard Speccy font and minimalist instructions. Speaking of which, Mr. Coin has helpfully provided some more detailed instructions in the zip file to save me the bother of having to type too much, so here they are:

A dusty arcade console in a dark corner of an off-licence boots up, passes its ROM check and is now demanding more than just your money. After studying Galaxian A.I. over a number of years it has assembled firm plans on world domination by unleashing a torrent of fear on its screen. Your team, having co-incidentally just entered said off-licence, recognise the symptoms and offer to help the owner get it back under control. 15 minutes later, and having infiltrated the offending ROM’s sprite code (using the elusive red 48K Spectrum), you must take down 5 waves of baddies by firing character code 138s at raining cherries.

That’s what I like, a blurb that says everything and nothing at once. Just like the old days, when the back story to a game took longer to write than the game itself.

ArcadeAttacks03

And here it is. You control the two teeny tiny stick men holding the normal-sized Spectrum, or the two normal-sized stick men holding the humungous Spectrum. You have to shoot character 138s at the cherries. I’m not sure what the eye thing is, but it doesn’t seem to do you as much harm as not shooting the cherries. What’s wrong with cherries anyway? Can’t it be dried apricots, or those horrible slimy Medjool dates that get passed around every Christmas and have the texture – and quite possibly the taste – of slug intestines? It’s not as if they would’ve had to be the same colour as real fruit in this game, given that the cherries you’re firing at are yellow. Mind you, I have a cherry tree in my back garden and the cherries do go yellow first, before turning red and getting eaten by birds (they’re welcome to them, they taste sour anyway). So perhaps Mr. Coin knows what he’s on about after all.

This game is clearly a load of old bobbins. On the other hand, as I’m stupidly busy at work at the moment and have about ten minutes a month in which to write reviews, I only played it a couple of times, so perhaps there’s a hidden level in which you have to do something other than fire ASCII characters at fruit. Somehow I doubt it though. About time I finished this review really so I can take another six weeks procrastinating over the next one, by which time it’ll be January and nobody will care any more.

Score: 3 goes for 50p.

Download here: zip file

International Global World of Swingball

When I was ten or eleven, I made the perilous journey from cosy Bedfordshire all the way to steely Sheffield for some family party or other. Three things stick in my mind about that weekend – buying Jack The Nipper from Just Micro (home of Gremlin Graphics), annoying my mum on the train home by putting on a fake Yorkshire accent, and spending a very pleasant hour before the party playing swingball with two girls who I think were either my first cousins twice removed, or my second cousins, or possibly my second cousins twice removed – whatever your nan’s brother’s grandchildren are, anyway. And no, “playing swingball with my cousins” is not a euphemism, so stop that right now.

Swingball, then. As far as I can remember from that long lost afternoon, it’s a two-player game where a tennis ball is attached to a pole via a piece of string, and you have to hit the ball in one direction, your opponent hitting it the opposite way, until the string gets to the top or bottom of the pole. There’s 17 gazillion Speccy sports simulations but as far as I know GReW’s latest effort, International Global World Of Swingball, is the first to feature swingball.

All the best Speccy games – Monty On The Run by the aforementioned Gremlin Graphics, and, erm, Action Biker – have more than one loading screen. So does this one.

Swingball01

Cleverly, when the second screen is loading in the background the pixels are completely hidden by the first screen’s attributes. And look, following on from Gab Amore’s recent efforts, it’s yet another Chunk-O-Vision game! Yaaaaaaaay!

Tennis ball last seen in Bounder.

Terry the tennis ball, last seen in Bounder.

After the game has loaded you get this lovely title screen complete with typo – bonus crap points here, as all the best games have typos, like “BARMY BURGER’S” and whatever game it was by “ELITE SYTEMS” that slipped through the net.

Swingball03

This is a two player game, which proved to be a problem for me, as I don’t have any friends, and even if I did, they’d soon run a mile if I asked them to play a simulated game of swingball on a 30-year-old computer. So I had to invent one – I’ll call him “Chris”, because most people at Sqij Towers seem to be called Chris these days. Apart from me. And Andy. And Myke (come to think of it, what’s with the “y” in “Myke” anyway? That’s just sylly.)

Swingball05

The very first thing I notice, as “Chris” serves the ball to me, is the ball isn’t attached to the pole at all. This isn’t swingball, it’s more like tennis without a net, played next to what looks like a telegraph pole or a half-submerged guitar with a long neck. That blobby bit under my eye isn’t my nose, it’s actually the ball, which I fail to hit again and again. My right hand – aka “Chris” – seems to be better at this than the rest of me, as after a few more bashes of the keyboard he only bloody well goes and “winds”:

Swingball06

Bah. Beaten by my right hand. No change there, then.

I must quickly mention the Play By Mail option, which allows people to play even if they have no friends in their immediate area – GReW really knows his target audience, doesn’t he? So if you fancy a game by post, here’s a code to start you off: BLCEHER6I5STIAA. Time to dust off your Amstrad Em@iler and send it to me by the magical cyber-tubes!

Swingball07

As crap games go, this is actually one of the better ones. Still utterly crap, but it’s in machine code, and fairly well presented – in fact I can almost – almost – imagine this being released by some budget software house at the arse end of 1983. Now I wonder whatever happened to my second cousins? Perhaps they’ll have a rematch, thirty years on.

Score: Love deuce (f’nar!)

Download .tap here.

The Training of the Warrior

Gabriele Amore is back. Did he ever go away, I hear you ask? Quite frankly, we’re not sure. I mean, we asked him to leave, but two days later I found him in the Sqij Towers kitchen eating all our biscuits. He distracted me by throwing a Shuriken into the wall behind me, which on closer inspection turned out to be a Spectrum game called “The Training of the Warrior”.

THE_TRAINING_OF_THE_WARRIOR.TAP

It wasn’t an original copy, being on a C90 with no inlay or instructions. Fortunately the title screen looked exceedingly helpful, despite being in a nearly unreadable font (bonus points for that), giving the two available keys “O – Punch and P – Kick”.

Eager to start my samurai training, I press O or P and am presented with some pixellated training screen.

THE_TRAINING_OF_THE_WARRIOR.TAP_2

I figure that at this point, pressing O or P might come in handy, probably P for Punch (or was it O?) as directed on the status guff at the bottom of the screen.

Pressing keys makes the screen flicker and moves the arrow at the top of the screen backwards and forwards. Sometimes it brings up an extra arrow and a white block. This might be a bug or it might be intentional and integral to the gameplay. I really have no idea.

Sometimes it does this.

Sometimes it does this.

Eventually after stabbing random keys, I complete my training, despite having no idea whatsoever what I was supposed to be doing. I bet real samurais didn’t get off so easily!

THE_TRAINING_OF_THE_WARRIOR.TAP_5

I then started up the game again to see if I could work out how to play it.

Other times it does this

Other times it does this.

It just showed me a different screen and flashed between kick and punch text and that was it. I reset the Spectrum in frustration. This is buggier than the average PC game on the day of release.

Score: 1 ninja star out of ten ninj… AAARGH, I’M SURROUNDED BY NINJAS. SEND HELP.

Download: .tap

Fly Catcher

Just in time for Halloween, here’s a game by PROSM in which you play a spider and have to catch flies. WoooOOOooo! Scary! Okay, so that’s a very tenuous link to cover up the fact I’ve had this game since the middle of September and have only just got round to reviewing it. It wasn’t like this in the days of Eq Tetrachloride and Dave The Lurker, but to be fair, they never wrote 400-word essays about these games, like what we do at Sqij Towers. “Quantity, not quality” – that’s my motto, along with “better late than never, but even better really really late than just late”.

I was going to write down all the things that I thought PROSM might be an acronym for, just to pad out the review by 100 words or so, but could only think of “Patricia Routledge’s Octopus Smells Musty” before my brain started to hurt. So I stopped again.

In this game, you are a spider, and you must catch flies. I quite like spiders. I’ve never been the sort of person to go “Aaaargh, a spider, help, mummy!” and climb up the nearest tree to escape it. I’d probably make an exception for anything bigger and hairier than a kitten, or those Australian Arsebiter Killer Death Spiders who lurk underneath toilet seats and in underwear drawers, but on balance I’d rather have Boris the Spider and his chums as house guests than a bunch of dirty flies, zzz-zzzing around and vomiting all over me.
FlyCatcher1
Now what some people don’t realise is that when I first load a game for reviewing, I always turn flash loading off in my emulator, so I can experience the full experience of the loading experience, just like I would’ve done thirty years ago – that way I don’t miss any screens or fancy loaders. When I came to do this with Fly Catcher, I couldn’t help but notice there was a suspiciously short BASIC bit, followed by an even shorter piece of code, and then the game started. Now even with my limited knowledge of machine code I know that it takes more than 10 bytes of code to make a playable game – but to give PROSM the benefit of the doubt, perhaps it’s a 2K game compressed with zx7 or something. So I press a key to start, and… ahem. PROSM has entered what appears to be not a game into the crap games competition. Although at least it’s crap, so it ticks one out of the two boxes.

On the other hand, I might be missing something. The intro screen says “For more instructions see inlay”, so perhaps you’ll get further than I did if you can find it. I certainly couldn’t – I suspect this Holy Grail of inlays is at the very back of the kitchen drawer full of old batteries, rubber bands, and Soda Stream instruction manuals –  so if you do succeed in finding it, you could say there’s no flies on you! Ha ha ha! Ha ha! Ha! Ha. Christ on a bike, I’ve still got two months to go of this shit.

Score: 8 out of 100 (one for each spider’s spidery spider leg)

Download here.

Advanced Anne Frank Simulator

Uncle Jonathan Chicken wrote this in about ten minutes whilst drunk. I’m intending to write this review in about ten minutes whilst sober. Does that mean it’s any good? (The game or the review? Ed). Let’s find out….

aafsscr.tzx

You play Anne Frank, a Jew living in hiding apparently on her own in the attic (I’m not sure this game is entirely historically accurate).

The keys are:
O – Left
P – Right
Q – Jump
W – Write in diary
S – Sleep

W and S only work if you are in the correct location. Let’s see what they do. Here’s the “sleep” action:

Zzzzzzzz......

Zzzzzzzz……

Huh? What time is it? WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY ROOM?

Oh, I was reviewing a game. I remember now. Let’s try the W action:

Scribble scribble

Scribble scribble

I can’t see any way of ending this game, or any scoring mechanism. Maybe you get carted off by the Germans and gassed if you play it for a few years.

You can also jump

You can also jump

I can’t decide whether this game is in bad taste or not. It certainly captures the boredom of living in hiding, where all you can do is write a diary, sleep or jump around. I guess that’s the point.

The best I can do is suggest a donation to the Anne Frank Trust, so some good might come out of this game.

Score: I’m not giving this game a score, because it didn’t give me one.
Download: .tap

Update

Here is an update about the lack of updates. I haven’t been updating the site because I don’t have much time to do updates, and I haven’t had an update from the rest of the Sqij reviews team about their lack of updates, however once I have time to update the site, I will update you with an update about when the next update is likely to be updated.

In the meantime, here is an updated version of the first ever program I wrote for the Speccy:

10 PRINT “LEE IS STILL COOL”

20 GOTO 10

It wasn’t true then, and it isn’t true now, but a man can dream.

Sex on 1st Date

Here comes yet another entry from the (appropriately-named, in this case) Gabriele Amore. I’ve been pussy-footing around this game for a while, but finally managed to stop fannying about and snatch a few spare moments to review it, although I think it might be a bit hard.

SOFD01

Enough of the puerile Finbarr Saundersisms. As you’d expect from the title, it’s a game involving having sex on the first date. As I’ve been in a relationship for 18 years and have two young children, the concept of both a “date” and “sex” are just a distant memory, but never mind, at least I can recreate it on the Speccy. Look at those graphics! I don’t think I’ve ever got so excited by a few well-placed attributes. Your lover and sex teacher Helen Blond certainly is easy on the eye (if you zoom right out and take your glasses off – alcohol probably helps too, but don’t drink too much)

SOFD02

My hart is full of lust, apparently. These pictures really don’t do the game justice, as they feature the best use of FLASH since the Manic Miner loading screen. And FLASH is the operative word – I won’t spoil the rest of the screens, but let’s just say that by the time you get on to the actual game your little swimming chaps will be stirred…SOFD06Did I mention this game was hard? Well it bloody well is. Using the M key (not sure what the M stands for – perhaps it’s something a bit mucky in Sicilian) you have to time your thrusts so that your lover is satisfied, and without getting too over-excited. Yellow star good, red cross bad.

SOFD07

On my first go, I got all aroused and it was all over far too early – a classic example of art imitating life. However with a bit of practice I worked out that if I hit the sweet spot every time my rubber lover would soon start BEEPing in ecstasy, and I moved on to the next position.

SOFD09

Now, either I’m not very good at this game, or I’m enjoying this position far too much, as I can’t ever seem to get off this level, and Helen keeps accusing me of being a selfish lover. Art imitating life again. Gab even included a link to an instructional YouTube video, but perhaps RedTube would’ve been a more appropriate place to upload it, as it now seems to have been pulled off (Stop it! Ed.)

Score: 69. What else?

Download here.

©2015 Sinclair Research Ltd sqij.co.uk