The Trunk

Another entry from beautiful Sicily, and this time it’s Alessandro Grussu, author of fantastic AGD game Funky Fungus from a couple of years ago, and a whole load of other games, the names of which I’ve completely forgotten, because I’m a bit crap. I don’t know what they’re putting in the water in Sicily at the moment to make its residents churn out such, erm, interesting games, but if the Sicilian crime drama Montalbano is anything to go by, they’re all as pazza come una scatola di rane* over there:

If that’s not enough, it turns out the original Montalbano novels were written by a bloke called Andrea. See what I mean? Bonkers.

This game, however, is dark as hell. According to Alessandro, The Trunk is “ostensibly inspired by Dalton Trumbo’s Johnny Got His Gun novel and film. The main character, a young American WWI soldier, finds himself into a puzzling situation. He must first understand what’s going on, then try to find a way out from his predicament. If you already read the book and/or saw the film, you know the poor soul has been reduced to a living trunk – hence the title.” I’ve neither read the novel nor seen the film, and after playing this, I don’t think I want to.


“Well I feel sorry for the elephant”

Nice loading screen, and in the tradition of all CSSCGC entries this year, it’s – all together now! – the best part of the game. It’s not that the rest of it is bad as such – a lot of work has gone into it (Alessandro used ZX-Editor, ZX-Blockeditor, ZX-Paintbrush, Retro-X, HiSoft Basic 1.1, Notepad++, Bin2data and Pasmo 0.6.0 to write the game, as well as  ZX7 compression by Einar Saukas) – it’s just “bleak, painful and unpleasant – just like war itself”, to quote the warning screen that pops up after loading. Although it’s not without some black humour:



I was always a bit rubbish at text adventures, and this doesn’t appear to have changed. You are the eponymous trunk, a paralysed body without limbs and no way of communicating. You can’t see, you can’t hear, you can’t feel anything, and you certainly can’t go North and listen to Thorin sitting down and singing about gold.


I may well have missed some command or other, but other than MOVE HEAD (You can barely move it) I couldn’t seem to do anything… which I guess is the whole point of the game. One one level, this is a crap game because it’s literally unplayable. However it is rather thought-provoking – I ended up wondering where all the baddies in Speccy games like Commando and Operation Wolf end up after they’ve been blown to bits by us gamers, and perhaps it’s here, locked in their own private hell.

And as you attempt to make sense of things, maybe you’d like to listen to this cheery little ditty from Metallica, featuring footage from Johnny Got His Gun:

Score: absolutely nothing. Because Edwin Starr was right – that’s all that war is good for.

Download here.

*”Mad as a box of frogs”. That’s (Google Translated) Italian though, I have no idea what it is in Sicilian. Answers on a postcard.

Stickman Olympic Challenge – 100 Seconds Hurdle

This is the first of two games from Gabriele “when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s” Amore – it would have been three, but he decided to turn his 1D Frogger entry into a proper non-crap game called Hop ‘n’ Frog. A shame, as the original entry really was a pile of old bobbins. “Done with AGD in creative Sicily”, Gab says – and mamma mia, just look at this animated title screen!

You can guess what’s coming next – yep, the flashing screen is the best part of the game. Although it’s actually quite a colourful affair, with a nicely-drawn stick man on an athletics stadium. Confusingly the starter starts the race with “Get set, ready, GO!” which throws me off my stride a bit.

They're under starter's orders... (That's horses! Ed.)

They’re under starter’s orders… (That’s horses! Ed.)

With no instructions to speak of, I’m left to stab at the buttons. Now I was expecting this to be a keyboard masher in the style of DTD or Hyper Sports, and it is to some extent, but it took me three or four attempts to realise that (unlike the aforementioned games) I don’t need to press alternate keys to make our hero go faster. It’s just one key, repeatedly, stab stab stab stab stab, and then another key to jump. I’ll leave the discovery of which keys do what as an exercise for the player. I bet you can’t wait, huh?

Clatter, crash, bang, ouch.

Clatter, crash, bang, ouch.

So once you get the hang of running, it’s a case of timing your jumps. If you manage to clear the hurdle you get a point. However if you knock over a hurdle you lose a point – assuming you had any in the first place. After a while I got the hang of how fast I needed to press the “run” key and got myself a point – yay!

See, I'm not completely pointless.

See, I’m not completely pointless.

And that’s it… you run, and jump, and run, and jump some more, until the timeometer reaches 100*. There even seems to be some sort of athletics track simulation in action here, because if you’ve knocked over any hurdles, they seem to come round again later already knocked-over, meaning you can’t gain any points from jumping over them. So there’s even a strategy element to the game! (What – don’t knock over any hurdles? Not exactly strategic, is it? Ed.) After a while I got into my stride and reached a high score of… wait for it… thirty-nine. Ta-daaa!

Usain who?

Usain who?

Like most sports, there’s no purpose to this at all, other than trying to beat your own score. Despite this, it’s fun and quite addictive – almost not crap at all! Must try harder next time!


*STOP PRESS! Since posting this review Gab has contacted me to say there’s an updated version which RANDOMIZEs the time you get to run round the track – clearly I wasn’t paying attention when he sent the games in three-and-a-half weeks ago! So both versions are available below for download.


Score: 3 failed doping tests out of 100.

Download .tap file here (100 second version) or here (random time up to 100 seconds version)

Advanced Toaster Simulator

Another day, another ZX81 offering, this time from absinthe_boy aka Angus Gulliver, who was last spotted in the CSSCGC 2014 with his Sochi Advanced Downhill Tea Tray Simulator. I get the feeling he’s missed a trick here, not calling this game “Advanced Great British Bake-Off Simulator” and featuring a mini-game where you control Paul Hollywood’s raised eyebrows (“You’re using apples in your apple pie?! *long pause* O-kay…”) , but never mind.

Not just a bog-standard toaster simulator, this.

Not just a bog-standard toaster simulator, this.

It’s a game about toast. After loading the .z81 file (yay, another file format I’ve never used before!) and pressing RUN there’s some weird flickering and the above title screen. I can only assume this game is for people who don’t have a toaster, or don’t know how to use one. There’s probably a joke to be here about the “toastrack” on the 128k Speccy, or even the Commodore 64 “breadbin”, but I can’t be bothered to make it.


Ooh, such choices! White, brown or 50/50! I never had that in my day, we were too poor to afford any sort of flour and had to make our bread out of pencil shavings, acorns and dog shit.

You'd have to be "extra thick" to enjoy anything about this game.

You’d have to be “extra thick” to enjoy anything about this game.

More choices! Although surely “extra thick” won’t fit in the toaster?


Blimey, this ZX toaster even has a heat setting! Whatever next? I’d better put it in the middle. Middle for diddle, as The Wurzels once sang. The excitement is killing me…


And there you have it… a 24% virtually burnt piece of virtual hot bread, and the end of the program (signified by the cryptic error message “0/590”). That was fun, wasn’t it? Nah. Shall we try it again? Nah. Because, pretty though the toaster graphic may be (for a ZX81 anyway), this game does suffer slightly from being a ZX81 program – what I’d really like to see is a Spectrum version of this, with a loading screen, full colour hi-res graphics and a Tritone version of this 70s oddity from Streetband (featuring Paul “Not Chris Young’s Brother” Young on vocals):

Score: 0/590.

Download here (zx81 .z81 file, use the “Load Snapshot” option to run in EightyOne, if you’re using a different emulator then I’ve no idea, sorry)

Sol Postman – Inter-planetery Courier

Calling occupants of inter-planetery (sic) craft… here’s a new game from Sqij Towers’ very own answer to Chris Young, Chris “Chris Young” Young. Well, he was fairly young when he sent it in over a month ago, anyway. I’m doing my usual reviewing trick of starting to write the review before playing the game or even reading the accompanying email blurb, but I can only assume from the title that in this game you have to take parcels and letters to people, perhaps avoiding vicious dogs and having the occasional cup of tea along the way. It looks like there’s a smattering of machine code in here, which could mean it’s a good game! Let’s find out…


Nice loading screen, reminiscent of two childhood telly favourites – Postman Pat and Button Moon. If loading in 128k mode you also get a chirpy AY rendition of the Postman Pat theme tune. All together now, a-ONE-two-three-four:

Postman Pat, Postman Pat,
Postman Pat ran over his cat.
All the guts were flying,
Postman Pat was crying,
I’ve never seen a cat as flat as that.*

Sadly yet inevitably, this tune is the best part of the game – and the sole purpose of the machine code. It soon descends into the usual unplayable tosh with a spurious back-story – just the sort of thing we like here at Sqij Towers!


Yes, it’s the year 2000 – imagine that! Sir Clive is running an inter-planetary mail order business, and you have to deliver his Sinclair HQ9000s all the way up and down the galaxy, from Peterborough to Pluto. In other words, it’s a sort of Asteroids clone with a spurious back story. Excellent!


Yes, that funny squiggle is your intergalactic bright red van. Press space to drop the parcel, and nothing happens. Whack the keyboard 58 times and your parcel might just be ejected, depending on what mood your Speccy is in at the time. Good luck getting it to land on a planet though – I tried for a full five minutes and got nowhere, except for – and the Finbarr Saunderses among you will love this joke – crashing repeatedly into Uranus. Aha. Ahahahahaha. Waaaaahahahaha. Waaaaaaaahahahahahahaha. Wahahahyyyyyyyy? WHYYYYYYYYY?!?!??!

Score: 312,597 undelivered parcels a week.

Download here.

*No moggies were harmed in the singing of this song.


David “Dave” Hughes sent us this little gem, a tribute to Rally Driver, a game which garnered a helpful review of “A HORRIBLE NIGHTMARE”.

With praise like that for the inspiration behind this piece, we wonder how Dave will manage to top that.

I assume this is a self portrait, or "selfie".

I assume this is a self portrait, or “selfie”.

It starts off normal enough, with usual options offering to “refine” my keys, choose my colour or – somewhat optimistically – “let the fun begin”.

Where's the nearest key refinery?

Where’s the nearest key refinery?

Obviously I opted to let the fun begin, not expecting any fun whatsoever. I pushed and held ‘O’ to avoid the big mass of green concrete heading in my direction and instantly the screen looked like this:



After that mistake, I let the fun begin again and went a little lighter on the keystrokes. It was still virtually impossible, as it turns out that even tickling the Speccy’s keyboard with a feather is enough to shoot the car over to the other side of the screen. Added to that the accelerate/brake keys do no such thing – they just shoot your car up/down instead of left/right. I’m not sure the gear button is even connected to anything, if it is it just makes the screen scroll marginally faster and as such should be avoided.

This is as far as I got.  It's about one full screen below the starting point.

This is as far as I got. It’s about one full screen below the starting point.

In the interests of academic research, at this point I decided to load up the original Rally Driver. I was expecting (not having read the review I quoted earlier) a run-of-the-mill scrolling car game.

What I got was a scrolling car game with tetchy controls, crossed with Downhill Racer, and up/down inverted. Totally unplayable.

Rally Driver

Rally Driver

I’m not sure if Dave has managed to make it any worse, but it’s certainly no better. The new “Flappy Bird”.

Score: 3 seconds out of the assumed 40 hours of gameplay.
Download: .tap

Alan Turing’s Octal Challenge

Garry “GReW” Wishart is back with his second entry for the ZX81. Now I didn’t get my Speccy until late 1985, so much like the music of the Grateful Dead, the ZX81 isn’t something I’m familiar with at all; I’ve heard of it, but I don’t necessarily want anything to do with it. However he does say to type the familiar LOAD “” command to run the game. This I try (having fired up EightyOne). I assumed the LOAD keyword would be on the letter J like the Speccy, but imagine my surprise when I get the RANDOMISE keyword – spelt rather curiously with the British “S” instead of the Americanized “Z” of the Speccy – instead!

Not a ZX81 screenshot.

Not a ZX81 screenshot.

I jab away at some more keys, searching for the LOAD command, before realising I’ve actually selected a ZX80 in the emulator, not a ZX81, and I have to start the whole process again! Thankfully the ZX81 has a far more sensible (Speccy-like) layout and I find the LOAD key and start the tape. Garry’s sage advice is to turn on tape acceleration “unless you have an episode of Cash In The Attic to watch while it loads”. I’m curious to know what a ZX81 loading sounds like, but after a full five minutes of high-pitched whining (at least half of which is coming from the emulated ZX81 rather than assorted family members who have gathered in the Sqij Towers dining room to see what I’m up to) I give up and hit the flash load button in the emulator.

A ZX81 loading. Wot no stripy border?

A ZX81 loading. Wot no stripy border?

To the game – which has surprisingly detailed graphics for a ZX81, even down to the digitised piccy of Alan Turing on the title screen. The year is 1940, the world is at war, and Alan has to defend Blighty using the most powerful weapon known to man… an understanding of octal and boolean logic.


Now to me, Octal and Boolean Logic sound like a grime rapper from East London and a 1970s space disco band, but it turns out Octal is a counting system a bit like decimal but with only eight numbers (curiously, not including the number eight), and Boolean Logic is a space disco band who had a hit in 1978 with “Boolie Oolie Oolie (Turn Me On, Turn Me Off, Turn Me On Again)”. Or something.

The first problem appears on the screen, and immediately I’m faced with a second problem – I don’t have a chuffing clue what the answer is, even in decimal. At least with Geff Capes’ Hexadecimal Budgerigar Extravaganza (or whatever it was called) I could have a decent stab at the answer, but 023 minus 365? With the help of good old Microsoft Calculator I work out that 023 is 19 and 365 is 245, meaning the answer is minus 226 in decimal, or, erm, 1777777777777777777436 in octal. I think my calculator’s broken. Curses! So I just sort of stab at some buttons and one of my ships gets sunk. Rats!

However that’s nothing compared to the next question…


316 XOR 214? I know that XOR means eXclusive Or, but how to apply it to octal is anyone’s guess. So again I just stab randomly at some numbers and hope for the best. I notice that quite a few of the number keys don’t work either – I think this is a feature rather than a bug, as Garry states “the routine is very poorly written and has a 1 in 256 chance of overwriting the BASIC system variables and crashing the computer.” A crashed computer at this point sounded like a far more appealing prospect than playing the game, and I must admit I didn’t progress any further – but if anyone knows what happens if and when you win, send the screenshot on a postcard to Rt. Hon. Reverend Chris Young (Mrs), Acting Assistant Under-Secretary to the Temporary Chairman, Sqij Towers, 666 Boulevard des Jeux de Merde, Biggleswade-on-Sea, Kidderminstercestershire.

Score: 1 XOR 1 out of 144.

Download here (ZX81 zip file)

Musical interlude

We apologise for the break in your scheduled website. Whilst we are digging Lee out of the avalanche of crap games, here’s the theme from Lemmings as you’ve never heard it before.

Didn’t sound that good on the Speccy, did it? (Erm, has Lee woken up yet? Both our readers have wandered off to other websites… *squints* big-ti.. is that a “p” or a “t”? Ed)

Papel, Pedra, Tesoura (Rock, Paper, Scissors)

Here is first the game of crap entry from the António Silva, and by Jehovah it is the crap. Everyone have been playinged the Rocks, Papers, Scissor, but ever have you been played it in both of the English and Portuguese all at same of time? Nope, neither me.

I do be saying “English”, but is more like the Manuel from Fawlty Towers English, which English is not at all really. Although way it is better still than is my Portuguese – and must I be admitting I thought in Spanish was game at the first.


As this is shot of snaps file, game he does not start immediate run – meaning you have of the BASIC listing to see! So to be start, type the RUN button. After bi-menu lingual, navigating, am asked I “quanto quer apostar?” with the numbero FLASHing, and the beneath choices of the papper, csissores, and of the rokc, thus:


One does be assumed this numbero is of the cash moneys which is allowing to be gamblinged. Hmmm… chooses I paper, the scissor, or stone? This is one of the tough. I could the rock be choosing, as that blunted would be becoming of the shears, but might not it get wrapped by the papyrus, yes?! Right, I’ll chosen the parchment. But if it get cuts by the secateurs? Okay, these in the stead I will be of choosing… but about what, of the pebble? Oh, I really know not. Permit us some psychologicals reversed to try, I calculate the computator expecting me will be to choose the boulder, so if I go for the two knifes, it will blunt the wooden thin sheet… or will the cardboard wrapping be to of the clippers… oh copulate it… trimmers of hedge it is… hey, I am of winnering! Well, “ganhou” I have been doing anyway, whatever it is meaning. Having a feel-up of the confidence, I try throwing more cash moneys again of paper this time… now I have “empatou” which is the same meaning as when you draw, like in the footyball when teams they get the number of same goals. This is joke of great funnitude, because the “paper” is what you do be “draw” on, yes? Hohohohohohohoho!


Everhow, my final moneys I try to gamble all, but oh big plums! All my money did be spunked away, or as game he says in of the English, “U gote no monei to pei iou ecspenses”. Worse it gets, do all my comrades running from me away, my husbandess she with my next-door man elopement, and all of the worst, the Speccy of mine is resetted! Waaaaah! No is fair!

Score: hundred of the one percent.

Download the game can be done here (shot of snap 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)
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”.
After that, there’s a digitised picture which should probably be a loading screen, followed by the instructions.
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?
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)

1D 1D Tetris

Chris Young seems to think that his ridiculous 1999 entry, 1D Tetris, would be improved by adding a boy band to the mix. One Direction, for you lucky people who have lived in a cave since 2010, work in the finance department of a large record company, extracting large sums of money from nine-year-olds and their gullible parents, and passing most of it to Simon Cowell, in exchange for music which, if it had come out in 1989, even the likes of Big Fun and Yell would’ve called “a bit rubbish”. The perfect band for a crap game, then.


Now it hasn’t escaped my attention that every time I mention I don’t like something in a review, some bastard includes it in their next game. Perhaps I’ll try a bit of reverse psychology; I really don’t like looking at women with their clothes off*. Anyway, it’s the bloody WASD keys which have set off my irk-o-meter again this time. What’s wrong with good old fashioned QAOP, and proper music made by proper musicians on proper musical instruments, and I remember when you could leave your door open all day and all this was fields and jumpers for goalposts and you could get a pint of hand shandy and a pickled egg surprise for two-and-six down at the docks on a Wednesday afternoon… Nurse? Nurse?!


Not that it matters about the keys, as it’s 1D Tetris you can’t move the bloody blocks anyway. Just hold down S and your score whizzes up faster than you can say “Whatever happened to One True Voice?”. But look at what Chris has done to poor Niall? Either he’s mashed his face in with a toffee hammer and he really looks like that, or this is the worst pixellated celebrity rendering since the loading screen for Peter Beardsley’s International FootballHe might well want to “marry food”, but even a plate of tripe and onions would probably stand him up on the first date.


It’s Louis! Or is it a teddy bear with leprosy? Hard to tell, I was running the emulator in 128 mode meaning one of the components of Louis’ “face” has been replaced by the SPECTRUM keyword, which amusingly stays on the screen for the rest of the game.


Now Harry doesn’t mind if he doesn’t make the scene. He’s got a daytime job (as a potato, or a meteorite, or a pile of dung), he’s doing alright.


It’s good to see Chris has his finger on the pulse too, as Zayn left the band back in March this year. Not sure vhy he is haffink ze fake Tscherman accent eizher, but at least he looks recognisably human. He seems to be holding some sort of walkie-talkie too – perhaps he’s the band’s security guard now?

If you’re a fan of the fifth member of One Direction – and I’ve completely forgotten his name, but in the tradition of Smash Hits magazine circa 1988 I shall call him “Ken” – then I’m sorry to disappoint you but I gave up at this point and hurled my laptop off the top floor of a multi-storey car park, closely followed by myself. So you’ll just have to play the game to find out what atrocities Chris has done to Ken’s face.

I say “play the game”. You don’t actually need to do anything. It’s 1D Tetris, you fool! You can’t lose! The perfect crap game for crap gamers and crap fans of crap boy bands! Crap!

Score: No. 37 in the charts for one week, followed by obscurity.

Download here.

*They don’t much like it when I put their clothes on again, either.