Advanced Screechy Seagull Torturing Simulator

Once again I find myself whistling Bigmouth Strikes Again under my breath, as a throwaway comment I made a fortnight ago – about loading noises sounding like seagulls being tortured – comes back to haunt me today. This time it’s an Advanced Simulator (yay!) from previous CGC host Guesser, with sprites drawn by p13z. I can just picture the pair of them now, giggling away at the back of the #speccy IRC channel like a couple of schoolboys, going “Let’s wind up the host of the Crap Games competition!”

OK, let’s see how many annoyance boxes it ticks. +3 disk? Check! Like sunteam’s games, this will only run on one of those new-fangled Amstrad things with the diskette drivette thingette on the right-hand side, despite the code being a mere 8 or 9K. If this had come out back in the day I would’ve had to be content with just drooling over the reviews in Your Sinclair while sitting there waiting an absolute dog’s age for Out Run to multiload into my battered old 48k machine. Of course, under emulation anyone can “own” a +3, but that’s not the point, is it? There’s no fun at all in opening a file for it to load straight away – no loading screen, no anticipation, no Schrödinger’s Loader (will it work, or won’t it?) and no loading noises!

Anti-piracy mechanism? Check! Despite Guesser’s admission that the game doesn’t need a +3 to run, when I converted the game to tap and reloaded in a “normal” Speccy, I got this message:


Ha. Hahaha. Very droll. Now I suppose I could go through the code and work out how to disable this message, but I think I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader (if there are any left, that is).

To the game. Guesser wrote a comprehensive blurb when sending in this entry, which I’ll reproduce here to save myself some valuable review time:

Picture the scene, you’re standing on the promenade at Whitby, about to tuck into your chips. However, as you open the awful polystyrene box with a squeak, a squadron of herring gulls surround you with their beady eyes locked on the greasy fried potato morsels.
It’s every gull for himself and in the ensuing carnage you are lucky to escape alive. Hungry, and with clothes in tatters you sneak away vowing to have your revenge.

In this exciting game, you turn the tables on those pesky critters. Armed with a pointy stick you return to the scene of the crime and merrily take your revenge.

When you have had enough of prodding marine fowl, don’t forget to press the Q key to exit and see your score!

Couldn’t have put it better myself. So the game begins, and oh my word look at those graphics! I haven’t seen such artwork on a Spectrum since the days of Trap Door and Flunky – if I didn’t know better I’d wonder whether p13z is actually a pseudonym for Don Priestley.


Being a soft southern shandy-drinker I’ve never been to Whitby, but now I won’t ever need to – this game is so realistic that I can almost smell the fish and chips wafting across the bay from the direction of that giant yellow trouser-snake on the right-hand side. (That’s supposed to be a lighthouse! Ed.) Guesser is rightly proud of his sprite engine, as it features “buffered drawing”, “screen flipping”, and a technique he calles “repurposing the flash bit in the sprite data as a transparent paper colour flag”. No, me neither.

So with the curious key combination of E, R and T, you set about bothering those nasty squawking buggers who keep eyeing up your lunch. It must be cold in Whitby, judging by the long-sleeved knitted jumper worn by the protagonist. But look what happens when you give old Cedric the seagull a vengeful prod with the pointy stick:


That’s right, he flies up in the air and emits a short SQWAAAAWWWK, via the medium of the Speccy’s loading routine, which contrary to what I previously thought, sounds absolutely nothing like a seagull at all! (or indeed any type of gull, for as we all know, there is no such thing as “a seagull”, this being a layperson’s term and not one used by wildlife experts like Kate Humble. Although on the other hand, there are such things as “tits”. Mmmmm, Kate Humb{There’s only one tit round here, and it doesn’t belong to Kate Humble. Ed.} )

After the novelty has worn off, which takes about three seconds, I realised just how bad ASSTS is. The scoring system is rubbish – you don’t even know what you’ve scored until you quit the game. It only works on a machine which most people don’t have, and other than sending me completely over the edge it has no purpose or point whatsoever (unless you count the point of the pointy stick).

But on the plus side it’s a crap idea well executed, which certainly makes a change from a crap idea executed crappily, and it gives those poor deprived +3 owners a chance to endure the loading noises suffered for years by us lesser mortals. Plus it did make me laugh, so I award this piece of gull guano from Guesser a whopping +3 percent!

Download .dsk here.


  1. It was #spin actually… Did you not give in to temptation and try to load your hacked .tap on the +3 then? Shame 🙁


    1. #spin, #speccy… well I knew it began with a #sp, anyway.

      And I’d lost the will to live by that point. I tried it just now and got a disk error, but I’m not sure if that was because the Spectrum thought I wasn’t using a +3 disk, or if you’d actually programmed it that way, or if the seagulls had pecked a hole in the .tap file.

      1. Yeah, it checks to make sure the ASSTS disk is present. If you cancel the disk error it rubs it in further 😉

        1. As Lister would have said…

          “heh, bast :P”

  2. Kate Humble- yummy!

    I see that the ‘no animals were harmed’ message is not present in this review.

    Nice game indeed. I’ve scrapped my version of the seagull game as this edition is a damn sight better (all data has been erased, Bandersnatch and Mire Mare styleeeee)

    1. “I see that the ‘no animals were harmed’ message is not present in this review.”

      Good. Those gulls deserve all they get. Poking with pointy sticks is too good for the buggers.

      (Er. Don’t tell Kate Humble I said that, will you? I mean, you never know, and she is a bit of a fan of the old dumb chums…)

  3. Over here, there was a novelty/comedy band where one of the members was famous for his imitations. The top two on his repertoire was to mimic a seagull and a cheese sandwich.

    1. If ever a link were needed!

  4. Top entry.

    37 pokes no misses, not *entirely* because of the fact my holiday was in Whitby last year*, but because I love those graphics!

    *I’d heard horror stories of the gulls but not one of them made a bid for my chips and peas. Contrary to the signs people were even feeding them.

    EDIT – interesting – have you included some crafty anti-hack measures or is it something I don’t understand about the +3?

    1. I should qualify that – even the smallest change that one would normally assume to be ok seems to results in the program falling apart!

      1. No “anti-hack” measures as such, just various bits of code to punish lee when he tried to make a .tap 🙂

        If the program falls apart doing anything else it’s probably just because I used the coding equivalent of safety scissors and pritt-stick to assemble it from bits of other programs 😉

        1. Ah ok, as long as Lee suffered :-p

          To begin with I was just trying a POKE to change the border colour (at 33112) but it seemed any POKE wreaked havoc.

          A full disassembly is needed!

          1. Well it would do… that’s in the shadow screen memory flipping code…

            I have (somewhat) commented source here so when you’ve done your disassembly I can tell you how close you got 😉

          2. Don’t hold your breath Guesser, I think we can file this under ‘something I don’t understand about the +3’, (or anything post 48k+ for that matter…)

  5. To properly torture a seagull, place an alka seltzer tablet into a piece of bread, feed said seagull the bread, wait 30 seconds and watch said seagull explode. Hilarity ensues…

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