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!


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.


“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.


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.


 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.


  1. In my defence, “your a bee” was the only way I could sensibly fit the text on to the line without word wrap, since it was a small screen to start with.

    Also, the beeper tune sounds a bit like “Honey I shrank the Screen” which I thought was really great. Didn’t make it that way, just shoved loads of random values in the data statements and that’s how it came out.

    As for the font, that (plus the other few I’ve had in the previous games) have been the first few fonts I’ve ever designed for the ZX Spectrum (in my day I never got as far as working out how to do it, but the internet is great for learning how to do it, plus some great utilities have sprung up that make it so much easier to do).

    The keyboard controls were deliberately mucked up on purpose. Wouldn’t have been nearly so crap without it.

    For your information, they aren’t caterpillars, they are centipedes, as described in the instructions.

    Not such a good review when you get stuff wrong like that! Shame on you 🙂

  2. “For your information, they aren’t caterpillars, they are centipedes, as described in the instructions.”

    You think I read the instructions? Ha!

    (whatever it’s supposed to be, it looks more like a talking blue sausage on legs than anything)

    1. To be fair, though, it’s really hard to make anything look good in only 8×8 pixels.

      Still amazes me when someone designs something (like the iconic Miner Willy, for example) in such a small sprite and makes it look good.

      1. “To be fair, though, it’s really hard to make anything look good in only 8×8 pixels.”

        I see why she left you.

  3. I bet you’re glad I did shrink the screen on this one.

    Imagine how even more arduous it would have been moving you’re bee from the top left to the bottom right to collect some honey if the whole screen had been used!

  4. Not bad actually. I didn’t have time to read the instructions but I enjoyed keeping the chaotic orb of light safe from the fig wasp and the blue leg sausage, managed to collect a couple of ice chairs too.

  5. Break in to program,
    List 605
    change the keys to O P Q A
    Crank up to 14mhz
    play game, collect pots, watch the film BIG on the TV.

    Close to a winner here.

    1. No good to simply RUN after making changes, otherwise the screen doesn’t have that ‘shrinking effect’, which is why there’s some code at 9000 that re-loads the screen, so rewind the tape, enter GO TO 9000 and hit return, then wait for the SCREEN$ to LOAD first – well worth the wait.

      1. Nah, the border effect screwed with my eyes until they bled chunky pixels (comming soon to a Spectrum near you!)

  6. 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.

    Oops. Sorry, Mr Spoon.

    1. It would be great to read another review of the game, crash mag had their 3 people, YS had Rachel and Gwen (yes, I know that it was John Minson) and Ben & Skippy (when they finally broke free of Crash/Zap)
      Have a different angle, weirder wordplay and things.

      1. That will probably happen at some point in the future, once we’ve cleared the backlog a bit and got our collective arses in gear.

  7. I got 300 points.


  8. Once you get to 1000 points there can be up to two butterflies and two blue sausages, I mean Centipedes on screen at any one time, and if you get to 2000 points this increases to three of each.

    Of course, this slows the game down even further then, which is kind of a skill level change 🙂

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