Month: June 2015

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 Hard to tell, I was running the emulator in 128 mode meaning one of the components of Louis’ “face” has been replaced by the SPECTRUM keyword, which amusingly stays on the screen for the rest of the game.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.

European Flag Quiz

Billy Armstrong, 13, from Middlesbrough writes to Sqij Corner this week concerned that some “obviously-not-so-die-hard” CSSCGC followers might have missed out on one of the highlights of recent Chris Young multi-load epic; Europe-Vision 2015.

Unfortunately we can’t print his letter in full as, due to the sheer number of colourful metaphors he chose to employ on a single sheet of A4, the necessary censorship would render it incomprehensible.

The gist, however, was that the users in question may have prematurely reset their virtual Spectrums after only a handful of songs (that’s optimistic – Ed) and not had time to fully appreciate the time that Chris had obviously spent keying in the Chunkels™ for the 40 Nation’s flags.

Fear not though, Billy, as Chris is back with this Edutainment entry which caters nicely for the very same “lazy ****head casual ****ing gamer” audience you were referring to.

(not pictured; Israel or Australia)

(not pictured; Israel or Australia)


This is altogether a much simpler affair than Chris’ previous entry (which is not necessarily just a nice way of saying “hastily knocked-up” – Ed) and begins with this hastily knocked-up (Oh – Ed) map of Europe.

After selecting “how many questions” you would like it’s straight into the game with one of the 40 flags randomly selected and displayed at the top of the screen. At the bottom you’re prompted to enter the name of the country to which it belongs.

Simple stuff; type the correct answer and hit Enter. Get it wrong and the Spectrum gives you an angry BEEP, but get it right and you’re rewarded with aural pleasure (Wha-huh? Ed.)

Ooh, ooh, I know this one!

Ooh, ooh, I know this one!


Unfortunately, even if you’re referring to this handy ‘High Definition’ flag chart, the necessary pixilation that has occurred rendering the flag into a 6×4 Chunk-o-vision™®©(pat. pending) block means that you’re probably going to struggle to recognize all but the simplest of them.

The REM statements in Chris’ BASIC show that he at least considered this problem with comments such as “UDG may be required?” and “same as Austria.”

Ca5E SeNs1tiV3!

That’s what I said!?


But let’s say, for the sake of argument, you’ve done your homework (or cheated – Ed,) squinted and/or even guessed correctly. Is there any reason why you still might get the answer wrong? Why yes:-

  • As noted above, some flags look almost identical, i.e.: Latvia and Austria separated only by a BRIGHT flag.
  • Spectrum BASIC doesn’t provide an easy UCASE / UPPER-type function to make case insensitive string comparison easy (Today’s programmers don’t know they’re born! – Ed.) Chris could have knocked one together, or even locked the CAPS on with a quick POKE, but alas, didn’t bother so just remember to type everything in CAPITALS as if you were speaking to an elderly relative.
  • The String$ Array used to hold the country names is too short leading to a couple of country names being truncated, for example, if you typed “SWITZERLAND” then you’d be wrong (even if you were right) as it should be “SWITZERLAN”.
Not a bad score?

Not a bad score?


All of this makes for a surprisingly challenging game, even when cheating, and one that I’d like to say I enjoyed.

Eventually you get to the end of your self-imposed questions, your score is displayed (for better or worse) and the program ends in abrupt STOP (much like this review – Ed.)


Score: 1 out of 4-letter words from Billy.

Download: .TAP.


UPDATE: I phoned Billy’s Mum to talk to her about his foul language, however, it turns out she’s also got a bit of a potty-mouth and told me “where I could take my opinions” with surprisingly little ambiguity.



Set the number of questions to 100 and then record an RZX of your answers.

The first person to send in a competition-grade RZX correctly identifying all 100 flags in sequence will win a signed poster of Gerri Halliwell wearing that dodgy Union Jack dress from back in the 90s!

Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Shelf Challenge

MykeP joins the CSSCGC Remake Challenge with this re-imagining of Derek Jolly‘s cult hit, Top Shelf Challenge.

Top Gear Challenge!

Top Gear Challenge!

For those of you living under a rock for the past fifteen years, the original TSC had you playing as a spotty teenager in your local branch of John Menzies, trying to get a shufty of the jazz mags without the built-like-a-brick-shithouse of a newsagent catching you and throwing you out of the shop by your ear. Should you succeed you were rewarded with some gratuitous 8-bit nudity which we can only assume Derek didn’t enjoy searching for on Altavista.

The game was such an unexpected success that Derek released a number of cash-in sequels, the last of which had you searching for porn stashes in the bushes. The other sequels nobody remembers anything about. One of them may have been in colour.

Menu screen

Menu screen

Needless to say, Myke has upped the stakes with this remake and tried to make it into the game it should have been. Rather than the original text-adventure style, we now have the entire shop layout graphically presented, with the shopkeeper reading the Racing Post between checking for shoplifters and spotty oiks. Other customers come and go through inter-dimensional time portals. The layout of magazines on the shelves are randomly generated, although alas it’s not possible to walk around – I assume you’ve already figured out where the magazines of interest are and if you wander off you’re likely to only end up flicking through Gardener’s World or Your Sinclair or something. (I normally hide Sinclair User in the pages of Playboy to avoid embarrassment – Ed)

Come on Birdseye, clear off!

Come on Birdseye, clear off!

You also play as Jeremy Clarkson. Yes, this is called Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear – erm, I mean Shelf – Challenge for precisely that reason. Instead of browsing through Razzle you’re checking out the hotties standing next to a highly-polished supercar. Quite why the newsie frowns upon this is not explained, as it’s not 18-rated stuff. Perhaps the young Jeremy gets his cock out or something.

Anyway, once the coast is clear merely pressing a key is enough to whip What Car? Magazine off the shelf, and get an eyeful of the glamorous scantily-clad leggy blonde draped over the bonnet of a Ferrari, in glorious Chunk-o-vision.

This girl is rather overdressed for the game.

This girl is rather overdressed for the game.

Yes, it may be a bit of a shock, but Myke has gone for high colour chunky pixels comprising non-naked ladies, as opposed to the excessive higher definition albeit monochromatic everything-on-show visual feast of the original. As a result, even if everything was on show you wouldn’t be able to tell what it was that was being shown – it’s like Myke has employed Mary Whitehouse to pixellate the naughty bits and, of course, she’s determined the entire picture is objectionable.

This is what you see if you activate "safe mode".  Filth!

This is what you see if you activate “safe mode”. Filth!

Despite this, there’s even a “safer for work” mode. As an employee in a modern office, I can assure you that every desk these days is equipped with a ZX Spectrum. You wouldn’t want to get caught playing MykeP’s UDG Strip Snap, but this – oh, yes – it’s as office-friendly as you can get.

I’m not entirely convinced about the historical accuracy of this game. Jezza’s getting on a bit now, and it seems likely that he was well into his twenties by the time these cars were released. Also there’s a National Lottery logo on the door of the shop, which sets it in the 1990s at the earliest.

Get out of my shop!

Get out of my shop!

Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Shelf Challenge is everything the original should have been, and less. The original worked, because it was a game that promised risqué content without the tedium of playing poker against Sam Fox. This improves the core game, but manages to remove the main reason why you’d want to play it.

Score: 1 nipple out of two (if you squint a bit)
Download: .tzx

Eurovision 2015

Chris Young gets the remake ball rolling with an updated (and almost topical) version of his 1999 game, EuropeVision, and by god it’s almost unspeakably awful. I had the misfortune to sit through the Eurovision Song Contest a couple of weeks ago – for some bizarre reason I chose to watch it while sober – and by the end I wanted to hack my eardrums out with a rusty grapefruit spoon, but that’s nothing compared to this game.


Once again Chris outdoes himself with a perfectly rendered loading screen (including obliterating filename, natch) which wouldn’t look out of place in the Tate Gallery. Sadly, this is the best bit of the game – it’s not looking good, is it?


Did I mention it’s 128k only? Chris has very helpfully declined to save this to +3 disk, knowing how much these things annoy me. So it’s a .zip file, which when unzipped reveals a 358K .tap file. This can only mean one thing… a multiload!

I wonder if Edvard Munch ever played Out Run?

Not an actual screenshot, but I wonder if Edvard Munch ever played Out Run on a 48k Speccy?

There’s only one thing worse than a multiload, and that’s a multiload that multiloads from tape. Come back sunteam, all is forgiven.

So you choose your country, choose your song, choose your gimmick (although I’m not sure if Cliff Richard or Dana were ever “DRESSED AS A FUCKING CROW”), and wait an absolute sloth’s age for the semi-finals to progress. Finally, assuming you qualify, or there’s a “Press play on tape” message, followed by the most tedious multiload sequence I’ve ever known. You press play on the (virtual) tape, and it searches for one particular block, seemingly at random, out of 39 blocks. Aaaaaaaargh! I tried turning on tape acceleration on in Spectaculator, but then it loaded the block super-quick and whizzed past the performance sequence. So in the end I resorted to sitting there clicking on each block of code hoping it was the right one, and weeping tears of rage and fury every time the border went red and cyan again.

Nearly halfway there...

Nearly halfway there…


Finally, the thing loaded – it was Australia’s rendition of Let’s Get Happy, which I’d never heard before, but presumably was something to do with dwarves. It wasn’t a bad rendition actually, making me wonder if Chris has some hidden musical talents (and far too much time on his hands). Sadly not, he admitted that he cheated and used a nifty program called MIDI2AY, which you can find here, if you’re so inclined. Anyway, the song rather amusingly stopped in the middle of the second verse, and then the dreaded “PRESS PLAY ON TAPE” prompt, which I recreate here in all its glory:



This rigmarole continued for several weeks, until I got so thoroughly bored that I climbed up the nearest tall building and hurled myself off – so I never did find out what happened at the end. But before this, I managed to record one of the songs – and here it is, France’s entry for the Eurovision AY Contest, 2015… Making Your Mind Up! (sorry but the Sqij Towers budget couldn’t stretch to a pixellated Cheryl Baker whipping her skirt off)

Score: an almost inevitable nul points.

Download here (zip file).

Famous Crap Games Throughout History #9: Incontinental Circus

It is well known that in the late 1980s the Japanese game company Taito made a slight error with one of their titles, releasing an F1 racer called “Continental Circus” after a poor translation of “Continental Circuit”. It was an easy mistake to make, I mean, the S key is right next to the IT key on Japanese keyboards.

What is less well known is a far more interesting story and it started two years before Continental Circus, with Incontinental Circuit.

Taito (back then, known as Potaito) had developed what they thought was bound to be the next big thing in gaming – two player head-to-head motor racing with bladder control. Literally. A pair of huge arcade cabinets, each housing a large screen, a reclining chair, a steering wheel, foot pedals, and a number of straps and sensors that needed to be attached to the player. A drinking fountain was angled towards the player’s mouth, and after inserting a few 100 Yen coins, the game began.

Much like in most other motor racing games, the aim was to win the race, but the twist with Incontinental Circuit was that your car’s engine power increased as you, the player, physically filled their bladder. The more you drank, the higher your vehicle’s top speed. Don’t drink, and your car loses power. The first to pass the Chequered Flag was the winner, the first to pass urine was disqualified. That’s right – moisture sensors in the seat would alert the game to your embarrassing release.

Unfortunately for Potaito, they were hit from all sides with issues. The main one that hit the headlines was over gamers sitting in a pool of other peoples’ fluids as arcade staff failed to mop up after disqualifications, and all the associated health risks that came with it. This was the 1980s, remember, and popular myth at the time was how easy it was to contract AIDS from arcade machines. Other problems just made things worse. The water fountains needed to be connected to a water supply, which was something most arcades struggled to accommodate. All that water (and “previously drunk” water) in close proximity to electricity caused several shocking deaths, and one unfortunate individual managed to drown when his water fountain malfunctioned and he couldn’t get out of the seat straps quickly enough.

What really killed the game off, however, was the cheating. Players soon found that by wearing adult nappies, they could thwart the sensors and wet themselves all they liked without the game noticing.

Finally, and perhaps most damning of all, was when the game was produced, the translator at Potaito managed to name the game as Incontinental Circus, rather than Incontinental Circuit, confusing gamers everywhere.

With the game an expensive flop (all those proprietary and unusual components almost bankrupted Potaito before the cabinets even hit the arcades), Potaito gutted the core game and repurposed it as a more standard F1 racing game. No water, drinking or sensors. They called it Continental Circuit, but somehow the same translator made the same mistake again. He never found translating work after that, and the entire fiasco was blamed on him and him alone.