The Keyword Challenge

I can’t REMember IF this is a NEW idea OR if it’s BIN done beFORe – have a PEEK at the Keyword ChalLENge!

When saving a game to tape on the ZX Spectrum, you only get 10 bytes in which to name your file. Which is fine if it’s called “INVADERS” or “ZAP-A-BUG”, but not so useful if it’s “ETHEL THE AARDVARK GOES QUANTITY SURVEYING”. Well, there’s a clever way round this – keywords!

There are 86 keywords in BASIC, and each keyword counts as one byte – so with a bit of jigging about, and occasional use of the backspace command – CHR$ 8 – to allow for odd spaces, you can have a filename that appears much longer. Here’s some familiar games that could’ve used this technique if only somebody had thought of it at the time:

RUN BABY RUN (RUN /B/A/B/Y/ RUN ) 12 characters, 6 bytes

BACK TO SKOOL (B/A/C/K/ TO /S/K/O/O/L) 13 characters, 10 bytes

HEAD OVER HEELS (H/E/A/D/ OVER /H/E/E/L/S) 15 characters, 10 bytes

CAESAR THE CAT (C/A/E/S/A/R/ THEN /(CHR$ 8)/(CHR$ 8)/ CAT) 14 characters, 10 bytes

In fact the only games I can think of that used this trick are a handful published by Virgin Games, which had a flashing FLASH LOADER (or FLASH LOAD) printed over the top of the usual “Program:” text, and the introduction bit to Firebird’s Savage, which has a filename called “LOAD MAIN CODE DATA IN”:



Clever, huh? So your challenge, crap gamers, is to come up with a game with a filename that is also the entire title of your game. The rules are as follows:

  1. The title of the game must contain one (or more) Spectrum keyword(s).
  2. The title of the game must be exactly the same as the filename.
  3. The total length of the filename must be 11 characters or more – because any Tom, Dick or Willy can save a 10-character filename, right? You’re cleverer than that. If it’s under 10 characters, just stick a load of exclamation marks on the end!!!!!!!!!
  4. The title of the game must make some sort of sense in a language that people actually speak, like English. Any entries called things like “LN CLS RND FN SQR” which claim to be in Ancient Proto-Klingon will be disqualified.
  5. The game should be a .tap or .tzx file, none of this silly .dsk nonsense that people keep sending to me. I want to see the game loading from cassette!

Confused? Well, here’s some examples, which you can use as game ideas if you so wish:

Naughty Step (NAUGHTY/ STEP) – politically correct version of Jack The Nipper for the 2010s, with some stairs replacing a smacked bottom as punishment

Flash Dog Ron (FLASH /D/O/G/ /R/O/N) – a bit like Flash Gordon, but about a dog called Ron for copyright purposes

Over The Border (OVER /T/H/E/ BORDER) – otherwise known as “Nigel Farage’s Send ‘Em Back Simulator”

Len and Val go to Brighton for Ink (LEN/AND/VAL/GO TO/BRIGHT/(CHR$ 8)/O/N/FOR/INK) – a couple go to a Sussex seaside resort to get tattoos

Bugger Off! (BORDER /O/F/F/!/(CHR$ 22)/(CHR$ 1)/(CHR$ 10)/U/G/G) – and on that note, I think I will, as this is actually 11 characters, meaning I’ve failed my own challenge. Don’t make the same mistake… good luck!

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