Saturday 15 June 2013

Walking around Porto

By Paulo Silva

Genre: Tourist adventure

Thanks to Paulo for his second entry to the competition, which he describes as a Myst like “game”.  It is 128k only and paging must be enabled (ie use the Tape Loader option), I found using the +2 had the least bugs.

WAP (which Walking around Porto will henceforth be called, in order to maintain a modicum of brevity) uses grabs of pictures from Google’s StreetView and converts them to a ZX-Spectrum suitable format.  These pictures are best viewed in black and white, so if using real hardware dig out you old radiation king CRT telly, or set your emulator to B&W palette.  If you don’t have either of these options, WAP is going to look a complete shambles.

Using these images of Porto, Paulo has created a small adventure world in which you can ramble.  There is obviously going to be some loss of clarity due to pixilation, but if you squint while playing that sorts that out.  With its 20 screens, WAP is clearly an enormous and varied adventure, here follows a summary of just one possibility:

I begin at the Estacao de Sao Bento.  Tired, emotional and unsure of how I arrived here I glance around.  Despite the people I sense an early morning calm, it is cold in the shade so I follow the sun right towards the Sa da Bandeira.  The building before me has a celestial quality, so I genuflect before the sun basking columns.  Something deep within me says to take the right fork of the path, to the Santo Idelfonso.  A white jacketed lady catches my eye, while mine are cold and dead hers have a glint of something special.  Who is she?  Where has she been?  What has she been doing?  That is her business, so I continue to Santa Catarina where there is an explosion of activity.  People are milling around, going to work, going home, and simply keeping the wheels turning.  It is all too much so I wander a while until the Praca da Batalha.  Here I must be truly dazed or dazzled, because I find myself in the middle of the road with a car rapidly approaching me.  I sprint bewildered through nameless streets and again the Catedral, until I find I have come full circle, back at the Estacao de Sao Bento.  Nothing seems to have changed, no-one has moved, can it be there is no respite for me in Porto?  This time I go left in search of an exit but I find something even more terrifying, it seems there has been some kind of temporal disturbance at the Torre dos Clerigos.  The sky is flashing chaotically and the whole world is a swirling noise.  There is no way back for me now, I am unable to move, it seems the game is over…
As Paulo’s notes say, there are a few bugs in the game.  The ones I noticed are the ‘go back’ function doesn’t work as expected in certain parts, some screens keep repeating, and there are a couple of scrambled screens.  Like Paulo’s other entries it leans more towards art than gaming, but it’s full of ideas, passion and technical nous with a sprinkling of crap.  I rather like it.
WAP may also be the future too – virtual tourism.  So if like me, you’ve never been to Porto, then fire up your Spectrum, wait an eternity for WAP to load, pour yourself a glass of Cockburns, put a tin of sardines under the grill and you are practically there.

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