Saturday, 9 February 2013

Mega Ski

By Shaun Bebbington

Genre: Insanity simulator
Okay….Mega Ski arrives in a zip file, and quite naturally I open it up.  Nothing too out of the ordinary there, then I see the file…
It’s a screengrab of a BASIC program.  A type in.  A.  TYPE.  IN.  (Deep breath count to ten).
Most of us will remember doing type ins back in the day, the listing would appear next to an all action picture that wayyyy overstated the quality of the actual finished game (in fact I’m sure we could have got them on the trade descriptions act), assuming the type in worked, you knew all the function keys, didn’t get bored or lose your work during typing.
With these horrible memories at the front of my mind I readied myself to get the job done.  In the spirit of the entry I decided to do it all as nature intended – on a real Spectrum.  I chose to do this on my less aesthetically pleasing, but reliable grey +2 as I recall my 48k having some wonky keys.  It will be done in 48k BASIC, naturally.
So: A dreich Saturday morning?  Check.  Cup of tea?  Check.  A steely resolve to play a half baked ASCII based BASIC  Ski-ing game?  Check.   TYPING HOooooooooooooooooooo!

(Here follows a stream of consciousness while typing in)
9am.  Now then, this type-in is full of VAL statements.  While this may be more efficient coding I can’t be arsed finding out where the VAL function key is so I just did the actual value each time.  Donketsoft?  Surely a BASIC program of this quality couldn’t contain a typo?  As such I can only assume that Shaun has created a new software house.  Great.  4 mistakes in the first line.  Shame each line is so long it takes agggesss to scroll through it all to fix it.  INT?  INT?  Where’s the function key for that?!  And PI!?  Have the key detection for CAPS and <> may be very diligent, but I can’t be arsed: it’s OP for me.  Hell bells!  How many OR statements can a line contain?!

9.30am.  Finished.  Didn’t take too long.  Time to save my work.

Now run it.  Aaaaaaannnnnnnnnnndddddd….

It doesn’t ****ing work!  The keys don’t work and it stops for no understandable reason.  The keys issue was my fault: change k$ to INKEY$.  The STOP was printing the score in white on white, changed.

Sort of works now.  I’m still not sure whether the game is working properly or is just crap?  Am I crap?  Why does the game stop?  Why do the trees converge?  Where’s the gin?  This project leaves me only with questions.

Shaun sent this to show the score to beat, I managed 1360.

Summary:  This is great fun and I’d recommend trying a type in (especially on real hardware).  There was a definite sense of excitement and anticipation as it came closer to RUNning it.  The game is crap, with the nicest touch being the ‘SCROLL’ statement that kept occurring during the game.  Thank you Shaun!
Tipshack:  Allow 1 hour to type in and test.  Take an opium suppository 30 minutes before typing in or playing the game.
HACK PACK: No scroll message: At the start of line 3 put POKE 23692,255
Download instructions and screengrab.  Snapshot will follow - Shaun requested a delay so people can have the err... joy of typing.


  1. Sorry about the lens flare, you can't quite see the game properly.

  2. I've also realised I must have done something wrong. Shaun's in game screen actually makes sense and looks playable compared to mine!

  3. Err... yeah the screen shot is taken from the listing that I screen-grabbed so *may be* you were trying to avoid some typing to save time :-) The listing works even with the typo.

    Just so that everyone knows, I typed it into a real Speccy 48 first, then, as I don't have a working bog-roll printer or a scanner, I typed it in line-for-line to BASin, saved it and loaded it into Fuse to get the screen shots. It took about an hour to write on the Spectrum and about 20 minutes to test it, and then about 20 minutes to type in to BASin, and about another 20 minutes to test it.

    For those of you who remember those Osbourne books from the 1980s (with the pictures of the robots), Mega-Ski is based on a listing from them, but 'fixed' for the Speccy with an equivalent to the PRINT SPC(x) command.

    For fun, make the keys for left and right 'y' and 'n' and allow the Scroll? message to appear at the bottom of the screen. Also, there is a small bug in the game - find it and fix it.

  4. Aren't there any OCR programs that can read the ZX Spectrum screen font? As every other game in this event has cheat tips, that might be the one for this game. Once you get a text file, you could use BASin, bas2tap etc to get a binary file to load...

  5. This is genius!
    Front runner for crap game of the year, shurely?

  6. I do have a speccy 'bog roll' printer, this may be the opportunity I was waiting for to see it print something rather than just click and whirr.

    I don't know about text recognition but if there is something suitable please let me know! I may need it in case I get more type ins.

    Yeah it's going to be tricky judging this one, I'm not sure how much weight to give to the 'type in factor' yet.

  7. Well, I had a brief attempt with OmniPage 4.0. A few keywords were correctly identified but most of it ended up as garbage.

  8. Thanks for the comments, here and elsewhere. I'm going to do a 'refactored' edition shortly using the same process. This time, I'll use my 16K Speccy to refactor it and then do the same process of getting it onto the PC :-)

  9. Wow! Best (read: only) Type-in award. I never did get the chance to refactor but then again there is always the 2014 CSSCGC to look forward to!