Sunday, 31 March 2013

Drawn to lifeless

By Rebelstar without a cause

Genre: Game designer

You would be forgiven for thinking that Rebelstar has just cobbled a UDG designer together with one of his entries from last year’s CGC: Ski or don’t.  Rebelstar assures me this is not the case however, so we must believe the lying get.
The game itself is rather good fun (the Hi-Score challenge starts at 170) and uses the BASIC scroll function to quite good effect.  The landscape sometimes generates an impossible, or at least near impossible, route but that’s down to the player to be especially vigilant.
If that was all DTL had to offer then I would wrap things up here and say it’s a nice little game that could have appeared on the Cassette50 itself.  But Rebelstar has added a feature (but fails to call it ‘advanced’) to enable you to create your own game graphics.  And as UDG designers go this is quite a nice one, there’s certainly nothing wrong with it anyway.

So in one bound we go from being some nonce skiing endlessly skiing down a slope avoiding trees to a world of infinite possibility.  No longer are you John Smith who works in an office, or Tracy the hairdresser – you are Spectros, creator of worlds.

 Please have a bash yourself and share the results with me.

Tipshack: Objects are not drawn the far right column, so if you can get there safely then you have a free ride!  (this has been fixed in Chuntey Force below).
Download here.

And if you fancy, I had a go with theh designer myself, download Chuntey Force here.


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Jacky Watson Darts

By Steve McCrea

Genre: Jocky Wilson simulator
For those not already familiar with Darts, it is a game of skill played by the worlds finest athletes.
It’s 1979, Butlins, you are Jacky Watson (y’know the one Dexy’s Midnight Runners did the song about) and you must win the darts championship.
Ok, standard rules, 501 to count down.  You can guide the erratically dancing cursor around the screen and press P to select throw power.  Keys JFGH also have a function to do with focussing and steadying (well that’s the idea anyway).
No Bullseye detection?!
The game screen takes a very satisfying 27 seconds to draw, but it’s lovely to watch as Steve continues prove himself to be the master of PLOT and DRAW.  The code is pretty sophisticated  as it calculates the scores, draws the darts on and off in a mostly precise fashion (the odd dart does  fail to get properly deleted though).  I’d say that’s all quite difficult to do but the funny thing is it gets the easy things wrong!  It’s possible for the dart to wander out of the screen giving a return to basic and an ‘Integer out of range error’ and it fails to correctly subtract the last bit of the score (which means you can’t complete the game!*).

So, fatally bugged* but a really rather playable darts game.  I enjoyed it, and it would give some ofthe 1980s darts games a run for their money.  Thankyou Steve!

EDIT 27/03/13: the game is not actually flawed, though my remembrance of how darts works is (sorreee).  This is an almost perfectly playable game and is less crap for it.  For shame Steve!
Tipshack: Do as the professional darts players do: drink 8 pints and eat a mixed grill before playing.
HACK SACK: in line 180 change IF ttot<pt-1 to IF ttot<=pt to allow the score to be fully depleted.

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Nothing Thing

By Paulo Silva

Genre: Demo: Sustainable Retrotechnographica
Different.  That’s what this one is.

I spent a long time thinking about what to say here and I’m still not satisfied.  So time has passed & I’m just going to write.
This entry is clearly a whimsical play around with old ZX81ish graphics on a 30 year old computer using a newish hardware thing called ULA plus.  I don’t know much about ULA+ but if I’m right it’s some kind of interface/plugin/chip/box that tickles the colour vibration doohickey coming from the motherboard and perturbs the frequencies so you get more colours (though I’m not a hardware guy, please correct me if I’ve got any details wrong there- that's about the size of it tho).
The program consists of 4 screens which utilise the modern fancy ULA+ business, a collage, and is a call for a resource based economy and to consider things like the Venus Project.
This is a work of art as it is about, and is, in itself, a nothing thing*.  If I’ve understood correctly, a nothing thing is a thing designed to keep everyone occupied instead of thinking.  Thinking about what?  Well the big things we don’t like to think about (so I’m not sure these nothing things even need to be designed): solutions, the future, food sources, energy, population, climate….brrrr.
At least the ULA plus makes the screen look completely different to the normal Spectrum version, which looks a bloody shambles in comparison.

Thought provoking, abstract artsy, and left me feeling CARP and confused.  Thankyou Paulo! (though I do hope your next entry is a silly one, with lots of Otters or something).
*though please don’t ask me to justify that, I’m not, nor never have been an art student.
Tipshack: try to be half decent and keep your chin up.  Not that I can talk.

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sir Clive Sinclair’s Pachinko Parlour Party

By Steve McCrea

Genre: Arcade:

Poor Clive Sinclair, he’s lost all his cash via a barmy transportation scheme.  He holds a pachinko parlour party to fund the next one.

I’m probably not the best person to review this game as until I did some research I had no idea what a pachinko parlour was!  I pictured a Japanese cocktail party with some exchange of keys and frothy bodily fluids later in the evening.  How wrong I was!  It appears that Pachinko is a faster version of pinball with more balls.

If Pachinko is pinball on amphetamine then Steve has given it a hefty dose of ketamine for the spectrum version.  The ball emerges from the C5 and spends a fair while slowwwwllyyy bouncing around, gaining cash for Uncle Clive all the way.  With the emulator cranked all the way up its pretty hypnotic watching the yellow trail swim around.
S.C.S.P.P.P seems to go on forever!  When you nearly run out of balls you get an extra one, presumably this is where you get hooked and keep putting your hard earned cash in the machine.

Perhaps a reader who is more familiar with pachinko could comment on what may be the first version of pachinko for the Spectrum?
Help!  I can’t stop!

HACK SACK: Japanese currency: in line 50 change the £ to the following UDG: 0,68,40,16,124,16,124,16 (tsk - you would have thought the Spectrum would already have this as part of the keyset).

Up Coprolite Creek

By Steve McCrea

Genre: Puzzle: Malusaurus Rex
Picture the scene: It is 2020 AD, barring the worst most of us will be seven years older, and that would be bearable if it weren’t for the fact that horses are extinct.  What do we sit on when we plait our hair really tight and wear those white tights??!  What do we watch when wearing our fascinators at Ascot??!!  But most of all what do we bulk up our economy burgers with??!!  Steve comes up with the obvious answer which is to go back 100 million years and hunt Dinosaur meat.  Ahem.

Firstly, bonus points for the clever title and for the fairly slow screen draw.  But apart from that I suspect this is another CGC sizzler.  This game is a quite well designed platformy puzzly adventure along the lines of many but Boovie springs to mind.  The jump is a bit ropey (in that you can float in mid-air indefinitely) and if I understand correctly some of the puzzles have more than one ‘challenging’ solution, though the latter may be intentional.
 U.C.C has crappy qualities but on balance it’s not carp, because I willingly played it to the end.  The end of game screen suggests having a go at designing some levels yourself and points to the right bit of the code to edit, I’ve done 4 levels of my own, why not have a bash and share it somewhere?
Great idea + crap. Thankyou Steve!
Tipshack: Prod the Diplodocus and it turns to meat.  Avoid the spikes on the Stegosaurus.  Prod the rock and the Pteranodon drops it.  Prod the Triceratops in the bum and it hits the rock which then the Pteranodon drops it.  Prod the Diplodocus further in and it turns to meat, then triggers the charging Allosaurus.
HACK SACK: Perpetual lives: in line 120 change LET men=men-1 to LET men=men or LET horse=men, nothing else will work.
The game maps are above line 1000.  Insert UDGs as you wish and mostly, the code detects and acts accordingly.  Note each level string ends with ,""
Download here (and my version with 4 different first levels here)

Friday, 15 March 2013

Ottery Quest

By Steve McCrea

Genre: Z Axis Frotter

Why did the Otter cross the road?  To meet Clive Sinclair in a transport cafe of course!  This is the aim of OTTERY QUEST and marks the first entry in the CGC OTTER COMPETITION!!!  (Best/Worst/Funniest/Whatever game with an Otter in it gets a prize) so a tank of thank to Steve for getting the ball rolling on that one :-)

Why Otto the otter and Uncle Clive are having this rendez vous is not clear to me*.  While Clive slurps his warming & nutritous oxtail soup I can only imagine Otto snarling and tearing flesh from a raw fish (very vicious animal the Otter).  Having said that Otto has to make his way past not only speeding lorries (maybe transporting Hewlett Packards across the country much to Clive's chagrin) but also a shark infested pool!  Here Steve has made the common assumption that transport cafes all have moats containing some kind of lethal predator surrounding them like they do in the USA.  Not in good old blighty thank heavens, but it adds to the gameplay anyway.

The game makes excellent use of UDGs to portray lorries and sharks looming upon you in a menacing fashion.  Otto himself looks slightly seal-like, but given it's in 64 pixels I'd say still a good rendering.  It's not so easy to actually dodge things, I managed a couple of times with the lorries and the shark collision seems a bit bugged.

What's Otto's favourite food?  CARP!  Thankyou Steve!

*Ah got it, Clive wants to meet Otto as he's the only one willing to fund the flying car.

Tipshack: Achieve the mental state of an Otter before playing.

HACK SACK: No traffic: Change line 70 to 70 GOTO 90.

Download here.

Thursday, 14 March 2013


By Richard Bos

Genre: Sport: Carp
Firstly bonus points and some kind of prize (I keep saying that don’t I, at the end of the year I’ll have to invent a fair few special prizes…so be it) for the first inlay of the competition!  Just imagine, it’s 1985, you walk into John Menzies to see what’s new and you see this:

Wow!  Action!  Pace!  Strategy!  This beautiful inlay invokes all this, so like all inlays the game must be equally as good…mustn’t it?

Well, let’s see: no loading screen?  Check.  Doesn’t autostart?  Check.  No text wrapping?  Check.  ROM font?  Check.  It’s probably a safe bet to assume it’s not going to be in the same league as R-Type then.  Well sorry to be so harsh, because actually I rather like this little game.

SQUASH! is a two player game that can be played with two joysticks, though the key selection is nicely spaced out anyway.  The aim of the game, like Squash, is to keep the ball in play and try to wrongfoot your opponent.  It’s not bad as it goes, the ball jerks around in a barmy fashion and there is a feeling of tension as you race (well, trundle) to reach the ball.  There is a little attribute cleanup bug but that’s not a problem, and actually gets bonus points!
I’m ashamed to say that I currently find myself short of time, a playmate, a DivIDE interface (ok I could put onto tape but see time) so I’m not going to play this on my real Spectrum just yet.  I do think it would suit the real hardware experience quite nicely though.
Ball bouncingly CARP!

Thank you Richard!
Tipshack:  Give your squash partner a dead arm so you have the tactical advantage, if not the moral high ground (use that trick with the middle knuckle protruding).

HACK SACK: Why not change line 7020 to give you a really big, though ineffectual bat.

Download game here and the inlay here.

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Henry's Cat

By Lee Spoons

Genre: Text: Guess the name of a fictional cat.
I can tell Lee is a massive fan of custom loaders as this is his third entry to have one, and what a lovely loader it is!  Just get a load of this screen: 

It’s so alive anyway, but the way it fills the screen in a painting motion is heavenly.  Lee admits in his submission email that Henry’s Cat is more of a way to show off this loader than to write a cutting edge game, and can’t even remember writing it.  We can forgive this however, as it was originally done in 2006 when recreational drugs like elcid and paxmans were all the rage.

Now the game itself.  Henry’s Cat is a rather compact BASIC program in which you have to guess the name of Henry’s Cat.  For those not in the know this is based on the absolutely fantastic 1980’s cartoon series which also gave us Roobarb.

As the title screen suggests you have 20 goes to guess the name of Henry’s Cat.  Your first response might be to go straight to the horse’s mouth and ask Henry himself, but OH NO!  Henry has been incarcerated in a mental institute.  As the name is 10 letters long and each letter is found by the completely random RND command we have a 1 in 1.41e14 chance of randomly guessing the correct ‘name’ (assuming we forgo the usual custom and accept a name as a string of gobbledegook that is).

Bizarrely I managed to guess on my first go!  You may not be so lucky.

Tipshack: Admire the great loader, then watch Henry’s Cat and Roobarb on youtube with a warm feeling inside.

HACK SACK: Increased Stephen Lewis probability: Change line 75 to: LET N$=”STEPHEN LEWIS”

I’ll get you Spoons!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Travel with PACMAN

By Lee Spoons

Genre: Arcade Corruption
This was originally written for the CGC 2006 but due to Lee’s intense perfectionism he didn’t feel it was quite ready for release.  Since then Lee has been slaving away working on his code to produce Travel with PACMAN.  Well…. actually that last bit is a teeny lie, Lee rediscovered this melange on an old hard drive that was never finished and couldn’t be arsed untangling the crap BASIC to finish it (I’m paraphrasing there), hence felt 2013 was the year to submit it!
Lee gave these instructions:
Pac-Man has escaped from the ghosts and has found some more dots in old Speccy games. Simply collect all the dots to complete the screen, however some parts of the screen are blocked off and watch out for the "killer square" which will cause you to lose a life. Controls: Q, A, O and P. Good luck!

I rather like the idea of this game, there are 12 levels in all that involve Pacman eating up dots scattered around various classic spectrum games, all of which are carefully designed to look like a kill screen.  On level one you move Pacman around the famous Chuckie Egg screen collecting the dots until all are gone – at which point nothing happens.  To progress in TWP you need to BREAK into the BASIC and change the level variable (see HACK SACK), and only then you can witness the treats of Exolon, Deathchase and Skool Daze to name a few.  Trouble is it is so bugged you can’t usually move (and that’s without the deadly invisible blocks), though I must doff my cap to Lee for cramming so many classic SCREEN$ into a game (which would explain the 4 minutes 12 seconds (custom) loading).

It’s clear Lee had big ideas for this game, as the code has more going on than meets the eye.  There is code for ghost collision for instance, but no UDGs for the actual ghosts!
In summary: this game is a bloody shambles .  Well done Lee!
Tipshack:             Lovingly caress your spectrum until you find the magic button, y’know, the one at the side that resets it.
HACK SACK: Incessant lives: Change line 4001 to REM pangolin.
                       You can see the various levels by changing 'ON' to VAL "x"  to the level number in LINE 4 (x = level number you desire).

Saturday, 2 March 2013

On the Gloomy Side of Luna

By Anders Carlsson

Genre: Moon Comber
As per the instructions, G.S.O.L is so called after ‘a certain music album’ but has been slightly changed to avoid copyright infringement (Shady Side of the Satellite by the Rivettes?).  Quite right too, because we take copyright very seriously at the CGC.
The aim of the game is to guide the buggy around the moonscape using not one, but TWO keys, collecting valuable metals and fuel along the way.  You must also be careful to avoid mines and ‘objects that are worthless and nothing happens’.  How to do this?  Dunno, as all 4 possible objects are marked by question marks and controlled by the RND command.  So GSOL is a lambada with lady luck rather than an intense strategy game.
The game doesn’t autostart after loading, bonus points there.  So after typing RUN and ENTER the game starts, but be prepared for the menacing landscape that scrolls toward you.  So if you want a cup of tea or a sneaky chug before it actually reaches you then make it a quick one!  Having said that it does make quite nice use of the SCROLL function.  The fact that you lose fuel at every move, get so little of it to begin with, and rely on chance to get more means it’s impossible to actually get a fair game.
I’d file this under Cassette 50 material, a nice idea with flawed gameplay.  Well done Anders!

The Hi-Score challenge starts at 51km and 70 points.
Tipshack: Look ahead and take your chances (in life I mean).
HACK PACK: Immeasurable Fuel:  Remove everything before the PRINT command in line 105
Download the game here, the instructions here and the BASIN file here.
Also, I’m a bit under the weather at the moment and wanted to mess about with some code: here is a hacked version to be played with Emulator on full: Asteroid®isk.  Hope you don’t mind Anders.

Norn Iron

By Steve McCrea

Genre: Text: Oirish

For people not familiar with the title, Norn Iron sounds like Northern Ireland in the local accent.  A nicely constructed utility here on a topic close to Steve’s heart I presume, which makes the point that those involved are pretty much all speaking the same language.
Download here.


By Steve McCrea

Genre: One of those ones where you bomb a city.

Captain Cheeseberger has lost his everloving mind, of course, and needs to land his plane.  But there’s a city in the way!  What’s a man to do?


By Steve McCrea

Genre: Arcade: Maze

I think I’m the only person on earth to have never played Doom.  So I’m assuming this Spectrum conversion is a 100% faithful one.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Papal Minicompetition results

Well as Pope Benedict leaves the CGC steps in just in time.  We had 3 entries for the poorly advertised Papal minicompetition (sorry 'bout that, will do better next time): Vaticania (Apenao), Grope the Choirboy, Pope Springs Eternal (Steve McCrea/Kweepa).

I couldn't pick between them, they were all crap with varying sprinklings of satire and insanity, so both Apenao and Steve get to be Pope.

You'll have to share nice though - if you toggle on a week on week off basis with a day off every third Sunday. As the competition was Apenao's brainchild he can go first! there anything you want to confess first?