Sunday, 30 June 2013

Chromatrons Attack

Genre: Arcade: Smart arse action

By Guesser, music by Gasman

Any CSS or WoS regular will know this entry has been a long time coming, with work on the engine predating this years competition.  Guesser started cranking up his hype machine earlier this year by announcing…”THEY’RE COMING”, well now finally they’re here – and what a formidable foe the Chromatrons prove to be.
Guesser points out that the purpose of the game is not necessarily to be fun (glad to hear it!) but to “wind up emulator authors”.  Load Chromatrons up in any emulator and you’ll see what he means, you can hear Gasman’s nifty AY music but this is what you’ll see:

 You can just about make out the drawing through the shimmering moire pattern, and when you press caps shift to start the game it’s possible to make out a few sprites (which can naturally be controlled with the keys WASD) but that’s about it.  Clearly there is some trickery going on here, this game is specially formulated to only be playable on a real spectrum connected to a TV.  For those blessed with this set up I recommend giving it a go (128k only, paging must be enabled), and you will see this:

I didn’t expect that.  I thought it would still be a grey mess, just a clearer grey mess.  I’ll leave it to the hardware people to explain the technical aspects of it, but I can confirm that the attributes are set to black on white, not magenta on cyan.  Which finally brings us onto the game itself, while you can just see the sprites on an emulator what you can’t see is the scrolling landscape.
2 pics provided by p13z

You must pilot your spacecraft (forever it seems, there is no endgame here) while being pursued by the deadly Chromatrons.  Basically avoid the ever increasing numbers of aliens and the walls.  The sprites move in character steps and the scrolling landscape is (I think) attribute based.  The further you go the higher the score, a formula many of us love and will find quite addictive.  It’s also a great feature that your shields build up after a loss, so all is not lost if you screw up.  Guesser (or his beta tester) start the Hi Score challenge at 1923.
So this game displays a great knowledge of the hardware and coding skill (done in assembly), but is it crap?  Well the fact I’ve just loaded it up again on tape to try and beat my own hi score of 1313 suggests not, but the WASD keys might just be enough to save it…
Thankyou Guesser!

Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Found by Rebelstar without a cause

Genre: Adventure:

Where in the world is Edward Snowden.

Well this is all very cloak and dagger, I receive this enigmatic email this morning at the height of the Edward Snowden chase.

As I was walking past the Ecuador embassy in London today I heard a tap at the window. I looked round as a blonde haired man threw an object out of the open window. I approached the window but it slammed shut immediately. I then looked down to see what it was that was thrown at me. To my amazement it was a memory stick with the letters cgc etched into it.
When i got home i turned on the laptop, curious to find what was on it. The only thing on it was a tap file. Rather than open it i decided to send it to you.

Could it be Julian Assange is busy working away at his Spectrum coding while ensconced in the Ecuadorian embassy?  Who knows, perhaps we can expect some more games from him (I'd love to see a Canabalt style escape).

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sam Fox Strip Snap

By Andrew Green

Genre: Naked gambling


I never played it ‘back in the day’ but this amusing entry from Andrew is a nod to 'Sam Fox Strip Poker' for the ZX Spectrum, released in 1986.  Yes that’s right – there was such a thing as 8 bit scud!

Sam Fox Strip Snap lets you experience all the thrills of strip poker but with a much simpler game (just as well really because I don’t know the rules to poker).  Rest assured I will still be enforcing CGC rule 3.3 despite the fact that this is not actually a poker game.
 On to the game.  As the CGC consistently proves, ‘the best pictures are on the radio’, as there are no fuzzy pixel representations of Ms Fox in this game – which I suspect was one of the reasons the original sold so well.  Random card pairs appear on the screen and you must press ‘S’ when you see matching numbers.  Both you and Ms Fox begin with 5 items of clothing, and unlike Same Fox Strip Poker one of those items is not a trilby.  I opted for a cricket hat, tie, socks and a garter.

To begin with Sam is very slow to react, so you have plenty of time to spot and call a pair.  But as she discards more items of clothing she becomes increasingly alert, this is probably because she is reverting to her natural state from her earlier days as a glamour model.  When she is right down to her smalls she is so swift that it is virtually impossible to win.  I only managed it once without cheating!

 This is a well designed snap game, nicely constructed bit of code and a funny idea.  I must also applaud Andrew for his attention to detail – I received 2 revised versions from him!  Even more impressive is that he managed to get Ms Fox on board with this project.  Thankyou Andrew!


Slow Sam down with a couple of Lambrini’s: 3000 FOR a=1 TO 50      

Dress for the Antarctic: 205 LET myclothes=500
Tipshack: if playing on a real spectrum don't forget to wear your standard issue tin foil underpants to counteract the EM noise.



And for the perverts, Ann Robinson’s strip snap.


Saturday, 22 June 2013

Search for ET

By Lee Spoons

Genre: Arcade: Urbanmythbuster

Lee is building up a great little portfolio in the CGC after a long break.  This one is inspired by the Atari video game burial of 1983.  In a nutshell this is the suspected disposal of Pacman2600 and ET the Extra Terrestrial cartridges in a new Mexico landfill site after huge sales losses (ET is also generally hailed as one of the worst games of all time).  Rumour has it that there are over 3.5 million crushed cartridges and some peripherals concreted over there.  The story resurfaced recently as a media company will soon be searching the landfill site for a documentary.

After the loading screen the first thing to notice is the ABSOLUTELY COOL MUSIC!  Made using Beepola, in my opinion it improves on the actual ET theme so the game’s going to have to be pretty bad to make up for it.

You take the role of a digger (represented by an excellent high resolution UDG) which you drive around the landfill site and dig for treasure.  Digging is represented by an irksome cascade of beeps.  If you are close to the ET cartridge you are given a message ‘GETTING WARM’.  Lee avoids silly complicated algorithms and bases the check on whether you are on the same row or column as the cartridge.  Unfortunately this means once you work out that you are on the same line, all you have to do is work your way along it – slowly digging all the way. 

Just in case you fancy playing Search for ET more than once (and why the devil wouldn’t you?!?), be prepared for a couple of bugs on restart.  There are ghost graphics and it’s possible to go outside the screen and return to basic (bonus points!).

Well as the saying goes, you can’t polish a turd – but you can give it an excellent soundtrack.  Thankyou Lee!

HACK SACK:     Remove line 1005 to stop the annoying digging noise.

                        Success every time:  1005 LET H1=H:LET V1+V

Tipshack:         From a hard reset, the RND seed sets the cartridge position to the same place each time.

Download the game here.

And if you like, the cracked version here where ET has been paid off by Atari to stop you finding the cartridges.  (Sorry Lee!)

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.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Lawnmower minicomp!

Due to the high quality of the recent and following lawnmower entries, there will be a prize for the 'best' lawnmowing/snowblowing/gardening entry.  Yet to be confirmed but it may be a free pass to the British Lawnmowing museum (train fare to Southport not included).  Get coding people!  (but don't forget the neglected Otter minicomp)