The comp.sys.sinclair Crap Games Competition 2021 - 25th edition!



Every CSSCGC has its Challenges, which ask enthusiastic programmers to enhance, embellish or maybe cripple their programs by adding various "quirks and features". Sometimes they'll be relevant to an event, such as the Spectrum's 20th or 30th birthday, a Royal wedding, a General Election, things like that. Other times they'll relate to the programming language itself, such as forbidding common BASIC keywords. All we know is, they don't always get masses of response, because they are usually time-limited (i.e. "submit your entry before the end of June").

Over the course of the last few years of cut-short CSSCGCs and John Connolly's valiant 2020 revival, I've thought about entering some of these challenges but either ran short of ideas, or short of time. To circumvent the second of these problems for this year's entries, all these challenges are open for the entire length of the competition.

I've also indexed them by colour rather than numbers, because I can.

      THE BLUE CHALLENGE - for a limited machine with a memorably-blue keyboard.
  Write a 1K ZX80 game in machine code. Actually, a game isn't really necessary - just get it to do anything even vaguely useful. Very few people (who are not called Paul Farrow) ever explored this in any great detail, so why not do so? Being on a ZX80 the result is bound to still be crap, so it fits this competition well.
      THE RED CHALLENGE - based on the logo of the entity involved.
  Write a game based on someone you watch on YouTube. Essentially, take the usual bare-bones approach to game programming, and incorporate aspects you'd find on their channel. For instance, a Cody'sLab game could involve large amounts of mercury, or digging your own mine; a HubNut game could be about buying, repairing and selling nasty old cars that only he would ever want to own, a Techmoan game could just as easily be about the puppet show at the end of some of his videos as old and obscure home media. The possibilities are endless, and those are just three examples of channels I watch. Of course, I have already made a game about Big Clive, and that also fits the White Challenge as well as this one!
NOTE: as highlighted on the Rules page, political YouTubers, of all areas of the political compass, are best avoided. Don't say you weren't warned!
FURTHER NOTE: those who choose to use alternative platforms to publish their video content (e.g. Dailymotion, Vimeo, BitChute) will also be considered valid for this challenge, just remain aware of the note immediately above. More general social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.) will not make the grade, and a site that falls in between the two (e.g. Minds) will be considered at my discretion.
      THE MAGENTA CHALLENGE - for (probably) the Spectrum's least-valued colour.
  Write a Spectrum game using as many "lesser-used" features as possible. For instance, when was the last time you saw CONTINUE in a program listing, an INPUT AT statement, the VAL$ function, the OPEN # and CLOSE # stream commands (note that PRINT #0 is not considered "lesser-used" by any means), OUT doing anything other than changing the border colour without the input area, or the microdrive commands MOVE, ERASE, CAT and FORMAT (again, within the confines of a program)? I might even include custom functions (using DEF FN and FN), the ABS, SGN, LN, EXP and POINT functions, colour transparency, changing the ink and paper with control characters, PLOT and DRAW with a PAPER attribute (or any attributes other than INK), if I'm particularly generous...
      THE GREEN CHALLENGE - because St. Greta of Stockholm will shout "HOW DARE YOU!" at those who don't recycle.
  A.K.A. the "recycling challenge" - either downgrade an existing Spectrum game from the CSSCGC archives to the ZX81, or an existing ZX81 game to the ZX80 if such a thing is possible. Or, if you're more ambitious, port an existing game from the C64 Crap Games Competition to the Spectrum. Yes, such a thing does exist (and the four completed competitions can be found in archived form via the Other Links page). Rumours also swirl around of an MSX Crap Games Competition, and if there is such an equivalent on the Amstrad CPC, or Dragon 32, or Atari 8-bits, or BBC Micro, or any of the other 8-bits... try that as well. In all cases, remember to credit the original author.
      THE CYAN CHALLENGE - because cyanide will stop any human very abruptly with a catastrophic error.
  Write a Spectrum game that stops with an odd error report, and without resorting to POKE 23610 to generate one. No "9 STOP Statement" here, we're talking something as odd as "N Statement lost", "G No room for line" or "J Invalid I/O device" here - and don't forget the 128K Spectrum's extra lower-case error reports, either! Multiple exit routines from the game (e.g. the nine different death screens I put into Corona Capers, including the one in the victory sequence) with different strange errors will be judged particularly favourably. Odd errors on the ZX81 and ZX80 are considerably less interesting to look at, but they do exist, so I may also consider these two machines as suitable for this challenge.
      THE YELLOW CHALLENGE - to match the colour of those spaceships that hang in the air the way bricks don't.
  Write a game (on any machine) that is vaguely, tenuously, tangentially related to The Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy, because I will turn 42 midway through this year, and it's also the number of the house I intend to be moving to some time this year. Gratuitous use of obviously-mangled names such as "Alfred Dunce", "Morris Minor" and "Prosthetic Virgin Joyce" is particularly encouraged. The 1983 text adventure by Estuary Software Products is a recommended target for the level of crapness required.
      THE WHITE CHALLENGE - the colour of a blank sheet of paper.
  Write a game for a computer you've never programmed on before. This challenge was sparked by typing in listings for Jim Grimwood's Type Fantastic during March-April 2020, and finding there were QL listings in the pages of Sinclair User. I've archived quite a few of them, so you can easily see what a QL type-in looks like. Far less common are type-ins for the SAM Coupé, but this was another machine I tried to program for the first time ever in 2020 - and here's the evidence, that surfaced after only five days. Or you could try a whole new language - FORTH, on the Jupiter Ace, or Next BASIC on the Spectrum Next (and I'll test that with a real machine come August).