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



  24 April 2022: The map of The Ring of the Inka is available at Pavel Plíva's
  23 April 2022: The Spectrum is 40 years old today! To mark this joyous occasion, I've released the RZX of The Ring of the Inka, as promised at the end of January.
  16 April 2022: I've waited six months for this: issue 232 of Retro Gamer magazine has just been published, featuring a two-page spread dedicated to the 2021 CSSCGC, with the article text adapted from an interview with yours truly! And, in the interests of telling the full story - as if this website doesn't do that already - I've added the full text to the Awards page. It's a cracking read.
  31 January 2022: In what is almost the last update, I've added December's entries to the RZX, including Dragon Tale, which now has a map added to the review. When I see evidence that anyone's tried to beat The Ring of the Inka, I'll post the RZX of that as well (or by Easter at the latest).
  1 January 2022: Andy Jenkinson's 2022 CSSCGC has opened - as soon after midnight as mine did a year ago. That's the kind of efficiency I like to see!
  19 December 2021: The scores have all been added up, the Gold Guard has been given his P45, it's time for the Awards ceremony! And when we're done saying "Well Mown" and handing out corned beef sandwiches, there are two Bullseye Bonus Games: Magiapotagia 1977, a conversion of Daniel Aguilar's Magiaoptagia for three pre-ZX80 computers, and... this is the big one... The Ring of the Inka - Sir Clive Edition, a massively improved re-release of the huge text adventure from the 2018 competition that is now everything it always should have been.
  18 December 2021: The last reviews of the year are here! "Firelord" couldn't stand to see the competition end on 59 entries and filled the gap with Avoid Trees. Salvador Camacho had the same idea, and sent Rudolph Practices, an 11th ZX81 entry. And right at the death, Andy Jenkinson - who will soon be hosting this competition himself - sent High/Low Continue, which puts a 40-year-long programming argument to bed once and for all.
  17 December 2021, 11:58 pm: THE COMPETITION HAS CLOSED! In the last few hours, three further entries found their way to me for a total of 62 and will be reviewed shortly. It could have been 65, but two unfinished games that looked like they deserved to be finished, and one where I would have had no chance of making it work, had to be turned down and should surface next year, with a bit of luck!.
  16 December 2021: Still they come! And still the competition forges into new territory! Enrique Pimpinela Santos' Advanced Fishing Simulator looks like a lazy modification of his previous Fishing Simulator... but it uses ULAplus! And does so to far greater effect than is immediately obvious on playing the game.
  15 December 2021 (later): I was informed of some RZX files that weren't working. A new RZX for Catch the Frankonstins and an extra (and shorter) solution for Rubik Code with the Currah Microspeech disconnected have been added.
  15 December 2021: The end is even nearer, and if Enrique Pimpinela Santos' Dragon Ball Z-inspired Dragon Tale is the last entry for this competition, it'll be a fine way to close it - even if it's an unfinished demo. It's certainly fantastic to look at, and not just for otakus.
  14 December 2021: The end is near, and we're getting somewhere closer to reality - albeit, not much closer - with "Luny"'s first (and last) entry this year, Psycho 3. Think you can avoid being killed by Norman Bates? Prepare to be disappointed. And dead.
  13 December 2021: To my utter fury, there has been DRAMA in the competition that has resulted in the dismissal of one 16K Spectrum entry, one for the ZX80 and five for the ZX81. As a result we are down to 56 entries in total. 20 reviews needed editing and renumbering which compromised a huge number of links, and the pages for the entries, RZXs and old news also required surgery.
  11 December 2021: What's that you've got for me, Giannis? Avoid Santa? It's another modification of your first entry, isn't it? What do you mean, no, it's a new game? And what do you know, it is a new game, and one that had me picking over the code for half an hour as well.
  10 December 2021: Another multiple entrant bidding us a seasonally-themed farewell is Andy Jenkinson, who is probably going to be very busy next year. His final contribution to this year's competition is A very basic CHR$mas NOT IF e.t., complete with bizarre SPG. It's better than getting a lump of coal (or worse) in your sock.
  8 December 2021: "Firelord" won't give up easily, and has sent a Hitchhiker's-themed rehash (that's barely rehashed at all) of his last two "games". It's now called Find The Book. Share and enjoy, if you want to end up like Marvin.
  4 December 2021: I can now reveal the three further entries from yesterday. "Firelord" returns after a decade away for two more examples of what he was known for; Find Santa, Find Easter Bunny, find a reason to bother if you must. Far more deserving of your attention is Titanius Angelsmith's LOGO translation of Seven/Eleven - originally found in one of Tim Hartnell's BASIC programming books.
  3 December 2021: Crikey o'blimey! The end-of-competition mad scramble has started! I've had four entries today - the one I've had a chance to review is Dave Hughes' Dogspawn, for the 48K Spectrum, which should blow away any memories of non-tuneful tunes. And the RZX page has been updated as far as Escarabajo at the end of November. And as this is the 50th game, the Bullseye Bonus Game will now be cleared for release!
  1 December 2021: We're now into the Bonus Period after the original end date of the competition! With 16 more days to go after today (and there will be no more extensions at all), Salvador Camacho bows out for the year with Highway Robbery 2021. 16K ZX81, C, Z88DK? Correct on all three fronts.
  23 November 2021: Slightly later than I'd planned, the RZX page has been updated to include the games from up to the end of October, the latest of which is Catch the Frankonstins. Also, the Bullseye Bonus Game that will be released at the end of the competition will now also be featured on the WINNER's Corona Capers tape, as specified in the competition rules.
  19 November 2021: Salvador Camacho has been busy again - this time converting an old Spectrum type-in from a 1983 Spanish magazine for the ZX81. Escarabajo was so basic in the first place that it has lost very little in the translation, and I might even say it's an improvement.
  15 November 2021: To catch a fish. To use short sentences. To be admired by Michael Palin. I am not Ernest Hemingway. I have never been fishing. To write Crap Games. Enrique Pimpinela Santos is "+3code". He has written a game. It's called Fishing Simulator. It's about fishing. It's on a +3 disc. That's the first one this year.
  13 November 2021: The Links page has had a mild update, even at this late stage.
  12 November 2021: I have just been informed that Daren Pearcy, host of the RZX Archive, has died after "a short illness". Bear in mind this is someone I actually met in person, unlike Sir Clive Sinclair, so this hits a lot harder. Judging the merits (or not) of crap games doesn't seem quite so important in comparison, but I'll finish this competition come hell or high water.
  9 November 2021: Salvador Camacho has returned, with another Z88DK-compiled 16K ZX81 game, Fall Palo T - which has an intriguing paper trail leading up to its creation. Don't expect an RZX, though - I already know it won't run on Fuse!
  5 November 2021: The RZX page has been updated to include most of the games up to the end of August (the latest being Codenames), as well as Don't Panic from earlier in the year. Salvador Camacho's Z88DK-compiled ZX81 games flatly refused to run with ZX81-via-IF2 emulation.
  1 November 2021: The last few days of October saw the entry of a scene demo called Twinkle Twinkle, which does (almost) what you'd expect; Dave Hughes is honest enough to admit that it was always going to be a trainwreck, and I know what he's capable of in better times.
  18 October 2021: Again, my moaning has paid off; there are two new Spectrum entries. Old Bones is a cricket game borrowed from the BBC Micro by Steve McCrea for the 16K model to (maybe) mark the launch of the Twenty20 World Cup, and with Halloween on the way, Titanius Angelsmith (no, really) orders us to Catch the Frankonstins on the 48K Spectrum.
  15 October 2021: No submissions in the last 12 days (grrrrr...), but there are more replays added to the RZX page, which now includes all the games up to the end of June (#30, Cliff Richard Loves Rihanna... FACT!). There may also be hope for some of the ZX81 games that didn't previously work...
  3 October 2021: I can barely believe what I've just seen - or, rather, heard. John Connolly has been busy tackling the Old Blue Challenge to get a 1K ZX80 to do something useful in machine code - and the result is Ricky Gervais' Simon. A sound-based game, on the ZX80? I wasn't expecting that!
  1 October 2021: Three more of this year's entries have been added to the RZX page, including two for the ZX81. It was supposed to be four to complete the set from March and April, but ZX81-on-Spectrum emulation doesn't always work properly. In better news, the competition deadline has been extended to 17th December - giving us 50 whole weeks of Crap Game action!
  30 September 2021: Crap games are like buses - you wait ages and then three turn up at once! Two of these were after 11 pm on 29th September: Phil Hite's Dirty Harry Simulator San Francisco, and Paul E. Collins' Mines of Magrathea - both for the 48K Spectrum, although they really should have been made suitable for the 16K Spectrum. Don't get yourselves too excited at the content, though...
  28 September 2021: A four week drought has been broken. Were you all so distraught at Sir Clive departing this realm? Anyway, Jamie Bradbury has been busy again, though not on the Z88 this time. You can relive Europe's Ryder Cup disaster with Herman Tissies 1D Golf for the 48K Spectrum.
  18 September 2021: With the competition three-quarters done, I've added a couple of pages to the website - the Awards page, which will be activated when the competition closes, and the RZX page, which so far contains action replays of all the Spectrum games up to the end of February (i.e. #13, Horace and the Vikings), with more to come in October. Also, Zoggle has been revised to its third version, and the package has been updated again.
  16 September 2021: "This is one of those news you know you will receive some day, but wish that to happen as late as possible." Alessandro Grussu put it better than I ever could. So long and thanks for all the computers, Sir Clive Sinclair.
  31 August 2021: Jamie Bradbury has revised Zoggle to fix the two bugs that I flagged in the review. An updated package of the game is now downloadable. And in the interests of fairness, I've also revised the package of Zonkey Kong, reviewed back in May. Both packages contain the original version of the games that I reviewed alongside the bugfixes.
  30 August 2021: Is it OK to release two versions of the same game in one CSSCGC? If you're doing so on an obscure machine, I'm far more likely to allow it. Jamie Bradbury, being the aficionado of the Z88 that he is, has sent Zoggle, an improvement on his last version of Parker Bros.' famous dice-based word game.
  20 August 2021: Andy Jenkinson is further tightening his grip on the Least Crap Games Of The Year leaderboard, with an implementation of Vlaada Chvátil's 2015 card-based board game, Codenames. All you need is three or more friends to play it with and a Zoom account each...
  18 August 2021: After finally making a small piece of machine code work on a ZX80 after two months, with a fair bit of help from Sinclair ZX World, I have revised the Blue Challenge. It hasn't been attempted once in seven and a half months, but I would hope Version 2.0 gets some attention, as it's considerably easier to tackle than the original.
  16 August 2021: The review for Adrien's Bubble Burster has been amended to show some real evidence of its educational use.
  7 August 2021: Who's having a great summer? Allow Rob Edwards to bring you crashing down to earth with Lottery, a text adventure set on a miserable sink estate. The sense of total social decay has even infected the programming itself... you have been warned!
  6 August 2021: Is everyone on holiday or something? Anyway, Steve Poole has broken the silence with another intentionally-rudimentary game for the QL. Adrien's Bubble Burster was written to teach his grandson some basic programming techniques and make it as easy as possible to see how it works. List it and learn something for yourselves!
  21 July 2021: Another Z88DK-compiled ZX81 entry from Salvador Camacho is upon us - this time, Wall of China looks like something he's concocted himself rather than being a demake. And if the screenshot makes it look like a Breakout clone, it isn't.
  11 July 2021: Andy Jenkinson is certainly making his presence felt in this year's competition. When you roll the Zombie Dice, there can be unexpected strokes of good or bad luck. Decide for yourselves which of those this is: Andy's just put himself in pole position to be next year's host!
  7 July 2021: Salvador Camacho's third Z88DK-derived entry for the ZX81 this year is a demake of Snail Maze - a game built into early versions of the Sega Master System. Can you finish it in less time than it takes to boil an egg?
  30 June 2021: Belatedly (because of work), I present Steve Poole's second QL entry for the year, and the fourth overall. Thor Game started off as a test of a recursion routine, and is now a fully playable Advanced Defend Two Vikings From The Wrath Of The Thunder God Simulator. Load it in QPC2 for best results.
  25 June 2021: Thick and fast they come now... Andy Jenkinson's second entry for the year is the bizarrely-titled Cliff Richard Loves Rihanna... FACT!, which is part BASIC, part machine code, part playground gossip generator, part dating sim, part friends-and-relationships wrecker, part political scandal muckraker...
  24 June 2021: Another new name to the CSSCGC, and apparently to any kind of Spectrum programming, is Gonzalo Medina. But take a look through Las Aventuras de Eustaquio I - if you can read Spanish - and decide for yourself whether or not he's being economical with the truth!
  19 June 2021: Dave Sloan is a new name to the CSSCGC, though he says he's wanted to enter for years. One quick application of MPAGD later, and Hard as Nailz is the result. Can you beat my not-very-high score and prove you haven't cheated? Tournament-mode RZXs to the usual address...
  17 June 2021: Andy Jenkinson, who isn't "Uglifruit" to his bank manager, entered the CSSCGC for the first time last year... and second, third, fourth and fifth, gaining a reputation for making games that aren't actually crap. Attempt number six, Rubik Code, rekindles his relationship with one of the Spectrum's dodgiest peripherals, and has given me a strange sense of déjà vu...
  11 June 2021: Double good news! Z88 Boggle has an updated review and download link, featuring loading instructions for ZEsarUX as well as OZvm. And the discussion on Spectrum Computing has inspired Lee Prince to flog the deadest of dead horses that won't die... with Advanced Adding A TXT File To An EPROM Card For A Z88 Emulator Simulator. It meets two Challenges, is presented in 16K/48K and 128K versions, and is now in the lead for Most Crap Game Of The Year!
  6 June 2021: Salvador Camacho's unwavering dedication to the pre-Spectrum black-and-white machines brings us our first ZX80 entry of the year! Take on the World's Stupidest Computer™ at a game of Tic Tac Toe Hell; lose, lose again, lose a third time, lose continuously, and wonder where your life went so wrong. Also, there's been a mild update to the Rules, though it's really just technicalities.
  5 June 2021: Jamie Bradbury has returned from having his last "game" speared by the Goolus, and has treated us to a first entry for the Z88 this year (and the third ever - he's responsible for two of them now). Z88 Boggle will allow you to play Boggle with a friend on a 35-year-old laptop with an LCD screen, although if you have one of these and use it, you probably don't have any friends...
  4 June 2021: Once again Google Mail attempts to hinder this competition by hiding the latest submission from me. But after five days in the dumpster, Lee Prince's Arse Over Tit - I wonder where that name could have come from? - has been restored to its rightful place, as is befitting for a previous CSSCGC host... who encodes his entries with Speedlock 2!
  23 May 2021: We have a fifth ZX81 entry, which yet again Google Mail tried to hide from me. Zhunder Vlade is also a second contender for the Green Challenge, as Salvador Camacho has made this ZX81 conversion of one of his previous Spectrum entries, from the 2011 competition.
  11 May 2021: It is a momentous day in CSSCGC history. We have our first entry in the Green Challenge, as a text micro-adventure has washed up here in its third overall incarnation. But better still, Tobias Fröschle is a QL aficionado and has chosen this machine on which to write Minimal Caves. This year's CSSCGC now has more QL entries than the entire previous history of the competition!
  7 May 2021: News has reached me that DnD have updated Zonkey Kong to iron out the problems flagged by both my review and the findings of some of the other testers on Sinclar ZX World. I've added a note to the review linking to the forum post where improved versions of the game can be found. Believe me, it's worth it.
  4 May 2021: Just when I was getting really concerned that the competition had petered out pathetically, Daniel Aguilar, a.k.a. McFly (no, not that one!) has sent Magiapotagia - not a game, as such, but a demonstration of magic! At least, that's what it might have been considered a few years before the Spectrum was released.
  20 April 2021: A further two weeks (and three Google-induced extra days) later, we have another entry for the ZX81, Zonkey Kong - a conversion of a well-known 1981 arcade game that's spent almost four decades in development hell! Its two American authors, Don Crawford and Dave Spinnett, have used their Corona-chan-enforced time away from society to complete it. And even though it's not perfect, it's far too good for this competition!
  3 April 2021: After an unexpected three-week gap - big news! The move of CSSCGC Towers to the Cambridgeshire marshlands is complete, and I have two new ZX81 entries to celebrate! Colin Williams' MotoRace81 was originally submitted on 5 March, but Google hid it in my Spam folder and I've only found it after the move. And earlier today, Salvador Camacho sent Camel Racing. Sinclair ZX World will be ecstatic! (Possibly.)
  13 March 2021: Paul E. Collins returns for another stab at this year's competition, in the form of Balloonatix - in which you must not get your balloons stabbed to oblivion. It even comes with its own level editor (written in C#) which I've managed to get working, and I've shown off the evidence.
  6 March 2021: Jamie Bradbury's third submission of the year is ZX Chuntey Inspector, which appears to be a determined attempt to move into the lead for Most Crap Game Of The Year. All I'll say is, it hasn't, for reasons which will become clear if you remind yourselves of the scoring system...
  5 March 2021 (later): Don't Panic, everyone! Mark Kinsey has come to the rescue. As a connoisseur of the ZX81, he couldn't let its four-decade celebration go unmarked, and sent me this year's first entry for the black door wedge at 7:53 pm, after I'd posted that last update, which just allowed me enough time to post the review before midnight. Håpla!
  5 March 2021: The ZX81 is 40 years old today! And I'd intended to have a fantastic celebration with all sorts of weird and wonderful Crap Games from this year's competition. Only problem is, nobody's submitted one yet, and it's turned my ZX81 into an emo kid. This will not do!
  28 February 2021: Kerl wasn't half busy making Crap Games in the final two months of 2020, and hasn't finished yet. For those that like their games utterly frustrating, Horace and the Vikings will throw you into a deep, dark hole. You won't be singing along to Mellom bakkar og berg after this one!
  26 February 2021: It's a first for the CSSCGC: multiple QL entries! Never before in 25 years of this competition has the Black Box with the microdrives received so much attention. Steve Poole's Invaders will give you a taste of what games programming was like for those who received their QLs on time in early 1984, with the dongle hanging out the back.
  24 February 2021: What do you do if it's 1983, but your miserable car-washing job doesn't pay enough to stretch to buying a copy of 3D Deathchase? 38 years too late, Rob Edwards has the perfect solution, provided your Spectrum is a 48K model: 2D Deathchase! Also, Shower Simulator has had a version added for the 48K Spectrum.
  21 February 2021: A South American Crap Game Grudge Match has been declared as Darío Ruellan, from Argentina, enters the competition for a third year in a row, to tackle on Brazil's Alexandre Colella head-on. Wearing the sky-blue-and-white stripes is Shower Simulator, for the 16K Spectrum.
  19 February 2021: Add another machine to the list! None other than "Mr QL" himself, Dilwyn Jones, has sent Don't Shoot the QL, which even had a bit of beta-testing courtesy of some members of the QL Forum. I wonder what computer might be used to run it? (Hint: it isn't a Spectrum, but it does come equipped with two microdrives.)
  14 February 2021: Jamie Bradbury has certainly been busy - his second entry is Blind Snake Moan for the 48K Spectrum, a novel take on the Snake concept, in that your snake is blind. I was going to say "play it and see", but that sounds wrong...
  7 February 2021: Battle From Below has been updated to version 1.3 with three extra screens. The ZIP package contains both this and the old version 1.2 which was used for the review.
  6 February 2021: Jamie Bradbury is using the CSSCGC as a test bed for Battle From Below for the 48K Spectrum, which might grow into something bigger and better if the feedback is good. As it is, it's a two-player "charity single" for a friend in need.
  3 February 2021: Possibly in retaliation for me sending Crap Games for all sorts of weird and wonderful machines to his 2020 competition, John Connolly has submitted an entry... for the Jupiter Ace! Genesis 1:28 is "a painfully unfunny extrapolation" (in John's words) of the words most usually associated with that Bible verse.
  31 January 2021: Crikey! Only one day later, "Hedge1970" has sent Mono-Rail Simulator, "a 1982/3-style type-in game" for the 48K Spectrum. At 28.6K that'd be a lot of typing! Fortunately, the game justifies the length, and you don't have to type it in anyway. Control your own railway in glorious Spectrum ROM characters! (And a couple of UDGs.)
  30 January 2021: Steve McCrea, a.k.a. Kweepa, has sent Cretans, a minimalist maze game for the 16K Spectrum which might well have graced the pages of Sinclair Programs in the second half of 1982. Also, the final results have been declared in John Connolly's 2020 CSSCGC, so if you want to know exactly how I came to be this year's host, you'll see the answer there. The Past Competitions page has been updated accordingly.
  21 January 2021: ASMR Eye Examination has been updated with a "v1.1" bug-fixed version, which will now work on +2A and +3 models. See the review for details of the fix. Also, there's been a slight tweak to the scoring system, because otherwise this game would have been simultaneously the most and least crap game so far, and when there's more than one entry, that's absurd!
  19 January 2021: Paul E. Collins, another CSSCGC veteran and 2002's host, has become the first entrant to tackle the Challenges - both Magenta (weird functions) and Red (YouTube channels). ASMR Eye Examination features, in his words, "the lovely Heather Feather".
  13 January 2021: Dave Hughes, veteran of past CSSCGCs and 2013's host, returns with Mr. Don't!, and in doing so, teaches some of the programmers of 38 years ago who were trying to simulate the arcade experience a thing or two. Maybe.
  1 January 2021 (later): There has already been a first submission: Alexandre Colella's P.P.S. - Pixel Perfect Shot. I've made an extra-special effort to review it on the first day of the competition, and it is simultaneously the most and least crap game so far...!
  1 January 2021: There was a Hootenanny, and the competition has opened! You all have eleven entire months to send me your entries. Make sure I know how to use the emulator and load the game if it's a weird one (i.e. anything listed under the "????" icon below.)
  26 December 2020: The website launches! The competition opens when Jools Holland declares 2021 itself open (if indeed there is a Hootenanny this year...)