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



Author:  Paul E. Collins Model:  48K Spectrum Format:    .TZX
Submission date:  19 January 2021 Documentation:  none Tested on:  Spectaculator 8.0

Download it here

"Here is an entry for the Red (YouTube) Challenge of CSSCGC, featuring the lovely Heather Feather."
- Paul E. Collins

"If the world gets too loud, you can stay here a while. Welcome to my channel, tingle seekers!"
- Heather Feather

Oooh, crikey. I think I'm going to be making some discoveries about some members of the Sinclair community over the course of this year. I mean, the last time I heard "tingle" it referred to a middle-aged Japanese video game character who thinks he's a fairy and says "Kooloo-limpah!" (before being smacked firmly round the chops by everyone outside Japan). As for ASMR, with which Miss Feather is indelibly associated, even after sampling a few of her videos I am no closer to knowing if ASMR is supposed to be genuinely about rest and relaxation, or is a front for some kind of bizarre fetish that I'd rather avoid. It may be both. Either way, I appreciate that one of my seven Colour Challenges has been directly tackled (and one indirectly!), and I'd expect many more to come.

Paul E. Collins is no stranger to the CSSCGC, having been the host of the 2002 competition, and he knows his way around a Spectrum. Here's some evidence: there are colour control characters in header of the BASIC loader, which is in turn full of functions that 1K ZX81 programmers used to use. There's not merely a loading screen, resembling a page of YouTube, it's compressed (3,135 bytes), and it can be recalled and used as the title screen. The game's been compiled with the HiSoft Compiler to speed it up, though there's also the original BASIC source code at the end of the tape, which can be loaded with the rest of the code on tape to provide a slowed-down "training mode" if necessary. To execute the compiled code, or so it seems, the initial loader uses a bizarre MOVE command, which Paul has also flung a ton of extra functions at. Unfortunately, this nukes the game on a +2A or a +3. (EDIT: not any more! See the final additional note.)

The game - starting with a magenta-bordered screen and some control instructions, gives way to Heather winking at us from glorious blue-and-cyan monochrome. In a barely-audible voice - or at least it would be in one of her videos, this is text-based instead - she invites us to follow the light that moves around on screen, with Q/A/O/P, and diagonals, seeing as Paul has used the IN function for the controls (...and there goes the ability to use an Issue 2 keyboard). Keep the crosshair with the eyes above it somewhere near the bright light, or preferably on it, and a red bar will grow at the bottom with Heather's commentary unfolding on it. To aid you, the crosshair will move two squares at a time; to hinder you, the light will sometimes teleport to a random position on the screen... and there is, of course, an extra distraction that the Mojon Twins would be proud of, you know what I mean. Bwa ha ha ha.

Stray too far away, the border turns white and a health bar at the top of the screen decreases; when it gets down to the "Unregistered HyperCam 2" logo, you will be serenaded with "The Cradle Will Fall" (or whatever it's called) in a series of BEEPs, and you fall asleep (in the game, anyway). It's tricky, at least it is if you have my level of coordination, but it is possible to make it through all of Heather's commentary, and have your performance rated on the final screen. From there, you can keep on improving your score.

Time for the Ricks, then: one for the initial entry, one for the loading-and-title screen, one for entering the Red Challenge, one for unwittingly entering the Magenta Challenge as well (there's INK / PAPER / BRIGHT 8 in the listing, a couple of ABS functions, IN for the controls, and that MOVE in the BASIC loader sealed the deal), one for compiling it but also providing the regular BASIC so that I can examine it in the first place. There's a lot of thought gone into this, even if the gameplay is bare enough that I could beat it in five or six attempts but not do so every time; it's a solid three for attainment and would definitely have made the grade as a type-in, had there been such a thing as YouTube in 1983... which there wasn't. Also, the HiSoft Compiler wasn't released until 1986, and ASMR probably didn't exist back then either. Oh, well... such is the benefit of living in the present day.

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EDIT (21 January 2021): Paul has sent a bug-fixed version which addresses an intermittent issue with the controls being crippled when you're taking damage, and has also fixed the initial loader to check for the presence of a +2A or +3, which allows the game to be loaded on those models. This uses the VERIFY command alongside the existing MOVE, and thus increases the game's overall Magenta Challenge credibility!