COMPETITION ENTRY #7: BATTLE FROM BELOW
"This is my entry. I didn't have much time, and made this using AGDx Mini - the whole thing was made today, and yes there are bugs. My family think it's quite good, though, and have enjoyed play testing it. So maybe I'll work up the idea and do a non-crap release later this year. It's dedicated to my best friend who is in a desperate battle with terminal pancreatic cancer. When we found out about it before Christmas I couldn't sleep very well and ended up firing up the old Spectrum (although he is a C64 man). So, yes, the Spectrum means a lot to me and is helping me through the dark times. I wish my entry was full of in-gags, it's not even topical - but I enjoyed making it and have loved the CGC for many many years."
- Jamie Bradbury
This is something of a poignant entry, then, given that I've had two indirect - but in both cases fatal - experiences with cancer. So it's slightly annoying that I'm not in the best position to give it the most objective review. There are a couple of reasons for this:
(1) I might have played a fair handful of games made using AGD and its variants, but I've never tried to use any of them to make my own game, so I have no real idea how easy it is - but given that Jamie said above that it was made in a day, it can't be all that difficult. And from what I can gather, AGDx Mini is most suited to creating games that use individual character squares, which is what is on show here.
(2) There is only the one of me! This is a two-player game, and even if I did know people near me who would be interested in testing bare-bones Spectrum games, it's not as if I can invite them over without incurring the wrath of the COVID Stasi.
I can at least tell you what you're in for, if you have someone to play the game with. Player one controls the yellow character with keys Z and X, player two controls the cyan character with keys N and M, and to score a point you have to hit your opponent from underneath - hence the title. Your character will sink automatically towards the bottom of the screen, and will move diagonally upwards with the two control keys, or hurtle towards the ceiling if you press them both together. This is a useful means of escape for your opponent but you'll lose the round if you hit the ceiling, or the floor, or any of the other detritus littering the screen from above or below. Each round is likely to be over within a few seconds at most, so the score should rack up quickly.
All this is mere speculation; all I could do was attempt to control both players simultaneously, one with each hand, and because the characters start at opposite sides of the screen and I could only realistically keep watching one of them a time, usually the round was over before I could bring them together for something vaguely resembling a fight. There are six screens, three of which I've shown in the screenshots, and while the screen with "CRAP 2021" at the bottom is reasonably easy to navigate, the one with the parallel walls really isn't (though I managed it once, and then only with heavy use of savestates).
Take heed of Jamie's intention to develop this into a full game, and see this as an early alpha-testing version that has been released into the CSSCGC for its beta-testing phase. Those of you who have family or friends nearby - of which I have neither - test the game for yourselves, give Jamie some feedback on it (he's Jbizzel on Spectrum Computing, for those of you who are registered there). As for the scoring, about the best I can do is to give it three of each metric, on the assumption that it's amusing if you've got someone competitive to play it with, thus putting it in line with Mr. Don't; one of the Ricks is for the loading screen, which is always good to see.
Finally, everyone who is reading this, wish Simon H the best; if he's going through the same chemotherapy that my dad did in 1992-93, ultimately to no avail, then this will not be a bed of roses.
EDIT (7 February 2021): Jamie has just sent me version 1.3 of this game, which makes minor tweaks to two of the existing levels and adds three more (including one that looks like a cricket pitch). Version 1.2, that formed the basis of this review, is still part of the ZIP file.