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



Author:  Darío Ruellan Model:  16K Spectrum Formats:    .TAP × 2
(16K & 48K versions)
Submission date:  21 February 2021 Documentation:  none Tested on:  Spectaculator 8.0

Download it here

I ask you, who needs the World Cup or the Copa América when we have the CSSCGC? Spurred on by watching Brazilian Alexandre Colella thrust forth the inaugural entry for this competition, Darío Ruellan from Argentina has come to take him on in a South American Crap Game Grudge Match that will earn one of them the coveted Corned Beef Sandwich Of Victory (a suitable trophy for two countries that produce their fair share of it).

At least, that's the cover story I'm going with. The reality is that Darío has been digging through his old tapes again and has unearthed another game once buried by time and dust, following Russian Roulette in 2018, and Aliengun in 2020. In his own words: "It is a crappy game I did on my teens, I believe this one was created on a holiday vacation with the family, while trying silly ideas." And ideas don't come much sillier than a digitised simulation of taking a shower.

The game is in four stages, and the first stage might well be the trickiest of the lot. The temperature of the shower will flail around wildly and you have to fight against it by pressing left and right (6 and 7) until the game decides to let you pass. I find it's more likely to end up scorching hot, at which your character will react accordingly, and I am reminded of Eddie Izzard's "toasters and showers" sketch from Glorious. (I'll say little more on that, but suffice to say that if I could press a button that traded the Eddie Izzard of the late 2010s for the model of 20 years earlier, I would do so without a second's hesitation. Anyway, I digress...)

Pass this first stage without your character screaming in Argentine-dialect Spanish and you will be required to grab the shampoo bottle, which is flicking between left and right of the bath (and which strangely resembles the battery from CORE, a game I know very well). Follow it with the left and right keys, grab it with 0 (the fire button, or in this game, "DO IT!"); don't take too long or it's another instant game over. What I thought was still part of the second stage but was actually the third is to fill the shampoo bottle, just not too much. The level will rise on a meter at the top left; you need to stop it somewhere near the middle, or there'll be suds everywhere. With these hurdles cleared, you can actually wash your hair! (If you have any; this may be a sore point amongst the 40-and-50-something Spectrum community.) Press left and right alternately to work up a lather, and keep doing so when it appears until there is an extra beep to tell you that now is the time to press 0 to "DO IT!" which, in this case, is get out the shower... seemingly forever. I don't know what the problem here would be; maybe Darío prefers having a bath, or maybe Argentina is plagued with "suicide showers" that are so popular in neighbouring Brazil? (Big Clive will explain for those not in the know.)

Overall, I think this would have worked as a type-in, although it wouldn't have lasted long. Make a savestate after each stage and you'll beat this game in three minutes, otherwise you'll be left stranded by the whims of some haphazard timing, but even then it should be possible to get through to the end. There appears to be 799 bytes of machine code, but after I disassembled it I found that it's a legacy of Darío designing the UDGs using Paintbox ; there are four sets of UDGs, three of which are Paintbox's defaults, some routines to LDIR any one of them into place, and some extra code that only works if Paintbox is loaded in, which it isn't. There's no loading screen, no custom character set, nothing extraneous, and I've examined the listing to assess its suitability for the Magenta Challenge - a couple of colour-8s isn't enough (though I do like seeing those used). So I'm going with a two-and-two score; any effort actually put into this game was back in 1989, with a quick wash-and-brush-up (groan) 32 years later to translate it into English, add a bit of extra text and make it run on a 16K Spectrum (which it will). Darío tells me he planned to add a fifth stage to rinse the shampoo off, but it stayed on the cutting room floor.

Maybe I should start giving nostalgia points, though? It would score well on that, not least because Darío's explanation of where the game was written makes me think of holidays in North Yorkshire in my grandad's caravan when I was about five or six. The caravan was too small to have its own shower, so we were relying on the communal shower block on the campsite, which worked... most of the time. I'll award the game five ice creams from a van by the beach at Filey.

EDIT (24 February 2021): I should mention this game won't work properly on 128K models, at least when loaded in 128 BASIC, as it uses UDGs from A to U - hence the screen will be full of SPECTRUM and PLAY commands. I've also updated the package to contain versions for both 16K and 48K Spectrums - the 48K version was the one Darío sent me first; it looks like they were supposed to be packaged together, with the 16K version alongside the 48K as they are both model-specific.