COMPETITION ENTRY #29: LAS AVENTURAS DE EUSTAQUIO I
"Hello, I send you a game that I did recently for Spectrum, I am a simple amateur and I really do not know well to program. Even the loading screen I did following tutorials because I didn't understand a lot of things. I send you the program in case you consider that you could participate in any of its contests. I apologize for my bad English."
- Gonzalo Medina
As my Spanish is almost nonexistent, it would be bad form to complain about Gonzalo's Polandball-level English. Probably for his own benefit, Las Aventuras de Eustaquio I is written in Spanish - but we've all played enough Spanish games, haven't we, to be able to recognise words like "teclado" and "jugar"? Well, I have, even if you haven't.
As the game loads, you'll see Gonzalo's first faltering attempt at a loading screen, the kind of impressively-rubbish space scene I used to make when I was about eight, with Chunk-o-vision ROM graphics interspersed with random PLOTs and increasing-radius CIRCLE commands to make stars and planets. Once it's loaded, you'll get a main menu - in Spanish, which tells you the teclado are Q/O/P (salto, izquierda, derecha - you know what they mean, right?), you have an option to jugar straight away, but you could also read the historia. Instructions are provided in a text file in Spanish and Polandball-English, but the historia is in Spanish only. To save you all the effort, I've run it through Google Translate and dumped it in "Jim's additional material" along with a "regular" .TZX file that isn't the 800-odd KB direct recording that Gonzalo sent me.
So if this sounds so far like Gonzalo's on an obvious learning curve, in the game itself, this doesn't show. You control intrepid space explorer Eustaquio, who's been hit by an asteroid and must recover the three "Gradinawers" that have gone missing from his ship, and scattered themselves on the Earth, Moon and Mars. (I have no idea what a "Gradinawer" is, but it's essential to the mission.) On each planet (yes, I know the Moon isn't a planet, shut it), you must move Eustaquio through twelve screens, and pick up the Gradinawer on the twelfth. Hindering your progress will be anything blue, such as the blobs which hover malevolently in the air on all three planets; each screen has one more than the last. The Earth has what are presumably pools of water, the Moon has some lumps of jagged rock, and Mars has some weird plants which are two or three squares high.
Eustaquio's jump is a weird one. He will propel himself off the ground at 45° for five squares, then drop vertically downwards - but always in a forward direction (i.e. to the right), even if he was moving left beforehand. So you can always pinpoint where he will land, unless he hits a blob or a Martian plant, in which case he'll drop at that point. One point of energia will be lost every time, and if he runs out of energia it's GAME OVER (which is apparently Spanish for "game over"; I'd have thought it was something like "juego finito").
Because of the nature of the game, I'd be tempted to classify it as a puzzle rather than adventure, platformer, or anything else it may resemble visually. All the hazards are placed at random, and sometimes they're impossible to avoid, so you must plan ahead: lose the least energy possible and avoid making mistakes. Mars will be your undoing, unless your foresight and execution are perfect, and you're very lucky. If you land on a plant you'll lose a point of energy for every section, whereas if you walk through it you'll only use one, so base your tactics around this. Getting to Mars shouldn't be too hard, but scooping that last Gradinawer will be. I absolve myself of all responsibility if those of you who still have any hair tear it out in frustration.
Gonzalo has even more thoughtfully provided an extra game type: Modo Infinito, in which you must get through as many screens as possible. Each screen will have a different colour, and every possible obstacle will be in your way - blobs, water, lunar rocks, Martian plants, the works. Ten puntos are awarded for every nivel accessed, so you get ten just for starting the game. About six or seven screens is the most you're ever likely to see; infinite it is most definitely not!
According to Gonzalo's introduction, I should be considering this for the White Challenge. But I can't, because on this evidence I just do not believe it's his first attempt at programming. (Besides, I never thought I'd have a Spectrum entry for the White Challenge unless there was an interloper from Lemon64 or CPC Power). Certainly it would have made the grade as a type-in, though in this case it would have been MicroHobby, and they did have Programas de lectores in their early issues. I can't quite raise it to four masks for attainment, so three it is - and at a chunky 16.2K of BASIC, it won't have been a trivial job to write in the first place. Five Ricks for effort, plus one for the loading screen makes six, and I'm going to take Gonzalo's word that he had to learn how to do it from scratch as part of the Rick score.
Finally, that title - Las Aventuras de Eustaquio I, with the Roman I, suggests there's a Eustaquio II out there somewhere; his son, maybe? So I look forward to the sequel to this game, in which, hopefully, Eustaquio II will be a bit more careful where he leaves his Gradinawers lying around...