COMPETITION ENTRY #39: HERMAN TISSIES 1D GOLF
Of all the golf games on the Spectrum I'll remember, the one that springs to mind is Nick Faldo Plays The Open, mainly because it was a Powerload game on a badly-duplicated compilation packaged with my +2, which had no chance of loading, so I had to wait for the arrival of emulation. Faldo, of course, was among the best in the world at the game's release in 1985. Herman Tissies was not. He was an amateur who entered the 1950 Open at Royal Troon and came spectacularly unstuck at the 8th hole, the par 3 Postage Stamp - a hole which has claimed the scalps of many better players over the years. If you think "I could do better than that, even on a crap Spectrum game", then be prepared to repeat Tissies' duodecuple-bogey 15... or worse.
This game is played over nine holes, six of which are selected from Scotland's finest golf courses, including the Postage Stamp mentioned above; the other three are fictitious. I've mentioned the first six holes' real-life counterparts in an accompanying text file; Shadowlands, the last of the fictional holes, Jamie tells us is named after "a made up course on the Z88's Transworld Golf - which this game is a tribute to." He liked the game so much he even made a video about it.
What you get, and it should be obvious from the title, is not Nick Faldo Plays The Open - it's a side-on view of each hole, which is completely linear. It resembles a type-in such as Golfer from the July 1983 issue of Sinclair Programs. For each shot, there's no need to choose a club or consult the caddie - just watch the power meter rapidly climb to its maximum level and then immediately reset. Press P to stop it, and if you're lucky, you'll get the shot power right and the ball will sail off the tee - in a perfect semicircle, completely defying the laws of physics - and land on the fairway. If you've got it wrong, the rough, the bunker or the water await. It's immediately obvious from the square underneath the ball which terrain you're on.
Jamie has admitted that he hadn't quite finished this game, but sent it to me anyway due to a chronic lack of time to do so. The first hint of this is when you land in the water, and you will - you won't get a penalty stroke. As I write this review, the European team for the 2021 Ryder Cup have just taken an absolute leathering at the hands of the United States, and must wish that they'd had such concessions at Whistling Straits...
One of the victorious Americans, Bryson DeChambeau, is known for trying to hit the ball further than anyone else - and during the Ryder Cup, he hit a tee shot over 400 yards, as well as landing his first shot in the singles... on a par 4. You can put away any thoughts of emulating him; the game measures distance in metres, and from the tee you can expect a mere 180 m (197 yards) at maximum power. This will reduce to 160 m when hit from the fairway, 120 m from the rough and only 40 m from the bunker.
Europe's main problem in the Ryder Cup was with their putting; be prepared to repeat their utterly miserable experience, with more bugs to be found on the green. When you land there, your distance is bound to be given as 340 m - even on a hole whose entire length is shorter than that. You'll get somewhere near the hole if you can get the power in the low magenta squares, but there's no guarantee of sinking the putt; get right next to the hole and you're practically guaranteed to hit it too long. Hit the ball past the hole and the distance will increase to something like 2550 m. From my now-non-zero-but-still-limited knowledge of machine code, this was intended to be a negative value but has been shown as unsigned, i.e. it's supposed to be -10 m. Eventually, by sheer blind luck rather than skill, you'll hole the putt - not from two and a half kilometres away - and can move onto another hole.
Based on the minimum number of shots it will take to reach the green plus two putts, I calculate that the par for this course is 46. On a blind first attempt at the course I hit 101, including a 21 at Tom Morris (the longest hole) and a 23 at Water World (the hardest hole, and it lives up to its name). With a better idea of what I was doing, a second round - without any use of savestates - I managed to get the round down to 80, despite two 15s at Water World and Rosebud. Herman Tissies would be proud.
Now for the score. Jamie sent me an "advanced preview" as far back as early July, and although this is just that preview with the introduction and ability to reset the scorecard bolted on, I'll be generous with the attainment and award it three masks instead of two. It's slightly better than an acceptable type-in, it's the first submission in almost four weeks... and also the first After Sinclair. For effort, it's worth five Ricks, for 15K of machine code plus a couple of the embellishments I asked for this year in the loading screen and the custom character set - Damien Guard's LampLight, a handwriting-style font which works well here, like the caddie writing the (probably abysmal) scores on the card. Goolus aren't allowed on a golf course, and we don't see them here.
One final point: Water World reminds me of the famous 17th hole at Sawgrass with its effectively-an-island green. What I suggest Jamie does is tidy up the code to how he'd intended it to be, and release a sequel with famous holes from American courses.