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



Author:  Titanius Angelsmith Model:  48K Spectrum Format:    .TAP
Submission date:  17 October 2021 Documentation:  none Tested on:  Spectaculator 8.0

Download it here

Even though it's long since been imported here, Halloween is more of an American thing, isn't it? They carve scary faces out of large, orange fruit that are native to North America, demonise (jugga jigga wugga) old women who dared to hang onto ancient pagan customs, and run gratuitous extortion schemes paid in vast piles of sugary treats - it could only have come from the Land Of The Free And The Home Of The Commodore 64. It's also why Brainkrieg stalks the neighborhood (sic) in my mom's (sic) Taurus wagon instead of, say, a Focus hatchback.

Even though this is the other side of the Atlantic, we have a Crap Game that's probably intended for release in time for Halloween. Everyone in your neighbourhood (not sic) has been turned into a Frankonstin (sic), which looks more like a green zombie than a monster compiled from bits of other people bolted together, and they're all shambling around like Ozzy Osbourne after a few too many shots of marijuana gin. Your job is to rescue them, and in order to do this, you have been turned into a spider. No, I don't know why either. As such, your movement is limited to one dimension - press Q and A to raise and lower yourself on a strand of spider silk.

You have 42 seconds - picked intentionally to join the Yellow Challenge by the laziest possible means - in which to rescue as many of the Frankonstins as possible. Get yourself in the right position so that the Frankonstin collides head-on with the spider - moving through it is not enough - and it will disappear in a feat of 48K graphical wizardry that Sci-Fi Greg would surely approve of. It may look easy, but the Frankonstins don't move at a constant speed - you think you've got two or three lined up in sequence, then one will overtake another and they'll be out of order, and you're better off sticking with the one you're aiming at, rather than trying to grab them both, because you'll probably miss both.

And then there's the red mite. This is the only hazard, other than the timer; every so often it will scuttle out of its hole at the bottom of the screen and if it hits you, that's an instant Game Over. Your only means of avoiding it is to retract to the top of the screen - which means you may well miss the Frankonstin you were lining up to rescue. But, if you have mad keyboard skills, and a bit of luck, you may well be able to nab one or two of them in the same movement as saving your arachnid bacon from a swift demise (jugga jigga wugga). I don't have mad keyboard skills, but still managed to round up 21 Frankonstins in one game, without using save states.

What helps with the speed of the game is that it's been written in Boriel BASIC - a useful extension of standard Spectrum BASIC with its own compiler that outputs the final product as a block of machine code. It has helpful extras, such as the ability to embed machine code right in the middle of the listing, or turn the text bold (as can be seen on the title page and the game screen), there are statements and functions found in more advanced versions of BASIC such as WHILE... DO and REPEAT... UNTIL loops, multi-line defined functions, and operations that are usually only found in machine code, such as bitwise AND, OR and XOR. Unfortunately, I can't examine the code to see how many of these extra features have been used, as Titanius didn't send a .BAS (or equivalent) listing with the game, so I can't assess it for Magenta Challenge suitability.

The UDGs are a particularly fine effort - I don't have the artistic talent to make the spider, the quarter-of-a-web and the Frankonstins look like they do, and I'd never have thought to put the dripping blood along the scoreline, either.

The game is, strangely, as silent as a ZX80 that hasn't been programmed to play very low bitrate PCM sounds through its MIC socket. This is intentional - Titanius did tell me that "silence is scarier than blip blops", along with a load of reasons why the spider, mite and Frankonstins don't make any noise and it would be absurd to assume they did. That might be a way of saying "I couldn't be bothered", but I'm sure I saw someone, somewhere, complaining that implementing sound on Boriel BASIC isn't quite as straightforward as a series of BEEPs. If there's a suitable forum detective (jugga jigga wugga) out there, get in touch - I'd like to know if I was right!

This is slightly better than a bog-standard Crap Game - and a type-in version might well have been possible in 1983, although it'd have been in regular BASIC, and a lot slower - although it's possible to get bold text with a simple machine code routine. I'll award it three extra-scary voodoo masks for attainment, one of which will be used to demand (jugga jigga wugga) anything but apples, granola bars and pretzels at the end of the month. Accounting for the well-presented graphics on top of the game itself, I'll award four Ricks for effort - but one of these is not for meeting the Yellow Challenge! The Hitchhiker's link in Blind Snake Moan was so very tenuous that I didn't award any extra Ricks, so I'm not going to do so here, either. Still, at least that saves me from having to unleash a Goolu for a demerit...

...and that's the scariest "de" word in this entire competition, the one that's most deserving (jugga jigga wugga) of the full, unabridged jugga jigga wug jigga jigga wug jigga wugga jug.