COMPETITION ENTRY #47: FISHING SIMULATOR
Sometimes it's possible to see one of your heroes in a completely different context to what you're used to. Take Adrian Smith, who I once credited as the most valuable member of Iron Maiden, after assessing the albums they made in the 1990s without him on board: away from the world of NWOBHM riffs and widdling solos, he's well known for his enthusiasm for fishing, to the point where he appeared on the cover of Angler's Mail in 2009, and has recently written a book about it. For all I enjoy his guitar work, I've never been fishing in my life. It's the kind of thing you get into by doing it with your dad when you're in single figures, and my dad wasn't the type for outdoor activities, certainly not after I arrived. (It is a terrible coincidence that I've received this game and am reviewing it on what should have been his 79th birthday, but he never made it past 50.) So the closest I've ever been to actual fishing is when it appears in Legend of Zelda games, or in Minecraft. There have even been fishing games submitted to previous CSSCGCs, all the way back to Fisherman's Friend in 1997.
But, due to the lack of real-life fishing experience, I'm going into this one blind. On loading the game - from a disc - finally! (I've been badgering everyone in the Sinclair world to do so...) - I'm presented with a text menu in Spanish-flavoured Polandball English about what bait I would like to use: gummy, fly, worm, or "bistec". (My suspicions that this was an adopted Spanish word for "beef steak" were correct. I suppose there had to be an upside to bullfighting.) Adrian Smith was known to keep a jar of worms on Iron Maiden's tour bus, much to the disgust of the others, so I'll use those. I'll cast my line with Great Force, as that sounds like a band - probably German - that Iron Maiden could have taken on tour in about 1988 or so. Cue some lines DRAWn on the screen to show the rod, line and scenery, and I've got a bite! Jiggle the line up and down a bit and...
"WELL MADE! YOU HAVE CATCH SOMETHING! IT'S A 500 TONS SHIPWREK" (sic throughout)
By doing what Adrian Smith would do, I've caught 500 tons of heavy metal. I couldn't have asked for more.
Four types of bait and three levels of casting force makes for twelve different combinations. Having managed to catch something with all of them, trying again if "IT SCAPED" (sic), I couldn't see any obvious pattern as to what combination produces what results, or how it affects the Polandballese messages that will occasionally flash up on the screen. Anything from a small fish up to the shipwreck is possible, including a boot (just like Minecraft), a shark, and a diver. And, just like the diver examining a shipwreck, I had to do likewise and examine the listing. At least it's obvious that the casting force affects the angle of the line on screen - but that's your lot. Everything else is random. And while that sounds dangerously close to the kind of lazy programming that was rampant in CSSCGCs of yore, it might also be a commentary on fishing itself. Who cares what bait you use or how hard you fling the hook? You don't control the fish, and if they don't want to bite, they won't, and you can't see what else you might snag the hook on that's lurking in the depths.
In short, you have a 0.1% chance in every cycle of the main loop to hook something, and the five messages also have a 0.1% chance to appear. Hook something, and - due to a mistake in the code (with the CODE function), it doesn't matter if you press 0 or 1 to reel it in, but you do need to do so. Even so, there's still a random chance that a 500 ton shipwreck may swim away. You'll have a 30% chance to snag a small fish, and everything else - including an empty message when the random number generator picks 0 - has a 10% chance. I didn't manage to catch an octopus or a whale, but if I keep on fishing, one will turn up eventually, and I won't have had to select the correct bait to see it.
This is one of those entries that's hard to judge because I know what the author is capable of with (compiled) BASIC away from the CSSCGC. Enrique - as "+3code" - was reponsible for the Spectrum's answer to Pokémon (not that I ever had any interest in the original, mind) and Mini Pancho Bros., which definitely isn't anything to do with a mushroom-munching Italian plumber. Fishing Simulator, of course, isn't anywhere near that level. It's classified as a 128K game solely because it's been delivered on a +3 disc; if saved to tape (as I have done, and dumped it in "Jim's additional material") it will run on a 16K Spectrum just fine. I have to judge it along similar lines to Dave Hughes' two entries; this is what Enrique did on a day off from serious Spectrum programming to the maximum extent of his ability. 3K of uncompiled BASIC, no game-breaking errors - just the occasional bit of text spilling over onto the next line - but also no bonus-scoring embellishments. It's a straight two-and-two, isn't it?
On towards the sea we go. There should be plenty of fish in there.