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



Author:  Giannis "Firelord" Model:  16K Spectrum Format:    .TAP
Submission date:  8 December 2021 Documentation:  brief background & instructions Tested on:  Spectaculator 8.0

Download it here

"The even longer awaited sequel to the long awaited sequel is here..."

Nine days to go, and the entrants are getting desperate; Giannis the Lord of Fire is back for more. Would anyone be surprised - anyone at all - if I said this was another copy of Find Santa? We're firmly into Harry S. Price territory here, as he tried to pass off not one, but two clones of Project Future - change the graphics, don't change the map layout, we will notice.

That said, you'd have to be very familiar with the original source material to spot a Harry S. Price knock-off back in the day, and in the above case, be a determined map-maker. Not so here. Load the program, and already there's that familiar text: "The game features RPG elements." This is followed by a not-at-all-disguised conversion of the boy finding a nasty surprise in his sock into a man lying down in front of a bulldozer so that it doesn't knock his house down. And if that also sounds familiar, it should; it's how the famous story of Arthur Dent starts. "The Book" is The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy, and the character we've picked must find it, in the same way as a small boy just went hunting for a fat old man who left something in his sock and a rabbit-that-isn't who left an egg in it.

Before I decide that Giannis' motivation for a brief Hitchhiker's reference just to get the benefit of the Yellow Challenge was pure cynicism, I am forced to conclude that he might be a big fan - or has at least done enough research on the wiki to select some not-completely-obvious characters. Anyone with the most cursory interest has heard of Arthur, Ford Prefect and Zaphod Beeblebrox, but it'd take a fair bit more digging to discover Lintilla (but which one?) from the second radio series (and nowhere else!) and Wonko the Sane (who really is sane in the current Clown World, but that's a rant for another day). There's some thought invested in the six potential locations for The Book as well, though none will require the level of fanaticism that starts at fan conventions and ends with cosplay, pointless internet flame wars and dodgy, dodgy fan fiction.

Looking at the listing, at least one error that compromises where you'd find your target in previous attempts has been removed, so if you pick seven of the 12 characters, you've got a chance of finding it. On the other hand, the clumsy attempt to make the screen cycle through five PAPER colours doesn't work. And the badly-wrapped text is still there, although I should never have expected that to be cleared up. There's not a lot more to say... other than that there was a golden opportunity to take a pot-shot at the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation and their legendarily capricious reputation. A rendition of "Share And Enjoy" in BEEPs that were a dimished fifth too low would have helped the score, even though (as Douglas Adams pointed out in the original script) "it will sound more ghastly than you could possibly imagine".

The score has a sense of numbing inevitability about it. It's a one-mask affair, obviously, just like its previous incarnations. I have to bump the effort score back up to two Ricks, the second being for a legitimate Yellow Challenge - but of course I'm not going to let this escape without a demerit, because entering the same game wearing different clothes three times is taking the piss - and I did warn, on the Scoring System page, against being unnecessarily annoying or deliberately antagonistic. I sent someone to stop the raging Goolu warrior in his tracks, but unfortunately I gave the job to Marvin, who couldn't be bothered and trudged off for a lengthy sulk. I know what his AI circuits were thinking; here I am, brain the size of a planet, and I have to come up with several hundred new words about a game that's barely a game at all and that I've seen twice before. Call that job satisfaction, because I don't. I'm not getting you down, am I? And so on, and so on, oh, what's the point...