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



Author:  Enrique Pimpinela Santos (+3code) Model:  128K Spectrum +3
with ULAplus
Format:    .DSK
Submission date:  16 December 2021 Documentation:  none Tested on:  SpecEmu 3.1 b170921

Download it here

Kryten: "Spin my nipple-nuts and send me to Alaska! Quirky? How could they reach a verdict like that? And as for unstable! It makes me so. (His face spasms) Darn it, I still haven't got the hang of that emotion, have I?"
Kochanski: "What was it supposed to be?"
Kryten: "Ambivalence. Didn't come out right though, did it? I look like Mr Lister when he's forced to eat fruit."

I know what's going through your diodes, novelty-condom-head. Because I'm not sure whether to be astounded or annoyed - so much so it's making me quote from Red Dwarf VIII, the least well regarded of all the twelve series.

On one hand, I should be astounded that someone, anyone, has seen fit to bestow my poxy little competition with a game enhanced with ULAplus. And, as far as I'm aware, this is another first in the CSSCGC's quarter-of-a-century-long history - when I was doing my pre-hosting research towards the end of 2020, surely I would have noticed if there were any ULAplus entries, and there are none listed on ZXDB either. But I'm also annoyed... because, I thought it would be me that sent the first ULAplus CSSCGC entry, rather than the one who received it! I've had one all ready to go since June, but I can't enter my own competition, and was waiting for next year's competition to open, safe - or so I thought - in the knowledge that nobody else would have this same idea. And also, I'm mildly irritated that this is a game we've all seen before... but... ULAplus! I can't stay irritated for long. And given that I've had experience with it back in the summer, I assessed the available emulators for the job, and settled on SpecEmu as the right one.

Back we go, then, to "the small river of your holidays town", spilling over the edge of the line as before, except now we're greeted with an L cursor that isn't flashing, just like a ZX81, and the background as been repainted in a fetching shade of Commodore 64 lilac, only paler (#D9D9FF). We select our bait - option 3 is now "beefsteak" in real English, for those who really want to waste it - and casting force as we did before, and see what it brings us. Using Adrian Smith's tactics as I did before, a worm and Great Force, I caught... a naval mine. I was told that there were a few new items to catch.

I cast the line a few times, with the philosophical comments passing as they did before, albeit with some of the Polandballese corrected, and it (possibly by intention) gave me the chance to think. That's what fishing is mainly for, isn't it? None of us do it out of necessity any more, at least not in this part of the world. My main thought was: "Why, Enrique? Why? Why waste the opportunity to use ULAplus when all this looks like is the original game with what looks like a slightly blue-shifted monitor? Nobody would even notice this was ULAplus on a first look. You could at least have filled in the sea with a deep blue, and made some attempt at brown for the fishing rod, maybe even fill in the grass bank as well..."

The supposedly-unthinkable thought of having to demerit the first ever ULAplus game also crossed my mind. And just as it did, I had a bite on the line, and caught a diver...

...and a picture of a naval mine appeared, in five shades of greenish-blue. Enrique had used ULAplus all right. But in a way that I suppose is fitting for an eleventh-hour entry, he'd got his lines crossed and attached the pictures to the wrong catch. Slightly later, I caught a mermaid - she's new, but doesn't have a picture. At least I can confirm that the shark and the octopus both have a picture, the latter in Hello Kitty-esque pastel colours... for what reasons I dare not speculate. I've only shown a screenshot of one of these - you want to see the others, fire up a ULAplus-capable emulator and play the game. And to fix the problem with the mine:
476 IF b=7 THEN... - the rest is unchanged.

Another problem - and this is one that wasn't immediately apparent - is that the same prey keeps coming up time after time; on examining the code, the palette is changed with RANDOMIZE USR 44084, which is presumably just a short LDIR routine to drop the new values in place, but has the unfortunate side-effect of dumping the same value into SEED every time it's used. Many a programmer who's tried to use a sprinkling of machine code in an otherwise-BASIC program relying on random numbers has fallen into this trap! A RANDOMIZE inserted into line 230 will cure this.

Well, it was amusing, and I certainly didn't insert any extra lines to bypass the anything-up-to-six-minute waiting times for a bite so that I could see all three of the pictures that I knew were there when I first looked at the listing. It remains a two-mask game as it was before, because overall it doesn't achieve any more than the original to warrant a third. I'd also be knocking this down to one Rick for effort - to be consistent with Firelord's previous two examples of small modifications to an existing entry; however, ULAplus definitely recovers that, and I should award a third for the three screens, even though they're obviously just images from the internet run through BMP2SCR. The Goolus, who were briefly circling menacingly, had an unfortunate accident with the shark. Most of them have never seen anything other than thick jungle before.

There are 24 hours for the competition left to run as I write this, and it's still smashing through the boundaries.

We are forging towards the sunset. And yet I don't want it to end.