Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Publisher: Automata UK
Developer: Jon Smith
Submitted by: Andrew Hunt
Christmas 1986 and amongst my presents I find the Automata 10 pack volume 1, stuffed full of, frankly, rubbish games. But there was something about Automata that appealed to the teenaged me. Something a little bit wild, something a little bit dangerous…
Seriously, how much of a nerd was I? Still am. About as dangerous as a blancmange knife.
Anyway, obviously the teenaged me liked Mel Croucher's 'anarchic' sense of humour, with the games about drinking (Pi-Eyed), fire-starting (Piromania), the used car trade (New Wheels, John?) and infringement of copyright (Piballed and Yakzee). Turns out this was just the latest in a general trend of 'mature' humour as there was a ZX81 compilation which featured games about zits, Hitler, vasectomies, smut, weeing and Ronald Reagan. Oh how we coughed and spluttered with mirth.
And because I loved all this sort of rubbish, I was lucky enough to find, included on the Automata Ten Pack volume 1, the gorgeous and wonderful Crusoe, one of the most bug-ridden games I have ever had the pleasure to play.
And I mean that sincerely. I persisted with this game in the face of the most irritating bugs, a frankly bizarre parser, the annoying archaic language (I feele sicke) because I thought, deep in my heart, that it wasn't the game doing things wrong, it was me. If I wasn't getting anywhere it was because I was playing it badly and just hadn't really understood what I was supposed to do. And nothing that the game did could QUENCH that FIRE! These graphics, tiny though they are, are vibrant with colour and are so like a real map as to make the island come alive in my mind. However many times those bloody spyders made me go Eeeeek! or I discovered that I SEE G-G-GHOSTS!!! or I died of exhaustion, or foote-rot or crocodiles, I would return to the island and wonder why, pray, I couldn't do anything on the Sabbath..
But it turns out that it wasn't me. Twenty five years on, and with the help of Battle Bunny over at WOS, I have mapped and completed the game. Battle Bunny has created a bug-fixed version (which is not the version I completed) and yet, somehow, without the bugs it is a lesser game.
And still I hear the island calling to me….