Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Publisher: Melbourne House
Developer: Trevor Lever, Peter Jones
Submitted by: Ian Marks
In the eighties we were all apparently worried about class. Who was working class, who was middle class and who was upper class. The government of the time was dominated by old Etonians and Oxbridge educated toffs (Mrs. Thatcher’s Grantham grocer roots aside) and the poor were looked down on and scorned. Thank goodness things are not like that anymore. Hang on, wait a minute….
Little bit of politics there (as Ben Elton used to say in the eighties), but the game Hampstead was all about social climbing and the political climate of the time. Bizarrely it was a game that involved you starting off in a council house and planning a journey through London all the way to the revered Hampstead. It was a text adventure (actually written using the Quill, but partially disguised) and was written by Melbourne House, a company famous for it’s text adventures like the Hobbit.
Hampstead is not as good as the Hobbit, and to be fair it is actually quite dull, particularly if you play it today. Many of the eighties nuances have been forgotten and anyone born later than 1978 will not have a clue what is being talked about most of the time.
You begin the game in a grotty council property, watching 321 on television – if you remember 321 you’ll know it wasn’t really the height of sophistication, but it is debatable it is the worst programme ever made. I think a modern version of the game would have no problem finding a worse one – TOWIE springs to mind.
By completing tasks and bettering yourself you move through different London social circles. There are many jokes about reading the Guardian along the way as you make money and look down on people lower than you.
To be honest it isn’t that good a game, but it is quite a good social mirror. It shows and reminds us of a world that has changed, although sometimes not enough. I’ve only ever driven through Hampstead on the way to other London zones, and it looked quite nice, living there though is a lot of effort if this game is to be believed.