Format reviewed: ZX Spectrum
Publisher: Firebird Software Ltd
Developer: Martin Sherlock
Submitted by: Graham Tutt
You play a school boy who's been wrongly accused of stealing the Headmaster's wallet. It's your job to navigate through a maze-like series of screens that depict scenes in and around your school. Littered around these screens you'll find various objects you can collect, combine, or reposition to cause certain actions to occur. By doing this you are able to exonerate yourself of the crime of theft and therefore avoid expulsion from school.
As you undertake your challenge you need to avoid various enemies positioned on almost every screen. Coming into contact with any of these enemies reduces your energy. Run out of energy and lose a life; lose all three lives and it's game over. Fortunately there are a number or energy boosting snacks provided throughout the game to help counter the energy sapping effects of enemy contact.
The gameplay is pedestrian, the limited control system unresponsive, and the collision detection suspect. Jumping onto objects such as stairs or platforms can prove extremely tricky and very frustrating.
The graphics are clear, colourful, and detailed; with some of the backgrounds being genuinely high-end for the Spectrum. However, as with many ZX Spectrum games, there are some terrible attribute clash problems.
Sound is almost non-existent with only a few token enemy sound effects and a short introduction tune.
I found The Happiest Days of Your Life to be compelling and infuriating in equal measures. One part of me wants to explore the rooms, solve the item puzzles, and clear my character's name. The other part of me is screaming at the sloppy implementation, the seemingly completely random nature of the game, and total lack of any indication as to your level of progress. I really can't help but feel that this could have been a better game, and was probably just thrown out the publisher's door prior to being finished in order to milk the Skool Daze market (the cover art is strikingly similar).
However, for a Firebird Silver 199 Range title it's not bad value for money and, if you're prepared to take the time make a map of the whole game and note the location of each item, it won't be long before you can work out an optimum route to complete the game. Then you've just got the challenge of completing the game with only three lives, which definitely won't turn out to be one of The Happiest Days of Your Life.