Thursday, 16 December 2010

Merry Crimbo!

With Christmas day only nine days away, I've been getting in the spirit of things with a rather polished Christmas-themed game for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum from the Little Shop of Pixels called Crimbo - a Gloop Troops Tale. Although the difficulty curve isn't quite as balanced as it could have been, and also that the collision detection may occasionally catch you out, there's enough playability in this binary wonderland to keep you entertained over this festive period.

In this game, poor old Santa sees his helpers strike, presumabely over pay, conditions and redundency terms, with all of the presents been hidden throughout his vast complex. Mr Claus must be guided to collect the pressies whilst also avoiding the roaming (striking) Christmas trees, Robins et al. The graphics are cute, though to limit colour-clash, no masking is used (which seems odd when two roamers of the same colour pass each other). There's a time limit, and each screen is designed so that the fastest route isn't always obvious.

On AY-equipped machines, there's some very cute music to accompany play, though you may be reaching for the volume after a while. Go get it from the Little Shop of Pixel's blog at My overall rating: 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Explaining machine code.

The other night, whilst watching the second Ashes test whilst also trying to do some College work, one of my fellow students appeared on line with a desperate message which read that he didn't understand machine code and wanted an explanation. Diligently, I started to explain machine code, giving examples in Z80 and so on. Needless to say he was getting confused, and just before his brain exploded, it was getting late and time to call it a night (though I did watch a few more overs of the Cricket match as England were doing so well!)

The next day, I realised my mistake, or at least there was a problem in translation. What he meant to ask was about ASCII code *and not* machine code. So, all of my explanations were wasted when he could have simply looked up the ASCII table online in seconds. Well, a short and pointless story, but at least a younger generation now know the difference between machine code and ASCII code.