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1st May 2021: Attack The Block

It's been quite a while since I last had a go at a good puzzle game, so to get the brain juices flowing again I have just played through the sequel to a game I played a few years back, in the shape of Q.U.B.E. 2.

Like its predecessor before it, this game sees you using special gloves to manipulate coloured blocks in your surroundings, using them to open up new paths and to make progress.

Now my memory is a bit sketchy, but I don't remember the last game having so many other environmental interactions as this one does. In this game, in addition to the coloured cubes, you also harness other powers such as wind, fire and magnetism. In addition, there are lots of other switches and turny wotsits that let you move or change things in the puzzles. This does make it feel quite different to the original game, which I'm pretty sure (not that I can remember very well) only let you use the cubes and the occasional ball.

The original game also had quite a clean, minimalist look, which to be honest, I preferred to the more natural environments found in this one.

It also seems like they put a bit more forethought into the story of the game, rather than tacking it on at the end like in the original. Still, it does seem like more of the same, with you playing as a character who wakes up with amnesia, before pushing out into the maze of puzzles to try and figure out what is going on.

All in all, I feel about this one very much like I felt about the first game, in that it's a pleasant enough puzzle game, that challenges but never seems too hard. And doesn't outstay its welcome. That's very important.

Delving deeper into the puzzles

Delving deeper into the puzzles

Spin, you spinny thing

Spin, you spinny thing

Burning my way through a door

Burning my way through a door

Well, this is not gonna be easy

Well, this is not gonna be easy

Just what am I doing?

Just what am I doing?

26th November 2020: Somewhere In The Dark And Nasty Regions

The first Speccy game I was going to try and complete had to be the Trap Door, which is based on a kids TV show that I used to love when I was little. In this puzzle game, you play as Berk as he runs around the castle preparing food for his master, The Thing Upstairs.

I remember not having much luck with this as a kid, and its not hard to see why. Though the mission objectives aren't too hard to figure out after a bit of exploring and experimentation, the exact method of success for each dish is far more troublesome to find. There are a few objects that need to be pushed into just the right spot for them to work right, and monsters that must be lured into exactly the right spot, and so on. With the controls being so clunky and unresponsive (this is a Spectrum game after all), these things can be a pain to pull off.

Thankfully, it was only a short game, and the availability of save states made finishing this far easier than it would have been.
My main disappointment is that there's no Rogg, who was clearly the best character in the TV show.

Come here you cheeky little worm

Come here you cheeky little worm

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

How do you like your eggs in the morning?

This git. Seriously.

This git. Seriously.

Just harvesting some plant-grown eyeballs. No biggie.

Just harvesting some plant-grown eyeballs. No biggie.

21st January 2020: One L Of An Adventure

I'm still not sure how or why, but just recently my brain remembered very hazy details about a text adventure game I played with one of my class mates when we were at junior school, all the way back in the late 1980s. This was played on what was probably the school's only computer at that time, and was probably six or seven years before my family even had any kind of PC.

After some hunting around on the internet, I rediscovered the name of this game, which was L: A Mathemagical Adventure. As far as I can remember, I really enjoyed playing it and figuring out its puzzles, but looking back it was probably just because it got me out of lessons every now and then.
Thinking back, this was probably the first game I ever really got stuck into writing about, as I put together a file of maps and solutions as I went through the game. I'd probably still have that paperwork, or at least scans of it, if it hadn't been for one of my friends throwing it all away on one of the very rare days I was sick and off school, which just happened to be the day that the teacher had told everyone to tidy their desk drawers. I was absolutely gutted when I found out all my hard work had been in vain, and it could very well be one of the reasons why I've always been so protective and possessive about my shit as an adult.

To my initial delight I found that not only was this game available on an emulator, but that it was also playable online in a browser on the bbcmicro website. Seeing a chance to revisit my youth and recreate my maps I quickly grabbed some note paper, pressed play and got stuck in.

Like pretty much every game I revisit many years later, this one quickly proved itself to be a chore, being awkward, clunky and full of filler and puzzles that just aren't necessary to experience in order to finish the game. Also, the game is meant to help kids learn about mathematics, but as far as I can tell there is only one truly mathematics-based puzzle in the whole game. All the others are about patterns or observation that can mostly be brute-forced with trial and error. There are also some word-based puzzles, as well as a healthy sprinkling of moon logic that would seem right at home in your average 1990s point-and-click.

I started off pretty sure that I had completed the game back in the 80s, but as I was going through it, there were huge chunks of the game that did not seem familiar at all, so I started to think I was mistaken. Yet, I could fairly clearly remember tackling the "spider puzzle", and could still remember the principle of it. As it turns out, that puzzle is literally the last one in the game, so my initial assumption must have been correct.

However, there was no way I finished this game without some form of help. Even as an adult, this thing had me scratching my head. For most of the game I didn't actually search for any of the answers directly, but I did have to look for some clues as to what certain puzzles were about, as well as looking for aid concerning the strange quirks of the game.
However, the aforementioned spider puzzle defeated me. First, I started doodling attempts to solve it on some paper. Then I started to use photoshop so I didn't have to keep erasing. Then I spent the better part of a free Sunday writing some Javascript code. I limited the script to a few hundred loops of stepping forward and back through the path of the puzzle, thinking that would be plenty, and ran the script. But a bunch of attempts later and even that didn't get further than about three quarters of the way through.

By this time I gave up, deleted my script, and went looking for the answer. When I found it, I discovered there are 48 correct paths through the puzzle, which seemed like a lot until I also read there are more than 8 million incorrect paths! No wonder a few hundred loops through the script didn't get near to an answer. It now makes me wonder if my script would have eventually solved it if I had allowed it several thousand loops or more. But there's no way I'm writing all of that again to find out.

My original intention had been to create a really nice new set of maps and solutions to replace the ones I lost years ago. But by the end of it I just couldn't be bothered, especially as the end of the game was such a let down.

Behold the awesome graphics of the BBC Micro

Behold the awesome graphics of the BBC Micro

What is this? Modern day Hollywood?

What is this? Modern day Hollywood?

This was the puzzle I had the clearest recollections about

This was the puzzle I had the clearest recollections about

Well, they weren't lying

Well, they weren't lying

One of my many attempts to solve the spider puzzle

One of my many attempts to solve the spider puzzle

My map scribbles

My map scribbles

10th March 2019: I Just Want A Cherry

After all the tinkering I've been doing recently, I decided a game needed to be finished. To that end, I ran through a very short game that released about a year ago. This thing, which is called Chuchel, was an absolutely bizarre experience. It's supposed to be a point and click puzzle game, but it didn't really feel like that to me, as there was very little to work out. You just have to click on a few different things on each screen, and the weird little characters would do their thing and let you advance to the next level.

The basic plot is that a strange little creature really wants to eat a cherry, but things keep transpiring to prevent him from getting to it. Very reminiscent of Scrat after the acorn in the Ice Age films.
The art style was very fun, and strange, almost in a Monty Python kind-of way, and it was a refreshing change to go through.

Don't you dare take my cherry!

Don't you dare take my cherry!

Yep, this happened

Yep, this happened

Just give me back my cherry!

Just give me back my cherry!

Evil snow man does not like it when I piss up him

Evil snow man does not like it when I piss up him

Little Chuchel turns to the dark side

Little Chuchel turns to the dark side

Spooky ghost!

Spooky ghost!

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