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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Save our Amstrad!


Blimey! I'm back again, with yet another potential divisive subject. You know me, I'm a plain speaker, none of this sensitive protective rubbish, so with that in mind, I’ll move elegantly on. Every system has its fair share of crap games, but in 2016 the Amstrad CPC massively stole the crown! It was a great year in terms of content, nearly every genre of game was released for the CPC, but by god the majority were dreadful. This is partly due to the CPC RetroDev competition that runs each year, now in its fourth year. People are given a set number of days to go away and program the next killer game for the CPC; some are really good and impress me no end, but the majority play like dogshit!

Don't get me wrong, I'm enjoying the CPC's renaissance, but 2016 was both a good and bad year for the CPC. There were some truly great games the likes of Magica, Defence, Vector Vaults, Dooms Day Lost Echoes and Outlaws, which I urge people to play if they haven't already - some true greats there! Unfortunately, there's also been a mountain of what I can only describe as "unfinished crap"! Having to sift through these games only to realise half of them are broken or unfinished, is a real kick in the teeth, and I can't help but feel that these half-hearted attempts could have been so much more with a bit more perseverance and pride. As things stand, these games have just served to alienate me and it's my belief that it will only serve to further hurt the CPC's already tarnished reputation. Therefore, I command you to stop! We don't need amateurs adding even more under performing tripe to an ever increasing back catalogue of games.

I'm reaching to the back of my throat at all these people waxing lyrical about how great it is to receive any quality of new games for the CPC, pandering to amateur programmers out of desperation for new software. It's embarrassing to see it play out. No matter how crap the idea or game, the programmer is a hero who can do no wrong. Oh, c'mon! Half the ideas and games in 2016 were complete balls!

We need quality over quantity:

After playing the excellent remake of R-Type (a big brave heavyweight of a game for the CPC) and other greats such as Bubble Bobble 4 CPC, Orion Prime, Lost Echoes, Sub Hunter and the awesome Star Sabre, I had massive high hopes for the future of the CPC and the quality of games I might see over the coming weeks, months and years. It seems to me, looking back over 2016, the opposite was true? Standards appear to have slipped and people are now just releasing any old crap and in many cases, the first idea that pops into their heads. I blame CES and its piss poor entry level standards! For example, you wouldn't hope to publish a book with chapters full of grammatical errors or without a cohesive plotline. Seriously, I’m not trying to have a go at people who take hours out of their own time, but it’s just massively frustrating. Surely there’s still such a thing as pride, I mean why release something that is bug infested and completely unfinishable? We need standards FFS!

Your CPC still needs you!

I don't want to sound toxic, but I'm no lap dog either. Why should new games, and programmers, be immune to criticism? Bad games give the CPC a bad reputation! It should be CPC first, community second, programmer last. Take the new CPC Super Mario game, currently in the pipeline at the moment, it doesn't appear to feature smooth scrolling, instead, it uses a horrible push scroll similar to Ghost n Goblins from Elite. I would be mortified to see one of my favourite games of all time butchered in this way, it would be computer and video game Armageddon, and a massive embarrassment to the system. It's like treading on eggshells within the CPC community, frowned upon at times if someone has an opinion, "don't say anything negative". But sometimes constructive criticism is good and there for a reason.

A Mario game for the CPC that doesn't scroll... That's bonkers! 
As a passionate member of the CPC community, is it so wrong to feel frustrated after having been excited about a project you really wanted to see translate well to our beloved CPC, only to see those hopes dashed so early on in a project through bad decision making? It's hardly a case of newbie programmers being alone. We have a thriving CPC community full of people who are willing to help at the drop of a hat, bounce ideas off and help test the work as it is in progress. Prelude to Chaos is a fantastic example, and a very good game because of it.

It would be good if these competitions, and the CPC community as a whole, agreed on some sort of standard. I didn't have a problem with CPC development before the CES competitions, so I do believe a few ground rules would benefit everyone. As I was saying, it's the people who make this community, the Amstrad CPC is for you! No one person owns it, so everyone should be able to have their say. The Amstrad CPC would be nothing without those who dedicate their time to building new software, hardware and more importantly games. This also extends to the people who promote and support the machine through blogs, websites, social media and video, but more importantly, the people who continue to remember such a great machine through its continual use.

Programming is a technical skill as opposed to a creative one, by all means, use it as a vehicle to learn Z80 and the CPC's architecture, but please don't allow people to butcher Mario and other new games on the CPC. It was bad enough with U.S.GOLD, they ruined nearly every one of my favourite arcade games on the CPC, so I'd hate the same to be true of CPC Mario and other new adventures. So c'mon guys, think big, think like Easter Egg!

Below are some of the biggest turkeys released for the Amstrad CPC in 2016… Truly shocking!

Space War

If there's a worse game on the CPC (contender possibly Home Runner) I never wanna play it. This is dreadful, what on earth was the programmer thinking? Why would anyone think that people would want to see an awful game such as this?! You can basically stand in one position and shoot everything without harm... Totally useless experience, I want a refund for the time spent playing this.

The Last Fighter

I can't believe the IK+ background has been ripped and added into this miserable piece of sick! The fighters look disabled, punch like Joe Bugner and move like their legs have been chopped off at the knees. Character sizes are stupidly small, there's no gameplay or addictive qualities at all. In the words of Lord Alan Sugar "You're fired!"

The Legend of Anubis

I'm reaching that point where I'm thinking about killing myself now. Eight screens of slow, treacle like movement with crippled graphics. There's nothing legendary here, in fact, the main sprite is so fat, the game should have been renamed 'fat bastard'. Well done to the programmer for trying, but no thanks!

Project X

The graphics flicker a bit, but on the whole, I quite like the look and feel, but that is sadly where the dream ends. Is this game even finished? I mean bullets pass through you, objects pass through you and there's no gameplay to draw me in. Is this just a preview, because as things stand it's a massive turkey? If he climbed that ladder any more slowly, i'd ~#T:H$" up!

1 comment :

  1. I think you're being pretty unfair here I'm afraid.
    I'm sure most of the games released over the last year are not of what you would call 'commercial quality' but that is because they are free games - these are programs people wrote for fun or learning.

    That super mario game isn't released, you're tearing into something the dev knows isn't even saying is prime time - and you wonder why people aren't asking the communities advice more? it's comments like this one that are the reason I never showed my game before it was finisbed, and made zero attempt to alter gameplay to suit anyone but me.

    If people who have written simple or buggy games are not given any credit or congratulations for their effort - do you really imagine they will keep trying?

    Game development on these retro systems is slow, difficult and unrewarding - I worked at least 3 hours a day every day for 5 months on Chibi Akumas, that's hundreds of hours of my free time poured into a game that virtually no one will ever play, no one will pay for, and most people would critisize whatever I did simply because it's not as good as the latest iphone game - I mean lets be honest, If I was in this for fame or fortune, the first thing Id do is I'd ditch the CPC and move to the Nintendo NES

    Don't get me wrong, say whatever the heck you want - but unless you're donating huge amounts of money to CPC developers you can't really be surprised that the results are amateur standard.

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