Posted on March 24th, 2010 1 comment
“A useful operation. Unfortunately you, the surgeon, have got myopic vision, and are blind drunk anyway. You are finding great difficulty in getting the target of your operation into focus. After ‘RUN’ and ‘NEWLINE’ it shifts around the operating table alarmingly. You might be able to control your palsied fingers with their snipping scissors, by using your ‘5’, ‘6’, ‘7’ & ‘8’ cursor controls, and you must snip at exactly the right moment, when your scissors are closed, and also at exactly the right place, which is from behind between the organ & the lower appendages. The result of your efforts will be printed out. Inkey ‘NEWLINE’ to commence operating on another victim.”
Vasectomy is just one of the amazing experiences to be found on Can of Worms, a cassette tape of BASIC games “for the over 18’s” meant for the unexpanded Sinclair ZX81 computer. It holds the honor of being the first commercial software ever released by Automata UK, a developer that achieved some success releasing ZX Spectrum games like the weirdly pioneering Deus Ex Machina, which I’m sure I’ll cover sooner or later.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can play the other games on this pioneering (?) tape online to your heart’s content. Check out some of the other 1K winners here — Acne, where you must squeeze at the poor sod’s exploding forehead with all your might, and the ripped-from-today’s-headlines Reagan, where you must prevent our dear leader’s hair from turning gray and robbing him of his youthful appearance.
Sadly, fellow early Automata releases The Bible and Love and Death appear to be lost to time, even though all three were advertised together in the first issue of Sinclair User (right).
Posted on March 24th, 2010 2 comments
I wrote that article mainly so I could use that wonderful picture of Mr. Kutaragi just one more time and get paid for it, but here’s some more review-score trivia if you’re interested.
In its 24-year-long history, Weekly Famitsu has cross-reviewed a grand total of 14,288 games. (By “cross review” I mean the familiar four-person scoring system, which didn’t kick off in Famitsu until the 9th issue in October 1986.) As you can tell from the graph, the PlayStation has the biggest library among any console in Japan, but the PS2 has more games that earned a Gold award (32/40 points) or higher — just over three times as many, in fact. A lot of this is due to the score inflation that began in earnest with the PS2 era, but it also reflects, I think, just how bloated and dross-laden the PS’s library really was in Japan.
The first game to achieve “gold” status in Famitsu, although they didn’t have the system in place back then, was Castlevania in the above-mentioned October 1986 issue. It scored 8/8/9/9. “In a way this is an un-Konami-like title,” one reviewer rather ironically wrote back then, “but as a game, it’s a remarkably complete product. It’ll probably be a big hit. I’m a little dubious of all the hidden objects that give you nothing but points, though, even though this isn’t a game where you’re competing for points.”
Modern-day Famitsu gives out Platinum awards to games that score more than 35/40, which has happened a lot — 398 times as of this writing, in fact, starting with Zelda II (8/10/9/9) in early 1987 and ending with God of War III (10/9/9/10) last week.
The Game Gear has the honor of having nothing earn a Gold title in its entire 205-game library — a fate shared by the Neo Geo Pocket and Lynx, although both of those systems have a much smaller selection of software. The WonderSwan has one Gold game — Gunpey, of course — out of 208 releases.
You can see pretty plainly from the stats, by the way, that Famitsu began inflating their scores in the PS2 era, a trend that rages unabated today. How else to explain why the Xbox 360 enjoys 104 Gold-rated titles to the PS1’s 130, despite having a library not even a tenth the size?