Archive for January, 2015

Zany Golf

January 31, 2015
Advert for Zany Golf

Advert for Zany Golf

Developer: Sandcastle

Coder: Will Harvey

Disks: 1

Publisher: Electronic Arts (1988)

Platform: Amiga 500

Anyone for golf? No? Then how about Zany Golf? Still no? Ah well, luckily for me this is a 1 to 4 player game. It’s the only golf game I ever owned or played back in the day, so its high on my nostalgic feeling list, although I was also never very good at it (I couldn’t get past hole 5 ‘Fans’). Now I’ve returned to Zany Golf to see how I fair, spurred on by the fact I’ve recently beaten Tom in Jimmy White’s Whirlwind Snooker for the first ever time.

Hamburger course, title graphics

Hamburger course, title graphics

The game starts you off gently with a relatively easy first hole (no real surprises or manic mouse wiggling required), but with each level beyond that they become progressively harder and more challenging. There are 9 holes in total, each with their own par and unique game mechanics, a score card helps the players keep a tally on who’s winning. Hole 2 ‘Hamburger’ eases the player further in by demonstrating how the game is slightly different to a normal crazy golf course; a giant hamburger covers the hole, the player has to click the left mouse button to bounce the burger up and down, and then time their shot so the burger is in the air for the ball to roll into the hole, timing is crucial.

Windmill, nice n easy to start....

Windmill, nice n easy to start….

From ‘Hamburger’ onward the player is required to either activate something, time their shots, or in one case use fans to blow the ball around the entire course. Despite these extra game play mechanics in each course the controls are some of the most basic I’ve ever come across in any golf game, relying purely on the mouse to line up your shot, pull the cursor back for power, and releasing to take the shot. It is easy to follow and see what’s happening as the graphics are simple and fun, and kind of what you’d expect a crazy golf course to look like (I’ve not been to many, once on Jersey I think…). I like the effort that’s gone into each hole to make it look as colourful as possible, including the excellent title graphics introducing each one.

Love these title graphics which appear for each hole

Love these title graphics which appear for each hole

What I most enjoy about Zany Golf is that each level is unique, challenging and fun to play. It’s easy to pick a favourite and a least favourite. One of my favourites is the ‘Pinball’ course (literally a mini pinball game before putting the ball), followed closely by an earlier course ‘Hamburger’, mentioned above. My least favourite is the course ‘Ant Hill’, a disappointing one given the clever design of the other holes, and the final level ‘Energy’, looks pretty but I still have no idea what’s going on or how I even finished it.

Pinball course, my favourite!

Pinball course, my favourite!

Energy, final level, looks amazing, but bloody hard

Energy, final level, looks amazing, but bloody hard

Zany Golf is still a great little game, and by that I mean I wish it offered slightly more holes, as it comes across as quite short. However, in this case quality wins out over quantity, the course design is superb and in some cases very inventive and each course provides a decent enough challenge that you don’t whizz through the game too quickly, and there’s always a small amount of replay value to try to best your own scores, or compete against other players.

I’m glad to say on this occasion I made it past hole 5 ‘Fans’, in fact, I finished the game. I’ve definitely noticed when revisiting some of these old games I have more patience these days, I’m assuming back in the day I was rage quitting every 5 seconds. Zany Golf is fun and inventive but a little short, purely from a selfish point of view I wanted to keep playing, it’s a fun game! It also has the most manic (and a little annoying) title music since Rolling Ronny. Despite the latter I’d highly recommend giving it a try.

Just in case you wanted to know, my score card is below!

Not bad...

Not bad…

More info and links!

Lemon Amiga page for Zany Golf

Amiga Computing Vol 1 No 12 (May 1989) Zany Golf review (95%)

CU Commodore User Amiga-64 (Apr 1989) Zany Golf review (80%)

Amiga Action 16 (Jan 1991) Zany Golf (Budget) review (81%)


Old School. Literally.

January 14, 2015

The following post is about hardware and software I remember (sort of) using throughout my school life, it doesn’t include systems used outside of school, even though they were way more fun. So I thought I’d start 2015 off with some personal history (yay?).

This was an idea I had last year but has taken me ages to get around to writing it, I wasn’t sure if it would be that interesting, and after more thought I realised I couldn’t remember that much about the systems we used to use at school. However, I’ve had a couple of helpers on this one to jog my memory, so here are the combined results! What computers did you use at school? What software and games did you play? Let me know in the comments below!

Special thanks to Simon and Nigel for their help and input in this post.

Old School. Literally.

Old School. Literally.

First School (or infant school)

RealityGlitch: My earliest memories of using any sort of computer hardware in school was a piece of hardware that sat all by itself in the corner of the classroom. The software on it we used was for drawing and painting. What seemed unique about this memory is that I remember painting (white screen, simple shapes and colours) by using a stylus (connected with a black curly lead to the hardware). Felt like magic at the time, now it seems more like a touch screen painting program, however, given this was the mid 80s that still seems pretty special. As I don’t remember the name of it, or much more than the above, I’ve not been able to find a picture or anymore information on it.

Middle School (or junior school)

Simon: We had acorn 3000’s, computers with the orange function keys. One of the programs we used to use was Impression Junior, we used to use it to draw I think, there might have also been another  drawing and painting program. A game we used to play (at break times naturally… Ed) was Moonquake. Just loved that game and used to play it all the time during break time, we were in year 7 at the time so this is just before moving up to secondary school.

Blowing things up, Moon style...

Blowing things up, Moon style…

RealityGlith: I also remember having a BBC Micro available to use in Middle School. I remember there being a single computer in our classroom, it sat on the side and we were occasionally allowed to use it. Oddly enough I don’t remember using this computer for anything in lessons. I had contacted one of my old teachers but I didn’t get a response. One of these games we played on the Acorn 3000 was indeed called Moonquake, it was a Bomberman clone, you played on the keyboard and the game play was the familiar top down grid, you blasted your way through blocks to reach the enemies.

Secondary School

RealityGlitch: Hmm, I think I should have paid more attention in school… I remember using the Acorn Archimedes, with 2Mb of RAM, which were eventually upgraded to 4Mb. Some of the software was Visual  Basic/Stylus,  the former of which we used to program and move little Lego models.

The 3 games we had was Pac-Mania, Cannon Fodder and Lemmings, I remember playing Pac-Mania quite a bit, so much so I ended up getting it for my Amiga 500 so I could play it at home as well. Good times.

One of my favourite Pac-Man games

One of my favourite Pac-Man games

Nigel: From memory, the software was the generic spreadsheet, word processing and database packages that came with system, the free program that came with the Archimedes was called DRAW.

Simon: Secondary School we had acorn 4000’s, which were like a small white desktop box with separate keyboards and mice. We used to run Impression Style which was the more grown up version of Impression Junior. We also used Eureka, a spreadsheet and database program. However because the machines only had 2mb of RAM we could only run one or the other, never at the same time. Eventually we did upgrade from 2mb to 4mb, I remember helping our teacher to upgrade them at break and lunch times.

I vaguely remember there being a manual parallel port switch to an Epson lx100 dot matrix printer, and we had to switch it over when you wanted to print from your computer.

The library had a mixture of Acorn 3000 and 4000’s, but they also had two Acorn 5000’s. These were good because they had both an Acorn and a PC in them. You used to flick the front plastic bracket over and it would change from an Acorn to a PC running Windows 95 (I think – or maybe windows 3.1).

Acorn 5000, shiny

Just to re-iterate, this was more of a personal trip down memory lane, memories can be blurry, I’ve done a little research but as with most personal pieces the more I look into the history and information the more blurred the lines become between memory and current knowledge, it’s not supposed to be a comprehensive history of school computers.
Thought I just needed to mention this as before it’s been pointed out I don’t research enough on these things. Thanks for reading and let me know your thoughts below.
Please follow the link here to read a quick review of Moonquake for the Acorn.
All the best!