The world is under attack... again. It's got to be said that invasions from other worlds seem to happen a lot, although it's fairly rare to see a hoard of marauding vegetables - at least it is unless you're a fan of the Powerpuff Girls and remember the story "Beat Your Greens" of course... umm, not that I do naturally and watching that PPG marathon the other week was just research, honest...! So anyway, marauding veggies and a mysterious overlord behind them pulling the strings from behind the scenes and what wonder do you have to save the world, a super-fast spaceship armed with a particle laser, perhaps? How about a Kalashnikov AK-47 and a flak jacket? Nope, you've got a spork - that's right, the love child of a fork and a spoon so beloved of plastic cutlery manufacturers trying to save a little money by only running one moulding machine instead of two is your offensive weapon of choice!
It's a good job that the spork is quite large then (either that or the alien vegetation being mauled is very small, always possible in a game story line) because your mission is to watch for the veggies as they pop their heads above ground and spork 'em until they squeal! Manoeuvring the spork around is simple enough since it follows the joystick through seven of it's nine possible positions (pure up and down aren't catered for, if you'll excuse the pun, but the central position is) and the fire button does the business, mashing anything at the pointy end to a disgusting if fairly healthy pulp.
If this description rings a few vague bells it's probably because Spork64 takes all of it's cues from mechanical arcade stalwart Whack-A-Mole and the objective is, as always, to batter the little critters as fast as possible to carry on playing. Whack-A-Mole is still popular after all it's years as is witnessed by the number of incredibly tatty machines in seafront arcades all around the U.K. that have been patched on more patches to keep them going, so there's a lot to be said for the vicarious thrills of mass subterranean mammal slaughter with a mallet.
And although this simple and violent fun translates quite well to computer with Commodore's own Mole Attack cartridges being very early examples for the VIC 20 and C64, to be honest there's not very much to this game after that initial five minute wonder of sporking vegetables; the control system is sometimes a fight and I've found myself repeatedly sporking one veg three or four times before a hit was registered. And since there's no transition as the villains of the piece appear from their holes or splatter under the might of the multi-utensil, it's sometimes hard to tell if you're actually hitting something anyway and a veggie can sit there grinning at you after a hit either because it's re-spawned immediately after a hit or because the spork hasn't actually reacted to the fire button!
Another gripe has to be that there isn't any real sense of continuity; game over happens after a timer that isn't visible in any form runs out, there's no onscreen scoring and the gauges that are visible for veggies sporked and current level are lost when the game over screen displays so there's not even the chance to compete with others for the highest sporking. The presentation that's there is mostly nice logo fades and effects which, bar the timing error at the top of the play area that's more pronounced on PAL machines than NTSC, are handled neatly but can't mask the lack of real gameplay and the difficlt to wield control system.
This is, as far as I'm aware, the first game Dustin "Fuzz" Chambers has written and for a first effort at game coding it's pretty good; hopefully the mistakes made on this game and feedback from gamers (and, I would hope, this review as well) will help to make the next one something really worth looking at rather than a five minute wonder with annoying controls.