Oldschool Gaming - reviewing new games on classic computers
Main review :: written by Jason 

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.

Second opinion :: written by scott 

Here we have the first game by a promising new group of C64 developers - as you've probably read by now, it's called Spork64. My first impressions of this games are that it's a joke and it seems that presumption was correct, or at least this doesn't seem to be a very serious effort at a game. The gameplay is a direct copy of the mechanical arcade game Whack-A-Mole (or a Moloch in this case, by accessing the hidden game) which has been around for at least 25 years. Definitely nothing new or groundbreaking here, just an electronic representation of an old arcade classic.

The title screen has a rather nice tune, although it gets repetitive quickly. Graphically it's in the bland style as the two title screens that come before. Here we can change the difficulty of the game, start playing and also access the hidden game variation by holding a certain joystick direction while pressing fire. The hidden game is a joke directed at a certain someone and features the same gameplay as the main game so I'll omit any thoughts I have about it specifically.

Pressing fire starts the game and the graphics continue to be uninspired and bland, with a poor choice of colours and no shading or graphical expertise to be seen. As with the titles and intro screens, a nice tune is playing in the background, a bouncy track that I rather liked. The spork itself is hardly recognisable as such and appears to look more like a large icicle-laden thermometer. The point is to "spork" what look like punk rock versions of Mr. Hankey (the Christmas Poo) that appear from the holes, which are laid out in a circular fashion.

The joystick response is very annoying, the game doesn't always recognize the joystick movements and appears to have some sort of buffer on the fire button which gets full, forcing the player to release the direction they're pushing the joystick in order for the fire button to function again. The collision detection is mediocre at best, either not registering some hits of the spork at all or registering multiple hits and I get the impression that the programmer didn't spent much time tuning the gameplay - either that or his beta testers didn't do their job properly. After getting the hang of these controls, which are frustrating to say the least, I played through all the long and boring levels to view an equally boring and bland end sequence which at least contains yet another nice tune to listen to. Upon the timer (which isn't on screen, noticeably) running out the game then goes to a yet another boring and bland screen, with yet another good piece of music.

Spork64 is a less than exciting gaming experience on the whole and contains little, if any, actual fun. The only redeeming quality of this terrible, terrible game is that nice soundtrack which accompanies it so I think for me this one will be more appreciated in the High Voltage SID Collection than in my disk box.

Information

SPORK 64

Format Commodore 64
Developer Retro64
Released 2005
Price Free
Review Jason and scott
Screenshots
Titles Screen
Titles Screen
In-game Screen
In-game Screen
Scores
Graphics
Sound
Playability
Lastability
4
7
4
2
   Overall 4
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