Review of PSSST By Ultimate Play The Game on Sinclair ZX Spectrum

PSSST By Ultimate Play The Game on Sinclair ZX Spectrum


If you had a DeLorean to whisk you back to the 1980’s when the Sinclair ZX Spectrum was in its heyday then PSST would be one of the games you’d have heard people raving about. The story behind PSSST is that you are a robot tasked with looking after a plant and to protect it from the common bugs which find it so tasty you need to pick up your aerosol can of pest repellant and zap those bugs, PSSST and they’re dead.

Being a Spectrum game the sound is limited to the beeps which the computer can manage, but they’re used as well as they can be expected to be for this game. The controls are simple, up, down, left, right, and fire. You fire in the direction you are pointing either left or right, and you move up or down to aim at the bugs. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds though, you will need the right spray to hit the right bugs which are colour coded so a red spray kills red bugs and yellow spray yellow bugs and the wrong spray will at best stun the bug, and at worse do nothing to stop it. You change aerosols by dropping a can in an alcove and picking up the next.

The bugs attack first from left and right, and you only have to worry yourself with the lower ones, but as your plant grows then the higher bugs become a nuisance too. You die either by colliding with the bugs yourself or when the insects have sucked the life from your plant and it whithers and dies. The first level is a nice intro to bug killing, PSSST and they’re history, and when your plant grows and flowers you have passed the level. The second level adds more coloured bugs and they attack faster and vary their attack pattern, so you need to be faster on the spray nozzle and swapover. And so the difficulty builds as you go up the levels.

You can play PSSST using the keyboard or kempston joystick. As always with the Spectrum games colour clash is evident as the bugs get close to your plant or the walls, but that’s not the fault of the game so has to be forgiven. Sound is basic as mentioned, but gameplay is fun for a while. A nice little game worthy of 7/10

Review of Turrican By Rainbow Arts on Amiga

Turrican By Rainbow Arts on Amiga

My brother was playing on the Amiga way back in the early 1990’s, and when I went in to see his latest game purchase this was another of those games which made me want a Commodore Amiga. The music and sound effects coming from that game were really something. Of course we knew the Amiga could do amazing sounds already but additionally Turrican was looking just terrific on the screen. Being the bigger brother I muscled my way in and grabbed the joystick (no joypads on the Amiga back then, at least in our house) and had a go.

Turrican has you battling your way through an alien landscape using a laser blaster which can also shoot a continuous beam. The gameplay is classic platform shooter but done to perfection, the usual pixel perfect jumps, and shooting ahead can get you a long way but learning the terrain and enemies is the key as always to making progress. There are a huge variety of enemies trying to kill you from the ground, and flying in from above. From robot sentinels, to bats and flying drones all taking pot shots at you, you need to shoot fast and often to make it through.

Just to hinder you a bit more though Rainbow Arts also added blades in some of the stuff you need to jump on and over adding a crucial timing element to the mix. In some places the whole floor pops up spikes to skewer your spacesuit and kill you. Add to that the platformer staple of a drop to doom and there are plenty of ways to end the life of your well drawn character.

The game is immediately playable as it’s simple walk and jump is the same as any platformer, but add in the numerous enemies and frantic fun results. Pick up the powerups to make your weapon all the more deadly (oo err missus) or to get shields to help you avoid the loss of life bar from an enemy hit. It sounds tough and it is but it’s also a hell of a good game to play even now which is why I’m awarding Turrican 9/10.


Turrican (Rainbow Arts, 1990, Amiga)_1

Repairing my SNES

I recently found my Super Nintendo (SNES) in my garage. I had no power supply, aerial lead or joypad, so I got onto Ebay and bought the required parts. When they arrived I eagerly plugged them in and turned on the console. Nothing. No lights lit up, no buzzing, not even a puff of smoke to tell me anything was happening inside the grey casing.

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I went and asked the question in The Retro Video Gamer forum as to what was a common problem in the SNES. The reply came back almost at once “the Fuse” included was a link to the fuse and a tool to open the case of the Nintendo SNES. So Ebay once again and ordered the special screwdriver bit and a fuse. Both of these arrived tonight so I set about the SNES with the screwdriver.

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Once the top pulled off the bottom I had this in front of me

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The fuse is under the black and red wires which go to the switch. I tested the fuse with my trusty multimeter and found it was blown.

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Then armed with a hot soldering iron, solder and a new fuse I took out the old one and fitted a new one in its place

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Then refitted the switch plug and the top cover and plugged it in again. While the top cover was off I noticed the ingenious lever assembly which stops you pulling out the cartridge when the SNES is switched on. Simple but it works. Anyway I plugged in the console and got a glowing red light on the front of it.

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But when I plugged it into my PC’s TV tuner card nothing showed. I then tried a multi out lead into my PC Video capture USB stick. Black screen was all there was to see. In desperation I tried another cartridge I got from Ebay when they gave out a £5 gift voucher recently, and then there was pictures, and sound and a smile on my face once more. I had fixed the SNES and it worked again. Now to get some games for it…

Computer And Retro Gaming intro

I am a geek. I like computers, games consoles and all the kind of technology and gadgetry which goes into it. I started playing with computers in the early 1980’s with a Sinclair ZX81 and then a Spectrum and did some computer programming in BASIC on the Speccy. I have owned PC’s since DOS on a 386 and have a lot of old retro consoles and computers.

This category will contain my writing and musing on all these aspects from computing, retro gaming and tinkering with gadgetry. Currently that involves the Raspberry Pi, and trying to fix my broken SNES. Look back soon for some more updates, and even some retro reviews I have done for some online retro sites.

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Those Crazy Germans

This video is one of a series by these two German children proving there is a sense of humour over there

Ode To Teenage Daughters

I can always tell when my girls are there
Doors are slammed and radios blare
The house is filled with all sorts of noise
Chatter and gossip about all their boys
Sound from the tv’s  ipods and laptop
All through the day seemingly non stop
When they go out and the house is all quiet
I wait for the call they’re causing a riot
Then my wife’s phone beeps it’s a text
My heart sinks as I wonder what’s coming next
Can you pick us up from far away
Because the boyfriends upset them today

We have to accept it no doubting that
For what we did to our parents this is payback

By Doug Titchmarsh