Charlie Chan Visits The Wock Factory Review | Electron User Group - Everygamegoing


Charlie Chan Visits The Wock Factory
By Your Computer

Published in EUG #72

Charlie Chan Visits The Wock Factory is a BBC/Electron arcade platform game in BASIC in which you play Chan, on a quest to collect fifteen "Wocks" (sic) from different Mode 5 screens. There are a variety of nasties, of the ilk that move in set patterns, to avoid and, on grabbing a wock, there is a bonus noise and a door to the next screen opens. Getting to the wock therefore only represents half of the challenge, getting to the door can be just as problematic.

The game includes a fair amount of machine code and there's no denying it's fast enough to be playable. However, despite this, it plays very much like a BASIC game. The different characters move jerkily, eight pixels in any one direction at a time and sprites feel clumsily put together. The wock for example is a simple 8x8 CHR$ definition; and the baddies are similar, one colour, re-defined characters. The game itself therefore feels somewhat amateurish, even with the strange head-rocking animation effects of little Chan. That said, there's a tune playing on interrupt throughout which is a nice additional feature, and makes the game somewhat reminiscent of Durell's Mineshaft.

There are fifteen screens and you have the option to play any of them by simply hitting RETURN to scroll on to the next one. The first one is relatively easy to complete but at the second screen you start to discover the odd quirks of this game. It appears that your character can pass through solid bricks above his head without incurring any injury so, for example, you can stand underneath one platform and jump up through it onto the one above. Now there's nothing strange about this effect - I've seen it used in a number of other platform games. However, on screen two you are faced with a patrolling nasty at waist height. Your natural instinct is to go underneath it as it seems to be positioned too high to jump and, because above it is solid brick, this seems confirmation.

The curious way to avoid it however is indeed to jump it. You sail up over it, through the brickwork, over its head, back through the brickwork and back onto the platform on which you started! This seems an almost surreal way to get from one side of the sheet to the other!

The collision detection is awful and, combined with the jerky movement, you tend to crash into baddies all too easily. Lose all of your lives and you get a 'Monty Python'-style foot crush demo (like on Jet Set Willy) before you are invited to try again by 'plessing space' (intentional Chinese l for r). I should also point out that, although the game works on the BBC and Electron, loading it into a Master 128 results in pandemonium as soon as you collect a wock.

The second game on this disc is called Fernando The Flea in which you are a flea trying to get out of somebody's hair. It is no exaggeration to say that this game looks like a ZX81 title from the 3K dark ages. It gives you four redefined characters, a platform with a few nasties and a blob to collect. You plod and jump around accompanied by a dry thud each time you press a key. The flea is difficult to control - only jumping, for example, when a movement key and SHIFT are pressed at exactly the same time. And, as for the 'game' itself, well it's asthetically barren and, frankly, pants. The simple art of jumping from one platform to another becomes almost screamingly frustrating; the sound 'effects' also need turning off with an *FX210,1 before you even attempt to start play.

Generally I tend to regard Your Computer's discs as a 'main game' and a bonus one, and the main game tends to be infinitely better in both gameplay and graphics. Charlie Chan is certainly better than Fernando The Flea but it's difficult to get excited about this particular compendium - as both are annoying platform games, even if not in quite equal measure.

Charlie Chan was written by Brian Lewis and is available on the Your Computer 5.08 companion disc. It runs on a BBC (Model B only) with PAGE at &1900. Fernando The Flea, on the same disc, was written by David Cawthray and runs on all BBC computers, and the Acorn Electron.

Dave E

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