Frank The Flea

Publisher: Megasoft
Machine: Spectrum 48K

Published in Crash #27

Frank The Flea

Poor old Frank, instead of his normal day to day grind of sucking blood from mammals and transmitting endemic typhus, he's got lost in Major Mansion. He wants his Mummy but the problem is that Major Mansion is a fairly large place. The only thing that Frank really knows is that Mumsie is somewhere on the second floor and that he is in the basement a rather long way away in flea terms.

Unluckily, Frank is no eternal flea either and bumping into various bits of the mansion's furniture depletes his life force. If the poor insect is unfortunate to lose all his energy, then death is the reward, shortly followed by a burial by vacuum cleaner no doubt. This is definitely a fate to run away from. To be back with Mummy supping on a drop of rhesus negative is something worth striving for.

Each room is shown from a sideways view with Franky starting from the far left. Frank has to traverse the three screens that make up each floor to get to the flea lift that zooms him up a floor. Luckily for the program, each room takes up exactly one screen, and hopping of the edge of one room flicks another screen into view. On the last level a flashing Mummy flea waits for Frank instead of a flea lift.

Frank The Flea

The game starts with the poor little insectoid stuck in the basement sitting on a sofa. Frank's trusty little leg muscles can operate in two ways: in walking and jumping mode. Frank can jump and walk to left and right. Walking over furniture is all rather logical. If you guide Frank off the edge of one of Major Mansion's chattels then he falls to the floor, obeying all the correct laws of gravity.

Jumping is something to be carefully judged, since a misplaced leap almost certainly means a collision and a loss of life force heading full pelt into a standard lamp or window ledge is a fairly major thing for a flea. Throughout the game Franky's flea status is indicated by his colour. The hue of the insect is also mimicked by the border: Frank starts on white and knock after knock slowly fades to blue. One knock after blue sends him floorwards and the poor little flealet discorporates.

If Mummy is reunited with her errant son then the program advises you to try a harder level where the life source provided is a lot less.

This is the first release from Megasoft, which is mainly Richard Welsh aged 14.92 years. Written entirely in BASIC, the program may well resurface in a faster form, once Richard has acquired a compiler and two further releases are in the Mega-soft pipeline already. Richard Welsh can be contacted at Five Springs, Guilsborough, Northampton, NN68013.


Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: N/A
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: simple, but neat
Graphics: simplistic
Sound: beeps
Skill levels: 3
Screens: 12

Comment 1

'Ha, Ha, Ha a BASIC game! Gosh I haven't seen one of these since The Great Space Race. Well, to tell you the truth, it's not that bad - in fact I quite enjoyed my first go and I was quite compelled to have another go. The graphics are exceptionally good considering they are in BASIC and the backgrounds are very nice, big jolly sofas and the like. The sound consists of a few beeps and a tune or two might have helped with the atmosphere, but I suspect it would slowed the game down somewhat. Generally I am well impressed with both the game and the programmer's ability. I recommend it strongly to everyone - it might not be the next mega-game but it will certainly cheer up a rainy afternoon. After all, for a quid you can't go wrong.'

Comment 2

'Okay, so it's BASIC. All things considered, this is not a really bad game, but it's not a real mega-game either. The backdrops are colourful and quite attractive, though they don't exactly compare with something like Everyone's a Wally! The main character, Frank, is small, unanimated, and extremely jerky. The game itself is reasonably good fun for a while, after which it starts to become a bit tedious and unexciting. For one pound though, you can hardly complain, because Megasoft are only making something like 40p profit, on mail-order sales, I presume. All things considered, Frank the Flea is quite a pleasantly styled game and may appeal to some, especially for the price.'

Comment 3

'When handed a Woolies cassette with a photocopied insert, I am a little dubious. When I load the tape and find out that the game's written in BASIC, I'm worried. It is therefore very pleasing to find on playing the game that it's actually been very well written. Frank hops around the screen in smooth arcs and, as fleas go, is quite convincing. The 12 rooms are all different, with good, clean graphics of household objects furnishing each location. The small amount of animation lent to Frank's movement and the lack of music can be attributed to the author's need to keep the game fast. Frank The flea may not be able to compete in the mainstream software market but in the flea market it's one of the best pieces of budget software I've seen in a long time. Go on, send Richard a blank tape, a pound and a SAE... have some fun and contribute to the Megasoft Compiler fund!'

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