Personal Computer News


Mad Martha

Author: Shirley Fawcett
Publisher: Mikro-Gen
Machine: Spectrum 48K

 
Published in Personal Computer News #012

Martha The Killer

Martha The Killer

You've zapped aliens by the barrel-load, and you've munched dots till they're coming out of your ears. You've worn your brain cells down to stumps trying to kill giants and go north and enter castles and find mysterious black boxes on concealed ledges in subterranean caverns.

Maybe from time to time you've wondered why hardly anyone writes games that combine the two. Well, now somebody has, in the shape of this deeply sexist game, Mad Martha (Men get chopped up in this one!)

Objective

You are the weedy Henry Littlefellow, a puny specimen of manhood improbably married to a strapping great wife Martha. Martha likes nothing better than to go charging after you with an axe, given the slightest provocation: must be a founder member of the Society for Cutting Up Men (that's SCUM to you).

Mad Martha

But you plan to thumb your nose at her by stealing the week's housekeeping money and hitting the town to gamble and drink it away. You'll have to lay hands on the loot without altering the lovely Martha, though, or you can wave this world goodbye.

First Impressions

The label hardly does justice to this completely dotty adventure. There's a rather washed-out looking picture of the mighty Martha, axe in hand, gaining on the sweating Henry. There's a brief set of loading instructions, an even briefer set of adventure commands, and that's it. There's no hint that you can save the game it pauses to ask you if you want to load a new game. Then it's into a title screen which gives you the gist of the plot and tells you: "If you escape with the lolly, you can explore the bright lights at your leisure... or peril! Hit a key to begin, the Spectrum plays a real Hollywood-style B movie theme tune, and the hunt is on...

In Play

You're in the bedroom, complete with blue bed, purple door and a chamber pot. One thing this program isn't shy about is the use of colour. No wonder Henry feels the urge to get out from time to time.

Mad Martha

You scuttle around the house, with plenty of jollies in store for you as you open the various doors, though sadly, the pictures are only there when you first enter a particular room. You have to banish them if you want to carry on playing. The nursery is tasty, complete with giant teddy bear. The piece de resistance, though, must be "The WEE ROOM", which of course stars 'The Throne'.

There's something rather weird about the geography of the house. You land up near an understairs cupboard at one point, and if you decide to try going upstairs, you land up in the bedroom again. You never actually come *downstairs*, though. And objects which find in cupboards and take away with you somehow miraculously seem still to be there if you take a second look in the cupboard. Minor points, maybe, but they could do with being tidied up.

Hungry cats and crying babies are the biggest danger in this part of the program, as they are liable to bring your sweet spouse running. Once that happens, there's not a thing you can do about it. You get a grandstand view of your own execution, complete with instant tombstone (will someone please write a program without tombstones in it?).

Mad Martha

I found the cash and helped myself. So far so good, but I was immediately brought to a standstill by the discovery that, to get any further, I would have to beat what I found to be a very tricky arcade-style game. I plugged away at the game, time and time again.

Time and time again I failed to beat it, Martha came running, and it was back to square one.

I would have welcomed some short cut to get me to this point with just a couple of commands rather than making all 20-odd moves to get there - especially since response times are dreadfully slow.

Mad Martha

At long last, heart in mouth, I cracked it. Picked up enough pound notes, didn't trip over the cat too many times, still had a life left. I was on top of the world, assuming that now I would be able to save the game, and wouldn't have to go through all that lot again, or explore the house for the twenty-fifth time.

But then came an even worse shock... and I won't spoil your undoubted pleasure by telling you what came after that. Suffice it to say that the only way I got an idea of what else happens was by taking a look at the program listing.

And there's certainly a good deal in there. Casinos, with plenty of opportunity to fritter away your ill-gotten goodies at roulette, pubs, cinemas, even an establishment named "Fifi's Fun Emporium". Gosh.

Mad Martha

But don't ever forget that this part of the program, too, is not the least bit Martha-proof. Save the game, for goodness sake, before you do something daft and get the chop. Again.

Verdict

This is a game to invest in - but only of you have either the patience of a dead donkey, or you're a natural wonder at unexpected arcade action. It's funny, it's genuinely original, and the graphics are great though it's a shame they vanish when the text appears.

True, Mad Martha is sexist and violent - but after all, it isn't every day that the women get a chance to take a swing at the men. So get a slice of the action...

Shirley Fawcett

Other Spectrum 48K Game Reviews By Shirley Fawcett


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