Advanced Greta Thunberg Simulator
Advanced Greta Thunberg Simulator is our first entry from Matt Rudge, who has finally returned to the competition after a hiatus of nearly a decade and a half. This game is a sequel to Z2A, his previous crap game from 2006. Apparently, after the Z’s metamorphosis into an A, it left the park strewn with piles of “jumping, steaming, magenta horse manure”, which has now mutated into a crowd of nasty bugs which pose a considerable problem to the ecology of the park. Greta Thunberg, that famous teenage climate activist, has decided to step in to help. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the game itself.
Once the tape has loaded, the title screen appears, with the title rendered in unassuming plain white text, and below it the author’s web domain, pulsing and flashing away like a disco floor. After we press a key, the game begins. Greta appears at the bottom of the screen, with the nasties above her and a strange red question mark just to the left. So, we go to press a key, and the character slowly inches itself across- wait… I’ve hit the edge of the screen already. Huh? Unlike most other crap games, AGTS is completely uncontrollable because it is too fast. This is down to the game being written in machine code – 344 bytes of it to be exact. Matt states in the documentation that the whole plot is contrived to cover for the fact that he couldn’t be bothered to slow down the code (yes, typing those HALTs must be quite an imposition). The control scheme doesn’t really help the situation either, with all the keys cramped up between the Q and R buttons for programming convenience.
Let’s take a brief aside to talk about the presentation. The graphics are your bog standard UDG fare, though I guess the fact we actually have some UDGs is pretty good. On top of this, there is no sound whatsoever, apart from the chirping of the Spectrum’s inductor coil (a “relaxing and meditative experience”, as Matt puts it).
So, we zip around the screen, collecting all the nasties, until eventually we have captured them all. Great… erhm, what now? The documentation states that there is a “surprising end-of-level animation”. I have to admit that I was completely surprised – not because the animation was particularly good, but because I was completely unable to trigger it. I played the game several times over with no luck, and I even disassembled the entire program to look for it, and guess what? No such animation exists! My search wasn’t entirely in vain, however, as I also discovered that Matt’s random number generator is faulty – the same seed gets used every time, meaning that the playfield will always have the same arrangement.
In conclusion, Advanced Greta Thunberg Simulator may seem to be lacking, but it’s quite an accomplishment. What we have here is probably the smallest sandbox game ever devised. You can collect the nasties, you can leave the nasties, you can run around like a maniac, you can ponder the meaning of the question mark, etc. There’s so much to do! Or something.