This Game Will Pit Man Against Machine
|Author: Andy 'Uglifruit' Jenkinson
||Machine Type: Spectrum 48K
|Submitted on: 7th of October, 2020
||Download or play online
Andy Jenkinson sends us his new game, and this time, it covers the theme of robot-human conflict! Yes, in the not-so-distant future (i.e. next paragraph), man is in battle against the machine. Via what means will the war be fought? Aerial combat? Tanks? Psychological tactics? Erhm, no. We get a typing competition instead! Though it’s not really man against machine, since you’re working to beat a best time, so it’s really man against man, but if you’re going to go down that path, then aren’t all games man against man? The computer is merely the unquestioning servant of its programmer, so we are actually battling the author of the game by proxy, which opens a whole new discussion, and… let’s load the tape.
The title screen shows the title (good start), displayed in huge LPRINT-o-vision! This is alternated with another screen, which advertises the fact that this program contains a 100% BASIC pit man – an incredible feat of AI simulatio- sorry, my mistake, the “pit man” is left over from the title on the previous screen. Joking aside, this program is pure BASIC, amazingly.
During each round, a phrase is presented at the bottom of the screen which you must reproduce exactly. Each character you type is compared visually against the correct one – you’ll know immediately you’ve made a mistake when the two overlapping outlines don’t match. Once your ten phrases are done, you get a spartan celebration screen, followed by a swift kick back to the title screen.
You get a bar chart showing how long each character takes to type. Dithering patterns are used to create an overlapping effect with the bar charts, allowing you to compare previous rounds with your current performance on a letter-by-letter basis.
The graphics are good for a pure BASIC game, with the LPRINT trick introducing much more variety to the way the text is manipulated. Sound is used very little – there’s only one BEEP statement in the entire listing, and that’s used to signal an incorrect character. At least it’s not a mosquito tone.
Of course, this game is as fun as clerical work, i.e. your fondness for typing is directly proportional to your enjoyment of this game. There are a few catches of course –it couldn’t be this easy for a CGC entry. Being BASIC, there’s a processing delay between each character, so you’ll find yourself having to adapt to the program’s pace. The solution to this, of course, is to play on a rubber-key Spectrum. The fleshy membrane of the original model forces you to slow down your typing, and it has all of the symbols painted on the keys, so you can type the punctuation without having to look up the layout on Google Images. Sadly, neither keyboard can fix the problem where you move from typing a capital letter to a space, and keep the shift key pressed…
All in all, This Game Will Pit Man Against Machine is a mediocre typing game, wrapped up into a neat little package with slick presentation and a title that implies a grandeur where one is absent. At least Andy only sent me one copy to check this time.