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Another Fruit Machine Simulator

Author: Juan F. Ramírez Machine Type: Spectrum 16K
Submitted on: 13th of January, 2020 Download or play online

Before we begin this review, a quick disclaimer from the author:

“I take no responsibility for any gambling addiction the game might cause.” – Juan F. Ramírez

Another Fruit Machine Simulator is yet another game that has inexplicably been given a second chance at life – it was written back in 1986 and was submitted to the competition as originally presented (with the exception of the text, which has been translated to English for this release). It’s got professional presentation (eww), clean graphics (ugh), and careful use of the BEEP command (yuck). But despite all of these flaws, it is triumphant in the coding itself.

Upon starting the program, it presents us with a neatly arranged menu, which gives us the options of playing the game, seeing the different combinations and their corresponding pay-outs, or quitting the program (although just pulling the plug or clicking Reset on the emulator is quicker).

If we look at the table, we see that Juan has decided to give this fruit machine a literary theme, by electing to use punctuation as the symbols in his game. Well, either that or he couldn’t be bothered to draw up some UDGs. However, from this table, we can also observe that Juan has been very generous and has programmed in a total of fifteen winning combinations. With a quick check of the source code to see how many symbols of each type occupy each reel, we can calculate that the probability of winning any pay-out at all is 11.6% exactly! Those are fairly good odds by my reckoning, considering the misery I’ve had with real one-armed bandits (some are so bad that even the tuppenny falls pay more). It’s no wonder that Juan warned us about addiction!

As the game starts, you are implored to “PLAY!” by some flashing text, as the reels begin to spin (or rather, flash intermittently). Each reel can be stopped in sequence by the press of any key, although the controls feel a bit unresponsive. After all of the reels have been halted, the pay-out is declared and you are asked if you would like to try again. The game repeats until either the money runs out, or you give up. If you end in credit, you are told that you’ve accumulated a “nice tidy sum”, even if you’ve lost all but ten dollars. If you end in debt, however, you are told to pay up, and soon!

After I started to get bored with the game (i.e. after a couple of minutes), I decided to investigate why the controls didn’t respond very well, so I inspected the listing. I was shocked to discover that the skill-stop feature is a trick! The outcomes are pre-generated before each round even begins, so your keypresses don’t influence your fate - they merely hasten the inevitable. I ought to report Juan to the Gambling Commission for this (don’t even get started about the fifty dollar minimum bet).

Overall, Juan’s game provides us with all the fun of the seaside amusement arcades, minus the sea (and minus the amusement). Its graphics are clean, if somewhat spartan and the sound is fairly non-intrusive, but the gameplay is atrocious. Overall, it’s a good crap game. You can download it from the link in the info-box above, in both its original 48K snapshot form, and as a TAP file to allow you to load it on real hardware.

Scores

Graphics Sound Gameplay Innovation TOTAL
39% 36% 12% 11% 25%