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The Hangman

Author: Juan F. Ramírez Machine Type: Spectrum 16K
Submitted on: 12th of March, 2020 Download or play online

Despite being a text-based affair, this new game from Juan F. Ramírez (another resurrected program, this time from 1999) has more sophisticated graphics than his last attempt. In The Hangman, we are promised the chance to see the “terrible face of a dead man”! Wow! If this game had been released back in the day, I’ve no doubt that the British parliament would have been in uproar about this interactive “video nasty” poisoning the minds of innocent young children! Never mind about the corpse though, as the title itself holds something even more sinister. Juan’s use of the definite article suggests that our victim is in fact the same person each time, thus lending a new sense of cruelty to the game, with the implication that one poor soul is being murdered over and over again - his limp, lifeless body eternally tormented by the strangling noose. Truly this is a game dredged from the murky waters of a sick, twisted mind!

Upon loading the game, we are greeted with the title screen, which proudly displays the hangman in a strangely upright position. One thing’s for sure: he’s got a terrible face alright, but probably not in the way Juan intended.

Pressing a key gives us the instructions, in which we are threatened with “dying on the gallows” if we do not guess the eight-letter word correctly. I’m sure that previous editions of hangman were less heavy-handed in their punishments, but I suppose a little bit of danger just adds to the excitement of the whole affair.

Once the proceedings begin, we are presented with eight blank spaces, an input prompt for our guess and a window through which we can view the execution chamber. The fate of our lives hangs (no pun intended) on the size of our vocabulary and the strength of our deductive reasoning skills.

It is from here that we begin to appreciate the care and attention that has unfortunately been wasted on this game. The input is properly validated, and will reject any non-alphabetic character or any sequence of more than one character (although it doesn’t accept capital letters either, so half-marks for that). If the letter is present, it gets copied into the appropriate spaces. If not, we are one step closer to our doom.

The game continues until we either complete the word, in which case our demise is momentarily staved off, or until we use up our final guess and die on the gallows. After we breathe our last, the “secet [sic] word” is printed. To see that kind of typo in a game whose very foundation is spelling doesn’t exactly inspire confidence, to say the least.

All in all, The Hangman is a program which wouldn’t have been out of place as a type-in listing in a magazine. Unfortunately, like most type-in games, it is boring, and is made even more tedious by the gushing prose that immediately precedes the program code. If you’re looking for the gory treat promised to us by Juan, then you’d best look elsewhere.

Scores

Graphics Sound Gameplay Innovation TOTAL
41% 13% 19% 33% 27%