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Sarah's Garden

Author: Andy 'Uglifruit' Jenkinson Machine Type: Spectrum 16K
Submitted on: 1st of June, 2020 Download or play online

Gardening has all sorts of benefits: more exposure to vitamin D, mood-boosting benefits and aerobic exercise to name just a few. This is a stark contrast with the issues caused by prolonged computer use, which include eyestrain, muscle and joint problems, bad posture, and carpal tunnel syndrome. Andy Jenkinson, the author of our latest entry, has seen fit to combine the worst of both worlds; hence we have Sarah’s Garden, the sacred union of floriculture frustrations and computer-related health complaints. The inspiration for this program came about when Andy was sitting in front of his Spectrum and looked out the window to see his partner, Sarah, tending to the flowers in their garden.

Once we have loaded the game in, we are presented with the sparsely decorated title screen. The instructions are straightforward – we must deadhead the flowers. Each deadheading earns us one point, but taking out the stalks removes a point, and hitting a flowerpot ends the game altogether.

Going into the game itself, we can see that Andy has defined some lovely looking UDGs for the flowers. For our player, however, we are only afforded a diminutive asterisk. Perhaps to reinforce the massiveness of the beautiful nature that surrounds us?

The controls are as good as can be expected for a BASIC game – fairly responsive for simple one-step turns, but the key currently held down trumps any other, so you have to quickly press and release to do multi-step turns. That can make things a little tricky at first, because you need to hold the key down firmly for it to be detected by the program – a brief tap is likely to slip through the cracks. You’ll find that as the screen fills up with stalks and pots, the best strategy is to park at the side of the screen while you plan your next move.

Andy couldn’t let it stop there though, because less than two hours later, he sent me another version of the game. Entitled Sarah’s Garden: Warped Space, this version plays faster and adds wrapping at the screen edges, notching the difficulty up.

Obviously, the graphics and sound are a bit rubbish, but the game has the brilliant simplicity yet crippling difficulty of the Bolalela series, or ZX Wonky One Key. It is an excellent little timewaster, and with some further development, it could be a very addicting arcade game (though for this compo, it’s more than good enough). And, in a way, it’s an homage to one of the most famous crap games for the Spectrum, Advanced Lawnmower Simulator. Andy, you’ve earned yourself a nice corned beef sandwich for this one!


Graphics Sound Gameplay Innovation TOTAL
32% 28% 63% 12% 34%