Big Clive's Supergayrainbow Exploding USB Power Supply Game
The QL: the computer so powerful it could make balding computer boffins leap great distances in the air, as long as they didn’t trip over the ROM dongle on the landing. Despite being a commercial failure for Sinclair, the QL has a significant place in history, as it’s partly responsible for the development of Linux. This was because there was such a pitiful lack of support for the machine that Linus Torvalds (Linux’s creator) became used to writing his own software. Of course, since nobody else was too bothered about it, Jim Waterman had to write an entry for it. To be honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t written something for the MK14 yet.
Not only has he written a game for a Clive computer, he’s made said game about Clive. No, not uncle Clive, but rather Big Clive, the electrical engineer, YouTuber and QL owner who makes videos of everything from explanations of technical concepts to teardowns of cheap Chinese tat. This entry is essentially a computer game adaptation of his “supergayrainbow exploding USB power supply game” which was published on his channel back in 2016. Unlike that video, where nothing was connected up to the power supplies, here we have to take our chances with high-value items. So, let’s load the tape- I mean Microdrive, and have a go.
As the program starts, we get a rendition of the “cheap pink USB charger from China” song, played through the QL’s internal speaker, which is minimalist and brief (thank goodness). The title screen then appears in all its colour-cycling glory. Not much of note, so let’s move onto the meat of the game.
Essentially, this is Russian roulette. You have six USB power supplies, and you have to decide which to plug each device into. You start with a Poundland power bank, and with each round, another item of higher value is added, culminating with the iPad, at an eye-watering £1,069. The power is turned on, and one of the power supplies will explode, taking with it the attached device. Anything damaged will have to be paid for, so you’d better be careful.
A large chunk of your time will be spent waiting for the computer to draw the power supply graphics to the screen. Despite the QL having a 7.5Mhz Motorola 68008, it still takes a while to perform the polygon fills (though that’s partly because the CPU only has an 8-bit data bus for cost reasons, so it effectively runs at half the clock rate). A machine code routine would’ve remedied this, but that’s a whole new ball game of effort and complexity for this competition. At least I’m on an emulator, so I can simply increase the spe- oh… you have to register QemuLator to do that. Oh well.
That being said, once the drawing’s done, it’s quite the sight for those used to the attribute limitations of the Spectrum; all 8 colours come through brilliantly and without clash, though since it’s a Sinclair machine, a FLASH facility has gone where a BRIGHT bit could’ve. I can only conclude that Sinclair must’ve liked flashing a lot. (Note to self – rephrase sentence.)
Though the music might’ve been pretty naff, the QL’s single-channel beep lends itself quite well to spot effects – the explosion sound is impressive for a pure BASIC program.
Once all is said and done, and you’ve totted up the damage, it’s time to make it up. If you make it through scot-free, then congratulations! If not, then you might have to put in some overtime, cut back on the cheap wine, or worse, sell out to the Chinese (yes, that is part of the game).
All in all, Big Clive’s Supergayrainbow Exploding USB Power Supply Game matches my expectations for a Waterman program – professional presentation, slow execution, and non-existent gameplay. It’s hardly a “Quantum Leap” from his earlier entries.