It turns out that our Blood wasn't the only one inspired by the Cascade Cassette 50. Back in September 1988 Sinclair User began a pre-CSSCGC Crap Games competition of its own called; "The Worst Game in the World!"
"Don't you long for the days when companies could get away with sticking 50 terrible games written in Basic on one tape?" they said, not specifically naming the infamous compilation, but including 8 screenshots from uncredited games*.
* Don't worry fact fans - I've identified them as; 1. Alien Attack, 2. Microtrap, 3. Skittles (no!?,) 4. Race Track, 5. Martian Knockout, 6. Basketball, 7. Ski Jump and 8. Muncher.
Calling for "the world's worst Spectrum Basic games" they invited their readers to show their early programming experiments, games that they were too ashamed to admit to or - if they didn't have anything to hand - to get programming!
In typically sloppy SU style the introductory article made reference to an example game on that issues' Megatape (which wasn't) and promised that the winning entries would be included on a future tape (which weren't.) As a result all that remains of these Crap Games** are some grainy scanned screenshots and, if we're lucky, a paragraph of text!
Above are the scans of the original articles (cheers WoS!) Meanwhile 26 years later, and in honour of those forgotten Crap Games, I've reimagined those very screenshots and tried to figure out what the game entailed from the vague scraps of information available. (You mean guess? - Ed)
Billy and his Purple Flares
Somewhat infamous in that this is the one of the few titles that yields any results on Google.
Apparently the goal is to get "HOME" while avoiding landmines and 'throat-slitting maniacs' which, I'm assuming due to the 'flickering' mentioned in issue 79, don't appear in the original screenshot (or my recreation.)
I like to imagine the titular flares swinging from side to side (or from '|' to '\') as Billy moves down the screen and that the aforementioned obstacles appear randomly - and unfairly - at the same time.
Dillon's Cap Caper
At first I thought this might be the game written by SU staffer Tony Dillon referred to in the first article, however, this link is for an apparent SCRATCH remake by the original author now going by the handle; "stemsa."
It appears that, as you move Dillon around the screen, his cap randomly moves as well (as it's blown about by the 'wind') making it all the more difficult to catch.
I'm guessing the other UDGs were to be avoided - perhaps representing dog turds or similar?
Classic CSSCGC fair here as TWO players guess the random number between 1 and 6 - which is then fleshed out with some crap animation (Andrew Green's Ultimate Horse Racing Simulator is a recent, and extreme, example.)
In this case it's racing cars and I can't help but feel I may have oversold the graphical flair of the original with multicolour cars and a chequered finish line that I imagined being 'off screen' from the cropped image in the magazine.
Pro Train Crash Simulator
"Codemasters take notice" quipped SU picking up on what would become a staple of the CSSCGC - the (advanced) Simulator.
From the description it sounds like you moved the train (3 black blocks) left and right to purposefully get hit by the falling rocks (single black blocks.) It also says you get to choose your score before you start - perhaps an attempt at building in a self-imposed goal/skill level?
Also mentioned were; "Advanced Car Wash Simulator" and the brilliant-sounding; "Jump Off a Cliff Simulator."
1944 - The Year After the Year After
1943: The Battle of Midway was the disappointing official sequel to overhead arcade shooter 1942. There was also an even worse unofficial C64 sequel called; 1943: One Year After to which I believe the title of this entry is a reference to.
The game itself sees you flying your plane down the screen, avoiding the enemy flak gunfire and (supposedly) culminates in a daring bridge bombing.
It looks like Dab Hinton got a little carried away with his Crap Game project as, despite lacklustre UDG graphics, SU commented that it was "altogether too good to win the prize."
Thinking about it this could well be an end-sequence from 1944, however, my Crap Game Design-sense is tingling as I think the bomber is a bit low on the screen for that to be the case?
Rather I fancy that this might be a single column City Bomber/Blitz type game in which you started at the top of the screen and you had to repeatedly bomb the dam at just the right time else your ever-descending plane might collide with it?
Nuclear Free Zone
The only clue that SU give to this screenshot is that you control the truck.
Whether the #s represent the town or the 'nuclear crud' is up for discussion, however, my interpretation is that you drive into the 'P' (Plutonium) to collect it and deposit it inside the NFZ area (only for another to generate elsewhere onscreen) while staying out of the chunky stickman's way?
One Man Football Manager
We've already established that I don't really get Football Management games so, when I found myself with a 1/3 of a screen to fill using just my imagination, I didn't bother and just nicked some text from The Boss.
Apparently it's more of an arcade affair than the title would suggest, however, with the single on-screen player being controlled directly and scoring at either end?
I know what you're thinking - I've no idea what the symbol next to the 0% is supposed to be either.
Olympic Games Simulator / Squash the Hedgehog
I remember this loading SCREEN$ from the article when reading it back in 1988 and, I have to say, it was great fun recreating it for this feature!
Apparently this featured several Olympic events represented by simplistic and samey minigames - much like most commercial adaptions, then?
This was the winning game, however, as we never got to see the game on a future Megatape or a profile of Tom Fahey's programming career in (SU's) Codetalk spot, as promised, I can't help but feel he probably didn't get his £50 either!
The Moving Left & Right Game
Absolute genius! A simple car UDG that goes left and right while pressing the indicated key.
I'm willing to bet good money that the car didn't even face left when going left and that the 'G' key did nothing at all!
I've no idea what this is supposed to be and the tiny screenshot doesn't help? My first thoughts were some kind of sports game (especially with the Olympics that year,) however, perhaps it's a crude representation of Ramsay Street from Neighbours by Mark Willims of Cambridge?
In which case it could have been some kind of early Sims-type game? Perhaps it was a precursor to this AMOS PD adventure based on the same TV programme? In either case I'll bet it was more fun than the official game from 1992!
This game came with a storyline that was right out of a Hollywood (B) Movie and was (probably not - Ed) the original inspiration for Snakes on a Plane!
Describing it as an arcade-adventure probably oversold the complexity of this game, however, we're told it featured animated graphic sequences which is a bit ambitious for a Crap Games compo, eh? That and getting Samuel L. Jackson in a starring role!
Where are they now?
The introductory article makes reference to one; "Mister Blobby Goes Down the Newsagent," which is - near enough - the name of an entry from the first CSSCGC by Blood himself. Could this be the only surviving WGitW game, was he just subconsciously inspired by this very article from 8 years earlier or is it merely an AMAZING COINCIDENCE?!
Did you send one of these (or any of the games mentioned in the magazine scans) to Sinclair User back in 1988? Are you willing to admit it? Do you still have a copy? If you answered yes to any of these questions please get in touch at the usual address.
Lee has been in touch and revealed that he did indeed submit a version of Mr Blobby... to SU as part of a C90 full of long-lost crud. Apparently the CSSCGC version was a rewrite which may or may not have improved on the original. Yowsers!
I also wrote to stemsa about Dillon's Cap Caper via the Scatch website, however, haven't had any response as yet.