From Daley Thompson's Decathlon to Sonic & Mario at the Olympic Games it doesn't take much to slap a name or logo on a computer game to send sales through the roof.
Picking up on this leespoons has been plotting this entry for months and has timed its release perfectly to take advantage of lazy retrogamers (That's you - Ed) who are still feeling guilty about not running themselves this morning - or even sponsoring Tricia from Accounts who was dressed as a flamingo.
Lee begins with a hastily produced (i.e.: poorly digitised) loading screen. Aside from Big Ben it's such a blotchy mess that it took me a minute to work out what the rest of it was supposed to be!
At the 'stop the tape' prompt he's also included a machine code induced tune which, although I can't tell what it is, is very impressive stuff for a 48K Speccy. I'm not sure what Lee was thinking with this!?
Luckily the instructions screen is a return to form in which, although containing neatly wrapped unbroken text (Boo - Ed,) further blurs the issue of what this entry is actually called; "Advanced London Marathon Simulator Challenge" (from the loader,) "Virtual Advanced London Marathon Simulator Simulator" (from the intructions) or just "London Marathon" (from the filename?)
Brilliantly Lee's choice of font also causes some ambiguity in terms of the keys needed to play the game. I assumed I and O (eiy and ooh) but they didn't do anything - it was after only after exporting the BASIC listing into Notepad that the correct keys; 1 and 0 (one and zero) were revealed.
Onto the game and it's a pretty simplistic affair - even for the CSSCGC! I'm sure that, while I was running* the Marathon this morning, that I spotted a few other people in my vicinity. In this entry, however, it's just you ambling from left to right in a flip-screen sort of manner.
* Of course, by 'running,' I mean watching it on TV.
In true license fashion it appears that this game started off life as one involving a sprinter running on a red Olympic-style track, before the 'London Marathon' banner was slapped on at the last minute rendering the graphics inappropriate, at best.
In terms of 'gameplay' it's classic Track and Field as you strike the two keys alternately to run across the screen. Lee's actually thought about the controls here as, unlike at least one Speccy title of a similar genre, you actually have to press one key, release, press the other, release, etc. in order to move.
Each screen represents one mile and, when you get to the right-hand edge of the screen, you flip back to the left and the next mile begins. After 5 screens my ageing wrists were already getting a bit tired and, as I reached the end of mile/screen 26, they were practically numb.
I should have read the instructions screen really, however, imagine my horror after reaching the end of mile/screen 26 expecting to finish and the display changed from 'Mile no: 26' to 'Yard no: 1.'
I hit BREAK and had a look at the BASIC listing. It appeared that I had 385 more screens to go! (Arrrrrgh, nooooooo! etc...)
In a highly realistic manner it appeared I would need to pace myself rather than attempt to get the 'race' over as quickly as possible. So, for the next few hours, this is what I did; screens of furious button mashing and then leave for a few minutes before returning for more - I watched a bit of TV, played with the family, and even went shopping at one point.
Eventually I made it across the finish line (I won't spoil the ending) and, while not the best Marathon time ever, I did feel a certain sense of achievement.
Now I think about it, though, it's not much of an achievement is it? What a waste of an afternoon. Thanks a lot, Lee.