Reviewed by Frosty

Developer: Steve McCrea
Genre: Pre-Roguelike
Platform: Spectrum 48K
Language: BASIC

hobohemiav2.tap (Spectrum 48K Tape Image)
Menu screen

Wikipedia defines Hobohemia as a low rent district in a city where artistic bohemians and the down-and-outs or hobos mix.

Steve says that this is based loosely on Telengard - a game so old it was originally released on a tapestry (Are you sure about this? - Ed.)

This is also the first entry in the competition which isn't completely given away in 4 screenshots or less so, naturally, I'd no idea how to do it justice except to compare it directly to its inspiration.

Atari 800

Telengard was, in reality, originally programmed in BASIC on the Commodore PET in 1978. I couldn't find that version, however, I did find one for the Atari 800 and a suitable emulator. It took me a few minutes to figure out how to turn on BASIC support before I managed to load and play the game, only to crash it almost immediately by attempting to save my character at an Inn.

Next up I found this video of the C64 version (Hiss Spit - Ed) which looked a bit prettier* and, although I still didn't have a much of a clue what was going on, I think I'd started to get the gist. (Amusingly both versions were even slower than this CSSCGC entry so Steve instantly loses points for accidentally improving on the source material.)

* In massive inverted commas!

Back story

Although this game has no loading screen$ we are treated to a particularly well drawn menu, complete with a stylish logo, after loading (above.) Also, following a good dressing down in the Advanced Space Scarper Simulator review, Steve has gone all out with a full backstory and summary of the controls. Notably excellent work all round!

First of all I generated by own Hobo called; "Aarrrgh" with familiar RPG characteristics such as STRength, CONstitution and DEXterity, then it was off into the Dungeon (sorry, streets of Hobohemia.)

Take that you fiend!

After a few steps I encounter a Level 1 Cat and am offered the opportunity to [S]hiv or [E]vade it. Quick as you like I opt to attack - the poor moggy doesn't stand a chance and I merely laugh as my experience points increase.

Moments later I encounter a Level 4 Car (Eh? - Ed) but luckily I take it by surprise and it dies without so much as a glimpse of my makeshift blade.


And so it continues... I walk a few steps and I meet a flirty pig (What!? - Ed.)

I walk a few steps more, take on a Level 2 Elf and am victorious. This time, however, he appears to drop some food so I'm given the opportunity to [P]ickup or [L]eave. I pick it up which, in turn, results in me eating it (Ewww - Ed) and then I find I have been poisoned. My HP decreases but luckily I've enough to take the hit.


There's no end to the game, as such, you just keep walking around the streets until you either a) get so powerful that the game no longer presents a challenge, or b) you die. So far I've only experienced the latter.

According to Wikipedia the original Telengard was programmed in 937 lines of (PET) BASIC and so, even allowing for optimisations and improvements to the language, Steve's 108 line version renders Hobohemia a somewhat simplified homage:

  • There are only a few Magic Treasures:
    • Copper Coat (Take less damage)
    • Elfan Boots (Evade more successfully)
  • There's no 'reaction time' between encounters and actions (in the Atari version I'd barely been able to read the text before I got killed - so I see this as an improvement!)
  • There are no Inns to save your game/character
  • There's only a single level, i.e.: no dungeon floors, teleporters, lifts etc

Behold my random powers!

Unfortunately it's not a genre that ever appealed to me and, as such, I'm not 100% sure I'm doing the game justice so if any Roguelike fans would like to provide additional educated critque I'm happy to add them here.

All I can say is that the presentation is top notch and the game is perfectly playable - two phrases not often associated with the CSSCGC - so I'm not sure what happens next?

Perhaps we are trapped inside this paradox and are doomed to walk the streets of Hobohemia... forever?

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