ZX Spectrum Technician Ted
Technician Ted was released for the ZX Spectrum in 1985 by the proffesional sounding Hewson Consultants, who were well respected for previous releases such as 3D Sieddab Attack, 3D Lunattack and Avalon.
In the mid 80's the platform games (and arcade games) genre was going strong, and Technician Ted was a superb example of a flick screen platform adventure.
Technician Ted was obviously inspired by the seminal classics Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy, and took this style of arcade game to the next level.
Hewson's earlier efforts had on the whole been good games (3D Lunattack being probably their best up until this point), and the arrival of Technician Ted heralded them as major players in the ZX Spectrum games market.
As soon as you began loading 'Ted' you knew you would be in for a treat. In a change from most other games, there was no loading screen drawn in 'line by line'. Oh no. Here you had lots of little 'Technician teds' running from side to side of the screen, each one at a different speed.
Meanwhile, a counter in the bottom right hand corner began counting down to zero so you knew how long was left before loading was complete! This must go down as one of the all time technical achievements on the ZX Spectrum.
Once the game was loaded, the level of polish stayed high. A nice little image of the 'chip factory' (the game's setting) was drawn whilst a lovely rendition of 'The Blue Danube' played. Whilst the music was playing the games title dropped into the screen letter by letter. The wow factor was up, and the game did not disappoint.
First of all, completing this (classic game) was very, very tough. There were fifty odd screens to be explored, and some tasks could only be completed in a certain order via a certain route.
The whole premise of the game was that you (as Ted) worked in a Silicon chip factory and began the day at 08:30 am.Your boss has set twenty one tasks that have to be completed before 5:00 pm, or poor old Ted would be given the boot.
Completing tasks usually involved visiting a room (such as The Silicon Slice Store) and jumping into a flashing box. This would activate another 'flashing box' on another screen which you would then have to find and hit.
This would the completion of one task. Working out all of the tasks and which ones were linked together was no easy feat - and not many gamers managed to finish the game without POKES.
The gameplay was familiar to most, moving Ted left and right and jumping across platforms, avoiding bizzare nasties such as mutant floating potted plants, rogue fire extinguishers and disembodied floating heads. There were also stationary objects (such as coat hooks) that would take one of your thirty (yes thirty) lives if you came into contact with them.
What was instantly apparent was the smooth animation of the nasties and Ted, and also the pixel perfect (and supremely accurate) collision detection within the game. No other platform game before had displayed moving graphics so smoothly (with so many frames of animation per object) or had allowed the player the option of such fine movements when timing drops, jumps and so on.
On top of this good in game music played whilst you went about the screens which never seemed to suffer from 'slow down' despite the amount of action on the screen. The music could be turned off if you wished too. Technician Ted was a very well developed arcade game that was addictive and playable.
The game tried to help out by giving you those whopping thirty lives to play with - and you did need them. Once all of your lives were gone then a short animation would play (very reminiscent of the Manic Miner foot squash) showing the boss booting Ted out of the factory and into a trashcan. It would be back to square one and time for another go.
This title gained some publicity prior to release, but nobody expected it to be quite as good as it turned out to be. When it was released people were amazed at the loading screen and the pixel perfect graphics. Most players had fun by simply exploring the chip factory and attempting to reach new screens. It was highly challenging but most people never thought the game was unfair. It's reputation put it up there with Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy - an accolade well deserved. Crash magazine awared it a Crash Smash rating and overall score of 96% which was one of the highest ever ratings.
The test of time:
The genre of the platformer is certainly dated, but Technician Ted is a true classic game in this field. The game is very simple, but the playability is still there and completing it will still test the hardiest of gamers. The off the wall nasties and room names still raise a chuckle too. The developers Steve Marsden and Dave Cooke really pushed the level of technical programming with this game.
Technician Ted the Mega-Mix was realeased a couple of years later for the Spectrum 128 which featured twice as many rooms, tweaked gameplay and true three channel music. It was nice to see a company putting in real effort into a remix of a classic game.
All in all, Technician Ted is definately worth another look after all these years.
We recommend getting hold of the real hardware - but if not then download an emulator and download Technician Ted for the ZX Spectrum. Alternatively you could try and play it online.
GENRE: Platform Game (Arcade Game)
RELEASE DATE: Early 1985
RELEASED BY: Hewson Consultants
DEVELOPER(S): Steve Marsden and Dave Cooke
13 May 2009
ZX Spectrum Technician Ted