Cult budget programmer Peter Gough (anyone remember the playable shooter Gunstar?) did it again and came up trumps with a gem of a ZX Spectrum game in Scumball.
This game was released in 1988 by Bulldog and at only £1.99 was an absolute steal.
In Scumball your job was to cleanse the sewers and destroy the uber germ leader, the slime monster.
Taking control of a sanitising robot named LINDA (Laser Incorporated Nasties Disposal Android - Gough's games tended to have plenty of humour in them) you had to enter the sewers and kill every nasty that got in your way. Talk about germ warfare.
First things first - the game was very similar in look and feel to the classic ZX Spectrum game Starquake.
Instead of the game character BLOB we had LINDA. The graphical style (some of the rocky platforms were very reminiscent) and animation certainly had a similar look to Steve Crow's work - but this was no bad thing!
The game was a flick screen platform game with the usual weird range of nasties to avoid and kill, items to collect and use and also various bonus features to pick up.
The mission, which you had already accepted, was to collect eight grenades (one at a time) and deposit each of them in the lair of the slime monster.
Once all eight had been deposited the slime monster could be blown into tiny slimy pieces and victory was yours. You would have killed all germs. Dead.
Of course there were plenty of nasties out to stop you. Mutated insects, giant crabs, snakes and other nasty sewer dwellers would all sap some of LINDA's energy - and if the energy level reached zero the game was over.
This game was a very good arcade game (adventure) mixing good puzzle solving elements with jumping and exploring action. Your character (which was easy to manouver and highly responsive) was also affected by gravity when jumping around and falling. Nice stuff.
With plenty of screens to explore and solve (mapping the game was handy as it was quite large), smooth animation and fast colourful graphics, Scumball was an essential ZX Spectrum purchase (a steal at the price) for flick screen fans, arcade game fans and platform game fans.
When Scumball was released it was a top, top budget title. Gamers enjoyed the character physics, the colourful environments and superbly animated nasties. As a budget game it really stood out and was well worth the asking price. By 1988 the ZX Spectrum scene was unfortunately in decline due to the lure of 16-bit machines, but cheap and arcade games like this proved that there was life left in the old dog just yet. This game did pretty well and deservedly so.
The test of time:
Well you know this classic game just has something about it. It was obviously technically impressive back in 1988 but even now it is still playable and fun. I always did like a good platform game and this is pretty much as good as any - there is plenty of variety in the screens and the game also has plenty of challenge in it. Here in the land of Spectrum Games we regard this one as a hidden gem - pure retro game charm.
Stick this one on - you'll never have so much fun cleaning!
Please see our other ZX Spectrum game reviews - all links are listed in alphabetical order. Cheers guys.
GENRE: Arcade Game (Flick screen platform game)
RELEASE DATE: 1988
RELEASED BY: Bulldog Software
DEVELOPER(S): Peter Gough
PRICE: A paltry £1.99 - UK
LINDA starts to clean house in yet another classic arcade adventure:
Classic Games, Arcade Games and ZX Spectrum Games