No, really. I’m thinking of doing an online magazine full of achingly pointless reviews of old games that you can’t buy anymore and wouldn’t want to anyway, with your 360’s and Ps 32798379287s and all that, you post modern gaming twats.

Spiky Harold

Back in the eighties, it was all I could do to stop myself screaming at my own reflection in puddles and kicking shards out of a mirror to slash myself to bits with. Jaw dropping depression and the omnipotent threat of nuclear destruction, coupled with having a “Sweeney” t-shirt, and no girlfriend meant that the only solace to be had was in playing games on a sodding Spectrum 48k. While my schoolboy friends were busy trying to get their bony little hands up girl’s mimsies, I was indoors scratching my arse, and – like a chimp – with an abacus – crying my stupid way through seven minutes of loading time, waiting to play shit like this:

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This looks awesome. Look at his funny face. I bet this game is amazing.

I mean, from the start this looks like a blinder, doesn’t it? Beware the phenomenon known as “Comparative inlay/vs actual game” syndrome. This means you buy a game that looks brilliant on the cover. Here, for instance, we have Harold the hedgehog. He looks like he’s up for it, he’s got all those spines, a big apple, and is clearly happy. There’s even a worm in that apple. Such detail! This game is going to be amazing, with that apple and worm as well as everything. I’m so happy, I could die now and live forever. Harold’s licking his lips. Or whatever passes for lips on a hedgehog’s face.

Then you get this:

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Excellent. Only another ten years to wait. Unless there’s a tape error. Given luck I might get to play this game in the next half an hour.

Yeah, alright, this is the loading screen. Hopes were always high during loading. You hadn’t played the game yet, it still looks brilliant. The sub clause “Goes hibernating” gives possible extra depth. Perhaps this is a tragicomic study of a mammal’s struggle to survive. Then you get going, and you get this:

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I’m only thirteen, and i’m already dead.

Another shit platform game. There’s nothing here that echoes what was on the cover. If anything it’s a punch in the face. Harold is a poor quality white bitmap. The game is incredibly hard. Like trying to thumb a lift in a sewer. Like most Spectrum games, it is all an exercise in futility. Another three hours of near monochrome torture. They could have used this game in Guantanamo bay.

After making a thousand attempts to jump past a bee and finally managing it after losing fifteen lives, you decide it would be a better idea to go outside and cry at the wind. Spiky Harold is a fun game for people who enjoy getting so frustrated they actually contemplate leaping into a furnace.

There’s also a bit in it where you jump over a wall thinking it’s the way out. It isn’t. It’s a crashed screen. And it means resetting.


About neilstilwell

Abseiling into trouble, a sewer rat staring at the stars. Disgusting. You can assist my search for the one ring by buying a Kindle version of this diary from here. It has some other stuff in it, and a dreadful cover.
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