Product: Rudolph's Nose
Publisher: Home Computing Weekly
Compatibility: BBC B/B+/Master 128
Reviewed by: Dave E
Originally published in EUG #73

Home Computing Weekly was one of the rare Acorn magazines that got a bit festive when the occasion required it and its 42nd issue carries two little BASIC games, Father Christmas and Rudolph's Nose. I've included both in EUG #73 because the size of the code for each game is so small as to be virtually invisible. Nevertheless if you fancy a bit of seasonal bleeping and keyboard bashing, they will entertain you for a few moments.

Father Christmas is a maze game played in Mode 1 with the 8x8 CHR$ sprites beloved of all the really cheap and nasty type-ins. You are a stickman version of everyone's favourite Yuletide hero, clutching a flashing present in your sweaty hands. The game is an overhead maze-type one and has the scenario that you are delivering Christmas presents to a lonely woodcutter. Unable to fly your sleigh between the trees to his house, you've parked it off screen and need to make your way to the house on foot. Easier said than done as you must carefully pick your way around all the trees littering your path.

Crash into one of them and you die and, rather unfairly I think, also crash into the house and you die too. However, make it to the doorway and the present will be delivered and you will proceed to the next level with an extra present to deliver. When you die, your sprite is also replaced with a shrub (Why?) that impedes that route on subsequent attempts.

As the levels get higher, the number of trees littered around the playing area get denser. By level four it can be almost impossible to move if taking some routes but, curiously, you do seem to always be able to find a way through if you really try.

A rule that is not immediately obvious in this game is that, when you reach the house, you drop the present and, if you are on a level higher than level 1, you need to return to your sleigh (or the bottom right of the screen if you are of limited imagination!) to collect the next present. Yes, you guessed it, through those blasted trees in reverse!

This is a rather unpolished game. When you die you get messages like "YOU ARE DEAD!" that are amateur and, if you type N in response to "Another Game?" it simply ends. There's a rendition of We Wish You A Merry Christmas before each game starts which, although heart-warming the first time, soon becomes bloody boring to have to sit through if you do decide to start over.

Rudolph's Nose also runs in Mode 1 and is actually... wait for it... a game which is completely different to anything else written for the Electron!! Alas, not really in a good way.

Do you remember when you were a little child and played games like Pin the tail on the donkey at birthday parties? Well, replace the tail with a red nose and the donkey with a reindeer and there you go - that's Rudolph's Nose! Still don't get it? Well, you are shown a picture of Rudolph, nicely done in wire-frame graphics, complete with his nose. Then, instead of being blindfolded and spun around so you're lumbering towards Granny with your tail/pin combination, the screen is simply cleared and the nose is placed at the bottom right hand corner.

You have to try to guide the nose, using the cursor keys, to the position where it was on the original Rudolph picture. It is surprisingly difficult (as long as you don't cheat by putting your finger on the screen). The game has been written with parties in mind - you get to enter the number of players at the beginning and it keeps a record of "who was closest to the correct position" so that at the end you can give the winner the appropriate punch (be that physically or via beverage recepticle).

Neither game would win an award for style - both are probably just above the standard of those on the dreaded Cascade Cassette 50 - but if you're desperate for some Christmas cheer, they might fit the bill.