Howay, pet, what's all this then? They've gone and poot mi in ay computaa gaem. Thass norron, pet - unless they're gonna pay me ay munnai. Whaat? Ay pocket full of brass to ay Mirrorsoft? Ay well, worrcanyi expect of ay paper Flo reads all ay time... (Angry Geordies who wish to complain about the above feeble attempts to convey the full flavour of their own inimitable style should complain to the editor.)
Andy Capp is Me latest, but by no means the last computer game published as the result of a licensing deal. The only (slightly) interesting thing about this latest little coup de marketinge (as they call it in France) is that the company licensed to produce the game, Mirrorsoft, is owned by the same person, Robert Maxwell, as the paper, the Daily Mirror, which owns the copyright to the character the game is based upon- Andy Capp. Simple, really, innit?
What we have here is a graphic, icon driven adventure. Your objective is to survive a week in the life of our favourite typical Geordie stereotype, Andy Capp. What this means is that you have to a) beat Flo up every so often - after all you wouldn't want her getting uppity, would you? b) beg, borrow and steal enough money to keep yourself ahead on the rent; c) throw your money away on the dogs; d) stay as drunk as you possibly can; e) avoid getting thrown in chokey by the police; f) enjoy a flirtation with your fancy bit.
So there we have it in order to score as many points as possible, you have to be violent, criminal. sexist, alcoholic, and a spendthrift. And the sociologists say that the problem with youth today is that they need role models! What more could one want from a hero?
Actually if you can ignore our Andy's personality defects - and let's lace it, only Guardian readers wouldn't be able to forgive the lovable Northern tyke, right? - then Andy Capp looks like being an excellent arcade adventure. Great fun, simple but effective graphics and tough gameplay. Everything you need really.
The top half of the screen is a graphics window. In it you will see Andy and his present location, in glorious black and sort of off-white. Andy and the other characters are about half the window high, which means that the programmers have been able to get a pleasing amount of graphic detail in without making the sprites clumsily large. Each location is the width of the screen; walk off one side, and you move to the next location. Every so often, you can walk oft at right angles to the screen - just get Andy to face away from you and press up and you're in another location.
Below the graphics window, you have a collection of different icons, along with other information. This display panel tells you the day and time, how many kisses you have left in your armoury (very important - see further on), how drunk you are, how much money you have and what your score is. Then there are four special icons which you use to get Andy to perform unusual activities - wallet, speech bubble, boxing glove and exclamation sign. The wallet is for transactions - buying, betting, paying rent etc; the speech bubble is for speaking, (believe it or not); the glove is for when you want to have a punch-up; and the exclamation mark is for when you want to check your pockets, examine something or use an item.
When you transact, talk or use your brain, the program will give you a list of options. Highlight the one you want with the cursor keys, then hit fire and bingo. Child's play. A couple of tips: try and avoid the policemen - they seem yo sover you up quicker when you walk past one; buy yourself a racing paper, as you need a tip to win some money; and don't forget that every street has two sides which you can walk down.
In conclusion, Mirrorsoft has come up with the goods here; clever but unfussy graphics, simple gameplay with challenging problems and all wrapped around a character that everybody loves to hate - and I don't mean the rent collector. No matter what his personal life might be like, on the small screen Andy Capp is a winner.
Howay the lad!
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