16/48 Tape Magazine 04 - March 84

Y'know, other stuff, Sinclair related.
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16/48 Tape Magazine 04 - March 84

Post by Morkin » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:31 am

March 84. The second issue of Crash was released this month. How's this for a top 5 from the "Crash Hotline"?


And here's what we were listening to (in the UK at least):


With no further (Ag-)a-do, onwards with this month's issue. I played this one back then, and recognised a few of these offerings as soon as I saw the lists. So let's get stuck in.

(Program: "Piranha" Bytes: "Fish") by Ben Lewis

"On a diving expedition you discover that the sea is alive with deadly piranha fish but you continue to dive never the less to pick up treasure on the seabed and return it to your ship."

Ben neglects to explain exactly what the piranhas were doing in the sea, being freshwater fish (I Googled it to check, y'know), and then got completely sidetracked on some interesting factual information in the process).

Despite that Google-fu, there were Piranhas in the sea in the film Piranha 3D. Being a grumpy sod who doesn't like people crunching their crisps next to him while watching films I've tended not to go to the cinema in recent years, but I actually went to see this one.

It sticks in my mind because it was the first film whose ticket cost me over a tenner. The conversation at the box office went something like:

Seller: "That'll be £10.50 for the ticket"
Morkin: <raises an eyebrow>
Seller: <stares back> "Well, it IS in 3D..."
Morkin: "Yes, but it is PIRANHA 3D..."

Anyway, I obviously paid for it (and didn't do the value-for-money thing and keep the 3D glasses afterwards). I suppose it wasn't that serious and had some erm... fairly titillating scenes. I'll give it 5.5 out of 10, mainly for amusement value.

Anyway, where was I?

Ah yes, our brave (read: 'suicidal') diver is off to tangle with the Piranhas in an attempt to get rich by collecting treasure from the sea bed. Looking at the size of the piranhas, I'd certainly say that this diver is a few fries short of a Happy Meal...


My first attempt ended in abject failure. Because I didn't know the keys. I had to BREAK into the program to find them out. For anyone who needs them (yeah, right), it's:

Q - up
A - down
I - left
P - right

(I later found that the keys are actually printed in the instructions but when you press a key to start the game they only flash up momentarily, so I missed them)

The first couple of dives are quite easy - you seem to have plenty of oxygen and can even collect multiple 'nuggets' in one dive to save trips down through the (giant) piranha-infested waters. Each time you clear the treasure you get a bonus, which is increased by 250 each time.

The current becomes gradually stronger, making the controls seem sluggish as you are dragged randomly downwards and leftwards. After a short time all my divers were gobbled up, with my final score at 5100.

I didn't want to have too many goes at the game, but I did break into the program to have a poke around. Hacker Morkin deduced the following:
- the author had microdrives to save his game on, and
- apparently you lose a life if the current takes you out of the screen, which didn't actually happen in any of my games as the fishies got me.

Overall, a half-decent BASIC game, though it didn't exactly have me going back to play it more than a couple of times. Although my OCD was screaming at me to correct that BRIGHT PAPER on the gold nugget graphics.

OK then, what do we have next...




I must confess, I glossed over this a bit, something about creating a new typeface and making REM statements clearer. The author seeems keen on producing readable and efficient code and encourages others to do the same. The letter finishes off with congratulating the magazine for some interesting programs, despite its penchant for sneaking in adverts as programs....


Anyway, based on the letter contents I'd stake 50p and a packet of Rolos that Stewart Ward went on cut his teeth as a developer and is now happily working with cross-functioning teams in agile development ("...It made a generation... Who could code..." "Shut it..!" - Ed).

And ever onwards...


This month we start with an apology...


Fantastic stuff! :D The thought of hundreds (thousands!) of ZX Printers across the country suddenly starting up in unison with their eardrum-rending crunching... Aah, the smell of burning in the air...

I feel obliged to show the next page too...


I'm guessing my reaction was the same as the collective reaction of Speccy fans across the world...


The editorial also addresses Stewart's criticism of the lack of REM statements in the programs (memory, of course), and encourages people to use any 16/48 routines in their own programs, politely asking for nothing but a credit (and a review copy).

...And on and on we go. The next program is...


Hmmm? I wonder what this is...


Argh..! Stealth education alert...! Stealth education alert..!

Ah well, sod it - I don't know anything about resistors so let's give it a go, after all, resistance is fut... (<snip> - Ed).




Well...Would you look at that. I've actually learned something... As someone who knows very little about electronics (hey, what can I say, we've got Mutant Caterpillar and 1024Mak), I was quite pleased with myself.

Incidentally, I was going to print off my certificate, but my ZX Printer ran out of paper after last issue for some reason... ;)

Next we have...



Just a quick warning that there may be some very minor spoilers ahead, just in case anyone was going to give it a go.

The standard set of instructions appears - this month you've materialized on the Mary Celeste. Instead of N, S, E, W etc. we have "GO AFT", "PORT", "STARBOARD", "FORWARD". Yarr..!


I made a note of the code from episode 1 ( did I mention I finished episode 1? :) ) so finish with a bunch of objects I still have while escaping from Sir Clive's robots.

UNfortunately - the program tells me that the code is incorrect. The adventure starts, but I have no idea what effect this will have. I don't think my inventory looks any different though.. :?:

Well I think I remember this episode but don't remember getting anywhere when I played it, so was interested in trying it again.

My first foray around the ship was met with untimely death - twice. Not before seeing the Doctor disappear briefly:




There are a few ways to die in this episode, and I successfully managed them all (repeatedly).


Firstly after a couple of turns I felt ill and couldn't breath (sic). So apparently I was still wearing the spacesuit from episode one. :roll:

After removing it, I soon encountered the dreaded "you are hungry" message... My initial delight after finding some bread soon disappeared after finding out it had been poisoned with ergot (which I had to look up, as all I know about ergot is that you can collect the seeds in Witcher 3).

Fortunately there was also some cheese, which was eminently scoffable.


At this point I did get the feeling that I was going to get hungry again (I was correct), and would have to complete the game within a certain number of turns. Never mind - as the instructions have told me, dying is a learning experience (sigh...).

After a few short attempts, I've made it this far:


...So in a flash of light, not dissimilar to that in Quantum Leap, I'm done. 75% scored. I had another go to see if I could get a higher score but in fact scored less. I tried breaking into the program to see how the score worked but I couldn't figure it out and gave up very quickly. But as far as I'm concerned, I've done it.


Something that didn't occur to me when I originally played these adventures are quite how short they were. I think I managed to finish this one after only having to visit a massive 5 locations (including the starting one). If I do manage to finish the lot of these, I'll probably have doubled the total number of Speccy adventures I ever managed to complete.

Overall though - another short but enjoyable game, with some excellent graphics.

OK - now onto side 2..!

Adventure help from Yaz.

This month we've got some hints for Artic's Adventure C - The Ship of Doom.

I happened to play Ship of Doom in recent years and was doing OK at it. Its acclaim at being one of the early/pioneering text adventures on the Speccy was slightly dampened by the rather dull presentation, limited parser and slightly odd puzzles (like the stoopid disco bit). TBH I'm surprised everyone hadn't finished this by 1984 but I suppose this was still quite early days for the game-focussed mags.

OK, so we're probably expecting some standard hints, and then moving on.

But no - there's a big 'However...' (it really is - it's a big font).

For those of you who aren't familiar with this game, there are a couple of rather.. erm... "suspect"... commands in the game, and ODAGM is less than impressed with the parser understanding and possibly encouraging acts of sexual violence against a female android.

The editorial finishes with:

"Authors should remember that many home computer users are children and not twisted mysogynists who get pleasure from fantasies of gratuitous sexual violence."

It must have been around this time in the UK that Mary Whitehouse and the National Viewers & Listeners Association (NVLA) had started extending their gaze towards computer games - after all, it's all magnetic data tape conveying content. It seems surprising looking back that a text adventure publisher could grab the headlines for this, but there you go.

Despite Yaz's misgivings, hints are still grudgingly dispensed, albeit after the user has entered Artic's postal code ("from the inlay card", lol).

I cast my eye over the hints briefly but am not particulary interested after finding the solution a while back.

Next we're told we've got Hobbit Hints next month (again?!?), and we have a teaser with a hint on how to find Gollum and the ring, from Martin Edwards of Staines. Although given the often unpredictable actions of the characters in The Hobbit, I wouldn't be surprised to find Gollum dead in the wooden chest in the hobbit hole at the start of the game.

Time to move on, or as Yaz puts it:


by Peter Beckett

Odd innit...? Somewhere down the course of my life, I started calling this game Blackjack. I don't think I've said the word 'Pontoon' for years. Perhaps there are differences. It must be one of those surreptitious things, like the way Monster Munch and Wagon Wheels have got smaller over the years.

Anyway there's gambling involved - you start with £100 (half as much as the computer, no fair!).

After a dismal first few rounds, I managed to get the hang of it.


OK so nothing more to say about this - an effective little BASIC game, fun to play for a bit.

Onto the next item, which is a


What's this? An intro about z80 programming?

Two recommendations in 1984, which I guess a few of us amazingly still refer to today:
Understanding your Spectrum by Dr Ian Logan
Programming the Z80 by Rodney Zaks
...and of course, an assembler. We can see what's coming...

It's a TOP 4 recommendation! Woohoo..!

I'll just leave the summary here:


I think the only one I was vaguely aware of back in 1984 was Zeus. Any early "machine code forays" usually involved picking a random number from 1 to 65535 and RANDOMIZE-ing the USR bejeezus out of it.

A more detailed of the pros of each are also covered. To summarize:



This gam... er... utility lets you generate UDG graphics (from the 'a' to the 't') and promises to create a skeleton BASIC program, complete with data statements. After doing all the work the program will selflessly erase itself, leaving you with a mere memory of your fleeting time together.

For anyone interested, here's a sample output:


Not bad, not bad at all- very clean, and interesting that the program stores the graphics as VAL strings too. Quite a nice little utility program this one. 1984 Morkin would have been very impressed.

What's next then...

by David Lockett

I was half grimacing while this was loading, expecting it to be some sort of clunky BASIC Word Processor ("we don't need more than 16k, maaaan....").. But apparently not.


...Now that's what I'm talking about..! In the recent absence of Friday quizzes (cough, cough!), I'm ON IT...

A great feature is an option for Easy or Hard mode. Essentially "quick" and "cryptic". And of course, it's all 8-bit computer related, lots of it relating to BASIC keywords.

Genuinely though, it might be a good option for a Friday quiz if anyone fancies digging out all the clues. Not too difficult.

Next we have:


64 characters per line printing, with a 'big print' routine thrown in (I think we did that in an earlier issue).

A roughly 1k routine. The assumption is that our readers aren't z80 magicians, so it's a routine that can be used when programming in BASIC.

Ummm... There isn't really a lot more to say. Next!


OK, so we have a puzzle.

The magazine authors will "draw the tapes out of a bucket on 31st March 84 and the first FIVE correct entrants will receive software of their choice up to a value of £20".

At this point I'm imagining what would happen if the winner asked for a combination of classified ad games and a couple of the most obscure other games they could think of...

If anyone's interested, this is what the puzzle looks like...


I think this is close enough:


I think 1984 Morkin would probably have had his eye on the Crash top 5 at the start of this post.
...And 2018 time traveller Morkin would have probably gone for a Jetpac ROM cartridge :D

Well, that's the lot for this edition. Only one arcade game this month, but some fairly interesting content. I was quite impressed with the BASIC UDG utility program. And of course, now the pressure is on to complete all of the Long Way Home Series.

See you next month!

P.S. Sorry about the variable quality (and size) of images in this post - next time they'll look better, honest..!
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Re: 16/48 Tape Magazine 04 - March 84

Post by Juan F. Ramirez » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:34 am

Hehe, it was a cool read.

Shocked after seeing that the Speccy can display brown colour :mrgreen:

I thought it was only a thing of inferior computers! ;)
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Re: 16/48 Tape Magazine 04 - March 84

Post by PeterJ » Sat Dec 08, 2018 7:35 am

Great read. Thank you!
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