Jim Waterman is back at it again, sending me another huge game to review. This time, he’s decided to make full use of the ZX Spectrum’s expansive memory and full-colour graphics by porting a collection of games from an LCD calculator. It’s not as if other people haven’t had the idea before, but those other games had some actual graphics to them; the Casio MG-777 only has a three-by-three grid of digits to work with.
The first game in the collection is, well, Game I (top marks for creativity). This is a puzzle game, where you must manipulate the three-by-three grid until all of the squares contain the same number. When you select a square on the grid, all of the numbers in that row and column are advanced one place in the sequence. You can choose a skill level, which corresponds to the number that you must fill the grid with, and also a target number of moves. The computer works backwards from the final result, applying moves until the target for moves is reached.
Luckily, the second game, Game II (golden stuff, keep it coming) requires decidedly less thinking than the first, since it’s a fruit machine simulator. Unlike Juan’s, however, you have the ability to roll each drum separately if you desire. In the original game, each spin was its own experience. However, Jim has added a spin counter to this version, which allows you to select a number of spins to execute. You must then rack up as many points as possible before you run out of spins. You can choose to use as little as ten spins, right up to a hundred (!) spins. And then there’s this whole thing about how many points each line is worth, and the threes, the fives and the sevens only appear at forty percent of the rate of the dashes and the Os, and if you line three rows the score is quadrupled for that turn, and… you know, I’d like to implement all these brilliant strategies but it’s all luck based! You just have to hope and pray that it lands where you want it to, unless you want to work it out long-hand and calculate all of the random number values that are going to come next and consequently surmise which of the numbers is going to land on the lower left-hand square at the umpteenth nanosecond past eight o’clock! Let me just spin, free as a bird, unencumbered by all these rules!
Finally, we have the third game (no marks for guessing what it’s called). This is a Whack-a-Mole game, where I’ll be able to unleash my frustrations from Game I and II on small animals – perfect! Baby moles (represented by the letter O) pop out from the grid, and you must bash them by pressing the corresponding key. After being hit, their former square shows a letter. Press the corresponding letter on the keyboard and you gain more points. For every five baby moles whacked, an adult mole appears, which gives you even more points. I have to admit, I enjoyed this game a lot, and it’s undoubtedly the best in the collection (admittedly, that doesn’t say much for it).
Overall, Casio-MG777 Games does what it says on the tin. This is a no-frills, simple port of a set of games which haven’t aged all that well. Obviously, not all of the blame can be laid at Jim’s door, since this was technically a joint effort with Casio. I realise that this is a labour of love; after all, every detail of the original games has been scrupulously analysed and copied verbatim in this program. On top of that, he’s taken the effort to fill the entire high-score table for each game (these tables will stand as an eternal testament to his copious free-time during quarantine). However, it’s just not that entertaining. Sorry, Jim, but at the same time, congratulations, because this is a fine crap game!