Wednesday 23 November 2016

Trashman (Amstrad CPC review)

Developer: New Generation Software
Publisher: Virgin Games Ltd
Released: 1986

Trashman is an action game that was also released on the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum.

The challenge is to empty all the bins from each road into a dustcart and return them to their original spot. To make things more difficult you must also avoid cars, as failing to do so results in an instant Game Over. An important part of the gameplay is your ever-decreasing bonus score which needs to be topped up by completing tasks set by local residents; these simply involve entering their house once you've emptied their bin. However, accidentally walking on their grass rapidly depletes your score, ruins your chance of getting a bonus from them, and puts you at risk of being bitten by a dog, causing you to limp! If the score runs out completely you lose one of your three attempts to avoid being fired. Parts of the gameplay remind me of Freeway (1981, Atari 2600) but without the smooth controls. For example, there's a split-second delay in inputs registering which can cause you to overshoot your intended pathway and end up on the grass, or worse yet, in the direct line of a vehicle. Your binman also moves sluggishly and it's difficult to avoid speeding cars as they're too fast and you have little time to react. The most criminal control issue though is that your bin-man sometimes takes another step forward despite you clearly pressing back to dodge a collision; it's utterly ridiculous and makes success reliant on luck as much as skill. The action is also repetitive with no additional hazards or street scenery to break things up as you progress. The game does have a good sense of humour but many of the jokes are repeated and bizarrely focus around the ZX Spectrum computer. Speaking of which, the graphics are ported straight from the Speccie and look appalling.
Trashman is plagued with dodgy controls and a lack of gameplay prowess to back up its neat core idea. It's also a lazy port with no attempt to take advantage of the CPC's enhanced colour pallete, and unless you have some deep-rooted nostalgia for the game it really can't be recommended.
Random trivia: The next game in the franchise was called Travel with Trashman (1986, Amstrad CPC).

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