the retro (ad)ventures

"The Trap Door" (ZX Spectrum, 1986)

I just happened to stumble upon this 80s cartoon TV series titled The Trap Door. It's the first time I ever heard about it and I'm hooked already. I immediately thought of Wallace and Gromit --quite understandable since one of the animators of The Trap Door went to work on Wallace and Gromit later on, as explained in the Wikipedia page.

The child-terror tone also reminds me to Malcom Bird's The Witch's Handbook --another 80s child-creepy book that I adore.

The best part is that as with every popular topic in the UK at that time, there's a ZX Spectrum game inspired by this series!

It was programmed by Don Priestley, about whom I had read some months ago when doing research on the Spectrum's attribute clash (for programming that effect into Nerdstalgia).

All the reviews point to its smooth graphics and its lack of attribute clashing due to 'some ingenious programming'. The video shows a nice game, but how does it feel to play in real life? (OK, in an emulator)

I used FBZX as emulator, and used the TZX file from the game's World of Spectrum profile page. In theory this emulator has a fast loading mode, but I opted for the 'normal' loading speed, so that I could totally enjoy 'the real Spectrum experience'. Apart from hearing those cranky machine-speak tape sounds, I could also enjoy the nice detail of Berk (the blue main character) blinking while the game loaded. Of course, that was only once that screen had been loaded. It's amazing how far we've gone with computers :-)

This aside, and after a good while, it finally finished loading. Some nice background music and once I pressed a key it showed me some options for reconfiguring the keys or skipping this step and start playing immediately. I chose 'learner' since it was the first time I played.

Not that I intended to go too far away--I just wanted to see the graphics and check by myself if they were as smooth as mentioned. And yes, they were indeed smooth and nifty (specially considering their size and the speed of the computer they were designed to be shown on). But I couldn't get too further with the game. The controls were getting on my nerves and I was getting increasingly distracted by the evil face of The Thing turning redder and redder with each second I wasted wandering around while trying to figure out what and how to do it.

I even went as far as opening and closing the famous Trap Door, but then failed miserably in my attempt to collect the worms that escaped from the door for The Thing. At this point I sadly quit the game. Nice graphics--but those controls are too hard for me, I'm afraid!

I guess I've grown lazy with the age :-P

My rating: 4/10