Games Review: why the ZX Spectrum version of FDG Mobile’s smartphone game is worth a bash
- Coder: Couvej;
- Will run on: any ZX Spectrum with 48k or 128k of RAM (including +2s and +3s), emulators;
- Available file formats: .tap and .tzx – 48k and 128k versions available to download;
- Controls: Keyboard (Q, A, O, P, and Space), Cursor keys, Sinclair Joystick and Kempston Joystick interfaces.
At this time of the year, rabbits seem to be the flavour of the month. Easter is less than a month away and a certain rabbit themed film is taking box offices by storm. For lovers of 8-bit computers, spring is associated with 1982’s launch of the Sinclair ZX Spectrum.
The rabbit themed film is Peter Rabbit where Beatrix Potter’s most famous book has been given the CGI treatment. It has received mixed reviews with one reviewer saying “it tries too hard”. Alison Flood in The Guardian says that Beatrix Potter wouldn’t have been too impressed.
One of the most charming aspects of Beatrix Potter’s books were the illustrations. From what we have seen of the film’s images, too polished and soulless compared with the delights in a Warne hardback book. In computer terms, trying to convert Fantasy World Dizzy to the PS4 would have had a similar effect. Like Beatrix Potter’s works, the Sinclair ZX Spectrum is another fine British institution.
Somewhere between the adventures of Peter Rabbit and Sir Clive’s iconic home computer is Bobby Carrot. The original version of the puzzle game was developed and published by FDG Mobile Games in Germany in 2004. Today, you can get a version for the Speccy. Coded by Couvej, it is available in 48k and 128k versions.
Pro Peter Rabbit Simulator?
If you’re familiar with the Peter Rabbit book, Bobby Carrot should be easy to master. Your aim is to rustle a set number of carrots on each level. Instead of having to contend with Mr. McGregor, spikes stand in your way. You also need to collect keys, hit switches, and traverse bridges or conveyors.
On both the 48k and 128k versions, there are 30 stages (known as Carrot Harvest) where you need to collect carrots. A further 20 stages, entitled Easter Eggs is self-explanatory: just collect a few Easter eggs. Once you have collected all your carrots or eggs, you need to find your way back to the exit, denoted as a red and white target.
Bobby Carrot in its iOS, Android and ZX Spectrum forms owe a debt to Chip’s Challenge. It is a novel twist on the arcade puzzle game. Had the Oliver Twins coded Bobby Carrot, well before Chip’s Challenge saw the light of day, it could have been known as Pro Peter Rabbit Simulator.
48k and 128k differences
If you have a 48k Speccy or wish to go into 48k mode on your emulator, there are some distinct aesthetic differences. The background image on the title screen is also used as a border for the game playing window itself.
Though aesthetically pleasing on a colour television, the reduced window can be tough on the eyes past the second level. This makes planning your next move a tricky one.
Sound on the 48k version is minimal with occasional ploppy sound effects. On the other hand you could always play a good album or switch the radio on.
The most playable of the two versions is the 128k conversion. Though the title screen isn’t quite as jazzy as the 48k version, you have the benefit of a bigger playing area.
Seen below, the background doesn’t take up any screen real estate. We have the joy of a full screen which enables us to plan our next move more easily than on the 48k version. Especially so after the second level.
As for the sound, the difference between our 48k Spectrum and 128k Spectrum versions are marked. There is some good AY-3 music on the title screen and in the game itself. For prolonged periods, the in-game music can grate a little.
All in all the ZX Spectrum version of Bobby Carrot is a decent little game. Had it been released in 1991 I would have happily paid £3.99 for it on cassette for the 128k version. Though the iOS and Android originals have cutesier graphics, I prefer the ZX Spectrum versions. It is the kind of game which works well on an 8-bit micro.
Where Bobby Carrot falls down on is the small playing window for the 48k version which is why I rate the 128k more highly. Across both versions, passwords and continue points for each level would be a useful addition. On the 128k version, being able to switch the background music off would be a good idea.
Whether you play your favourite ZX Spectrum games on an emulator or a proper Speccy, Bobby Carrot is well worth a bash. You can download both the 48k and 128k versions from the Spectrum Computing website.
- Download the 48k or 128k version (seen as .tap and .tzx files);
- Open your copy of Bobby Carrot in your favourite ZX Spectrum emulator (usual LOAD “” commands apply in 48k mode);
- If you have The Future Was 8 Bit’s DIVMMC SD Card reader, copy Bobby Carrot onto a SD card and enjoy the game on a real Speccy. If you haven’t, treat yourself (yours for the princely sum of £59.99).
S.V., 09 March 2018.