Fat Worm Blows a Sparky

>Fat Worm Blows a Sparky is an action / maze video game written by Julian Todd in the five months before going to University and published by Durell Software in 1986 for the ZX Spectrum.


Julian later became critical of the game-play, stating that kid programmers like himself had “insufficient understanding” and that at the time “it seemed logical that the players ought to suffer” as much as the developers.

Let’s face it, just about the dumbest habitat for your average worm is the inside of a Spectrum. But, things being the way they are in computer games, that’s exactly where this particular worm resides.

Ol’ Fatty, the world’s most dense worm, has clearly hit upon the theory that this is the place where he is least likely to be hassled by blackbirds, robins and the like.

Just as he is settling down to the easy life, he suddenly realizes that things aren’t so wonderful after all. Contrary to popular opinion, the inside of the average Spectrum is absolutely crawling with life. Creeper bugs buzz around in Sputniks, swooping low over the main PCB. The Sputniks, if not dealt with, transform into Crawlies which try to attach themselves to Fatty. Just to add to the problems, termite-like Crawlies sometimes erupt from the surface of the PCB and chase him around.

Fatty’s eventual aim in life is the very natural urge to pass on his genes to another generation. Considering the limited intelligence he has displayed up to date, this seems a thoroughly dubious goal. To reproduce, Fatty needs to collect 50 spindles lying around on the PCB. Then he’s got to find the disk drive, get all his data copied and clone himself.

The microscopic world of Fatty is a world of bewildering height and depth. What might seem a sliver of silver conductor to you or me is an insurmountable obstacle to him. To get around, he has to be carefully steered up convenient ramps and slid along data buses suspended at dizzying heights above the PCB. All the various bits and blocks scattered around the place are given true perspective, so that, when they are at the center of the screen, they appear flat. As Fatty moves, and the object approaches the edge of the screen, the sides of the object come into view giving an impression of height not unlike flying over a Lilliputian version of New York.

Fatty’s fate is sealed if he picks up more than four Crawlies, but there are handy debuggers scattered around, and by crawling into them, he can shed any Crawlies picked up. He can also fight back against the Crawlies by using blaster sparkies fired horizontally straight from the nose, and by laying burper sparkies which wait until a Sputnik is flying overhead and then rise up to eliminate it. Very high-flying Sputniks are, unfortunately, immune. Burpers are also useful for changing direction, and can take out any Crawlies which happen to bump into them. Extra sparkies are awarded for picking up spindles, and can also be picked up when zipping along the thin data buses. Furthermore, misfired burper sparkies which end up lying on the PCB can be consumed and regurgitated later. Mapping is an essential feature to find Fatty’s way around the immense circuit, and to help, the game has a small insert map showing some of the nearby obstacles, spindles, and a rough indication of Fatty’s present position.

Fat Worm Blows a Sparky originally started life as Killer DOS, a mucho macho serious simulation of software worms invading computer systems, cloning themselves and corrupting all the disks. But Durell decided that it was all getting slightly silly, and instead chose to release a game which had absolutely no relevance to anything whatsoever. And thus was Fatty created.


Control keys: redefinable
Joystick: Kempston
Keyboard play: good
Use of colour: mostly shades of green
Graphics: innovative 3D — remarkable
Sound: workmanlike
Skill levels: one
Screens: huge scrolling area
General rating: extremely silly, and wonderful fun



A Remake by NOBY NOBY BOY™ & © 2009 NAMCO BANDAI Games Inc.

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