Computer Gamer1st October 1985
Published in Computer Gamer #7
A game based on the cult BBC series, The Young Ones, is sure to be a big success. Tony Hetherington takes an in-depth look at the game featuring Rick, Neil, Vyvian and Mike
The Young Ones
Neil: "Listen, guys, I've got something really important to tell you. Those really heavy people at Orpheus have written a game with me as its star. Yeah, I'll be famous, like, and everyone will ask me to their parties and..."
Viv: "Shutup, you stupid hippy."
Neil: "No, listen, we're all in it. It's going to be really heavy! There's one thing though, guys. It's going to be, like, difficult to play it with my hands nailed to the floor."
Viv: "Answer the door, Neil."
Rick: "Come on Neil, stop doing those girly handstands and answer the door."
Neil: "Oh, I see, it's get at Neil day again... or is it get at Neil year? Anyway, I can't because Viv nailed my hands to the floor."
Door opens and Jertsy Bolovski enters.
Bolovski: "Hello boys, it's your beloved landlord - oh, look it's one of those computer game like we have in Poland. My favourites are Russian Tank Spotting and Dissident Invaders".
Rick: "What's all the excitement in a fachist, girly computer game? I'm young, I'm free and on a one-way trip to oblivion and I don't care! Do you think Orpheus would be interested in computerising some of my poems about Cliff?"
Mike: "Mike the cool person here with an important message for anybody who can't afford a shirt like mine and still want some style points. The game featuring the amazing cool Mike and the other three is available to anyone who has a Spectrum, C64, Amstrad or MSX computers. I have this feeling that someone's about to tell you more about it..."
The game of the cult BBC series The Young Ones (I was right, Mike the amazing cool person) is best described as an icon-driven experience in the Young Ones house. You take the role of one of the characters while the others are controlled by the computer. The action takes place in a two storey house containing some very strange rooms.
The screen shows two of these rooms, one from each storey, each occupying a third of the screen. The rooms shown are not necessarily on top of each other but are the room your chosen character is currently in and the most interesting room from the other floor. For example, as Mike, you're in the sitting room watching the video and Vyvian is attacking Rick with an axe in the bathroom then those are the rooms that are shown.
This gives you a fighting chance to follow at least part of what's happening in the house.
It is important to note that the rooms are always shown on the screen at the same angle with only three of the rooms walls shown. There is also a door at either end in case you have to run away and maybe one or two doors in the back wall.
It is in these rooms that the Young Ones continue with their normal day-to-day activity accompanied by an impressive digitised version of the TV program's closing music. The characters are beautifully animated and are immediately recognisable as soon as they walk through the door. For example, Neil slouches through at medium hippy pace where Vyvian runs. They can and do talk to each other through comic style speech bubbles which adds to the fun and atmosphere of the game.
The top third of the screen contains three joystick-controlled icons which allow you to MOVE, DO and TALK.
The MOVE icons contain arrows which point towards the available exit and allows you to continue moving after DOing or TALKing.
DO allows you to pick up and use the various things in a room. These things split into three basic groups. First, there are about fifty objects which include a video recorder, H-bomb, sledgehammer, axe, fork, bowl, sunglasses, cornflakes, guitar, lentils, key and of course a Cliff Richard record. These all can be picked up/dropped, used either on their own or with another object, broken or thrown away. Then there are the rooms active scenery, for example the sofa or chair that can be used but not picked up. Finally there is the passive scenery which is only present to make the place look untidy.
Selecting DO generates a list of things in the room which can be chosen with the joystick. Once one has been selected, a further list of options appears which lists the things that you can do to that object. These take the form of adventure style commands found in more normal games. However, to speed things up only possible actions are displayed. For example, mend will only appear if an object is broken, as will THROW AWAY if a bin is in the room.
The TALK box produces a similar list of options and lists the things or people that you can talk about. What is actually said depends on an incredible number of factors and variables that combine to form the computer personalities of Rick, Vyvian, Mike and Neil.
The characters of the Young Ones have been captured by the game with the result that the character you choose will depend on the type of game you play. For example, Neil will slope around extolling the virtues of heavy metal and lentils whereas Vyvian will be slightly more aggressive.
Each character views the game's objects in a different way and, indeed, each has his on aims in the game and way of winning. For example, a Cliff Richard record means nothing to Mike but is essential to Rick and his poetry.
All you know as the game starts is that some objects are more important to your character than the other. Further clues to your goal will appear as you progress through the game. The list of objects generated by the DO command guides you in the right direction by listing the objects in the order of importance for that character. So if you see that the smelly sock is top of your characters list for a room then you know that you should do something with it. This may involve other objects in other rooms or indeed those held by the other characters.
Each character has a memory and will remember just how nice or nasty you have been to them. This will, of course, affect their reaction to you as a mistreated Neil will moan about your "bad vibes" whereas Vyvian may find a use for the sledgehammer or the axe.
Winning The Game
It would be impossible to list in detail how each character can win the game as each is trying to complete a different objective which will become clearer as you play the game. Instead, some more general pointers that should help you through the game.
It is vital that you get into the character of the person you are playing. This is because an internal scorer marks you on your performance during the game. If you act out of character then you'll lose points. This score isn't displayed anywhere on the screen, it's just used by the program to keep track of each of the characters are doing.
Points are also scored for successfully using your important objects and lost for breaking them.
Using the DO and TALK commands can give you some important clues. DO lists them in order and TALK can give you some important additional information. For example, if you ask Neil to talk about the amplifier he'll probably say how great his guitar will sound with it. This tells you not only that it's his but also that he needs his guitar. On the other hand, if Vyvian finds Rick's Cliff Album, he'll no doubt realise that it's important to Rick and break it. However, Neil wouldn't break it he'd just "hate" it because it belongs to Rick who's always getting at him. Consequently, not only can you collect the objects you need, you can hinder the others by breaking objects they need. This should, of course, be done in moderation as it will infuriate the other characters who may decide that it's time for you to start again.
You should also keep a close eye on what's happening in the other room currently on the screen display as it will help you keep track of the other characters. You may also learn a lot by watching for speech bubbles as the others talk to and about each other.
Following another character around is useful if you want to try playing them next time as it will give you some idea of what you need to do. Initially, you will find that the computer-controlled characters are better than you and will beat you consistently. This is helped by the fact that they know their way around the house so to counter this a few mapping expeditions are recommended. Indeed, finding all the rooms may in itself pose a challenge but will help some characters reach their aim. Don't fall into the mapmaking trap that the two storeys are neatly stacked on each other with all the rooms in line because they aren't. Some rooms overlap two others whereas others only cover part of one.
Remember that you can use the "active" part of the scenery and not just the objects lying around.
Unlike any other licensed game where you don't need to have read the book or seen the film to play the game, anything that you remember from the TV episodes will help you since all the actions, objects and characteristics are taken from the shows.
Taking on the challenge of producing a game based on The Young Ones was certainly an onerous one. However, Orpheus have met that challenge well by producing a superb simulation of life with the Young Ones.
In fact they've produced four games in one. Playing each of the characters requires a different strategy.
The excellent sound and graphics add to the appeal of the game but its real strength lies in the personalities of the Young Ones themselves.
Orpheus have invested a lot of time and effort into getting this right and have even enlisted the help from the writers of the TV series including Rik Mayall.
This has certainly worked well as Neil is a hippy, Rick a people's poet, Vyvian a hooligan and Mike a cool person.
Everyone has their favourite character from The Young Ones. Mine is Neil. Here's your chance to play him in a game that's heading straight for number one.
The Young Ones is to be released on the 1st October 1985 for the C64, Spectrum, Amstrad and MSX computers.