Saturday 24 July 2010

Hungry Horace

That's enough of tracking down Russian Mega Drive clones. Time to be mentally scarred with something closer to home.

HUNGRY HORACE, from 1983. Because graphics don't matter apparently. If you were a fan of my Player Adventure series of games (games made within a matter of hours and have purposely bad graphics) you'll love this one. And its sequels... which I might discuss later.

Horace was a mascot before mascots were considered cool.... and before mascots needed nice and colourful and appealing. Oh wait, no... scratch that - mascots are only successful if they're nice and appealing, and that'll be why Horace was never a success. He appeared in a number of games, some of which were cancelled, and took up residence in Britain with his primary home being the ZX Spectrum. The first, brilliantly titled "Hungry Horace" showed up in 1983.

As well as being released for the ZX Spectrum (which some people actually remember), Hungry Horace was released for a couple of other platforms - the Commodore 64 (the version I'm running) and the Dragon 32 (remember that?!). Each version is more-or-less identical, not playing to any of the strengths to the superior hardware of the C64. Thanks. Beam Software were the developers, Melbourne House were the publishers. They're both now combined into Krome Studios Melbourne and develop things like Test Driver.

Hungry Horace is essentially Pac-Man. You play as the disfigured... pair of legs that is Horace (or the "colourful cartoon character" as the manuals and boxes so often describe), and you eat green stars for some reason. You also need to avoid black people floating heads, and... bells act like Power Pellets. What makes Hungry Horace different is that the stages are more varied. Rather than being a symmetrical maze, each section has a beginning and an end, and not all the screens are the same. It also doesn't seem to matter too much if you actually eat all the green stars.

But the build quality is far worse. Aside from the unusual controls (Q, Z, I, P) enemies just magically appear. It's not always too clear where the maze actually goes because all the walls look the same (bear in mind there's warps and tunnels), and there's plenty of dead ends. Often the enemies will leave fruit behind for extra points.

There is very little sound and the graphics don't get any better than the screenshots above. It's just a very poorly drawn graphic running around some poorly drawn mazes. The disk version was sold for £15 back in the day (though you could get it on tape for a third of the price). Do note though that the tape version takes a while to load, and never actually bothers to tell you it's loading. Just FYI.

You can't expect much from an old video game, but you should be able to expect a main character that... looks like something. Nobody truly knows what Horace is supposed to look like, yet he managed to get two sequels which also have fun ripping off other peoples' ideas.


  1. Hi!

    I'm interested in downloading Player Adventure, but none of the links seem to be working! Could you host them somewhere? I'm even offering to mirror them as I have a fairly reliable host that won't disappear any time soon.


  2. The entire series is included in SHPDBMGWL4 Mega Collection:

    (yes that is a compilation inside a compilation)

    Sadly it's a 102MB download since you'll be getting the SHPDMBGWL4 games too, but personally I reckon those games are maginally better =P

  3. Yup, I just found out and played them all. Couldn't get through half of them. :P

    Random and funny, though!