Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Speccy Homebrew Games #1

Gloop Troops (2010)
By: Little Shop of Pixels Genre: Platform Players: 1 Difficulty: Easy
Featured Version: ZX Spectrum First Day Score: 22,500
Also Available For: iOS

When I gave the wonderful mobile game I Am Level a good going over last year its Speccy-style graphics and presentation made me realise something. For most of the time I have been running Red Parsley, I've covered a few doujin games here and there as well as a number of indie/download titles for PC and PSN, but I don't think I've played a single homebrew game for the Spectrum in that time, much less reviewed one. This is odd since the continuing passion shown by these talented, dedicated gamers never fails to impress, and the Speccy is of course one of my favourite systems too. So it's about time I started taking a look of some of them, and the first one I've chosen is Gloop Troops which was released back in 2010 by Little Shop of Pixels (also known as Andrew Oakley and Simon Franco). I can't recall where I first saw it now but it clearly did something to catch my eye.

The scant backstory provides you with no more guidance than 'Save our Princess'. What she's princess of I couldn't say but the quest to reclaim her takes the form of a single-screen platformer similar in style to the all-time great, Bubble Bobble, and consists of some thirty stages. Unlike that game, however, the object isn't the slaughter of the enemy creatures on each of them - you must instead collect all the stars. It's not even possible to kill the enemies here actually. You can briefly stun them but that's all the help you'll get. There are four types of enemy - cyan walkers who plod back and forth on the platforms, magenta drone things that move up and down in mid-air, green robots which are similar but more sideways as well, and blue spike-balls which move diagonally. Sadly, there are also flashing versions which cannot be stunned.

Avoiding the creatures/devices is the order of the day here then, as you run and leap around each of the stages trying to reach all the stars, but you can't take too long as there is also an alarmingly tight thirty second time-limit! Beating the clock is made easier by your ability to jump up and drop down through platforms (though only the thin ones), and many stages also allow you to drop through gaps in the bottom of the screen and reappear at the top (much like Bubble Bobble, in fact). This is also a great help - essential in fact, on some stages - but you have to be careful not to fall onto enemies, or indeed the many spikes with which the stages are increasingly festooned. That said though, it's actually not a very tough game to get through. Only one stage caused me real problems but I still managed to finish the game on my first sitting and I don't do that very often.

You do get a surprisingly numerous nine lives but it's not just that; the enemies are mostly fairly easy to avoid too, and the stage designs aren't too taxing even at their worst. They are enjoyable to play through though, and even if they don't last you long, I suspect you'll have a lot of fun while they do last. A big reason for this is the wonderful colourful graphics which really are a treat for the eyes, and the varied style and layout of the stages makes it difficult to resist seeing what the next one will look like. Sadly, as mentioned, this won't take too long to discover, but this really is my only issue with the game. I mean, the sound is almost non-existent too, but that just makes it a more authentic Speccy game! Like most homebrew games it's also free to download and play so I shouldn't really complain about anything! Give it a go, it's easily worth playing for the lovely visuals alone.

RKS Score: 7/10

Gameplay Video: here's a quick look at the game courtesy of the YouTube fellows at Spectrum Nostalgia (check out their great channel here). If you like the look of it, download it from the splendid World of Spectrum website here and give it a go :)



  1. I got a strong vibe of Snow Bros just from looking at it.
    And that is a GOOD thing for me

    1. It plays more like Bubble Bobble than Snow Bros but it's good fun anyway :)