Push Off You Disgusting Pervert: Streaker (ZX Spectrum)

streaker

The slightly strange menu. You’ll see this a lot.

So, potentially risque clothes business aside, does Streaker add up to a remarkable adventure title in its own right?  Surprisingly yes. One of the most interesting ideas Streaker throws into a generic flip-screen mix is the concept of time. Starting on a Wednesday, the clock moves forward relentlessly, having  a dramatic effect on both the game world and the characters as it goes.

The environmental effects of this ever-ticking clock are  fairly obvious: if the item you need is currently held in a night club, there isn’t much point in turning up at three in the afternoon. Likewise, if you need to get into the butcher’s shop, you’re going to be out of luck if you roll up outside at midnight.

More impressive, however, is the effect time has on the characters. For a video game hero, Carlin is remarkably frail. His energy levels are constantly being sapped, he is slowly starving to death and, being a fleshy human meatsack, he also needs to sleep every now and then too. Let Carlin get too tired, knackered or hungry and you lose a life.

When coupled with the environmental factors, this helps to keep things tricky. While Streaker may not be entirely original in having a mechanic you can use to move time forward in a hurry (in this case, a stop watch. A stop watch which also takes up a precious inventory slot,) Unlike many other games this comes at a real cost: Speeding up time also speeds up the rate at which his hunger, tiredness and exhaustion increase, so its not an option you can deploy willy-nilly.

streaker

I don’t know what that means.

Just to add to the complexity, Streaker’s thieves are just as mobile as the game’s sense of time. While the enemies in most adventure games tread an endlessly repetitive cycle, the thieves in Streaker are seldom found on the same screen twice. Equally unusually, contact with the thieves doesn’t result in instantaneous death. Instead, they prefer to steal an item of Carlin’s clothing, and only resort to stealing a life if the poor chap is already in his birthday suit.

Stitch all of these different facets together and you end up with a package that both works surprisingly well and deftly avoids a number of potentially game breaking bugs. The constant movement of the villains, in particular, means that even if you are unceremoniously chucked out the hotel after a thief removes your trousers, you can swiftly recover those trousers from the same thief on a different screen, without needing to access the hotel to do it.

And recover them you can. The streets of Zuggi are scattered with various weird and wonderful objects, and each thief has an individual preference for the kind of things they are willing to swap for your stolen kit. Best of all, these preferences weren’t stored on a separate piece of paper (as was the case with ‘Give My regards To Broadstreet‘) but can be accessed directly from a menu within the game itself, a system which works incredibly well. Find a few items a thief likes, and he wi“`ll no longer attack Carlin at all, which is a nice touch.

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