In Andy's own words
This all came from me enjoying "ferrous ferries" as a phrase, and I wondered if it could be a game. And then I realised that there aren't that many games with magnets as the control mechanism.
Pam appears frustrated. Are the Ferrous Ferries too hard to master?
And I rather like the game, and have tweaked it A LOT to make it the best I can within the confines of BASIC.
And I have spent a lot of time playing it, as well as writing it.
- 10 levels (but they're quite challenging)
- A loading screen (I'm quite proud of it!)
- Some UDGs (characters A-O)
- A nice 'big font' when you complete level 9
- A cheat mode to skip to each level (press '3' on the menu) - no high scores for cheaters though
- A beeper arrangement of Barnacle Bill Hornpipe (based on Mike Oldfield's version)*
- Quite pretty, for BASIC
- Quite playable
PS I slightly fudged the 'magnetism', as applying force with an inverse square relationship with respect to distance slowed the game in BASIC down a lot. But it's still consistent with direction of pull, if not proximity.
Hope you enjoy it
Andy, August 10th 2023.
* Under 128K basic the timing isn't quite right, which is annoying. Play it in 48K mode, as the BASIC is slightly faster.
Back to the review
So the idea here you have to guide a tiny pixel, which represents a ferry boat through a set of obstacles using a system of magnets. I am going to be honest and say that at first I found this task very difficult and I wasn't sure where I was going wrong. The ferry seemed to build up speed and take on a life of its own no matter what I tried. HOWEVER I was sure that this was is not because of any shortcoming of the game. I can't stress enough that the failure is all mine.
The game is very hard, but also insanely well made - it even has a loading screen! Using a pixel as the boat/player is a great idea too. Otherwise the basic would be slow and the movement character based - the game would be terrible for sure. This is a game made by someone who understands all the shortcomings of Sinclair Basic, and has designed a game to make those shortcomings irrelevant. So the game is fluid and fun to play, in fact you quite forget the game is written in basic at all.
Then after a few more goes, all of a sudden, I started to get the hang of it. I just hadn't realised that you could make the ferry go backwards. There magnet are more powerful than I first thought! Once I got the hang of the game I really started to enjoy the challenge. It is still a hard game - but one that feels fair.
Ferris Bueller's day Offshore?
This is simply a GOOD game. What else can I say? You must play it, here
Guide to making your own levels
DATA format for making new levels:
Levels are stored at lines 6000+level*100, the first free one would be at 7100
Change line 9450 MAXLEVEL to ONE MORE than the number of levels (so it is currently 11)
# LEVEL NAME,Number of magnets (up to 7),starting timer
7000 data "Easy Does It",6,130
# Harbour blocks, number of blocks, then the coordinates of each in the format Xposition,Yposition,Xsize,Ysize
7001 data 0
# The Magnet Coordinates (x,y) and intensity of each magnet: 3 = normal, 2= more intense, 1=even more. negative numbers "push" rather than pull.
7002 data 1,15,3, 6,1,3, 15,1,3, 20,15,3, 15,30,3, 6,30,3
#Start pixel coordinates of ferry (x,y), and initial direction (dx,dy)
7003 data 10,10,2,2
#Fixed baddies; Number of, then co-ordinate pairs for each one (x,y)
7004 data 1,2,2
#Fixed collectibles; Number of, then co-ordinate pairs for each one (x,y)
7005 data 0
#Random baddies; Number of, then co-ord limits [x,y] (top left) and size of block they can appear in [dx,dy]
7006 data 7,4,4,14,24
#Random collectibles; Number of, then co-ord limits [x,y] (top left) and size of block they can appear in [dx,dy]
7007 data 3,8,8,6,14