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Page 1:
Automania
Pyjamarama
Everyone's A Wally

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Herbert's Dummy Run
Three Weeks in Paradise

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Herbert's Dummy Run - ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64 (1985)

European ZX Spectrum Cover

Though Mikro-Gen had published an original game by Dave Perry already (Drakmaze), that had been written as an amateur and sold to them, it was decided that their greenest employee needed a baptism of fire, a quick, simple game he could make to get him out there (and making the company more money). Having ported Pyjamarama, Perry was keen to work on a Wally Week game of his own so was set the task of using Pyjamarama's code to make a spin-off title starring Herbert, Wally's son. The reason for Herbert's starring role was the theory around the Mikro-Gen offices that going back to playing Wally solo again in a simple sequel to Everyone's A Wally would be a step backwards and as Herbert hadn't been playable in Everyone's A Wally it was decided the tot should be the star.

The set up is that Herbert is now a toddler and had gotten himself lost in a huge shopping centre (mall) while out with mum and dad Wally and Wilma and having got lost he must find his way to Lost and Found where the family can be reunited. The game just recycles Pyjamarama gameplay only none of the atmosphere of said game. Two new spoof arcade games are added though - one based on Breakout and one based on Carnvial plus a variant on Pyajamarama's Space Invaders mini-game this time featuring the Daleks, the classic enemies from the hit British sci-fi series Dr. Who.

Herbert's Dummy Run

While still playable and praised in the 8-bit press the game just doesn't have that certain something that Pyjamarama had, the whole concept of the game is less interesting and original and puzzles were more obtuse without an explanation - Pyjamarama's puzzles could include as odd logic as they wanted, though they didn't, and the enemies could be bonkers, which they were, because it was a dream but what was Herbert's explanation? I know shopping centres are odd but really? Like Everyone's A Wally before it the Commodore 64 version was basically the same (programmed by another Mikro-Gen employee Nick Jones who worked on a few other minor Micro-Gen games like Frost Byte) while the Amstard CPC version was totally remade with new graphics and a much higher difficulty level.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Mikro-Gen

Publisher:

  • Mikro-Gen

Designer:

  • David Perry

Genre:

Themes:


Herbert's Dummy Run (ZX Spectrum)

Herbert's Dummy Run (ZX Spectrum)


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Additional Screenshots


Comparison Screenshots


Interlude - The Mikro-Plus: The End of Mikro-Gen

It's not unfair to say that after the success of Pyjamarama, Mikro-Gen really just became The Wally Week Company. Frost Byte and Stainless Steel were both enjoyable arcade-style games and SAS: Strikeforce was passable but only Ralph Cecco's fantastic debut Equinox got the same response from fans and critics as the Wally games. Mikro-Gen were working on something else though - the Mikro-Plus was an expandable ROM pack for the Spectrum that would give an extra 16Kb of memory (that was a lot then, trust me) as well as protecting against piracy, games would come with Mikro-Plus carts that would contain 16Kb of 'shadow ROM' retail for a few pounds more than regular tapes, Three Weeks in Paradise, Wally Week's next game, was developed with this in add-on in mind. The concept became the talk of the set, with distributors and publishers keen to jump on board and could have seen Mikro-Gen dominate the market, but everyone was hedging their bets and it all rested on the sales of the first MP products. Mikro-Gen founder Mike Meek had two games planned to kick off the Mikro-Plus: Three Weeks in Paradise, which was a sure-fire bet, and Shadow of the Unicorn, which was pretentious and ugly and everyone but it's developers The McLoughlins - and Meek - thought was crap. Three Weeks in Paradise was behind schedule, and though the rest of Mikro-Gen tried to persuade him to wait, Meek decided to go ahead with Shadow of the Unicorn as the first Mikro-Plus product. Shadow of the Unicorn was the only game to be released on a Mikro-Plus card.

Mikro-Plus


Three Weeks in Paradise - ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC (1986)

European ZX Spectrum Cover

Shadow of the Unicorn was a bomb and as it went down Mikro-Plus' fortunes went with it. All the while Dave Perry was working on his second Wally Week game which was to take advantage of the Mikro-Plus and be the biggest Wally game yet, as well as proving that that the only thing more British than Everyone's A Wally is casual racism. But with the Mikro-Plus out of the picture Perry was ordered to cut his game down, he says it was taught him a new way to design that he later used on his later hits whereupon you create too much and then pick the best bits. Luckily for the pieces of Three Weeks in Paradise on the cutting room floor Sinclair had been working with its Spanish distributor Investronica to create a new 128k version of the ZX Spectrum so Perry was able to rescue 6-odd screens for when TWIP became one of the earliest 128k games.

For Wally's big finish, Wally, Wilma and Herbert have been ripped off by local holiday firm Costa Del Cheapo and have become stranded on a desert island (they really should have figured out things were amiss when their transport was a pedalo) and Wilma and Herbert have been kidnapped by The Can Nibblers - the sort of small jabbering black men white people think inhabit all jungle locations. The game is easily the most creative Wally title and the backgrounds are wonderfully comical and detailed but up until TWIP the Wally games are set firmly in the realms of real life English locations - a car factory, a terraced house, a normal northern town and a shopping centre, obviously there were deviations, I'm sure there are no walking sharks in Newcastle... possibly, but the switch to a total fantasy, cartoon location is jarring and takes away a lot of what makes Wally unique, also we're back to one-hit kills, four lives mind you but still no one likes one hit kills Dave, no one, especially in an arcade adventure where you can spent ages taking items back and forth only to be one-hit killed by something you thought was in the background. Wally has three overall goals - to free Wilma and save Herbert and then escape on the raft - all of which require a series of other item based puzzles leading up to them and the knowledge that a picture hides a secret passage to the beach. The puzzles are a little less intuitive this time around but not by much and still have that amusing wordplay from Everyone's A Wally going on (you'll need Wilma's handbag to get past the crocodiles, think about it).

According to the two men who made Wally great Three Weeks was always planned as his big send-off even if the Mikro-Plus hadn't failed because its success would have seen Mikro-Gen going into the hardware and publishing side of the business and no longer making new games. It was the most successful of the Wally Week games which must have done something to help out the company's bank balance but there's text hidden in code insinuating that Perry wasn't getting paid for his work...

Like Pyjamarama, Three Weeks in Paradise was remade by fans as a Windows game with new graphics, this time the group Team SpecNG.

Quick Info:

Developer:

  • Mikro-Gen

Publisher:

  • Mikro-Gen

Designer:

  • David Perry
    Nicholas A. Jones

Genre:

Themes:


Three Weeks in Paradise (ZX Spectrum)

Three Weeks in Paradise (ZX Spectrum)

Three Weeks in Paradise (ZX Spectrum)


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Additional Screenshots


Comparison Screenshots


A Working Class Hero is something to be...

Wally Week was a little 8-bit pioneer but his time was over and with the last screen of Three Weeks in Paradise the Arcade Adventure crown (flat-cap?) would be passed over to a little egg called Dizzy who would refine the genre. Like the original good egg Wally was one of the very few 8-bit PC franchises to receive any merchandise - only a t-shirt, mug and t-shirt sold via mail order, but more than most and Pyjamarama and Everyone's Wally remain in the top tier of the '80s PC library, a library that contained over 10,000 titles. We can safely assume that contented with his success during an era where success was few and far between for those who didn't vote Conservative, Wally returned to the Red Lion to drink off his sunburn with Tom, Dick and Harry, rioting over the Poll Tax and watching Herbert grow into his listening to Eminem and setting fire to cars stage, and is today spending his retirement sitting in front of Loose Women, whatever rubbish Western Channel 4 have paid 20p to show today and Coronation Street with a cup of tea and three Rich Tea Fingers fondly remembering when Wilma could still fit into that vinyl mini-skirt and he could still jump possessed tires.

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<<< Prior Page

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Page 1:
Automania
Pyjamarama
Everyone's A Wally

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Herbert's Dummy Run
Three Weeks in Paradise

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