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Hungry Horace (Commodore 64)

Hungry Horace Commodore 64 Title screen.


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Written by  :  Katakis | カタキス (41069)
Written on  :  Dec 28, 2016
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars3.33 Stars
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Pac-Man goes exploring in the park

The Good

William Tang, a former programmer at Beam Software, saw how successful Namco’s Pac-Man was and developed his own version of it called Hungry Horace for the ZX Spectrum, starring his own mascot - a crudely-drawn mutant wearing running shoes. But the game is no ordinary clone, it feels as if something was added to the original game mechanics. Its success not only warranted two sequels for the system, but also ports for the Commodore 64 and Dragon 32/64.

Horace has to navigate four sections of a park, collecting flowers and dealing with the guard that chases him around. Each section is more difficult than the last, and it will be even more difficult if Horace takes too long in completing a section as more guards will appear. To deal with them, a ringing bell can be collected and the guards can be killed, causing them to head back to the entrance to each section. From time to time, the guard will drop fruit – including cherries and strawberries – which will award Horace with bonus points if collected.

I am reviewing the C-64 version of Hungry Horace, and in my opinion, it is far superior to the other versions out there. Not only do you experience the game as created on the Speccy, but it even includes an editor where you can design your own mazes and save them to tape. When the game finishes loading, you are greeted with some impressive music on the title screen, and if left idle for some time, an attract mode is run, letting you know what to expect from the game.

The cover for this game looks excellent. Below the stenciled title, there is Horace, drawn exactly as he appears on the front cover of the Speccy version. Next to him is what appears to be a badly-drawn tree. The cassette looks nice as well. Inside the game, the animation of Horace running is excellent. The guards look just as good but don’t have animations; they simply move around the maze. When you get the bell, they turn into Fido Dido-lookalikes and stay that way for quite some time before turning back to their normal selves.

There is background music during the game, as well as specific melodies when you enter a new park section and when you have killed one of the guards. When they turn into Fido-Didos, the sound effect played in on par with Pac-Man’s. Horace’s walking sound is quite nice, too. While you hear the impressive music on the title screen, you also hear snippets of every sound effect.

As I mentioned earlier, included with the game is an editor, where you can customize your own mazes or modify the existing ones, and save your creations to tape. In the editor, you are presented with a grid where you can individually place walls, flowers, entrance/exits, bell, and whether you want to include tunnels. People who are unfamiliar with editing levels may want to choose to edit the existing mazes since it gives them a good idea how each maze was constructed, then create their own once they have a good idea.

Finally, like many games of the game, Hungry Horace can be used as an excuse to "score attack". The game repeats itself after you complete the fourth section and although there is no high score chart in the game, you can always write down your score and try to beat that when you begin your next game.

The Bad

Hungry Horace is a quite difficult game, especially in the later sections. The third section, for example, has only one path you can follow, and you must find some way to outsmart that one guard. From my experience, even though I manage to do just that, out comes another guard to make life hell, at a place where I least expected, and I get annoyed that I unwillingly lost a life.

Also, the background music becomes corrupted as Horace collects the flowers.

The Bottom Line

The Commodore 64 conversion of Hungry Horace improves upon the ZX Spectrum original, by adding music and sound effects that are pleasant to listen to. It also includes a built-in editor that you can use to create your own mazes beyond those four in the game. HH is not a bad game, but the two sequels that follow – Horace Goes Skiing and Horace and the Spiders – are far superior, and I'll will be reviewing those soon.