Saturday, October 2, 2021

Matter of Import 78: Hungry Horace [Sinclair Research Group 1982]


Hungry Horace is the first of three Horace games produced by William Tang for the ZX Spectrum. Each of the games has a very different gameplay than the others, and in this first outing Horace finds himself in a fixed-screen maze chase game. 

In the game you, as Horace, move through the maze-like park eating flowers and avoiding the park guards. On each board you’ll find bells that can be rung to scare guards for a short time - once scared, the guards can be caught and thrown out of the park, according to the manual - though it just looks like you’ve eaten them in play.

While this does bear some superficial resemblance to Pac-Man the layouts are entirely different, and you travel from screen to the next by exiting through one-way gates as you’d like, rather than once all of a board’s flowers have been devoured. New Guards will enter the levels the same way, from time to time.
Some of the level designs are distinctly unfair, with long winding corridors that make it almost impossible not to get caught by the guards in - particularly that of the third board.

Visually Hungry Horace looks good for a ZX Spectrum game, and the sound effects are decent. Controls are a bit of a pain - Q and Z for up and down, I and P for left and right - but after a few adjustment mishaps you’ll pick it up soon enough. Overall, it’s one of the more charming and playable early titles for the system.

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