If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I owned a Commodore 64 in my youth, and although I occasionally played on Spectrums that mates owned, I'm not as "up" on Speccy games as I would like to be. Picking games to play for the blog can therefore be a bit difficult. Sometimes I'll rely on recommendations. Others, I'll recall a classic name from a magazine review. And then there are times where I'll simply scroll through the World of Spectrum database and pick something I like the sound of. That's how I came to play Mick the Mugger.
The game had me at a disadvantage right from the start. I was expecting some kind of precursor to Grand Theft Auto, some crime epic where maybe you worked your way up from a petty criminal on the streets. Although having said that, many Spectrum games were resolutely British, and so if this had been that game, you'd probably have been knocking over old ladies outside the Post Office and occasionally knocking off a bobby's helmet. And I'd probably have been fine with that.
What I didn't expect was to play a fat lad with a penchant for Beck's beer and a habit of butting in on photographs.
Mick's found his way to the bar, where countless photo opportunities await.
You see, the "mugging" referred to in the title revolves around Mick's unending quest to get his mug snapped next to as many people as possible. If someone has a camera out, Mick's job is to creep up to the unsuspecting subject and, at the most appropriate moment (or inappropriate moment, depending on how you look at it), snake his arm around them, slap on his trademark grin and raise his drink to the camera. Simple, eh?
Maybe not. In order to get to your "victim", you have to navigate a traditional platform game scenario, with the location's denizens intent on keeping you at bay. Fortunately he's prepared for all-comers. Pressing the fire button delivers a vicious kick, and pushing down in conjunction with pressing the fire button sees Mick launching an empty Beck's bottle at any hapless foe. Pushing up will, amazingly, see Mick jump, almost gracefully, over enemies of a certain size.
Should Mick be successful and manage to get to the end of the level, the photo opportunity presents itself. The viewpoint switches to a "through the camera lens" position, and Mick has a limited amount of time to position himself where he will get the best photo. Should he be successful, his popularity will increase and he'll be able to move on to the next target. If not, he'll have to try the level again...
One is not amused! Mick repels the attacking corgi with a swift punt.
With Mick being such an endearing cheeky Cockney chappie, it's not long before he's moving on from nobodies and attempting to be snapped with the A-list. Film premieres, football matches and supermarket openings are all fair game for our hero. Each successful encounter will see Mick's popularity increase until he feels confident enough to go for his ultimate goal... a photo with The Queen.
Unfortunately, for all Mick has charmed London and Hollywood's finest, Liz wants nowt to do with the lairy twat and has ordered her servants to attack on sight. And her servants are numerous and varied. Once inside Buckingham Palace, Mick has to fend off butlers, corgis and, in a nod to Jet Set Willy, even toilets. But if Mick can use his skills well, then surely that elusive snap with our Monarch will be Mick's for the taking...
It's rumoured that Mick the Mugger sold a mere seven copies, all of them out of the programmer's local papershop. If that's true, it's a real shame... for the seven poor kids that wasted their pocket money.
*Mick the Mugger is obviously not a real game, but something I knocked up as a piss-takey birthday "card" for a mate. I think it's got potential though, so if anybody fancies trying to make it, go for it! Happy Birthday, Mick!