PROJECT 23: RENTAKILL RITA'S LOVELY MELONS
|Project coordinates: X +223 : Y +58 : Z +184
Seymour's remit as the guardian of six essential farms is done and dusted, and I will give him no more workload. Instead, I will turn to other characters from ZX Spectrum games of the distant past that most of you will have forgotten.
Isometric-projection 3D hunt-and-jump games are usually associated with Jon Ritman and Bernie Drummond, but their only collaborations on this front were Batman (a rare example of a licensed game not getting a complete panning) and the famous Head Over Heels that appears on pretty much every "Top 10 Spectrum Games Ever Ever Ever" list. I could never get into these at the time - I had Batman, but found I could never judge distances accurately due to the lack of any depth perception on a 2D screen, so I'd inevitably crash into that block that would kill me in one hit. Head Over Heels was massive and had just as many instant-death hazards, so how anyone completed that in 1987 without a Multiface is beyond me. There were tons of others - I also had Super Hero, a Codemasters game that Bernie had a hand in, and before the ever-praised duo came together there were Ultimate's Knight Lore and Alien 8, which cemented Ultimate's reputation for excellent games marred by horrible controls - these were "rotate left, rotate right, walk" rather than four directional keys for the four diagonal compass directions.
Rentakill Rita is probably not remembered by too many people outside the World Of Spectrum forums, but was another game in this vein. And I've never forgotten what the graphics reminded me of. Compare, for instance, what Rita looked like on the cassette inlay with... her in-game sprite. Now, I know it's hard to see because the Speccy's notorious attribute clash meant she couldn't be coloured differently to the rest of the background, but even from here she reminds me more of the chunkier of the two Lilt Ladies from the 1990s Levi jeans spoof advert.
And that's why the first name that sprang to mind for this farm was the one that gave Finbarr Saunders a fit.
("Fnarr! Fnarr! Spad! Spad! Wib! Wib! Chot! Chot!" etc, ad nauseam.)
Now that we've got his inevitable reaction out the way, I was looking for a way of automatically harvesting pumpkins, melons, and any future "block that grows from a stalk" items which this farm could be easily adapted to. Obviously the inspiration was Dataless822's unnecessarily huge melon farm, with 800 melon stalks all instantly harvested as soon as they grow by BUD switches. Now, even once I'd seen this full series and found out how Data's double-pulse BUD switch ensures more of the crop will fall into the water stream to be collected, I still wasn't totally convinced that I'd need every plant harvesting instantly. Again, why not wire up all the pistons to fire once a day with a daylight sensor? And this time I could stagger the pulses - one to harvest one crop when the power level reaches 13, and the other when it reaches 14.
After a bit of testing, I came up with a once-a-day harvesting system where only four blocks of wall space were required per plant, where Data's enormous contraption required 12 blocks - that's why it was so huge! Plus, you know, that manta that was "Build Big Or Go Home". Well, I'm at home now, the ZX80 base is only a short walk away, so I'm all right...
Typical production rate per hour: 90 pumpkins, 423 melon slices (= 43 melon blocks)