Wednesday 3 August 2011

Fundamentally Loathsome (Phantomasa 3) (ZX Spectrum)

The list of classic ZX Spectrum games with nudity, of any kind, is probably quite slim. Samantha Fox Strip Poker comes to mind. And Stormlord's fairies. One suspects that 80’s publishers did not think that the market (or graphic capabilities) were ready for that much flesh.
Fast forward to the naughty noughties and beyond, and The Mojon Twins have seemed eager to get nudity into Speccy games through any means possible... if there was an unused border or loading screen in one of their games, it's a fair guess that they'd consider putting a sexy lady picture on it. Some may baulk at such gratuity, but you have to admire their deliciously non-politically correct house style.
With Fundamentally Loathsome we are not only treated to a sexy loading screen lady to amuse us (whilst our emulator loads the game in a blink of an eye), but also in game. But what's this...?! The in-game sprite is big. Tir-na-nog big. And naked. Goodness gracious me!
Phantomasa jumps, ducks and shoots her way around a full screen scrolling landscape, collecting coins – until she has collected enough to move to the next stage. There is not a great deal more to explain about the gameplay, and therein lies the problem.
If the game was stripped (tee-hee!) of the eye-catching visuals there is very little game to enjoy. The full colour parallax scrolling effects are very clever, and impressive on a ZX Spectrum, but the actual game play is minimal. Exacerbating this is the fact that, with very little ammo available, the game quickly becomes a (very pretty) avoid-em-up.
Once three levels of coin collecting in the buff have been completed, it is on to a forced right scrolling level, along a conveyor belt. This is very hard – and again not all that pleasing to play.
Overall Fundamentally Loathsome is not quite loathsome – but there is little to recommend it other than the admittedly nice graphics, and the academic interest of looking through the source code (available on their website) at how The Mojon Twins have used a C compiler and splib2 routines to do the 'fake' full screen scrolling. Which this may be fascinating in itself, it does not make the game any more fun. As an example of what a Speccy is capable of it is brilliant. As a way of enjoying yourself ... far less so.
It clearly says something about the quality of the gameplay when the only high points that a reviewer can talk about out are the particularly beautiful parallax scrolling 'press a key' screen and title graphics. However, whilst you are avoiding actually playing Fundamentally Loathsome, you could at least take time to enjoy the backstory to the game plot, which is pleasingly fruitbat bonkers.
Ultimately this is a game to download, enjoy the graphics, and then hide under your bed with your copies of Razzle. You won't want to play with it often. (You'd go blind).
2 out of 5
Download the game here (from The Mojon Twins' site).
Run it using Spectaculator (shareware) or Klive (freeware).

Second Opinion
Amusingly (to my crude mind at least), when you crouch and fire Phantomasa looks as though she is performing a certain act with a pingpong ball that you can pay to watch in gentlemen's clubs.  More so when you note that she is wearing high heels, despite otherwise being completely devoid of clothes.
Sadly, this crude and accidental humour is the best part of this otherwise poor excuse of a game.  Definitely not up to the standard of the Mojon's other releases.
J. Monkman

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