How To Be A Complete Bastard - ZX Spectrum retro review by Florinthedwarf

I've always wanted to know!
Shock! Horror! A swear word in a computer game title! Many people might be aghast to read such filth as "How To Be A Complete Bastard" being displayed on the front cover of a computer game....but not being most people, funnily enough this is what drew me to it. People may say it's childish to drop down to such a level to try and get attention, but it was based on a book by comedy genius Ade Edmonson, so do you know what I say to these people? Neh-neh Neh-neh neh!

I never myself read the book and indeed didn't realise it was actually indeed a book until well after the time I stopped playing it. My child brain and books didn't really get on, unless of course it had a swear word in the title so yeah, maybe I should have picked this one up! Anyway, enough gas bagging - onto the game itself!

Farts and wees aplenty - could you ask for more?
The first thing that you notice on the menu screen when it loads? A 'Fartometer' and a 'Weeometer' - I like where this is going. Also along the bottom you see 'Bastard points' with a 'Drunkometer and a 'Smellometer' down each side of the screen. Could these be the foundations for the greatest game ever? I wonder what devilish things I can get up to with these!

Start the game and you're presented with dual screens a-la 'Spy vs Spy' - or so it looks like. What you do in fact have, is two different views of your character, I'll call him 'Mr. Bastard' so as not to confuse him with anyone else, with one view from the front and one view from the side. The reason for this? Well, at first it's quite disorientating, but it is in fact so that you can see all the objects, furniture and white goods that you're surrounded with. From coats hanging on the wall, umbrella holders and plant pots, you will need more than one view to make sure you're in line with each item. Explaining this badly I know, but see the below image for the case in point.

Confused by the view? You're not alone!
As you can see, there are many coats hanging up on the bottom screen, but you can only see what looks like one on the top of the screen (which I've circled badly). As you move down on the top screen, you move across on the bottom screen, so you can get to each item. Hopefully, that helps explain the view/control system. If not, I guess you'll have to play it!

Why would you not want to eat soap suds?
The synopsis is that you - Mr. Bastard - are at an upper class dinner party at an acquaintances' house, surrounded by yuppies and general well, what you may call 'hipsters' these days, and it's your job to make their party experience as unpleasant as possible. Sound like fun? Well, yes indeed it does!

And what kind of shenanigans can you get up to to ruin these peoples' night? Well, quite a lot to be frank. Whether it be squashing potatoes on peoples' heads, throwing umbrellas at people, tipping water over peoples' heads, stinking rooms out by floating an air biscuit - the possibilities are near endless. It's quite a large house you find yourself in so there are many rooms to explore, including a nice garden area for you to lay your wrath of destruction. As a side from giving peoples' hair a nice hint of mashed potato, there are other bastard things you can get up to to pass the time.

Opening cupboards, searching through coats and cabinets, you will find an array items that you can eat, throw, drink or just put into your pockets until you something, or indeed someone that you may want to 'combine' it with.

Now, the various meters I referred to earlier (of the 'wee', 'fart', 'drunk' and 'smell' variety) are there waiting for you to fill them up. Find the extra strong lager and treat yourself to a little sup, then you'll find your Drunkometer increase along with your Weeometer, so they kind of go hand in hand. The same can be said for the Fartometer and Smellometer - the more pungent the trouser cough, the more the Smellometer elevates. Of course, if indeed you want to fill the room with one of your fragrant poots, there needs to be some food consumed. I say 'food' but this word is used in the broadest term possible. Fags, soap suds and washing up liquid amongst others, are all fair game when it comes to filling your stomach. Mmm....tasty!

I'm trying to cut down.
While this all seems to have the makings of an excellent game where you can do pretty much what you like (well, what you're not allowed to do in your own house!), there are areas where the game falls short. The two screens can be a pain to work out where you're going and will take some getting used to. Elsewhere, though there are plenty of things for you to find where you think may come in handy (shears, tyres, etc.) to use on unsuspecting guests but there is not always an option to pick them up - sometimes you only get the option to throw them or smash them. Though smashing things is obviously great, you still feel they would be better off used on a person rather than flying through the air. For example, upon happening on a large freezer I found a frozen chicken and a frozen pizza, my only option was to smash or throw them - surely making either of them taking a visit down someone's trousers would be a better option? By the way, if there is a way around this people - please feel free to let me know!

The object of the game? Ultimately, you need to light up the words 'COMPLETE BASTARD' that you find at the bottom of the screen, of which can be done letter by letter by doing particularly bastard things, though not every action will result in a letter being lit. Also, when a letter is lit, it will only remain so for a short period of time until you light another. If not, the letter will go back to it's original blue colour and will you have to try again. Anyway, enough of this negativity! Just felt it had to mentioned and now we're done with it, we'll move on!

Now you're cooking with gas - sorry.

'I want to be a four-hob cooker!' are not words that you will hear anyone mutter, or indeed shout, very often - unless of course you work in the mental health sector - but if indeed you have uttered these words at any point in your life, HTBACB will make your dreams come true. In game form anyway. You know that old saying about opening umbrellas indoors brings bad luck? Well, HTBACB has made this old wives' tale a reality! Simply find yourself an umbrella, any one will do, and open it up.......ta da!You're a cooker! Watching yourself shuffle around the house is all well and good but the only downside is that there's no way back. That's it. You're a cooker for life. Think carefully if being a cooker is your thing as it's a one-way street.

There is a lot of humour in the game as you can imagine, the majority of which being in the captions you receive upon selecting what to do with an item. Finding the bath plug and choosing to 'Wear as a Medallion' greets you with 'Are you a Bee Gees fan?', drinking oil will have your credentials as the Tin Man questioned. Decide to wear the blanket you find the blanket box and you'll have a response of 'Blankety Blank Impressions'. I think these are what keeps the game going, not all will tickle you but when they do, they're very good (the Blankety Blank one being one of my favourites) and some may even call a 'witty reposte' though that does sound a bit too 'hipster'. I'm sure Mr. Bastard wouldn't approve.

Can't a man drink motor oil without being judged?
In summary, I'd say you'll enjoy HTBACB though you can't help think that it could have been that little bit better. The controls can get frustrating and there could be more options when it comes to what you can do with items you collect. The humour is brilliant at times but I feel it just needs more of it. Looks wise, it's pretty good - nice animation and everything is clear for you to see, there's quite a large area for you to explore so it will keep you busy for a while, it's just missing that 'something' that would make it a great game. It will make you laugh and it'll keep you going for a while but you may be left frustrated at the lack of options to be a bastard. But, there's no way I could knock a game too much that lets you fart, urinate in plants, eat fags, turn yourself into a cooker - these are things in life I embrace, so I urge you to go play and do all the things your mum won't let you do! Well, in real life anyway.

Retro review by Florinthedwarf!

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