Chews flash

I’d normally make it my policy to embargo coverage of any games that are totally devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever. So I’m not sure what went wrong here.

While Nestle were content to have gamers play as Quiky the Nesquik bunny as a brand awareness exercise, giving the game away for free, The Sun newspaper, true to form, were not so charitable. ‘Snapperazzi’ is not only a protracted, tedious PR stunt for the newspaper, it’s also plastered with the corporate branding of two sponsors; Domino’s Pizza and Fizzy Chewits.

Quite possibly this triple-whammy endorsement-orama earns it the dubious title of the most product-placed game on the Amiga platform, barring the likes of Premier Manager 3 which includes dozens of advertising boards featuring real companies who paid for a spot, or who received a free pass because they were related in some way or another to the publisher, Gremlin Graphics.

 

As early as 1993, neither Chewits nor Domino’s were new to the practise of shoehorning corporate advertisements into video games.

In 1988 Gremlin Graphics and Chewits collaborated on a project which culminated in a Spectrum Pac-Man clone featuring the Chewits Monster Muncher mascot (which purely by coincidence I’m sure is the mirror image of Godzilla). ‘The Muncher Compo’ was given away with issue 81 of Sinclair User magazine via Megatape 10… should you wish to dig out an emulator and give it a whirl.

In the same year, the dynamic duo worked together on another Chewits title, this time designed for both the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. ‘The Muncher’ was developed by Beam Software, a full price commercial release which would have set you back a whopping £7.99 at the time. It is essentially a scrolling evolution of Rampage where the goal – again playing as Godz… I mean the Monster Muncher – is to wreak havoc upon a city, decimating buildings and eating people to earn as many points as reptilianly possible.

Incidentally, the first Chewits ad broadcast in 1976 was all very Rampagey too, albeit with a claymation, Ray Harryhausen flavoured twist. It starred the Monster Muncher in a reenactment of the Godzilla movies in which the titular antagonist kicks up a bit of a ruckus in New York City. In this alternative revision, the mascot can only be pacified – and hence distracted from gobbling the monuments – with an over-inflated packet of Chewits.

The concept spawned a popular series of commercials that are fondly remembered to this day by those who of us who grew up watching them in the UK.

Domino’s Pizza weren’t shy about jumping into bed with the video game industry either. In 1989, they unleashed the MS-DOS and Commodore 64 platform game ‘Avoid the Noid’ upon the unsuspecting public, whether we deserved it or not. It was developed by BlueSky Software for the C64, California Merchandising Concepts took care of the MS-DOS version, while it was published for both platforms by ShareData.

In it you play the part of a pizza delivery boy who must provide nourishment (well rubbery pizza anyway) to ‘Doom Industries’ located at the top of an office tower block. Along the way you are hampered by ‘Noid’ creatures who have their hearts set on spoiling your chances of arriving on time.

This was followed up with the NES game, ‘Yo! Noid’ in 1990, which was developed by Now Production and published by Capcom. It’s a lazily reskinned incarnation of the Japanese platformer, ‘Kamen no Ninja Hanamaru’, in much the same vein as ‘Chex Quest’ is Doom with a new coat of paint.

The Noid (remember him from Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker music video?) was the pizza franchise’s mascot up until 1989 when a schizophrenic patient called Mr Kenneth Lamar Noid held two Domino’s employees hostage at gunpoint in Atlanta, Georgia because he felt the claymation character was being used to ridicule him. No Noids were harmed in the standoff, but it was felt the anti-hero should be quietly retired. Nevertheless, Kenneth was institutionalised and later committed suicide.

Digress but I do, hmm. No doubt all ‘Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of’ (to coin a phrase), but not the one in question. We’re here today to talk about a really, really abominable game that should have been encased in a block of reinforced concrete and buried ten fathoms below the Mariana Trench.

Snapperazzi was developed by the two employees who wrote the computer games section of The Sun newspaper back in the early ’90s – Terry Mancey and Dave Owens – and was published by Alternative Software.

You embody ‘Snazzi’, a sleazy, news alien from the planet Dirt, who – for whatever incomprehensible reason – is determined to join the paparazzi and get on The Sun’s payroll. He’s clearly either never read the depraved, tabloid rag or is suffering from a recent head trauma. He looks uncannily like a yellow M&M sporting a private eye’s trilby, though why his eyes and mouth are built-in to said hat like a tacky NES hardware hack will have to remain a mystery.

In any case, to impress the editor you must ‘snap’ as many Page 3 Girls (they’re the ones who look like sumo wrestlers wearing a stetson if you couldn’t guess) and minor celebs (the silver and gold stars) as you can to pocket mucho moolah. This is easier said than done given they are hell-bent on repelling your advances with poison kisses, laser guns and corgi dogs (these provide endless gag-fodder for tabloids because they’re the queen’s pet of choice – she’s had dozens over the years).

Not that these are the only obstacles standing between you and journalistic fame and fortune. Fail to dodge bills and shops and your wad will be drastically depleted. Come into contact with any baddies and they too will steal your cash or health. Run out of either and it’s game over, and a life-long career at McDonalds… although that’s starting to look relatively alluring. 

As you traverse the seven worlds of hurt, you must collect money and extra camera film to stay in the game long enough to track down the Chewits and Domino’s Pizza pieces. These are cobbled together to construct a flying saucer which allows you to take to the skies and progress to the next level. I’d shake my head and say you couldn’t make it up, but then The Sun would be precisely the right people to do just that wouldn’t they. If you’re prepared to desecrate the memory of recently deceased Hillsborough victims and level homophobic slurs at national treasure, Elton John, then the sky’s the limit.

“Life’s always better in the sun”, the paper’s slogan would have you believe. For once your parents would have been on the right track when they nagged you incessantly to show your pasty face to the glowing yellow orb. You’d even have been better off playing croquet in the garden than spending any time with this brain-draining atrocity.

The 40 year old tradition of parading topless models on page 3 of the newspaper was finally laid to rest in January 2015, cementing Snapperazzi’s destiny as even more of a bafflingly absurd curio for the next generation of gamers, if you can envisage that.

When the developers were promoting their [cough!] opus, brimming with optimistic verve, they delivered it to the offices of the Amiga games magazines themselves to ensure the game’s many unique attributes were fully appreciated. They tried to convince professional games critics that colour-cycling backgrounds were revolutionary, and that they’d been the ones to spearhead this technological breakthrough.

Given that you are swamped with garish, psychedelic, vacillating colour swatches, flashing borders, and the frenetic scrolling is jerky beyond belief, in reality, the only first they managed to achieve was to invoke headaches and epileptic fits in record time.

Snapperazzi trots out no fewer than 14 sub-games including ‘Tip-top Tennis’ and ‘Petris’ (Geordie Tetris?), which in a way Mirrors the tabloids’ misguided, scatter-gun approach to journalism. Top marks for consistency then.

Jumping in a platformer goes with the territory. Imagine a game which demands it to be pixel-perfect and emits a cloddish, squelching sound effect with each and every leap. This is it – welcome to hell!

Bizarrely, Snapperazzi was offered as a full-price commercial release, requires 1mb of RAM to run, occupies two whole floppy disks, and was assembled by a team of 8 people! To put things in perspective, Shadow of the Beast weighed in with the same technical requirements, yet was released 4 years earlier and brought to life by a meagre team of 4.

Perhaps what’s even more astonishing is that the developers, Yorkshire-based Alternative Software, are still in business today. They only produced one game for the Amiga, but went on to code games for the PC, consoles and mobile platforms.

Does anyone have to hand The Sun’s story submission hotline number? I’ve got an incredulous scandal of a scoop for tomorrow’s front page!

Leave a Reply