"How to be a Complete Bastard" was an hysterical book that became a computer game.

The book

In 1986, Adrian Edmondson decided to cash in on some of his fame from playing the crazy punk Vyvyan in The Young Ones. He got together with two comedy writers, Mark Leigh and Mike Lepine, and produced a book 'How to be a Complete Bastard'. The cover featured Ade himself screaming, and the book was filled with, essentially, ways to be a complete bastard to those around you. Published by Virgin, the book was a success, being reprinted in 1989 and spawning a followup, 'The Complete Bastard's Book of the Worst'.

The game

In 1987, Virgin published "How to be a Complete Bastard" by Sentient Software for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum. In the game, you got to play as Ade who had been invited to (or gatecrashed) a party. Your task was to go around being a complete bastard to all the other guests and the hosts.

The GUI was rather innovative; the screen was split into top and bottom halves. Both halves displayed a third person 2d view from a wall of one of the square rooms. You could rotate each view, enabling you to see all four sides of a room, and by having the views at 90 degrees to each other, navigate around the various rooms without getting stuck behind something you can't see. This had its disadvantages too; if you had the views at 180 degrees from each other, your little Ade would appear to be walking left at the top but right at the bottom, which can be very confusing.

The gameplay was simple. Controls were back-forwards-left-right and an action key. When touching objects or people, the action key would bring up a menu of things you could do. This usually included options like 'eat it', 'take it' and 'smash it', regardless of whether the object was a condom, a can of lager, or lump of coal.

The object of the game was to light all the letters of the word 'Complete Bastard' that appeared at the bottom of the screen. You'd succeed in lighting a letter by performing a specific bastardy task, like, for example, putting ice cubes down a guest's underpants. You had to figure out all these tasks by yourself, though. There were also 'Bastard points' up for grabs for doing things like smashing stuff or weeing in someone's sink.

Up the sides of the screen were a 'Drunkometer' and a 'Smellometer'. These rose throughout the game as you got drunker and smellier. There were also two meters at the bottom of the screen; a 'weeometer' and a fartometer. These rose as you drank things or ate food likely to make you fart. Both of these gauges had to be watched, as if neglected, you would explode and die. Farting could take place anywhere just by pushing the fart key. Pissing could only be done through a menu option in the toilet, sinks and IIRC people's beds.

What really made this game were its quirks. If you fart in the kitchen, you die (there are naked flames there). If you drink all the lager or take pills from the medicine cabinet, you die. If you drink just some of the lager, your bottom window spins around. If you open an umbrella in the house you turn into an oven (it's unlucky!). Wearing a pair of 3d specs turns the two view-windows red and green. Perhaps most annoyingly, switching off the computer in the lounge resets your computer, meaning you have to spend 10 minutes reloading the game.

I got my hands on this game free on the cover of Your Sinclair magazine, which rated it a 7/10. This seems to be the score it got from reviewers across the board. There was nothing groundbreaking about the game itself, but I'd recommend a ROM download if you want a couple of hours of cheap, juvenile fun covering people with toothpaste and smashing flowerbeds.

Book: ISBN 0-86369-182-X


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