Platform: ZX Spectrum
Our next entry into the archives should have maybe been posted in April, as Danny Duster’s Dirty Deeds is a game that wasn’t, but also never existed in the first place.
Crash magazine in issue 98 pulled off an elaborate April Fools prank, by printing a 3 page fake review of a made up game, complete with some reasonably convincing screenshots to depict a flick screen adventure game – not too dissimilar to the Wally Week games in style.
There’s an elaborate story where Mrs Sheen has ran off with Kirby the vacuum cleaner, leaving Danny the Duster with a load of rotting crumbs around the house. The mould would cause Danny to transform into a duster with arms and legs.
The aim of the so-called game would be to go around five parts of the house, cleaning and scrubbing as you go to ensure that the house is fully clean in case Mrs Sheen returns.
There were suggestions of there being some of the best presentation ever seen, excellent animation, sampled sound effects and a large number of pick-ups to help you with your task. Most of the review of course is full of humour and suggestions of ridiculous features throughout.
There’s even a funny write up about “Flashsoft” and who was behind the game, with other minor releases including “Attack of the Mutant Aardvarks”. The review concludes with a final 98% score and a Crash Smash as a result.
Many readers will have clearly seen that it was a prank, though I’m sure many kids back then were caught out and were disappointed not to find the game in shops, and likely rang the Crash offices to enquire! (Had it not been the last issue before it was incorporated into Sinclair User!).
Ian Osborne wrote an article for the newly relaunched Crash magazine which talked about the April fool, and he revealed that Sega Force journalist Adrian Pitt had written the article, as he was good as a funny writer. The review was put out under Nick Roberts though.
It was confirmed that Nick had created the mock up screens within an art package on a Sam Coupe (likely to now be long gone!) – which explains the colours in some of the screens being rather un-Speccy-like.
Ian makes a good point that it wasn’t a particularly April Fool gag, because there were no clues within the review to suggest that it was an actual April Fool. It could have caused the team issues, but they would avoid angry calls and letters, which were instead passed over to Sinclair User when the baton was handed over. A nice parting shot!
So it is a game that is unreleased, but it is one that never existed in the first place and something a bit different to put into the archives. In terms of preservation, it would be amazing if something of the mock up screens still existed – but its likely they are long gone.
Interestingly, someone created a tribute loading screen and game cover for the title, which you can see over at zxart.ee. To be honest – I’m surprised that someone hasn’t yet attempted to create a real version of the game, based on the review and the screenshots. It could be a fun one to see properly in the flesh one day!
With thanks to Stephen Stuttard for the hi-res scans, Ian Osborne for his own input and notes from his Crash magazine retrospective and Chris Wilkins for allowing permission for it to be cited.