|In all their 16k glory.|
These are pretty nice games given that they fit into 16k. I'll dismiss the fourth Horace game as it is not written by William Tang and thus is not "canonical". Let's see what the trilogy has to offer...
|I'm surprised they did not call it Hungry Horace 3D.|
To distinguish himself from his yellow colleague, he has the dignity of having no gaping mouth. Horace is all eyes and feet, a kind of anti-pacman. As a further reversal Horace is also blue, which in video-speak is the opposite of yellow. The lack of mouth also cleverly symbolizes hungriness, as who could be hungrier than a man with no mouth? Then again, who says those two openings are eyes, as I've always assumed? Perhaps he has not one, but two mouths. Or maybe they are nostrils. Is that protrusion a hand, a tail, ponytail or some other appendage? The mystery remains...
Horace goes skiing:
|One of the earliest examples of product placement in a video game: MH Hardware.|
Should Horace suffer a traffic accident, an ambulance will helpfully drive to the rescue. The ambulance also patrols the road while Horace attempts to cross it, and it's not rare to get smackered by it, as it is the fastest of the vehicles.
|It's karmic. No, wait, I meant kathartic.|
After getting the skis, he has to return to the other side of the road. Then the downhill skiing, the "Hannekon run" (No I don't get it either) may begin. This is the more relaxing part of the game, but it is not wholly without danger. Should Horace break the skis, he has to rent another pair. All the collisions with the cars and the trees make pretty nasty viewing, in contrast to the strictly non-violent nature of the first game. But in fact there's really no ill-will demonstrated, it's more like educating the kids about the dangers of traffic and skiing. Don't go outside, it's a scary world out there. Better sit in front of the computer and play Horace.
The idea of a two-part game is successful as the good gameplay is rewarded with further, different gameplay. The later part is also easier and somewhat more relaxing compared with the hectic streetscape. This further reinforces the idea of the second part as a reward to the first.
Horace & the spiders:
"Hungry Horace and the spiders ... from Mars", one could almost say. By the third game, Horace's stature as a major British cultural export began to equal that of David Bowie. As a final tour de force, Horace & the spiders features three parts, completing the trilogy with a three-parter of its own. Thus the Horace trilogy is structured as an ever more intricate spiral of complexity, beginning from the humble pacman-like beginnings of the first game, and ending up with a metaphorical recapitulation of the trilogy itself: Wheels within wheels.
|Ironically, the spiders' best weapon contributes to their demise.|
Although the instructions again stress that Horace does not die, but merely has to give up the hunt after all his "serum" has been lost, the game is hardly non-violent. Horace is set out to kill the spiders, stomping them with glee. So the Horace trilogy also represents an deepening spiral of revenge and retribution. Previously, the world was intent on squashing Horace, now it's payback time. One gazes into the abyss and so on.
|The heart of darkness: the web thickens...|
I do not think much of Hungry Horace, as the game goes nowhere, but the two later Horace games are pretty cool what with the multi-part structure. The combination of two different genres creates a surprisingly fresh and original atmosphere, almost like playing two different games in quick succession and pretending they belong together. The consistent graphic styling make nice use of the Spectrum platform, using the graphical limitations of the computer to convey a suitable abstraction rather than trying too hard for naturalism. The cohesion of the trilogy, both thematically and in appearance, contributes to a mysterious atmosphere that begins from the naive scenario of Hungry Horace and ultimately descends into the dark violent nightmare that is the final screen of Horace and the Spiders.