Pssst is an action video game developed and published by Ultimate Play the Game that was released for the ZX Spectrum in June 1983. In the game, Robbie the Robot has to protect his plant (a Thyrgodian Megga Chrisanthodil) as it is attacked by various insects, each of which needs a different repellent to neutralise it. Pssst was the second game to be released by Ultimate, after Jetpac.
|Developer(s)||Tim and Chris Stamper|
|Publisher(s)||Ultimate Play the Game|
|Mode(s)||Single player, 2 players (hotseat)|
The game was written by Chris Stamper and graphics were designed by his brother, Tim Stamper. Pssst was one of the very few Spectrum games also available in ROM format for use with the Interface 2, allowing "instantaneous" loading of the game (the normal method of cassette loading could take several minutes). The game received positive reviews from two publications upon release, with critics mainly praising its presentation and gameplay. It was placed 40th on the "Best Selling Software" list by Personal Computer Games in December 1983.
The game is presented from a single, 2D perspective, and revolves around Robbie the Robot's objective to defend his plant from interstellar space slugs, leeches and midges. The plant grows from the bottom centre of the screen, and spray cans containing three different pesticides are located on ledges on each side of the screen. Bonus items such as fertiliser and spades appear on unoccupied ledges which will increase both the players score and the plant's growth rate.
There are three types of coloured parasite, and three types of pesticide, which will either kill, stun, or have no effect on the parasites. The player can only carry one type of pesticide at a time; during the early stages of the game the lethal pesticide can be carried at all times, but later stages have more than one type of parasite on screen at once, making the choice of pesticide more tactical.
As the plant grows it may sprout leaves; these increase the growth rate but also vulnerability to the parasites. Once the plant reaches a predetermined height it flowers and the player advances to the next level. A life will be deducted whenever the plant dies or the player makes contact with a parasite.
Pssst was one of the few Spectrum games also available in ROM format for use with the Interface 2, allowing instantaneous loading of the game when the normal method of cassette loading could take several minutes. The game used the common technique of sprites and allowing them to be placed atop each other, which often overlapped colours on the screen causing attribute clash. Pssst was also able to run on the 16K version of the Spectrum.
Paul Liptrot of Home Computing Weekly praised the graphics, stating them as overall "smooth-moving" and colourful, as well as praising the "addictive" gameplay. ZX Computing considered the game as very professionally written and produced, with excellently smooth and detailed graphics. In addition, the review stated originality, addictivity and enjoyability of Pssst. In the second issue of Personal Computer Games, the game was placed 40th on the its best selling software list. In the fourth issue of Personal Computer Games, Pssst was nominated for a 1983 game of the year list on account of Ultimate's "famous graphics". According to the reviewer, other attributes of the game included its "originality" and "fun" in comparison to other Ultimate titles that were released in 1983. In a retrospective review, a reviewer of Retro Games! Now summarised that the game "was not the best" of Ultimate's releases for the ZX Spectrum, despite considering it to be "less lauded" than the others. However, they considered Pssst to be a "taste of things to come" and a significant improvement over the "clunky" and "jumpy" animation of previous games for the ZX Spectrum.
- Gilbert, John (March 1984), "Interface Games are Fast but not Furious", Sinclair User, EMAP (24): 54–55
- "PSST is this the Ultimate?", Personal Computer Games (1): 5, June 1983
- Liptrot, Paul (12 July 1983). "Pssst review". Home Computing Weekly (19): 33. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "ZX Interface 2 direct by mail". Popular Computing Weekly. 2 (40): 1. 6 October 1983. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Stafford, Graham (June 1986). "Game Design". Crash. Newsfield Publications. Retrieved 22 August 2015.
- "Pssst". Your Computer. 3 (8): 51. August 1983. Retrieved 27 March 2016.
- "Pssst – Ultimate". ZX Computing (10): 21. October 1983. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
- Gerrard, Mike (7 July 1983). "Pssst". Personal Computer News. 3 (18): 51. Retrieved 10 July 2017.
- "PCG Soft Hits list". Personal Computer Games (2): 12. December 1983. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Search hots up for game of 1983". Personal Computer Games (4): 25. September 1983. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- "Pssst – retrospective review". Retrogameshow. 16 August 2011. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
- Pssst at SpectrumComputing.co.uk