Urban Upstart

Urban Upstart is a 1983 text adventure programmed by Pete Cooke and published by Richard Shepherd Software for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64.[1] Urban Upstart is set in the fictional British town of Scarthorpe, a particularly grim town with high crime and unemployment rates.[2] The protagonist begins in their house at three o'clock in the morning, with the objective of escaping from Scarthorpe.

Urban Upstart
Developer(s)Pete Cooke
Publisher(s)Richard Shepherd Software
Platform(s)ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64
Genre(s)Interactive fiction


Trying to leave the protagonist's house

Urban Upstart is a text adventure in which the player types actions in verb-noun format. The upper half of the screen displays an illustration of the current location.

Typing in expletives results in the protagonist being arrested on obscenity charges and sent to a gaol.[3]

Unlike Richard Shepherd Software's previous adventure, Invincible Island, Urban Upstart did not come supplied with a separate "help program". This was intended to take the pressure off the company with regards to giving hints, but only caused customer confusion. With Urban Upstart, Shepherd instead supplied help sheets to customers who wrote in asking for information.[4]


Urban Upstart received mixed criticism. Computer and Video Games found the scenario to be original, but was frustrated with the implementation. Some obvious nouns were not recognized (for example, "SHOP" outside a chip shop) and the illustrations took too long to draw, with no option of turning them off. The maze-like hospital and gaol locations were also seen as frustrating.[5] Your Spectrum highlighted the game's graphics and recommended it as a good, entertaining adventure.[6] CRASH magazine awarded 64%, finding the story to be a nice change from the usual fantasy setting, highlighting a large vocabulary and detailed (but slow) graphics.[3] In contrast, Micro Adventurer found the vocabulary to be limited, with some occasionally confusing graphics, but recommended the game to those who can appreciate bleak humour.[7] Sinclair User awarded 8 out of 10, finding the portrayal of Scarthorpe to be inventive and convincing.[2]

Despite mixed reviews, Urban Upstart consistently sold well and is considered to be a fondly remembered adventure.[8]


  1. ^ "Urban Upstart". World of Spectrum. Retrieved 2009-05-20.
  2. ^ a b "Soft Centre 5 - Urban Upstart". Sinclair User (30). September 1984.
  3. ^ a b "Reviews - Urban Upstart". CRASH (3): 38. April 1984. I think this is the best game so far from Shepherd, despite the usual lengthy loading time.
  4. ^ Price, Richard (January 1984). Micro Adventurer (3): 6. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  5. ^ Campbell, Keith (March 1984). "Urban Bore". C&VG (29): 151. ...I was whisked off to gaol on obscenity charges. Non-moving commands are answered fairly promptly, so I tried my hardest to get out, all to no avail. Unfortunately by then, I had lost faith in the game and decided to pursue it no further.
  6. ^ "Spectrum Soft - Urban Upstart". Your Spectrum (2): 57. March 1984. Generally I prefer to see adventures use up memory for ideas rather than pictures, but at least the program does it competently.
  7. ^ "Backing down a one-way street". Micro Adventurer (6): 23. April 1984.
  8. ^ Eddy, Richard (July 1987). "Stonehenge in Space". CRASH (42).