I never owned an Oric computer in my youth, but to Ghene’s despair, I have been aquiring old hardware off Ebay over the last couple of years. I managed to get my hands on an Oric-1 and an Oric Atmos earlier this year but only got as far as powering them on and verifying that they appeared to work.
I recently had a surprising amount of fun loading Spectrum software from tape and since I now knew I had a working tape recorder I thought I should try some of the small collection of Oric tapes I received with the Oric-1.
First up was dig dog and the Oric-1…
The first thing that struck me about loading tapes on the Oric was the lack of feedback. On the Spectrum the flashing border and tape loading sounds made it very clear what was happening. The Oric however was almost silent with only an update to the text prompt until the title screen had loaded.
The game sounds straightforward.
Dig Dog is a bit like Pac Man except without a fixed maze. You have to guide the dog to the bones without falling into the holes dug by the rats, or getting caught by a rat (unless you are golden). Normally, I’d have though it would be rats escaping from the dog, but nevermind. The sound the dog made was more like a galloping horse than running dog, but the game itself was quite playable. My daughter tried it too. Our main criticism is that the difficulty did not appear increase with each level so our interest waned after a bit.
OK, so the Oric-1 worked and it was time to try the Atmos. Strangely, I was unable to get it to load Dig Dog even though the tape player, leads and cassette had not changed. The tape had not become damaged as I managed to load it again on the Oric-1 afterwards.
Giving up on Dig Dog with the Atmos, I moved on to “Land of Illsion” this loaded perfectly and turned out to be a text adventure with graphics.
“Land of Illusion” is also the first text adventure I’ve encountered that gets impatient if you spend too long thinking. After a few seconds it displayed a prompt that I needed to “do something” and shortly afterwards informed me that I’d been ripped apart by the “hideous wood beast.”
As well as hideous wood beasts the game also featured castles.
Perching on boxes in front of the family TV is not the the ideal way to spend time with my old computers trying to solve adventure games. I need to come up with a better solution.