Tribble Trubble, ZX Spectrum

Written by Jim Scarlett and published by Software Projects in 1984, Tribble Trubble was a minor hit at the time of release, garnering some critical acclaim (I remember it getting a Smash in an early issue of Crash magazine, which was a big deal) and doing okay sales-wise.

Looking at it now: it still has charm, and some appeal, and is still worth playing – if you like tearing your hair out trying to beat insignificant tasks… 🙂

Tribble Trouble is basically a ‘herding’ game, in that: you’re trying to ‘herd’ some small Tribbles (back) into your spaceship after they escape. They escape out of the bottom of your ship, and must be led back to the top of the ship to get them back in. This isn’t your main task on the first screen, though. That is: finding and digging up stones and pushing them into a nearby river. Because when you cross the river you can push the TNT plunger and move on to the next level…

Crossing the river, and keeping your three Tribbles alive, is a tough ask though. Especially when you consider that it takes eight stones in total to make a bridge.

The second screen is slightly different. In it you ‘herd’ a lone Tribble through a maze of deadly cactus plants, so that they touch gophers popping out of the ground. Again: not easy, but not quite as hard as the first screen.

On the third screen our hero (he’s called Brian Skywalker by the way…) must pop a bouncing balloon by dropping a pin on the floor and hoping it lands on it. The balloon has a mind of its own though and invariably does anything but drop onto it… If the balloon lands on your Tribble it’ll kill it, so you have to use the hero to keep it away. And, to make matters worse, you have to pop each balloon three times… And do that for each of the level’s three floors…

The fourth screen is almost like a shooting gallery, where you have to essentially send your Tribbles on a long walk past patrolling enemies to collect some far away items, then make it back to you alive again. It looks impossible, but I have seen it done. The enemies at least don’t kill your Tribbles on contact on this screen, just interfere with their movement…

The fifth and final level is a relatively easy one: rounding up six Tribbles and herding them to a pen in the top left of the screen. The only real challenge is in doing it before the air runs out. Oh, and keeping the Tribbles in the pen while you go get the others (they wander out if you don’t stop them).

Tribble Trubble is a neat little game overall. Especially when you consider that it fits into only 48K of RAM. It’s as tough as nails though. Especially the first level. So Tribble Trubble may be too frustrating for most games-players. It’s still fun to play though.

More: Tribble Trubble on World of Spectrum

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