The House Jack Built, ZX Spectrum

The House Jack Built is the sequel to Jack and the Beanstalk. It was released the same year as Jack and the Beanstalk – in 1984 – and is a marked improvement on its predecessor.

It was again created by Chris Kerry, helped by his brother, Steve, and published by Thor Computer Software, based in Liverpool.

The aim of the game is the same as before: collecting items and avoiding meanies, although there’s no real set path this time – you can branch off in different directions.

Thankfully, The House Jack Built is a little more forgiving than the previous game. Rather than simply killing you, the game this time prevents you from walking into no-go areas, and exploration isn’t quite so risky this time around. That said: this game does have a problem with spawn points. When you enter a new screen it’s far too easy to immediately collide with an enemy and lose a life, which seems a bit unfair. The collision detection in the game is pretty dodgy too. Sometimes you can walk right through an enemy, and other times they get you when seemingly out of range.

The fact that there are more screens, and that the game is slightly more playable, means that it is not quite so embarrassing a relic for Chris Kerry this time. That said: The House Jack Built wasn’t as successful as Jack and the Beanstalk, and isn’t as well known. So go figure…

One more game was to come in the series: Giant’s Revenge, also released in 1984 by Thor.

Note: unlike the first and last games in the series, The House Jack Built doesn’t feature synthesised speech via a Currah Microspeech. Maybe that was a factor in its lack of success? Seems unlikely, but you never know…

More: The House Jack Built on World of Spectrum

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