Molar Maul, ZX Spectrum

This early ZX Spectrum game from Imagine Software was designed and programmed by John Gibson and first published in 1983.

It is a good example of a mundane idea being turned into a video game – namely: dental hygiene and the battle with tooth decay! Gibson apparently wrote the game in only four weeks.

You can tell this is an early video game from the opening screen, where a mass of decay reassembles itself into the words ‘Molar Maul‘. It’s slow, grating and you can’t skip it – pretty much the required standard in early home computing!

The idea is to brush the teeth with a toothbrush as they become more decayed. Decay gremlins float around the mouth, attaching themselves to teeth and making them rot. First the teeth become yellow, then cyan, then dark blue, before falling out. You control a small green toothbrush that you must first load with toothpaste before positioning on a tooth and pressing fire to brush. Brushing a tooth will return it to white (normal) from any colour of decay. You can also destroy the decay gremlins by hitting them with a loaded toothbrush, although I found this to be a bit hit and miss.

Lining-up the toothbrush so that you get toothpaste on it is a bit finicky, but eventually you get the hang of it, and the process of repeatedly brushing teeth as the decay gremlins go about their work is repetitive.

By level three (indicated by the bacteria level) you’ll be struggling to stop teeth falling out, and then it’ll be just a matter of time before you’re overwhelmed and eventually lose your three toothbrushes. I managed to get to level ten before I became thoroughly bored, which is not bad going. With a little more variety the game could’ve been quite decent, but in reality it’s just a little too simple to appeal to anyone other than children.

Molar Maul is certainly not a bad game, and is still fondly remembered by those who played it back in the early Eighties, but it’s not really a game that’s worth investing much time in nowadays, other than as a historical curiosity.

More: Molar Maul on Wikipedia

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