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Little Computer People

The Sim-ple life.

15 years before Will Wright and Maxis came up with The Sims, Activision's David Crane had a similar idea with this quirky precursor to the life-sim genre.

You couldn't really describe it as a game in the traditional sense, but the concept was so endearing that critics fawned over it back in 1985, fascinated by a project so 'out-there' that it defied categorisation - but that was typical of the incredibly ambitious nature of the US publishing giant at that point in time.

Just like The Sims, you essentially had to keep an eye on the well-being of someone while they go about their daily routine inside their house - the suspension of disbelief asked of players in LCP was that this wasn't a house, but actually the inside of your C64.

The lavish disk edition of the game even came with a deed of ownership, an owner's guide for the care of Little Computer People and a special edition of Modern Computer People Magazine. Bless.

Snapping out of the cuddly fantasy, what you actually ended up with was an intricately detailed two and a half storey abode that was depicted side on - like an interactive doll's house, if you will. A lot of the time spent with LCP was just sat gawping at your little computer person, wondering what he'd get up to next - playing his piano, putting on a record (always the theme tune to Master of the Lamps...), dancing, cooking, watching TV, writing a letter, or just compulsively going through every cupboard or drawer.

Sometimes he'd be thoroughly uncommunicative, other times he'd tap on the screen and demand some interaction. Maybe he was hungry or thirsty, or just bored. On occasion you'd play poker with him, or be asked to solve an anagram. It was all a bit pointless and open-ended, but charming and thoroughly unique when it came out.

With such a limited installed base for this disk-only game to sell to (especially in Europe where the 1541 disk drive add-on cost as much as the actual computer itself), Activision was forced to release a cut-down version on tape months later, missing key features (such as the poker game, and the whole moving-in sequence) that left the majority of owners with a somewhat limited experience by comparison. So, if you are determined to hunt this down, but sure to avoid the cassette version if you can.

6 / 10