Sunday, 27 March 2016

FRGR #04: Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle (Amersoft, 1986)

Game concept by Petter Kinnunen
Game design and programming by Pasi Hytönen
Music by Jori "Yip" Olkkonen
Co-produced by Petter Kinnunen for Amersoft, and Simo Salminen for Nasse-Setä Oy
Released for Commodore 64 in December 1986.



The most obvious game to be featured in the series, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle has the honour of being  simultaneously the most frustrating Finnish game ever released on the 8-bits, and the most sought after Finnish C64 game of all time, if only because it's so well-known. The most recent spotting of the tape version of the game being auctioned at earlier this year reached 500 euros, and the tape version is the more common one, since around 2000 copies were pressed of those, while the disk version had a much smaller print - only about a 100 copies were made! For the quality of the game, I'm hesitant to vouch for, but merely for what it represents, it has definitely earned its firm spot in the commercial history of Finnish games.

There is, of course, a reason for this status - it was the first Finnish computer game based on a Finnish movie, and more importantly, a movie from the most successful Finnish movie series at the time, and which would become the most long-lasting Finnish movie series of all time. Uuno Turhapuro, the character, was created by one of our most celebrated comedic geniuses (not to mention a well-known inventor), Pertti "Spede" Pasanen, who sadly passed away about 15 years ago. Uuno was originally introduced in 1971 as Usko in a sketch series called Spede Show, which is one of the earliest Finnish sketch series, having started its run in January 1964. After the first sketch, Uuno's actor, Vesa-Matti Loiri, decided to paint his face to build the character into what became Uuno Turhapuro. The character, along with his wife Elisabeth, went on to be featured in 20 sketches before Spede decided to turn this success into a movie. The first Uuno Turhapuro movie came out in 1973, and due to its unrivalled success at the time, Spede and his production group went on to create a whole series of them, the last one being the 19th one in the series, released in 2004 - three years after Spede's passing away.

According to Wikipedia, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle (we don't capitalise every word in a title here) is the fourth-most successful movie in the series, but what can be seen from statistics, it was released at a time, when people had already started to get slightly disinterested in the series. After all, it is the eleventh movie in the series, and there is only so much you can get out of a badly dressed, badly behaving eating machine of a man. While earlier movies had turned Uuno into a lottery millionnaire and a professor, and made him take his obligatory turn in the Finnish armed forces, and even took him to a holiday in Spain (during the production of which Loiri reportedly met Roger Moore doing a Bond movie and made a complete fool of himself), the eleventh film took him to his father's home territory in the countryside. Uuno's wife Elisabeth had fed up with the mess their life had become, and so she took off to live with her relatives - conveniently near to Uuno's father's home. Uuno only finds a message claimed to be written by Elisabeth, but clearly in his father-in-law, councillor Tuura's hand, in his beloved refridgerator of their Helsinki apartment, and soon enough, we all get to enjoy Uuno's adventures in the countryside. The basic idea is, a bypass is being planned to be built on Tuura's country property, and our misfits try to get the bypass built elsewhere by any means possible - bribery and having a hand at drawing the road lines themselves included. If anyone actually wishes to see the movie for themselves, good luck finding it with suitable subtitles, but I won't spoil you the ending.

By the time TV and movie licences started becoming fashionable in video and computer games, the Uuno Turhapuro series had gotten a bit old - and so had James Bond, but that didn't stop Domark from releasing a bunch of games for that series. So, creating a game based on the movie was very likely a welcome shot of adrenaline, even though most of the series' old fans didn't have any connection to the world of video and computer games. According to an interview with Petter Kinnunen, Spede was excited about the idea of a game based on the new Uuno movie. Amersoft had been contacted earlier by Pasi Hytönen, who wanted to get his earlier platformer (most likely the recently released Little Knight Arthur) published by the company, who apparently decided it didn't have the potential for a good seller, which Amersoft was sorely in need of at the time, but because it was programmed so well, they decided to roll him in to do the programming for the Uuno game. Designing the game took the team the effort of watching the movie three times in a row from a VHS-tape provided to them by Spede's company. The biggest problem the game's production process had, was getting the copyright matter settled for the theme tune originally written by Jaakko Salo, who gave the game developers his full support, but the difficult part was getting the thing settled with Teosto, the Finnish bureau of Copyrights. In the end, Jori Olkkonen was given permission to adapt one full minute of the theme song into a SID version. Long story short, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle - the game was released to an appreciative Finnish Commodore fanbase a few months after the movie's release, in December 1986.

In order to be able to enjoy all the game's little details, you should probably watch the movie, so you will get to know a bit about the characters and the events that take place in the movie, but I'll give a few pointers at this point. You will probably be well aware already, that the game is a side-scrolling avoid'em-up with three very long levels. In level one, Uuno's tire-modified plough is dragged by an AWD Mitsubishi, as seen about 40 minutes into the film. You should be able to see some passages and people from the movie featured in the level, as well, if you keep your eyes sharp. About one hour into the movie, you'll see Uuno waterskiing - which acts as the basis for level 2. About 15 minutes later, Uuno is seen searching for his father's hidden moonshine factory in the forest, which I'm guessing acts as the basis for level 3, in which Uuno is running around in the forest, collecting money in order to reach the required two million to save the mansion. In all three levels, you can see some important elements from the movie, such as Uuno's friends Härski Hartikainen and/or Sörsselssön (originally played by Spede Pasanen and Simo Salminen), his father-in-law the councillor Tuura, Uuno's father Hugo with his illegal booze equipment, the goat, Tuura's mansion, a surveyor, and some other recognizables.

Uuno the game has a reputation of being immensely challenging, which it certainly is. Funnily enough, Hytönen originally made the game to be even more difficult, but was ordered to make it more player-friendly. With only two hardcore playtesters, it's difficult to get a good idea of what should be considered a balanced difficulty. You can get a pretty good idea of how difficult it could have been, by playing the long-lost, recently released C64 version of Little Knight Arthur, based on Hytönen's earlier Arttu game for the Oric-1 from 1984. (Also, check out Pasi's earlier stuff for the Oric-1 from his website.) But the challenge wouldn't be worth it without sharp controls, some very nice graphics and a brilliant soundtrack. For us Finnish gamers, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle is still something rare in this country - a game based on a movie, and a well beloved brand at that. That's plenty enough reason for it to be such a sought-out article, but it helps that it's a rather good game, too. Even with its high difficulty level, at the moment it has a score of 8.3 at Lemon64 from a total of 23 votes, which should be enough to give it a fair attempt.

Screenshots of "Little Knight Arthur" by Pasi Hytönen, originally made in 1986, released for public domain in 2016.


For an horizontally scrolling avoid'em-up, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle is one of the most advanced ones around, if only because you move in procedurally generated environments. For the first two levels, the only thing you really need to do is move Uuno up and down, because he cannot move left and right, as he is being dragged by either a car or a boat. In level three, though, you can move freely around the allotted area. He can also do hand gestures by pressing down the fire button and pulling the joystick up or down, but I have yet to find out if these have any actual purpose. I wonder if anyone with proper documentation (i.e. the original game, perhaps) might be so kind as to tell if there are any references to these actions in the game's official instructions leaflet? When I was younger, I liked to think they were meant for whoever was pulling you, as in "hand raised for more speed" and "hand lowered for less speed", but that's not how it is - and I'm still stumped. Even the most comprehensive wiki-based documentation of the game so far at hasn't got detailed information on this particular thing.

Whatever the case regarding those mysterious hand gestures, the game is still completable without any knowledge regarding them. In fact, Uuno has three difficulty levels to choose from, which you can change by pressing any of the function keys during the demo mode. Choosing the difficulty happens by pressing the F3 key repeatedly until you get the level you wish for - "helppo" stands for easy, "vaikea" means hard, and "kaamea" translates as horrible. In the options menu, you can also change the number of players ("yksi" for one, or "kaksi" for two, taking turns) with F1, as well as toggle "musiikki" - music with F5 and sound effects with F7 ("on" means yes, "ei" means no).

As for the other things you might need some translating on, the basic indicators are "kunto", "rahaa" and "matka". "Kunto" literally means condition, since you have a finite amount of stamina, as is shown by the diminishing squares, but since it's such a rare occasion that you will run out of stamina, they can just as well be called "lives". However, if the square diminishes far enough, and you do run out of stamina, Uuno will stop on his tracks and literally fall asleep. "Rahaa" indicates the "money" you've gathered so far, and "matka" in this case means the distance you've travelled. In case you ever wondered, what the message in the fridge says, here's an approximate translation: "I'm guessing, this is the place you will find my message with the most certainty and speed. As you might have noticed, I have moved away. I'm not telling, where. My lawyers will be contacting you later. - your ex-wife Elisabeth."

If you want to learn about any tricks in the game, I'm afraid there aren't that many. Actually, it seems like the only ones there are, can be found in the first level. First of all, you really need to focus not to crash the plough into anything, because that's where the collision detection is focused on. In the other two levels, it's just Uuno's feet you need to focus on. Secondly, there's a certain amount of easy-going road when you start the game, or after you have crashed - you just need to pull Uuno with his plough to the bottom of the road and keep an eye on the road until it narrows. Sure, it could be called cheating, but it's a built-in feature, so you might as well get prepared for the narrow road and get yourself into a Zen mode, before you actually need to start steering. Because that's pretty much what playing Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle requires - an undisturbed environment and focus beyond your normal levels. Since the scrolling speed is constant, there shouldn't be any problems regarding this, unless you're one of those people, who easily get a headache from staring at constantly scrolling things. I've found that I can't play this game for more than about 15 minutes in one sitting, but it should be relieving to know, that the game offers an in-built pause mode: after you crash, the game halts and awaits for your input before you continue your travels.

Reportedly, there are two endings to this game - a good one and a bad one. The good one requires you to achieve the total sum of two million marks, and if you fail to achieve it, you will get the bad one. I have yet to achieve either one, but it looks like you will probably need to play the game on hard (read: normal) mode in order to have a proper chance at it. Just by travelling more distance, you will gain some good money, but in the third level, you are required to collect the green pieces of money from the ground as well. If you're sharp enough, perhaps completion in the easiest mode could be possible.



Uuno's graphics are some of the most enjoyable I've seen on the C64, even if they're not technically particularly impressive. In 1986, they might have well been, but that was almost 30 years ago. But there are some things that the Uuno game is curiously missing: a loading screen, and a proper title screen, but since what you're getting in their stead is much more interesting, it's all the same, really.

Selected frames from the intro sequence.

Immediately after the game has loaded in, the intro sequence starts playing, first drawing out the text bits into the top and bottom black "widescreen"-like bars, before the incredibly life-like pixelated version of Uuno Turhapuro walks into the room, very much in the way you would expect some sitcom character to walk in a room and hear everyone applause his sudden entrance and laugh at the seemingly funny obligatory one-liner. Naturally, we don't get sitcom embellishments here, but the official Uuno theme SIDified. In the segment, Uuno walks in and stops to wonder about the relatively empty room, before walking to the refridgerator, opening it, and finding the divorce letter.

Credits shown during demo mode, with Uuno taking a few falls.

A nearly unmodified high scores table.
After the letter has been read through, or the fire button has been pushed before the intro has finished, we get to see demonstrational bits of all three levels, while the game credits are displayed one by one under the action screen. After the third level and the copyright text, we get the high scores list, which offers a rare opportunity in a C64 game to type in å, ä and ö letters, and also shows us what I assume  is the date when making this game was finished (30th of September), before it was sent for production.

In any avoid'em-up, graphics are of little consequence, although they do help to get you in some sort of a mood. This game, being a movie-based game, has an important role of getting as many things from the movie as possible included in the game, and hopefully even representing them in a fairly faithful manner to their original characters. Granted, in an avoid'em-up, you can't do much else but make characters and certain places appear either in the background graphics or within the level as obstacles, since there is only so many sorts of items you can include as collectables.

Level 1 special elements.
But happily, as I mentioned earlier, all three levels feature some characters and passages that can be identifiable from the movie. In level 1, you can come across at least Sörsselssön riding his bicycle, the smaller bridge, the barn through which Uuno runs through, and with some more luck, maybe even the old couple drinking tea by a table (Uuno's old teacher and his wife). Otherwise, level 1 is just grey country road with some occasional grass mounds and rocks, surrounded by green grass. In the background, you can see some generic countryside things, like cows, sheep, red barns and fields of yellow flowers of some kind, none of which look particularly spectacular, but since you don't really have the chance to focus on any of that due to the high speed of the game, they look well enough. Also, since there are four layers of different scrolling, I think it's actually somewhat impressive, that they managed to keep it as unnoticable as they did.

Level 2 special elements.

The basis for level 2 is taken from the part from the movie, where Uuno is being dragged on waterskis by a woman named Greta, who is spying on Uuno under the commands of counsillor Tuura. Naturally, as the focus is on Uuno, you will never actually see Greta in the game. From what can be assumed from watching the movie, the woman wearing the red bikini, waving at you from the beach, is most likely Uuno's not-all-that-former wife Elisabeth. As for the fishermen in boats or the randomly appearing divers, I have no idea who are they supposed to represent, since they don't appear in the movie. Now, since this is an avoid'em-up, and water has no winding path to navigate, some random objects (flags, ramps, etc.) fitting to the area have been fitted in to keep the difficulty at a proper level.

Level 3 special elements.

Finally, in level 3, you will have to run through a semi-dense forest in search of your father Hugo's moonshining hideout, while picking up as many little green money bills as possible, and avoiding contact with Tuura and other people roaming the forest. The way this level is designed feels more like the waterski level than the ploughing level, but with more freedom of movement.

Most of the backgrounds and level graphics look good enough, mostly nicely pixelated multi-colour graphics, with nothing really special about them, but everything is clear and easily enough discernable for what they are. Most of the people have been drawn as multi-colour sprites with a hi-res monochrome layer on top of them to make them look as good as they do. Because Uuno, and all the other moving characters take four sprites each, you will never be seeing more than two moving characters on screen simultaneously, which works just fine, since the game is already difficult enough. While this is all fine and dandy, it's the character animations that this game truly shines in - Uuno's basic running alone takes six frames to animate fully, and all three levels have different animations for Uuno. Added to that, he's got a couple of moving adversaries similarly animated on each level, so there's a LOT of high quality animation for a single-load game.

The options screen (below) and the difficulty levels (above).
Last, and quite possibly the least in this case, the options screen looks much like all the other text in this game, only with the game demo paused on top of it. I just wanted to include it here in case you never knew it existed, and wanted some proof of it. But in conclusion, I would say that Uuno has some of the finest and characteristic graphics that C64 in 1986 had to offer, with a great amount of work put into animations and into getting as many notable landmarks and people from the movie as possible. From a game that is for the most part not much more than an avoid'em-up, I think that's a remarkable feat.



To any young Finnish Uuno-fan in 1986, hearing their C64 (connected to a monitor or a TV) blast out for the first time an accurate, if a bit rearranged version of Jaakko Salo's famous theme tune to fit the SID-chip's style, must have been an awe-inspiring experience. Not only because it sounds properly good, with all its harmonics, melodies and simulated drums, as well as the funny little additions, but because this was something no one had ever done before in our country: an instantly recognizable theme song from our most beloved comedy movie series, played by a soundchip in a computer, programmed into the game under a licence. Perhaps I'm overestimating its value here, but the sad truth is, this sort of thing hasn't been done once ever since in Finland, probably due to the difficult copyright matters. The other possible explanation for this might easily be, that there hasn't been anything like Uuno Turhapuro in the movies, which would draw the attention required to consider making a video game plausible. TV-series, perhaps, but nothing worth noticing ever happened. But I'm getting severely sidetracked here.

Screenshot from Pure-Byte's demo "Scroll Machine"
For my money, Jori "Yip" Olkkonen cemented his name into the C64 Hall of Fame with the Uuno soundtrack, although he was more widely known for his tunes for Netherworld and BMX Kidz. Funnily enough, he only made two tunes for Uuno - that one minute arrangement of the official Uuno theme tune, and another track called Autumn, that would play on a loop throughout the game once the intro was over. Autumn showcases Jori's inventive style of using different sorts of filters and effects, and the majority of the tune is styled in a rather 1970's style with a twangy guitar-like lead sound with heavy use of a wah-pedal-like effect. To me, Autumn is more interesting as a composition than the Uuno theme song, but of course, it doesn't have nearly as much of historical significance. However, it might be of some interest to the fans of this game, who haven't heard much of Jori's work, that Autumn and the Uuno theme (as well as some other recognizable tunes) are also featured in Pure-Byte's one-file demo called Scroll Machine from 1987. On that demo, Autumn should be of some particular interest, since it sounds significantly different from the game version.

The game also features sound effects, which are unfortunately a bit scarce - I only encountered sound effects for crashing in different ways on different levels. In levels 1 and 3, when Uuno stumbles on something, he flies a couple of meters forwards, falls on his head and starts seeing stars circling around his head, or if the sound effect is to be believed, they're more like tweeting birds. In the waterski level, he just jumps into the water and makes a splash, which doesn't really sound much like a splash. As it is also possible to lose a life from sheer exhaustion, Uuno can also fall on the ground and start sleeping, and the sound effects do sound very much like snoring. The good thing about the lack of sound effects is, that you will more likely let the music stay on, because otherwise, the game would sound very empty indeed. And even more happily, you can have both sound effects and the music on simultaneously, which really is the default setting, so there shouldn't be a problem about it. Unfortunately, I cannot give as high points as I would wish to, for a game that has such scarcely utilised sound effects, even if the music is absolutely brilliant.



In all its simplicity, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle is a great little game, and works well enough as a movie tie-in. The biggest problem with the game is not its difficulty level, which is admittedly pretty high, but more its repetitiveness. My favourite games with movie or tv-licences are those with a good amount of variety, and games like Ghostbusters, Rambo and, I might as well mention Painterboy again, have done this sort of thing with more interesting results. The Uuno game's strength is really in its arcade-like difficulty, as well as great audiovisuals, which give it a relatively high replay value. So, without further ado, here are my scores:

GAMEPLAY         7
GRAPHICS         9
SOUNDS           9
OVERALL          8

Sure enough, the game was a hit, and it was sold almost every printed copy. Unfortunately, it has become one of those auction articles, the value of which can easily raise up to ridiculous heights, and although I, for one, would love to have an original in my collection, it's not a particularly reachable goal. So, this little review shall be my tribute for the game, which hopefully has opened some of your eyes regarding this gem. If you never get the chance to watch the movie (note: enjoyment doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the experience), I hope you'll give the game more of a chance than you might have given it thus far - just remember, it's a game for which you need to focus on at least 110%, before you can meet any real success.

From Juho Kuorikoski's brilliantly comprehensive book about the history of Finnish game industry, I remember having read about a second Uuno game having been planned shortly after the first game, due to the first one's success, but the idea was dropped due to Amersoft's bankrupcy. I also seem to vaguely remember that the game was being planned to be based on an earlier Uuno movie called Uuno Epsanjassa, but I can't remember or find the source, from where I first read about this further undeveloped plan. Later on, though, Petter Kinnunen has said that when the final Uuno movie was being filmed in 2004, he was trying to find out about possibilities of making a new Uuno game, but due to the switch in the ownership for the Uuno brand, developing the game was rendered practically impossible. I have often wondered about what sort of games would some of the other Uuno movies have been possible to turn into, and there are certainly similar possibilities to exploit certain scenes from several of the 80's movies, as Hytönen did with UTmm, but frankly, it would be nigh on impossible to successfully translate the humour displayed in the movies into the games, so perhaps it's all for the better that Uuno in game form was left as a one-shot deal.

Thankfully, this was really only the beginning of the Finnish game industry, because now it had been finally proven, that a computer game made in this country could be as much a commercial success than any other form of entertainment. From this game onwards, things would only get more interesting, so there's still plenty of brilliant games to be featured in this series. Thanks for reading again, hope that one served its purpose. Next time... well, I'm not really sure what'll it be next time, so we shall all have to wait and see.

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