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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


Unofficial Who
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So one of our own @squirtle has started a podcast on all things C64 related and I thought it might be fund for some of us to jump in using their discussion as a launching point to talk about the games they've discussed. Kind of like a C64 book club?

 

https://zappedtothepast.com/

 

The games covered in Episode 1 are 

 

Elite

Spyhunter

Pole Position

Airwolf

Tir Na Nog

Bounty Bob Strikes Back

Tim Loves Cricket

Super Huey

Cauldron

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I loved Bounty Bob Strikes Back when I originally played it although it's rock hard even by todays standards. 

 

The key is working out how its counter intuitive jumping system works. There's two sorts of jump. The normal jump to the left and the right. And then the really weird jump straight up in the air and then at any point tap left or right which allows you to make shorter hops. That and the central game design being around chaining together treasure collection and killing meanies (each treasure leaves the bad guys vulnerable for two seconds like the ghosts in Pac Man) make for a punishing game.

 

There are secret warps in the game but I don't think I saw all the screens without a cheat.

 

As the hosts point out the high score screen is a thing of beauty and I sometimes spent more time mucking about with that than I did trying to beat the game.

 

260px-BBSB_Highscore_Werner.png

 

The game starts simple enough

 

BountyBobStrikesBack_Animation.gif

 

But then you get screens like this.

 

260px-BountyBobStrBack04.gif

 

There's loads of tips over at https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/Bounty_Bob_Strikes_Back! for those interested in making an attempt. You know, for those days when you want something a little harder than Dark Souls.

 

Edit. If you can't tell I think out of all the games selected this one holds up the best, but I played hours of this and before that hours of Miner 2049'er on my mates' Colecovision back in the day.)

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14 minutes ago, squirtle said:

That bloody jump from the top platform in that gif... Grrrr... 

 

Yep. Only doable if you jump and then move. Which they don't do in that gif. (This probably doesn't help now but if you leave the game alone after the title sequence it demos how to complete the first level.)

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5 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

Yep. Only doable if you jump and then move. Which they don't do in that gif. (This probably doesn't help now but if you leave the game alone after the title sequence it demos how to complete the first level.)

Hmm... Are you sure? I don't know about the jump then move stuff but I definitely got on there once the normal way... You're probably right and I did the move without thinking about it... I fell to my death straight after, of course. 

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10 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Hmm... Are you sure? I don't know about the jump then move stuff but I definitely got on there once the normal way... You're probably right and I did the move without thinking about it... I fell to my death straight after, of course. 

 

Poorly explained by me. Only reliably doable using that method. The second jump though you have to use that method lest you overshoot.

 

Weirdly enough there's a prequel coming out this year!

 

http://www.psytronik.net/newsite/index.php/c64/127-miner

 

Quote

Psytronik Software is proud to present a fantastic new PREQUEL to the legendary classic release Miner 2049er - a brand-new C64 release by Daniel Avery! Produced with permission and support from the original game author Bill Hogue the game reproduces the look and feel of the original game. Miner 2019er features 14 all-new levels along with ports of three Colecovision exclusive levels - now available on the C64 for the first time ever! The game also introduces several new elements such as hidden items, bonus levels, speed medals and more!

 

 

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I was inspired by the podcast to check out Pole Position, a game I loved on the old Atari 2600.

 

And leaving aside the really good point made in the podcast "why would you play this instead of Pitstop 2" I noticed something else. This was originally released in 1983. I can't imagine why anyone thought this would be a good release for the UK in 1985.

 

It doesn't feel as good as the Atari version either, there is something really odd happening in this game, sometimes the steering acts like it does in a traditional car game where you have to fight the curves, other times it's like Buggy Boy where it turns the curve itself.

 

Did anyone buy this back in the day? I eyed it off as a kid thinking it would be an upgrade to the C64 version but then Pitstop 2 made it redundant.

 

This

 

poleposani.gif

 

vs this

 

Pitstop2_Animation.gif

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46 minutes ago, carleton said:

I loved Pitstop II but the track routine is nicer in Pole Position I think. Racers like that are pretty hard to do on the C64.

Do you think? I can't get on board with that. Pitstop 2 is better in every way conceivable. 

 

Also @Unofficial Whoas the months roll on, we see quite a lot of '83 and '84 software from the US released at full price in the UK. We do not take kindly to it. 

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56 minutes ago, carleton said:

I loved Pitstop II but the track routine is nicer in Pole Position I think. Racers like that are pretty hard to do on the C64.

 

In our household a car game that my brother and I could play at the same time won out against everything else and we played that game for years. Even though it sooner degenerated into short rounds of who could pop the other racers tyres before the other. I think the feel of Pitstop 2 is better as well. There was a golden age where every Epyx game just felt as good as they looked.

 

4 minutes ago, squirtle said:

On Pitstop 2 the cornering is so much nicer and smooth. And it's doing it all twice! 

 

I don't doubt that effect is hard to do, but P2's effect is far better than the wobbly PP. 

 

d9p5yi7-931b189b-6244-4b37-899e-ff1b9cf25e16.gif.03ed5897851f28ac367eeda0d911e995.gif

 

How are you getting such bright colours? That looks almost Amstradesque rather than the muted earthy tones I used to get.

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Ha ha! That's just a gif from the Internet, not mine. Although saying that, if you actually look at what colours the machine was outputting before it went through the rf lead, they were a lot stronger. 

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A longer post for Airwolf. I got my C64 at the end of 1986, an impossible dream for me given the poverty of our family. I still have no idea how mum did it, I suspect her boyfriend, a C64 fan stumped up a good deal of the dosh. And one of the games I got for it which as my choice was Airwolf.

 

I had fallen in love with Airwolf both because I loved the show and because I fell in love with a huge screenshot map published in Commodore User.

 

I was a massive fan of Fort Apocalypse and Choplifter, both games that Airwolf drew from and so this attractive game with distinct traps and Rube Goldberg style devices just drew me in.

 

I still think the map is a thing of beauty.

 

800px-Airwolf_map.png

 

But playing the game was a whole other matter. The helicopter sprite was impressive in its size but this meant there was less room to move. And the handling was dreadful.

 

Most of my games ended like this.

 

airwolfani.gif

 

And then the tape stopped working. I exchanged it for Kung Fu metroidvania the much lambasted Fist 2:the Legend Continues which I fell in love with spending most of the summer completing.

 

Years later I've tried to play Airwolf using cheats but it has aged poorly, much like the show it was based on. (And reading up on the life of the lead actor post the show broke my heart.)

 

One to leave in the 80's.

 

Edit. What on earth was the pink thing on the bottom right in the hud? A mattress?

 

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3 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Airwolf's Cave Adventure, the episode of the show you never knew you wanted. 

 

Well they always started and ended in a cave. True to the source material! (Apart from the weird faces which.....I've got nothing.)

 

ecb23c84dfb0bd6b69bc3937f4c78dbb.jpg

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4 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

Well they always started and ended in a cave. True to the source material! (Apart from the weird faces which.....I've got nothing.)

 

ecb23c84dfb0bd6b69bc3937f4c78dbb.jpg

Yes, but I don't remember them having to avoid a bouncing projectile to open the door, though... 

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Have finished this now. There's just something massively comforting about listening to a couple of normal (British / English / local) people talking about retro games. It's like an aural hug. I'll be adding this to my following list. 

 

And now I miss @Lorfarius chatting bubbles about Amiga games... 

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Pole Position was such a basic affair when we got it here. Pit Stop II was the business. That and Racing Destruction Set were played to death in my household. Also: Super Cycle, Scalextric and Great American Cross Country Road Race.

 

Airwolf was stupidly difficult. 

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Too drunk to describe what I mean about the track stuff. Clearly Pitstop II is the better game and is in my top 10 C64 games. Bit it’s doing a very clever yet relatively simple way of rendering the road.

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30 minutes ago, carleton said:

Too drunk to describe what I mean about the track stuff. Clearly Pitstop II is the better game and is in my top 10 C64 games. Bit it’s doing a very clever yet relatively simple way of rendering the road.

Surely the end result is all that matters...? 

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I love Elite but one of the things I have to agree with the podcast with is the docking computer. A lot of early enjoyment of Elite comes down to whether or not you can deal with docking and by the time you can afford the fee to have a docking computer installed you no longer need it because by then you can do it by instinct. I managed it after pretty much memorising the massive guide in C&VG and can remember the instructions even now.  Aim at the half way point between the planet and the station. Look out the side until the opening is square on. Reduce thrust to zero, rotate the front view until it's facing the opening. Move slowly matching the spin until really close and then gun it (if you scrape the sides at speed you'll do less damage than slowly grinding.) It's a method I still use now in other games, helped me a lot when trying to find the space station openings in No Man's Sky. There's a guide here for those interested.

 

https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/Elite

 

300px-Elite_Andocken1.gif

 

It took me two years to track down a copy, and by then it was packaged with three other brilliant games (and one average one.)

126396-supreme-challenge-commodore-64-fr

 

I never did make Elite but I did have the free time to spend the hours needed to master flying the Cobra Mark III. For me the enjoyment of making my own way in the universe painted a vivid picture in my head when in reality the game was made up of text, circles and geometric flickering shapes.

 

For many years afterwards I resented nothing being done with the game because no-one else could use the "golf club" radar system which to my mind is the perfect hud for representing 3D positioning in space.

 

I wouldn't go back to it now, the flickering graphics gave me headaches back in the day, I can't see why anyone would go back when there's a new Elite that takes the best bits of Elite and Frontier and melds them together.

 

There's a great gallery here comparing then and now. https://venturebeat.com/2014/08/15/elite-30-years-on-screenshots/

 

approaching-a-space-station3.png?resize=

 

I've got Elite installed on both the PS4 and the PC but I'm too afraid to start lest it suck up as much time as it did back then.

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4 hours ago, carleton said:

Too drunk to describe what I mean about the track stuff. Clearly Pitstop II is the better game and is in my top 10 C64 games. Bit it’s doing a very clever yet relatively simple way of rendering the road.

 

Is it something to do with character blocks (like what was used in Turbo Outrun, Turbo Charge and Powerdrift?)

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3 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

Is it something to do with character blocks (like what was used in Turbo Outrun, Turbo Charge and Powerdrift?)

Yeah, it seems to have a few screens drawn in characters to animate bends which it can very quickly switch between. The a simple raster effect for the stripes. It can’t do hills or double bends.

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2 hours ago, carleton said:


Of course. I just often look at games with programmers eyes, I can’t help it. 

Yeah I know. My comment was not meant to be flippant and may have come across that way. 

 

Note to self: stop posting when drunk and tired. 

 

2 hours ago, carleton said:

Yeah, it seems to have a few screens drawn in characters to animate bends which it can very quickly switch between. The a simple raster effect for the stripes. It can’t do hills or double bends.

Is this P2 or PP? 

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In the main C64 thread I mentioned that I think a lot of the ambitious games don't stand the test of time unless you played them at the time. So I'm in disagreement with the podcast over a couple of games I think are stone cold classics. But that's because I grew up with them.

 

I'd be interested to hear from any Shadowfire fans because despite reading all the reviews back in the day I could never find a local copy for sale. So I don't think I managed to try it until the late 90's when I started messing around with Spectrum emulation. And I've tried a few times since but I can't parse the screen at all.

 

I found a playthrough with someone explaining every single step and it just looks confusing and claustrophobic. I think a lot of games like this got high review scores due to the novelty of the interface.

 

Totally agree with the podcast here, nice pixel art but this hasn't held up at all.

 

 

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Shadowfire is an interesting one in that, too my knowledge, it starts the run of games from Denton Designs which are trying to do things differently. It looks great, as do most of their games, and the ambition is there, it just feels that style won out over the ability to read the screen quickly, and in a game that gives you a timer from the very start, that's problematic. 

 

@Unofficial WhoI'm guessing the two you disagree on are Bounty Bob and Elite? Or are you a secret Tim Love's Cricket fan...? 

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44 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Shadowfire is an interesting one in that, too my knowledge, it starts the run of games from Denton Designs which are trying to do things differently. It looks great, as do most of their games, and the ambition is there, it just feels that style won out over the ability to read the screen quickly, and in a game that gives you a timer from the very start, that's problematic. 

 

@Unofficial WhoI'm guessing the two you disagree on are Bounty Bob and Elite? Or are you a secret Tim Love's Cricket fan...? 

 

Yep, although I played both of those back in the day when I had infinite time and patience. I'm enjoying using your podcast to revisit old games and check out ones I didn't get to play back in the day but nothing could get me to play Tim Love's Cricket. My C64 came with a dire cricket game that I actually taped pokes and saves over. This one looks worse.

 

I think with Shadowfire and other games of it's ilk (Zoids springs to mind) Max Headroom had to be the inspiration with guiding or protecting people using a GUI.

 

There's three things about Shadowfire I can't get on with.

-The tiny map screen.

-The indistinct icons, especially the three "TV's".

-That constant drone in the background.

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