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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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35 minutes ago, carleton said:

Thing on a Spring was another game which benefitted from cheats (this time built in so I think they knew). There's absolutely no point to the oil draining corridor sections and the challenge was just to not get stuck in scenery with cheats on. We played it loads.

And another Mastertronic game I played a load of. This time the obscure Captive. It was like nothing I'd played, an actual puzzling adventure. Rough as toast graphically but I think I persevered to completion. Same with its sequel Spooks.

I played a fair bit of ToaS, but mostly for the music. I'd never played Captive and I think I say that had you bought this at the time you would have been happy with some of its innovations in the genre. Clearly I was right. :)

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26 minutes ago, squirtle said:

I played a fair bit of ToaS, but mostly for the music. I'd never played Captive and I think I say that had you bought this at the time you would have been happy with some of its innovations in the genre. Clearly I was right. :)


Yeah, I think you got it spot on. It was great though. You'd eventually collect two halves of a helicopter which let you fly around the map.

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On 23/03/2021 at 07:33, squirtle said:

Be interested to see what you make of The Fourth Protocol. 

 

I tried it but bounced off it. I think the thought of having to create my own filing system put me off. I'll give it another shot this weekend.

 

Confuzion though is quite neat! Simple puzzle games play to the C64s strengths. I quite liked the quick go I had on it, and you're right, a mobile version would be brilliant.

 

confuzion_02.png

 

It's by Paul Shirley who would go on to make Spindizzy and Spindizzy Worlds...well not much else. Why hasn't a mobile version of this popped up?

 

Well it might be because it looks very similar to Loco Motion by Konami (although it's different enough I think. He wasn't alone here, Carol Shaw also created a similar game for Intellivision called Happy Trails.)

 

220px-Loco-Motion_(video_game).png

 

But I think the big reason we haven't seen a successor is that Paul had some negative experiences with Activision regarding royalties and I suspect that soured him on the games industry. There's a great interview with him from 20 years ago here.

 

https://dadgum.com/halcyon/BOOK/SHIRLEY.HTM

 

Interesting trivia about the Rob Hubbard track, it's a cover of a song by the same name by a band called Private Property that was on the B side of the commercial release. Compare and contrast.

 

 

 

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The Captive I love these sorts of games and I didn't like this at all. Especially the one hit kills. And that music. The worst. Well second worst this issue.

 

On 24/03/2021 at 20:38, carleton said:


Yeah, I think you got it spot on. It was great though. You'd eventually collect two halves of a helicopter which let you fly around the map.

 

That sounds amazing! Wish I'd played it back in the day, it's too creaky now.

 

There's a walkthrough here for those interested.

 

 

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Yeah, a mobile version of Confuzion is a no brainer, especially if it's called Sparky Bomb Puzzle. Catchy. We really liked it and it is very cleverly programed. Spindizzy is quite the step up. 

 

It's easy to bounce off TFF, but give it a bit more time and once the leads start paying off... 

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I'm not sure that Jet Set Willy 2 is as cynical a release as presented on the podcast. From what I could find out this started life as an Amstrad port of the original which ended up with a whole lot of new rooms. This became Jet Set Willy 2 on other platforms.

 

I went down a bit of a rabbit hole looking for some idea of whether or not Matthew Smith got royalties for JSW2. It's hard to find solid information on this, Kim Justice puts it out there that he probably didn't make money post Manic Miner which feels outrageous given the massive influence of Jet Set Willy.

 

There's talk here about JSW2 at the 43 minute mark but as usual with Kim Justice's docos the whole thing is worth a watch. 

 

 

My first experience with this was the Amstrad version which seemed neat enough, it was years later that I picked either JSW1 or 2 on a budget release. I remember being underwhelmed by it, it seemed incredibly unpolished compared to later games like Monty on the Run.

 

It was only when I started playing around with Spectrum emulators in the mid 90's and I was able to see Matthew's work in the context of the other works on the Spectrum in the early 80's and just how amazing the original release was.

 

It's an incredibly open game and every time I've made an attempt to clean the mess in the mansion I've always felt a bit overwhelmed which I think is the point. I did love poking around though finding entire new screens in the attic or down the toilet.

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In amongst all of that I forgot to write about what I thought of the game. I bought it on a budget rerelease in the late 80;s and felt ripped off after years of imagining what the game was like. Quite appropriately I felt like I had arrived late to the party and all that was left was a mess. It seemed so incredibly random next to the polish of Monty on the Run or the constructed worlds of Pyjamarama and even Rocky Horror.

 

Years later I can appreciate just how groundbreaking and influential this was. One point I have to disagree with the podcast on.

 

 

I love this screen. It was just so unexpected at the time. Favourite screen of the game and one I always visit when replaying.

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The Lands of Havoc 

 

568948-the-lands-of-havoc-commodore-64-s

 

It's Sabre Wulf. But it's missing the point. There's a joy to exploring a good Sabre Wulf style game, a joy that is missing here because the map is just so forgettable. There's not much more to say about this than it's one of the first games by the now sadly departed Steve Bak. His games would get a lot better after this but this is one to avoid in favour of the decent Firebird conversions of Ultimate's work (or even better one of Steve Crow's games.) I would have been gutted if I'd spent my coin on this back in the day.

 

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Elidon This is more like it! This is close to the sort of arcade adventure style game I loved on the C64, the sort of game I fell in love with after playing Adventure on the 2600.

 

Sadly this was a game I had no hope of playing back in the day. And here's why.

 

Here's the cover.

 

220px-Elidon.png

 

And here's what the game looked like.

 

653068-elidon-commodore-64-screenshot-fl

 

Even if I had found the game in the store I knew as a boy in the mid to late 80's in Australia my mother or grandfather would veto this purchase and ask all sorts of uncomfortable questions. And I definitely couldn't ask my friends if they had a copy. Games where you play as a dude mowing down people with machine guns or kicking people in the face? Totally fine. A sedate game where you explore the woods? Picking flowers? As a fairy? Not. Going. To. Happen. I knew better than to even ask and so my relationship with this game was stolen glances at the interview with the creators in C&VG and one tiny little black and white screenshot.

 

It feels a bit empty playing it today and a bit cruel in the way one hit can end with you dropping a half dozen screens. But the exploratory nature of the game combined with the weird controls that feel like they were copied from HERO would have made this a firm favourite back in my childhood. I'm kind of sad I missed out on this one in it's prime.

 

 

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International Tennis 

 

186545-international-tennis-commodore-64

 

I guess the unique thing about this is the side view which is fair for both sides but comes off somewhat sterile. It's OK. The chunky sprites are attractive in a retro way but there's no reason to go back to this now.

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Jet Set Willy has always been a bit rubbish really. Amazing achievement but horrible to play. Manic Miner was great though. But not the terrible C64 port.

 

A friend of mine ported Perils of Willy - the Vic-20-only release - to the Spectrum recently, the talented bastard.

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The ones left behind. Not covered by the podcast.

 

Dig Dug My memories of this was that this was a solid port. My memories were wrong. Missing tunes, murky collision detection and fuzzy controls it's best not to revisit this especially when you can buy and play either the arcade or the NES port.

 

Pac Man There's no need to ever play this when a version of Ms Pac Man exists for the system.

 

Herbert's Dummy Run And you thought no one would notice @squirtle. This looks like a return to the small locations of Pyjamarama after the sprawl of Everyone's a Wally but I can't bring myself to play it because playing a game as a baby is just weirdly off-putting. Especially one with a mullet. This one was designed and programmed by a young David Perry who would go on to make Cool Spot, Aladdin and Earthworm Jim before starting Shiny Entertainment.

 

653136-herbert-s-dummy-run-commodore-64-

 

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Wily cash in. It reeks of it. Zzap thought the same, too as it got a tacky and rightly so. 

 

Elidon is pretty but vacuous. 

 

Lands of Havoc was just an exercise in programming rather than much of a game. 

 

I liked International Tennis a lot. High skill ceiling to that. 

 

I've said we didn't really feel the need to visit the old arcade titles but honestly can't remember Herbert in there. I think our aversion to Wally just put me off including it. 

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@Unofficial Who and everyone contributing, i am loving your revisits and comments. This kind of feedback makes the whole thing worthwhile beyond it just being me and Graham having a chat every other week about old games, if that makes sense 

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35 minutes ago, squirtle said:

I liked International Tennis a lot. High skill ceiling to that. 

 

It was ok. I couldn't get the hang of serving the ball.

 

33 minutes ago, squirtle said:

@Unofficial Who and everyone contributing, i am loving your revisits and comments. This kind of feedback makes the whole thing worthwhile beyond it just being me and Graham having a chat every other week about old games, if that makes sense 

 

It's been a lot of fun revisiting these and remembering bits and pieces from my youth. I hope others join in, I feel like I'm monopolising the thread a bit!

 

Quick question, how are you and Graham going to deal with some of the larger issues to come? Some of the upcoming Christmas issues cover dozens of games, this is the relative calm before the storm.

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@Unofficial Whoat present, we've finished recording for 1985 and if anything, the number of games to look at has actually gone down. We're not looking at anything in the adventure or strategy sections, so that keeps the numbers down. If we get issues with monumental numbers, we may take three episides to cover them all or we may just look at a similar number that we are now. We don't have any hard and fast rules, as each month seems to fall neatly into two shows, but there's always scope for change. 

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Just to add, one thing I've started doing in the last couple of months covered is just give a quick mention to anything we didn't look at and say why it wasn't included. 

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Episode 7 is out and covers a couple of my favourites. Games covered include

 

-Skyfox

-Rupert and the Toy Maker’s Party

-Five-a-Side Football

-Kennedy Approach

-Summer Games 2

-Monster Trivia

-Mig Alley Ace

-Hyper Sports

-Kayak

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On 27/03/2021 at 04:49, Unofficial Who said:

Elidon This is more like it!

 

220px-Elidon.png

 

 

 

653068-elidon-commodore-64-screenshot-fl

 

 

 

So this just came up on my facebook feed.

 

Quote

John Marshall

4h  · 

I wrote Elidon 35 years ago, yet earlier today I thought how I could have improved it. Anyone know if it would have been possible?
When I conceived the idea of fairies in the forest, I decided on a dark/nighttime look. I loved the organic feel of the C64 colors and it just felt right....
But perhaps the time element would have been better conveyed by counting down a number of days (didn't SabreWulf do that?) and building tension by running down the clock in a dramatic manner. Let's say you have 7 'days' to complete the task. You could take the background and fade it through the grays & blues as the sun sets, and reverse that for sunrise.
Now, the problem is that you don't have enough grays, making lumpy transitions. Not great for building tension.
So here's the idea: Create stripes of color so it would look like a sunrise/set with brighter colors at the top gradually transitioning to dark at the bottom. You change the color of those bands during sunrise and sunset, telegraphing the passage of time.
To make it look nice, I'd want to do the same thing to the border. I recall you can get an interrupt at the top of the scan, so it should be possible to change it at set points down the scan (using a timer?) but does it look odd? Anyone know of a game that extends the use of color into the border, beyond just a single color? 

 

 

@strideryou know what to do :)

 

 

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So Skyfox was a game I really wanted but being without a disk drive for the longest time it wasn't feasible. It certainly looked the business in screenshots and in the local department store.

 

Being a massive fan of Battlezone and Subroc I finally tried it out and...it's ok. It's an earth bound version of Star Raiders really. Interesting graphics with a real Apple 2 feel to them. Unsurprising since this is a port of the Apple 2 original which might explain the use of orange and purple.

 

It lacks a bit of variety with three types of craft.

 

50138-skyfox-commodore-64-screenshot-yik

 

Tanks.

 

918935-skyfox-commodore-64-screenshot-an

 

Planes.

 

918938-skyfox-commodore-64-screenshot-an

 

The impressive (in screenshots) alien floating city.

 

The impressive thing is Ray Tobey was a teen when he first started showing it around. He talks about it here at http://www.bionictoad.com/skyfox/

 

Quote

Nick Condon & Rod Nakamoto were very impressed with Alpha Strike, and asked me to come back later that day to meet someone.

Arriving at the appointed time, who was standing there but Steve Wozniak! I put in my disk, and it booted to a first person view from inside the cockpit, with large F-15 style planes flying past and music & sound from the Mockingboard. On seeing it, Woz exclaimed that an Apple ][ couldn't do that! He then told me about this new company that was starting up, Electronic Arts, and gave me his card. He wrote a little note of introduction to Trip Hawkins on the back: “Trip, Please consider this flight simulator as the finest Apple game ever done. Woz”

 

How well did it do?

 

Quote

On September 22, 1984, Skyfox made its debut on the Billboard sales charts at number 10. By early November, it had moved up to 6th position. When the Commodore version hit the shelves in 1985, Skyfox went to number 1 and stayed there for most of the year. I didn't receive ranking reports from Europe, but in Japan it also reached number 1.

Stewart, my producer, presented me with a very nice framed gold diskette when sales reached 100,000 units. And a platinum disk when sales topped a quarter million. According to my royalty statements, 317,545 copies were sold. It was the best selling computer game of 1985.

 

It's a pity this was out of reach for me back in '85. I would have loved it.

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Those sales figures for Skyfox are amazing, I didn't think C64 games touched those kinds of numbers. My game APB was number one in the official UK charts and whilst we weren't a party to sales figures I always assumed it was less than 10,000 sales in total.

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Yeah, that's crazy numbers for Skyfox. It does look the part in screenshots but it is almost too fast for it's own good. It's an enjoyable blast and pretty impressive for the humble 64.

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8 hours ago, carleton said:

Those sales figures for Skyfox are amazing, I didn't think C64 games touched those kinds of numbers. My game APB was number one in the official UK charts and whilst we weren't a party to sales figures I always assumed it was less than 10,000 sales in total.

 

The Last Ninja puts that to shame. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Ninja

 

Quote

In Europe, the sales for the C64 version alone were in excess of 750,000 units and international multi-format sales exceeded 2,000,000 units. According to System 3's Mark Cale, about 4 million copies of the game were sold in all.[5] It was the best-selling C64 game at the time.[19]

 

I don't think I ever saw a pirate copy of The Last Ninja.

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Before I got my C64 I saw Rupert and the Toy Maker’s Party at a friend's place. The tune was twee but it's also excellent to the point where I could remember it almost note for note 35 years later. I really wanted this one, I think I fell in love with it because of the fad in magazines for screenshot maps and this looked great. It even had an end screen!

 

Just looking at the title screen reminded me of the music.

 

318980-rupert-and-the-toymaker-s-party-c

 

The game though...

 

318988-rupert-and-the-toymaker-s-party-c

 

Revisiting this, it looks great and I think it's a bit of a triumph that one guy did the programming, graphics and sound. And it's really a cut above a lot of other games in terms of looks and sound. Does it hold up now though? Not really, playing it again reminded me of the frustration I had when playing this at a friends' place all those years ago. Rupert is so tall that if he clips a soldier a level above him that's a tumble. He looks great but he's so ungainly. Rather telling that the Spectrum version which lacked the graphic fidelity and the sound of the C64 version fared rather worse in the reviews.

 

I think I would have enjoyed this back in the day with an infinite lives cheat. Pitfall 2 rather spoiled the idea of "lives" in videogames for me by that point.

 

btw if you're wondering what happened to Martin Walker post Hunter's Moon be sure to check out the interview at https://commodoreformatarchive.com/the-martin-walker-interview/

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Five-a-Side Football

 

82746-five-a-side-soccer-commodore-64-sc

 

Just no.

 

Played this once at a friend's house. Almost every single C64 owner I knew got International Soccer on cartridge as a pack in. Why would you wait minutes for this to load instead?

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