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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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26 minutes ago, Camel said:

Yeah I've never been much of a fan of the actual game. I'm not going to knock scratchy speech because in my mind it's still impressive, but that bassline ....

Yeah, it's a good Hubbard piece. Completely incongruous to the game, though.

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I had Raskel on a compilation, it’s rather confusing and needs almost as many keys as Defender.

Best Defender/Stargate variant on the C64 is of course Insects in Space (by Sensible Software for the 4th Dimension compilation) but the American game Repton (not the Boulderdash style game) has some interesting ideas, not least the baddies stealing blocks to build their base.

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33 minutes ago, merman said:

I had Raskel on a compilation, it’s rather confusing and needs almost as many keys as Defender.

Best Defender/Stargate variant on the C64 is of course Insects in Space (by Sensible Software for the 4th Dimension compilation) but the American game Repton (not the Boulderdash style game) has some interesting ideas, not least the baddies stealing blocks to build their base.

I don't think I've played that. Was that one of their later ones? I could look it up, but I'm a lazy, lazy man.

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3 hours ago, squirtle said:

I don't think I've played that. Was that one of their later ones? I could look it up, but I'm a lazy, lazy man.

 

It was released as part of a four pack by Hewson in the late 80's and made it's way to a cover tape a couple of years later.

 

It was my ex-girlfriends favourite game, possibly due to the fly chorus or possibly due to the NSFW art.

 

564576-insects-in-space-commodore-64-scr

 

 

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Ah, probably why I didn't see it. My main years with the C64 were 84-87. By 1988 I had turned 16. Most of my friends had Amigas so software was drying up and I had discovered playing guitar and girls. I pretty much dropped off playing games from about 88 to 98. Which is why it will be interesting to see the software from that period when we get to it.

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Some good material here with one of the best C64 games ever and one of the most influential ones in terms of being a precursor to a long running franchise.

 

-Little Computer People

-Paradroid

-Wizardry

-Saucer Attack

-Hunter Patrol

-Winter Games

-Stealth

-The Rats

-Axis Assassin

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Little Computer People inspired one of the most popular and long running franchises in the world, The Sims according to a chat with CNN back in 2006 (currently inaccessible.) Which led to the hosts wondering what goes on in David Crane's brain?

 

It's a good question but the credit for the original design has to go to Rich Gold who bought the concept and a partially completed program to Activision as "Pet Person" (which might sound familiar to those who are old enough to remember Pet Rocks.) David Crane suggested Activision buy it and then completed work on the game.

 

There's loads more about the history and the technical details about the game in the video below (like why the LCP had a private room to hide in.)

 

 

Because of the systems described in the video above every disk was LCP was unique.

 

LCP_Animation.gif

 

As for my experiences, I didn't have a disk drive and having heard the cassette version was nobbled I lost any interest in it until I got my own LCP on the Amiga as part of a massive compilation.

 

425553-little-computer-people-amiga-scre

 

Being between jobs at the time it wasn't uncommon for me to leave this running in the background while reading or studying and taking the odd break to play a game of cards while he tapped on the glass of the TV. I did have an argument with my flatmate at the time who had experimented with withholding food and keeping him awake while he tried to sleep, an early sign of bad things to come with that particular dude.

 

I'm guessing most people here only had experience with the limited tape version?

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I had the disk version. It was a curio I didn't spend much time with, but found it pretty limited. I didn't have much patience for anything that wasn't action-based though (still don't, mostly).

 

I remember enjoying Axis Assassin back in the day, but looking at a video it looks a bit ropy now. Beamrider is my Tempest game of choice on the C64. It looks like the Atari game it was ported from, but it's a great game.

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44 minutes ago, Camel said:

I had the disk version. It was a curio I didn't spend much time with, but found it pretty limited. I didn't have much patience for anything that wasn't action-based though (still don't, mostly).

 

I remember enjoying Axis Assassin back in the day, but looking at a video it looks a bit ropy now. Beamrider is my Tempest game of choice on the C64. It looks like the Atari game it was ported from, but it's a great game.

 

An excellent call! Much better than the competition at the time.

 

Beamrider_Ingame.gif

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Just dropping a line to say I haven't grown tired of the podcast or writing up bits and bobs, I've been under a tight deadline this week and look forward to a weekend of catching up (mainly playing Paradroid, any excuse to get some play in on that.)

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The hosts covered all the gameplay parts of Paradroid to the point where I'm not sure there's anything to add. At least on the gameplay side.

 

But this game marked a change in my life and it can also be argued that it's one of the most influential games of all time.

 

In an underrated way.

 

But first the game.

 

300px-Paradroid_titel.gif

 

In 1985 Paradroid flew under the radar with me. I had yet to read Zzap and the EMAP mags, Commodore User and C&VG didn't seem to give it as much coverage. In static screen grabs it doesn't look like much, it's very much classic programmer art.

 

C64_Paradroid.png

 

My interest was raised in later years as new editions came out and it was seen in retrospect as a classic. But I just couldn't find a copy.

 

Until 1992. And I remember this day well as one of the best days of my life. It was St Patrick's Day 1992, I'd gone out that day with someone I had a mad crush on, by the end of the day we were an item and on the way home I picked this up at the newsagent stunned to see on the cover tape the holy grail of C64 games. It's very weird thinking back now but I felt like I was the luckiest man alive.

 

My relationship lasted two years. One of the great loves of my life but we were a poor match. The relationship with Paradroid has continued though over the past 30 plus years. It's a simple yet elegant game and it's inclusion in the DTV of C64 in a stick has meant that I can just plug it into the CRT on the desk and be rolling in minutes.

 

The conceit of the game, that the graphics are a representation of the droids around your influence device combined with ship blueprints excuse the initial impression of the graphics and very quickly you begin to appreciate the utility that allows you to size up what's happening.

 

All the enemies have different weapons and movement rates. The 302 is the fastest droid being a tiny floating messenger.

 

Paradroid_robot_302.gif

 

The 883 though slides around with slow purpose because...well...it's a little bigger and slower.

 

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Just don't tell the BBC.

 

Of course the best way to raise the alert level is to take control of the sole 999 droid and go on a rampage.

 

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRtIXtiTcB7FkvfUCCoP1_

 

It's a short lived experience as the influence device isn't completely compatible with the 999 and will burn it out quickly.

 

As mentioned in the podcast the Spectrum got a fancier version called Quazatron which I think over complicated the game too much.

 

220px-Quazatron.png

 

Paradroid '90 was a return to form and in some way improved the game (imho) by only scrolling vertically which lessened the frustration of tracking down lone droids.

 

paradroid-90-amiga-16.png?w=1200&h=

 

The downside being the fancier robots required you to memorize their shapes rather than eye up their reg' number.

 

I managed to get hold of this game in Australia (boxed) despite Graftgold games supposedly not being released outside the UK at the time.

 

Jester Interactive was looking to make a portable version of Paradroid but it died in development.

 

So how is this game one of the most influential of all time?

 

I think if you look at the concept of a player taking control of another robot, character or vehicle then you've essentially got games like Space Station Silicon Valley by DMA Design. And Body Harvest by DMA Design. And...well you know where I'm going with this.

 

Anyway it's one of the best games on the C64. It takes a little effort to get into but it still has plenty to offer today (apart from a save mode or an option to start on any of the later freighters. I think my best effort one Saturday in the 90's was to get to the third dreadnaught.)

 

 

 

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I always wanted a really dark, first person version of this. Prowling the dreadnoughts, full of dead bodies, just droids going about their business. I've been so tempted to do it myself loads of times. Because that's the thing, they killed all the crews. Did they jettison them out the airlocks? It's very clean and sanitised but there is a really dark heart in this that I love. Yeah, one of the best games on the system because it is cleverly designed and it does all those things we've been talking about and gets the balance almost perfect like FGTH before it. This game balances your opinion of your skill against the challenge it presents. Was there really anything like it at the time? I don't know. Such a great game.

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20 hours ago, squirtle said:

I always wanted a really dark, first person version of this. Prowling the dreadnoughts, full of dead bodies, just droids going about their business. I've been so tempted to do it myself loads of times. Because that's the thing, they killed all the crews. Did they jettison them out the airlocks? It's very clean and sanitised but there is a really dark heart in this that I love. Yeah, one of the best games on the system because it is cleverly designed and it does all those things we've been talking about and gets the balance almost perfect like FGTH before it. This game balances your opinion of your skill against the challenge it presents. Was there really anything like it at the time? I don't know. Such a great game.

 

Speaking of the dead bodies I love the solution to rendering (or not rendering) them. Since the droid is only calibrated to detect other droids furniture and bodies can't be seen.

 

In Paradroid 90 if you took too long the dreadnought would be discovered by raiders who couldn't be taken over by the influence device being human rather than robotic,

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I agree with you @squirtle in regards to Wizardry. I wanted to like this. It got glowing reviews so when it came out on a budget label here I nabbed it. And it wasn't great.

 

Starting with when it loaded. As in when.

 

Wizardy was one of two games I owned that didn't have a turboload which meant it took forever to load. 

 

First impressions are good with the third most twee theme on the C64.

 

CookedCheerfulCornsnake-max-1mb.gif

 

It looks great in the screenshots with it's 3D. Brown 3D. Browner than a Gears of War game.

 

568319-spell-of-destruction-commodore-64

 

But it's not great to play. The sword play with the waggle is matched with the waggling arm of the apprentice on screen which looks a little....well problematic in hindsight. I quite liked the monsters (I think the bottom half was meant to be a plume of smoke rather than a mermaids tail.) Graphically when it moves sprite objects move just out of synch with the background which isn't great either. Ambitious but it's dull, easy to get lost and worst of all if you're a little off centre when casting a one off spell you've lost it meaning you might do the right thing in the right place and still fail.

 

Good music can't save this from the downsides of a long load time, dull design and actually physically painful combat. No idea why this got such good reviews elsewhere, had I been reading Zzap at the time I would have saved myself time and money.

 

Oh and check out your end reward here.

 

 

Oh and in case you're wondering there's a rare interview with the designer (talking about Quo Vardis) here https://doctoratlantis.medium.com/quo-vadis-a-mystery-in-6-parts-ae4a17d157c9

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31 minutes ago, squirtle said:

It does look good in screenshots, no doubt, but the play is all frustration and annoyance. Also, he doesn't look like a wizard.

 

I suspect this was originally going to be Quo Vadis 3D. I was desperate to play something like Knightlore at the time.

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15 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

I suspect this was originally going to be Quo Vadis 3D. I was desperate to play something like Knightlore at the time.

Go play Cylu...

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8 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Yeah, don't. I wish we hadn't.

 

Speaking of wishing you hadn't bothered your review of Saucer Attack didn't tempt me.

 

However trivia wise there is a reason this looked so good in screen shots.

 

674261-saucer-attack-commodore-64-screen

 

That's by Jim Sachs, and you'll see his art again a few years later on the Amiga.

 

31459-defender-of-the-crown-amiga-screen

 

 

 

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Holds up score card. 6.0

 

And no, I'm not being harsh. That would net you full points in figure skating in...

 

WinterGames_Titelbild.png

 

I never warmed to the idea of this like I did Summer Games. I live in a hot country and although I did ice skating for one term the draw still wasn't there.

 

Something has been lost with the move to "better" graphics as well. Technically this has a more defined character than the Impossible Mission guy but some of the charm is lost and wouldn't return until the next game where I think they get a better grip on better defined sprites.

 

WinterGames_D0_Opening.gif

 

I'm going to order these from what I feel are the weakest to the strongest events.

 

Figure Skating / Free Skating

 

WinterGames_D3_FigureSkating.gif

 

WinterGames_D6_FreeSkating.gif

 

These are pretty much the same event although one has a set of moves you must perform in order. These require practice and are just not suited for casual multiplayer.

 

Hot Dog

 

WinterGames_D1_HotDog.gif

 

Again ill suited to casual multiplayer although failing here is amusing enough to get some laughs.

 

Ski Jump

 

WinterGames_D4_SkiJump.gif

 

This is somewhat more easier to explain and control and it's satisfying when you nail the landing.

 

Speed Skating

 

WinterGames_D5_SpeedSkating.gif

 

This is really satisfying when you build up a nice...hang on, this is just a reskin of rowing from Summer Games 2!

 

Biathlon 

 

WinterGames_D2_Biathlon.gif

 

I really enjoyed this one. There's something really satisfying with the empty cartridge/reload/shoot action and a nice feeling of calm for most of the skiing bits (apart from uphill.) It also looks great.

 

Bob Sled

 

WinterGames_D7_BobSled.gif

 

This must of been really impressive at the time with decent 3D.

 

What they say in the podcast is true, there seems to be less celebration in this game. That's down to the nature of the events themselves I guess.

 

All in all it's a less generous package than the previous offering with six events (let's face it, the figure skating games are the same). One is a reskin of a Summer Games 2 event. If I had gotten this back in the day I suspect my brother and I would have only played Bob Sled and Biathlon leaving the other events in the cold.

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I loved both the Spectrum and C64 versions of Winter Games. Biathlon is the best. When you get the reloading and shooting down and hit all targets, it's amazing. The big downside with these games is all the tape loading/disk swapping.

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Stealth might be my "Stop the Express" moment in this thread. Because it's a pretty solid game IMHO!

 

First that font.

 

170514-stealth-commodore-64-screenshot-o

 

It's nice, possibly nicer than the Paradroid font!

 

But let's have a look at the game.

 

170515-stealth-commodore-64-screenshot-i

 

And here's where I take issue with the podcast. It's definitely a plane viewed from behind. So why is it skimming low to the ground with no altitude controls?

 

Two reasons.

 

-The first is gameplay. With a one button joystick as soon as you add altitude controls you either need to remove speed controls or add keyboard controls. Which would take away from the immediacy of the game.

 

-The second? This isn't a stealth fighter. But it is engaging stealth tactics. That is keeping a low profile so that you aren't picked up by radar. By level three if you're picked up by a radar site that isn't destroyed a few seconds later you end up having to dodge a surface to air missile.

 

This is essentially a cross between Buck Rogers and River Raid. It's fast (although slower than the NTSC version which makes the levels drag a little but probably makes the game easier.) The sprites scale well. And blowing up the tower looks fantastic every time. I enjoyed revisiting this today, it's simple but solid arcade fare that only suffers due to some of the amazing competition this month.

 

edit, and here's a video so you can enjoy seeing a tower destroyed.

 

 

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I think Graham got on with this better than me. I just found that gong slow led to death and going fast meant I ran out of fuel and I couldn't find the balance. I gave it quite a few goes as well but still wasn't that impressed. Nice font, though. 

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2 hours ago, squirtle said:

I think Graham got on with this better than me. I just found that gong slow led to death and going fast meant I ran out of fuel and I couldn't find the balance. I gave it quite a few goes as well but still wasn't that impressed. Nice font, though. 

 

I can understand that. It's a lot like River Raid, a game I've played to death where there's a mechanic of making sure you don't destroy the very thing that can replenish your health. The skill is knowing when to avoid and slowing down to a crawl when yuo see that yellow cloud.

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The great thing about River Raid is you can suck up most of the fuel from a pod, then destroy it just before you pass it.

 

Such a great game, River Raid. The first procedurally generated levels IIRC.

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