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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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3 minutes ago, Camel said:

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.

 

Pitfall came out a few months before (both use a similar method of storing screens using a linear feedback shift register with a hard-coded starting value.)

 

Still one of the best.

 

Off topic but there's a great video about her legacy here.

 

 

 

A solid port of Shaw's game was released on the C64 programmed by Arti Haroutunian.

 

RiverRaid_Animation2.gif

 

 

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As for the games I haven't played previously (and still haven't)

 

Axis Assassin is the closest game the C64 has to Tempest. Although I'm almost positive there was a C64 port of it by Electric Dreams. This has all the hallmarks of being a straight port of the Apple 2 original. There's so many better options now (all of them by Jeff Minter.)

 

Axisassassiningame.gif

 

Hunter Patrol just doesn't cut it in the same month as Stealth.

 

692028-hunter-patrol-commodore-64-screen

 

The Rats is just something I can't even look at given the mice plague in the west of my state at the moment. (The footage from the plague is stomach turning and @squirtle, you are going to love this as reasons to avoid Australia, mice plague means a snake plague in a few months.)

 

674785-james-herbert-s-the-rats-commodor

 

edit: Pick of the podcast for me is Paradroid. Easy pick this one, it's a great game that still plays well now. It's crying out for a modern remake.

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Episode 12 is up!

 

-Wizard’s Lair

-Steve Davis’ Snooker

-Doughboy

-The Castles of Dr Creep

-Hacker

-William Wobbler

-Cops and Robbers

-Karateka

 

I'll be doing my usual posting this week if I can work out how to get podcasts onto my phone after the "excellent" update to the iOS podcast app.

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I got Wizard's Lair on a cover tape. Not CF or Zzap though. This is the first of several Ultimate clones designed by Stephen Crow, as mentioned in the podcast it's a clone of Atic Atac.

 

I love these sort of games. And Stephen Crow was someone who did better Ultimate games than Ultimate. This port of the Spectrum game is solid and fast. It's really nippy.

 

I don't like this game. For one there's the odd perspective.

 

473974-wizard-s-lair-commodore-64-screen

 

Whatever way your character faces....well his feet just face that way with no feel for perspective.

 

I found it difficult to map. I think the big issue is...I never liked Atic Atac. And since this is a clone I just found this as aimless.  In the end I'd run around and zap some baddies and then I'd get a percentage that meant nothing.

 

This screen summed up the game for me.

 

473973-wizard-s-lair-commodore-64-screen

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One of my early memories of awkwardly having to be diplomatic with a friend was due to Steve Davis Snooker.

 

One of my friends at school was going on about an amazing game he'd just picked up and said I had to come over to see it. We rushed to his place after school and he showed me this.

 

255265-steve-davis-snooker-commodore-64-

 

"Wait until you see it move! The physics are amazing!"

 

I should mention, this was 1987.

 

I was incredibly polite. I borrowed it off him a couple of weeks later to see if there was something I was missing. There really wasn't. Lord knows how this got a mark in the 70's in Zzap. 

 

I love the burn here on this bit of trivia.

 

https://www.mobygames.com/game/c64/steve-davis-snooker/trivia

 

Quote

Even before being released as a budget title, Steve Davis Snooker managed to sell 180,000 copies, which proves how much the English like snooker.

 

I can't find credits for the C64 version, the Speccy version was by Mike Lamb who did quite well from this (although not as well as Steve Davis) before moving on to Ocean and making some of their landmark movie conversions.

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I've never played Dough Boy before but I remember seeing it slated everywhere. Made me wonder why given I really like the Atari style chucky sprite look.

 

563019-dough-boy-commodore-64-screenshot

 

See this screen? That's as far as you can go without cheats because it's too hard. I'm sure this is one of those cases where the programmer/designer has tuned the gameplay perfectly...for their own skill level and experience. Which makes it suitable for an audience of one sadly.

 

You know what is brave? Advertising better games your company has published on the bottom of the title screen, all of which are better than this.

 

563018-dough-boy-commodore-64-screenshot

 

As the podcast pointed out, this was being sold at the same price as Winter Games. I think it was even more expensive than Paradroid!

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I loved platform games, the more complicated the better so looking at marketing material for The Castles of Doctor Creep was like catnip to me.

 

Just have a look at this!

 

190794-the-castles-of-dr-creep-commodore

 

Sadly I didn't have a disk drive so again this was a game I was destined not to play....at least until 2016 when I finally got to play this on the PC.

 

And not on an emulator. Back in 2016 a backwards engineered port was released on Steam with the original creator's input and blessing. It's asking price is less than the price of a cup of coffee and while bare bones it is true to the original with the addition of achievements. https://store.steampowered.com/app/517930/The_Castles_of_Dr_Creep/

 

Of course it has the drawbacks as mentioned as well. Death as mentioned in the podcast can set you back a long way and in some of the more maze like levels it can be maddening to get back to where you started. I also found it really difficult to get on and off ladders although I'm not sure if that's just an issue with this port.

 

The tutorial is great and is still the only castle I've escaped thus far.

 

CastleOfDoktorCreep_Animation.gif

 

 

 

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But still... Wizard's Lair is fun but I found it constraining and aimless, plus I make the pun Mappers Delight and then completely forget it. 

 

Steve Davis Snooker... Needs weightier balls. 

 

Doughboy... Awful shit of a game. 

 

Dr Creep... Yeah, this was good, but just needed that death penalty fixing. 

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55 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Steady on! We'll have nothing to discuss for the rest of the week! 

 

What can I say, my deadline is over and I was off work sick and recovered somewhat this afternoon. Might be a day or two before I get back to it because Hacker has turned into a bit of a treat.

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35 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

What can I say, my deadline is over and I was off work sick and recovered somewhat this afternoon. Might be a day or two before I get back to it because Hacker has turned into a bit of a treat.

A proper hidden gem, that one.

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I've talked before about the big dump bin in my local department store full to the brim with ex-Activision, Electric Dreams and Lucasfilm stock at the bargain price of $10AU each. (The price of a budget game at the time.) May as well have been NeoGeo prices for me back then.

 

This was another cover I looked at in vain.

 

500px-Hacker_Cover_Tape.jpg

 

I never ended up finding it although a couple of years later I would get Hacker 2 on a covertape, a story for another time.

 

Having played it now I'm sure I would have loved it back in the day. I was a huge fan of Wargames and Max Headroom and the game's conceit of breaking into a foreign computer and then figuring out the systems running them would have been mindblowing.

 

OUjscPr.gif?noredirect

 

Living that 80's dream.

 

Years later I tried to play this (it was included in a compilation by Digital Eclipse back in 1995) and bounced right off it. I wrote it off as a game where you had to be there at the time.

 

This time I did a little research and found a great guide with controls, maps and solutions. Spoiler warning, if you're going to make a run at this use this sparingly.

 

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

 

With just the nudge about the controls and the commands in the top left the design and the game just made sense.

 

Hacker_SRU_Programming.gif

 

Soon I was zooming around the tunnels (well my remote robot was) meeting up with dodgy spies in other countries.

 

Hacker_Spy_France.gif

 

I played through about half the game before the system threw me out for taking too much time but I'm going to return to this one. I could say loads about this but I don't want to spoil the mystery, it really is ahead of it's time. It's the Max Headroom style cyberpunk game I always wanted to play.

 

The creator Steve Cartwright got his start on Atari games (the satellites in this look like a modified sprite from Megamania.) He went on to make some graphic adventure games, a tonne of golf games and unsurprisingly given the systems in this game now works in UX / UI design.

 

A hidden gem.

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Is it hidden? It was a pretty well received game at the time IIRC and had full-page adverts etc. 

 

Yet another game I had no clue how to play. The perils of having too many games.

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I don't think it gets referenced or talked about as much as other games that are arguably nowhere near as good. It's pretty unusual and forward thinking in its design. 

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15 hours ago, Camel said:

Is it hidden? It was a pretty well received game at the time IIRC and had full-page adverts etc. 

 

Yet another game I had no clue how to play. The perils of having too many games.

 

I think a lot of reviewers ran into the same problem I did which is how much do you say about the game when discovering what it's about it part of the fun?

 

If you aren't worried too much about spoilers try it with the wiki. It ruined a lot of the surprises for me but it enabled me to work out the game play loop and at least admire the elegance behind how it's put together.

 

If you want to play something modern that involves playing around with HUDs and systems No Code's Observation is excellent (and it's up on Gamepass right now.)

 

 

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William Wobbler. This is an easy pass for me, as it's a game that doesn't appeal to me for loads of reasons.

 

-It's a Tony Crowther game. (I just didn't get on with his C64 works at all, something about the feel of his games didn't gel with me. His AMiga stuff on the other hand, fantastic. Some of the best on the platform.)

 

-It's a prize game. Like Quo Vadis, the Pi Man games and Eureka, I saw them as being too hard to play for enjoyment. (And also the prizes were UK or Europe exclusives so tat wasn't a draw.

 

-Instant deaths.

 

What's something nice I can say about it?

 

286312-william-wobbler-commodore-64-scre

 

The characters are pretty big for the C64?

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Cops and Robbers is technically the worst game here.

 

But it's not the worst game to play from this selection.

 

No wait. Hear me out.

 

When I was a kid this game was legendary. Partly because it was so bad. Almost so bad it's good. "You need to see this, it's the worst thing ever," went around the playground along with copies of this one.

 

Here's the thing though. It has bad sound effects. It has incredibly bad graphics.

 

But this is a game brimming with ideas. Some of them are odd ideas. Like "Hey, did you know the ghost from Pacman is guarding something? You need to blow him up somehow."

 

140820-cops-n-robbers-commodore-64-scree

 

There's the risk / reward of deciding whether or not to run back to the car to bank your points. Risk losing it all in an arrest or risk the helicopter buzzing outside.

 

140812-cops-n-robbers-commodore-64-scree

 

Then there was the rumour that you could get some of your lives back by staging a risky jail break.

140810-cops-n-robbers-commodore-64-scree

 

This schoolyard rumour proved to be true.

 

140813-cops-n-robbers-commodore-64-scree

 

There's even haunted survival levels.

 

140827-cops-n-robbers-commodore-64-scree

 

Where the stakes are so much higher.

 

140824-cops-n-robbers-commodore-64-scree

 

This is a game that looked long in the tooth in 1985. I suspect it was a labour of love for someone who started this months or years earlier. It's full of potential and I think some more time on polish, control and balance would have turned this into a classic. There's no way this could compete with the big hitters or even the average games of this issue but there's loads more fun here than in William Wobbler or Dough Boy. I'd love for someone to use this as the basis of a remake.

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, squirtle said:

@Unofficial WhoI could plan the best painting in the world, but when I turn out poor stickpeople and charge money for it, it is clear my ambition has far outweighed my abilities.

 

Oh it's definitely a case of ambition outweighing ability. I'd counter with at least it's playable unlike Dough Boy.

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Just now, Unofficial Who said:

 

Oh it's definitely a case of ambition outweighing ability. I'd counter with at least it's playable unlike Dough Boy.

Oh, God, yeah. There's no getting around Cops and Robbers awfulness but yes, in a race to the bottom, there are others that we have played that beat it. As you will find out when we do our 1985 awards episode. An episode I will be asking for contributions to very soon...

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The last one on the list here is a massive influence on modern game design in terms of borrowing from cinema. I first saw this in our school computer lab on the Apple 2. It would be 1993 before I got my own copy to play, the original disk sold to me for $5AU as a car boot sale. Even though I'd moved onto the Amiga emulators weren't a thing yet (that I knew about at least) and I was happy to rinse this.

 

KaratekaTitel.gif

 

This is a pretty simple game. You start on the left of the map.

 

Karateka_start.png

 

Your goal is on the furthest right of the map.

 

Karateka_Startsequenz.png

 

The only thing between you and the princess is many many guards.

 

Karateka_kampf1.png

 

There's some great risk / reward balancing here. Running will get you to your goal quicker but one hit will kill you while in the running stance. Being over cautious and not running will result in having to face more guards. You have to be somewhat aggressive when fighting as otherwise the guards will regain lost stamina. You can't just wait for them to come to you.

 

There's a couple of surprises along the way and some great comedic moments that can catch you off guard. You really need to be respectful at the end of the game or face the consequences.

 

Cook's port is solid but as the podcast points out this game is slow. There are some ways to get around this. On an original C64 the keyboard is more responsive than the joystick. If you're running on an emulator I've heard setting the running speed to 300% makes it a nicer experience.

 

If you have the choice of the Apple or the C64 in this case the Apple version is much better.

 

In terms of playing it now you can buy a port of the Apple version on iOS or Android (named Karateka Classic). I haven't played the Android port but the iOS version is one of those rare cases where touch screen buttons actually works better than the original controls. And it's how I've been revisiting it this week. It even emulates the disc drive sound and for the real hard core you can set the monitor to a monochromatic green or amber look.

 

 

There is a modern version for iOS, PS3 and 360 but it plays more like a rhythm action game. I like it but it's not the original.

 

654577-karateka-windows-screenshot-opens

 

For this interested in the development of the original game Jordan shows some old footage here of the rotoscoping he did using his family as trying to animate by hand resulted in "programmer art."

 

 

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Yeah I was really disappointed by Karateka back in the day because of its sloooooow pace.

 

I hear you re Crowther. Exceptions for me would be Loco and Phobia.

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7 minutes ago, Camel said:

I hear you re Crowther. Exceptions for me would be Loco and Phobia.

 

You mean Loco / Suicide Express / Black Thunder? ;)

 

I really liked the demo of Phobia I got on a covermount, was sad the full game was just never distributed in any of my local stores.

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Yeah I only had the Loco version. Great music, good game. 

 

I still have my original copy of Phobia on disk. I haven't played it for years. I wonder how it holds up. I'll give it a go later.

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In the podcast Karateka was compared to Fist 2...it's going to be an interesting one to talk about because while Karateka is the better game and more fondly regarded by most I suspect my take will be different.

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4 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

In the podcast Karateka was compared to Fist 2...it's going to be an interesting one to talk about because while Karateka is the better game and more fondly regarded by most I suspect my take will be different.

My recollection of Fist 2 is a buggy, broken mess with rubbish scrolling that was only saved by Fist+ on the other side. However, I shall wait to play it before rendering a more modern take on it. Time may have been kind.

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Also, we're doing out Awards after episode 14 and zero have released and if anyone wants to throw in their best Game, Visuals and Music for the games we have looked at so far, feel free to post it here. All the games we've looked at are here in the thread but if you want a quick reminder... go here.

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1 minute ago, squirtle said:

My recollection of Fist 2 is a buggy, broken mess with rubbish scrolling that was only saved by Fist+ on the other side. However, I shall wait to play it before rendering a more modern take on it. Time may have been kind.

 

See if you can find a bug fixed version of it, there's a couple of nasty ones that can destroy a playthrough.

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1 minute ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

See if you can find a bug fixed version of it, there's a couple of nasty ones that can destroy a playthrough.

We just have the roms, but I hope it is the original as I'd rather play it as it was released. I feel oddly against "patched" C64 games for some reason...

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