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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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11 hours ago, squirtle said:

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...


Then the only advice I can give for Fist 2 is don’t backwards somersault just after you’ve moved to a new area (where the music changes.)

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3 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:


Then the only advice I can give for Fist 2 is don’t backwards somersault just after you’ve moved to a new area (where the music changes.)

Well now you know what I'm immediately going to do... 

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Had some time to myself today so I played...

 

Phobia - This is still really good but - predictably - much too hard. I found it a struggle to get past the first level. It's worth persevering though as there's some good variety here.

 

The space bar is used to split your ship into two for extra firepower. In practice it's not much use outside of boss battles as you end up with a massive hit box.

 

The disk version differs from the tape version in that the former allows you to choose your route through the levels. 

 

There's a really good Remember crack which includes both tape and disk versions, a high score saver and various bug fixes.

 

Hunter Patrol - One of those games back in the day that I would fire up for five minutes and move on. It's a bit half-baked isn't it. Like they got the effects working nicely and the plane moving around and the rest of the game was an afterthought.

 

Axis Assassin - Not sure what I saw in this back in the day. If it all moved more smoothly it might be more of a game. 

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Not looked at Phobia yet, so will wait and see on that one.

 

Hunter Patrol is just ruined by the less than generous collision detection. Axis Assassin... Cool name.

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I'm kicking myself over Scarabaeus because twice I had it in my hands and twice it lost out. Once to Tau Ceti which is fair enough but the other time it was....Wizardry.

 

First impressions are great with a fantastic intro sequence.

 

300px-Scarabaeus_Titelbild_Animation.GIF

 

The game itself is a real looker too.

 

Scarabaeus_Animation_Ebene1.GIF

 

It really does feel like an evolution of 3D monster maze with the first level being impossible for pirates. Who would have guessed you had to chase the monster in the first level in order to collect things?

 

ScarabaeusGlyphCollection.gif

 

I would have adored this 30 years ago. Again like Frankie Goes to Hollywood I feel like I'm late to the party and as impressive as it is my tolerance for mazes set on a grid as straight as Melbourne's streets in the city has waned. I did play this a few times but the timing on those lifts defeated me. I'll have to have another try at a later date.

 

There's a great wiki that contains solutions to the puzzles for anyone who is stuck here https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/Scarabæus

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36 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Remember to press M in game to play with sound fx. They transform the game. 

 

Seconded, the music is great, the sound effects though are perfect and it's part of what drew me back for two more runs.

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2 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

the first level being impossible for pirates.

 

Yep this was me. Beautiful looking game. No idea how to even start. 

 

I should revisit this.

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I just remembered the game I bought instead of Scarabaeus. It was actually Batalyx, and I suspect I might be the odd one out here because unlike our kind hosts I loved this one!

 

Why did I buy it? Well the very first game I played on the C64 was Gridrunner, an amazing reimagining of Centipede.

 

Just a warning though before we go any further. If you suffer from photo sensitivity this is not the game for you. Even turning strobing effects down (which only effects the strobing in the border) there's still enough here to be cautious about or even skip. (And that's why despite finding some great animated gifs I'm sticking to static shots for this post.)

 

300px-Gridrunner.png

 

It was hard to find Minter's stuff in Oz. Gridrunner was a bit of a hit, but after that? I couldn't find anything. I was especially disappointed I couldn't get my hands on Yak's progress, a pretty generous compilation of his previous projects. However this turned up as a budget release and it's the next best thing with remixes of previous works and Compunet experiments. So I took a punt and I knew I was in for a treat as soon as the title screen popped up.

 

Batalyxtitle.png

 

The aim is pretty simple. You have a time limit of about an hour. Your goal is high score and to unlock the five icons for the five sub-games (the sixth acting as a pause mode.) The tricky part is this. As time ticks down all the games become harder.

 

The games are

 

Hallucino-bomblets

 

239956-batalyx-commodore-64-screenshot-h

 

The aim? You have an orb. Shoot everything. The trick? Your joystick controls which direction you shoot causing you to skid in the opposite direction. Every time you shoot a baddie you gain a purple mark. Every time you collide with a baddie you loose a heap of your marks. You have to get enough marks to fill the bottom of the screen twice over. This is maddening until you get good. Or you do what I do and turn the joystick upside down.

 

Attack of the Mutant Camels 2

 

239957-batalyx-commodore-64-screenshot-a

 

The main event, this is a faster smoother Attack of the Mutant Camels. While the scrolling landscape is impressive it's also sort of irritating, the game would be better off saving the bars for the warp scene. Clear four waves and you'll earn your icon.

 

Activation of Iridis Base

 

239958-batalyx-commodore-64-screenshot-a

 

My least favourite sub game. The landscape scrolling is impressive here as you ride the back of a camel towards a pyramid while shooting.....things. It suffers the same problem all quick time games have. See that box of cubes? Yes, you're basically playing "Simon" moving your stick to match the position. There's an impressive ending to this screen if you can move your eyes away from that tiny cube quickly enough.

 

Cippy on the Run

 

239959-batalyx-commodore-64-screenshot-c

 

The goat from Ancipital returns. Try to colour the ceiling and floor by running over the tiles while avoiding falling into holes. It's a bit fiddly and frustrating....just like Ancipital.

 

Synchro II

 

239960-batalyx-commodore-64-screenshot-s

 

This is simpler than it looks. You essentially want to stop two floating orbs in place by moving background tiles until they exactly counter the movement of the orb. This feels like it would have worked better on a touch screen.

 

Psychadelia 2

 

239961-batalyx-commodore-64-screenshot-p

This is just a fancy pause mode with a scaled down version of Jeff Minter's original visualiser.

 

I had a quick run through tonight and I'm not sure it holds up too well despite being technically impressive. It's strobes way too much which left me with a cracking headache. AMC2 is the star game here. At the time though, before indie games were a thing what this represented to me was five game experiments at a cheap price with Psychedelia thrown in as a freebie. A total bargain that at the time spoke to me even if it left almost everyone else I knew cold and the game that sealed my love for Minter and his work.

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We were just honest in our review that neither of us, despite admiring the technical prowess on display, ever got on with Minter's stuff. As this is all of Minter's stuff in one package, we were unlikely to engage with it. We haven't got to Iridis Alpha yet, but I remember the Licker enemies in that being one of the most hateful enemies it has ever been my misfortune to come across. I'll see if time has changed my opinion.

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1 hour ago, squirtle said:

We were just honest in our review that neither of us, despite admiring the technical prowess on display, ever got on with Minter's stuff. As this is all of Minter's stuff in one package, we were unlikely to engage with it. We haven't got to Iridis Alpha yet, but I remember the Licker enemies in that being one of the most hateful enemies it has ever been my misfortune to come across. I'll see if time has changed my opinion.

 

Minter is an acquired taste and even then some of his works aren't the easiest to get on with. I have a 50/50 hit rate with his games. We'll get to it later but I suspect we'll agree about Iridis Alpha.

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5 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

Minter is an acquired taste and even then some of his works aren't the easiest to get on with. I have a 50/50 hit rate with his games. We'll get to it later but I suspect we'll agree about Iridis Alpha.

Interested to hear what you thought of Frank Bruno’s Boxing... 

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You'll still hate the licker enemies. In spite of them Iridis is still classic material.

 

I too loved Batalyx back in the day. It's a pretty slick package for a single load. I was always terrible at it which was a bit of a frustration for me. Love that Minter aesthetic though.

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12 hours ago, squirtle said:

Interested to hear what you thought of Frank Bruno’s Boxing... 

 

Oh boy. Frank Bruno’s Boxing. I'll keep this short.

 

This was a game I wanted to play back in the day, Commodore User and C&VG loved it. I actually borrowed this from friends a few times and that tape would not load no matter how much I fiddled with the azimuth. (This would mean something to those who practiced the dark arts of azimuth adjusting back in the day.)

 

Years later on seeing Punch Out on the NES I wondered if Nintendo had licenced or ripped it off Elite. I know better now and it's one of several things that probably made the owners of Elite nervous in the years that followed.

 

I checked out a longplay and it's technically impressive. Those sprites are massive and full of character. Character. We'll get around to that shortly.

 

So on watching the video I took down some notes.

 

-This is impressive.

-Hang on, they really ripped off Punch Out, how did they not get sued?

-Hang on, how did they not get done for copyright infringement over the music? (The theme of the game is the Rocky theme note for note and the theme for the first boxer is the Monty Python classic "I'm a lumberjack."

-These characters are a little politically incorrect.

-Oh. Ohhhhhh! They can fuck right off.

 

What was the final straw for me?

 

The Australian boxer. Antipodean Andy.

 

Here's the look they gave him. (You'll have to click on the video to see it. For some reason I can't find the portrait to link anywhere.)

 

 

 

And the description in the manual?

 

Quote

'Fed on a diet of empty lager cans, this man feels no pain. Pure un-interrupted punch power.'

 

Gross. I'm going to give the developers the benefit of the doubt and attribute the line about lager cans a comment on Australian toughness and the stereotype of everyone drinking beer to excess. On a local level this reads completely differently (which is why localisation matters.)

 

But the look of the character with the large red lips harks back to some pretty ugly stereotyping. (Which I wish was historical but persists today in some of the more right wing papers.)

 

It's a game of it's time and I don't really feel the need to spend time on it. Did anyone play it back in the day and enjoy it?

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Yeah I loved it back in the day although much preferred the Spectrum version.

 

It's wild to even imagine that they sought endorsement from a black athlete and then populated the game with awful racist caricatures.

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15 minutes ago, Camel said:

Yeah I loved it back in the day although much preferred the Spectrum version.

 

It's wild to even imagine that they sought endorsement from a black athlete and then populated the game with awful racist caricatures.

That's what I said in the podcast. Just beggars belief.

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1 hour ago, squirtle said:

I'm surprised you got past Tribal Trouble...

Well technically I didn't, I just fast forwarded the video. Tribal Trouble is just inexcusable as well though.

 

54 minutes ago, Camel said:

Yeah I loved it back in the day although much preferred the Spectrum version.

 

It's wild to even imagine that they sought endorsement from a black athlete and then populated the game with awful racist caricatures.

 

Most adults back then didn't have a clue about video games. I doubt he played more than one round for the press. You could not get away with that today.

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1 minute ago, Unofficial Who said:

Well technically I didn't, I just fast forwarded the video. Tribal Trouble is just inexcusable as well though.

 

 

Most adults back then didn't have a clue about video games. I doubt he played more than one round for the press. You could not get away with that today.

Probably. Canadian Crusher is no indication of what is to come...

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I'm sure he wouldn't have played any rounds for the press and probably had no idea of the game's content when the deal was inked. I wonder if he saw any of the ads.

 

FrankBrunosBoxing_2.thumb.jpg.b415c1d8b70aa808f5369216f066c72a.jpg

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Have you ever come across a game with an advert so annoying that you've vowed never ever to buy or play it?

 

For me that game was Topper the Copper.

 

From what I remember of the advert it just said "Topper the Copper". And then underneath  a little picture of Topper saying "Will be a whopper!"

 

And for some reason it got stuck in my head. 35 years later it will randomly pop up in my head. I have no idea why but it gets me annoyed every time I think of it.

 

957930-the-hulk-apple-ii-screenshot-no-r.

 

Anyway it looks like a budget Thing on a Spring.

 

663918-topper-the-copper-commodore-64-sc

 

The warning by the podcast about the ever looping Yakety Sax confirmed this was a game I could go to my grave without playing.

 

The programmer of this would go on to do the C64 port of the Pickford Brothers game Feud. Which wasn't a great port apparently.

 

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What I need is a nice calming puzzle game to finish up the day.

 

Schizofrenia is not it.

 

This had a reputation for being hard but....those stairs. What were they thinking?

 

Here's the screen you'll see in the game.

 

566155-schizofrenia-commodore-64-screens

 

Good luck getting past that! It's up there with Doughboy! Thank god I was reading reviews at this point.

 

@squirtle, good call on this being Yello the game although it remind me a lot more of

 

ron-mael-sparks-moustache.jpg

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2 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

What I need is a nice calming puzzle game to finish up the day.

 

Schizofrenia is not it.

 

This had a reputation for being hard but....those stairs. What were they thinking?

 

Here's the screen you'll see in the game.

 

566155-schizofrenia-commodore-64-screens

 

Good luck getting past that! It's up there with Doughboy! Thank god I was reading reviews at this point.

 

@squirtle, good call on this being Yello the game although it remind me a lot more of

 

ron-mael-sparks-moustache.jpg

Ha ha! Yeah, but there was only one of him and there are both band members on screen. They really did miss a trick.

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Just now, Unofficial Who said:

 

No. I got up two stairs. Two. 

 

I want Dark Souls enthusiasts who think easy modes shouldn't exist to livestream playing this. And Doughboy.

I managed 5. I was one away from the top and fell. :(

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If I haven't already asked, what were your awards for Best Game, Best Music and Best Visuals for the games covered in 1985? We're recording this bit tonight so lets have your nominations.

 

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2 hours ago, squirtle said:

If I haven't already asked, what were your awards for Best Game, Best Music and Best Visuals for the games covered in 1985? We're recording this bit tonight so lets have your nominations.

 

Hang on what? I thought that was coming after the other episodes. Er um....did you have a list for the other months or is this just covering May onwards?

 

 

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7 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

Hang on what? I thought that was coming after the other episodes. Er um....did you have a list for the other months or is this just covering May onwards?

 

 

I did mean to mention this earlier but life and stuff...

 

Anyway, if you go to zappedtothepast.com/the-games/ you can see a list of all the games we have covered and will be covered in next week's episode, too. We are just looking at the games we have covered, but if you want to give a shout out to anything Jan - Apr 85 that wasn't in the first issue of Zzap, feel free. We need to record it tonight as Graham needs the time to get it included in the Awards episode that is coming in a couple of weeks to round off 85.

 

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