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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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14 hours ago, squirtle said:

Daniel-san has gone all metrosexual in that pic... 

 

The thing is with Fist 2 is that the world is empty. If it had been smaller and more dense, it would have been better but it's so empty for so long that any goodwill quickly evaporates. 

 

I don't mind empty sometimes but this (combined with no way to run) does get the balance wrong in much the same way Everyone's Gone To The Rapture also frustrated me.

 

On contrast to Antiriad which could have done with a bit more space. I think games were still finding their feet here, for the longest time during the 8 bit period it took a long time for people to realise more screens / bigger map doesn't make for a better game in the same way a decade and a bit later the struggle was more hours not making for a better game.

 

Anyway I'm harping on now, this was my first C64 arcade adventure and so it was my favourite for a long time until I played others.

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6 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

 

I don't mind empty sometimes but this (combined with no way to run) does get the balance wrong in much the same way Everyone's Gone To The Rapture also frustrated me.

 

On contrast to Antiriad which could have done with a bit more space. I think games were still finding their feet here, for the longest time during the 8 bit period it took a long time for people to realise more screens / bigger map doesn't make for a better game in the same way a decade and a bit later the struggle was more hours not making for a better game.

 

Anyway I'm harping on now, this was my first C64 arcade adventure and so it was my favourite for a long time until I played others.

Yes, you're right, and I'm certainly not knocking your opinion on it. I mean, I have at many times on the podcast bemoaned games that bother you with enemies all the time (Entombed springs to mind), so technically I've gone the other way here. It's just the balance and unfairness of being sent all the way back to the beginning that gets me here. The thought of trudging (running would have helped - see Karateka) through those screens again just filled me with... well, you know my feelings. Anyway, I want to see what you think to some of the other stuff here.

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Well I just played one that I really wanted back in the day The Trap Door. I loved the look of it in screenshots back in the day, big bold and full of character. And having not been able to get my hands on it before I read every solution back in the day so when him upstairs yelled "get me a can of worms!" I knew what to do and ran into action.

 

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Well not so much ran. Strolled. Slowly. Bumping here and there.

 

I've got no doubt at all that I would have loved this back in the day. Adored it. But now....I felt clumsy and slow and I get enough of that in real life with my aging bones.

 

I love the design here. It is bold. It's slow so the play area is small. But as much as I want to love these games (I've played a few of them ages ago on Spectrum emulators) I just can't get past how sluggish it is. Part of me wishes these had been converted for the 16 bit machines.

 

And especially this one, graphically it's as close to the TV series as you could hope for. It's probably better than Fist 2 but for me without the nostalgia....I've come across this too late.

 

TrapdoorPic3.png

 

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This next game though I loved. Street Surfer was loaned to my brother and I and it quickly became a favourite.

 

Because it's secretly good? No. Because it is so incredibly weird.

 

The heart of the game is in the right place. Scoot along the highway on you rocket powered skateboard to save the environment by grabbing empty coke bottles tossed by shitty car drivers. Yes! The power is yours! (Meanwhile your rocket skateboard is probably spewing out toxic fumes that despite grabbing and recycling maybe four bottles makes for a net negative.)

 

Also half the drivers in this game are jerks gunning it when they see you.

 

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And the other half are creeps. "Here you go kid, accept this drink from a strange.er. I mean totally normal man." It's no coincidence you usually stack it moments later.

 

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Make it to the checkpoint and you can throw those empties in the recycling. YES!

 

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I can't disagree with anything said in Zzap or on the podcast. And yet I love this weird crap game. I remember not thinking about it for decades until listening to Kumail Nanjiani on his podcast back in 2012 describing his favourite games from his childhood and the description being so weird that I'm positive his wife thought he was doing a bit.

 

Worth a replay? Totally, I have no idea how this got made but it made my brother and I laugh quite a bit. I might load this up at Christmas for a laugh.

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They're not cars. They're UFOs. Such a strange and barely playable game, and as we said, never speed up the music that much when you speed up. I get the eco-message, but really, encouraging to drink spit filled drinks from passing motorists is not something I can get behind.

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Dante’s Inferno. You know I love my wandering around aimlessly games and I really wanted to love this.

 

This sums up my attempts over the years to try and get into this.

 

226825-dante-s-inferno-commodore-64-scre

 

Here's the thing though. Looking up a longplay reveals the game to be a simple and very linear maze game. Learn the critical path and the game is reduced to a five minute jog through the underworld!

 

 

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Like a lot of Gremlin Games Highway Encounter ended up coming my way in 1993. It had caught my eye back in the day thanks to a massive map in C&VG that was made by stitching together screengrabs of all the screens. The C64 version actually looks pretty decent and isn't the normal monochrome (but slower) standard Spectrum port.

 

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I would always lose interest half way through because controlling the Dalek seemed so clumsy. And also it's an escort mission. It's not impossible (I've just watched a longplay where someone managed it in 8 minutes) and to give it credit it actually has a satisfying end sequence. It wasn't for me by the time I played it but it's worth a look.

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It's worth reading the interview with Denton Designs in this issue of Zzap and then comparing it to the earlier one that we featured from way back (issue 4 or 5...). All but one had left by this point so it's almost a completely different team making games under the Denton name. Dante's Inferno is not a good game by any stretch of the imagination.

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I got The Sentinel as part of a compilation two years after it's release but I was far more interested in Tetris, Elite and Starglider. Especially since The Sentinel used keys (brrr.) And so it languished for some time until a rainy afternoon where I was at a loose end.

 

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When you stare at the loading screen sometimes it stares back at you.

 

It took a while to get the hang of it, especially since it seemed to use ASD a lot, who could ever get used to that as a keyset?

 

But once I did, I was transfixed. This felt like VR but on the C64. This felt like some sort of William Gibson inspired chess game.

 

I won't describe the game, the description in the podcast or here is sufficient. https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/The_Sentinel

 

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The Sentry itself is formidable. Always at the highest point, always staring and scanning.

 

Geoff Crammond's game is a miracle but it's also slow on the eight bits.

 

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This is sped up.

 

There was just nothing else like it on the C64 at the time or for a long times after. I think the review at Zzap was a copout, it feels like Jaz was side-lined but at least he got his say. I played this for a long time until I was overcome by the sheer number of levels. You don't need to play all 10,000 levels, the code granted to you is dependant on how much energy you have at the end (and if you want to manipulate that you can expend some energy making boulders or trees to dissipate excess energy. But in the end there isn't much reason to play this other than the joy of playing.

 

It's a technical marvel and my pick of this episode.

 

And if you think you'll love this then....you shouldn't play this. You should play this on the Amiga or Atari ST. You lose the tension of playing a game that runs like treacle but it's more usable.

 

If you want to play a unique version I can recommend the fan made Sentinel Returns (DOS/Playstation) with a 90's style grimdark makeover and a soundtrack by John Carpenter. Yes, that John Carpenter.

 

 

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I remember that PlayStation version coming out and being amazed that John Carpenter had done the soundtrack. Problem was that JC had lost a fair bit of kudos by that point in the nineties so having him do the soundtrack at that point was not such a big selling point, at least to me and anyone I knew. Also, I didn't know anyone else who had even heard of the original game.

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I like the follow-up, but I adore the original.

 

I remember Dad picking us up from school to drive us into Cambridge, getting into Boots and buying it.

It still sends shivers down my spine when the scanning sound starts up.

And to my mind the pace is part of the challenge - you need to work out the best way to turn, the best angle to line up, the next step up the ziggurat to reach the zenith.

 

The key layout is course inherited from the BBC Micro. 

 

 

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I'm not really into flight games that get more complicated than Pilot Wings. And back on the C64 a lot of flight games were trying to use vectors to simulate flight. A bit of a lost cause on a machine that's more about moving sprites and character blocks around. Some people understood this and Ace of Aces was pretty much Dambusters 2 and leaned into this.

 

Presentation is really top notch here, US Canadian disc based games really were raising the bar in that area.

 

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Even the mission select and details screen looked spiffy.

 

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But best of all was the in game "3D".  Showing ground detail was always a losing proposition with either no detail or slow detail. So they made the decision here to not show the ground. It's so impressive I bet stills of this sold a lot of copies.

 

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The side views were pretty impressive as well.

 

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And after being attacked this was a sight you didn't want to see. Time to limp home!

 

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The bombing was a neat cheat at looking below the clouds through the bomb bay doors.

 

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I didn't play too much of this back in the day being limited to cassette (did anyone play this on tape?) but I played it for a while later on when I found it in a box of discs that had been given to me. I was mainly drawn in by that cloud routine, it was pretty impressive for the C64. I don't think things got much better than this for WW2 flight sims on the C64 after this. A great example of playing to the strengths of the platform.

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Red Max is completely new to me. Looks interesting....hang on....it isn't...

 

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This is just a reskinned Last V8 isn't it! I'm sure some people enjoy this but those people aren't me!

 

CU said back in the day 

Quote

One of the best things about the game is the control method, due to the size of the small screen you cannot see very far in front of you. So, when you go at a fast speed it is incredibly dangerous.

 

No, no that's a bad thing not a good thing!

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I remember Mad Nurse getting slated back in the day for being in rather bad taste. What we have here is a decent crisis management game where you have to scoot around putting babies in their cribs before they get to power points and poison bottles.

 

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It takes a while to ramp up and for some in their teens this is a laugh. Not so much of a laugh when you've known parents who've lost their kids to misadventure.

 

It's technically sound but not what I'd want to play in my spare time.

 

This idea was resurrected recently in the two player game Who's Your Daddy where one person plays as the dad, the other as the child, the dad trying to find the child before they, well die from misadventure.

 

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Actually, that's a little unfair on SFC. It's a squad based, tactical affair, and I suppose you could link it to things like Shadowfire and Enigma Force, and in these games see the lineage to your Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon games farther down the line. I admired its ambition, just didn't play that well. 

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Before I had a computer I used to go to the local library and read the magazines they had there. And it was slim pickings, many of these were serious magazines that might if you were lucky have two pages of games reviews and some adverts, usually at the back of the magazine.

 

One game I was fascinated by was Crush Crumble and Chomp. Because I was a kid. Because it had monsters. Because you could BE THE MONSTER!

 

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How cool does that look! And the game! Well...

 

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Look at those monsters!

 

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What makes The Movie Monster Game interesting is that it's an early example of a remake / remaster where the entire game is redone from scratch with a lot of quality of life and presentation improvements.

 

The text only options screen is now a movie marque.

 

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There's in game advertising for other Epyx games in the intro, surely another first.

 

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As for the game itself...well it's a missed opportunity. If you pick the giant spider you might have a good time. This is the only creature that moves at a decent speed.

 

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The others? Well witness the speed of the not at all Ghostbusters knock off Mr Meringue.

 

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I really wanted this game back in the day despite the lukewarm reviews because it had destructible environments! It's really hard to explain why that was so appealing when every game now allows you to destroy everything apart from doors and trees. I have no doubt my brother and I would have really enjoyed this. As it was timing really killed this with this coming out at around the same time as the arcade game Rampage which did this but better, faster and with three players at once.

 

There's the bare bones of a great open world game here. But if it's monster mayhem you want you're better off playing Rampage and if it's sheer destruction you're after then Red Faction Guerrilla is still best in show in that genre.

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5 hours ago, squirtle said:

Actually, that's a little unfair on SFC. It's a squad based, tactical affair, and I suppose you could link it to things like Shadowfire and Enigma Force, and in these games see the lineage to your Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon games farther down the line. I admired its ambition, just didn't play that well. 

 

Fair. I played it on the Five Star Games II compilation, and just found the keyboard controls too fiddly.

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Orpheus in the Underworld. This will be quick. I was warned off this by all the magazines back in the day and I can see why.

 

678324-orpheus-in-the-underworld-commodo

 

This is an awful Pitfall! clone which is immediately redundant due to the C64 already having two competent ports of the Atari 2600 original (one being a demonstration game for Activision's Gamemaker.) Don't even get me started on the music which only blurts out when your character is doing a thing. I'd much prefer going back to Street Surfer than to this.

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Last is Trailblazer and this is an interesting one because it's one of those rare things, a port from the Commodore 16!

 

That's right, the original version of Trailblazer looked like this.

 

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The port to the C64 added a lot of things including split screen two player as was the style at the time.

 

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I'm going to be a bit of a party pooper here and say that this felt super smooth and polished but it wasn't much fun being far too fast to be able to interpret the tiles correctly. My brother and I played this a little back in the day but soon returned to Pitstop 2. Shaun Southern would go on to greater things in regards to racing. 

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Also reviewed this issue was the text adventure 

 

180534-leather-goddesses-of-phobos-commo

 

This had a neat mechanic where you could play as a man or a woman determined by which bathroom you used at the start of the game.

 

Also introduced scratch and sniff to games.

 

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There's a great writeup about it here. https://www.filfre.net/2015/03/leather-goddesses-of-phobos-or-sex-comes-to-the-micros-again/

 

Quote

Any sales lost for reasons of outraged morality were more than made up for by the game’s sex appeal. Leather Goddesses proved to be by a factor of at least three Infocom’s biggest seller post-Activision acquisition, selling around 130,000 copies — Infocom’s last game to break six digits, their last to qualify as a genuine hit, and their first and last to prove that Sex Sells was as true in computer games as it was in any other media. It lands just below Wishbringer on Infocom’s all-time sales chart, their sixth best-selling game overall. At least one of the fans it attracted may have horrified Meretzky: Tom Clancy, technothriller author and noted friend of the Reagan administration. “I’d like to meet whoever wrote that,” he said in an interview. “I just don’t know what asylum to go to.”

 

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This month also saw the release of the C64 port of the graphic rich Amiga game The Pawn.

 

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And it was a pretty impressive looking port.

 

ThePawn1.png

 

I never did get to play any of these but this was the first in a series of Magnetic Scrolls ports, all with amazing pixel art.

 

I mean this looks a bit rubbish now but on a CRT with colour bleed this looked amazing.

 

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320px-ThePawn5.png

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