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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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Well let's get started with Spore which feels like a take on Gauntlet and Mutants.

 

559670-spore-commodore-64-screenshot-sta

 

I've never played it before but it's brutal with one stray shot bring down a horde on you. It's kind of like a demake of facing the Flood in Halo. I'm not quite sure if it's my thing, I keep failing at level two but it's certainly different. It feels a bit flicky with all the movement being locked to grids.

 

So @squirtle, apart from what's on wikipedia what have you found out about the ownership of this one? There seems to be some sort of dispute where the title screen credits Jim Baguley but wikipedia claims it might be Paul Roggers and there might have been some shenanigans.

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Spore is excellent and comes with a level designer. It’s pretty much single screen Gauntlet but better. There’s an annoying bug where you can get stuck behind a switch which is a real shame. It’s not a difficult game if you take your time and plan out your routes but it’s a bugger if you get, say, 20 levels in and get caught out by the bug. I wish someone would fix it.

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1 minute ago, Camel said:

Spore is excellent and comes with a level designer. It’s pretty much single screen Gauntlet but better. There’s an annoying bug where you can get stuck behind a switch which is a real shame. It’s not a difficult game if you take your time and plan out your routes but it’s a bugger if you get, say, 20 levels in and get caught out by the bug. I wish someone would fix it.

 

It reminds me a little of the higher levels of Vampire Survivors or some levels in Mutants where there are so many enemies it's best to deal with them as an amorphous blob if that makes sense. I'm going to have to spend more time with it. At least see if I can get past level 2.

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20 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

Well let's get started with Spore which feels like a take on Gauntlet and Mutants.

 

559670-spore-commodore-64-screenshot-sta

 

I've never played it before but it's brutal with one stray shot bring down a horde on you. It's kind of like a demake of facing the Flood in Halo. I'm not quite sure if it's my thing, I keep failing at level two but it's certainly different. It feels a bit flicky with all the movement being locked to grids.

 

So @squirtle, apart from what's on wikipedia what have you found out about the ownership of this one? There seems to be some sort of dispute where the title screen credits Jim Baguley but wikipedia claims it might be Paul Roggers and there might have been some shenanigans.

I wish we had more to report on the making of this but everything we found was in the podcast. 

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7 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

Well let's get started with Spore which feels like a take on Gauntlet and Mutants.

 

559670-spore-commodore-64-screenshot-sta

 

I've never played it before but it's brutal with one stray shot bring down a horde on you. It's kind of like a demake of facing the Flood in Halo. I'm not quite sure if it's my thing, I keep failing at level two but it's certainly different. It feels a bit flicky with all the movement being locked to grids.

 

So @squirtle, apart from what's on wikipedia what have you found out about the ownership of this one? There seems to be some sort of dispute where the title screen credits Jim Baguley but wikipedia claims it might be Paul Roggers and there might have been some shenanigans.

 

I remember there was a discussion on the Lemon64 forum about who had created it, but details are escaping me at the moment.

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14 minutes ago, merman said:

 

I remember there was a discussion on the Lemon64 forum about who had created it, but details are escaping me at the moment.

This is the post in the comments on the game on Lemon64: progers - 2008-09-02
Written many years ago by my fair hand and not this Jim Baguley person. 100% my design, graphics, code and music written in 2 weeks after seeing "Game of Life" on Horizon or something like that. Sold to Mastertronic by a 'friend' for £1500, of which he took £500. Ah well, many many lessons learned with this game. At least it was a bit of fun! Just annoying that I got zero credit at the time. Probably still got the source code in a box in the garage!
Paul

 

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13 hours ago, squirtle said:

This is the post in the comments on the game on Lemon64: progers - 2008-09-02
Written many years ago by my fair hand and not this Jim Baguley person. 100% my design, graphics, code and music written in 2 weeks after seeing "Game of Life" on Horizon or something like that. Sold to Mastertronic by a 'friend' for £1500, of which he took £500. Ah well, many many lessons learned with this game. At least it was a bit of fun! Just annoying that I got zero credit at the time. Probably still got the source code in a box in the garage!
Paul

 

I've worked with a Jim Bagley and still have him as a friend on Facebook. It's not the same spelling and it's not the sort of thing I'd imagine him doing so I'm loathe to ask. He was also more of a Spectrum programmer.

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3 minutes ago, carleton said:

I've worked with a Jim Bagley and still have him as a friend on Facebook. It's not the same spelling and it's not the sort of thing I'd imagine him doing so I'm loathe to ask. He was also more of a Spectrum programmer.

It's not the same person. Jim Baguley is down for several games on the C64. 

 

Here's his credits list on Moby Games: https://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,69070/

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27 minutes ago, squirtle said:

It's not the same person. Jim Baguley is down for several games on the C64. 

 

Here's his credits list on Moby Games: https://www.mobygames.com/developer/sheet/view/developerId,69070/

 

Yeah, doesn't appear to be the same person. However when we worked together Software Creations were doing the N64 version of Carmageddon which is either a coincidence or bad data on Mobygames. Which is entirely possible, my entry on there is patchy. More so for missing games than incorrect credits though.

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I didn't play Western Games back in the day but it looked amazing in the screenshots and before we go on I'll touch on this.

 

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This use of dots for shading is called dithering and it looks shit and bitty on modern screens with pixel sharp defined edges. On CRT's though where you'd get a bit of blur happening this looked really good. It was an effect that was used on a lot of Amiga games and as a lot of games started being released on both 16 and 8 bit platforms side by side (as this game was) you'd see this method used on the C64 and Amstrad. A lot of the shots here look rubbish but rest assured back in the day on crappy CRTs they would have looked almost cartoon like.

 

So this is one of those sports compilation games. I'll quickly run through the events because, spoilers I didn't get on with any of them. But they look great.

 

Starting with arm wrestling with the nice touch of the candle there to burn the loser.

 

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Then beer shooting.

 

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Then...er...tobaccy spitting.

 

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Some dancing where a saloon girl does some steps and you and the other dude have to follow on.

 

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Then cow milking.

 

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And finally soup eating. And we've managed to get through a game set in the wild west without any racism and...oh...no....

 

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This looked amazing back in the day but it's the controls that let this down. Don't believe me? Have a look at the manual where it describes the 8 STEP process for milking a cow. It's one thing to ask one person to learn complicated control schemes but for a casual sports game where you really want to tell a mate in one sentence how to control the event it's a big fail. I'd recommend playing Red Dead Redemption 1 or 2 and taking part in any of the myriad of the side tavern events over playing this. I can see why it scored just on the bold graphics alone (leaving aside the unfortunate racism in the soup eating event) but without that draw now I'd score it much much lower.

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Reviews about Madballs were very suspiciously vague back in the day and since I wasn't into gross out toys in '88 this had little appeal for me. But it's a game that dares to ask the question "what if we made a cross between Namco's Motos and Bounder? But it was rubbish?

 

311908-madballs-commodore-64-screenshot-

 

I might be being unfair here but I didn't enjoy this at all. Did anyone get on with this?

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I don't remember anything about Kromazone back in the day and it's not surprising given that Zzap didn't print a screengrab of this great looking game.

 

The first level has you dodging these balls.

 

559448-kromazone-commodore-64-screenshot

 

And then....and then...well I know you face fighters after that but for the life of me I couldn't get past the training course dodging these balls. It might be that I'm old and crap but it felt like I was driving a larger car than I was used to and being unsure about where the sides were. Sometimes I thought I was going to get hit and I'd be clear, other times I thought I was clear only for a ball to clip me. It looks great and it's smooth as silk but for me it's too hard.

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I'd never played this version of Star Wars until today but I have played other versions. The first one I played was the conversion for the Atari 2600. I'd read about the arcade game but at the time wasn't allowed into arcades due to my mother worrying about paedophiles lurking in the arcades. So when I saw this in the bargain bin for $10AU I begged my mother for it.

 

b_StarWarsTheArcadeGame_front.jpg

 

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Most arcade games are shallow and this is no exception. But this was Star Wars and being able to "pilot" an X-Wing was magic! But being a 2600 game that involved 3D this had to be a pile of crap right?

 

At the time no, and playing it now it's still a pretty solid port. I'm going to go through this screen by screen because there's a point at the end of this.

 

So the first screen has you fighting tie fighters. They've replaced the vector based TIE Fighters with sprites but these sprites are lively in their movement ducking and weaving with several frames of animation that really sell the illusion of dogfighting in space. The fireballs look a bit like balls of static but they do the job. You only see two of the four firing prongs but it's an understandable sacrifice.

 

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Next up is the tower section and sacrifices are made here. There is no horizon tilting and no red turrets. But you do get towers to avoid and fireballs to avoid and shoot. You can still fire the tops off towers. It's the most compromised of the three levels but still solid.

 

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Last is the trench run and it's surprisingly smooth. Not pictured here are the catwalks which are flickery horizontal bars that do the job. You don't get the same warning from the sides of the trench as to the end of the run but near the end there's always a pattern of two and then two more fireballs just before the port. The view then switched to the (tiny) purple Death Star that splits into four pieces.

 

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This is a surprisingly good port for such primitive hardware. It feels responsive and for a kid obsessed with Star Wars it was perfect.

 

Years later I played the port that Parker Brothers made for the C64 but I wasn't too interested, by then I had Mercenary and Elite and Star Wars felt a little old by then. At least at home. In the arcades (there were still a few units knocking about) I would always put in 20cents, that cabinet and the voice sampling made it a fun three minute experience. Still I had another look at the old port just for comparison.

 

First up we have four prongs now! But...there's no animation on the TIE fighters. They zip around but they're always facing you. This makes it feel rather dated and flat compared to the Atari 2600 version. There's also no Death Star sliding into view. It just straight up switches to the next scene.

 

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Again as with the 2600 version the horizon doesn't tilt here. Also no turrets. The towers are better defined but appear to be moving at a different rate than the ground lights.

 

243417-star-wars-commodore-64-screenshot

 

The trench is more solid than the 2600 version but for some reason I still prefer the other version. Once the Death Star is destroyed you get some strobing but don't see it blow up.

 

243418-star-wars-commodore-64-screenshot

 

And so we come to the Domark version. And I'm also wondering as the podcast did...why was this a thing? It was in the odd space of being not old enough to be a classic but old enough to look tired against bigger better games. In static shots it looks the part although I had to laugh at the depiction of Leia here.

 

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There are big changes in that this version is closer to the arcade machine in terms of presentation right down to the screen to decide difficulty.

 

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And it uses vectors instead of sprites allowing for a more accurate representation of the game. Here is where the issues start.

 

StarWars_DO_Animation.gif

 

It's laggy. Very laggy. Leading the TIE Fighters is an exercise in futility and very often you'll hit a fireball multiple times with none of the hits registering.

 

In the second level the horizon tilts and the red turrets are restored but again lagging and low frame rate make dodging punishing.

 

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The trench is more detailed here than the other version but again it just chugs along. It's even worse once catwalks are introduced.

 

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This is a bad port. Something went incredibly wrong here. It's accurate. But it's slower than the C64 version of Starglider (which was Star Wars but open world.) It's slower than the 1984 sprite based version and worst of all it's slower than the Atari 2600 version. I can't speak for the other 8 and 16 bit versions but if I were to sit down and play any of the three versions I've covered here it would be the 2600 version every time. It flickers a lot and some sacrifices have been made but honestly it's the best playing one out of the lot. I've spent a lot of time here to say don't play this version but don't play this version. The guy responsible or trying to cram a pint into a thimble was much more successful later with his 16 bit projects Voyager and Infestation (which I never got to play sadly.)

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I bought Rampage back in the day for a number of very sad reasons.

 

I've mentioned one before. In 1988 I was a very isolated kid. And while there was an arcade in our area that had every great game under the sun, both current and golden age I only caught a glimpse of it once before the local bullies literally bounced me down the stairs warning me never to return. So arcades were kind of a forbidden treasure. I had read about Rampage and even better I was going to be able to play a demo of it thanks to Commodore User.

 

The magazine arrived. The tape did not.

 

This happened a few times and this led to an odd feeling of having missed out. And at the time Rampage at the arcades looked amazing. Thanks to it's high resolution screen it still looks good now.

 

654149-rampage-arcade-screenshot-gamepla

 

So for some reason I had to have it. eventually, somehow I bought a copy of it for $24.95AU.

 

The title screen looked the business.

 

300px-RampageEUTitel.png

 

And the game itself was a solid port of the arcade machine.

 

RampageEU4.gif

 

The three player was certainly impressive but also rather useless for me as I was pretty much playing this alone. That wasn't the only problem. I noticed back then (and even now replaying it) a bug where eating other people and powerups netted you no increase in your energy. It was fun to do, sure. But rather pointless. Thing could take away your energy. For a while though, for a kid that was angry (and had good reason to be) and was bullied to the point of coming home with random bruises daily it was incredibly cathartic to play a shallow game that just involved tearing a city apart. This game ended up entertaining me more than it would have otherwise as a salve to feeling small and powerless. Weeks later I did use pokes to give myself infinite energy and while with some games of this era using cheats would really open a game up and reveal hidden depths cheating at Rampage did the opposite revealing just how shallow it was. I tried playing until the end but instead played it until I felt sick, like one does when you eat too much dessert. Looking at it now it's a solid port of a shallow game that was best played in the arcades with a couple of good mates for a bit of a laugh. The controls are a little murky (yes you can hit cars and tanks but you need to be almost dead centre to do it) and the good powerups just do not work.

 

The podcast made me aware of the US version which I didn't even know existed. I gave it a try and while I like the look of the European version more the US version feels a lot more responsive and has the advantage of the powerups actually working! The way you can punch extra rubble off the buildings feels more like the arcade version in this one too.

 

Rampage5.gif

 

I don't think I can recommend either version now given that the arcade original and various sequels are available on modern systems and are just better than these two versions.

 

Still, while being pretty average in retrospect it was a game that I just needed to help deal with what was a really rough patch in my life.

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Games as catharsis is certainly a thing I've had. When I used to work in call centres around 2001, I would come home and play a lot of House of the Dead 2 on Dreamcast. There was something very satisfying in that. 

 

Rampage always looked more fun than it actually was.

 

Sky Twice was utter shit.

 

Western Games was too frustrating.

 

Mad Balls was just plain full. 

 

Kromazone just needed more variety.

 

And Star Wars... Jerky.

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16 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Games as catharsis is certainly a thing I've had. When I used to work in call centres around 2001, I would come home and play a lot of House of the Dead 2 on Dreamcast. There was something very satisfying in that. 

 

Rampage always looked more fun than it actually was.

 

Yeah, in retrospect I could have spent my money on better games but sometimes a game is just the right game for the right time for the right person. 

 

18 minutes ago, squirtle said:

Kromazone just needed more variety.

 

Also needed to be easier. It definitely felt like the old 80's issue of the programmer being the only play tester and being tuned to someone who had played it inside and out.

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46 minutes ago, Camel said:

Rampage has always been utter garbage on any system. It’s like they came up with a really nice concept but forgot to design an actual game around it.

 

 

 

I think you're right but I don't think it's a game. (Or much of one.) I think it's more like a toybox for a quick five minute muckabout with your mates. You can punch each other around, you can even play Pong with the tram. You can eat other players once they become human. In that context it works. In the home (outside the very specific time and place for me) not so much.

 

There is something I forgot to mention. They made a movie based on this game. I am not kidding. My partner loves disaster movies and so I've sat through this one.

 

 

Not going to lie, strangely enjoyable (and as always pretty much carried by The Rock. ymmv depending on whether you like him or not.)

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Xor is another one that escaped me back in the day and at the time was unlikely to appeal to me. Like Repton it feels claustrophobic and glacial compared to Boulderdash and I think I'd much prefer to play that any day of the week. It also has the issue that a lot of clones have where they need to change elements in order to not be sued which leads to non intuitive iconography like fish replacing boulders.

 

189528-xor-commodore-64-screenshot-level

 

Having said that after playing it a bit there's something to be said for the sedate pace it runs at. It's pretty much turn based and it reminded me of the sedate games I played over a decade ago during an episode of extreme illness where I played a lot of hidden object games. Games I could nap in front of and dip in and out of when I had the energy. If I had thought to play this then I could see it being quite compulsive in a low stakes kind of way.

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7 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

Xor is another one that escaped me back in the day and at the time was unlikely to appeal to me. Like Repton it feels claustrophobic and glacial compared to Boulderdash and I think I'd much prefer to play that any day of the week. It also has the issue that a lot of clones have where they need to change elements in order to not be sued which leads to non intuitive iconography like fish replacing boulders.

 

189528-xor-commodore-64-screenshot-level

 

Having said that after playing it a bit there's something to be said for the sedate pace it runs at. It's pretty much turn based and it reminded me of the sedate games I played over a decade ago during an episode of extreme illness where I played a lot of hidden object games. Games I could nap in front of and dip in and out of when I had the energy. If I had thought to play this then I could see it being quite compulsive in a low stakes kind of way.

Yeah, but would you have wanted your badge and certificate to prove you're a Master of Xor?

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By the time R.I.S.K was released I don't think The Edge games were distributed in Australia. I certainly didn't see this anywhere at full price of on the budget labels. The Zzap review in contrast to other magazines made this look like something special but it was quickly forgotten.

 

Having played this now, what a brilliant little gem this is. It's rough around the edges and it suffers from a couple of issues but there are bits that are really ahead of their time.

 

At its core this is a Defender / Choplifter style game. Go in, shoot the baddies, rescue some scientists.

 

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But the levels are arranged in a map where sectors are cleared. So there is an overall goal to work towards.

 

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In between levels if you select your home base square on the map you're treated to an option screen in the form of a base with your little pilot running around accessing terminals. This allows you to change the colour of your ship, the status panels and to buy upgrades.

 

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There are the bones of a great game here, as in a great modern indie game, not just a great retro game. There are some things that hold it back.

-Like Wizball the initial state of control of your ship is awful, you either need to get anti grav installed or you need to use a cheat with it already installed to have a chance.

-Your ship is amazing looking but possibly too big in relation to every other enemy in the game. 

-Only one life with no save/load feature to mitigate this. (Not an issue with emulators I guess but...)

 

I would love to see a modern version of this with some more varied weapons, it's really ambitious for the C64 and it's one that I'm really sad passed me by back in the day. It feels like a game that should be a cult classic, it borrows from Sensible Software's design in parts (Wizball with the upgrade path and Parallax with those scientists) as well as doing the tiny sprite man thing in a very Sensible way in the base scenes before Sensible was doing it! It's one I'm going to try and return to.

 

An interesting aside, this was originally going to be an expanded Choplifter style game where you could use multiple vehicles and you can check out what might have been in a very rough form over at https://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64/risk-v1/

(I wasn't able to find the chopper but I did find a jeep, again this is pre Silkworm!)

 

riskv1-4-150x150.png

 

 

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On 25/08/2022 at 10:59, Unofficial Who said:

 

Yeah, in retrospect I could have spent my money on better games but sometimes a game is just the right game for the right time for the right person. 

Being the 80s, you might have spent your money on karate lessons and gone all Miyagi-do on these bully assholes! :lol:

 

Joking of course, I know what you mean about using games to alleviate the stress of feeling alone in a cruel world.

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1 hour ago, gunrock said:

Being the 80s, you might have spent your money on karate lessons and gone all Miyagi-do on these bully assholes! :lol:

 

Joking of course, I know what you mean about using games to alleviate the stress of feeling alone in a cruel world.

 

Thought about that. In another post here I talked about going to boxing lessons only to see all the bullies from the area in that room. Did judo instead. Less effective (great for one on one defence, less so in groups) but no way was I going to pay money to give them an additional opportunity to beat the crap out of me.

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