RetroGamer.Issue.10

RetroGamer.Issue.10
RETRO10 Cover UK
01/11/2004 5:17 PM
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❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* ❏❚❚❋✄❋❖
£5.99 UK • $13.95 Aus • $27.70 NZ
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙*
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010
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RETRO10 Intro/Hello
04/11/2004 12:43 AM
Page 3
hello
<EDITORIAL>
Editor =
Martyn Carroll
([email protected])
Staff Writer =
Shaun 'Fluff' Bebbington
([email protected])
Art Editor =
Mat Mabe
Sub Editors =
Rachel White + Katie Hallam
Contributors =
Jules Burt + Richard Burton
Keith Campbell + Mike Davies
Paul Drury + Jon Foster
Richard Hewison + Andy Hewitt
Robert Mellor + Jason Walsh
Peg-leg Von Warde
<PUBLISHING & ADVERTISING>
Operations Manager =
Debbie Whitham
Group Sales & Marketing Manager =
Tony Allen
Advertising Sales =
Linda Henry
Accounts Manager =
Karen Battrick
Circulation Manager =
Steve Hobbs
Marketing Manager =
Iain 'Chopper' Anderson
Editorial Director =
Wayne Williams
Publisher =
Robin Wilkinson
<SMALL PRINT>
hello
llo
Distributed by
Comag, Tavistock Road, West
Drayton, Middlesex UB7 7QE,
England. Tel: 01895 444055.
Fax: 01895 433602
No part of this magazine may be
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Publishing Int Ltd. The views
expressed herein are not
necessarily the opinion of the
Publishers.
Live Publishing Int Ltd
Europa House
Adlington Park
Macclesfield, Cheshire
SK10 4NP, UK
ISSN: 1742-3155
<LIABILITY>
Whilst every care has been taken
in the production of this
magazine, the publishers cannot
be held responsible for the
accuracy of the information
contained herein.
>10 PRINT "hello"
>20 GOTO 10
>RUN
hello
I
was recently in Asda,
nosing around the
entertainment section
(where most blokes tend to hide
while their wives hit the aisles)
when I spotted a copy of Fifa
2005. Nothing unusual there,
except that it was for the PSone.
That’s right – Electronic Arts, the
world’s leading videogame
publisher, is still releasing games
for Sony’s ten-year-old console.
When I returned home, I checked
Amazon and found a couple of
other new PSone games – Duel
Masters: Sempai Legends from
Atari, and Yeti Sports Deluxe from
JoWooD Communications.
It got me thinking. Not about
whether the PSone should be
classed as a retro console or not,
but about the earning potential of
these releases. Both Duel Masters
and Yeti Sports Deluxe are retailing
for around £10, and yet they may
be worth a lot more in the future.
These games certainly won’t be
produced in great numbers – a few
thousand copies at the most – so
they must be seen as potential
investments for a retro collector.
Don’t get me wrong, when Fifa
Subscription prices
UK: £71.88 (12 issues)
Europe: £77.00 (12 issues)
Rest of world: £83.00 (12 issues)
Retro Gamer, ISSN number 1742 3155,
is published monthly (twelve times
per year) by Live Publishing at 1320
Route 9, Champlain, N.Y. 12919 for
US$123 per year. Periodicals postage
paid at Champlain, NY. POSTMASTER:
Send address changes to Retro Gamer
c/o Express Mag, P.O. Box 2769,
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-1329.
**3**
2025 debuts on the PlayStation 7,
Fifa 2005 on the PSone will
probably be worth around one
Euro, but I can assure you that
some of the games released late
in the console’s life will be worth
a small fortune in the future.
Right, I’ll stop imparting my
questionable wisdom and leave
you with the magazine. As
always, keep sending in the
feedback and stoking up the
forum. Until next month.
N❇❙❖✄❉❇❙❙PMM
❋❊❏P❙
RETRO10 Intro/Hello
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
04/11/2004 12:44 AM
Page 4
REGULAR:INSIDES |
>insides 010
Apple IIGS Forever
The Next Dimension
p20
history of Apple’s illJason Walsh traces the
conceived 16-bit machine
Way of the Ninja
es the rise and fall of
Wayne Williams chronicl
ends
the Interactive Fiction leg
Coin-op Conversions
p56
of
the home conversions
Robert Mellor looks at
ade games
two classic Capcom arc
p48
s his way through The
Shaun Bebbington battle
Last Ninja trilogy
Mastering Chaos
p30
Retro Coverdisc
p96
g
contents, plus a ‘gettin
The complete coverdisc
mes Factory
started’ guide to The Ga
p72
into Faster Than Light’s
Richard Hewison delves
Dungeon Master series
**4**
RETRO10 Intro/Hello
04/11/2004 12:44 AM
Page 5
p43
Desert Island Disks
kal, member of
Paul Drury chats to Mysti
ldie Lookin Chain
Welsh wreckin’ crew Go
Don’t Believe the Hype
p62
of the most overrated
Jon Foster rips into 30
of all time
and over-hyped games
p84
Watch A Go Go
&
endo’s desirable Game
Jules Burt looks at Nint
guide
es an up-to-date price
Watch handhelds. Includ
>Regulars
Advertising Gallery
Retro News
world of retro
The latest news from the
Retro Forum
p10
Retro Mart
p108
low readers are flogging
Take a look at what fel
we’ll reply!
Send us some mail and
Retro Reviews
p90
this
ese flyers to accompany
A collection of rare Japan
feature
month’s Game & Watch
p06
p14
s. We’ll
classic games, crap game
Old games, new games,
ing as long as it’s retro
review just about anyth
**5**
Endgame
p114
t Ninja 3
when you complete Las
Find out what happens
RETRO10 News
03/11/2004 11:58 PM
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
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REGULAR:NEWS |
Empire Strikes Back
Taito deal sees arcade classics resurrected
Empire is to publish a collection
of Tatio’s coin-op hits on PS2,
Xbox and PC. Over 30 classic
games are to be included in the
pack, with titles like Space
Invaders, Bubble Bobble,
Rainbow Islands and Operation
Wolf topping the bill.
Re-enter
the Tekken
Behold the fifth Iron
Fist Tournament
Namco has revealed more details
concerning Tekken 5. And it’s
looking like good news for those
who’d given up on the series.
Where as Tekken 4 went for a more
realistic approach, trying (and
failing) to match Virtua Fighter 4
blow for blow, Tekken 5 will “return
to the roots of Tekken”, restoring
the over the top moves and
larger than life characters from
the original. The control system
has also reverted back to the
classic setup. Pushing up and
down will make your player jump
and crouch, rather then
It’s hardly surprisingly to see
the dust blown off Taito’s back
catalogue, especially as both
Midway and Activision have
done very well out of their
recent retro anthologies. And as
we reported back in issue eight,
both Atari and Tecmo are to
release similar collections in the
next few months.
At present, not a lot else is
know about the Taito
compilation. Besides the games
already confirmed, we’re hoping
that Arkanoid, Chase HQ,
Double Dragon, New Zealand
Story, Rastan Saga and Super
Space Invaders will all be
included. We’ll also grin inanely
if Operation Wolf comes with
light-gun support.
No firm release date has
been confirmed yet, but we
expect it to be around Easter
time next year. Of course we’ll
let you know more in the
coming months.
sidestepping as in
Tekken 4. The sequel
also features three
new characters,
taking the total
number of fighters
to 23 (and there’s
bound to be extra
time-released characters).
It’s something of a rarity
to see a game debut in the
arcades these days, but Tekken 5
will indeed launch in Japanese
arcades in time for Christmas.
Hopefully the UK release won’t be
far behind. See you down the local
Namco Station then…
**6**
RETRO10 News
03/11/2004 11:58 PM
Page 7
Important happenings in the wonderful retro world
This month // Classic Taito collection // Tekken returns // Shining Force sequel //
Mobile Zool // GTA III on NES // Retro Auction Watch // Retro Round-up...
Sega Shines On
Tears
of
joy
Sega of America has announced
that the Shining Force series is
set to make a comeback on the
PlayStation 2. The new game,
entitled Shining Tears, is being
billed as the “spiritual successor”
to Shining in the Darkness and
the Shining Force trilogy.
The new game is set to
advance the series, with the
strategy RPG gameplay of
Shining Force being replaced
with real-time battles. But if
you’re thinking that this sounds
like a typical next-gen update,
Sega has revealed that the game
will feature 2D anime-style
environments. Up to 50 enemies
can appear on screen at any one
time, and you can enlist the
help of a partner to assist in the
battle against these overwhelming odds. Throw in all the
as
Shining
Force
returns
Richard Burton
takes us on another
tour of duty
around the online
auction sites
usual character customisation
options, and a ridiculously long
completion time, and you have
all the makings of a fantastic
adventure. The game is being
developed by Nextech and it’s
pencilled in for a March 2005
release date over in the US.
In other Sega news, the
company has announced that
the US release of Altered Beast
has been cancelled. At present,
the game is still due out in
Europe in the New Year, but we
wouldn’t be surprised if the title
is canned completely outside of
Japan. Talk about giving with
one hand and taking away with
the other…
First up this month is another one of those
rare Game & Watches from Nintendo. Super
Mario Bros (YM-901-S) was the 60th Game
& Watch to be released and was only
available to the gaming public through an
F-1 Grand Prix Tournament in Japan. It came
complete with a presentation case, a white
outer box and a letter from Nintendo.
Although 10,000 units of the game were
produced, it’s still an incredibly hard game
to find, particularly in good condition. The
one spotted on eBay recently fetched the
obscenely expensive sum of £730, or at
least it would have done had it met the
reserve price.
Mobile Zool
The Ninja of the 'Nth'
Dimension knuckles up
Zool is to be revived after a 10-year
absence, appearing on mobile
technology courtesy of Zoo Digital.
Gremlin Graphics’ 16-bit mascot first
appeared on the Amiga back in
1992, and was later ported to
several consoles including the
Master System, Megadrive, SNES
and GameBoy, with a sequel
appearing in 1993. It’s not yet
known whether the game will be a
brand new adventure or a remake
of the original game. What we do
know is that it’s due out spring
next year and will be available for
all major handheld devices. Until
we have further details, keep an
eye on the developer’s homepage
at www.mobilescope.com.
**7**
Anyone who has ever held a joystick in
their hand must have owned or at least
played on an Atari VCS system at some
point in their gaming lives. Is yours stashed
away in your attic? Is it the ‘Woody’
version? You might just want to dig it out
and check a few things…
The Atari CX2600, to give it its right and
proper name, has been around for 27 years.
Did you know that there are several versions
of the original model in circulation though?
There are at least four versions of the
RETRO10 News
03/11/2004 11:58 PM
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REGULAR:NEWS |
original wood-encrusted console and one of
these is worth a damn sight more than your
other bog standard issues.
The first ever release of the Atari 2600
was in 1977 and that particular production
run lasted one year. The result was a
console nicknamed by collectors and Atari
fanatics as the ‘Heavy Sixer’. It was given
this name because it was a lot weightier
than future releases of the console, due to
the substantial internal RF shielding it
contained. It also had six switches for
games settings rather than the four it was
later trimmed down to.
So how do you spot a Heavy Sixer?
Apart from the obvious weight differential,
the serial number sticker on the back should
indicate where the machine was made. If it’s
Hong Kong, where most were produced,
you’re out of luck. If it says Sunnydale,
California then you’ve found yourself one of
the first incarnations of the gaming legend.
If you’re doubly lucky and still have the
original box you should also find a matching
serial number sticker on the packaging. One
such eBayer had just that very item and
sold his for a pocket swelling £460.
When you think that a standard Hong
Kong 2600 goes for around £25, it might
just be worth turning your old wood grained
beast over and checking its plasticised
underbelly before consigning it to the carboot sale.
It’s not very often (ie never) that a
Commodore Amiga game attains more than
a few pounds for its owner. So, it came as a
bit of a surprise when a game entitled The
Kristol pulled in a jaw-dropping £367.50.
The game was actually The Kristal by
Addictive (of Football Manager fame) and
quite why this went for well over £300
nobody seems sure. However, you can be
absolutely positive of one thing – a few
more copies will start springing up on eBay
over the coming weeks.
Perfect Tronic
Classic Tron action comes to the GBA
Tron 2.0: Killer App is to appear
on the GameBoy Advance in time
for Christmas. Hardly the most
exciting news we know, but the
handheld version does have a
couple of surprises up its sleeve.
By playing through the new game
you can unlock the arcade
versions of Tron and its sequel,
Discs of Tron.
The original game was released
by Bally Midway in 1982 and
featured four games, each based
on a scene from the film, although
the Light Cycles section is the
element most people remember.
Discs of Tron was to be part of
the original game, but due to time
constraints, it was dropped and
released in 1983 as a standalone
title. By the look of these
screenshots, it’s likely to be a
faithful version. We’ll let you know
how they play when we get our
hands on the game.
The latest scene news for your enjoyment
Win win win!
And to finish off, a quick look back to
Retro Gamer issue 1. It seems the inaugural
copy of the magazine has still got the
pulling power of a steam powered tug-ofwar team. After a feeding frenzy on eBay
shortly after the initial launch, the price of
the first issue sky-rocketed, but common
sense soon took hold and the price tailed
off somewhat to a more sensible range. It
appears, however, the price is starting to
move northwards once again. A copy
recently sold with a final winning bid of
£53. Oh how I wish I bought those 10
copies in WHSmiths…
As the festive season nears,
Cronosoft has been getting in the
spirit of things and has very
kindly donated its current
catalogue of Spectrum games to
give away in this exclusive
competition. The games that
could be yours are EggHead in
Space, Dead or Alive, Hop and
Chop, Gloop, Football Glory,
Rough Justice, ZblastSD+ and Fun
Park. All that you have to do is
tell us which of these was
Cronosoft’s first release. A clue is
found on its website at
www.cronosoft.co.uk. Answers on
a postcard to Retro Gamer
Cronosoft Competition, Live
Publishing International Ltd,
Europa House, Adlington Park,
Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 4NP.
**8**
Or you can email your answer to
[email protected] if you
live in the future. The closing
date is 31st January 2005.
RETRO10 News
03/11/2004 11:59 PM
Page 9
Gangster Tripping
Grand Theft Auto III on the NES?
Forget about GTA: San Andreas
selling 3 billion copies during its
first hour on sale. We’re more
interested in the news of Grand
Theftendo, a version of GTA III for
the NES. This fan-project is being
developed by Brian Provinciano,
and apparently it has been in
development since late 2002.
Drop the bomb
Chris West is the man
accredited with several C64 hits,
including memorable shoot-emups R.I.S.K and Super Space
Invaders. R.I.S.K was released
by The Edge in 1987, but it had
to be renamed because of a
pending law suite from Parker
Brothers, and so became known
as K.R.I.S. Chris began work on
a sequel to this game, but
unfortunately it was never
released commercially or
completely finished.
Call us sceptical, but when we
first heard about this we dismissed
it as a publicity stunt by Rockstar
to promote San Andreas. But
having taken a good long look at
Brian’s site, we’re confident that
Grand Theftendo is legit. And damn
us if we’re not quite exciting about
it! Naturally the game is in 2D – it’s
Recently however, the guys at
www.lemon64.com )
Lemon 64 (w
tracked down Chris for an
interview, and in doing so he
remembered the planned sequel,
found the development disks and
has now archived a playable
demo on his homepage at
http://west-racing.net/bomb/. The
game is called Bomb and is a
horizontally-scrolling shoot-em-up
bearing similarities to Scramble.
It’s is a bit of a tough cookie,
but perfectly enjoyable. We hope
to see it finished very soon, but
until then give it a blast with
your favourite emulator.
Harrier
attack
The popular arcade game Space
Harrier is currently being
painstakingly ported to the Atari
XL/XE machines. This
development is really shaping
looking a lot like the GameBoy
Color version of the original GTA,
but it will feature an accurate
rendition of the Portland map plus
many of the missions!
There’s no release date as yet,
but Brian promises that the game
will be available as a free
download when finished. In the
meantime you can see how it’s
coming along by visiting
www.grandtheftendo.com.
up nicely thanks to the hard
work and dedication of
programmer Chris Hutt, who has
recently released a video file of
the game in action. Chris has
used interlacing techniques to
simulate the appearance of more
colours on the screen, and the
scrolling routine used is very
fast. It really looks and sounds
fantastic, so head over to
www.sheddyshack.co.uk/index.htm
where you’ll find some nice
screenshots, a diary and a
playable demo. You can also
send him your messages of
encouragement to
[email protected] .
commercially released, and the
game was left in a nearly
finished but abandoned state.
However, this technically
impressive puzzler has recently
been brought back from the
dead thanks to the guys at
Protovision. Price and release
date are still to be announced,
but we’re expecting to see it
sometime next year as the guys
work on debugging and
improving the game. Keep an
eye on www.protovisiononline.de for further information
about this project.
Slim Jim
Originally created by Argus
Designs a little over a decade
ago, Jim Slim was a weird
puzzle-come-platform game that
was unfortunately never
**9**
RETRO10 Letters
03/11/2004 11:36 PM
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REGULAR:RETRO FORUM |
O
R
T
E
R RUM
The
a
with
e
r
mo
Say er...>
lett
FO
CONTACT US
email:
[email protected]
snailmail:
Retro Gamer
Live Publishing
Europa House
Adlington Park
Macclesfield
SK10 4NP
Konix love
Hi there gang. I really enjoyed your
feature on the Konix Multi System. I
remember seeing various preview
features for the console in games
magazines at the time. I also
remember not being very
impressed as I was an Amiga
owner at the time and the
screenshots of Hammerfist and
Mutant Camels didn’t look any
better than the Amiga games of the
same period. Being a technical type
I realised from reading the
hardware specifications that the
console had good potential (256
colours on screen!) and I have
always wondered why the system
failed to materialise.
Even back then, I thought that
the console was a bit gimmicky
with its transforming steering
wheel/jet ski/flight yoke controller,
and this certainly did not make me
want to buy it. No doubt, the same
system with an arcade version of
Afterburner or OutRun running on it
would have convinced me.
I was surprised that your article
didn’t address the console’s biggest
flaw – the built-in controller itself.
As someone who has gone through
loads of joysticks in my time
(quality ones at that) I can’t help
wondering what you would do
when the controller broke. Also,
the design of the console
necessitates you to have it on your
lap or on a small table in front of
the TV. The decision to use disks
instead of cartridges also seems
dodgy given the amount of
vibration and shaking that it may
well have been subjected to. Surely
this would have caused at the very
least read errors, and as a result
system crashes.
Overall this was an excellent
and informative article. I was
especially impressed by the amount
**10**
of detail that was packed into it.
The only slight niggle was the tiny
screenshots used to show the
games running on the system.
Bigger screenshots throughout your
magazine would in fact improve
Retro Gamer in general.
I found the Bubble Bobble
article excellent and very colourfully
presented. While I’m here, I’d like
to request a similar feature on
Shadow of the Beast for the Amiga.
It has been rightly lambasted for its
shallow gameplay, but graphically
and sonically it really did seem
amazing at the time. I found that it
had a strange appeal beyond the
sum of its parts and gave it far
more playtime than it should have
deserved. I’d love to know how the
game worked technically, and how
all of those levels of parallaxed
scrolling were achieved on the
humble A500.
How about having an article in
a similar vein to the Konix one but
on the Atari Panther instead? I
remember reading a feature in a
magazine with an interview with
the Yakster himself Jeff Minter, and
screenshots of various technical
demos were included. As I recall,
these demonstrated the Panther’s
sprite-scaling capabilities, showing
what looked like grey meteors
gradually increasing in size as they
moved towards the viewer from the
back of the screen.
I’d also like to see articles on
some of the more obscure or exotic
consoles like the FM Towns PCs,
Apple’s Pippin and NEC’s Super
Grafx and PC FX since I don’t know
that much about them, and I’m
sure that other readers would be
interested besides myself.
Richard Patrick, Woking
RG: Thanks for the suggestions
Richard. Many of them have been
taken on board, and we’re looking
RETRO10 Letters
03/11/2004 11:36 PM
to increase the quality of the
screenshots where possible, but
this can be difficult when we are
trying to source images of rare
systems and games, as I’m sure
you understand.
Funky skillo
I thought it was time to write –
having read Retro Gamer since
issue one – and congratulate you
on producing a good-quality read
every month. I used to own a ZX
Spectrum in the 80s but after
starting full-time employment in
1987, I binned all my Crash and
YS Magazines. My Spectrum and
vast collection of games followed
the same route a year later. Why
did I do this? Don’t ask!
Page 11
Anyway, I just picked up
issue nine today with the free
Your Sinclair supplement and
what can I say, but thanks a
lot! Due to this supplement,
you have now made me want
to buy a ‘new’ Spectrum along
with all the old magazines and
games. I know I could use an
emulator, but it just doesn’t
feel the same as using the
original Spectrum. I’m
particularly looking forward to
revisiting some old text and
graphic adventure games as
they were my favoured genre
all those years ago. I’ve
pointed my bank manager in
your direction when my next
credit card bill arrives. I hope
you guys don’t mind.
Nick C, Devon, via email
RG: We too are happy with the
Your Sinclair supplement, and
overall feedback has been very
positive. The fact that it has
encouraged you to get hold of a
Spectrum proves that the
supplement has done its job.
Besides including a few
retrospective YS pieces, we
really wanted to draw attention
to the present-day Spectrum
scene, as quality software is still
being released for the 20-yearold machine.
*
The great
Atlantic divide
Allow me to add my opinion on
the ‘ban hunting’ debate. Readers
could keep sending in locations
and you could pass them on to a
third party who would ensure that
any machines found remained
available to the public. It breaks
my heart to see inert machines
tucked away in so many corners,
so this could be the best of all
worlds. The machines are
recovered and restored, the public
can still play them, and the
arcade owner, who hadn’t either
the time or money to restore his
dead machines, would pocket a
few quid for a waste of space.
Just a thought…
Back to FFVII, thanks to our
friends across the water (my ex-pat
American wife was interested to
see so many letters from Yanks in
issue eight). Derek Rooney makes a
great point about games being
epochal and how they can lodge in
our minds like good music. But I
maintain my stance on FFVII. Great
game, sure, but I’m willing to bet it
won’t be top of the readers’ Top
100. OK, I’m not going to put my
copy of Panzer Dragoon Saga up
for grabs, but I still think it’s not
going to happen. We’ll see, I guess.
As for the magazine, I was
hoping to not have to bother with
the sycophantic praise this time,
Star letter
*
but issue eight seemed written just
for me. My beloved Dreamcast (the
little fella no longer needs to rest
in peace), Treasure, the Top 100,
Turrican – all beautiful stuff. I’ve
loved the magazine from day one,
but it seems like you guys are
ramping things up constantly now.
Bring it on.
Chris, via email
RG: Well, by now you’ll know what
our readers voted as their greatest
game ever – the endearing British
classic Elite, so your copy of Panzer
Dragoon Saga was never under
threat. FFVII did make the top 10
though, which is hardly surprising
as it’s probably the first proper
RPG to break through into the
mainstream over here. Glad you
liked issue eight. We’ve said it
before a hundred times, but we
genuinely, honestly try and improve
the magazine with each issue.
Future retro
So far, I have every single issue of
Retro Gamer, and now, as a
subscriber, I am the proud owner of
a lovely T-shirt, binder and pin
badge. Not only is Retro Gamer a
well-written, informative, interesting
and wonderfully nostalgic
magazine, it does also look to the
future somewhat as well. Games
that come out today may, a few
years down the line, be considered
lasting only months in the
right hands (mine).
Kevin Davies, via email
Our well-dressed friends at Joystick Junkies (www.joystickjunkies.com) produce official clothing
based on loads of classic videogames, and the winner can select any T-shirt from the range
Sticky
situation
Thank you for the great Konix
Multi System article. As I went to
school at Bishop Hedley High
near the Konix factory, I thought
I would share this little tale with
you. In the late 80s there was a
craze at our school for little
black and red striped stickers
(about the size of a two-pound
coin). These stickers were
everywhere – stuck to ceilings,
walls, floors; thousands of them
everywhere. In fact, the problem
got so bad that if caught in
possession of these stickers you
would be rewarded with instant
detention. Where did these
stickers come from? At the time
Konix was producing its popular
Speedking joystick, which had a
large red and black striped
sticker on the top, except that
where the stick protruded there
was a hole punched out about
the size of a two-pound coin.
These punched out circles were
then thrown in a skip (but not
for long). How many detentions
Konix was responsible for we
will never know.
Which leads me to a
suggestion. What about a
feature on classic joysticks?
The Cheetah 125, Zipstick,
Competition Pro and RAM
Delta. All superb controllers, all
**11**
Great story there Kevin! It just
wouldn’t be right if you walked
away empty handed,
so help yourself to
a free T-shirt.
RETRO10 Letters
03/11/2004 11:36 PM
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙ |
Page 12
REGULAR:RETRO FORUM |
Facing the chop
I was speaking to the manager
of the Claremont Pier in
Lowestoft (featured in last
month’s Arcade Hunt update).
He was nicely surprised he had
a little mention in the
magazine, but the Turbo
OutRun that was pictured has
since been chopped up. He did
advise me it had a minor fault,
but if known at the time would
have let it go for free to a good
home. He actually apologised
for chopping it up as didn’t
realise there would have been
an interest in this gem of a
game. It just goes to show that
not all arcade owners are in it
retro enough to be featured
extensively, perhaps even so much
as to be given away on the
coverdisc.
As a 24 year-old, I have seen
the best years of gaming in the 80s
and 90s, missing out only on the
very early games. I have also
started to collect a few retro bits
and bats, and am always on the
lookout for a bargain (it has to be
a bargain, I don’t have the time or
money to do this seriously, but
then if I did it seriously, it wouldn’t
be fun anymore!).
I grew up with two Pong
consoles (The Ingersoll and one
that I can’t remember the name of.
I believe the Ingersoll was the first
one with a light gun), a TI-99/4A
(we have two here, fully working,
with a cupboard full of tapes of
typed-up listings from such
magazines as 99’er and Personal
Computing Weekly) and a
Spectrum, after which I advanced
onto the Amiga, and finally the PC.
Of course, I’ve spent many hours
re-living the memories of
yesteryear, but to me emulation
pales in comparison to playing the
games on the real thing.
To this end, I started making
my own little games room which
currently holds the Spectrum,
Amiga, one of the TI-99/4As, a
SNES, Saturn, Dreamcast,
PlayStation and N64. When I find
time, which isn’t often, I can sit
down and play some of these
games the way they were meant to
be played, and even if they do look
dated, they’re still fun.
I have a few suggestions for
features that I thought you might
like to consider. First, I would love
to see an extensive feature on the
old electronic handheld games such
as BMX Flyer, Invader 1000, the
Tomytronic 3D ‘binocular’ games
and the Game & Watch series. I
also have a Playskool Maximus,
which is a little learning toy, like an
early version of some of the V-Tech
stuff that you see advertised these
days. I think there’s lots of mileage
in this line.
Secondly, PD Demos. Do you
guys remember them? I still load
Shock or NMI3 up on the Speccy,
and am still impressed. I know they
aren’t games, but PD libraries often
had a lot of games too. I remember
ordering Parachute Joust on the
Amiga (along with some free music
software) and I was hooked on that
for hours!
Somebody asked about a TI
article. This series of computers
had all manner of add-ons and
peripherals, so again, there’s
mileage in this article. If it’s any
help at all in the writing of this
article, we still have our working TI99/4As here, along with several
games modules and as I said, lots
of tapes with typed-in listings.
Finally, can I say well done on
the bonus issue of Your Sinclair. My
Spectrum days saw me purchase
YS every month until it finished,
and I remember being quite upset
at the demise of my favourite
Spectrum magazine, despite my
mother’s hatred of me picking up
their lingo… Brillo!
FishstaBoy, via email
demos, so that’s a possibility.
Finally, the Texas TI994/A is
definitely a machine that we’re
planning to cover, as it was the
world’s first 16-bit home computer
years before the Amiga and Atari
ST. It’s also a fine machine, so
expect a feature early next year.
MSX donation
I’m lucky enough to have been
reading since issue one (except
issues four and five), and have to
add to the ‘keep it up’ campaign.
Every issue contains enough to
get the memories flowing,
especially the Konix article last
issue. Being that age around the
time I kept in touch with news
about this ‘super console’ by
following articles in The Games
Machine. I was heartbroken when
it never appeared.
Anyway, onto the point. I’ve
been having a late spring clean
and dug out my old Toshiba HX10 MSX computer, still boxed(ish),
and in working order with leads,
tape recorder and a few tape
games. I was just about to list it
on eBay, but wondered instead if
there may be some kind of
computer museum that would
appreciate it as a donation. Is
there such an institution? And if
not why not, or why not start
RG: Taking your points in order.
We’ve got a Game & Watch feature
this very issue, so already we’ve
hopefully satisfied your hunger
there a little. As for the other
electronic games, well it’s
something that we are looking into.
Shaun is a fan of Public Domain
**12**
to make an extra buck.
Michael Gordon, Lowestoft
RG: Turbo OutRun chopped up?
Noooo! What a waste. It doesn’t
matter that it can’t be emulated
by MAME. It was the shiny
white sit-down model. We’re
choking up…
one? I’m sure plenty readers have
similar items taking up space
they wouldn’t mind donating?
Shane Reed, via email
PS. Will it soon be the turn of the
MSX (a vastly underrated 8-bit
machine) to appear in the
magazine? I’d be particularly
interested in a piece about the
Konami cartridges which were
always too expensive (at around
£15) for my pocket. How do the
kids afford £40 games these days?
Also what about an article on the
Magic Knight series of games?
RG: Well Shane, if there are any
preservation societies that want
to get in touch with us, we’ll
pass on their details to you. This
is a great idea in our opinion.
We are beginning to sound like a
stuck record, but, yes, the MSX
is on our forward features list.
As for the Magic Knight games,
you’ll be happy to hear that
Martyn is a fan of the series, so
it’s just a matter of time...
Wonder what Magic Knight
author David Jones is up to
these days?
Name the game
Sorry to bother but can somebody
please help me? There was an
arcade game out between 1985
and 1989 I think. It was something
to do with a hero whose weapon
was a chain (it might have been a
chain and ball, I’m not sure). Your
weapon was able to strike forward,
up and in a circle. I can also
remember there were these red
blobs that appeared from the
ground and spat fire at you. On
RETRO10 Letters
03/11/2004 11:37 PM
Page 13
expert but wouldn’t one solution
be to package the content in
HTML? Then all Windoze, Mac and
Linux users could happily browse
away. We Mac users could still
see all the article-related content
and not worry about the software
that you include for Windoze
users. Just a thought.
Anyway, despite that one
minor grumble I’m a very happy
reader. All the best for the future
with the mag.
Martin Gleeson, Dublin, via email
RG: Feedback to our dual-format
Steel Sky coverdisc was very
favourable, so we’re looking at
various ways to include platformunspecific content. Hopefully it
won’t be much longer now.
another level there was a waterfall
with flying creatures coming at you
and you had to jump from ledge
to ledge. I can’t remember
anything else as it was a long time
ago. I am almost positive it came
out just after Ghosts ‘n’ Goblins.
Please help as it’s starting to drive
me mad!
Stewart Allan, via email
Finally, it was good to see Ellie
Gibson representing women in
gaming with her review of Metal
Slug for the PlayStation 2. I’m
considering making the purchase
thanks to her review.
Michelle Sawyer, via email
RG: That sounds very much like
Rygar to us, released by Tecmo in
1986 (a year after Ghosts ‘n’
Goblins). Anyone else got any
games they need identifying? We
love a good challenge…
RG: As we have said in the past,
we do intend to look at the
Dragon computer at some point
in the future, and we’ve been
chatting with a couple of people
involved in Dragon software
preservation. Oh, and we’re sure
Ellie will be chuffed to bits with
your comments.
I'm a lady!
Mac attack
Hi Retro Gamer. It may surprise
you to note that I am a woman. I
know you were surprised to find
out how many adolescent retro
gamers that are out there. To the
same end, I’m in a minority as a
female reader of your magazine.
Presumably, therefore I could
have seen the Game Over poster
as lewd and offensive, but I saw
it for the piece of heritage it was,
considering that gaming has
always been considered as a
male pursuit.
Now to why I’m writing. I
would love to see a feature on
the Dragon 32 as this was our
first home computer. I especially
love the game Ugh! and I still
have a copy of it as well as a
Dragon itself. And the Amiga
feature was a good opener.
Hopefully, you’ll be moving onto
Amiga games at some point in
the future. I used to love beating
my sister at Dynoblaster. Do any
of you guys remember that game?
I was a C64 gamer back in the
day but I’m loving your articles
about all the systems. And please
keep the old adverts section – it’s
a blast!
I know it’s been mentioned
before, but I wanted to add some
input on the coverdiscs. I’m a Mac
user and therefore the coverdisc
content is largely wasted on me.
Now, in the case of game remakes
and other PC/Windows software,
I’m not bothered. I play all my old
Commodore games on an
emulator so I get everything I
need from the Web. Where I think
things can be improved is with
the content that doesn’t have to
be platform specific.
I really wanted to see the
Spectrum game endings, and
since I’m not a complete dork I
was able to access the zipped .avi
files and play them in Quicktime.
But, content like this needn’t be
restricted to that Windoze-only
front end that you supply. I’m no
God’s gift
Apologies for the obvious intro
but what a great mag. I’m
hooked! Waiting for your next
issue reminds me of how
excited I used to get as the
date drew closer for the next
issue of Crash to come out all
those years ago. Subscriptions
are all sorted online these days
so no more sprints to the local
newsagent. How times have
changed!
I used to buy many games
but I would also be found
copying the odd game or two. I
remember the good old C90s
being crammed with games on
both sides. My dad had a JVC
double tape deck with a ‘highspeed dubbing’ mode which was
great for copying at twice the
normal speed. I often invited
mates back to my house at
lunch time (I lived very close to
the school) and they would
**13**
bring their new games to play
on my machine. This activity
had two main benefits for yours
truly: 1) Save my £1 pound
lunch money by scoffing junk
food at home (great way to
save up for my next new game),
and 2) Whilst my mates were
playing whatever new game
they had brought along I would
be secretly making a quick copy
of it on my old man’s double
deck. Lovely jubbly.
I’m now the proud owner of
two original arcade games which
I have in my garage. These are
Track & Field and Defender (see
photo). I hope to grow this
collection but they’re not cheap. I
would like to see more features
in RG detailing private collections
of similar classic machines.
Finally, I was a huge Spectrum
fan and used to spend hours
trying to complete all those nearimpossible games. One that I
remember playing for weeks was
Gift From the Gods by Ocean. Not
one of Ocean’s best games by a
long stretch but I found it
strangely addictive. My big
question to all Speccy gamers
from the past is, did anyone
manage to complete this game? I
didn’t get close and I’ve never
seen the ending registered on the
websites such as
speccyspoilers.co.uk.
Darren Courtnell, via email
RG: Nice machines there Darren.
Wasn’t Gift From the Gods born
from the ashes of one of
Imagine’s so-called ‘Megagames’?
We’re sure someone out there
must have completed it. If not,
then you can always cheat – a
Multiface can be found at
www.the-tipshop.co.uk.
RETRO10 Retro Reviews
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
04/11/2004 12:15 AM
Page 14
REGULARS:REVIEWS |
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Street Fighter
Anniversary Collection
Developer:
Price:
Format:
A
Capcom
£29.99
Xbox
pparently Street Fighter is
15 years old, hence the
release of this anniversary
pack. But with the arcade original
released back in 1987, and the
superlative sequel appearing in
1991, we can’t quite get the dates
to work out. Still, anniversary or
not, there’s plenty to celebrate here.
The collection’s main draw is
Hyper Street Fighter II. This
updated version of the classic
brawler takes five Street Fighter II
strands and ties them into a
precise knot, resulting in the
ultimate incarnation of the game.
You get SFII: The World Warrior,
SFII: Champion Edition, SFII Turbo,
SFII: The New Challengers and
Super SFII Turbo. Purists may not
be pleased that the games have
been clumped together, especially
as the older Street Fighter
Collection packs for the
PlayStation and Saturn featured
several of the games as
standalone titles, but it does make
for some interesting battles as you
mix and match characters. You
can, for example, pit Ryu from The
World Warrior against Ryu from
Super SFII Turbo, to see how the
older version shapes up against
his quick-footed counterpart. To
top things off nicely, the game is
Xbox Live compatible, allowing
you to challenge others in the
online arena.
In addition to Hyper SFII you
get the excellent SFII animated
movie, and even better, Street
Fighter III: Third Strike, which
wasn’t present in the PS2 version
of the collection (in the UK at
least). The game did appear briefly
on the Dreamcast, and now it’s
quite sought after, so this may be
the only chance you get to own
the game.
Street Fighter Anniversary
Collection is a must for both
fans of the series and beat-emup enthusiasts alike. For our
money, the only thing missing is
the original Street Fighter game.
As such, it stops just short of
being the complete Street
Fighter collection.
Martyn Carroll
Graphics
90%
2D fighting at its finest. The
Xbox’s massive memory ensures
that every frame of animation is
present.
Sound
75%
The games are arcade perfect, so
we get all the original tunes and
effects.
Playability
92%
SFII provides instant thrills. SFIII
is deeper and more complex.
Addictiveness 87%
Street Fighter fans will keep
coming back for more.
Overall
90%
A great value collection for the
Xbox, with SFIII making a welcome
appearance. Where’s the original?
**14**
RETRO10 Retro Reviews
04/11/2004 12:16 AM
Page 15
The Smirking Horror
Programmer:
Price:
Format:
C
Jason Davies
£1.99
Amstrad CPC
reated using the
Graphics Adventure
Creator but without
graphics, this is the first of a trio
of adventures lined up for
release by Cronosoft for the
Amstrad CPC.
The Smirking Horror is set in
the P.U.E. (Phillip Urwin Edwards)
Tech in Cambridge Massachusetts.
The campus will be familiar
territory to those who have
played The Lurking Horror, Dave
Lebling’s classic Infocom text
adventure set in the G.U.E.
(George Underwood Edwards)
Tech. It has a similar layout: a
computer centre, great dome,
alchemy department, and long
corridors both above and below
ground, complete with a sinister
floor polisher. Likewise, there are
some very nasty things going on.
You are there to complete
your college assignment, but you
get trapped inside the building
while a blizzard rages outside.
However, you’re not able to use
a terminal, as it seems the
power to the computer centre is
down. Upon investigation, this
appears to be due to sabotage…
Thus, your objective changes
from completing your
assignment, to dealing with an
evil monster that has taken over
the building.
Many of the problems
encountered throughout the
game are the same as in the
original, but some have different
and less elegant solutions.
Unfortunately, not only are many
of the solutions not very
intuitive and more likely to be
solved, if at all, by chance than
by logic, they also have illogical
constraints to solving them. A
good example of this is how to
get rid of Arthur, the floor
polisher who is blocking your
way. A most unlikely weapon is
involved. You have to make it,
as it does not actually exist. But
the trouble is it’s not an object
you would normally consider
using to attack someone with.
Worse still, should you realise
you need to make it, you have
to enter a ‘wait’ sequence.
However, this sequence will not
trigger the making of the object
unless you have first examined
something, and then read the
inscription on it that is thus
revealed, neither of which
outcomes have anything to do
with the problem in hand.
Very few Amstrad owners
would have played The Lurking
Horror in 1991 when this was
written, and a spoof is not a
spoof unless you recognise it as
a take off. So why was Smirking
written? If it was written to try to
bring a cassette-based Lurking
Horror lookalike to the Amstrad,
then the author was on a hiding
to nothing. It would be nigh
impossible to approach the
richness and sheer verbosity of
Infocom’s text on a cassette. It
also lacks the sparkle that
master spoofer, Fergus McNeill,
injected into many of his games,
like The Boggit and Bugsy.
Smirking Horror runs (as far as I
could tell) bug free, has no
noticeable typos, and is put
together competently enough.
Perhaps that says it all.
So who is going to buy it
now, some 13 years on? In the
80s, plenty of dire Spectrum
Quill’d adventures sold for £5 to
£10, so at £1.99 you really can’t
go wrong. Despite much of the
foregoing, The Smirking Horror is
exceptionally good value for
money if you have a real
Amstrad that is hungry for
software to justify its continued
presence in your computer room.
Just don’t expect a masterpiece,
that’s all.
If you have a PC as well as
that old Amstrad, and haven’t
**15**
ever tried the real thing (The
Lurking Horror) then I would
recommend giving it a go after
you have played this one – but
not before. Just Google for it and
you’ll find it downloadable for
free without too much difficulty,
together with its complete
manual in PDF format. And
Googling for ‘Infocom invisiclues’
will get you out of trouble
without having to write to an
Adventure Helpline…
Keith Campbell
Graphics
n/a
Sound
n/a
Playability
76%
Reasonably fast parser; mostly
intelligent replies.
Addictiveness 55%
You’ll probably want to continue
until completed, although you’ll
need a few coffees to keep you
going.
Overall
65%
Reasonable in its own right, but
bound to compare unfavourably
with the original.
RETRO10 Retro Reviews
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
04/11/2004 12:16 AM
Page 16
REGULARS:REVIEWS |
Columns CPC
Developer:
Price:
Format:
ESP Software
Free Download
Amstrad CPC
C
olumns CPC is a faithful
port of Sega’s popular
Tetris clone. Three
randomly selected gems fall from
the top of the screen, and your task
is to quickly match them up and
sort them into columns or rows of
three or more, either as a true
vertical column or in a horizontal or
diagonal row. The graphics aren’t
great, but then they don’t need to
be as the gameplay is timeless.
From the main menu you can
select from three difficulty levels and
two different game types. In the first
of these, it’s a simple case of
racking up as many points as
possible, gaining extra time as you
match four or more gems. In the
second, you are given a score to
equal before you can progress to
the next level. There is a time limit
in the top right hand corner, and
once you’ve met the score criteria,
you’re given a bonus and moved
onto the next stage. Again,
matching four or more gems will
add valuable seconds to the clock.
You start the next level with the
same time as you finished the last
one, plus 10 or 20 seconds
depending on how far into the
game you are. A new score criteria
is given, in relation to your score
from the previous level. The
difficulty curve is quite steep, but
occasionally luck will help you out.
Fans of the original will feel at
home with Columns CPC, but we
found it a little unforgiving from
the start. Give it a little time and
initial frustration may dissipate, but
it’s definitely one for fans of the
genre rather than the average
gamer. The disk image can be
downloaded from
www.computeremuzone.com.
Mike Davies
Graphics
70%
Functional graphics used throughout.
Nice loading screen though.
Sound
80%
A title screen tune and interlude
music between the levels.
Reasonable in-game sound effects.
Playability
75%
Fast thinking and forward planning
is required.
Addictiveness 75%
Like any falling block game, it can
be difficult to drag yourself away.
Overall
75%
A decent port of a great puzzle
game. Doesn’t quite challenge the
mighty Tetris.
Reaxion
Developer:
Price:
Machine:
F
Cosine Designs
TBA
Spectrum
or those of you who may
have missed Retro Gamer
issue five, Reaxion is a
game originally written by Jason
Kelk and Glen Rune of Cosine
Designs, then improved and
released on the Commodore 64
under the Cronosoft banner earlier
this year. With Reaxion being ported
to the Spectrum, it represents how
the retro community is gradually
coming together, which will surely
be beneficial for everyone, and is
also the first straight C64 to
Spectrum port (to our mind) for
over a decade.
The idea behind the game is
that a nuclear power plant has
reached the point where total
meltdown is delicately balanced on
a knife-edge, and the only way to
avert this pending catastrophe is to
reset all 99 of the nuclear rods
using a high-tech software interface.
The mainframe has failed, and the
only option left is to use the trusty
ZX Spectrum.
On starting, you are given a
visual representation of each rod
and every point of it needs to be
reset. However, any manipulation of
a point has a knock-on effect to
the surrounding eight, inverting
their current state, meaning that
logic is required to progress. When
you’ve cleared an entire rod, it’s
onto the next. As you work your
way through the levels the task
becomes more intricate.
This is a solid port of the C64
version, with great graphics and AY
music. The playability, learning
**16**
curve and puzzles are just as good
as the original, and is certainly
recommended for fans of puzzle
games. Keep an eye on
www.cronosoft.co.uk for price and
release details.
Shaun Bebbington
Graphics
82%
Well drawn and colourful,
although nothing spectacular.
Sound
90%
A great AY tune accompanies play.
Playability
85%
An easy game to get into,
requiring thought and patience.
Addictiveness 80%
Good learning curve. One for
those who enjoy puzzle games.
Overall
83%
A fun, frantic puzzler, and another
great little title from Cronosoft.
RETRO10 Retro Reviews
04/11/2004 12:16 AM
Page 17
Leaderboard
Developer:
Year of release:
Format:
Access Software
1986
Commodore 64
A
s well as being one of the
few golf games on the
Commodore 64,
Leaderboard is the only golf game
(to my knowledge) that made it to
cartridge as well as the standard of
tape and disk.
On loading the game you are
presented with the options screen.
From here you can select one to
four players, with each entering their
name. You then select a level of
difficulty between Novice, Amateur
or Professional, and the number of
holes that you want to play being
18, 36, 54 or 72. Finally you pick
which golf course you want. There
are four to choose from varying in
shape and size.
The control method is easily
accessible for even the most novice
of gamers. Up and down cycles
through the available golf clubs,
each of which have their own
attributes. Left and right moves the
crosshair which influences the
direction in which your ball will
travel, depending on the wind
direction and speed.
The clubs available allow varying
distances for your shot, further
controlled by carefully setting the
power bar for a more precise hit.
After every shot the computer
calculates your position on the
course and redraws the screen
accordingly. For such an old routine
it’s incredibly fast and there’s hardly
any pause at all. The 3D engine is
still effective today, and the game
as a whole is as playable as ever.
Leaderboard spawned its own
mini-series, with Executive
Leaderboard and World Class
Leaderboard following soon after.
My only gripe (with the original) is
that the colour scheme is limited,
meaning no sand bunkers or trees,
and there is no 2D map either, but
these would later feature in the
aforementioned follow-ups, and
takes nothing away from this classic
C64 title. Certainly worth adding to
anyone’s collection.
Wayne Womersley
Graphics
85%
Nice backdrops and brilliantly
animated main sprites with a great
3D engine.
Sound
69%
Reasonable spot effects during
play.
Playability
92%
Lots of fun to be had, especially
when four players are involved.
Addictiveness 88%
A very high one more go factor as
you master each skill level.
Overall
90%
The original 3D golfing game for
the C64. Still a great sports sim
even by today’s standards.
Kick Off
Developer:
Year of release:
Format:
K
Anco
1989
Commodore 64
ick Off was one of
those football games
from the late 80s that
managed to amass many fans,
and its creator Dino Dini was
rightly praised for his original
work. Playability was what gave
the Amiga version in particular
first-division status, with masses
of options and simple but
effective graphics.
Six months after the Amiga
game came the Commodore 64
version, with seemingly all the
same options as its big brother.
You could play against the
computer or human in a friendly,
or alternatively up to eight
teams (human or computer
controlled) could compete in a
league situation. Surely then it
couldn’t fail? But sadly, it did.
And the nasty graphics and
laughable sound were just the
start of it. The most obvious
difference between this and the
original Amiga game was that
the screen scrolled horizontally
rather then vertically. Other
changes included the inability to
stop and pass, and the omission
of a player radar so you couldn’t
pinpoint your passes.
Worse still, the Spectrum port
of Kick Off was actually closer to
the original 16-bit version.
Despite receiving a mixed
reception from the popular press,
it was actually a much better
game than the measly C64 effort.
No sane person could deny this,
and as a C64 fan, it was a
difficult thing to admit, and is
even to this day.
Anco released a real turkey
just in time for Christmas 1989,
but I don’t mean in a good way.
There was no stuffing, baconwrapped mini sausages or any of
the lush extras with this version
of the game. Put simply, the
disappointment of it bearing the
name of an Amiga classic was
almost criminal.
James Bray
Graphics
40%
Poorly defined with slow moving
sprites.
Sound
25%
To say that the sound effects ar
sparse and dull would be generous.
Playability
33%
A frustrating game, requiring more
luck than skill.
**17**
Addictiveness 36%
There’s nothing really to keep you
coming back.
Overall
34%
There are far better footy games
for the C64. A very poor relative of
the Amiga version.
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Page 20
FEATURE:HARDWARE | APPLE II FOREVER |
**20**
RETRO10 Apple II GS
03/11/2004 10:57 PM
Page 21
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**21**
RETRO10 Apple II GS
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Page 22
FEATURE:HARDWARE | APPLE II FOREVER |
Launched in 1977, the
The original Apple II.
ly supported by Apple up
line was still official
until 1996
Apple core
The Apple story began in 1976
when two phone phreakers
decided to build a computer.
These small-time criminals were
both named Steve. Steve Wozniak
was the visionary engineer who
designed the machine soon to be
called the Apple I, while Steve
Jobs was the man who saw the
commercial potential of
computers in the home. Aside
from ripping-off phone
companies, the pair had
legitimate engineering jobs –
Wozniak was working at HewlettPackard and Jobs at Atari.
It was in Jobs’ garage that
Wozinak designed the Apple I
computer. After offering it to HP,
who turned it down, Apple was
formed to sell the machine. It
was marketed in 1976 at a price
of US$666. The Apple I was the
first single-board computer with a
built-in video interface and onboard ROM (which told the
machine how to load programs
from an external source). Jobs
was marketing the Apple I at
hobbyists like the members of
the Homebrew Computer Club,
but when he and Wozinak sat
down to design the Apple II, he
had grander plans.
In 1977 Apple unveiled the
Apple II, the first colour-capable
microcomputer. The company
strongly encouraged third-party
software development and by
1983, there was a library of
16,000 software programs for the
machine. The Apple II set the
standard in personal computers
and was an enormous success.
Within three years the company
had made a profit of $139 million
– a 700% growth. Apple went
public in 1980 with an initial
offering of $22 per share, but the
price went up to $29 on the first
day of trading. At the end of the
first day, Apple had a value of
$1.8 billion, the biggest initial
public offering since Ford. Jobs
alone was worth $250 million.
By 1984, Apple’s loyal users
were hungry for a new machine.
Despite having been revised
several times, the Apple II was
showing its age. The Apple Mac,
meanwhile, was too expensive for
home use, and while it featured a
high-resolution display, it was
monochrome. When you consider
that the Apple II was the first
computer capable of colour
graphics, there was no way the
Apple II user-base would settle
for a mono machine. In 1984,
Apple had released the Apple IIc,
but this was still an 8-bit
computer. Its main selling point
was that it was portable. It had a
tiny form factor and Apple
released an LCD screen and
battery pack for it, making it a
very capable laptop. It sold in
high quantities, but users were
hungry for more power. The
planned successor was
codenamed, variously, Cortland,
Phoenix, Rambo, Gumby and
Mark Twain.
The tiny Apple IIc, seen
here with its specially
designed LCD display
BeginninGS
To the acclaim of its fans, Apple
unveiled the IIGS in September
1986. The new machine’s case
desktop computer, the
Despite being a typical
several design awards
e
Appl
ed
bagg
l
stil
IIGS
**22**
RETRO10 Apple II GS
03/11/2004 10:57 PM
was designed by the then head
of the Apple Industrial Design
Unit, Harmut Esslinger. Esslinger
wanted the IIGS to be an
integrated unit like the Apple II,
Amiga and ST, but with a
‘hammerhead’ look – the machine
would be much smaller than the
keyboard. In the end Apple
executives pushed for a desktop
design. The keyboard was fullsized typewriter style, but is
notable because it had a small
form factor similar to early iMac
keyboards, and because it
introduced the Apple Desktop Bus
serial connection (a feature which
remained standard on all Apple
machines until 1997).
The machine was pricey at
$999 plus $399 for a 3.5in floppy
drive, or $299 for a 5.25in drive.
A colour monitor cost a further
$499, or $129 for a mono green
screen. Apple also sold a SCSI
card for the machine, allowing it
to power external hard drives and
an Apple-branded CD-ROM drive.
The SCSI card could even be
used to power more modern
equipment such as Zip and Jaz
drives from the 1990s.
Despite the cost, the IIGS
performed well initially,
outselling the Mac at the time of
launch, but this early success
was not to be continued. Apple
did not seriously market the
machine and it was eventually
outsold by the Amiga and Mac.
Outside of North America the
machine made some impact in
France, but Apple’s sky-high
prices in comparison to those of
Commodore and Atari hampered
the machine in Europe. An Amiga
could be had for almost half the
price of a IIGS.
Unlike the Amiga, ST and Mac
(which were powered by the 16-bit
chip of choice, the Motorola
68000), the Apple IIGS used the
Western Digital 65C816. The key
reason for choosing this CPU was
that it was fully 16-bit and yet
also backwards compatible with
the MOS 6502 processor used in
the older 8-bit Apple II range. For
Apple this was a key decision.
Without the ability to run Apple II
software, the IIGS could not have
been considered a member of the
Apple II family. The emulation
worked admirably – approximately
99% of 8-bit Apple II software ran
on the IIGS, often faster than on
the earlier machines.
Originally a selling point for
the machine, 8-bit compatibility
Page 23
>The GUI
became a millstone around the
16-bit machine’s neck. Some
developers saw the machine as
an opportunity to rehash barely
updated 8-bit software. In turn
this resulted in some potential
buyers not bothering with
upgrading to the new machine.
One such poor game was
Paperboy. Failing to take
advantage of the advanced
technology in the IIGS, Mindscape
produced a fun game, but one
which would not have looked out
of place on the Commodore 64 or
8-bit Apple.
When the IIGS was launched it came with ProDOS 16, a version
of the upgraded Apple II’s operating system. But with its
command-based interface, ProDOS was not deemed good
enough for the Apple IIGS. Facing stiff competition from the
Commodore Amiga and Atari ST, Apple decided to create a fully
featured graphical user interface for its 16-bit consumer
machine. The result was GS/OS.
Apple did an excellent job, which was hardly surprising
considering it brought point and click to the masses with the
Macintosh. Though the underlying OS lacked the sophistication
of the technically superior Amiga OS, or indeed the Mac, the
GUI outshone those of both the Amiga and ST, if not quite
reaching Macintosh-like sophistication.
GS/OS included a technology known as File System
Translators which allowed it to elegantly support multiple on-disk
file systems in a manner transparent to application programs –
something most other operating systems at the time were
incapable of doing. GS/OS also featured support for disks
formatted for the Mac’s HFS file system. as well as DOS disks
from the PC – very handy considering the IIGS used both 3.5in
and 5.25in floppies. Mac interpolability went even further than
merely supporting disks – GS/OS used resource and data forks
in its files, just like the Mac, allowing for file extensions to be
done away with.
Sweet music
Two computers from the 16-bit
era are remembered for their
music – the Amiga for its
excellent sound output, and the
Atari ST for its onboard MIDI
ports. Few people remember the
Apple IIGS for its audio
capabilities, despite the fact that
it easily competed with the
Amiga. Moreover, the IIGS blew
the Atari ST, with its ancient
Yamaha YM 2149 (a clone of the
General Instruments AY-3-8912
chip found in 8-bit Amstrad CPCs,
Spectrum Plus machines and MSX
computers), out of the water.
The IIGS featured an Ensoniq
5503 Digital Oscillator, a music
synthesiser chip capable of
wavetable synthesis. Remember,
this was in 1986. In fact, the IIGS
had 64Kb of dedicated RAM
separate from main RAM reserved
solely for waveforms. The Ensoniq
chip was capable of 32 voices,
paired in the firmware to offer 15
voices as standard, with two
reserved for timing.
The chip was so good that it
drew a lawsuit from the Beatles,
similar to the one that the band
is currently prosecuting against
Apple’s iPod MP3 player and
GarageBand software. In order to
call themselves Apple, Jobs and
Wozniak agreed with the Beatles’
lawyers that they would stay out
of the music business, so as not
to cause confusion between the
nascent computer manufacturer
and the Beatles’ record label,
Apple Corps. The result was
costly for Apple and it never
again put a synthesiser chip in
any of its computers. Even
today’s Macs, the favourite
platform of digital musicians, do
not feature hardware
synthesisers.
Without a doubt, the IIGS was
a's
Back when the ST and Amig
more
user interfaces were much
t
osof
Micr
than
ern
conc
of a
GS/OS
Windows, Apple developed
to drive its new machine
**23**
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FEATURE:HARDWARE | APPLE II FOREVER |
take a hit. The IIGS was able to
display 32,000 colours at a
resolution of 320x200, yet Apple
adjusted the machine’s firmware,
limiting it to 16 colours.
Thankfully, enterprising
programmers managed to get
around Apple’s restrictions.
Apple’s tinkering did not end
there because firmware revisions
were a problem for the IIGS.
Apple revised the ROMs several
times to improve the computer,
but this often had a negative
effect on software, especially
games which often used
undocumented features of the
ROMs. Dan Knight, now the
publisher of a successful
commercial webzine dedicated to
retro Macs, was a salesman at a
Heath-Zenith store which sold
the entire Apple II range. Retro
Gamer spoke to him about the
hardware problems faced by
users: “The IIGS seemed to be
as trouble free as any other
Apple II series computer. The
biggest customer complaint was
the way Apple would make big
ROM revisions. Customers would
have to bring their IIGS in to the
shop, the technician had to
install the new ROM, and then
the customer would go home to
discover how many of their
games no longer worked.
“So Apple redid the ROMs
again to address that – a whole
other cycle of replacements – and
then some of the games and
other programs that had been
updated for the second ROM
were broken. Really bad move.
One of the lessons Apple learned
from this was to put a second
ROM slot in a lot of Macs over
the years. That way it was a
simple matter of plugging in a
new ROM if there were some
defect or some new feature that
they might want to add to the
computer. We’re spoiled today –
modern computers can be
updated without ever having to
enter the shop. Buyers got pretty
ticked at the way Apple kept
revising the ROMs, breaking
software, doing it again…”
ROM problems aside, Knight
acknowledges that the IIGS real
hardware problems were by
design: “The IIGS would’ve been
a real sweet machine if they
hadn’t slowed down the CPU to
prevent cutting into Mac sales.
Most customers didn’t know what
to make of it. It was definitely
the ultimate Apple II, and it acted
a lot like a Mac, but the lower
resolution colour screen, slow
floppies, and crippled CPU kept it
from being all it could have been.
It was a wonderful games
machine though, and the Ensoniq
sound chip was excellent.”
Gaming guru
As Knight says, the IIGS was a
very capable gaming platform,
with a number of impressive
software titles appearing on the
machine. One of the best-loved
ting the IIGS's
A couple of ads highligh
ties
advanced audio capabili
the most powerful of all the 16-bit
machines when it came to sound
and music. It was much more
advanced that the ST or Amiga
and even some PC soundcards
from the 1990s. So what went
wrong? Why isn’t the Apple IIGS
remembered for its sound
capabilities?
Apple crippled it. The Ensoniq
chip had an 8-bit sound
resolution and was even capable
of recording audio, but Apple
fitted the machine with mono
headphone jack. If a user wanted
stereo input or output from the
machine, they had to purchase
expensive third-party hardware
which could de-multiplex the
stereo signal already there and
input sound.
Crippleware
This curtailing technique was to
become familiar to users of the
IIGS. Desperate not to see Mac
sales cannibalised, Apple imposed
some severe hardware and
software limitations on the IIGS,
crippling the machine.
Compared to the Amiga and
the Atari ST, which ran at 7MHz
and 8MHz respectively, the Apple
IIGS ran at a mere 2.8MHz. But
speed wasn’t the only thing to
Mac computer, Apple
To protect its prestigious
ties of the IIGS
bili
capa
chose to curtail the
**24**
RETRO10 Apple II GS
03/11/2004 10:58 PM
Page 25
Pangea Soft's Xenocide
was one of a number of
games designed
exclusively for the IIGS
games was Xenocide, a dedicated
IIGS title developed by Brian
Greenstone and sold by Pangea
Soft. Greenstone was to go on to
become a Super Nintendo and
PlayStation developer at
Mindscape and Visual Concepts.
Xenocide was a shoot-em-up
with a difference, although the
plot was as minimal as ever with
this sort of game. Aliens had
infested the moons of the planet
Talos IV, and your job was to
stop them taking over the planet
by destroying the moons. The
first level is a pseudo-3D Space
Harrier-like race to arrive on the
surface of the moon. Later levels
include side-scrolling and topdown views, offering a
remarkable variety of gameplay.
Pangea Soft remains a
presence in the industry to this
day. In the late 1990s,
Greenstone’s games Bugdom,
Nanosaur and Cro Mag Rally
became legendary and were even
bundled by with iMacs and
iBooks by Apple. In fact,
Greenstone is
something of a
pioneer – he
programmed Bungie’s
Weekend Warrior, the
first 100% 3D game on
the Mac. Retro Gamer
caught
up
with Greenstone. We asked him if
he had any fond memories of the
IIGS. “I know that somewhere I
still have my ‘Woz’ Edition
certificate that I got when I
bought the IIGS. I’m not sure
what made it a special edition
though. I can barely even
remember what the machine
looked like. I traded mine to a
friend in exchange for a filing
cabinet about, oh, 10 years ago.”
On the question of whether it
was a worthy competitor to the
more popular ST and Amiga,
Greenstone is adamant that the
Apple was superior: “Oh, yes. I
think it was better than those. I
remember that there were some
amazing demos from the FTL
guys in France, but I don’t know
if they ever built a game from
any of those.” As for his own
games, how did thy fare in the
marketplace? “The shareware
stuff sold really well considering
it cost nothing to make. Xenocide
did well too, but the IIGS market
was so small back then that it’s
hard to compare with the way
things are today. Selling 4,000
copies of something was
considered pretty good.”
Greenstone releases his games
as freeware, once they are no
longer commercially viable. This
includes Xenocide and the onceshareware Senseless Violence and
Cosmocade. We asked him why.
“Because nobody was going to
pay for them, so I figured why
not? We haven’t freewared
anything new in a long time. I
think Weekend Warrior was the
>The
Japanese
connection
Motorola Semiconductor had a good time during the 16-bit revolution
of
the late 80s and early 90s. The Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Apple Mac,
Sega Megadrive, Sinclair QL and countless arcade machines and UNIX
workstations were all built around its 680000-series CPU. Even the 64bit Atari Jaguar featured it as a secondary chip.
Apple could easily have based the IIGS on the very capable 68k chip
– after all, this was two years after the launch of the Mac and three
years after the Apple Lisa, both of which featured the CPU – but the
Apple IIGS was designed to follow on from the 8-bit Apple II line, so
Apple needed a CPU which was backwards compatible with the MOS
6502 used in the older machines. To that end, the Apple IIGS centred
on
a Western Digital 65C816, a 16-bit microprocessor developed by the
Western Design Center. Still in production today, it is an expanded
successor to the 6502. The chip has two 16-bit index registers, a stack
pointer, a 16-bit direct page register, and a 24-bit address bus.
Apple was not the only company with an eye on this familiar
technology. In the late 1980s, Nintendo was in the process of developin
g
a successor to its Famicon console. The Famicon was based on the a
Ricoh clone of the 6502, so when it came to design the Super Famicon,
Masayuki Uemura knew where to look for a CPU. In November 1990
Nintendo released the console in Japan, appearing a year later in Europe
and the US as the Super Nintendo. The system featured a Western
Digital 65C816 CPU, although it was not backwards compatible with the
8-bit NES, perhaps due in part to witnessing Apple’s sales woes inflicted
by near-perfect backward compatibility.
At least one IIGS developer took advantage of the similarities
between the systems. Xenocide author Brian Greenstone remembers:
“I
was already writing software for my Apple II+ which was the first
computer I ever owned, so when I upgraded to the IIGS it seemed like
a
natural next step. The great thing about that decision was that the IIGS
uses the 65816 processor, and that happened to be the same processo
r
that the Super Nintendo used, so getting a job making Nintendo games
was really easy.”
In the early days of the SNES, Nintendo used the Apple IIGS for
development purposes. After a while though, the IIGS couldn’t keep
up
with emulating the advanced graphics capabilities of the SNES, so
Nintendo developed an
emulator and development
system for the Macintosh.
Interestingly, a few years later
the two principal developers
of the Mac-based emulation
system left Nintendo and
announced that they were
going to develop a
commercial SNES emulator
for the Mac. As it never
appeared, we can only
assume that Nintendo’s legal
department wasn’t too
enamoured with the idea.
Although the SNES was discontinued in
1997, the Japanese Super Famicom version
continued in production until last year,
proving beyond a doubt that whatever
problems the Apple IIGS may have had,
they weren’t located in the CPU.
IIGS,
the same processor as the
The Super Nintendo featured
for development purposes
uter
comp
the
used
even
and Nintendo
**25**
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FEATURE:HARDWARE | APPLE II FOREVER |
and Dungeon Master. One
intriguing game for the IIGS was
Ancient Land of Ys. Ys will be
familiar to fans of Japanese roleplaying games on platforms like
the Super Nintendo and PC
Engine. Ys was a Zelda-like topdown role-playing game, but
unlike the turn-based Western
RPGs popular on the Apple, such
as Pools of Radiance or the
Bard’s Tale, Ys features consolestyle action.
Open up
ic
Publishers including Electron
all
Arts, Infogrames and Sierra
catered for the computer's
gaming market
last game that went freeware.”
Of course, it wasn’t all Apple
II-only games. The
IIGS saw many
popular titles ported
to it including
Arkanoid, the Bard’s
Tale, The Last Ninja,
Rastan, Captain Blood,
Hostages, The Immortal
Apple has a reputation for
developing ‘closed systems’ – the
original Mac was not expandable
and even the recent iMacs are
similarly single-unit machines with
little in the way of internal
expandability. However, the Apple
II was one of the most expandable
computers ever. The fact that the
original Mac was un-expandable is
a function of its design – Steve
Jobs wanted to make computers
that anyone could use, so
marketing them as standalone
appliances was a natural decision.
The Apple II had an altogether
different history. Designed by
Steve Wozniak, the original Apple
II was the successor to the Apple
I, a computer which was sold in
kit form.
When designing the original
Apple II back in 1977, Wozniak
included seven built-in slots for
peripheral cards. Not only that,
he configured the machine so
that each card could incorporate
built-in software on its own ROM
chip. This previously unheard of
flexibility allowed the Apple II to
be adapted to a wide range of
applications, and spawned a
thriving third-party hardware
industry. When Apple was
preparing the IIGS it seemed only
natural to follow the design of
the original Apple II and thus the
16-bit machine featured the same
seven expansion ports.
The basic expansion was a
very popular RAM upgrade. The
machine originally came with
256Kb RAM onboard and could
handle up to 8Mb of memory, but
as memory was so expensive
most users settled for between
1Mb and 4Mb. Other expansions
included hard drive controllers,
SCSI adaptors, and the Transwarp
GS and ZipGS accelerator cards.
Some ‘super’ expansion
cards were also released.
Using power from all seven of
the slots, these cards often had
advanced functionality. One of
the most advanced cards was
the LANceGS Ethernet card
which allowed the IIGS to
connect to advanced modern
networks, including broadband
Internet. The original version of
the card, released in 1991,
featured its own onboard 6502
processor. The second revision
of the card contains a 4MHz
65C816 processor – the same
processor as the IIGS itself,
making it a sort of dual CPU
machine – and 64Kb of
dedicated RAM for card use. The
card also featured 128Kb of
ROM that was paged in four
banks and contained the
firmware to handle the
AppleTalk protocols. The card is
still manufactured and is sold
by SSH Systeme in Germany.
Serious
software
Just as Apple did its best to
make sure that games were not
developed for the Macintosh
system, it also attempted to limit
the range of serious software on
the IIGS to products aimed at
the home and education
markets. Despite this, one
application was developed which
arguably could have been a
threat to the Mac’s primary
market of desktop publishing.
Timeworks Publish-It, popular
on the Atari ST under the name
of Timeworks DTP, was released
for the IIGS in January 1998.
Fortunately for Apple, the Mac
was already entrenched in the
publishing industry and there was
a public perception that the IIGS
could not drive PostScript
devices. Another good piece of
graphics software included Deluxe
Paint II, EA’s popular bitmap
editor on the Amiga.
One productivity application
which is worthy of note is
AppleWorks GS. AppleWorks GS
was the first integrated
productivity suite – later
packages such as Claris Works
and Microsoft Works were taking
their cues from the IIGS program.
One other notable serious
application on the platform
included the GS version of
Apple’s multimedia development
package HyperCard. HyperCard
was a revolutionary piece of
software which allowed anyone to
make applications. The adventure
game Myst was developed using
HyperCard on a Mac.
Apple of
thine eye
Despite the fact that Apple
officially ended production of the
computer in 1992, the IIGS
continues to exist to this day.
There is still a thriving
lop
ion enabled users to deve
Apple's HyperCard applicat
multimedia projects
**26**
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an
'Woz' Limited Edition and
Unusual upgrades - the
ard
erbo
moth
IIGS
Apple IIe fitted with a
marketplace for the Apple IIGS,
particularly on eBay (as the
machine was not particularly
popular outside of its native
America, it’s best to log on to the
US site). The current going price
for IIGS machines is between $25
for a base unit, and up to $99
for a complete machine with
monitor, disk drive and a
collection of software.
Look out for rare versions such
as the ‘Woz’ Limited Edition which
features Steve Wozniak’s signature
on the case, or the special Apple
IIe upgraded machines. These
were ordinary IIe machines which
had had their motherboard
replaced with the 16-bit IIGS
board, and are quite rare. The
upgraded IIe models came with a
certificate of authenticity and a
letter from Steve Wozniak.
Included with the upgraded
board was the IIGS system
software and a IIGS nameplate
which replaced the IIe plate on
the case. Several retailers are
still shipping used, reconditioned
and occasionally, unused, Apple
IIGS machines, notably Sun
Remarketing, who do a roaring
trade in obscure Apple hardware.
Apple has a history of
orphaning entire ranges of
machines – the Lisa, Apple’s UNIX
servers and the Newton were all
abandoned by the company in
favour of the Macintosh. Some
users refused to accept Apple’s
decisions and continued to
develop software and hardware for
the ancient machines. Two French
programmers, Olivier Zardini and
Antoine Vignau, released an
unofficial port of the Pysgnosis
classic Lemmings in 1996 under
the moniker Brutal Deluxe
Software. The name of the game?
LemminGS, of course. Never sold
commercially, the game was given
away for free to anyone who
purchased a copy of its graphics
software, Convert 3200. Other
unofficial clones included a
version of Nintendo’s Dr. Mario –
in this case the Nintendo franchise
was perhaps fair game as
Nintendo’s effort was nothing
short of a rip-off of Tetris. One of
the most remarkable, and this
time entirely legitimate,
conversions was Logicware’s
faithful version of Wolfenstein 3D.
All is not a bed of roses
for the remaining IIGS owners.
Apple’s legendary build
quality means that
countless thousands of
machines are still in
working order, but if
they’re ever booted up
these days it’s most
likely to be as an
exercise in nostalgia.
Kula Software, a
consultancy firm based
in Hawaii, had at one
point a profitable sideline
in supporting the orphaned
Apple II series. When Retro
Gamer spoke to Mike Ching,
the principal of the firm, he
admitted that the computer is
no longer in any demand: “My
Apple II business is pretty much
dead. I haven’t sold much Apple II
merchandise for years. About the
only thing it seems I’ve been
selling occasionally are old
magazines to collectors.”
For years Apple had marketed
the II series with the slogan ‘Apple
II forever’. By the early 1990s noone believed it anymore. It had
become clear that the future
belonged to the Macintosh. In
March 1987 Apple had introduced
the Macintosh II with a highresolution colour screen and
plenty of space for internal
expansion, but at $5,500 it was
no threat to the cheaper IIGS.
Then in October 1990, Apple
debuted a new low-cost colour
Mac, the LC, at $2,500. Aimed
squarely at the education and
home markets, the writing was on
the wall for the IIGS.
In the end, the IIGS was
outlasted by its little 8-bit brother,
the Apple IIe, a machine which
had its roots in Steve Jobs’ garage
back in 1977. The IIGS ceased
production in 1992 when Apple
wound up the entire Apple II unit
and merged it into its legacy
support department. The 8-bit
Apple IIe staggered on for another
year without any marketing
whatsoever. Apple continued to
support the IIe until 1996 because
many developers were still using it
for 6502 code testing. ✺✯*
out
in? The IIGS was phased
The final nail in the coff
h LC
ntos
Maci
the
of
ch
laun
following the
**27**
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FEATURE:HARDWARE | APPLE II FOREVER |
>Rotten
apple
chassis became a heat sink. It didn’t work properly and the machine
often got so hot that chips would pop out of place. Apple told
customers to lift the system several inches above their desks and
drop it to reseat the chips.
Other problems included the fact that the machine was sold as
compatible with the Apple II, while in reality it was only partially
compatible. One of the design team, Randy Wigginton, puts the
machine’s flaws down to a combination of ‘feature creep’ and the fact
that it was “designed by committee. Everybody had ideas about what
the III should do… and all of them were included.”
Apple attempted to keep the
machine alive by beefing up the
memory to 256Kb and
fixing the case problems,
to no avail. The machine
was quietly
discontinued in
September
1985.
Apple’s position as the only serious commercial competitor to
Microsoft guarantees that every move the company makes is
documented, and often distorted. Apple had, over the years, a few
models which failed to live up to sales expectations – the Apple
IIGS being a case in point, but there are other examples such as the
Newton PDA, the PowerMac G4 Cube and the Macintosh XL. These
computers are often portrayed in the press as failures, and while in
most cases that’s an exaggeration, there is one particular machine
lurking in Apple’s Cupertino headquarters that the company would
prefer to forget. Introducing the Apple III…
Where as the IIGS was a successful product which failed to
achieve all that it could have, the earlier Apple III was an
unmitigated disaster. It was stillborn – a doomed machine from the
beginning. Launched in 1980 and priced around $5,000 with a
monitor, hard drive and printer, not only was the Apple III mindcrunchingly expensive, it was made with none of the passion of the
Apple II or Macintosh. Instead it was designed to be a stop-gap
machine until Apple’s long-term projects – the Lisa and Macintosh –
was perhaps Apple's most
The ill-fated Apple III
many users wisely sticking
noticeable failure, with
e II
Appl
old
ty
trus
the
with
could be realised.
In 1977 Apple had the microcomputer market almost entirely to
itself. No other manufacturer produced computers in anything other
than kit form. By 1980 Apple was facing stiff competition from other
computer manufacturers such as Atari, Tandy Radio Shack and
Commodore. Worse still, Apple knew that IBM was due to debut its
own machine the following year. The Apple II’s success was in part
due to one piece of software, Visicalc. This was the first ever
spreadsheet and it had become a killer application, guaranteeing
the Apple II a place in businesses the world over. Apple knew that
IBM would pursue this market aggressively. As a result, the
company’s management pushed for the engineers to develop a new
machine, a kind of super Apple II which was more suited to
business applications.
>Web
resources
Three's a crowd
Announced on May 19th, 1980, during the National Computer
Conference in Anaheim, California, the Apple III shipped in the autumn
of that year. It ran twice as fast as the Apple II and had 128Kb of
RAM – twice as much memory as the Apple II. The Apple III was the
first Apple computer to have a built-in floppy drive – a Shugart
5.25in floppy drive which could store 143Kb of data.
The machine was codenamed Sara, after Steve Jobs’ daughter,
and used a powerful operating system called SOS, standing for
Sara’s Operating System (later changed to Sophisticated Operating
System). SOS featured an advanced memory management system
and was device independent. The OS was the only thing to be
salvaged from the Apple III debacle, forming the basis of the
upgraded OS for the Apple II – ProDOS. Some parts of SOS
eventually made their way into the Lisa and Mac OS code bases.
The case design is probably the most noteworthy aspect of the
Apple III, not only because it is unusually ugly by Apple’s
standards, but because it is deeply flawed from an engineering
perspective. The entire US computer industry was waiting on new
guidelines on electromagnetic radiation from the Federal
Communications Commission, but Apple decided that it couldn’t wait
for the FCC, so the Apple III’s designer, Jerry Manock, decided to
make the III ‘bulletproof’. Underneath the computer’s beige plastic
case lay a cast aluminium chassis that shielded the computer from
interference. The chassis, produced by a Toledo-based car parts
manufacturer, was so massive that it would pass the most stringent
www.sunrem.com
Sun Remarketing in Utah, an Apple specialist, continues to stock
as-new IIGS systems.
www.apple2.org.za/gswv/a2zine
GS Worldview – a quarterly online journal for Apple IIGS users.
The current issue includes a feature on how to fit a IIGS into a PC
tower case.
www.a2central.com
A2 Central – the main Apple II online community, supporting all
variants of the Apple II range, including the hundreds of cloned
machines.
http://store.syndicomm.com
A2 Central Store – sells original Apple II software.
www.juiced.gs
JuicedGS – the website of the last remaining printed Apple IIGS
magazine.
emissions tests in the world.
Unfortunately, this was an expensive and unwieldy solution. Steve
Jobs had insisted that the machine should have no fan, so the
www.wap.org/about/a3dvd.html
The Apple III In Ten EZ Lessons. A DVD starring the Apple III.
**28**
Untitled-1 1
1/9/06 12:55:47
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FEATURE:PROFILE | THE NEXT DIMENSION |
**30**
RETRO10 Infocom
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Page 31
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**31**
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FEATURE:PROFILE | THE NEXT DIMENSION |
From left:
The Infocom board of directors as of November 1979.
Chris Reeve
Marc Blank, Joel Berez, Al Vezza, JCR Licklinder and
Lebling and Blank were part of a
set called the Dynamic Modelling
(DM) group within MIT’s
Laboratory for Computer Science,
although they weren’t majoring
in computers – Lebling was
doing a degree in political
science, while Blank was training
to become a doctor. With fellow
DM student Tim Anderson they
began by creating a small fourroom world using a parser that
Lebling had written in MDL
(Muddle), a programming
language created in the MIT labs
as a successor for LISP.
Buoyed by the success of
their first foray into adventuregame writing they roped in a
fourth student, Bruce Daniels,
and began work on what was
eventually to become Zork. (Zork,
incidentally, was a nonsense
word used in the MIT labs in the
1970s, as was Frob, a word that
was later used in Zork II: The
Posing for a publicity shot.
From left to right, Marc Blank,
Joel Berez and Al Vezza
Wizard of Frobozz). Although they
made quick progress on designing
the world and its famous story, it
was to be another two years –
and after plenty of feedback from
fellow students who could log in
and play the game six at a time
via the university’s PDP-10
mainframe – before the game was
finally finished. There was no
commercial aim behind the
creation of Zork; it was just a bit
of fun.
Infocom is born
Al Vezza, professor at MIT,
Assistant Director of LCS and
leader of the DM group, had for a
while been interested in putting
together a company to make
money from computer
programming. Anderson, Lebling
and Blank were all keen to
continue to work with one
another, so it seemed natural for
them to join forces. Another
professor, JCR Licklider (known as
Lick), who had raised funding for
the LCS projects, was also
interested in being part of the
new venture.
Infocom, a name chosen
purely because of its
inoffensiveness to everyone, was
officially founded on 22nd June
1979 by 10 LCS members in total,
all of whom committed money –
ranging from $400 up to $2,000
– to buy their shares and get the
company off the ground. The
founding members were: Tim
Anderson, Joel Berez, Marc Blank,
Mike Broos, Scott Cutler, Stu
Galley, Dave Lebling, JCR
Licklider, Chris Reeve and Al
Vezza. The original board of
directors consisted of Lebling,
Vezza, Broos, Berez and Galley,
although in November both
Lebling and Galley resigned from
the board and were replaced by
Blank and Licklider. Shortly after
Broos, who was president, also
stepped down and Berez took
over. No one worked full-time for
the company at this point; it was
a part-time project with everyone
keeping their day job or
completing their studies. The
company office was a PO Box.
The idea behind Infocom was
to produce computer software.
What kind of computer software
no one knew. Ideas such as
databases, office programs and
medical software were all
bandied about. Eventually
Anderson and Lebling suggested
the company retail Zork as it was
already written and tested. That
made a lot of sense to the rest of
the board and so it was agreed
that Zork would become Infocom’s
first official release.
The initial problem the
fledgling company faced was
how to get its massive 1Mb
mainframe game to fit on to the
32Kb home machines. Thankfully
Berez and Blank had
independently come up with the
first part of the answer – a
multiformat emulator known as
the Z-Machine Interpretive
Program, or ZIP for short. ZIP
would be different for each
machine it ran on but its aim
would be the same – to run a
**32**
virtual processor called Z-Machine.
And Z-Machine’s role was equally
straightforward. As well as
compressing text (using 5.5 bits
per character instead of the usual
8) it would run the Zork
Implementation Language, or ZIL,
an updated version of Lebling’s
original Zork parser that the game
would be written in. This meant
each computer platform would
simply need a one-off ZIP writing
for it; the games wouldn’t need
recoding from scratch. This was
something that would come in very
handy when the company later
began producing a lot of games.
Of course even all this
foresight and inventiveness didn’t
entirely solve the problem of
space – the other answer did
that. To get a 1Mb game on to a
32Kb platform, huge chunks
would have to be chopped out of
it. Zork promptly became a game
in three parts.
Look who's
Zorking
Personal Software (later known as
VisiCorp), publisher of the
Visicalc spreadsheet, agreed to
distribute Zork I for Infocom. In
November 1980 the first version
of the game, for the PDP-11, hit
the shelves. It was followed just
one month later by the first home
version, for the TRS-80. Bruce
Daniels, now working for Apple,
wrote a ZIP for the Apple II and
that became the third format to
be released.
Although the game was
moderately successful, selling
1,500 copies for the TRS-80 and
6,000 copies for the Apple II,
Infocom wasn’t too happy with
Personal Software’s commitment
or how the game had been
marketed. The original box art,
with a moustachioed warrior
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Page 33
the game
Personal Software's artwork for Zork I suggested
screenshot
was a hack-and-slash arcade adventure. But as the
shows, the actual game was rather more reserved
hacking and slashing away,
misrepresented the nature of Zork
which was all about clever
thinking and puzzle solving.
Infocom, which had always
intended to just be a software
developer not a game publisher,
decided it could market its own
products better and bought back
the remaining $32,000’s worth of
stock. It then repackaged the
disks to reflect the true nature of
the game and in October 1981
started selling it itself. A month
later Zork I was joined on the
shelves by the inevitable Zork II,
and Marketing Manager Mort
Rosenthal joined the company,
which now had its first office in
Boston, Massachusetts. Berez and
Blank also became its first fulltime employees.
The two Zork games did very
well, and with $160,000 in sales
by the end of 1981, Infocom was
on the up. Two new games
followed: Blank, who loved
detective novels, wrote Deadline,
then came the third Zork
adventure. Steve Meretzky, who
would later go on to create many
of Infocom’s most famous games,
joined in November 1981 as a
tester on Deadline after the
existing one, Meretzky’s roommate Michael Dornbrook, went off
temporarily to the University of
Chicago’s business administration
programme. Dornbrook stayed
involved in Infocom however.
Noticing the number of letters the
company received from players
begging for help, he had
previously set up the Zork User
Group, a $2 per-hint service and
a newsletter known as the New
Zork Times, and with his father’s
help continued to run it out of a
Milwaukee PO Box.
Dornbrook’s most famous
innovation was the idea of
InvisiClues – solutions to the
games’ trickiest puzzles written in
invisible ink which could be
revealed using a special pen.
This was an idea that was
suggested to Mike at a party by
a friend after he bemoaned the
problem of sending the same
hints and solutions out time after
time. Two manufacturers in the
US were capable of producing the
**33**
The Zork trilogy - enter a
door to the next dimension
books and pens, and luckily one
of them was based nearby.
InvisiClues were sold through
bookshops and were a massive
success, going on to make up
most of the top 10 in the
computer book charts – until
(following complaints from other
publishers) the chart compilers
lumped them together as one
publication. At this point
InvisiClues simply maintained a
stranglehold on the number one
position. Each game came with a
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>The
Implementor’s
Creed
Infocom’s game designers were affectionately known as ‘implementors’, or
Imps for short. Stu Galley, one of the company’s founding members,
circulated an internal memo which outlined the design challenges a
successful implementor needed to fulfil. It was entitled The Implementor’s
Creed, and read as follows:
's
Can't get the Babel fish? You'll be needing Infocom
InvisiClues booklet then
I create fictional worlds. I create experiences.
I am exploring a new medium for telling stories.
My readers should become immersed in the story and
forget where they are. They should forget about the
keyboard and the screen, forget everything but the
experience. My goal is to make the computer invisible.
I want as many people as possible to share these
experiences. I want a broad range of fictional worlds,
and a broad range of 'reading levels'. I can
categorize our past works and discover where the range
needs filling in. I should also seek to expand the
categories to reach every popular taste.
In each of my works, I share a vision with the reader.
Only I know exactly what the vision is, so only I can
make the final decisions about content and style. But
I must seriously consider comments and suggestions from
any source, in the hope that they will make the
sharing better.
I know what an artist means by saying, “I hope I can
finish this work before I ruin it.” Each work-inprogress reaches a point of diminishing returns, where
any change is as likely to make it worse as to make it
better. My goal is to nurture each work to that point.
And to make my best estimate of when it will reach
that point.
I can’t create quality work by myself. I rely on other
implementors to help me both with technical wizardry
and with overcoming the limitations of the medium. I
rely on testers to tell me both how to communicate my
vision better and where the rough edges of the work
need polishing. I rely on marketers and salespeople to
help me share my vision with more readers. I rely on
others to handle administrative details so I can
concentrate on the vision.
None of my goals is easy. But all are worth hard work.
Let no one doubt my dedication to my art.
coupon that allowed the player to
buy an InvisiClue booklet and a
complete map for $4.95 (at cost).
If you didn’t have the coupon,
perhaps because you’d pirated
the software for example, it
would cost you $8.95. By 1983,
when the Zork User Group was
finally absorbed into Infocom, it
had over 20,000 members.
A fateful decision
On New Year’s Day 1982 the
company moved to another office
in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Encouraged as the board was by
the huge success of its games, it
**34**
was also jealous of the real money
being made by business software
developers. Infocom’s adventures
sold for under $50 dollars each,
while business programs went for
around 10 times that amount. In
particular Infocom was envious of
Lotus Development which had
been created by some friends
from MIT (and Mitch Kapor, the
man who had distributed Zork I
for Infocom at Personal Software).
Many people within Infocom felt
the company should be looking
to diversify, and so in October
1982 a new business division
was created.
This decision wasn’t all that
strange, given that Infocom’s
original raison d’etre had been to
produce general software. Some
of the older members of the
company, Vezza in particular,
were a little uncomfortable with
running a firm that only made
games; they wanted to do
something slightly more serious.
They also felt that Infocom’s
current success was a bubble
that wouldn’t last forever, and
that they needed to branch out in
order to continue to grow. It was
a commercial decision that made
a lot of sense.
Brian Berkowitz and Richard
Ilson, who had worked together
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Page 35
of the
Issue one of the New Zork Times, the newsletter
Zork User Group
in an LCS group called Project
MAC on the same floor as the DM
group at MIT, were thinking of
building a relational database
and took the idea to Infocom
because they knew the people
there. This coincided with
Infocom’s wish to do something
different, and so it looked like
fate. The first product from this
new venture was swiftly
announced – a relational
database called Cornerstone. To
help Infocom’s transition to a
producer of serious software,
Berez became Chief Operating
Officer and Vezza took over as
Chief Executive Officer.
In the meantime, game after
game followed. All names that
adventure fans will be more than
familiar with: Suspended, The
Witness, Planetfall (Steve
Meretzky’s first game), Infidel,
and Enchanter (developed with
the working title Zork IV). Every
game was a massive hit, selling
upwards of 100,000 copies each.
Adverts at the time proclaimed
“Infocom – The Next Dimension”,
and the games clogged up the
sales charts. By the end of 1983
all of the company’s games were
in the top 40 Softsel chart, and
the three-year-old Zork I was still
at the very top ahead of the likes
of Lode Runner, Zaxxon, Frogger,
Ultima III and Microsoft Flight
Infocom's early ads poked fun at the simple graphic
s
available on home computers
Simulator. By the end of 1983
Infocom’s annual sales totalled
more than $6 million.
1984 saw Infocom’s most
famous success. Hitchhiker’s
Guide to the Galaxy creator
Douglas Adams was a big fan of
the company’s work, having been
introduced to its adventures with
Suspended. He was keen to have
his books turned into a game and
knew Infocom was the company
to do it. Meretzky was assigned
the job of working with Adams
because of his experience in the
sci-fi genre (Planetfall having
garnered plenty of best game
awards in 83/84) and the two got
together for numerous
**35**
discussions on the game, both
face-to-face and electronically.
Hitchhiker’s was produced
with the two authors working
remotely – Steve in
Massachusetts, Douglas in
London – on two DEC System 20s
(the computer all Infocom’s
adventures were written on at the
time) hooked up over the Dialcom
network. The game came out in
1984 and was the company’s
biggest success since Zork. A
sequel was discussed, planned
and even tentatively started a few
years later, but the sales from
Bureaucracy, Adams’ only other
Infocom game, were poorer than
hoped so the idea was shelved.
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>What’s in
the box?
One thing that always stood out about Infocom games was their
packaging, or rather the extras that came with every game. The first
game to include these
elements was Deadline. A lack
of space meant there wasn’t
room to feature all the items in
the game, so Marc Blank
asked Infocom’s new
advertising agency
Giardini/Russel to make them
up as physical objects and
include them in box as
additional extras. Buyers of
the game were surprised to
not only receive the disks and
manual in the box but also
photos, interrogation reports,
lab analysis, and some pills
“found near to the body”. It
was inspired and quickly
became a signature of the Infocom games, as well as helping to
thwart piracy.
Over the years that followed the extras became more and more
outlandish. Among the items included in the Hitchhiker’s game was
a pair of Joo Janta 200 Super Chromatic Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses,
a microscopic space fleet, a ‘Don’t Panic’ badge, and some
bellybutton fluf f. There was a glow-in-the-dark stone inside the
Wishbringer box, a matchbook with The Witness, a scratch-and-snif f
card with Leather Goddesses of Phobos, a Flathead Calendar 883
with Zork Zero, and postcards with Planetfall. Everyone has their
own favourites.
By the time Infocom brought the packaging creation in-house in
1984 the company was spending around $60,000 per game on it.
while
Deadline came with a small packet of pills,
Hitchhiker's came with several bizarre items
including bellybutton fluff!
Running into
trouble
By the end of 1984, when the
firm moved to new and very
expensive premises at 125
Cambridge Park Drive, Infocom’s
annual sales were up to $10
million. Development on the
increasingly costly Cornerstone
was continuing and by now the
increase in programmers,
marketing and admin staff had
brought Infocom’s number of
employees up to 100.
Infocom sought outside
Venture Capital funding, but its
mix of games and planned
business software found few
takers. Gulf and Western,
owners of Simon and Schuster,
offered $20 million for the
entire games side of the
company, but the offer was
rejected. In the end Infocom
only managed to secure
$500,000, but remained
confident that its database
could be funded by the future
revenue from its games sales.
After a long time in
development the $495 program
finally debuted in 1985 to rave
reviews. Cornerstone was ahead
of its time with plenty of wellthought-out and innovative
features. It had friendly menus,
users could add descriptions to
files and fields and it would only
allow you to enter the correct
information (only company names
in the company field for example).
It was able to autocorrect spelling
errors, multivalue and variable
length fields were supported, and
it was compatible with all the
other databases of the day,
including Lotus 123, dBase II, and
Symphony. In keeping with
Infocom’s more famous products it
also supported parsing and could
recognise friendly date statements
**36**
Following the success of the Zork
trilogy, many of Infocom's later
games sold in great numbers
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Page 37
>Play online
http://jump.to/infocom
Martin Pot’s site offers a good selection of games playable via a Java applet
https://www.thcnet.net/error
THCNET gives you a playable version of Zork instead of an error message
adventure market had begun to
die. Graphical adventures, on the
next generation of computers
like the Amiga and Atari, were
rapidly becoming the way
forward. Infocom’s 1985 annual
sales totalled $10 million, the
same as the year before, but
way below its projected revenue
of $12 million plus.
www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/hitchhikers/game.shtml
You can play the 20th anniversary edition of Hitchhiker’s at the BBC’s
Radio 4 website
Redundancies were
unavoidable. However, the losses
were so great the business
division was forced to close
down entirely. In an attempt to
resurrect Cornerstone and at
least get back some of the
outlay, the software’s price was
dropped to $99.95, with little
success. It was a serious blow to
Infocom and Al Vezza who had
been convinced the company
could “out-Lotus, Lotus”.
Activision
such as ‘Next Monday’. It also
fitted comfortably onto a single
floppy disk.
Unfortunately, for all its
pluses, Cornerstone also had
problems. Unlike dBase II, it
wasn’t programmable – you had
to use the built-in functions.
Also, by 1985 the PC was
becoming the dominant
computer platform.
Cornerstone’s use of a virtual
machine to make it platform
independent (like the adventure
games) meant it ran slowly,
especially when handling
larger databases.
The software went on to sell
well, clocking up 10,000 sales
in its first year. Unfortunately,
the cost of producing it – $2.5
million – coupled with the fact
that it brought in $1.8 million in
sales, rather than the projected
$4.7 gross profit, made it an
expensive failure. This alone
probably wouldn’t have killed
off Infocom, but the company’s
games were also not doing as
well as previously. The text
people
A demo version of Cornerstone was produced to show
how easy it was to use
On 13th June 1986, Infocom, by
now down to 40 employees
(many of whom had taken pay
cuts to keep the company
afloat), was purchased by
Activision for $7.5 million. At
first many believed this to be a
good thing. It meant the
company could continue at least.
Beyond Zork broke with tradition, offering graphics
. Sort of.
You got a little map at least
**37**
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packed with full-colour VGA
delights, including graphical
games and puzzles.
Unfortunately, these concessions
to changing public tastes weren’t
enough to save the company, and
in May 1989 Activision forced
Infocom to lay off 15 of its
remaining 26 staff and move to
the company’s headquarters in
Silicon Valley. With just five of
the remaining Infocom staff
members prepared to make the
move, the truth was undeniable.
Infocom, as we knew and loved
it, was dead.
a multiplayer
Fooblitzky was something different for Infocom,
dog
a
as
played
you
which
board game in
Unfortunately for Infocom, six
months after the takeover
Activision’s CEO Jim Levy was
replaced by Bruce Davis. Davis
had been against the takeover
from the start and set out to
make life as difficult, and costly,
for the new acquisition as
possible. Infocom’s games now had
a much shorter shelf life and the
company was expected to produce
eight of them a year, rather than the
usual four or five, but with no extra
staff. Sales fell to around 10,000
copies per game.
In 1986 Infocom bowed down
to public pressure and introduced
graphics into its games for the
first time. Fooblitzky, a multiplayer
board game in which four players
(as dogs) competed against one
another in a race to collect the
correct four objects, was the first
of these. It had graphics, but they
were two-colour and poorly drawn.
The game unsurprisingly flopped.
In 1987 the company released
Brian Moriarty’s Beyond Zork, its
first game with a graphical user
interface (of sorts), including a
map, a separate window for the
inventory items and various RPGstyle additions. A year later Steve
Meretzky’s Zork Zero came out
adventure
Playing the Tower of Bozbar in Zork Zero, an Infocom
graphics
wn
with full-blo
**38**
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Page 39
>Adventure >Steve
Meretzky
timeline
interview
November 1980
November 1981
April 1982
September 1982
March 1983
June 1983
August 1983
September 1983
November 1983
March 1984
June 1984
September 1984
October 1984
November 1984
June 1985
September 1985
October 1985
February 1986
June 1986
September 1986
October 1986
November 1986
January 1987
March 1987
June 1987
September 1987
October 1987
November 1987
December 1987
January 1988
March 1988
April 1988
July 1988
Augut 1988
September 1988
October 1988
November 1988
March 1989
June 1989
Zork I (Dave Lebling/Marc Blank)
Zork II (Dave Lebling/Marc Blank)
Deadline (Marc Blank)
Zork III (Dave Lebling/Marc Blank)
and Starcross (Dave Lebling)
Suspended (Mike Berlyn)
The Witness (Stu Galley)
Planetfall (Steve Meretzky)
Enchanter (Dave Lebling/Marc Blank)
Infidel (Mike Berlyn)
Sorcerer (Steve Meretzky)
Seastalker (Stu Galley/Jim Lawrence)
Cutthroats (Mike Berlyn/Jerry Wolper)
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
(Steve Meretzky/Douglas Adams)
Suspect (Dave Lebling)
Wishbringer (Brian Moriarty)
A Mind Forever Voyaging (Steve Meretzky)
Spellbreaker (Dave Lebling)
Ballyhoo (Jeff O’Neill)
Trinity (Brian Moriarty)
Leather Goddesses of Phobos (Steve Meretzky)
Moonmist (Stu Galley/Jim Lawrence)
Enchanter Trilogy
Zork Trilogy and Hollywood Hijinx
(Dave Anderson/Liz Cyr-Jones)
Bureaucracy (Douglas Adams and “The Staff of Infocom”)
Stationfall (Steve Meretzky) and The Lurking Horror
(Dave Lebling)
Nord and Bert Couldn’t Make Head or Tail of It
(Jeff O’Neill) and Plundered Hearts (Amy Briggs)
Beyond Zork (Brian Moriarty)
Border Zone (Marc Blank)
Solid Gold: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Zork I
Sherlock – Riddle of the Crown Jewels (Bob Bates)
Lane Mastodon vs. the Blubbermen
(Steve Meretzky/Tom Snyder Productions)
and Gamma Force (Amy Briggs/Tom Snyder Productions)
ZorkQuest I (Elisabeth Langosy/
Tom Snyder Productions)
Solid Gold: Leather Goddesses of Phobos
and Planetfall
ZorkQuest II (Elisabeth Langosy/
Tom Snyder Productions)
Solid Gold: Wishbringer and Quarterstaff
(Scott Schmitz and Ken Updike)
Zork Zero (Steve Meretzky)
BattleTech (Westwood Associates)
Shogun (Dave Lebling based on the
James Clavell book) and Journey (Marc Blank)
Arthur (Bob Bates)
RG: What is your favourite
memory of working at Infocom?
Infocom’s most famous Imp, now
principal game designer at
online-gaming portal
WorldWinner.com, talked to us
about his memories of the great
company and what it was like
working with Douglas Adams.
Retro Gamer: How did you get
involved with Infocom?
Steve Meretzky: I already knew
several of the founders, Marc
Blank and Joel Berez. We were all
involved with the film program at
MIT. I was also rooming with
Mike Dornbrook, who was
Infocom’s first (and, at the time,
only) game tester. When he left
town to attend business school in
Chicago, Marc asked me if I’d like
to replace him as Infocom’s
playtester. I tested Deadline, Zork
III, and Starcross, and then Marc
offered me the chance to become
a game writer (‘implementor’, in
Infocom parlance).
**39**
SM: There are just so many – it
was such a young, fun group of
people and we were more like a
big extended family than a
company. A lot of my favourite
memories revolve around
parties. We had beer every
Friday at 5pm, but often these
would be expanded to fully
fledged parties or some sort of
unique festivity. For instance,
the time we put on a mock trial
of Hollywood Dave for killing all
the goldfish in the fish pond (in
an attempt to clean the pond).
Or the time we had a graduation
ceremony for our CEO, Al Vezza,
after he attended a weeklong
‘CEO School’. Or the Halloween
party where we put on an
‘interactive play’, with audience
members shouting parser-like
instructions to the cast.
Another fun thing we often
did at these Friday parties was
to hold Infocom versions of TV
game shows, such as the 20,000
Zorkmid Pyramid. And for a
period of several months, the
Friday parties included hermit
crab races, complete with parimutuel betting [where the
gambler bets against other
gamblers, not the house].
There were also incredible
parties that the company would
throw for the press at trade
shows, such as the Bring Your
Own Brain party at the Field>>>
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about half my time testing. So
even though I started writing the
game in September of 1982, it
didn’t really start coming
together until perhaps early
spring of ‘83. But I quickly
learned that writing games was
even more fun than testing them.
Steve Meretzky and Betty Rock
at Infocom's Halloween party
Museum in Chicago, where we
sent invitees on a scavenger
hunt through the museum for
prizes. Or another party at the
Field Museum, where we hired
the Second City cast to create
skits promoting Stationfall and
The Lurking Horror. Or the party
at Elvis Presley’s former mansion
in Las Vegas, with the MurderTo-Go mystery troupe staging a
killing to promote our latest
game, Suspect.
Another great memory is the
pre-Christmas season when our
orders were running far ahead of
the production facility’s ability to
assemble the game boxes. So
employees signed up for
Saturday and Sunday shifts to
keep the assembly lines running,
operating labelling machines,
shrinkwrapping machines, etc. It
was a great example of the
whole company pulling together
but also having a fun time.
But certainly the best memory
I have is meeting the lovely Betty
Rock, who worked in the sales
department at Infocom and who
will join me in celebrating our
19th anniversary in a few days!
RG: Congratulations! Tell us about
Planetfall. What was it like
designing your first game?
SM: Slow at first, as I had to
learn a new programming
language (ZIL). Also, at the
beginning, I was still spending
RG: Were you surprised by
people’s emotional response to
Floyd’s death?
SM: I wasn’t surprised that
people had an emotional
response; I wrote that scene to
create one. But I was certainly
surprised by the magnitude of
the response. And by the fact
that people are still asking
about it, 20 years later!
RG: What was the game design
process like in general?
SM: It varied a lot from game to
game. If a game was a sequel –
such as my second game,
Sorcerer – it was necessary to
follow the content and style of
the previous game or games. In
that case, where Sorcerer was the
fifth game in the sequence, after
the Zork Trilogy and Enchanter,
there was a huge amount of
world background and history to
be consistent with, so I spent a
long time combing through the
code for those four games,
compiling a detailed database of
Zork lore. (I continued to maintain
that database through
subsequent games, and ended up
including it within a game – Zork
Zero in 1988 – as referenced
through a copy of the
Encyclopedia Frobozzica.)
If a game was an adaptation
of material from another
medium, as in the case of The
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy,
that also brought a series of
constraints on the design
process.
Sometimes one element of
the design – the storyline, the
geography, the puzzles, the
humour, the package elements –
would be dominant and would
be developed first, with the
other elements then formed
around that. But other times
they would all be fairly equal
and would evolve in parallel.
RG: How did you come to work
with Douglas Adams?
SM: Douglas was an Infocom
player and fan, and so when
he, his agent and his publisher
began discussing the subject of
a computer-game adaptation of
Hitchhiker’s Guide, he was
adamant that it be with
Infocom. Marc Blank suggested
that I collaborate on the game
with Douglas, partly due to
fortunate timing (I had just
completed Sorcerer), partly
because many people had
found Planetfall to be
reminiscent of the humour of
Hitchhiker’s Guide, and partly
because I was the only
implementor who was as tall
as Douglas.
RG: What was he like?
SM: The best way to describe
Douglas is that he was the ideal
dinner companion. He could
speak intelligently and with wit
about almost any topic under the
sun. Unfortunately, as a
collaborator, he suffered from the
fact that he was the world’s worst
procrastinator! I had to practically
camp out on his doorstep in
England to get him to finish his
stuff for the game. Otherwise,
working with him was great. He
had such a different perspective
on things, and came up with
puzzles and scenes that I’d never
have thought of in a million years
on my own – having the game lie
to you, or using a parser failure
as the words which fell through a
wormhole in the universe and
started an interstellar war, or
having an object like “no tea”.
RG: How did the infamous Babel
fish puzzle originate?
SM: The basic idea was by
Douglas, and I added some
refinements (like the Upper-HalfOf-The-Room Cleaning Robot).
More interesting is how close the
puzzle came to being removed
with Don't
Master Imp Steve Meretzky at a trade show complete
Panic badge and wife-to-be
**40**
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Friday night
The 20,000 Zorkmid Pyramid game - just another
party at Infocom
from the game; most of Infocom’s
testing group thought it was too
hard. I was going into a meeting
with them just as Douglas was
leaving for the airport at the end
of his final trip to Infocom, and I
asked him, “What should I tell
them about the Babel fish
puzzle?” He said, “What should
you tell them? Tell them to fuck
off!” So the puzzle stayed… and
its very hardness became a cult
thing. Infocom even sold T-shirts
that said “I got the Babel fish!”
RG: What are your memories of
working on the Hitchhiker’s game?
SM: Around May of 1984, with the
game just a few weeks away from
its deadline for the start of alpha
testing, and about half the game
still undesigned, I went over to
England. Douglas was not only
procrastinating on the game, he
was also procrastinating on the
fourth Hitchhiker’s book, So Long
and Thanks For All the Fish. His
agent had sent him to a country
inn in western England, far from
the distractions of London life.
That’s where I went, with
instructions to camp out on his
doorstep until the game design
was done. We spent four days at
this really pleasant inn, a former
baronial mansion, sipping
expensive wines and designing the
game. How can life get any better
than that?
RG: What is your favourite Infocom
game?
The advert for Steve's Leather
Goddesses of Phobos was
suitably tongue-in-cheek
SM: My favourite Infocom game
has always been Dave Lebling’s
Starcross, but I also love Jeff
O’Neill’s Nord and Bert Couldn’t
Make Head or Tail of It for being
A Mind Forever Voyaging won awards and proved that
it was
possible to make socially aware adult games
so original and different. Of my
own games, my favourite would be
A Mind Forever Voyaging, because
it was my largest, most serious,
and most socially relevant work,
and because I feel it showed that
computer games could be more
than an adolescent pastime, but
could instead be used to explore
Big Issues. Except perhaps for
Floyd’s death, it’s the game of
mine that seems to have touched
people most deeply.
RG: Were there any games that
never got finished? (You were
working on a Titanic game that got
cancelled we believe?)
SM: Not many during Infocom
days, but many since then. I
never really started the Titanic
game at Infocom, although it
probably would have been my
next game after Zork Zero if
Activision hadn’t shut Infocom
down at that point. I tried selling
the Titanic idea numerous times
during post-Infocom days, in
particular when I had my own
development studio (Boffo
Games), but was told over and
over that “no one’s interested in
the Titanic”. So it was with a bit
**41**
of irony that I watched Cameron’s
movie become the highest
grossing film in history.
RG: Have you ever had the
inclination to write another text
adventure? (Such as Leather
Goddesses 3 or Planetfall 2: The
Search for Floyd?)
SM: Actually, I wrote a design
for a new Planetfall game for
Activision back in 1993 and
1994. It asked for rewrite after
rewrite, and finally just killed
the game. Every couple of years,
I hear a rumour that they’re
going to revive it. But I would
like to write a text adventure at
some point when I have some
time… Perhaps after the kids go
to college… ✺✯*
Untitled-1 1
1/9/06 12:55:47
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>WHO?
Mystikal,
aka The Druid,
part of the GLC
collective
Page 43
is
s castaway elsh
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h
t
n
o
m
s
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member of
Mystikal, eckin' crew Goldie
hip-hop wr in. Paul Drury met
Lookin Cha m backstage at
u p w i t h h in t N o t t i n g h a m R o c k
their rece .
City gig..
**43**
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FEATURE:PROFILE | DESERT ISLAND DISKS |
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“There’s lots more retr
in the early
I’m surprised – I would
par ticularly noticeable
it to a new level.
,
ing
site
tak
the
t’s
for
tha
d
nne
have
pla
The
t
uld
s.
ten
wo
-up
32
con
em
otgon
Dra
sho
a
thought
beat-em- and
er wraps
you need any more
und
If
g
pin
kee
h, but
’re
we
“Na
nd,
e?
sou
which
d’s
been more appropriat
Commodore 64 – nice
justification for the ban
Chain-based
kin
gon
Loo
g.
Dra
die
din
e
Gol
loa
som
–
s
re
wa
we
er, then
I knew there
especially when it
inclusion in Retro Gam
hed
translated through the
ely
ts
hus
pur
cep
in
ZX,
con
her
the
gat
for
o’d
go
wh
to
s
bsite
owner
I’m going
in our
head over to their we
d, trying
medium of retro games
enough for
corners of the playgroun
because it was small
wsit.co.uk ), where
o
n
k
u
.”
o
y
.
acy
w
w
rem
w
(w
sup
b
We
and
ng a
for
on
Bei
st
tag
t.”
que
Pen
tac
the
con
c’
er ‘low-te
to avoid eye
you to hack into
you get to choose eith
inal
ride when
y
orig
eas
the
no
s
s
wa
wa
,
g
r
site
thin
use
l
C
the
BB
the coo
or ‘hi-tec’ versions of
pirated
in that
You knows it
it came to swapping
model had a command
mer being “suitable
for
the
h
wit
and
e best shit
put
“Th
out
:
er
ool
g
sch
pow
rkin
s wo
games at
changed the
You
83.
for old-skool Chainhead
“19
s:
say
site
al software
As the
or ZX
we got was education
you could melt it.”
e year for
on BBC Micros, C64s
tag
vin
A
ent
um
it.”
ugh there
arg
ws
Tho
t
kno
tha
nk.
wa
hi-tec
– all fucking
So that’s settled
Spectrums”. Select the
a crucial one for GLC:
this
y
and
wh
ing
ring
gam
nde
wo
’re
’re
then. If you
version though, and you
Welsh
month’s castaway is a
e
n of the GLC websit
The 'hi-tec' versio
t
ten
con
ro
ret
of
features all manner
**44**
RETRO10 Desert Island Discs
03/11/2004 10:03 PM
Page 45
sense to use
You knows it makes
s
len
ye
h-e
fis
a
e gam e
abo ut an old sub ma rin
to battle through
ing
hav
e.
vic
and
Ser
alw ays
cal led Sile nt
recommends
But the n the re we re
ere you had
them. He par ticularly
Clearly, the band play
yed
pla
t
was one good one wh
firs
“I
al
s:
stik
ade
My
the arc
have
the Turrican episode.
something
rs,
bea
ar
al
pol
ether, stay together, and
loc
ot
tog
sho
the
to
Spa ce Inv ade rs in
r, that though the
is in
eve
ich
how
wh
es,
of
bus
s
r
not
bar
tou
a PS2 on the
about sur vival and
who
not till 198 1. It wa s
nds
but
,
frie
ppy
ood
chi
ldh
vily
chi
I’d
hea
.
re
got
crap too
band we
ind the
constant use. “We’ve
chocolate… no, it was
sn’t a case
Wa les – we we re beh
and play
2005. It’s got
all loved games, it wa
ods
Wo
ry
er
Bar
Tig
s
wa
into
ce
pla
go to my mate’s house
heated
tim es. The bes t
tomising
tRun on his
of getting together for
nes
fucking disturbing – cus
stuff like Dizzy and Ou
All the bes t 10p ma chi
nd.
Isla
ns:
sio
and
ses
uits
I
ing
ore
gam
oCo p,
our golfers with tracks
Amstrad. That was bef
– Dou ble Dra gon , Rob
we re pos h
us
of
like
ne
k
loo
“No
y
the
y’re stil l
headbands so
discovered Elite.”
es bac k
194 2… And I thi nk the
of TK
ams of
eno ugh to ow n con sol
te
ova
they’ve just stepped out
Mystikal did harbour dre
ren
er
we
nev
y
now
e
The
aus
re.
bec
the
,
ird
ite,
we
our
It’s
fav
dly
n.
a
fon
the
f,
n if
Maxxx. Vice City is
creating games himsel
any thi ng in Wa les . Eve
head
gam es tog eth er.
y
n’s
l
pla
ma
nua
all
ma
ual
do
virt
der
a
-bin
g
too. Blowin
recalling the ring
4,
die s on one of the
200
e
ens
eon
Ath
som
g
rin
we
que
ked
ugh
con
: “It loo
We’re
‘Ye ah, all
off is ver y relaxing, tho
that came with his BBC
t Tra ck and
slid es, the y jus t say
anymore. It’s
get tin g bac k int o tha
ught I’d crack
tim
vic
t
don’t call it Vice City
nex
the bollocks and I tho
the
fixe d now’ and
” My stik al sta rts
Two
ng.
You might
thi
ce.
3.
ld
e
spa
Fie
Nic
in
ve
tes
Dri
nt
elli
as
Hu
known
it and have sat
.” On e for an Arc ade
wit h his
le
aits
aw
tab
the
g
rin
and you’ve
n
me
o
als
ham
the
be fucked in a missio
pages in… fucked.” He
ich att rac ts the
fea ture per hap s, bef ore
wh
er,
pristine
fing
in
ex
on
car
ind
mm
r
-co
you
lth and
got to keep
suf fered the all-too
d.
col lec tor s, or the Hea
of the res t of the ban
sy, drive
ion
typing
Egg
rs
ent
att
now
hou
sy
ng
‘Ea
ndi
it.
on.
spe
to
of
conditi
indignity
Exe cut ive , bea t us
wit h his
us
ety
s
Saf
ale
reg
ut to get
s,
bb
ine
abo
We
ly
gaz
’re
Bil
ma
n a big
nice.’ So when you
in game listings from
Games have always bee
es on Sup er Ma rio
tim
at
game
lap
or
of
t
t
rk,
ren
bou
wo
cur
a
to
for
er
le
admits
comfor tab
only for them nev
ssa in
Hu
m
t of Mystikal’s life. He
Ada
par
d),
goo
e’.”
’s
nic
in
Kar t (he
when he
playing, we say ‘Get
best leave you bitterly
to buying C&VG even
dec lare the ir lov e
ls
m
Bal
ter
e
list
one
Mik
cia
ber
and
spe
em
r
and
And so anothe
disappointed: “I rem
me
didn’t own a computer
my
gam es, 2Hats ma kes
along
ty
be
ry,
to
foo
ssa
of
ng
glo
goi
s
GLC
ic
wa
t
com
the
enters
Eagle’s
that I though
for a Tro n
eulogises about The
mando and
pro mis e to loo k out
hly
with Clart, Valley Com
own personalised, hig
ir
r Warrior’, which
the
ute
n
mp
eve
‘Co
p
and
,
stri
him
for
ld
It
rs.
dhe
ade
han
Inv
h.
ce
Lliswerry Tas
ng sucked
customisable Spa
rem inis cin g
involved the hero bei
I get one
tou r ma nag er sta rts
the time
of
es
wasn’t. Three hours and
gam
r
ula
pop
into
the screen.”
invader walking across
**45**
RETRO10 Desert Island Discs
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 10:04 PM
Page 46
FEATURE:PROFILE | DESERT ISLAND DISKS |
ndane lives
them off from their mu
ut out to Jeff. Sadly
girlfriends.
sho
and
big
es
wiv
g
gin
and nag
to meet Ian
e
lov
uld
Goldie Lookin
wo
I
n will
,
ma
ugh
es,
eno
Until that time com
Braben. I know
id
ultimate
Dav
the
and
l
for
Bel
g
kin
me
loo
Ga
always be
ing out
fall
e
ssiv
ma
a
had
they’ve
single
virtual fix.”
ded into
The chances of the new
fixes, I
over Elite and it’s descen
And on the subject of
is’
Pen
a
h
‘Your Mother’s Got
h lawsuits against eac
advice
wit
ert
end
exp
e
leg
som
get
of
to
decide
version
te a
qui
it’s
appearing in the next
w,
of
kno
two
You
e
er.
oth
on how best to combin
slim, so I ask
Dancing Stage seems
and
ion, the whole idea of
es
not
gam
ic
–
ant
es
rom
lov
at
– The
Mystikal’s gre
in the
Mystikal to describe GLC
you
ed
m programmers. Back
can
roo
’re
bed
you
hen
set
“W
be
ly
drugs.
te inlays
Videogame. “It’d probab
ing like Drive
day, you’d see on casset
want to go for someth
’d have to
er,
mm
gra
pro
a
on a tour bus and you
are
you
‘If
retro
like
of
ff
d
stu
kin
e
an
som
would be
Nice 3 or
in’. I love
escape our clutches. It
ple
ase send your games
peo
ple
get
to
,
g
tion
rtin
pila
sta
,
com
eone having
amalgamation of genres
childhood.
the whole thing of som
’d type GET
reminiscing about their
y
The
e.
gam
a
g
as a text adventure. You
kin
ma
and
early
a
se
ide
tho
an
of
one
and
EYES
Or maybe
were
OUT OF BED and OPEN
cs, with
bably got £25 for it and
dis
pro
o
dem
n
atio
cal
ySt
phi
Pla
there’d be a whole gra
… all a bit
ripped off, mind.”
ething
Dolphins and structures
interface. We’d call it som
being a dedicated
Toy with
pite
Eye
Des
The
e.
Jarr
hel
Mic
Jean
port’.”
like ‘Escape from New
stikal has dabbled
My
r,
too.
me
d
oga
goo
is
retr
r if he’s
that karate game
Being Welsh, I wonde
want
x Live and has some
you
Xbo
er
in
cid
ap
che
o
When on
future
ever met Jeff Minter, wh
that if you
resting theories on the
so
,
inte
ple
sim
his
ing
on
eth
line
som
k anyone’s
incidentally has the tag
. Crash
of gaming: “I don’t thin
for the
fuck up if doesn’t matter
can
y
the
il
unt
te
forum posts of ‘Reach
ple
com
be
and shit
l
ts
wil
ligh
life
ht
brig
–
oot
ich
Bandic
k’, wh
a full
in
es
Wavebird. Safe as Fuc
elv
ms
six year
the
a
p
elo
like
l
env
c. “Yeah, the
going on – you fee
paraphrases a GLC lyri
nce that shuts
erie
exp
y
sor
sen
t him but
twisted bloke. Never me
so fucked
old. Still works if you’re
to piss or
er
eth
wh
w
kno
you don’t
does
er
shit yourself. Cheap cid
n.”
ma
,
ple
peo
to
strange things
on a
end
To
s.
kid
No,
Say
t
Jus
ro
Ret
a
out
natural high, I pull
top and
Gamer Spectrum hooded
nic Miner
Ma
g
yin
pla
A
GB
a
ust
thr
He expresses
into Mystikal’s hands.
medium of
the
h
oug
thr
his thanks
delling
mo
swearing and is soon
rossed
eng
ply
dee
the hoodie and
rpiece.
ste
ma
s
ith’
Sm
w
tthe
in Ma
I disappear
“I’ve got to stop before
says, and
he
”
rld,
wo
into a virtual
rest of the
the
and
he
t,
tha
h
wit
e pre-gig
band head off for som
or may not
y
ma
ich
wh
n,
preparatio
involve Athens 2004.
out one
As he leaves, I throw
e
gam
ich
wh
n:
stio
que
last
e with you
character would you tak
“Mario –
to your desert island?
shrooms.”
mu
of
ds
loa
e
hav
d
he’
otin
ly, prom
on recent
'
s of Lond
er
et
li
re
va
st
'Cha
on the
out the
The band
. Check
w single
ne
r
ei
th
**46**
g
RETRO10 Desert Island Discs
03/11/2004 10:06 PM
Page 47
Operation Wolf
Elite
Acornsoft
in itself a
on one spool of tape was
To fit an entire universe
crafted and it
ully
utif
bea
,
re than perfect
colossal task. It was mo
together, yet it’s
t and sellotape held it
was simple. I mean shi
ever.
one of the best games
Burger Time
Interceptor Software
eggs and
pepper being chased by
A little chef armed with
k.
fuc
Safe as
sausages. Wicked man.
rt
Super Mario Ka
Tatio
torway service
king forward to at a mo
The only thing worth loo
t of automatic
at the time with any sor
station. The only game
weapon. Easy doors.
Star Glider
Argonaut
l into it before
iting at the start. Got wel
Like Elite, but more exc
Elite took over.
GTA: Vice City
Rockstar
misadventure.
violence, adventure and
A game unparalleled in
ion’s grief’ and
nat
a
of
rce
sou
eogames –
People say ‘violent vid
– the police
ces
ches you the consequen
I say yeah, but this tea
the
run
n
the
can
admittedly you
come after you. Though
fuckers over.
Nintendo
on the race track
layer game ever, either
Possibly the best multip
o worked on the
w some Cardiff boys wh
or in battle mode. I kne
e to scream
nch
bla
te
gave them car
Nintendo helpline, which
k it to a whole
too
y
the
and
s,
kid
to
ne
obscenities down the pho
ple over the
peo
h
pus
ncing technique to
different level – the bou
lot.
a
it
y
pla
l
stil
d
. The ban
edges, fucking everything
OutRun
a
Legend of Zeld
US Gold
cassettes, one
Amstrad. Came with two
Played it on my mate’s
rac
ndt k on. If you
the other with the sou
with the game on and
the surf.
ugh
thro
you could drive
got bored on the road,
Fucking brilliant.
Nintendo
Once released,
minds of a generation.
Captured the hearts and
bably see it
pro
’ll
out the house. You
people just wouldn’t go
restaurants
and
s
club
s,
pub
reas – all
again with GTA: San And
totally devoid of men.
**47**
RETRO10 Last Ninja
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 9:35 PM
Page 48
FEATURE:SOFTWARE | WAY OF THE NINJA |
**48**
RETRO10 Last Ninja
03/11/2004 9:35 PM
Page 49
e
h
t
f
o
>Way
Ninja
would
a game that . The
d
e
s
a
e
l
e
r
3
t
m
h
e
d alig
In 1987, Syst
4 gaming worlt-em-up
6
e
r
o
d
o
m
m
o
C
bea
set the
d traditionalameplay, and was
e
x
i
m
a
j
n
i
N
t
g
Las
uzzle-solvingric) 3D. Sequels,
action with p
ulous (isomet, and now a new
viewed in fab
ixes followed r the PlayStation 2.
m
e
r
d
n
a
s
t
r
o
p
development fo
ays
version is in mind, Shaun Bebbington l
With that inassic series
mes
into this cl
d in releasing ga
ste
3 was only intere
oriental
nking that System
thi
based around an
for
re
en
we
giv
s
for
me
ga
le
ou’d be
rab
mo
me
on
was Internati al
s theme. All of its
first popular game
with a martial art
Its
.
89
19
in
er
sk
name of World
ease of Tu
market under the
theme until the rel
for the American
yx
Ep
k the beat-em-up
to
d
too
se
ich
en
in 1986 and lic
The Last Ninja, wh
of
se
ea
rel
4
Karate, released
C6
house.
me the
er UK publishing
rate. Thereafter ca
sition as a premi
po
s
m’
Championship Ka
ste
Sy
d
level and cemente
concept to a new
Y
**49**
RETRO10 Last Ninja
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 9:36 PM
Page 50
FEATURE:SOFTWARE | WAY OF THE NINJA |
First of the last
The Last Ninja was met with
critical acclaim from the popular
press and gamers alike. System 3
had created something more
than just any old beat-em-up.
The isometric 3D environment
was interactive, and the
gameplay contained a mix of
tricky puzzles and beat-em-up
action. Although you’d be limited
to using set paths throughout
the game, the levels were well
thought out, with each opening
up as you solved or performed
certain tasks.
The story started with the
creation and popularisation of
Ninjitsu, which became the most
feared and powerful martial art
in the land. Not even the mighty
Samurai Warriors dare test its
power. Yet the evil Shogun of
the Ashikaga Clan, Kunitoki,
plotted against the order of the
Ninja and successfully
assassinated them all, but for
one. Armakuni, now the last
Ninja, escaped with his life and
set out to avenge the deaths of
his brotherhood.
In your quest to defeat
Kunitoki and his clan, you could
use a variety of deadly weapons
or rely on straightforward handto-hand, toe-to-toe combat. Your
character could be turned in one
of eight directions, shifting in
steps of 90 degrees, and able to
walk backwards or to the side
as required. Rotating the joystick
would turn him, and holding the
fire button whilst moving in one
of the eight directions would
perform different actions, such
as kick, punch or collect. This
control method was awkward
and fiddly, especially at first,
and it was only after prolonged
play that it felt anything close
to instinctive.
Getting used to the control
method and combat situations
meant that it wasn’t one of those
games that you could pick up
and put down quickly. Mastering
the game was almost like
learning a martial art itself,
making it popular with more
mature and experienced players.
Besides beating up baddies,
advancing through the game
often involved accurate timing
and pixel-perfect movements.
Jumping across streams and
swamps, for example – a pixel
out or a split second too late
and you’d suffer death from
drowning (we’re guessing
swimming wasn’t on the
timetable at Ninja night-school).
Despite these frustrating
elements, and the severe
learning curve in general, the
game would drag you back again
and again. You were on a quest
after all, and you wanted to see
it through to the bitter end.
Imagine the disappointment
then, after many hours of
playing, working out all the
head-pecking puzzles and
defeating loads of heinous foe, to
finally finish the game and be
told that “The quest continues…”.
This was both good and bad: bad
because the game (and the
player) deserved better than a few
closing words and a fade to black;
good because there was the
salivating prospect of a sequel.
Platform jumping
Sales of the C64 release alone
are reported to be in excess of
750,000 copies, and that’s just
within Europe. System 3 had a
very lucrative hit on its hands,
and the game was inevitably
ported to several platforms, from
the humble BBC Micro to the 32bit Acorn Archimedes.
For its time, the most
impressive thing about the game
was its graphics, with the
original C64 version featuring
over 1,000 sprites. The game
had to be split into a multi-load
to accommodate all of the
pixelated data. It was amazing
1987
The Last Ninja debuted on the Commodore 64 in
**50**
then when the Acorn version
worked with the BBC Model B
and Electron, as these machines
had half of the C64’s memory.
Peter Scott managed this feat
by using lower-resolution
graphics, while still managing
to keep it as close as possible
to the original.
Superior Software published
the Acorn version, while
Activision took care of the
similar-looking Apple II version.
Other 8-bit ports for the
Spectrum, Amstrad CPC and
Atari 800 were planned, but
never materialised. The
Spectrum version was delayed
several times, with a preview in
Sinclair User magazine
revealing that the developers
were having dif ficulty making
the main character move
authentically. Crash later
revealed that the game was
about half finished, but by this
time System 3 was readying
the sequel for launch, and all
ef forts were halted in favour of
releasing the second game.
Other ports appeared on the
16-bit Apple IIGS and the IBM
PC (EGA/CGA and compatibles),
but it was the Acorn
Archimedes that really stood
out from the pack. Programmed
by Andrew Catling and released
a few years later in 1992, this
was easily the best-looking
version ever with fantastic
graphics throughout.
RETRO10 Last Ninja
03/11/2004 9:36 PM
Page 51
Ninjas in
New York
generally regarded as the
highlight of the series.
As with the first game, the
sequel was converted to many
different machines, including
those that missed out on the
original. The Spectrum version
unsurprisingly featured
monochrome graphics, although it
was a shame that the Amstrad
version was almost identical,
taking no advantage of the CPC’s
superior colour palette. The same
could not be said about the Atari
ST and Amiga versions which both
featured beautifully vibrant
visuals. Special mention must be
made of the NES conversion.
Last Ninja 2 appeared on the
Commodore 64 in 1988. Trying to
add something new and unique to
the sequel, System 3 brought the
Ninja action to a busy city
environment, using the old-time
travel trick to place Armakuni in
modern-day New York. Kunitoki
had also been thrust into the
future, so the battle between them
could continue unabated.
The compulsive gameplay of
the first title had not only been
recreated, but also improved for
this second venture. Although the
This early advert states that the game will be availabl
e for
the C64, Spectrum, Atari ST & 800
Different versions of the
game. From top to bottom:
the BBC/Electron version,
the PC version, the Apple
IIGS version and the
Archimedes version
control method was still a little
fiddly, you were now able to kneel
to collect objects, making it easier
to pick up and use certain items.
The pixel-perfect leaps required in
the first had gone for the most
part, with a somewhat kinder
environment. Also added was
more beat-em-up action from the
outset. When beaten, the thugs
and other unsavoury characters
would slowly regain their energy,
returning to knock seven shades
out of you once more. You would
need to beat them again to truly
finish them off.
Just as before, a lot of trial and
error was needed to progress.
Later levels would be more about
fighting than puzzles. And just as
you couldn’t complete The Last
Ninja without the key from the
very first level, you could not
finish the sequel without the
computer code from the previous
level. And that damn code was
easy to miss…
At the time of release, Last
Ninja 2 was regarded as an
improvement over its predecessor.
The game was more actionorientated, yet the puzzles
remained an integral part of the
play, and the graphics had been
buffed up. The new setting also
served to introduce more
atmosphere, resulting in a firstclass action adventure that is
**51**
With an improved control system
and a distinct setting, Last
Ninja 2 is often hailed as the
highlight of the series
RETRO10 Last Ninja
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Page 52
FEATURE:SOFTWARE | WAY OF THE NINJA |
>In the mix
Rather than release Last
Ninja 2 as a budget title,
System 3 chose to tart the
title up and re-release it on
8-bit machines as Last Ninja
Remix. The update featured a
new introduction sequence, a
different static screen
surrounding the play area,
arguably better music and a
few small bug fixes.
Essentially though, it was the
same game as Last Ninja 2.
Ninja Remix appeared on the
Commodore 64, Spectrum
and Amstrad in 1990. To tiein with the launch of the
C64GS console, a cartridge
version of the game was also released for the C64 (the packaging
claimed that the cart was “4 Megs”, although it was 4 Megabits – 512
Kilobytes – not 4 Megabytes!). Even though the cartridge was compatible
with all C64s, it did not sell in great numbers and is now sought-after.
Had the C64GS been successful and the cartridge format proved more
popular, System 3 would have released Last Ninja 3 on the medium.
Instead, it played it safe by releasing the concluding title on tape and
disk, and even though the instruction manual includes information for
C64GS users, no carts are known to exist.
Ninja Remix was also released on the Atari ST and Amiga, but for the
16-bit machines it was an update of The Last Ninja. This made more
sense, as the original game was never released for either machine first
time around, even though a playable version of the ST game has since
leaked out (complete with music from International Karate!) Ninja Remix
gave System 3 a chance to release the first game on 16-bit machines
before unveiling Last Ninja 3.
d
The highlight of Ninja Remix was its amazing animate
e
sequenc
ction
introdu
Entitled The Last Ninja
(presumably to prevent any
confusion), the game marks the
series’ one and only appearance
on a non-Commodore console.
Published under licence by Jaleco
and developed by Beam Software,
the game was easily the best 8bit conversion, and with supercolourful graphics and a catchy
soundtrack, it ranked alongside
the C64 original.
The last
Last Ninja
Last Ninja 3 saw Armakuni back in
ancient times, bidding to end the
Shogun’s evil reign of terror once
and for all. The story was
essentially the same, and so it
proved was the game. Regardless,
Last Ninja 3 was released with
some bold claims behind it. From
its manual, System 3 introduced its
new game with the following
paragraph: “Rarely does a
company make as dramatic an
impact as did System 3 with the
award winning games The Last
Ninja and the Last Ninja II. This
software innovation proved to be a
major advance in home computer
entertainment achieving critical
acclaim from the media and game
players around the world.”
Very bold indeed, especially as
**52**
The sequel appeared on many
different machines. From
top to bottom: The Amstrad
version, the Atari ST
version, the Amiga version
and the NES version
it had been three years since the
release of Last Ninja 2. Time moves
on, and by this third instalment
Armakuni’s adventures were looking
a little tired. It was certainly the
RETRO10 Last Ninja
03/11/2004 9:37 PM
Page 53
>Last
Ninja 4?
The Commodore 64 version of
Last Ninja 3 looked almost as
good as its 16-bit counterparts
best-looking game to date; the
Commodore 64 version was
particularly impressive, almost on a
par with the Atari ST and Amiga in
terms of detail. But the gameplay
was starting to show its age, and it
was becoming harder to forgive the
frankly archaic control system. Many
would argue that Last Ninja 3 was
actually a step down from its
predecessor, suffering from poor
level design and a lack of decent
puzzles. It was by no means a bad
game – it just failed to bring
anything new to the ageing series.
Last Ninja 3 was in
development for the Spectrum
and Amstrad, but sadly neither of
these versions materialised. A
port appeared on the Amiga
CD32, but despite quicker
loading times, it was identical to
the disk version.
And from one CD-based
console to another, as System 3
look to release a new version of
The Last Ninja on the Xbox
console. This full-3D update has
been in development for over two
years now, and at one point was
thought to have been cancelled,
but System 3 boss Mark Cale has
revealed that the game will be
fully unveiled at the E3 event
next May. In addition, the original
Last Ninja trilogy is heading to
the PlayStation 2, with updated
versions of all three games
included on a single disc. It
seems that The Last Ninja series
will no longer be just a piece of
gaming history… ✺✯*
A fourth game was never intended to be commercially released for
any of the 8-bit systems, at least not from System 3. However, the
prolific C64 coder Jon Wells reworked the game engine so that the
main character could walk on the grass, thus potentially making the
play more open-ended.
Wells further mocked up a loading screen and playable demo
based on Last Ninja 2, presenting it to System 3, saying that he
wanted to make a fourth game as a tribute to the original trilogy.
After the company refused he said that he would be willing to work
for free as long as he could use the name and relevant intellectual
properties. System 3 still refused permission, seemingly not wanting
to associate itself with the shrinking 8-bit market, and Wells had to
abandon the project. Still, we can gaze at the loading screen and
wonder what might have been...
by creating
Jon Wells wanted to pay tribute to the series
a fourth game
, yet
Not a lot is yet known about the new console version
these screenshots certainly look impressive
**53**
RETRO10 Coin-Op Conversions
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Page 56
FEATURE:ARCADE | COIN-OP CONVERSIONS |
**56**
RETRO10 Coin-Op Conversions
03/11/2004 11:09 PM
Page 57
>Coin-op
s
n
o
i
s
r
e
Conv
k at
month's loo der,
t
s
a
l
g
n
i
w
Stri
Follo
Ghosts and
Ghouls 'n' or compares the home
Robert Mell of two more Capcom et
conversions Final Fight and Stre the
classics - Both games cornered
Fighter II. in the arcades, but me?
competition y shape up in the ho
how did the
om turned
pc
platform games, Ca
ries of pioneering
se
a
iki Okamoto
th
sh
wi
t
Yo
r
gh
ne
ali
sig
aving set arcades
inspired game de
th
Wi
.
nre
ge
to its
-up
beat-em
the CPS1 hardware
its attention to the
mes that pushed
ga
e
s Street
ad
wa
arc
o
er
tw
oth
d
ate
g brawler, and the
at the helm, it cre
llin
cro
e-s
sid
tal
bru
er.
was Final Fight, a
ade industry forev
limits. One of those
t changed the arc
tha
r
hte
fig
ne
n-o
Fighter II, a one-o
H
**57**
RETRO10 Coin-Op Conversions
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 11:09 PM
Page 58
FEATURE:ARCADE | COIN-OP CONVERSIONS |
>SPECTRUM VERSION
>COMMODORE 64 VERSION
>ARCADE VERSION
>Final
Fight
ng game it was
times. As a fighti
phical showcase
gra
a
average; as
it was amazing.
Whereas the
Commodore 64:
d to produce
Spectrum manage
s
nu
bo
ing
sh
least looked
ma
at
t-s
at
something th
ingenious objec
r
to
s
rlie
on
ea
ap
me, the poor
of we
es from
like the arcade ga
stages, a plethora
Taking its influenc
ng
Ku
d
as
ve
an
ch
ati
y,
t on its face
su
,
wa
Cre
fla
:
C64 version fell
Sinclair Spectrum
pick up along the
games in the genre
Gold
,
rs that
on
US
cte
ag
by
ara
Dr
ing in 1991,
ch
le
ted
go
d
ub
lis
ll
ne
Do
en
Sti
sig
s
d
.
in all areas
intricately de
Materials wa
Fu Master an
,
ng
me
hti
ho
ple
fig
of
sim
the
a
o
le
bit Commodore
was
e sty
ht int
the legendary 8each had a uniqu
to bring Final Fig
1989’s Final Fight
e
e
m
Th
on
.
tru
ec
for
ack
Sp
att
-up
al
the
it a str uggle
em
eci
g
atfor
sp
was now findin
and their own
and its version
side-scrolling be
le. The
story
let-down
ab
ck
tly
e pace, and
ark
ba
th
gh
e
rem
sli
Th
th
ly
wi
ite
rs.
on
qu
ye
up
s
s
to keep
game wa
128K wa
or two pla
the
A
,
–
.
od
ack
ard
go
s
dtr
orw
un
wa
al Fight is
htf
n
so
its version of Fin
by a rather drab
initial presentatio
was equally straig
m
ow
r
fro
sh
yo
pt
er
ma
em
lat
y
worst coin-op
att
Cit
e
uld
le
th
tro
wo
rab
of
surely one
home version
with an admi
daughter of Me
ed
es
te
pp
elv
ora
na
ms
orp
kid
tim e. It
ns the
to inc
been
co nv er sio ns of all
that the compositio
the programmers
Mike Haggar had
re
d
we
Ma
y
t
as
rac
the
n
,
att
The
ow
od
s
kn
go
d!
ou
rea lly is that ba
were surprisingly
the coin-op’s fam
by a vicious gang
the
were
street
on
rs
of
d
th eir be st
le
cte
nte
up
ara
ed
co
me
ch
tri
a
ple
s
ee
th
er
im
thr
wi
pr og ra mm
just poorly
mode. All
Gear, and
if
it
the
mm
da
ain
,
in-op’s
t ag
tow
to recreate the co
coin-op platform.
selectable, and ye
fighting friends in
d
un
his
oto
nfo
t
co
am
ge
s bu t th ey
to
Ok
to
hic
d
ht,
ing
ap
ge
Fig
With Final
gargantuan gr
Spectrum mana
daddy wasn’t go
are to its
near-perfect
of f. The
rdw
it
ha
ing
ll
S1
tur
pu
CP
.
fea
ck
n’t
the
by
ba
uld
s
d
l
jus t co
stretche
its critic
little gir
t
a
ep
the
d
nc
co
of
ere
s
an d
liv
sic
y
de
ion
ba
ck
d
But the game’s
game was a blo
breaking point an
monochrome rendit
e
still
Th
is
the
t
s.
, and it
tha
ere
ss
rite
hit
wh
sp
me
e
s
le
ive
ad
wa
ab
ss
unrecognis
worldwide arc
arcade’s ma
and storyline
t
Bu
ll
y.
wi
da
ry
ht
s
lo ok ed .
ve
thi
Fig
o
it
to
als
as
Final
pl ay ed as ba d
remembered fondly
backgrounds were
simplicity ended.
st
no
ate
s
ole
ns
wa
gre
s slow
co
re
wa
d
the
the
an
m
as
r
ile
ste
The control sy
were the compute
detailed and wh
probably go down
were
FX was
retro
ot
els
sp
the
le?
lev
,
m
me
rab
fro
ive
so
mo
e
,
ns
me
sic
typ
po
so
mu
and unres
versions
in-game
game of its
re
we
lated,
le
pu
ics
litt
a
po
ph
s
gra
ely
ng
boring and spars
added to make thi
era. For a start, the
the
nd
g
r
yo
rin
s
cte
be
n
ide
s
ara
o
ns
ch
wa
i
Co
g
s
ge
.
r
hu
llin
ng
and the scro
more interesti
amazing, with
Home conve
was
led
s side, all
tai
me
plu
de
ga
e
th
hly
the
t
hig
On
.
d
tha
an
ish
slugg
machine
sprites
were selectable
successful
ics that featured
was a visually
three characters
running on, this
background graph
After an extremely
t
a
ho
s
ng
ate
wa
eri
cre
option was
ht
nd
to
r
Fig
thu
ye
pt
al
m
pla
em
Fin
fro
and a twostunning att
everything
arcade run,
gs
s
do
the
wa
of
ing
ll this was
rsion
yapp
game
present, but overa
realistic home ve
subway trains to
property and the
of
me
ng
ga
thi
e
Th
me
me
.
me version
so
ho
ns
s
ho
tro
ral
wa
rst
ve
pa
easily the wo
game. Sadly, it
and angry bar
converted to se
y
ers US
ess, but
ck
sh
sin
sti
bli
bu
th
pu
wi
the
are
y,
d
.
ke
ftw
pla
me
So
loo
to
of the ga
a chore
not only
systems.
reaction
home
nty of aspects
ntrols and sluggish
ld snapped up the
co
there were also ple
Go
ch
ile Capcom
r’s interest, su
to hold the playe
computer rights, wh
level designs,
d
ere
lay
ltimu
as the
ersion duties for
itself handled conv
nsoles.
co
e
the big Japanes
**58**
RETRO10 Coin-Op Conversions
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Page 59
>SNES VERSION
>COMMODORE AMIGA VERSION
>MEGA-CD VERSION
>NES VERSION
1993, Capcom
Sega Mega-CD: In
eme
sch
r
e capacity of
lou
rag
co
sto
y
ud
tra
ex
ga
used the
a slightly
it
d,
n
un
tha
d-o
so
r
ad n to create
ny
Sega’s Megadrive
and somewhat tin
Nintendo NES: Rathe
t
on
(no
rsi
ve
ve
t
ard
ati
len
Cre
orw
:
d more faithful
a
cel
htf
an
g
i
ex
t
m
aig
es
A
an
Commodore
one of the fin
proved to be
attempting a str
e
ad
ion
the
arc
ers
at
nv
the
again
ul to
s ever. The
ble) co
Materials was once
arcade conversion
that was very faithf
to mention impossi
it
d
to
red
an
ffe
ed
se
su
cid
ea
it
de
rel
s, save for a
ly,
om
wa
helm for the Amiga
Mega-CD version
original. Unfortunate
of Final Fight, Capc
tty fine
s and
proach
pre
ap
ack
a
d
wb
ntical to the
ng
ne
dra
ide
ati
hte
of
rs,
cre
lig
er
in
en
lou
succeeded
few less co
from a numb
take a more
a
ing
iga
Us
.
Am
be
on
t
the
graphics and
,
no
versi
translation. Visually
original in terms of
subsequently could
with the 1993 NES
a
me
d
the
ho
ate
te
e
da
cre
itiv
aracters were
it
mo
fin
ch
e,
om
de
nc
managed to acc
gameplay. All the
regarded as the
bit of artistic lice
called
me was
while at
,
ga
air
e
ics
er option was
aff
Th
ph
lay
ed
e.
gra
o-p
art
titl
tw
ge
he
the
hu
htthe
coin-op’s
present,
version of
fun and lig
all
the
in
the
ng
ing
en
glory, and
ch
ezi
wh
Dit
ue
the same time sq
there in all its co-op
released in a time
Mighty Final Fight.
ily
twofam
the
e
too
ad
ss,
rs,
le
arc
cte
ltle
litt
a
ara
fau
the
ll
s
ch
of
sti
s
wa
three playable
presentation
Nintendo was
massive sprite
, so the
nced attract
y every level
d employed
od
ha
arl
go
tea
en
ne
n
d
ins
an
ow
an
om
by
its
de
pc
ted
for
Ca
mo
r
gh
playe
highli
friendly
original,
full speech,
Equally
m several
representations of
from the original.
mode that featured
game suffered fro
mini Manga-style
a
e
al
ly
lik
on
tab
un
ati
t
no
ns
no
st
se
d motion
rs,
mo
an
the
s
s,
cte
s
on
ue
ara
wa
ati
iss
ch
impressive
extra illustr
censorship
the game’s
er
,
an
lat
d
de
in
an
mo
t
en
de
rac
pect, what really
t mo
be se
recreation of the att
cutscenes. In retros
toned-down attrac
those that would
sic
r
on
mu
pe
of
ng
Su
thi
ce
as
ine was the
clo
pie
ch
sh
of
nt
su
on
nt
llia
s
featuring a bri
made this versi
increased amou
Capcom coin-op
ale
ich
was
wh
fem
Making full
me
d
e,
.
ga
cla
ack
e
Tim
ly
Th
dtr
In
nti
r.
un
st
sca
so
hte
Lo
entitled
fantastic
the more
Puzzle Fig
ch
ine
o
su
nu
wh
nts
ge
a
t, Capcom
xy,
me
Ro
as
ma
ele
became regarded
use of the disc for
characters such as
given several new
rt lacked
s
ach, a
po
wa
pro
dio tracks that
ed
the
ap
,
au
inc
cal
dly
ty
nv
mi
Sa
ali
co
co
s
c.
t
MOD classi
created CD-qu
Nintendo wa
as an almos
it
for
ryup
re
sto
de
s,
Mo
t ma
arcade machine’s
stite!
r move
in-game music, bu
used the original
actually a transve
few new characte
a
of
er
hitting
k
rdtam
lac
a
ha
d
of
the
an
s
basic framework,
ay
es
wa
a
arr
r
with a suitable
compositions as
criminal howeve
enhancing cutscen
e
r
nc
r
se
de
cte
chara
Gear’s lea
on them with new
and the ab
sound effects. A few
then improved up
two-player mode
plot that saw Mad
ly
r
se
tab
he
oo
no
rat
ch
st
a,
to
mo
sic
,
rs
Jes
ye
l instruments and
moves were lost too
arrangements, rea
of Guy, leaving pla
falling in love with
onein
ne
the
,
sli
dy
all
the
Co
In
clo
or
here and there.
r.
s
ar
he
ing
cal
gg
Haggar’s spinn
even a few vo
from either Ha
than kidnapping
on
the
ly
ve
s
ral
os
mo
ne
s ge
t that the original
fans acr
inspired
special, but play wa
It became apparen
player mode. Guy
changes were an
to
t
om
e
tha
pc
tiv
e
Ca
dic
am
g
ad
sh
just hindered by
cin
ly
a
re
good and strange
arcade tracks we
world cried foul, for
Capcom’s part. It’s
titled
uld
empt a
co
en
att
u
on
n’t
s, as the
yo
rsi
y
did
ion
ve
s
dit
wa
ial
nd
ren
the
ter
co
thanks to
uninspired
create a se
Creative Ma
d of trying
ht them to
bad guys to
replaced Cody
ug
tea
t
the
ins
bro
tha
at
y
lly
ach
be
Gu
rea
ly
pro
ht
ap
ted
-CD
Fig
r
ea
rep
Mega
Final
simila
but
r,
fire
it
cte
to8-b
ng funkara
au
lsi
ch
on
s
pu
the
me
ou
g
of
ga
death by flickin
life in the form
with the eponym
to recreate the
n’t
Time
Slowdown
two-player
uld
tra
ck.
co
the
ex
sti
d
an
ply
joy
itte
s
sim
ur
thi
om
t
yo
ll
to
tha
d
sti
on
switch
rock! Ad
sadly, it
machines
ue
on
iss
with
rsi
e
ve
an
let
ES
be
mp
SN
to
co
was always going
Attack sub-game,
option. Overall, the
handle it.
of its
d the
an
sic
e,
mu
se
siz
d
the
s
an
t
s
thi
bu
,
nd
of
od
with a game
new backgrou
was very go
e
s
thi
itiv
by
fin
m
ed
de
fro
ed
ow
all
the
ffer
nvert
Amiga port did su
own, and you had
detracting elements
Nintendo SNES: Co
too
wn
s
e
wa
cro
ht.
cam
ht
its
Fig
be
Fig
al
n
al
al
ste
ee
Fin
Fin
to
whenever the scr
home version of
another version
Capcom in 1992,
selling
.
s was a highly
best home version
the SNES’s biggest
of
the
e
populated. But thi
as
on
that was a lot
rly life. Despite
satisfactory version
points during its ea
of fun to play.
**59**
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Page 60
FEATURE:ARCADE | COIN-OP CONVERSIONS |
>SPECTRUM VERSION
>COMMODORE 64 VERSION
>ARCADE VERSION
I
I
r
e
t
h
g
i
F
t
e
e
r
>St
knowing they
sweating buckets,
al to bring the
had to secure a de
rm. US Gold
tfo
pla
game to their
front of the
the
at
ly
ab
vit
was ine
mputer
co
queue for the home
taking the
om
pc
Ca
th
versions, wi
co
ole nversions.
reigns on the cons
al boss
and three addition
d
an
ial
erc
hter had their
fig
mm
ch
co
characters. Ea
After winning
ht,
Fig
Final
and were gifted
own unique look
critical acclaim for
a
oto
am
Ok
iki
d weaknesses,
with strengths an
Capcom gave Yosh
fighting
er
fighting style
oth
an
of
ng
nd
ati
their own bra
crack at cre
,
are
rdw
moves each
ha
and a few special
game on the CPS1
r
he
eit
uld
ted by a
co
iva
he
that could be act
telling him that
al Fight or
stick and
Fin
joy
to
of
el
s
qu
rie
se
se
a
complex
produce
he
if
me
ga
t
.
en
ns Finally,
button combinatio
a completely dif fer
oto’s
am
Ok
,
lly
nted a highly
tua
me
en
Okamoto imple
so desired. Ev
an earlier
to
tion system
wn
ina
dra
mb
s
co
wa
nt
n
intellige
attentio
,
ble
sta
yers to link
om
pc
pla
that would allow
game from the Ca
h not
ug
ho
Alt
er into an
r.
eth
hte
tog
Fig
s
t
ve
several mo
1987’s Stree
the
,
es
ad
to inflict
arc
unblockable chain
a great success in
ral
ve
se
ed
.
uc
ge
maximum dama
game had introd
Fighter II took
de it a unique
To say that Street
elements that ma
t
en
rtm
so
as
storm is an
ld
by
wi
the gaming world
title, such as the
rsus
ve
e took on a
a
titl
rs,
e
cte
Th
ara
nt.
ch
understateme
of colourful
l
na
mi
turned into a
the se
life of its own and
battle option and
as
ch
su
s
ve
Capcom, with
mo
for
e
ial
lucrative franchis
inclusion of spec
s, sequels and
stating
spin-offs, upgrade
fireballs and deva
the
w
sa
eg versions
even modified bootl
uppercuts. Okamoto
to
ted
op
the place.
d
er
an
ov
l
tia
popping up all
game’s poten
result was
e
Th
el.
qu
se
a
create
r II: The World
ions
1991’s Street Fighte
Home convers
on to
nt
we
t
tha
ine
ch
Warrior, a ma
most important
Street Fighter II
become one of the
The importance of
y.
tor
his
t simply cannot
me
rke
titles in videoga
in the home ma
u,
Ry
rs,
aracte
The exclusivity
The three main ch
be underestimated.
ir
the
e
ris
rep
uld
pcom created no
Ken and Sagat, wo
of the title that Ca
be
d
an
me
ga
ecutives
t
ex
firs
ny
roles from the
doubt had ma
ble fighters
ya
pla
w
ne
six
by
joined
“Due to machine
Sinclair Spectrum:
rsion may dif fer
limitations this ve
the manual.” Not
in
s
from example
g line of text
the most promisin
t was exactly
tha
ever written, but
rs were
ne
ow
rum
what Spect
ding this
loa
on
up
th
wi
d
greete
game was
e
Th
.
1993 conversion
s only and
ine
ch
ma
8K
12
to
limited
ge and
lar
d
the Spectrum offere
ons of the
ati
ret
erp
int
very detailed
ckg
d ba rounds.
coin-op’s sprites an
however, was
e,
The colour schem
es made it
tim
at
d
an
very drab
what was
ly
dif ficult to tell exact
hitting
s
wa
o
wh
going on and
s limited
wa
d
un
so
me
ga
Inwhom.
action
the
d
an
to uninspiring FX
e
Th
ce.
pa
’s
ail
sn
played at a
Spectrum
for
are
htm
nig
st
bigge
e in the form
owners, though, cam
system. Each
of the multi-load
round was
character and backg
**60**
n respective area
designated its ow
e, which meant
of code on the tap
m had been
that once the progra
cters selected,
ara
ch
loaded and the
had to search for
the machine first
r, then their
the player’s fighte
y the required
all
fin
d
an
opponent,
which time the
background – by
into its second
ll
we
C60 tape was
tion to turn off
op
the
ite
sp
side. De
ics, this
ph
the background gra
dured for
en
be
to
d
rigmarole ha
Ironically, +3
every single fight.
ased out by this
ph
disks had been
the only
time, so tape was
n.
tio
op
le
ab
avail
ative
Commodore 64: Cre
rsion
ve
4
C6
s’
ial
ter
Ma
an arcadeobviously wasn’t
r, but stood on
he
eit
rt
po
ct
perfe
ch more
mu
t
its own two fee
Spectrum
the
n
tha
y
adequatel
s once
wa
d
version. Multi-loa
C64
the
t
bu
,
ue
again an iss
colourful
re
mo
ch
mu
a
d
manage
me that
version of the ga
character and
ery
ev
in
squeezed
with the
background, along
option.
er
lay
requisite two-p
gaudy and
tly
gh
sli
re
we
Sprites
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Page 61
>MEGADRIVE VERSION
>COMMODORE AMIGA VERSION
>GBA VERSION
>SNES VERSION
this conversion,
strongest point of
meplay itself.
ga
the
s
though, wa
tton pad made a
The SNES’s six-bu
to the whole
ce
en
massive dif fer
rs to use
ye
pla
ing
ow
affair, all
ack as they
att
every variation of
chine. This
ma
e
ad
arc
had on the
fantastic version
was an absolutely
drive owners
ga
that left Sega Me
f.
lie
be
nd
yo
jealous be
g off the special
fire button, pullin
d,
cte
pe
ex
be
uous affair and
blocky, as was to
attacks was an ard
for
tch
ma
no
s
al didn’t help
wa
nu
y
ma
while gamepla
the instruction
t
bu
,
op
inmisprinting the
the co
the slick pace of
matters by actually
led
nd
ha
ore
vements for
od
mo
the humble Comm
controller motion
uld be
co
Presentation
.
as
ks
ll
ac
we
att
as
the game
some of the
.
red
ide
ns
co
s
ver, with the
expected, all thing
was not bad, howe
area
g
yin
pla
ract mode
the
att
e,
s
On the downsid
arcade’s famou
ng area was
hti
n to play
fig
tio
the
op
–
d
the
ite
d
was lim
intact an
n
ee
scr
the
of
you so desired.
lf
in the bottom ha
against a friend if
the
ile
wh
t,
y, this
ma
da
for
the
x
in a letterbo
At the end of
by a large
with mixed
up
rs
ye
en
bu
tak
t
s
lef
wa
lf
ion
top ha
convers
m
ste
sy
ol
but it
ntr
d,
co
ba
e
’t
status panel. Th
feelings. It wasn
limited
be
at.
to
gre
ing
en
go
be
s
was alway
could have
the C64 only had
too, considering
s
t overall thi
tendo secured a
one fire button, bu
Nintendo SNES: Nin
empt.
with Street
was a worthy att
console exclusive
the Super
Fighter II, making
ve
ati
Cre
:
a
g
t system to own
i
m
-bi
A
16
e
Commodor
Nintendo the
s
wa
on
ankfully, it
versi
Materials’ Amiga
in the early 90s. Th
to
e
du
Capcom’s SNES
ed
d
constantly delay
wasn’t all hype an
ly just
on
in history as
s,
wn
-up
do
ng
nt
ha
we
on
producti
conversion
as
tm
ris
Ch
e
its
ad ports to
managing to make
one of the finest arc
nt
tie
pa
im
mat. Despite
ile
for
wh
me
e,
1992 deadlin
appear on a ho
s
tite
appe
y (which was
punters had their
the letterbox displa
s
mo
de
g
lin
rol
t
en
parent on PAL
whetted with sil
naturally more ap
e
zin
ga
on was visually
ma
rsi
ve
on
s
distributed
systems) thi
iga
Am
the
lly,
tailed, accurate
coverdisks. Visua
superb – it was de
it was
t
bu
,
on
rsi
the music was
ve
of
e
delivered a fin
and colourful. All
t
tha
g
d movin
and while it
when things starte
translated as well,
ng
wi
Vie
r.
cu
oc
to
the same panache
problems began
didn’t quite have
de the
ma
d
ha
s
terpart, it was
un
mo
co
de
the rolling
as its arcade
g
yin
pla
t
bu
,
ick
illing rendition
game look very qu
nevertheless a thr
ile
Wh
ky.
jer
ry
ve
nied by most of
be
it revealed it to
that was accompa
m in
cra
to
d
ch to boot. The
ge
ee
na
sp
ma
s
the Amiga
the original’
e
on
t
jus
ing
us
s
most of the move
nearly an
Sega Megadrive: For
ve owners had
dri
ga
Me
ar,
ye
entire
ir SNES-loving
been taunted by the
inding them
rem
tly
tan
rivals, cons
y had the
of the fact that the
on of Street
rsi
ve
greatest home
chine and
ma
ir
the
on
II
Fighter
s
wa a console
that, moreover, it
was announced
it
en
exclusive. Th
would indeed
that the Megadrive
nversion and
co
a
be blessed with
full-blown
the
be
uld
that it wo
upgrade, giving
Champion Edition
SNES owners
on
them one over
for the basic
ttle
se
to
d
who ha
ation. It was a
arn
World Warrior inc
g for, which
itin
wa
rth
port well wo
ery bit as
turned out to be ev
version and
ES
SN
playable as the
the arcade
just as faithful to
drive had a
original. The Mega
k to it, along
loo
or
slightly inferi
sound, but
ny
tin
at
wh
me
with so
ttered and
ma
at
the play was wh
**61**
conversion
this was where the
ntrol system
co
e
really shone. Th
proved a little
ds
pa
n
tto
on three-bu
ving to
ha
tricky, with players
h and kick
nc
pu
n
ee
alternate betw
rt button, but
by pressing the Sta
Sega pads
n
thankfully six butto
corner. The
the
d
un
were just aro
managed to
Sega version also
ch than its
ee
include more sp
in addition,
d,
an
al
riv
Nintendo
ique Group Battle
offered up the un
e of the best
on
it
g
Mode, makin
game.
conversions of the
e of the most
Nintendo GBA: On
s of the Capcom
recent incarnation
rsion for the
ve
legend was its
entitled Super
e
nc
va
Ad
y
GameBo
rbo Revival.
Tu
Street Fighter II:
the basics of
k
too
rt
This 2001 po
S2 upgrade,
Capcom’s 1993 CP
r II, and
hte
Super Street Fig
few additions
a
th
wi
it
enhanced
stage designs, a
such as alternate
tion and slightly
op
ol
simpler contr
. The game also
re-arranged music
ncept of
co
implemented the
hnique
tec
a
’,
os
‘super comb
gin
ori al Super
introduced in the
rbo coin-op.
Tu
II:
Street Fighter
d an
The GBA manage
game that
the
of
on
ati
ret
erp
int
the earlier
n
tha
r
tte
was even be
s. ✺✯*
SNES incarnation
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Page 62
FEATURE:SOFTWARE | DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE |
**62**
RETRO10 Overrated
03/11/2004 9:31 PM
Page 63
>Don’t
Believe
the Hype
As a bitter antidote to
the recent sugary-sweet
top 100 games countdown,
Jon Foster vents his
spleen about 30 of
the most overrated and
over-hyped games of all
time. Retro Gamer,
meanwhile, wisely keeps
its head down
O
ver the years, gaming has been a source of immense
entertainment to me personally, and it’s the sole reason
that my bank manager charges me exorbitant interest
rates on my current account. It also accounts for two student
loans, the income from a Saturday job and half of my Christmas
presents for the past 20 years. So this list is put together by
someone who genuinely loves games and absolutely hates being
let-down by them.
And that’s the crux here – being let-down. It won’t escape your
notice that I’ve included a few flat-out classics, yet the simple
truth is that, for whatever reason, they didn’t deliver what I hoped
they would. Perhaps it’s because I fell for the hype, made terrible
choices or just had bad taste. But the unifying factor is that I paid
for them all and thus feel entitled to have a say. Right, who’s
with me then?
**63**
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FEATURE:SOFTWARE | DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE |
the back and accepted it as a
quirk of brilliance. Perhaps it
was. But it buggered the game
up good and proper, so I find it
infuriating that JSW wins the
plaudits at the expense of MM.
And the less said about Jet Set
Willy 2 the better.
Bottom line – if we’re going to
celebrate a classic game, can we
at least celebrate one that’s
actually finished? Me? My
loyalties lie with Dynamite Dan…
Football Manager
No, no, no, no, no. With all due
respect, Mr Toms, Football Manager
was rubbish. Even back in 1982 it
was rubbish. Sure, it was
groundbreaking, and sure, those
visual highlights were fascinating
for, ooh, a good half hour. But
perhaps it’s time to face some
basic facts.
Fact one: it was easy. Even
Gerard Houllier could have made a
championship winning side in an
evening. And he’d have done it by
spending, what, around £400K?
Fact two: it was too easy. My first
Jet Set Willy
the mistakes, but fortunately,
they stopped short of a threequel. Perhaps Vanessa came
calling, eh?
Xenon II:
Megablast
revolutionary at the time as
Incentive Software’s Freescape
system, which allowed developers
to create of a full 3D world. The
world moved with you and it was
to play host to some quite
interesting 3D adventures in the
following years.
And yet it was Driller that
picked up the plaudits. I suspect
that even the most dedicated
Incentive employee of the time
would accept that Freescape,
innovative as it was, wasn’t really
that polished by the time we got
to see it. Thus, we got Driller, a
technical wonder struggling to
play host to an intriguing but
desperately ponderous game.
Undoubtedly groundbreaking, it
also required a serious caffeine
injection to get through it.
Fortunately, Freescape evolved and
played host to better games such
as Castle Master, which didn’t
have the ‘wading through treacle’
feel that Driller had got down to a
fine art.
Rick Dangerous
The world is supposed to love Jet
Set Willy. After all, its ambition,
scope and sheer majesty is there
for all to see. Frankly though, I
always thought it was rubbish
and its continued adulation only
encourages programmers to leave
games unfinished.
Compare it to the first Miner
Willy game. Manic Miner features
puzzles that are still taxing and
intelligent, and if you worked
hard enough at it you could
actually complete the game.
JSW, on the other hand, was a
game you could only finish by
cheating. A game that, if you died
in the wrong place, brought you
back in the same place and thus
shot through all your lives in
around three seconds flat. And
we laughed at it, patted Willy on
season, back in a damp room in
1982, saw me lifting the FA Cup
after spending next to nothing in
the transfer market. Fact three: it
was piss easy. The best players
routinely accepted very little money
to come to your club, and it was
never a question of if you’d win,
but when.
Staggeringly, much of this
remained intact in the truly dire
Football Manager 2, which followed
many, many years later. And Kevin
Toms was kept in beard trimmers
off the back of what was arguably
his worst game. Dig out Software
Star and President, and you’ll see
better evidence of what the man
could do. Neither are classics, but
at least you won’t have finished
them by the time the dirty evening
movie comes on Channel Five.
Driller
Over the years, gaming has
produced some genuine
innovations. And few were as
Any games reviewer who gave this
a high score should, by rights,
now be working as Vanessa Feltz’s
personal leg waxer. Because Rick
Dangerous was the reason we
needed games reviewers in the
first place. It was dressed in lovely
clothes, it was technically
accomplished, it was polished and
it was refreshingly free of bugs.
But it was cobblers. And here’s
why – it was one of the most
desperately unfair games in the
entire living world. The gameplay
was based on you moving
along, dying, learning how you
died, and avoiding it the next
time. That’s not a fair game,
that’s a memory test. And a
crappy one at that. A sequel
followed that corrected none of
**64**
For such acclaimed coders, The
Bitmap Brothers have a decidedly
mixed softography. Speedball and
its sequel were undoubted
classics; The Chaos Engine was
tremendous; Gods was very
good; Cadaver was hugely
underrated; and Magic Pockets
was, well, forgettable. But let’s
talk about Xenon and, in
particular, the multimedia feast
that was its sequel.
To be fair, the legendary Bitmap
Brothers weren’t directly
responsible for Xenon II:
Megablast, and perhaps that’s
why we got what we did – a fancy
music video with a staggeringly
boring shoot-em-up attached.
Trading off pace, gameplay and
playability in exchange for a willy
waving multimedia exercise,
Xenon II was nonetheless
embraced by Amiga fanboys, who
were so blinded by their loyalty to
the machine that they forgot what
a good game was. Shame on
them. Dig out Uridium and give
that some love instead.
Worms
It was once said of George Lucas
that when Star Wars hit big,
America lost potentially one of its
greatest directors. And that’s
exactly how I feel about Worms.
Now, truth be told, when I
bought my first copy of Worms I
quite enjoyed it. It was a
lightweight, fun game. At the time,
I fondly recalled an Amiga public
domain game featuring two tanks
firing at each other, and sagely
RETRO10 Overrated
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Page 65
pondered how clever it was of
Team 17 to marry this simple
concept with some welcome
humour. Good on them, I thought.
A good, solid, one-off hit.
Only it wasn’t. An add-on pack
left me feeling short changed.
Worms 2 was a polished
evolution of the first game. Ditto
for Worms Armageddon and
Worms 3. Worms Blast? A
disastrous attempt at extending
the franchise into the world of
puzzle games. Worms World Party?
I mean, come on. Worms 3D?
That was just late – around five
years late. And now it’s Worms
Fort or something like that.
Since Worms really scored
big, what has Team 17 – who
had previously given us the
wonderful Alien Breed games, the
flawed-but-interesting Project X
and the enjoyable Assassin –
actually done? Well, apart from
skilfully manipulating and
evolving a simple game into, er,
a simple game, not a lot. Its
efforts are exerted on endless
cash-generating Worms sequels.
It’s sacrificed genuine risk-taking
originality for a smoking jacket
and pipe. Getting that George
Lucas parallel yet?
Joe Blade 2
Another personal vendetta, here.
The original Joe Blade was a
great little budget game. Sadly,
Joe Blade 2 was crap, blatantly
easy and, bizarrely, was given
high scores and awards by the
games mags of the time. It sold
bucket loads, unlike the actually
brilliant Joe Blade 3, which
seemed to arrive, wave and
disappear in far too little time.
Thanks for letting me get that off
my chest.
Hard Drivin'
Dizzy
Microsoft
Flight Simulator
For a very long time, until the
release of the likes of Myst and
The Sims, Microsoft Flight
Simulator was the biggest-selling
PC game of all time. And that’s the
problem. Flight Simulator wasn’t a
game – instantly distrust and
seriously consider institutionalising
anyone who tells you different. It
was a vehemently accurate
recreation of flying a plane.
Dizzy was, and always will be,
quite an enjoyable little budget
game. But why, oh why, oh why
has this egg-shaped character
come to symbolise all that was
great about 8-bit budget
games? I’ve no personal
problem with Dizzy and quite
enjoyed plenty of the eggedone’s games (although that
Amiga Power review that
questioned when the surelyalready-in-existence Dizzy
Construction Kit was to be
released is as valid as it once
was), but frankly, Magic Knight
kicked Dizzy’s, er, shell.
True story – Hard Drivin’, the
game that looked so shiny and
spanky, and drew you into the
arcades like a videogame tractor
beam, actually started life as a
system for teaching driving
skills. Frankly, the general public
had a narrow escape. If Hard
Drivin’ had been used to teach
driving skills, then the number of
pile ups would have trebled,
roads would have about 14 lanes
so drivers could stay on them,
and we’d have no need of speed
cameras as drivers would rarely
get anywhere near the speed
limit without careering into
oncoming traffic.
Commandos
And it was impenetrable to anyone
vaguely casual about these things.
Dedicated fans spent a couple of
hundred quid on the right kit to
enjoy their Flight Sim experience.
Me? Those very same funds are
currently on a Budweiser balance
sheet. And I bet I got more fun
out of it.
Next time someone waffles on
incessantly about Dizzy, do them
a favour – show them Knight
Tyme, or Finders Keepers, or
Spellbound. Or just laugh at
them. Your call.
Good graphics can hide anything,
apparently. And blimey, the
graphics in the so-called PC
strategy game Commandos really
are the business. Awesome in
fact, leaving many reviewers to
conclude that for a real-time
strategy game, Commandos was
visually exceptional.
And that’s it. That point
there. ‘Real-time strategy’. Pah.
**65**
Not unlike the original Hitman
– and don’t get me started on
that – Commandos was in fact
a puzzle game. Not because it
was designed as such, but
because it was a game that
required you to find one, and
only one, answer to get you
through a certain scenario. If
you found the prescribed
route, it let you through. There
are 8-bit games that allow
more flexibility than this, so I
expect a lot more from an
acclaimed and fairly
contemporary title. Hence,
Commandos needs to spend 10
minutes in the corner wearing
a big pointy hat, while I flick
elastic bands at it.
Robocod
James Pond, who had the
hilarious codename of Double
Bubble Seven, was one of
those characters clearly dreamt
up in a creative meeting that
involved a fag packet and a
chewed Biro. And, truth be told,
his first game was fun. But
then the inevitable need to
franchise him kicked in and the
sprawling mess that was
Robocod arrived.
Mario teaches us all we need to
know about good platform
games. They need to be tight,
well structured, fair, enjoyable,
long lasting and something
you’d be proud to keep on your
shelf. Whilst not the worst
example, Robocod was
sprawling, boring, and the only
reason you had it on your shelf
was to help prop up games that
fell down. Still, it meant
reviewers of the time could
have fun with fish gags. Not me
though. The sprats.
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Resident Evil
Easily one of the most tense,
beautifully scripted, nerve-jangling
gaming experiences on the planet.
You think it, I think it. So what the
hell’s it doing here? Simple, it’s
that risible control system that
breaks golden rule number one –
never, ever let the controls get in
the way of a good game.
of pulling a story together simply
because the developer couldn’t
put a structured yet flexible
narrative in there? Next time you
see a game that promises
unrivalled freedom and the
chance to fully explore the game
world, be aware that it might not
actually be a good thing. Mind
you, it could be Vice City.
Probably best to ignore that
advice then, eh?
OutRun
The fact that we’re talking
about Resident Evil doesn’t
automatically mean it’s a bad
game, simply that the control
system damages it so much that
it perhaps doesn’t deserve all the
hype and accolades. That said,
it’s more deserving than the two
films that share its name.
Brilliant, brilliant arcade machine.
It really was. So catchy were the
tunes that for months I looped
the audio tape that came free on
the front of C&VG (RIP) until even
my cats gave up crapping on the
carpet and went to annoy the
neighbours instead.
put together, but strictly middleof-the-road racer. But it seems
that’s all you need to get a
franchise together in the
videogaming industry, and so a
legacy was born. And all the
while, Supercars, Nitro and Super
Off Road were left to rot in their
garages. Shame on us.
Horace Goes
Skiing
Sigh. Another game that we’re
supposed to get dewy-eyed about
and think back to with nothing
but admiration for Psion
Software’s odd-looking collection
of pixels. Doesn’t wash, I’m afraid.
The original, Hungry Horace,
was a fun, brief and disposable
piece of entertainment. Horace
Goes Skiing nicked all the bits
that worked from Frogger and
then tried to fob us off with a
crappy skiing segment that, even
in the simplistic early days of 8bit computing, wasn’t much fun.
Now to be fair, if you put a bogeyed freak like Horace on a set of
skis, the feeling the game gave
you might actually be the end
result. As it stands though,
Horace is another middle of the
road computer character that for
some reason has been lofted to a
position he doesn’t deserve.
Lemmings
There’s something wrong with a
game that forces you to save
creatures when you actually
couldn’t give a shit anymore.
That, for me, is Lemmings. And
frankly, I feel like a miserable
sod for knocking it.
Shenmue
Billed as the saving grace of the
Dreamcast, Shenmue was
supposed to be Sega’s epic. It
was a game in which you went
about your everyday life, albeit
with a mystery of sorts to solve.
It was supposed to evolve over
numerous chapters and span
several games. And naturally, the
Dreamcast press, ever-conscious
that if the machine went down
then their magazines would sink
with it, were understandably keen
to embrace it. Truth is, at the
time, so was I.
The home computer versions,
though. What the hell went
wrong? And more to the point,
what happened to the games
reviewers of the time who we
paid to see through shit like
this? Whatever format I tried the
game on, I found its
entertainment value had
successfully been stripped down
to the ground, and I could hear
the cackle of someone at US Gold
as they went off to buy a new
abacus to calculate just how
many stupid people like me had
parted with their pennies. For
every reviewer who bigged this
one up, whether you were bribed,
blinded by the original, or just
blind, you owe me. Cash.
After all, it was original, detailed,
polished, fair and long lasting. I
was just awful at it, and thus, I
hate it. I apologise, as no doubt
you’re now looking for my
reasoned argument as to why it’s
overrated. I haven’t got one. It’s
just that once you’ve played one
level for the best part of few
days and are no closer to solving
it, then violence, anger, BO and
psychopathic tendencies become
the most important things in your
life. Right Guard can solve one of
those, the other three are, in my
experience, only tempered by
directing your vitriol at miniature
creatures who want to die. The
way I figure it, if that’s what they
want to do, then I’m happy to
lend a hand.
Micro Machines
Yet time plays cruel tricks on
games, and few are crueller than
the tricks it’s played on
Shenmue. What originally looked
daring, original and engrossing,
has in fact been proven to be
wildly unfocused. It’s a case in
point as to why games should be
a little more scripted than they
sometimes are. Why should the
user have to do all the hard work
Overhead racing games are the
business when they work. Nitro
on the Amiga, Super Off Road
Racer in the arcades,
Championship/Super Sprint on
just about any format, Supercars
and its sequel. I loved them all.
Micro Machines? Plain irritating,
unfortunately.
The racing for me felt stilted
throughout and once you’d got
over the novelty that you were
racing across a breakfast table,
you were left with a professionally-
FIFA
International
Soccer
It’s easy to slag off FIFA games,
especially as they’ve never hit
the dizzy gameplay heights of
Pro Evolution Soccer. But that
would be unfair, as the franchise
**66**
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Cannon Fodder
I’ve been dreading this one.
Looking back, Sensible Software
still isn’t given the credit it
deserves. Unjustly renowned for
its wonderful football title
alone, we too often gloss over
the brilliance of Wizball (surely
one of the best games of all
time?), the utter splendidness of
Mega-lo-Mania and the groundbreaking Microprose Soccer. Yet
Cannon Fodder, one of a raft of
games at the time that were
seemingly converted to any
format the developer fancied, just
never clicked.
has produced some good games
– FIFA 98 and FIFA 2003 were
releases in which everything
seemed to hang together. Yet the
original was a frustrating beast.
The selling point of FIFA was
its graphics, which were suitably
removed from those of its
contemporaries. Worryingly, many
played the thing and still couldn’t
see that they’d been sold short in
terms of gameplay. This was a
title that only let you control your
team when it wanted to –
otherwise, it did the work on
your behalf. It also had that
legendary cheat – all you needed
to do to score a goal was stand
in front of the keeper as he was
about to do a drop kick. It was
several years before EA Sports
actually created a game that was
worthy of all the visual polish
that had been smeared on FIFA.
Perhaps it was the marriage of
the cartoony characters to the
subject matter, or the feeling that
it was walking tentatively
between the stools of puzzle
game and strategy. Or it could be
that I’m a cantankerous nobody,
who deserves to sit in front of
Rise of the Robots for a week to
learn to appreciate just how
much I should actually love wellput-together games. Who knows.
Marble Madness
This worked in the arcades, and
it worked a treat. With a
trackball-style controller attached
to the cabinet, there was sense
in intricately manoeuvring a
marble to a destination point. But
when the game was robbed of its
proper controller, it fell apart.
Thus, despite the subsequent
release of a construction kit, the
computer conversions of Marble
Madness had lost their reason to
live. They became too difficult to
control, and simply didn’t work
anymore. Ironically, another game
of the time called Gyroscope
managed to pull it all off a bit
better, but it would be many
years before a computer could
accurately do justice to the
Marble Madness experience. And
by then, nobody gave a monkey’s
about it anyway.
Impossamole
Pac-Man
the last Monty outing,
Impossamole? And more
importantly, what about those
blinkered reviewers who failed
to notice that one of gaming’s
greatest characters had been
ceremoniously dumped in a pile
of gaming shit? A score from
Crash, if memory serves, was
enough to make me part with
the best part of a tenner. So
unhappy was I with the end
result that I was forced to make
back that 10 quid. By boycotting
the next few issues.
The problem with the really old
games, and we’re talking the
Pongs, the Space Invaders and
the Missile Commands, is that
they were so groundbreaking,
you almost feel you have to like
them. I was a wide-eyed kid
when Pong was first brought out
on Atari home console, and I can
say in all honesty that I thought
Monty Mole was a proper
gaming hero for me. Wanted:
Monty Mole and Auf
Wiedersehen Monty cost me a
shocking amount of my youth,
at a point where monitoring
pubic hair growth was the norm.
So what the hell happened with
**67**
it was shit then and I don’t think
it’s any better now. But I do
appreciate its importance in the
grand scheme of things.
Pac-Man? It falls into the
same camp, as far as I’m
concerned. Back in the days
when the family gathered round
the telly to play videogames (as
opposed to the solitary
confinement the PlayStation now
comes bundled with as standard),
Pac-Man ruled the roost in our
house. And OK, it was good fun
in the short term. But as with
Missile Command, Space
Invaders, and Pong, that’s all it
was – a short-term rush.
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FEATURE:SOFTWARE | DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE |
actually tricky to enjoy the game
as a coherent whole. Super-Test
still earned good reviews, nice
sales and another sequel. Frankly,
Ocean should have stopped at one.
Weird Dreams
If you want proof that developers
are happy to play with your head,
then Weird Dreams provides it. If I
were looking to pull a special
phrase out of the book of
journalistic clichés, which clearly
I’m not, then I’d say it’s a Marmite
game – you either love it or hate it.
Actually, I’ve never really minded
Marmite, apart from an unfortunate
and vomit-inducing incident when I
ate a solid lump of it for a dare.
But anyway, surely I can’t be alone
in my distaste for Weird Dreams?
and third games had something
mildly enjoyable about them.
Shadow of the Beast must go
down as the saga that everyone
liked to talk about, yet nobody
wanted to play.
Gran Turismo
Over the years, racing games have
bought heavily into realism and
have tried to combine it with
playability. So few games manage
to get a tight balance between the
two, and Gran Turismo isn’t one of
them. You’ll get no arguments from
me that it’s a technical
wonderment – I excitedly bought
my copy on the day of release. My
first thoughts? Wow! My second
thoughts? Is that it…? Where’s the
fun? Where’s the excitement?
Where’s the adrenaline? Where’s
my receipt?
The Sims
Daley
Thompson's
Super-Test
It’s fully understandable that, due
to the success of the much-loved
Daley Thompson’s Decathlon,
Ocean Software tried to spin out a
sequel. And to be fair, it tried
really, really hard. Yet liking SuperTest would be like giving the thick
kid in school a great grade
because they really tried to be
something they’re not. Sadly, life
can hit you with the truth in the
harshest possible way.
Thus, the elements of SuperTest that succeeded were primarily
the derivatives of Decathlon, ie
the bit where the aforementioned
kid copied from the book of
someone much cleverer. The parts
in which it failed were down to
the fact that it couldn’t read
Decathlon’s proverbial handwriting
properly, or it decided to come up
with a few ideas of its own, some
of which presumably looked quite
neat on those nice Konami games
in the arcades.
The end result, to be fair, is no
failure, but it is a mish-mash. So
inconsistent are the events that it’s
gameplay touches. The sequel? Ah,
that’s where the egos seemed to
take hold. “Look what we can do,”
the programmers perhaps
ventured. “We’ve always wanted to
make a movie, so we can do that,
and stick bits of game between it.”
And they did. The result? You
spent so much time watching
Metal Gear Solid 2 that you were
shocked when the bloody thing
asked you to pick the joypad back
up. In the right hands, cutscenes
can enhance games immeasurably.
In the hands of this developer,
they could be patented as an
insomnia cure.
What the hell was going on? Was
anything going on? Was it only me
who thought it was the epitome of
style over substance? Why did it
become a magnet for scores north
of 80%? There’s a whole bevy of
questions I could ask, and frankly I
still don’t have the answers to any
of them.
Shadow of the
Beast 2
The thing that always got me
about Shadow of the Beast, and
particularly its sequel, was that
everyone knew it was crap but
didn’t dare say it. I can vividly
remember the playground
conversations about the wonderful
cutscenes and how it showed off
just what computers could do. I
recall us discussing our initial
amazement at just what was
happening on our tellies. Then
there was the gameplay… we ran
out of things to say at that point.
Shadow of the Beast 2 was the
worst of the three, as both the first
Wipeout
One of a couple of PlayStation
mega-hits that I had problems
with. Wipeout – and I refuse to
replicate the bizarre capitalisation
of certain letters in the title –
was a title that shifted umpteen
consoles, yet always felt
distinctly middle of the road to
play. On the plus side, it was one
of the titles that put the
PlayStation on the map. On the
downside? It generated sequels
that were the epitome of the law
of diminishing returns.
Metal Gear
Solid 2
To my mind, there’s a very clear
distinction between watching a
movie for entertainment and
playing a game. Metal Gear Solid 2
doesn’t seem to get that. The
original MGS was just about
tolerable, because in spite of the
endless, hugely uninteresting
cutscenes, there were some lovely
**68**
Let’s end with a more recent
abomination. Without question, The
Sims is the most overrated,
undeserving game in the history of
the entire world. Ignoring the fact
that it’s derivative of Little
Computer People, this is a title in
which you invent pretend people
and watch them go about their
pretend lives. That, my friends, isn’t
escapism. That’s what I’m trying to
escape by turning a computer on in
the first place. It’s a game where a
wife nags a husband. Where you
have to go to work on time. Where
you invite insufferable relatives
round for agonisingly extended
barbecues. In short, it’s a game
that realises a good two dozen
circumstances that have appeared
at one time or another on divorce
documents. And then there’s the
add-on packs – take your pretend
people on holiday! Turn them into
celebrities! Buy ‘em a budgie!
What’s particularly disturbing is
that it threatens to spawn a subgenre. Singles was released this
year, with the aim of making
pretend people have sex. See? This
is the legacy that The Sims has left
us. And Little Computer People was
such a terrific game, too. ✺✯*
Untitled-1 1
1/9/06 12:55:47
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FEATURE:SOFTWARE | MASTERING CHAOS |
**72**
RETRO10 Dungeon Master
03/11/2004 9:19 PM
Page 73
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**73**
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FEATURE:SOFTWARE | MASTERING CHAOS |
Light fantastic
Oasis Systems was a small
software publishing company
owned and run by San Diego
local Wayne Holder and his
partner (and future wife), Nancy
Jones. The company was named
after Wayne’s house, which was
called The Oasis. A number of his
friends and former classmates
used to gather every Wednesday
night at the house to discuss
computers and technology, before
heading off to the local arcades.
Oasis Systems first published
a successful spell-checking utility
for the CP/M operating system
called The Word (later updated
and released as The Word Plus),
and Wayne was soon looking to
branch out into games software.
In the summer of 1982, Wayne
persuaded his old high-school
friend Bruce Webster to resign
from his current job and help set
up Faster Than Light (FTL). A year
earlier, Bruce had contacted
Wayne regarding a play-by-phone
computer game called Blows
Against The Empire (pinched from
the title of a 1970 Jefferson
Starship album). This BBS-based
game collapsed after the
promised investment failed to
materialise, but the two friends
remained in contact.
Bruce already had a strong
gaming background, having
written regular articles for a
couple of US game magazines,
including Computer Gaming
World. He was also an avid board
and RPG player, so he was a
natural choice to help set up a
games division.
The first FTL title was a
science-fiction strategy game,
originally developed for the 48Kb
Apple II but eventually released
for the expanded 64Kb model.
This game started life as a
conversion of a popular board
game called Star Smuggler, but
when the manufacturer’s parent
company went bust, the licence
went with it. The game was
therefore abandoned and then redesigned from the ground up to
eventually become Sundog:
Frozen Legacy.
Whilst Sundog was still being
developed, Oasis Systems
continued to develop and publish
applications, including one called
Punctuation & Style. It also
produced some custom spellchecking modules for other
software publishers, including
one for the very first version of
Microsoft Word. However, as the
games side took off, the
applications side of the business
was quietly phased out.
Word gets around
With the Apple II version of
Sundog nearing completion in
early 1984, Wayne Holder started
looking for someone to produce
the artwork for the packaging. As
part of this search, he
telephoned local San Diego artist
David Darrow, as David himself
explains: “To his surprise, when
he introduced himself on the
phone, I replied, ‘Wayne Holder?
Of The Word Plus fame?’ He
laughed at the idea that an
artist would know that he wrote
the world’s first spelling-checker
software, but didn’t know there
was a budding computer geek
behind the airbrush and
coloured pencils I used. I had
just bought a Kaypro 10 (CP/M
system) and was amazed by
Wayne Holder’s program.
“I met with them at their
original office known as Oasis
Systems, and a friendship and
business relationship was born.
They needed a piece of art that
looked like a movie poster for
Sundog. They were so pleased
Sundog: Frozen Legacy first
appeared on the Apple II, but it
was the Atari ST version that
landed FTL its first big hit
**74**
with that artwork, that I became
their artist, doing covers for four
more games…”
Sundog: Frozen Legacy was
released in March 1984 at the
West Coast Computer Fair in San
Francisco, and was generally well
received. A revised and updated
version was released six months
later, after which Bruce Webster
called it a day and unexpectedly
resigned. FTL’s first few years
had been an extremely creative
but intense period, and Bruce felt
burned out by the experience. As
a result, he didn’t touch computer
programming for over four years.
However, he continued with IT
by teaching Computer Science at
Brigham Young University and
writing IT articles for magazines
like BYTE and Macworld. Bruce
later became a contributor to
the Computer Dictionary,
published by Microsoft Press in
the early 1990s.
Dungeon dweller
Sometime after Bruce Webster left
in late 1984, FTL became FTL
Games, and Oasis Systems
became Software Heaven Inc. FTL
Games then took on new staff
and were busy preparing to port
Sundog over to the brand-new
16-bit Atari ST. The ST conversion
became FTL’s first big commercial
success, and a number of the
programmers and artists from
Sundog went directly to work on
the next project in the pipeline,
Dungeon Master. They included
Doug Bell (co-founder of games
publisher PVC Dragon) and Andy
Jaros, who had initially joined FTL
with an idea for an adventure
game before being put to work
on the Sundog ST conversion.
Dungeon Master (DM to its
fans) was the result of much
brain storming at FTL during the
closing stages of the ST Sundog
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Page 75
>Cover
story
conversion. Although Sundog was
a good game, it suffered from
“bad design practices” as far as
the programmers were concerned.
Too much of the game had been
“hard coded” and whatever the
next project was going to be, it
needed to be written in a more
efficient manner.
A few of the FTL team were
adventure or RPG fans, so the
type of game they wanted to
develop next was obvious. After
choosing to write the new game
using the highly portable
programming language C (rather
than using Pascal and 6502
assembly code, as had been the
case with Sundog), an in-house
tool called the Dungeon
Construction Set was written to
enable the design of the dungeon
level to be as easy as possible.
FTL also created a compact
Dungeon Database to further
improve the efficiency of the
coding. Only once the basic game
engine had been designed and
implemented did the plot for DM
really begin to evolve.
Nancy Jones (later to become
a prolific and successful fantasy
novelist) wrote the prologue for
the DM manual. It told of a
powerful wizard called the Grey
Lord, his dungeon beneath Mount
Anaias, his powerful Firestaff, and
the fabled and long-lost Power
Gem, hidden somewhere in the
fires of the mountain.
The Grey Lord’s failed attempt
to recover the Power Gem
affected both himself and his
trusted apprentice, Theron. They
were both cursed to exist in
limbo. However, the Grey Lord
also became divided – one part
became Lord Librasulus (‘The
Restorer of Order’), whilst the
other part became the evil Chaos.
Many heroes were sent by
Librasulus into the dungeon to
find and return with the Power
Dare you enter The Grey
Lord's dungeon and retrieve
the Power Gem?
Gem. Few survived to tell the
tale, and those who did spoke of
monsters and traps in abundance,
created by Chaos to prevent
recovery of the Gem. The
prologue concluded with
Librasulus reluctantly sending
Theron into the dungeon to
gather a party of adventurers for
one last attempt at recovering the
Gem, denying Chaos the chance
to enslave the world.
Choose your
Champions
DM began with the player
entering the ‘Hall of Champions’ –
a dungeon level devoid of
monsters, but with two-dozen
framed portraits hanging on the
walls, containing the frozen souls
Which characters will you
choose to join your party?
of champions who had previously
perished. These souls had been
trapped and put on display by
Chaos himself, to ward off other
adventurers.
The player could choose to
resurrect or re-incarnate up to
four of the champions for the
quest. Resurrecting a champion
from the Hall meant keeping their
original abilities and skills, whilst
re-incarnating them meant they
forgot their skills but benefited
instead from greater physical
abilities. In RPG terms, it was a
choice between choosing a prerolled character or taking pot-luck
and creating a new one. The
latter option allowed the player
to create a new name for the
champion, but they couldn’t
change their gender or physical
appearance.
The resurrected champions all
had varying abilities as a fighter,
wizard, ninja or priest. In total,
there were 15 ability levels to
aspire to, starting as a lowly
Neophyte and ending up as an
Arch Master. As experience was
gained, their abilities would
slowly increase, with each level
boost requiring twice the
experience of the previous one.
Although the player didn’t
know it at the start of the game,
fighters played a big role in the
early stages, whilst wizards and
priests (both capable of casting
magic spells) became pivotal
later on. It was therefore
important for the player to have a
well-balanced group of characters
in their party, although once they
had finished the game, some
players took on the challenge of
finishing it with the worst, or the
shortest, or sometimes with just
the one champion!
Each champion had Health,
Stamina, Mana and Load levels
that fluctuated throughout the
game. The first three were
Following his work on Sundog, David
Darrow was asked to create the cover
artwork for DM, and he decided to use
local people as models. “In the
foreground is my now ex-wife, who had
to hold a very heavy candelabra for the
photos I shot for reference,” revealed
David. “The guy grabbing the torch was
programmer Andy Jaros, and the
muscle-dude in the background was
some guy I found at a gym. I walked
into a fitness centre and asked the
receptionist if there was a really huge
guy there who she thought might like
to pose for pictures for a ‘hero video
game cover’ and she went and got him.
I paid him to come to my home and
pose for the pictures with a fluorescent
bulb in his hands as a sword.
“The woman’s costume was really a
modified night gown, the muscle man’s
stuff was invented, and Andy Jaros
brought his own costume. Yeah, he
owned all that stuff!
“I painted the cover about four or
five times the size of the retail box on a
gessoed masonite panel. I used
airbrushed liquitex acrylic and coloured
pencils to render it. It took about three
weeks, because the technique was all
new to me, and I felt under tremendous
pressure. That was my own doing. FTL
was very patient with me.”
David took his inspiration from artist
Drew Struzan, who has painted a large
number of famous film posters over the
last 25 years, including Raiders of the
Lost Ark, Blade Runner, Back to the
Future I, II and III and more recently,
Star Wars Episode I and Hellboy, to
name but a few.
David Darrow's Dungeon Master
artwork, seen here on the original
Atari ST version of the game
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>Spell
bound
The ‘magick’ system used in DM
consisted of a series of runes, each
with its own ‘magickal’ syllable. These
runes were divided into the four known
influences – power, element, form and
alignment. Additional runes controlled
each of the influences. There were six
runes for each influence, making a total
of 24. Thankfully, the manual explained
them all in great detail.
Each rune used an amount of Mana
when it was cast. Mana was slowly
restored to a champion during rest, but
there were other methods for
recovering Mana. These included
drinking a few ‘Ee’ potions, but only if
the player had the foresight to prepare
some in advance. The total amount of
Mana that each champion could call
upon increased as their ability levels
improved. A Neophyte wizard would
only be able to muster a few weak
‘magical torch’ spells before expiring
their Mana supply, but a Master wizard
would be able to cast dozens of
powerful spells before running low.
Various scrolls found inside the
dungeon gave clues to rune
combinations that the player could try,
as well as occasionally hinting at
other general clues. If the relevant
champion had enough Mana, the
player could also experiment with
various rune combinations just to see
what would happen.
available as bar charts above the
main game screen. Health
became depleted during battle,
Stamina would be sapped
without rest, Mana would reduce
whenever a spell was cast, and
the Load would increase as more
items were carried. Champions
also had a series of additional
statistics for Strength, Dexterity,
Wisdom, Vitality, Anti-Magic and
Anti-Fire. Again, their values
would fluctuate throughout the
game, and the maximum
attainable was based on the
champion’s current ability levels.
The champions found in the
Hall were named by FTL after a
variety of characters, either real
or from books or films. For
example, Chani Sayyadina Sihaya
was Paul Atreides’ Fremen wife in
Frank Herbert’s Dune. Azizi Johari
was a Playboy Playmate from
1975, and Gothmog was Morgul’s
Lieutenant at the Battle of
Pelennor in Tolkien’s The Lord of
the Rings. Other champions
included Leif the Valiant, who
was inspired by Leif Eriksson, the
Viking explorer who was the first
European to ever set foot on
North American soil, whilst Zed
was a non-player character from
Sundog: Frozen Legacy.
Taking control
One of the crucial elements that
FTL worked on constantly during
the design phase of the game
was the control interface. What
began as a complex point-andclick system was eventually
simplified until it became
intuitive. This was especially
important when you consider
that the game was played in
real time, and often the player
would need to change their
party’s formation, swap items
and then reach into a
character’s backpack and get an
item to use within a couple of
seconds of being attacked.
The game system only had a
few screens to offer. The main
‘dungeon view’ was the most
important, dominated by the
window into the pseudo-3D
environment. A second screen
(accessed by right-clicking or
pressing a function key) showed
the items contained in each
champion’s backpack. This
screen also showed the
champion’s statistics and
abilities in more detail, and also
gave access to the third and
final screen where the player
could save/load their progress,
or quit/restart the game. The
action and movement icons (that
included left, right, forward,
back, turn left, and turn right)
were positioned to the right of
the screen, and this area also
gave the player the options
related to the items held in each
champion’s hands, which were
always displayed along the top
of the screen.
Running around the dungeon
corridors was achieved either
through clicking on the onscreen movement icons, or via
the keyboard’s cursor keys.
Most players soon learned that
using the keyboard to move
around was far quicker than
using the mouse, especially if
they were running away (Monty
Python style) from the monsters.
They could then use the mouse
to fight or cast spells as they
retreated. This combination of
mouse and keyboard controls
used in tandem pre-dated
games like Doom (where this
adept skill was a necessity) by
about six years.
The party often had to sleep
to recover spent abilities. Whilst
resting, they were vulnerable to
attack from monsters, so the
player had to find a dead end,
far away from any danger
(preferably in an area of the
dungeon they had already
cleared) before they could safely
send them to sleep.
Unfortunately, rest could not cure
all of their ailments. For
example, sleeping whilst
poisoned accelerated a
**76**
champion’s decline. In that
circumstance, their only chance of
survival was to find an antidote.
It was almost impossible to
go through the entire dungeon
without any of the champions
dying in combat. When a
champion was killed, there
would be an ear-piercing shriek
and their bones, along with all
of their possessions, would drop
to the floor. Thankfully, certain
dungeon levels had reincarnation
shrines (called the Altar of VI)
where the bones of the
deceased could be placed. They
would then be brought back to
life, complete and intact.
DM employed a pseudo-3D
technique to display the game
environment. Everything was
derived from a series of predrawn 2D graphics. The dungeon
environment was pieced together
jigsaw-style from individual
‘sprite’ graphics of walls, floors,
ceilings, etc. However, the game
world behaved as if it were 3D,
so if you threw an item it would
travel a certain distance based
on the champion’s ninja abilities
and whether any obstacles got
in the way (or not as the case
Dungeon Master featured a
simple but intuitive pointand-click interface
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may be). Monsters could also be
seen approaching from a
distance, and the party could
turn on the spot in 45-degree
movements as well as move a
step forward, back or sideways.
Hunt and gather
DM was littered with all kinds of
items – from scrolls, food, rocks
and weapons, to keys, gems,
potions and armour. Items had
their own particular abilities.
They could improve a champion’s
abilities, or add options when
readied in a champion’s hand.
For example, a full Storm Ring
could cast lightning, a Staff of
Claws could confuse monsters,
whilst a Teowand could calm
monsters, or create one of two
different shields – a Spellshield
(to protect against magickal
attacks) or a Fireshield (useful
against other monsters, including
the Dragon).
Each character could only
carry so many items before their
‘load’ became a burden.
Ultimately, a character weighed
down with too many items would
slow down the entire party – the
speed that the group could move
or run through the dungeon was
always dictated by the speed of
the slowest member. Although
the idea of not leaving behind
the slowest or weakest member
of the party sounded noble and
heroic, this feature was dictated
The dungeon floors were
filled with items to
retrieve and use
Page 77
by the game mechanics - the
party couldn’t be split up, even if
the player wanted to! The four
champions therefore had no
choice but to stick together.
Picking up containers (chests,
boxes etc) allowed the
champions to carry more objects
than their backpack would
normally allow. However, the
combined weight still contributed
to the champion’s overall load.
Obviously, items could be
dropped or given to other
stronger characters if required.
To help keep the DM world
consistent, any items dropped on
one level of the dungeon would
still be there when the player
returned to it later. This was
useful, as players could stockpile
items that they couldn’t carry
(usually by staircases to other
dungeon levels). They could then
nip back and retrieve the items
when they needed them later.
One way to lose items was to
have them stolen by a Giggler.
These weird-looking spindly little
creatures would run up to the
party, make a funny giggling
noise, swipe some items and
then run away again. They were
quite fast and the only way to
recover the items was to give
chase and kill it!
There were a few oddities
with the game physics in DM
that the player had no choice but
to accept. For example, they
could grab a lit torch from a
sconce on a wall, and
immediately place it inside a
backpack for later use. The torch
would immediately extinguish,
only to somehow re-light itself
when next taken out of the
backpack! However, torches did
have a limited amount of time
before they dimmed and
permanently expired. Keys could
also only be used once, as the
locks would ‘gobble’ them up!
Monster squad
DM contained over 20 dif ferent
types of monster to battle. This
menagerie included Mummies,
Stone Golems, Pain Rats,
Ghosts, Gigglers, Oitus (giant
spiders), Rock Piles, Screamers,
Scorpions, Skeletons and a
fire-breathing Dragon! Each
monster had its own (hidden)
statistics including speed,
armour, health, hit probability,
bravery, awareness, magic and
poison resistance to name but
a few.
Some creatures disappeared
in a puf f of smoke when
vanquished, whilst others
helpfully left behind food that
would sustain the party for a
while. Worm Rounds were
always good for snacking on,
whilst Dragon Steaks were
definitely at the top of most
adventurers’ dinner menus –
such a shame there was only
one (large) Dragon to defeat.
Andy Jaros produced the
graphics for DM. Although
there wasn’t much variety in
the dungeon environment, this
was more than made up for by
the variety of monsters and
items that the player
encountered during the quest.
It’s interesting to realise that
none of the monsters in DM had
more than four frames of
animation. These included front
standing, front attacking, back
and one side (mirrored for left
and right). It’s a testament to
FTL that most players never
noticed, or if they did, didn’t
feel that it mattered!
Sound also played an
important part in DM, despite
the fact that the game had
long periods of relative silence.
It was exactly this minimalist
approach to sound that helped
to make the game so
atmospheric. The distant
clanking of a far away door or
gate opening, or the sudden
loud screams of monsters
lurking just around the corner
immediately put the player’s
nerves on edge. As later
versions of DM were
developed, sound effects were
improved to include the sound
of monsters moving around in
the dungeon.
Just some of the monsters you'd
encounter as you travelled
deeper into the dungeon
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>DMGS
Perhaps the most interesting conversion
was for the Apple IIGS, as it featured an
exclusive extra dungeon level which
could be accessed by pressing the
Apple II’s ‘option’ key whilst clicking on
the dungeon’s ‘Enter’ button at the very
start of the game. The starting location
looked the same as the regular DM
game. The end of the first corridor had
“Welcome Brave Kids” carved into the
stone wall. Further tips and hints were
found on the walls as the player
explored the initial area, which included
a one-room version of the Hall of
Champions that contained 11 portraits to
choose from.
Only once the player had recruited
some champions would the game let
them through the next door. From here
they could collect and fill a water-bag,
tool up with a few extra weapons and
choose from three sets of stairs leading
downwards. One staircase lead to the
Treasure Maze with Gigglers (“Beware of
the Kleptomaniacs!”), whilst another
took the player to the Shooting Gallery.
Some of these dungeons included “Push
A Button – Make A Monster”, where you
could generate a monster to fight
against. Another area gave the player a
chance to battle with a Dragon in its
den. This was a training area or tutorial
for the quest that lay ahead.
Going public
DM was first publicly revealed at
the June 1986 Consumer
Electronics Show in Las Vegas as
a self-running slideshow on the
Atari ST. Mirrorsoft’s Jim
MacKonochie was impressed with
what he saw, and immediately
snapped up the European
distribution rights for both
Dungeon Master and Oids (FTL’s
shoot-em-up inspired by the
Williams coin-op Gravitar) after
he met with FTL’s Marketing
Director, Russ Boelhauf.
The deal between FTL and
Mirrorsoft ultimately proved to be
good business for both
companies, as over two-thirds of
FTL’s DM sales came from
Europe. However, it was so long
between the deal being signed
and the game finally appearing
(over a year later) that Jim
MacKonochie had all but
forgotten about it when it finally
appeared in late 1987.
Such was the clamour for DM
when it was finally released that
a badge was produced for
retailers, proudly proclaiming
“Yes – we have Dungeon
Master!”. The game sold out as
soon as it hit the shelves, and
FTL in the US and Mirrorsoft in
the UK had a hard time keeping
up with demand.
The first release of DM for the
ST (v1.0) had a few bugs near
the end of the game that were
quickly fixed. Upgrades were
available for a nominal postage
fee if players returned their
original game disks to FTL or
Mirrorsoft. Other minor revisions
and tweaks were continually
being made, especially as further
conversions to other formats were
being written. For example, the
player originally had to use a
waterskin or flask to drink from
the fountains. This was revised in
later versions so you only had to
select the fountain to take a drink.
Other changes included being able
to select walls to hear if they were
false or not, and the removal of
the useful lockpick item.
DM went on to win dozens of
accolades from the computer
press. It was voted Game of the
Year for 1988 across Europe and
the US, and if imitation is the
greatest form of flattery, then FTL
became exceptionally flattered over
the next five or six years, as a
number of publishers jumped on
the bandwagon and produced
similar games.
Westwood Associates (later to
become Westwood Studios)
created Eye of the Beholder for
TSR, a DM-clone with improved
graphics, more features and the
official AD&D rules, based on the
Forgotten Realms tabletop RPG.
This game spawned two further
sequels, with a new developer
completing the third and final part
in the series. By then, Westwood
had set itself up as a publisher
and developer, and went on to
produce its own DM homage a few
years later, called Lands of Lore:
Throne of Chaos, which also
spawned a couple of sequels.
Despite being the European
distributor for DM, Mirrorsoft
produced Bloodwych, a DM-style
RPG that added a two-player,
split-screen feature. This game
was also converted to run on the
older 8-bit Spectrum, C64 and
Amstrad CPC computers. Other
games that were obviously
inspired by DM included the Ishar
series, Tony Crowther’s Captive
(published by Mindscape), two
Abandoned Places games, and
Black Crypt (published by
Electronic Arts).
DM’s popularity also spawned
a small ‘cottage industry’ of its
own, as home-developed (and
strictly unofficial) DM editors
The Apple IIGS version featured
a new 'Kid Dungeon' which was
basically a training exercise
**78**
began to appear, along with other
unofficial maps and full-blown
solutions, detailing every level of
the dungeon.
Preaching to
the converted
A ‘1Mb only’ Commodore Amiga
conversion of DM, with improved
stereo sound effects, appeared
the following year, along with the
usual minor tweaks and
improvements by FTL. Other more
The massive popularity of Dungeon
Master unsurprisingly led to many
similar adventure titles
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exotic conversions were to follow
over the next few years,
including Japanese-language
versions for the PC9801, the
X68000 and FM Towns machines.
The latter version came on CDROM and included CD audio
tracks that played during the
game. The music was also
released as a standalone CD
album, simply called Dungeon
Master – The Album.
It took a couple of years
before a PC version appeared.
When it did, it came supplied
Page 79
with an additional hardware addon called the FTL Sound Adapter
which allowed PCs that didn’t
have soundcards (quite common
in the very early 1990s) the
chance to hear the digitised
sound effects.
As the console market
matured, DM was eventually
converted onto the SNES and the
Mega-CD/Sega-CD. NEC’s PC
Engine/TurboGrafx received a
restricted version of the game
called Theron’s Quest, which had
a traditional Japanese-style
animated intro, and included
seven mini-dungeons to explore.
One conversion that was
started but never finished was for
Commodore’s short-lived CDTV.
The main technical stumbling
block for this version was the
severe lack of space on the
machine’s memory cards for
saved game files. It was a
problem that neither Commodore
nor FTL were able to resolve.
Chaos reigns
The Japanese Super Famicon
version featured alternative
coverart, while NEC consoles
received a stripped-down
version of the game entitled
Theron's Quest
Thanks to the design and
programming ethos that FTL
adopted whilst creating DM, the
ability to have additional data
disks was easily achievable.
This was a wise move, from
both a creative and a business
perspective, enabling FTL to
create further DM adventures
without having to write masses
of new code.
However, as FTL began
designing the extra dungeons,
the scope of the project slowly
outgrew their original data disk
intentions and Chaos Strikes
Back (CSB) eventually became a
standalone game in its own
right. There were advantages to
taking this approach. For
starters, new graphics could be
added to the DM world, and
that meant new monsters (over
a dozen). It also meant that
players didn’t have to own the
original game to play the
follow-up.
FTL had always been keen
to listen to fans of DM, and
often asked players to contact
it with suggestions and
comments. Some of these ideas
found their way into CSB. One
of the new features enabled
players to amend the portraits
of the champions via a Utility
Disk that was supplied with the
game. This disk also allowed
players to import their
champions from DM and give
them all updated (pre-defined)
portraits. However, none of
their items survived the
transition from DM to CSB.
The CSB Utility Disk also
included a Hint Oracle program.
The player could load their
save-game file into the Oracle
and it would give hints about
the surrounding location. The
player was therefore less likely
to see potential spoilers for
sections of the game that they
had yet to encounter.
The CSB box contained the
usual instructions, a disk, a
slightly cryptic poster and a
coin. This coin showed the face
of Chaos on one side, and
“Danger thus reveals its face”
on the other. The box was
similar to DM’s, and proudly
proclaimed “Expansion Set #1”
along the top, even though the
game ended up as a
standalone product. It was
simply a case of printing the
boxes far in advance of the
game being finished.
Curiously, instead of new
artwork, the box featured the
original DM painting. As David
Darrow explains: “After Dungeon
Master came out, over time I
began reading reports that
concerned me about the
Despite the packaging, Chaos
Strikes Back proved to be much
more than a DM data disk
The CSB prologue mentioned a
coin and, lo and behold, one
was included in the box
The handy CSB Utility Disk
included a hint system amongst
other things
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>Help!
Chaos Strikes Back featured 10
dungeon levels, or 11 if you
counted The Prison, compare d to
DM’s 13, but mapping the game on
graph paper became extreme ly
dif ficult. Thankfu lly, help would
soon be at hand.
A few months after the game’s
release, FTL publishe d the of ficial
Adventu rer’s Handboo k, which
containe d full maps and a detailed
solution . This book became an
essentia l guide for the Mirrorso ft
support team, which had to take the
phone calls from players stuck in
the dungeon .
be included in future
dungeon/demons-type games
after that. I threw away my
business relationship with them
for the life of the company, but
I had to do what my heart told
me.” Despite his reluctant
decision, David, Bruce and
Wayne still remain friends to
this day.
The new quest
Help at hand - official
guides were quickly published
to guide foolhardy
adventurers out of trouble
obsessions some people got
with RPG. In particular I was
concerned about occultist
overtones (or greater) in
dungeon/demon games, and
due to my faith, I asked not to
There were two different
endings to the original DM, with
cryptic clues to both written in
various scrolls found lying
around in the dungeon. The
first involved taking the Firestaff
(without the Power Gem) all the
way back to the dungeon
entrance. Once there, the player
was met by Lord Librasulus,
who would then destroy the
party for failing to discover the
secret of the Firestaff.
The second ending involved
combining the Firestaff and the
Power Gem, and then finding
Chaos. A particularly adept
wizard was required to cast
dozens of ‘Fluxcage’ spells
which would then fuse the two
objects together when Chaos
was surrounded on all four
sides. Of course, the Fluxcages
didn’t last for long, and Chaos
had a nasty of habit of moving
about and blasting the party
with spells of his own! Once
entrapped, Chaos was re-united
with Lord Order and so the Grey
Lord was restored to the world.
Unsurprisingly, CSB builds
on the more favourable second
ending. The prologue revealed
that Chaos had predicted his
own defeat, and had created a
new dungeon to exact his
revenge. Within this new
dungeon, Chaos created a Forge
of Fulya, which produced a
seething, poisonous black
flame. In it, he mined four
chunks of Corbum, a substance
that drew Mana from the world.
With this Corbum, Chaos hoped
to permanently detach himself
from the Grey Lord. The Corbum
ore had to be found and
destroyed to prevent the return
of Chaos.
The game design for CSB
was a lot less linear than DM.
The quest required the party to
locate the four Corbums and
destroy them by throwing each
one into the Fulya pit.
Unfortunately, the game was full
of hidden traps and teleporters
to confuse and disorientate the
player. Pits would often drop
the party two or three levels
down, with no easy way of
getting back to where they had
fallen. There were also limited
supplies of food and water,
randomly placed items and
much tougher monsters!
If the player was starting
from scratch, they had to firstly
explore The Prison, where they
could rescue new characters for
their party, including many
more non-human characters
compared to the original DM.
The player would then import
these characters into the Utility
Disk and export a CSBcompatible save file, which
placed the party at the very
start of the game. This feature
also accommodated a savegame from DM to be imported.
Once in the game proper,
CSB immediately put the party
in mortal danger from armoured
worms inside a dark and dingy
dungeon. Unknown to the
player, the party were standing
on a floor-switch that was
generating the worms!
The party had to side-step
the worms and keep on the
move, hitting them when they
could but without becoming
**80**
cornered. Coins placed in slots
on the wall gave access to
areas with better weapons, and
slowly but surely the worms
would be defeated. The party
was then able to do a little
more exploration. Armour and
CSB was similar in appearance
to the original DM, but the
new quest was far less linear
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other useful items were also
found in the immediate area,
allowing the party to ‘tool up’.
Unfortunately, the respite was
short-lived, and the party would
soon be battling with more
creatures, and areas with dozens
of pits that would appear and
disappear on a whim.
Each of the four Corbums
were located along a different
‘way’ in the dungeon, focusing
on each of the four different
skills – fighter (Ku), ninja (Ros),
wizard (Dain) and priest (Neta).
The Junction of the Ways forced
the player to decide which ‘way’
to attempt first. Each one
started at the junction, but then
led the party to different
dungeon levels. They would
then meet up halfway through
(at the Diabolical Demon
Director) and then separate
again, only to finally reconverge at the Fulya pit.
More often that not, the
solution to an obstacle or trap
would be based around the
abilities associated with the
‘way’. For instance, a problem
encountered along the way of
Dain would require spell
casting. Sometimes, the party
would get so far down one
‘way’, only to then have to
retrace their steps back to the
junction and try another way in
order to retrieve an item they
needed to make progress. Each
‘way’ required a special key to
be located mid-way through
before you could reach the
Corbum.
Late arrival
CSB was released in late
November 1989 for the Atari ST,
some two years after the
release of DM and about six
months later than originally
planned. In Europe, Mirrorsoft
Page 81
didn’t get to see the game at all
before it appeared on the
shelves. Initially, it was difficult
to get hold of, as only limited
numbers had been shipped over
from the US. Even Mirrorsoft
staff had to go out and buy
their own copies of the game to
be able to play it! An Amiga
version appeared in early 1990,
with an improved animated
introduction and music. For
reasons unknown outside of
FTL, an official PC conversion of
CSB never appeared.
Many players found CSB to
be a much harder game than
DM. The confusing levels, the
tougher monsters and the nonlinear approach made it a
frustrating experience. It also
didn’t look very dif ferent,
except for the smattering of
new monsters (including the
blue Antmen, Rives,
Hellhounds, Black Flames,
Zytas and Deth Knights), but
those who battled their way
through also found it to be a
rewarding and worthy update
to DM, if not a proper fullblown sequel.
Mirrorsoft’s demise at the
end of 1991 forced FTL to find a
new distributor for DM and CSB
in Europe. It eventually signed
up with Liverpool publisher and
developer Psygnosis, who rereleased a special edition of DM
for the Amiga (which included
CSB) in 1992, along with a rerelease of the PC version minus
the FTL Sound Adaptor (which
was no longer required, as
soundcards were becoming a
standard piece of PC hardware
by then).
The legend
lives on
By the early 1990s, FTL’s staff
numbers had grown, yet most of
its efforts had been dominated
by converting DM and CSB to as
many different formats as it
could. The company had
originally planned to release a
series of DM-style games in
different genres, with horror and
science-fiction title being
considered. Ultimately, none of
them ever went beyond the
drawing board.
Instead, FTL eventually
turned its attentions to
producing a proper, standalone
sequel to DM. Dungeon Master
2: The Legend of Skullkeep
was initially released for the
Sega Mega-CD in 1994, and was
followed by versions for the IBM
PC, Amiga, Macintosh, PC9801,
PC9821 and the FM Towns the
following year. By then, the Atari
ST had disappeared off the
gaming radar, so no ST version
was produced.
This time around, FTL
developed the game for US
publisher Interplay to publish
worldwide, thereby freeing FTL
to concentrate on producing the
game itself rather than having
to deal with publishing
concerns like commissioning the
artwork, the boxes, distribution,
and so on.
The PC, Amiga and Macintosh
versions of DM2 used 256 colour
graphics, whilst the remaining
versions used a mixture of
graphics from the original DM
(mainly objects and the various
inventory and status screens)
and the newly produced location
and interface graphics. Once
again, DM veterans Wayne
Holder, Doug Bell and Andy Jaros
worked on the sequel, along
with other new recruits and staff
from Interplay.
The game system for DM2
was the same as the original,
except for some small additions.
The spell-casting interface was
improved, providing colourful
icons above each rune to give
some clue as to their use. The
control cluster was the same,
but it had a few extras of its
own, including being able to
turn individual party members
manually. There was much more
interaction with the scenery in
DM2. Freed from the same grey
dungeon walls of DM and CSB,
DM2 let the player explore
inside and outside of buildings,
and journey through
underground passages as well
as traverse dungeons as before.
There was more animation too,
including driving rain in some
of the outdoor locations,
fluttering window curtains and
flickering fires.
This time furniture could be
moved around, log fireplaces
could be set alight, shops
allowed players to buy and sell
items, and a useful ‘magick
map’ meant that mapping
wasn’t quite as dif ficult as it
once was. In fact, the map was
located immediately above
The sequel debuted on the
Sega Mega-CD, with homecomputer versions appearing
courtesy of Interplay
**81**
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FEATURE:SOFTWARE | MASTERING CHAOS |
Despite wanting to like the new
sequel, many felt that DM2 was
stuck in the past. It was
unfortunate, but it probably
suffered from being released a few
years too late. The gaming world
had moved on since the original
release of DM seven years before.
Some of the games published by
other developers since DM had
improved upon its style, whilst
others had taken the next step and
gone to actual 3D – Origin’s Ultima
Underworld springs to mind.
The door closes?
really
visuals, the sequel didn't
Despite slightly improved
move the series forward
where the game started. When
used, it showed a small grid
(7x7) of the surrounding area.
Final fight
DM2’s ultimate quest was to
prevent General Dragroth’s
minions from creating a ZO gate
that would allow him to leave
the void between worlds and
enter the castle of Skullkeep.
The player had to build a ZOlink machine to reach and defeat
Dragroth, before he did the
same to them. Whilst it sounded
simple enough, the game had
no less than 23 different levels
to explore and a whole host of
new monsters to exchange
blows with.
As with the original games,
DM2 featured a Hall of Champions
at the start. The lead character
(Zed Torham) was already chosen,
so the player had three other
champions to resurrect or reincarnate. These were all new
characters, with no chance to
import previous champions from
the earlier games.
Like CSB before it, DM2 was a
tough game to get to grips with.
The initial monsters that the player
encountered were difficult to
defeat, and despite the additions,
the 256 colour graphics hadn’t
moved on enough from the original
game. In particular, the dark and
rainy outdoor locations were a bit
murky and it was often difficult to
see what was going on.
DM eventually followed the true3D route in 1998, with the
release of Dungeon Master
Nexus on the Japanese Sega
Saturn. This exclusive version of
DM was effectively a new game
which included a proper 3D
engine and a new 15-level
dungeon to explore. However,
FTL Games had all but
disappeared by this point. Doug
Bell and Wayne Holder
collaborated on the book Java
Game Programming for Dummies
in the same year, and various
other FTL employees went on to
teach IT and Computer Science
at the University of California in
San Diego.
DM left a lasting impression
on the gaming world. There is a
thriving online community of
people today who are willing to
discuss what DM was and what it
meant to them back in the 16-bit
days. Many programmers have
taken up the challenge to
produce modern, updated
versions of DM, many using
modern 3D engines. Somehow,
somewhere, Chaos will return.
Thanks must go to Christophe
Fontanel and artist David
Darrow for their help in
compiling this article. ✺✯*
**82**
Dungeon Master made its
final official appearance on
the ill-fated Sega Saturn
Untitled-1 1
1/9/06 12:55:47
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FEATURE:HARDWARE | WATCH A GO GO |
**84**
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
03/11/2004 8:20 PM
Page 85
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**85**
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FEATURE:HARDWARE | WATCH A GO GO |
Handheld history
Gunpei Yokoi joined Nintendo in
1965, around the time its
executives decided to branch out
and fund a research and
development department to
come up with new ideas and
technologies. Yokoi was 24, and
already something of an
electronics wizard, having spent
most of his youth tinkering with
portable radios and electronics
kits. He was made head of
Nintendo’s first research and
development team, RD1, and was
tasked to design new toys for
the company to market.
He began by working on an
extension to a Nintendo’s Ultra
Toys project. Yokoi and his team
developed the Ultra Hand, a
robotic arm with a gripping
action which could be controlled
using a mini joystick. Although
not a success, the work on the
Ultra Toys line led the team into
miniature electronics, and in the
early 70s the first liquid crystal
screen was developed. It seems
Watch
Ball, the first Game &
with
here
seen
e,
titl
r
packaging and Japanese flye
the
Gunpei Yokoi, designer of
Game & Watch series, the
less
GameBoy, and the somewhat
successful VirtualBoy
further two years before the
first title hit the shops. Ball
went on sale in April 1980,
around the same time as the
Donkey Kong arcade game was
beginning to gain popularity.
Ball was followed by Flagman,
but these early efforts were
rather lacklustre and did not
sell in great numbers. It wasn’t
until the release of Fire in July
1980 that the games really
started to get noticed.
there were several problems in
development as the invention
was not patented until 1977.
The following year, with
most of the problems resolved,
the idea for the Game & Watch
was born. The name was
derived from the fact that there
was a small digital clock (later
with an accompanying alarm)
built into every game. It took a
>G&W formats
With 10 different formats
released, collecting Game &
Watch can be confusing to say
the least. Many of the more
popular games and the licensed
titles, such as Popeye, Snoopy
and Donkey Kong Jr., were
released on more than one
format. Here’s a summary of all
the various models:
Gold
Same size and design as the
Silver range except that these
have a gold-coloured border. They
also introduce a small metal
foldaway stand on the back of the
game. Titles in the Gold range are
Manhole, Helmet and Lion.
Multi Screen
Silver
The first five games were a bit
primitive in comparison to the
later models. They have a
single screen which has a
silver-coloured border with the
name of the game in the topright corner. The screens have a
painted overlay. The titles in
the series are Ball, Flagman,
Vermin, Fire and Judge.
Wide Screen
This format continues the basic
design of the Gold releases except
that the single screen is now a little
larger. They carry a small picture on
the left of the game with the name
on the right. Different-coloured
plastic backs make this range stand
out. There are 10 titles: Parachute,
Octopus, Popeye, Chef, Mickey
Mouse, Egg, Fire, Turtle Bridge, Fire
Attack and Snoopy Tennis.
The first big change in format
and a very popular one. An
additional screen doubles the
gameplay for twice the fun. They
come in two different formats.
The first has two widescreensize screens on top of each other.
The second format opens like a
book and is played with the two
screens side by side. The games
are housed in a bulky plastic
case. The front of the case has a
large metallic fascia, some with a
colour graphic and the game’s
name. The titles are Oil Panic,
Donkey Kong, Mickey & Donald,
Greenhouse, Donkey Kong II,
Mario Bros., Rainshower, Lifeboat,
Pinball, Blackjack, Squish,
Bombsweeper, Safebuster,
Goldcliff and Zelda.
**86**
New Wide
The same style and size of a
regular Wide Screen game except
that these have a coloured metallic
border. There are eight games in
this range: Donkey Kong Jr., Mario’s
Cement Factory, Manhole, Tropical
Fish, Super Mario Bros., Climber,
Balloon Fight and Mario the Juggler.
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Page 87
Double trouble
Subsequent releases capitalised
on the more popular features of
the earlier games and they just
got better and better. With the
release of the first Multi Screen
Game & Watch in May 1982, Oil
Panic, players were treated to two
screens of gameplay. The second
Multi Screen game, Donkey Kong,
introduced Nintendo’s famous
cross-shaped directional pad
which later graced the NES
controller and GameBoy. Donkey
Kong was also the company’s first
million-selling title – a very
impressive feat in less than two
years. It was to repeat this
success another three times in the
next seven years with Donkey
Kong II, Snoopy Tennis and the
famous Mario Bros.
Constant improvements were
implemented as new technology
advanced throughout the 1980s.
The screens were made a little
larger and the games became
ever more complex. The big
breakthrough came in 1983 with
Micro Vs. System
By far the most elegant games
designed for the series, with a
superb build quality that feels
good in the hand. They consist
of a single screen about the size
of two Wide Screen games side
by side. They have a pair of
controllers, which fit snugly into
the sides of the game when not
in use. These are the only
games designed with two
players in mind, and include
Boxing, Donkey Kong 3 and
Donkey Kong Hockey.
- an
The Multi Screen series
for
ion
irat
insp
obvious
Nintendo's new dual-screen
DS handheld
the introduction of the full-colour
Panorama series. These excellent
games lifted the Game & Watch
series to new heights, but
Nintendo continued releasing
games in the original formats to
be sold alongside their more
advanced cousins.
The series eventually ran to 10
different formats but it’s the
widescreen and mulitscreen
releases that are best
remembered. All told, Nintendo
sold over 12 million Game &
Watches around the world in 11
years. The last release, 1991’s
Mario The Juggler, was a tribute to
allow any permanent graphics or
painted screen overlay. The
games are Super Mario Bros.,
Climber and Balloon Fight, and all
three were later released as New
Wide games.
the very first game, Ball. It
featured the company’s bestknown character, Mario, juggling
balls just like the stickman in the
original. Eventually, Game & Watch
production slowed to make way
for Nintendo’s next, more
advanced handheld system, the
GameBoy. Also created by Gumpei
Yokoi, the GameBoy has proved to
be Nintendo’s biggest hit yet, but
its roots are in the Game & Watch.
Nintendo certainly hasn’t
forgotten its past glories. Five
Game & Watch Galleries have
been released for the GameBoy,
and each collection features
A throwback to the first Game & Watch title, Mario
the
Juggler ended the series on a high
playing area, creating sharp
colour graphics. It takes a while
to get used to the proper joystick
and buttons but these are an
excellent addition to the series.
The range features Donkey Kong
Jr., Mario’s Cement Factory,
Snoopy and Popeye.
Panorama
Tabletop
These games are much larger
than the rest of the series and
were designed for playing on a
tabletop. The best thing about
them is the introduction of colour
to the series. The large screen is
reflected via a mirror onto the
several original Game & Watch
titles plus updated versions with
full-colour graphics and familiar
Nintendo characters. Also, a range
of small keyring-sized Mini
Classics have been released since
September 1998. While not strictly
part of the official range, they are
still of interest to collectors. A
Game & Watch has even turned
up in the Nintendo’s recent
GameCube game Pikmin 2. You
have to direct your Pikmin army to
pick up the game and move it to
a safer location. Very sensible,
especially when you consider that
the cases scratch easily…
These are smaller versions of the
tabletop machines, except that
you pull the screen up to reveal
the playing area. These are also
in colour and are amongst the
best looking of all the games.
There are six titles in total:
Crystal Screen
The same-size screen as a
standard Wide Screen model,
except that the screen is
completely see-through and the
game itself is much wider. It has
glass on both sides and didn’t
**87**
Snoopy, Popeye, Donkey Kong Jr.,
Mario’s Bombs Away, Mickey
Mouse and Donkey Kong Circus.
Super Color
These are taller machines, which
come with a painted overlay.
They look like a New Wide
Screen game turned on its side.
Only two Super Color games were
ever released – Spitball Sparky
and Crab Grab.
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>Price guide
to
As with any collectable, games that are 100% complete and as near
worth
is
It
prices.
highest
the
command
possible
as
condition
factory
and the
remembering that most of these games are now over 20 years-old
dropped
have
shop
charity
or
sale
boot
a
at
one
chances of finding
dramatically over the last few years.
Boxed examples of any game are making decent money now. Even
always
unboxed examples of the more common games are sought after and
to get
sell. However, there are several games which are in plentiful supply
you started and these can be picked up at a reasonable price on eBay.
on the
When pricing a game remember that it must have its serial number
and
lost
easily
are
These
cover.
back together with the all important battery
any
has
casing
or
screen
the
if
Also,
50%.
to
up
by
value
would affect the
marks or scratches then the value will again decrease. It goes without
saying that the game should still be working!
The following table lists all released Game & Watch games in
chronological order, with model number (found on the game’s plastic
for mint,
casing), series type and release date. There are two prices listed –
box
loose, unboxed examples with no packaging, and for mint in mint
examples, with instructions and poly inner.
Game
Ball
Flagman
Vermin
Fire
Judge
Manhole
Helmet
Lion
Parachute
Octopus
Popeye
Chef
Mickey Mouse
Serial no.
Type
AC-01
FL-02
MT-03
RC-04
IP-05
MH-06
CN-07
LN-08
PR-21
OC-22
PP-23
FP-24
MC-25
Silver
Silver
Silver
Silver
Silver
Gold
Gold
Gold
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
EG-26
Egg
FR-27
Fire
TL-28
Turtle Bridge
ID-29
Fire Attack
SP-30
Snoopy Tennis
OP-51
Oil Panic
DK-52
Donkey Kong
DJ-101
Donkey Kong Jr.
DM-53
Mickey & Donald
GH-54
Greenhouse
JR-55
Donkey Kong II
MW-56
Mario Bros.
CJ-71
Donkey Kong Jr.
Mario’s Cement Factory CM-72
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Wide Screen
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
New Wide
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
Tabletop
Tabletop
Release Loose Boxed
date value value
Apr-80
Jun-80
Jul-80
Jul-80
Oct-80
Jan-81
Feb-81
Apr-81
Jun-81
Jul-81
Aug-81
Sep-81
Oct-81
Oct-81
Dec-81
Feb-82
Mar-82
Apr-82
May-82
Jun-82
Oct-82
Nov-82
Dec-82
Mar-83
Mar-83
Apr-83
Apr-83
£70
£150
£50
£50
£125
£30
£30
£40
£20
£15
£20
£30
£15
£100
£20
£25
£25
£15
£30
£30
£15
£20
£20
£25
£25
£35
£35
£200
£800
£125
£125
£600
£90
£90
£120
£60
£50
£60
£90
£50
£325
£60
£100
£100
£50
£90
£90
£50
£45
£45
£80
£70
£100
£100
Mario’s Cement Factory ML-102
Snoopy
SM-73
Manhole
NH-103
Snoopy
SM-91
Popeye
PG-92
Rainshower
LP-57
Popeye
PG-74
Donkey Kong Jr.
CJ-93
Lifeboat
TC-58
Mario’s Bombs Away
PB-94
Pinball
PB-59
Spitball Sparky
BU-201
Crab Grab
UD-202
Mickey Mouse
DC-95
Boxing
BX-301
Donkey Kong 3
AK-302
Donkey Kong Circus
MK-96
Donkey Kong Hockey HK-303
Blackjack
Tropical Fish
Squish
Super Mario Bros.
Climber
Balloon Flight
Bombsweeper
Safebuster
Super Mario Bros.
Climber
Balloon Flight
Goldcliff
Tetris Jr.
Zelda
Mario The Juggler
**88**
BJ-60
TF-104
MG-61
YM-801
DR-802
BF-803
BD-62
JB-63
YM-105
DR-106
BF-107
MV-64
N/A
ZL-65
MJ-108
New Wide
Tabletop
New Wide
Panorama
Panorama
Multi Screen
Tabletop
Panorama
Multi Screen
Panorama
Multi Screen
Super Color
Super Color
Panorama
Micro Vs.
Micro Vs.
Panorama
Micro Vs.
Multi Screen
New Wide
Multi Screen
Crystal
Crystal
Crystal
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
New Wide
New Wide
New Wide
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
Multi Screen
New Wide
Jun-83
Jul-83
Aug-83
Aug-83
Aug-83
Aug-83
Aug-83
Oct-83
Oct-83
Nov-83
Dec-83
Feb-84
Feb-84
Feb-84
Jul-84
Aug-84
Sep-84
Nov-84
Feb-85
Jul-85
Apr-86
Jun-86
Jul-86
Nov-86
Jun-87
Jan-88
Mar-88
Mar-88
Mar-88
Oct-88
N/A
Aug-89
Oct-91
£15
£45
£20
£40
£40
£75
£75
£80
£25
£80
£15
£25
£30
£80
£20
£20
£80
£20
£15
£20
£20
£125
£80
£125
£30
£20
£15
£20
£20
£20
N/A
£25
£100
£50
£130
£50
£100
£100
£250
£350
£300
£70
£300
£35
£50
£60
£300
£40
£40
£300
£40
£30
£50
£50
£300
£200
£300
£70
£50
£35
£50
£50
£50
N/A
£60
£250
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Page 89
Same game, different name. Boxing became
Punch-Out!! in the US
Arcade at home
man, Fireman. Note the
Mego released Fire as Fire
Out breanding
Time
with
g
redesigned packagin
Variations
and rarities
If you cannot find the game you
have in our price guide, chances
are you own a variation, possibly
from a different country or even a
different manufacturer.
Let’s start with the Mego/Time
Out variations. These games were
only released in the USA and are
variations on the original Silver
series. Mego, a major toy
manufacturer of the era (World’s
Greatest Superheroes, Planet Of
The Apes, Star Trek etc), had a
superb distribution setup
throughout US toyshops. Nintendo,
who at this time was only just
entering the market, realised that
this was a great way to get its
games some wider exposure
outside of the usual electrical
retailers. Time Out was an
electronic division of Mego used for
all the new electronic games.
Telling the versions apart isn’t
too hard. They all have the same
colour plastic casing and the
games play exactly the same, but
the branding and sometimes the
game’s name is different. Ball (AC01) was released as Toss-Up,
Vermin (MT-03) as The
Exterminator, and Fire (RC-04) as
Fireman, Fireman. Flagman (FL-02)
and Judge (IP-05) retained their
original names, although the boxes
obviously featured a Mego and
Time Out logo. These variations
sell for about the same as the
regular Nintendo releases – a little
more for the boxed examples
which are very tough to find.
Also in the Silver series is a
variation on Judge (IP-05). The
plastic casing can be either green
or purple in colour, but the serial
number doesn’t change and they’re
worth about the same.
The next variation concerns the
Gold series game Helmet (CN-07).
When this game was released in
the UK, through the CGL (Computer
Games Ltd) brand, it was renamed
Headache. The box and the game
itself all bear the new name, but
the instruction booklet is the
normal Helmet version. This is
amongst the hardest of all boxed
games to find, and a near-mint
boxed example sold on eBay
recently for an amazing £1,600. A
mint loose example will set you
back about £200.
Perhaps CGL thought a game
e a
called Helmet would rais
UK
the
in
rows
few eyeb
Onto the Tabletop series now.
The very first game in this series
– Donkey Kong Jr. (CJ-71) – was
also released in the USA by
Coleco. By this time, Coleco had
already established itself in the
market with its range of superb
shrunk-down mini-arcade games
(Pac-Man, Galaxian, Zaxxon,
Frogger etc). It seemed only
sensible for Coleco to re-badge
the existing Nintendo game, add
some new side art graphics and
release the title itself as part of
its arcade series.
An interesting variation on the
Super Colour game, Spitball
Sparky (BU-201), has also
surfaced. An example has been
found, in the UK, with an allwhite casing instead of the usual
shiny silver. This is probably a
prototype or a first-run
manufacturers test-shot. Whatever
its history, these are obviously
incredibly rare and hardly ever
turn up.
Yet another variation is the
Micro Vs. System game Boxing
(BX-301), or in this guise, PunchOut!! This is once again a simple
name change, used to tie-in to
the popular NES game. This
version appears to have only
been available to buy on a
plastic blister card.
These blister cards were
distributed by Micro Games Of
America and so far 16 different
games have surfaced. The full
list is as follows: Balloon Flight,
Mario’s Cement Factory,
Blackjack, Zelda, Bombsweeper,
Climber, Donkey Kong, Goldcliff,
Mario Bros., Donkey King Jr.,
Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong
II, Punch-Out, Donkey Kong
Hockey, Donkey Kong 3, and
Mario The Juggler.
**89**
As for the multiscreen Tetris
Jr. game listed in the price guide
– this was never released, and
it’s thought that Nintendo didn’t
want to impact on sales of
GameBoy Tetris. Rumours
abound that units were actually
produced and stored in a
warehouse, but one has yet to
surface. The game did finally get
released as part of the Mini
Classic range.
Lastly, a version of Super
Mario Bros. (YM-105) was
released as a competition prize
in Japan. It’s basically the
normal New Wide version of the
game, housed in a plastic shell
which represents a Japanese
comic character. These were
once considered very rare, but
around 10,000 were made and
they do turn up quite often.
They do have a unique serial
number of YM-901, however, and
sell for upwards of £300. ✺✯*
The special edition of
Super
Mario Bros. came housed
in
a unique plastic case
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 8:22 PM
Page 90
FEATURE:HARDWARE | WATCH A GO GO |
Silver Series flyer (front and back)
Widescreen Series flyer (left and right)
**90**
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
03/11/2004 8:22 PM
Page 91
Donkey Kong/Oil Panic flyer (front and back)
Mickey & Donald/Greenhouse flyer (front and back)
**91**
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 8:22 PM
Page 92
FEATURE:HARDWARE | WATCH A GO GO |
Donkey Kong Jr flyer (front and back)
Donkey Kong Jr/Mario’s Cement Factory flyer (front and back)
**92**
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
03/11/2004 8:23 PM
Page 93
Donkey Kong II/Mario Bros flyer (front and back)
Panorama Series flyer (front and back)
**93**
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 8:23 PM
Page 94
FEATURE:HARDWARE | WATCH A GO GO |
Tabletop flyer (front and back)
SuperColor Series flyer (front and back)
**94**
RETRO10 GAME & WATCH
03/11/2004 8:23 PM
Page 95
Game & Watch brochure (pages 1 and 2)
Game & Watch brochure (pages 3 and 4)
**95**
RETRO10 Coverdisc Pages
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙* |
03/11/2004 10:40 PM
Page 96
REGULAR:COVERDISC |
The 10th Retro
Gamer coverdisc
features 50 of the
latest retro
games, including
faithful PC
remakes of such
classic titles as
Space Invaders,
Bomberman and
Tetris. And once
you've played the
games, why not try
your hand at
making your own?
We've secured the
complete Home
Version of The
Games Factory for
inclusion on the
coverdisc, and a
'getting started'
guide to using the
program begins on
page 98
step Place the coverdisc into your
step Some games/programs are provided
CD/DVD drive and it should start
automatically. If not, select Run
from the Start menu and enter
D:\browser.exe (assuming that D: is
the letter of your CD/DVD drive). When
the browser appears, click OK to
accept the declaration.
1
as .exe files and these will
run or install straight from
the disc. If the program
chooses to install itself, simply
follow the onscreen prompts and then
wait while the files are copied to
your hard drive.
step Many games/programs are stored in .zip
step If you are looking for a particular
3
program, click the Search button
and enter a keyword. The browser
program will search the disc and
place all the relevant results under
the left-most browser tab. They can now
be accessed directly from here.
files, so you might need an archive
manager like WinZip, which is under
the Utilities browser tab. Extract all
the files from the .zip archive using
the Extract feature and place them in an
empty folder, then run the .exe file.
4
Coverdisc helpline
Problem solving
If you’re having a problem with a particular program on our coverdisc,
please view the help file in the program for assistance. You might also
consider visiting the website of the program author for further help. If this
fails, please email: [email protected]
If you are having problems with the CD, first check that it is not dirty
or scratched. CDs can be cleaned by holding them under the cold water tap
and gently rubbing the silver side with a tissue. Dry it carefully with
another tissue.
If the disc still doesn’t work, then it may be faulty. Faulty discs should
be returned to Retro Gamer, Live Publishing International Ltd, Europa
House, Adlington Park, Macclesfield, Cheshire, UK, SK10 4NP. We will
replace all genuinely faulty discs.
2
01625
855 051
[email protected]
(Monday-Friday 10am-4pm)
Helpline for coverdisc problems only
DISCLAIMER
Some of the programs on the Retro Gamer disc interact with your PC on a
fundamental level. We strongly advise you back up your personal data before using
the disc. Due to the way the Retro Gamer disc is compiled, Retro Gamer, Live
Publishing International Limited and/or any associated company and/or individual
cannot take responsibility for damage to your PC or otherwise arising from use of the
coverdisc. You use the programs on the disc at your own risk.
**96**
RETRO10 Coverdisc Pages
03/11/2004 10:40 PM
Humphrey
Page 97
The Void
Victory Road
Bugs
PC Retro Games
Utility Name
File Name
AirStrike 3D: Operation WAT
as3d_demo.exe
AirXonix
AirXonix.exe
Alien Shooter
AlienShooterDemo.exe
Alien Sky
AlienSkySetup.exe
Aqua Bubble
AquaBubbleSetup.exe
Arkanoid 4000
Arkanoid4000.exe
Atomaders
AtomadersSetup.exe
AxySnake
AxySnake.exe
Beetle Ju
BeetleJu.exe
Bombardix
Bombardix.exe
Bubble Splash
bubble_splash.exe
Bugatron
BugatronSetup.exe
Bugs
bugs.zip
Centipede 25
CentipedeDX25.zip
Chompa
chompa.zip
Clash
Clash.exe
Crimsonland
CrimsonlandSetup.exe
Discovera
discovera.exe
Docker Sokoban
DockerSetup.exe
Double Digger
DiggerSetup.exe
Fly or Die: GemJam Gold
GemJamGoldInstall.exe
Freak Bank
Freakbank.zip
Gold Sprinter
GoldSprinterSetup.exe
Humphrey
humphrey.zip
Ice Age
IceAgeSetup.exe
Jezzball Ultimate
jezzball-ultimate.exe
Krakout
krakout.exe
Kung Fu Master Returns
kfmr09.zip
Leaf Buster
leaf_buster.exe
Lode Doomer
lode.exe
Magic Ball
MagicBall.exe
PacBomber
pacbomber.exe
PacBoy
pacboy.exe
Penguin Command
penguin-command.exe
Pong
Pong.exe
QuadroNoid
qnoid.exe
Ricochet
RicochetSetup.exe
Ricochet Lost Worlds
RicochetLostWorldsSetup.exe
Rock EGG
rockEGG.zip
RotoBlox
RotoBloxSetup.exe
Space Pong
SpacePong.zip
Star Defender
stardef.exe
Super Collapse II
Collapse2Setup.exe
Swarm
SwarmSetup.exe
The Void
The Void.exe
Tiny Cars
tinycars.exe
Tiny Cars II
tinycars2.exe
Transcend
Transcend_0.2-IGF-2_Windows.exe
Universal Hero
Universal Hero V1_1.zip
Victory Road
SetupVictoryRoad.msi
File Size
8,162Kb
2,299Kb
6,049Kb
6,904Kb
4,277Kb
4,467Kb
8,428Kb
4,774Kb
5,757Kb
4,206Kb
3,311Kb
4,544Kb
2,785Kb
242Kb
881Kb
4,812Kb
6,898Kb
3,192Kb
3,914Kb
5,736Kb
3,098Kb
8,065Kb
5,540Kb
2,686Kb
2,787Kb
5,287Kb
3,643Kb
1,303Kb
5,484Kb
2,369Kb
3,108Kb
1,859Kb
1,704Kb
1,383Kb
1,921Kb
2,223Kb
7,478Kb
13,218Kb
5,358Kb
5,299Kb
430Kb
3,490Kb
3,275Kb
9,156Kb
2,520Kb
8,736Kb
9,949Kb
913Kb
4,012Kb
32,680Kb
Type
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Freeware
Freeware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Shareware
Freeware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Freeware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Shareware
Freeware
Shareware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Shareware
Shareware
Freeware
Freeware
Freeware
Notes
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
None
None
None
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
None
Trial
None
Trial
Trial
Trial
None
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
Trial
None
None
Trial
Trial
Trial
None
Trial
None
Trial
Trial
Trial
None
Trial
Trial
None
None
None
Description
A great helicopter flight-sim/shoot-em-up from DivoGames
AxySoft’s take on the classic Qix featuring 3D graphics
A great isometric shoot-em-up from the Sigma Team
An arcade shoot-em-up in the style of Space Invaders
An excellent Puzzle Bobble variant game for Windows
Arkanoid brought bang up to date by Alawar Entertainment
A good-looking Space Invader clone for Windows
Guide the hungry snake around the garden avoiding hazards
A Boulderdash clone with elements of Bomberman thrownin
Another Bomberman clone with five worlds to work through
Bubble Splash mixes puzzle elements with explosive action
A Galaga clone, marrying 80s gameplay with 3D graphics
A colourful update of the classic Bombjack arcade game
An extremely faithful remake of the classic Atari coin-op
A great Pac-Man remake
Bash those bricks in this remake of the old bat and ball game
Destroy your alien foe in this classic top-down shooter
Another good Qix game for Windows
Move the stock around the rooms in this great puzzler
An inspired Emerald Mines remake
Another great Boulderdash clone to get stuck into
A remake of West Bank featuring gore galore. Lots of fun
Collect the gold in this platform and ladders game
A brand new Spectrum remake by the Retrospec team
A simple but fun Puzzle Bobble clone for Windows
Build up the picture by hitting the moving balls
The old 8-bit game Krakout brought back to life
A remake of Irem’s classic beat-em-up Kung Fu Master
Clear the screen by matching the coloured leafs
A Lode Runner clone for your PC
An interesting Arkanoid clone with 3D graphics
Pac-Man meets Bomberman in this great maze game
A great Pac-Man-inspired remake for your PC
One of the best Missile Command remakes around
Pong update featuring cool-looking particle effects
Classic 2D Arkanoid clone
Another Breakout clone for your PC
A great Breakout clone for all Windows systems
A faithful Boulderdash clone with cute graphics
An impressive Tetris remake with great graphics
You can’t really have enough Pong remakes!
Classic top-down shooting action, similar to Galaga
Collapse the cubes to clear the screen
A modern take on the classic Asteroids
A Space Invaders remake with great graphics
A fast and fun Micro Machines clone for Windows
A fun sequel with a multi-player mode
A unique 2D shooter with a strong retro feel
A remake of the old Mastertronic budget game
An impressive remake of Daytona USA
File Size
50,515Kb
1,993Kb
14,519Kb
391Kb
Type
Full version
n/a
n/a
n/a
Notes
None
n/a
n/a
n/a
Description
The complete Home Version of The Games Factory
The Games Factory user manual in PDF format
The files for following along with the tutorials
Sound and graphic files required to follow the step-by-step guide
File Size
2,375Kb
2,870Kb
22,786Kb
17,353Kb
476Kb
Type
Freeware
Demo
Demo
Demo
Freeware
Notes
Ad screen
30-day trial
30-day trial
30-day trial
Ad screen
The Games Factory
Utility Name
The Games Factory
User Manual
User Manual Example Files
Tutorial Source Files
File Name
GFHomeRG.exe
TGFmanual.pdf
manualtutorials.zip
source.zip
Clickteam Demos
Utility Name
Install Creator
Install Creator Pro
Jamagic
Multimedia Fusion
Patch Maker
File Name
icinst.exe
icpinst.exe
JamagicDemo.exe
MMFDemo.exe
PMUS12r.exe
**97**
Description
Create installers for commercial and non-commercial products
The Pro version of Install Creator
Develop 3D games and powerful 2D applications
Develop applications, demos and 2D games with ease
Quickly and easily create update patches for your programs
RETRO10 Coverdisc Pages
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙ |
03/11/2004 10:41 PM
Page 98
REGULAR:COVERDISC |
>The Games Factory
user guide
On this month’s coverdisc you’ll find
the full version of The Games
Factory Home Edition. It’s not limited
or crippled in any way – every
feature is available and you can use
it indefinitely. The complete PDF
user manual is included on the CD,
and lots of additional information
can be found at www.clickteam.com ,
but if you’ve never used the
program before, this step-by-step
guide to getting started will help
you create your very first game.
The Games Factory has a
number of editor windows, but the
three most important for the
purposes of this guide are the
Storyboard Editor, the Level Editor
and the Event Editor – all of which
can be accessed from the menus or
the toolbar. What we will create is
not unlike Arkanoid, the classic bat
and ball game.
The sound and graphic files you
need to follow the guide are
included on the coverdisc
(source.zip), along with a version of
the completed game which features
many enhancements. Begin by
unzipping the contents of this
archive into an empty folder on
your desktop. You can now install
The Games Factory and start to
follow the steps.
Serial Number
During installation of The Games
Factory you will need to enter the
following code:
097004-50902722-127713
>01
Once installation is complete, launch The Games Factory
by double-clicking the Desktop icon. The first thing you
need to do is create a new level by selecting New from
the File menu. We will use a custom size of 400 by 480
for our bat and ball game, so enter these values in the
edit boxes and click OK.
>02
The first screen you see is the Storyboard Editor.
This shows what levels or screens you have in the
game. Currently there is just the one screen.
Click on the button labelled ‘1’ to go to the
Level Editor for level 1. This is where we will
set up the game.
>03
For convenience, the graphics for the game have already
been created. Bring them into the level by selecting
Objects/ Pick Objects From A Game on the menu and choose
the sprites.gam file. The graphics will appear in the
Object Shelf to the left. Drag a bat, brick and chrome
ball object into the level.
>04
The bat will be controlled by the player using the
mouse. To enable this, right-click on the bat and from
the pop-up menu choose Movement/ Select Movement. Click
the Mouse Controlled button and resize the box to
define the limits of the mouse movement (similar to the
screenshot above).
**98**
RETRO10 Coverdisc Pages
03/11/2004 10:41 PM
Page 99
>05
Let’s give the chrome ball movement too. Right-click
it and choose Movement/ Select Movement, but this
time press the Bouncing Ball button. Try changing
the settings and then press the Try Movement button
to test the results until you are happy. Click OK
when finished.
>06
Test the game selecting Run/ Run Game. You’ll see the
ball fly off the screen. We want to make it bounce off
the sides. Press Alt-F4 to stop the game and select
Window/ Event Editor. This editor displays a grid of
objects across the top and conditions to test for down
the side - currently this is empty.
>07
Click on the New Condition option in the editor to bring
up a list of objects. Right-click the picture of the
chrome ball to bring up a menu of conditions to test
for. Select Position/ Test Position Of “Chrome Ball”’
and click the four arrows that show the object leaving
the play area.
>08
We now have a condition to test for the chrome ball
leaving the play area, but we need to tell the ball
to bounce when this happens. In the box on event
line 1, under the chrome ball column, right-click
to get the actions available for it. Choose
Movement/ Bounce.
>09
As it stands, the chrome ball will bounce
around the screen but goes through the bat.
Let’s sort that out, otherwise the game won’t
be much fun. Back in the Event Editor, add an
event to test for a collision between the
chrome ball and the bat.
>10
Now add an action under the chrome ball
column on event line 2 to make the ball
bounce (remember to right-click on the empty
action box and choose Movement/ Bounce). Run
the game again and you can now hit the ball
with the bat.
**99**
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>11
As in steps 9 and 10, add a new event and condition to
make the ball bounce on the brick. Let’s add a second
action to this event to destroy the brick at the same
time. Right-click the action box under the brick column
and choose Destroy. If done correctly you should see
two actions.
>12
Let’s add more than one brick. Return to the Level
Editor (Window/ Level Editor), choose Edit/ Editor
Preferences and click on the Grid tab. Set the Square
size to width 32, height 16 and tick the Snap To and
Show Grid boxes. This will make positioning the
bricks easier.
>13
Drag the brick in the level and drop in position near
the top left. Add more bricks by dragging them from the
Object Shelf, arranging them into lines as illustrated.
A quick tip - pick up a brick in the Object Shelf with
the left mouse button and press the right mouse button
in the level to put several copies down.
>14
The game is coming together, but we are missing scoring
and lives. Click the Create New Object button on the
toolbar, select the Score object (123) and then click
somewhere in the level to create the score. Do the same
to add the lives object. Position the score to the right
and the lives to the left.
>15
Back in the Event Editor, add an action under the
Player 1 column for Event 3 to add 10 to the score.
This event line is now saying when the ball collides
with the brick, bounce the ball, destroy the brick and
add 10 to player 1’s score. Run the game to see how
it plays.
>16
To add challenge to the game we want the player to loose
a life when they miss the ball and it goes off the
bottom of the screen. Right-click Event 1 and choose
edit. Click Leave In The Bottom so it is no longer
depressed. Click OK and the condition should say “leaves
the play area on the top, left or right”.
**100**
RETRO10 Coverdisc Pages
03/11/2004 10:50 PM
Page 101
>17
Create a new condition to test when the ball
leaves the bottom of the screen only (ie when the
player misses it). Give it two actions - to
subtract 1 from the number of lives (this
particular action is under the Player 1 icon) and
destroy the ball.
>18
Create a new condition: Pick Or Count/ Have All “Chrome
Ball” Been Destroyed. Right-click on the condition text
in the Event Editor and select Insert. This will allow
us to add another condition to the event. Select The
Timer and choose Every. Enter 3 seconds in the box and
click OK.
>19
Both these conditions have to be true
for any actions to occur. Add an action
under the Storyboard Controls column to
Restart The Current Level. Having missed
the ball and lost a life, the level will
be restarted.
>20
To complete the level the player has
to destroy every brick on the screen.
You can find an appropriate condition
on the brick object under Pick Or
Count/ Have All “Brick” Been
Destroyed.
>21
Create an action for this event to go
to the next level. You can find this
action under the Storyboard Controls
column. There are no other levels at the
moment, but you can easily add many more
levels later.
>22
Let’s make the game look professional by
adding a high-score screen to it. Go to the
Storyboard Editor and right-click on the
More label. Click the Add A New Level button
and, lo and behold, a new level will appear
on the list.
**101**
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>23
Let’s rename the levels so they make more
sense. Do this by clicking on the
Untitled text next to Title. Change Level 1
to say Game, and Level 2 to say High
Scores. Press the ‘2’ button when you
have finished.
>24
Choose Objects/ Pick Objects From A
Game from the menu and once again
select the sprites.gam file you unzipped
earlier. Drag the High Scores object
from the Object Shelf and drop it in
the level.
>25
Now click the Create New Object button and press the Hi
Scores button. You are presented with many options experiment a bit here until you are happy. Click in the
level to create your new Hi Score object. You can make
it fit the black box by right-clicking on the Hi Score
object and selecting Resize.
>26
Go to the Event Editor. You’ll notice
that there are no events yet on Level 2.
Add an event to test The Keyboard/ Upon
Pressing Any Key. Add an action for this
under the Storyboard Controls column to
Restart The Game.
>27
Return to the Storyboard Editor and create
another new level. Rename this level to Title
Screen. The Title Screen needs to be the
first screen the player sees. Drag the
thumbnail of the Title Screen and drop it
over Level 1.
>28
Right-click on the thumbnail of the Title Screen
and choose Edit The Level / Events to go
directly to the Event Editor. Add an event to
test for any key as in step 26, but make its
action go to the next level instead of restarting
the game.
**102**
RETRO10 Coverdisc Pages
03/11/2004 10:51 PM
Page 103
>29
In the Level Editor choose Objects/ Pick
Objects From A Game from the menu and again
select the sprites.gam file. Drag the Title
Screen object from the Object Shelf and drop
it in the level. Now we nearly have a
complete game!
>30
Via the Storyboard Editor, go to the Event
Editor for the Game Level. Add one last event to
test for When Number Of Lives Reaches 0 (which
can be found on the Player 1 icon). Give it an
action to Jump To Level and select the Level 3
High Scores.
>31
Go to the Level Editor and choose
Objects/ Pick Objects From A Game from
the menu and select the sprites.gam file
one final time. Drag the Game Background
object from the Object Shelf and drop it
in the level.
>32
Let’s add some sound. Go back to the
Event Editor. Under the Sound column, add
an action to Event 1, 2 and 3 to Play
Samples walls.wav, bat.wav and brick.wav.
These three audio files can all be found
on the coverdisc.
>33
A game with one level is not much fun, so let’s add
more. From the Storyboard Editor click on the thumbnail
for the Game Level. Choose File/ Copy, then File/
Paste’ and click on the High Scores thumbnail. All you
now need to do is create a new arrangement of bricks
for each new level
>34
This guide has only touched the surface of The
Games Factory and there is much more to be
discovered. Do not be afraid to experiment. The
software encourages creativity through exploration
and you may be surprised at how quick and easy it
is to get results.
**103**
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Page 104
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Clickteam reader offer
We've teamed up with Clickteam (www.clickteam.com) to offer you its range of development tools at reduced
prices. Simply quote the special discount code below when ordering and you'll receive 10% off the usual price
Multimedia Fusion
Multimedia Fusion is the perfect tool for creating games and
applications, featuring the powerful graphical programming interface
first introduced in Klik & Play. It includes powerful new objects, brand
new transitions and a massive multimedia library packed with graphics
and sounds (all royalty free). And there’s also a special Pro version for
more serious developers.
Jamagic
With Jamagic you can create stunning 3D games without learning
and mastering a complex language. It includes a fully featured
3D engine with all the commands and controls you need to
create commercial-quality 3D games. Jamagic also boasts a 2D
sprite engine, resulting in a flexible and affordable development
tool that covers all bases.
Install Creator
Install Creator is perhaps the easiest installation distribution tool in
existence, letting you spend your time developing and not
building the installers. The Standard version provides you with
unlimited rights to create installers for both commercial and noncommercial products, while the Pro version is specially designed
for people who write shareware with built-in registration codes.
Patch Maker
Patch Maker allows you to update your games and applications
without having to re-distribute the full executable file. Patch Maker
stores just the differences between the original executable and the
updated file, so that patches are extremely small in size. Patch
Maker is the complementary product to Install Creator, and you
can use both applications to manage and maintain your software.
How to order...
Product
To purchase a Clickteam product at the
reduced price, visit www.clickteam.com and
click on the Purchase link. When you’ve
made your selection(s), enter RGMTR10 in
the Discount Code and 10% will be deducted
from the total price. Easy!
Multimedia Fusion
Multimedia Fusion Pro
Jamagic
Install Creator
Install Creator Pro
Patch Maker
Usual price
Reader price
£54.07
£163.30
£54.07
£32.22
£81.38
£32.19
£48.66
£146.97
£48.66
£29.00
£73.24
£28.97
Exact prices dependant on exchange rate
**104**
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RETRO10 Retro Mart
03/11/2004 11:39 PM
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REGULAR:RETRO MART |
Your place to buy and sell all things retro!
Reach thousands of retro collectors with a classified advert in the magazine. Your advert will also be included free of charge on our website!
To advertise in Retro Gamer, simple follow the steps below
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Boxed
Reversed
£16.00 – Trade
4
£8.00 – Private
3
£13.60 – Trade
2
£6.80 – Private
1
30 Words FREE – Private Only
Step 1 - Fill in the text of your advert in the box below (one word per box, first 30 words free - Maximum 5 adverts per person).
Please use BLOCK CAPITALS
£1.70
£8.50
£17.80
£9.70
£19.40
£3.40
£10.20
£20.40
£11.40
£22.80
£5.10
£11.90
£23.80
£13.10
£26.20
£6.80
£13.60
£27.80
£14.80
£29.60
£8.50
£15.30
£30.60
£16.50
£33.00
£10.20
£17.00
£34.00
£18.20
£36.40
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Step 2 - Choose the category for your advert to appear in and tick the box
SINCLAIR FOR SALE
SINCLAIR WANTED
COMMODORE FOR SALE
COMMODORE WANTED
ATARI FOR SALE
ATARI WANTED
NINTENDO FOR SALE
NINTENDO WANTED
Step 3 - Complete your name and address details
Mr/Mrs/Miss
SEGA FOR SALE
SEGA WANTED
OTHER FOR SALE
OTHER WANTED
Step 4 - Payment
My advert is no more than 30 words
and free
Name
My advert is more than 30 words, I
enclose payment as follows
Address
RETRO GAMING CLUBS
ANYTHING ELSE RETRO FOR SALE
ANYTHING ELSE RETRO WANTED
MERCHANDISE FOR SALE
I enclose a cheque payable to ‘Live
Publishing’ OR Please debit my
Visa/Mastercard/Switch for the above
amount
Please tick
PRIVATE TRADE
Advert amount £............
Expiry date
Card No.
Postcode
Tel
Email
Start date
Step 5 - Returning your advert
ISSUE NUMBER OR VALID FROM (IF SWITCH)
A
By Fax - Complete this form and fax it to 01625 855071
CARDHOLDER’S SIGNATURE
B
By Post - Complete this form and return it to
Retro Mart, Live Publishing, Europa House, Adlington Park,
Macclesfield, Cheshire, SK10 4NP
C
Visit our website at: www.livepublishing.co.uk and complete the form
online
I am not advertising pirated,
pornographic or any other kind of illegal
software and my advert is both honest
and legitimate. RG reserves the right to
refuse or alter adverts at the discretion of
the management. RG cannot be held
responsible for the condition or quality of
goods advertised. Your advert will be
processed on receipt and will appear
a.s.a.p. subject to space and availability.
Issue No.
Please note: The standard RG conditions of
advertising apply to all classified
advertisements. Cancellations and
amendments are not accepted to free ads.
The publishers may refuse any advertisements
and cannot guarantee insertion into any
specific issue. Live Publishing will use your
information for administration and analysis. If
you do not wish to receive offers from Retro
Gamer please tick here If you are a business advertiser looking to place a display advert, please call Danny on 01625 855086
**108**
RETRO10 Retro Mart
03/11/2004 11:39 PM
SINCLAIR FOR SALE
Looking for new software for
your Speccy? – Look no further,
as Cronosoft offer a range of
titles supporting all Spectrums,
including the 16K model!
***COMING SOON***
ZX Football Manager 2005. For
more information log on to
www.cronosoft.co.uk
Viz for sale on the Spectrum –
This is the Tronix version and it
comes in a dual cassette
format. Please note that this is
not for sale to children as
clearly stated on the tape inlay.
Also, it reliably informs you
that you’ll never play a bigger
load of crap. Open to offers.
Email [email protected]
Job lot of 88 Sinclair Spectrum
tapes – Most are in good
condition with sleeves, also
two Spectrum computers with
no leads. Email for game list or
other details and offers to
[email protected]
Several Speccy mags for sale –
Condition of covers is variable.
For more information please
email [email protected]
Shadow of the Unicorn – With
16K interface boxed with map
and instructions. Good
condition. £15 or nearest offer.
Email [email protected]
COMMODORE FOR SALE
Producing new C64 games! –
Selling an exciting new range of
C64 games, coming soon! More
information can be found at
http://generationxgames.tripod.com
Commodore 64 SCART cable –
2m, high quality, fits C64, C128,
SX-64, VIC-20, Plus/4, etc. £8
plus £1 postage. PayPal or
Nochex accepted.
Phone 07713 630087 or email
[email protected]
Commodore Scene magazine –
For all C64, C128, GEOS and
emulator users. Subscribe
today! Further details are at
www.commodorescene.org.uk
Wanting the latest C64
software? – Protovision is for
you! Protovision bring you the
latest and best software
available. Check us out at
www.protovision-online.de
Page 109
Commodore Amiga 600HD for
sale! – Comes with games
including Syndicate, Dreamweb,
Frontier and more. Email me at
[email protected] for
further information
COMMODORE WANTED
Wanted for the Commodore 64
– The games Crack Up and Wec
Le Mans games. Please contact
Scott on 01706 810 608
Legend of Kage for the C64 –
Wanted on disk. A complete
copy preferred as this is quite
a rare Imagine game. I’m also
looking for this game on tape
for the Amstrad CPC in good
condition if possible. Email me
with details at
[email protected]
Amiga 500 PD disks wanted –
Especially those by 17Bit
Software or Newtek. Email me
with details and prices to
[email protected]
Amiga version of Gridtrap
wanted – Also looking for Town
of Tunes CD, Meeting Pearls
CD, and Saitek Megagrip MX220 Joysticks. Email
[email protected]
ATARI FOR SALE
Atari 8-bit SCART cable – 2m,
high quality, fits 800, 600XL,
800XL, 65XE, 130XE etc. £8
plus £1 postage. PayPal or
Nochex accepted. Phone 07713
630087 or email
[email protected]
NINTENDO FOR SALE
Perfect Dark for the N64 –
USA version.
Boxed with instructions. Email
for price and postage details –
[email protected]
Various SNES games –
About 12 for sale. Email for list
[email protected]
The Legend Of Zelda: Ocarina
Of Time for the N64 –
UK version, boxed with
instructions, good condition.
£5 + £1.50 insured P&P.
Email:
[email protected]
for photo and details
SEGA FOR SALE
Alien 3 for the Master System
for sale – This comes from
Arena Entertainment with box
and cartridge, though there are
no instructions. Open to offers.
Email [email protected] for
further information.
Mini LCD game for sale – This
comes in the style of a cocktail
table arcade machine measuring
3cm high by 5cm long by 4.5cm
wide. Only £4.50 plus £2.29
recorded delivery. Email me at
[email protected]
OTHER WANTED
Huge 28 cm (11 inch) Sonic
figure from ReSaurus – Has
fully adjustable arms, hands,
legs, feet and head. This item
is brand new, just unboxed.
PayPal welcome. Only £25 plus
£5 postage. Email me at
[email protected]
for further information
New box set Dreamcast Sonic
Adventure II – Birthday pack,
coin, booklet and game. This is
the Japanese version,
supporting English and
Japanese text speech. PayPal
welcome. Just £25 with FREE
postage. Email me at
[email protected]
Sega Official SMS Control Stick
(Joystick) – Only £15 including
postage and packaging. SMS
console only with no leads or
control pad. £10 including
postage and packaging. Email
[email protected] for
further information.
SEGA WANTED
Megadrive Landstalker and
other RPGs wanted –
Particularly looking for any of
the following: Final Fantasy
games, Phantasy Star and
Gunstar Heroes, all volumes for
any format. Please email me at
[email protected]
OTHER FOR SALE
High-quality Dragon 32/64 2m
SCART cable for sale – £8 plus
£1 postage. Phone 07713
630087 or email
[email protected]
Amiga A500 and A1200 For
Sale – Complete With ALL
Leads. Many other retro items
available. Email me for more
details to
[email protected]
**109**
In 1995 a special episode on
Gamesmaster was released on
VHS – Please help me find a
watchable copy. Call 01233 640
171 after 7pm and ask for
Adam. Thanks
Virtua Boy games wanted –
Space Invaders and many more.
Contact me with what you have.
Good price paid. Phone me on
01964 535 946 or 07968 866
530. Also contact me via email
on [email protected]
Stallone Cobra and Rambo First
Blood Part II – By Ocean on
disk for the Amstrad CPC.
Please email me with details as
I am looking for confirmation to
whether or not these games
exist on disk for the CPC. Email
me at [email protected]
RETRO GAMING CLUBS
Retro Gaming Interest Group –
Based in Ingham, Australia. For
further information about us,
please phone 0431 815 151
Hello, I’m looking for some
members for my Internet
forums at
www.ingomania.co.uk – Talk
about anything retro! (NES
Classics layout coming soon,
and extended retro zone)!
Dreamcast news and reviews –
Past and present (including
new imports), with open
discussion forums. Check out
http://www.dreamcast-lives.tk
Interested in the ZX Spectrum?
– Check out ZXF – THE free
online publication for all of
your Speccy needs. Issue 8 is
out now with all the news and
views that matter. Download
your copy from
www.cwoodcock.co.uk/zxf
Untitled-1 1
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RETRO9 Next Month
03/11/2004 11:14 PM
Page 113
VES
L
E
H
ES
H
T
S
4
0
1 HIT
1
0
E
2
U
ISS
MBER CATALOGUE
E
C
E
D
21ST
ACK
ELL B
R
U
D
LETE
COMP
S
E
D
CLU
CD IN
RETRO10 Endgame
03/11/2004 11:13 PM
❙❋❙P✄❍❇N❋❙ |
Page 114
REGULAR:ENDGAME |
Endgame
il shogun’s
s into the ev
Armakuni step
ready
e
th
at
ku
den, nuncha
Having kicked and screamed his way
though countless levels, defeating
hundreds of Ashikaga Clan members,
and even venturing through the
portals of time itself, Armakuni
prepares for the final battle with
his sworn enemy Kunitoki. And so
concludes the final chapter in The
Last Ninja saga...
our hero
mmences, and
The battle co
g of pain
in
lp
he
le
ub
do
serves up a
ow and
s a killer bl
Armakuni land
shed
ui
nq
va
y
finall
Kunitoki is
to
ess crashes
ruined headdr
The shogun’s
y’s end...
or
st
e
th
ng
signalli
the ground,
uld
to return sho
t Ninja vows
...but The Las
ld
wor
the
ary threaten
another advers
**114**
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