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  1. I'll skip to Bazooka Bill because Donkey Kong is a bit of a deep dive. I remember borrowing this from a friend back at school and it left quite an impact. First of all the graphics were big bold and chunky from the off. The music by Neil Brennan was a real earworm, 30 plus years later I can remember the title screen and in game music note for note. It was a rock hard version of Green Beret. But a bright and bold parody version. I remember getting to an island later fighting knee high dogs with large fangs. But the big thing that impressed me was that at the end of the first level you'd get to an airbase. And then....you could fly the plane! It's basic stuff now but this was the first time I'd played a bonus level like this. In the end I never ended up finishing it but I had fond memories of it. Revisiting it hasn't been kind. So I've talked about how games were starting to get a certain look and feel. It's pre-game engines but programmers would re-use and refine certain routines which led to distinct styles related to different development groups and software houses. And with Melbourne House games on the C64 the style seemed to be chunky but bold graphics (which I loved, your mileage may vary.) But the mapping of the environment, I could never get my head around most of their games. Fist 2 had a certain logic but Asterix and Bazooka Bill had areas that would wrap or loop around in a way that was really difficult. I could get to the island but I couldn't get much further. Some of the later enemies are...well...let's just say the 80's were a different time. There's actually an ending to this game. You find General Macarthur in the jungle. There's a great interview with Clive Barrett, the team leader who put this game together. It's slow at first but it quickly becomes pretty personal as he talks about what was happening in his life at the time and a side story about one of his team who turned out to be an undercover policewoman who had gotten a job there just to keep an eye on a nearby criminal operation.
  2. Getting back to Activision, sacking those QA workers just before Christmas worked well for them. https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/call-of-duty-warzone-developers-stage-walkout-following-qa-layoffs? Oh.
  3. Talking of ports, I first heard about Crystal Castles in an article in C&VG called Games They Don't Want You to Play. In this case Atari was working on a home conversion of their arcade game Crystal Castles but were beaten to market by "Thundervision." Who gave away their version for free. A year or two later US Gold bought the rights to distribute in Europe and started printing these interesting adverts. Check this out for the back cover of the box. Two things to note right away. -No screenshots. -That quote from Rignall, not from the Zzap review. In any case as intrigued as I was its limited run pressing meant that in Australia I'd never get to see it. At least I didn't until 1991 when it was cover mounted on a CF cover tape. Which revealed.... ...this to be a weird 3D Pac Man variant. I'm with you @squirtle, this isn't great. And having played the original since I just don't get it other than this must of looked amazing in 1984 It's a decent port of a dot eater with loads of Mario style secrets for level skipping but...it's still just Pac Man and not one that's easy to control. I mean I tried and I've had a lot of success playing trackball games on the C64 with a stick but this one...dated and frustrating.
  4. In 1984 an arcade game called Star Force was released. It's big draw was having a destructible landscape. I never saw this in the arcades myself but did see it namechecked often in 80's magazines as an influence on a slew of games inspired by it. The thing is, some by this point had already taken the game, turned it sideways and improved it (I'm talking about Uridium here) so that when Bulldog came out it looked positively dated. It looked even more dated when I finally played it in 1991 thanks to a cover mounted tape and while what it was trying to do was impressive it just didn't grab me. Part of it was that they used (or seemed to use) the same code base as their other games like Rebounder and Future knight. Both well regarded games but both games where something about the feel didn't gel with me. The bosses were also dull in my eyes. The big issue I had though was that I had not only Uridium but also Lightforce, a game similar to Bulldog but much more appealing.
  5. This looked bad back in the day and the reviews were more than enough to warn me off. This game reminds me of when I discovered Spectrum emulation back in the 90's and the first thing I tried out was Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy. "They're ok I guess," I mumbled, probably while Nirvana or The Cure were playing on my CD player. But then I tried out the army of also rans and suddenly I appreciated the difference between playtesting and designing every screen over and over as Matthew Smith probably did (and if he didn't he was a bona fide genius) and games like this where it's clear that they stopped as soon as they had a functional product to sell. It's ugly. It's also really hard to judge the arc of your jump. And it's just not pleasant to play. This is the sort of game you'd buy and then tape over later if you needed a spare tape for a save file.
  6. I actually played Bazooka Bill back in the day and have views on it. However starting at the top I'm not even going to attempt Super Huey 2. Looking at videos it was technically impressive for the time but for me looking at screengrabs it just didn't capture my imagination the same way Mercenary did. If however anyone wants to give it a try you can actually buy this on Steam or GoG where I guess you'd get instructions? Paul Norman was way ahead of his time, just have a look at Air Rescue from Sega that also tried the same sort of thing a few years later. Totally unrelated but amusing, I came across this old Sega Helicopter arcade game from 1968. This is what our parents and grandparents had to play with before our fancy TV games.
  7. This weeks episode is up! https://zappedtothepast.com/ Games covered -Super Huey 2 -Captured -Bulldog -Crystal Castles -Donkey Kong -Bazooka Bill -Galivan -Nuclear Embargo -Dracula Er....can I skip this week? (Edit, games wise, I've listened to the podcast and it's great as always and I'm not just saying that because they talked about David Bowie's lavender bags.)
  8. That fire horn was amazing, although if I was facing a horde of 99 Skeletons and 99 Skeletons and 1 Wizard I could go off and make a cup of tea and a sandwhich while it was grinding through the turns, even with the scroll speed set to high.
  9. Yeah I can't get in. 4000 queue. My partner had no problems logging in, probably because she logged in just pre dawn.
  10. If it's via streaming then it's a non-starter for me purely because internet infrastructure is rubbish in my country. Put side by side with Gamepass it would actually make Sony look like the worse option in Oz.
  11. Keighley about Activision and the game awards.
  12. True. I think the difference is now that Activision may have problems getting anyone who isn't desperate as they've shown that they are unlikely to honour their promises.
  13. Tin opener! That was it! My partner's response "This is what you did in old games? Seriously? What?"
  14. It was a direct description of the mechanics. Something like "look, what you need to do is get your kettle next to the pot and then keep at it until it explodes and you get the crowbar to open the hatch to the next level." My partner was just as confused as Graham (although it helped me play through a couple of levels of the game.)
  15. The Bard's Tale is one of the classic hack and slash games. Taking inspiration from previous hardcore dungeon crawls this raised the bar in terms of presentation. It's a pretty novel setting for a game as well. Stuck in the snowed in town of Skara Brae you have to explore wine cellars, secret dungeons and towers to take on and destroy the Mad God running the joint. As stated on the podcast this being a US game and heavily disc based there was no way I'd ever....hang on (record scratch) I did play this game and I played it on cassette tape. And it was good! But how? Well it was released on cassette in some territories. Australia I guess since I bought a copy and in Germany it was only available on cassette. After reading about this in various magazines that seemed confused as to how and where to review it (Zzap opted for treating it as a strategy game, I'm pretty sure I saw it covered in the Adventure column in C&VG and later the Spectrum and Amstrad ports in their general review sections.) Being disc based I had given up the idea of being able to play this. And then one day I saw this in the bargain bin for $10. Well parts of it. Two tapes and a photocopied manual and a colour map in the saddest clear plastic folder stapled poorly to make a satchel. It was obvious that the box had been stolen and they were trying to make back at least cost by selling it in this wretched condition. You'd have to be truly desperate to but it like that. I was desperate and took a punt. (This was the map included but in the case of the version I bought it was just the map without the bio.) Of course I needed a blank tape to store my saves but this wasn't a bad port to cassette. In fact it was a pretty good port in that apart from loading saves and levels manually from tape there was no loading within dungeons. So the flow of the game wasn't as broken up by loading. I'd be surprised by ambushes by 99 Skeletons and 99 Skeletons and 1 Wizard because there was no tell tale disc grinding to warn me. Here's the list of changes and compromises from https://www.c64-wiki.com/wiki/The_Bard's_Tale Pretty minor compared to other disc to tape conversions. As for the game itself it's well laid out in a similar way to Tau Ceti come to think of it. You might recognise the style of graphics here and that's probably because Rebecca Heinemann was on programming duties here as she was on Tass Times in Tone Town. Special locations have their own special screens. Otherwise it's all first person dungeon crawling. And to get anywhere you're going to need something else. Graph paper and a pencil. There's no getting around it, making your own hand drawn maps are the only way to have any chance of getting through this game. I never finished this but during a patch of unemployment it did take the edge off keeping me busy during down time. This game undoubtedly inspired many to build on the foundations here and make such classics as Dungeon Master and Eye of the Beholder. If you want to play this now I'd avoid the C64 version and look to Gamepass (or the digital retailer of your choice) and play Inexile's Bard's Tale Trilogy. It's easier to get going and has quality of life improvements. Even automapping from memory. If you want to play something in the spirit of the old games down to making your own maps and still have a DS or 3DS in service then you might want to check out any of the Etrian Odyssey mainline games. Anyway this is my pick of the games in this podcast. Even the tape version. Especially the tape version.
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