Categories
Games

Creeper World 3 – Fortress Siege

This game is ridiculous. I love it. If you’re a fan of tower defense games you’ll love this real time strategy game. Wikipedia describes it as a,

mix of real-time strategy and tower defense, where there is only one enemy and it can only be repelled rather than destroyed. The player must hold back a purple mass called the “Creeper”, which has already destroyed most of humanity and is now attacking Odin City, humanity’s last bastion. This is done by placing towers onto the battlefield which shoot at the Creeper. The main goal of the game is to connect the player’s base to energy totems through the use of energy collectors and relays; doing so opens a jump gate which allows Odin City to teleport to a new planet and attempt to escape the Creeper again.

Steam says I’ve played close to 100 hours in the game, many of those hours in frustration or getting overwhelmed before figuring out how to defeat a level.

It’s like tower defense except that the enemy is a liquid that comes at you from all directions so you have to build towers to protect your assets everywhere. I find most levels have an initial “OMG Moment” at the start where it all seems too much, but by building up your batteries, and your towers you’ll soon be fighting back.

Sometimes it’s a slog, and the last level I just played is one such map. Fortress Siege by Blaze in the Alpha Sector is one to leave until you’ve had plenty of practice. 4 emitters spew out vast amounts of creeper. It’s hard enough just keeping it back but advancing is on another level of difficulty altogether!

I did eventually defeat the map and once one of the emitters fell it was plain sailing. I earned two achievements playing this one:

  • Build 25 shields in a mission.
  • Build 25 Berthas in a mission.

Maybe a little excessive, but I swear they were needed! For a taste of what it’s like have a look at this video.

Disappointingly only one of my friends on Steam has the game. Check out the reviews on Steam. Recent reviews are “very positive” while all reviews are “overwhelmingly positive”.

Creeper World 4 is on the way too, but there’s no release date for it. It’ll be done when it’s done to paraphrase the developer but I’m looking forward to it already. It looks great!

Categories
Games

Retro Asylum on Stunt Car Racer

The guys on the Retro Asylum podcast played Stunt Car Racer this month. That game is one of my favourites. A wild roller coaster of a game where you literally drive a car around a roller coaster.

I played the C64 version for hours on end and listening to them prompted me to set up FS-UAE again as I wanted to try out the Amiga version once more. I think I’ve only ever played that version in emulation as I didn’t have the game when I had an Amiga 500.

Anyway, FS-UAE is a great emulator based on the Winuae Amiga emulator. It uses openretro.org for database files including graphics and game information which is really helpful. It’s sort of an Amiga version of Gamebase64! Here’s a video describing how to set it up. I’ll leave it up to you to find the games and everything else but it’s not hard to find them.

Stunt Car Racer is an amazing game, and in my opinion still holds up today as a decent game. Sure, the graphics are simplistic, sound is limited but what is there is superbly polished.

The Amiga and Atari ST versions even had simultaneous multiplayer which I sadly never experienced but I’d love to know if FS-UAE could handle using some sort of virtual null modem cable to connect emulators on two machines together. It does emulate the Amiga serial port so there might be hope for the future. I found this thread about Winuae but people there didn’t have much luck.

So, what does Stunt Car Racer look like? Here’s someone who doesn’t know how to play it but he’s very entertaining and he learns as he goes..

The game is set on a roller coaster. Timing and speed are everything. You have to hit ramps at the right speed to jump gaps, and failing to line up a turn or a jump in time would result in a crash.

Here’s a much better driver, including the TNT version which I haven’t played yet but looks hard as nails!

[1] This game was created by AmiGer/CARE (http://www.discreetfx.com/care/) by modifying the original game Stunt Car Racer. The TNT of the title stands for “The New Tracks”. A track designer was written in Delphi and used to create 8 new tracks to race. The title screen and menu screen have been modified, as well as the colour palette. [2] The disk version has the track colours incorrect in the track preview window – they retain the reds from the original. The WHDLoad version fixes this problem. [3] 2-player mode via null-modem connection.

This is one of the few games I play exclusively with the keyboard. Start a race and press “p” to pause, then f1 to redefine the keys. I usually use , . t g [space] and then press o to unpause.

Stunt Car Racer appeared on multiple platforms: Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Speccy, and Amstrad machines all had versions. Here’s a video comparing them. It’s amazing what Geoff Crammond and porting teams did back then!

Earlier this year, (2019 for those coming across this post in the future), the game was ported to the BBC Master and it flies along!

That looks way smoother and faster than the C64 version!

There is a sort-of modern remake. The game Assetto Corsa features the first track!

Stunt Car Racer is an amazing racing game. Track down the Amiga version, fire up Winuae or FS-UAE and give it a whirl. You’ll love it!

Categories
C64

Solar Jetman on the C64

This is a game I’d forgotten about until recently when I saw someone playing it on Twitch. Solar Jetman came out on the NES in 1991, and conversions were made for the C64, Speccy, Amiga and Atari ST. Unfortunately due to poor sales of the NES original the conversions were never released.

Luckily the team at Games That Weren’t were contacted by Martin Holland, someone who knew about the game’s development.

GTW got to work and began to search for this elusive conversion, and started with Haydn Dalton, who sadly could not find anything of the game after some searching. Two years later, and a month or two after the site relaunch, efforts were made to find the game’s programmer, John Buckley as a last ditch effort. After tracing John down to PlaypoolUK, GTW got the news it dreaded.. John hadn’t got any of his old disks no longer…
But a week or two after almost giving up hope of finding the game, Haydn Dalton was one day searching through some things at home, when he stumbled upon a disk with the label missing. The label was in there too, and stated “Solar Jetman Disk 1”, and after a bit more digging, Haydn found the second disk.

GTW

It’s a fascinating story of digital archaeology and the game now be found in various places including the Solar Jetman page on GTW! You can play the original version on archive.org, but Triad released an excellent version that packed the game into one disk side, and trained it too.

The game itself is like Thrust or Lunar Lander, but it came later and is much better than both! Controls are easier and enemies are more varied so if you liked those games you need to try Solar Jetman.

The conversion is missing a few things present in the NES version, and apparently the maps are a little cut down from the original. I need to download the NES version and give it a spin too!

Blow the Cartridge

What do you see when the game ends? Vinny has the answer and posted it on the (old) C64 Game Endings site here.

I discovered an interview with John Buckley, the developer who worked on the C64 version.

What were your first and last ever productions on the C64?
The first thing I did on the C64 was called Jeep Command. I did this in my spare time including the graphics and sound FX. If you have seen it, you will know I ain’t no artist! I sent it off to Bug Byte I think, and they put some music on it and shipped it out. The last thing I did was Solar Jetman, which never got released… until now.

Out of all the games you have worked on, which were you most proud and disappointed with?
I can’t say I am disappointed with anything I worked on. Most of them were conversions, some I wish I hadn’t of worked on but such is life. I liked working on Solar Jetman on the C64 but overall I am most proud of PLOK on the SNES.

Interview with John Buckley on C64.com
Categories
Games

Dune Legacy: a modern Dune II game

Dune II, a real-time strategy game released in 1992, was as you may guess based on Frank Herbert’s second book in the Dune series. I didn’t play it at the time as I still owned a C64 at the time but I did play it before the decade was out.

In the game the player must harvest spice, return it to a refinery to convert to credits which are then used to build more harvesters or military units. Your military units are used to defend your harvesters and buildings and also attack your opponents. You control one of three opposing houses with the ultimate aim of conquering the other two.

Dune Legacy is a modern Dune engine that will allow you to play the original game with modern controls and higher resolution graphics. As well as Dune Legacy there’s also Dune Dynasty based on OpenDUNE.

They all require the original game to run but if you search carefully you’ll be able to find it online.

I haven’t played much of the game yet but it plays much the same way I remember in the past. Go get it if you’re a fan of RTS games. When you’re finished with that have a look at OpenRA, an open source implementation of Command and Conquer: Red Alert.

Categories
C64

Sam’s Journey with two fire buttons

I figured out how to play Sam’s Journey on the Commodore 64 using two fire buttons! One as a normal fire button and another for jumping.

C64 joysticks only have one fire button so jumping up in platform games requires you press up on the joystick. Back in the day we knew no better and did our best using the directional movements. It’s not very precise as it’s easy to slip into left and right too. Pressing a second button to jump was a luxury NES owners had! C64GS owners had a joystick with 2 separate fire buttons but I think there was only ever one game that took advantage of that feature.

Unfortunately you’ll have to use the Vice C64 emulator, Virtual C64, or another C64 emulator that allows you to map keys to joystick actions.

First of all, open the joystick settings in Vice. Here’s the one from version 3.1.

Assign a keyset to joystick 2. I used the keys T, G, “,” and “.” and the right CTRL to fire. Sam’s Journey actually plays reasonably well using those keys if you don’t want to go any further.

However, if you want to use a controller you’ll need another program to map those keys to controller actions. On MacOS I found Enjoyable, a free application that allows you to map controller buttons and other inputs to keyboard keys or mouse movements.

I simply assigned left, right and down on the d-pad to the correct keys, and then two fire buttons to CTRL (fire) and T (up) respectively and it worked!

The game is definitely more enjoyable but it’s just as hard as before. I could have sworn I ran out of lives in the past to be thrown back to the start of the level. Now I kept getting put back at the last checkpoint, which is an improvement I have to admit as I died quite often. 🙂

Categories
Games

A SNES Mini found a new home

The first Nintendo console I owned was the Gameboy Advance. The earlier Nintendo machines passed me by as I was busy coding on the C64, messing with the Amiga and PCs and college then kept me busy!

I never owned a SNES and Nintendo 64 and rarely even used the real hardware. The only game in the SNES Mini collection that I’m nostalgic about is F-Zero as I loved playing that on the Gameboy and it plays perfectly on this diminutive machine.

This is a lovely piece of kit though. I like the menu system and the two controllers are wonderful. Now I know why people go on about these and seek out their modern equivalents in 8bitdo equipment.

Apart from games I’m looking forward to tinkering with the machine, and maybe adding a C64 core although the lack of a proper keyboard can cause problems..

Categories
C64

The Great Giana Sisters on Ebay

I was going to make a joke about how a clone of The Great Giana Sisters had been released on the C64 a few weeks ago, but I would hazard a guess that only a handful of my readers will have the faintest idea what I’m talking about. Instead, you’ll probably remember that most gaming sites were abuzz with the news that Super Mario Bros had been released for the C64. That excitement then turned to fear and anger as Nintendo issued a takedown notice to one blogger who had a download link on their site. They have to protect their IP but the game is still available in several places including the Internet Archive and should be easy enough to find in the future.

If you’re at all interested in Super Mario Bros then grab your copy as quick as you can, just in case a massive database of copyright works is unleashed on the Internet blocking everything no matter how old it is.

The conversion of the game to the C64 is more than just a direct port. Both machines use the same (or similar?) CPU, a modified 6502 in the case of the NES and 6510 in the C64. The developer ZeroPaige spent 7 years modifying the raw assembler from the NES so it would work on the C64. He had to modify the graphics system to use C64 sprites and the sound system had to be reworked to use the SID chip of the C64.
The port also takes advantage of any extra hardware you might have plugged into the C64, or even uses the extra power of a Commodore 128 if you’re using that. Here are two videos showing the game off on a C128 and also on a Turbo Chameleon V2, an FPGA based C64 machine. The game suffers slowdowns on an original C64 so it’s best played when the machine has some help, or in an emulator. I have a C64 DTV. I wonder how hard it would be to get it running on that?

Super Mario Bros on a Turbo Chameleon V2
Super Mario Bros on a Commodore 128D with SuperCPU

It seems Nintendo aren’t really interested in the C64. Many years ago Gary Lidon and Gary Penn created an SMB demo for Firebird who sent a video of it to Nintendo. They responded with a cease and desist order!

Rainbow Arts apparently did the same and were rebuffed but they reused their code and cheekily created The Great Giana Sisters. Nintendo promptly came after them at the time and the game was taken off the shelves within weeks. Pirated copies are simple to find but the original must be very rare. A version of the game with the main character changed to Mario did find it’s way online but it’s basically Giana Sisters. No bad thing since The Great Giana Sisters is a great game. It’s one of my favourite C64 games.

After that detour down Nintendo lane, let’s get back to reality. If you want your very own physical copy of The Great Giana Sisters then check out this Ebay auction. Priced at an eye watering £199.99+postage I don’t think it’ll be an impulse buy but some collector is sure to snap it up.

As a historical note, there are two conversions (Atari and Ocean) of the original Mario Bros for the C64 if you really want to play it. I haven’t played either of them. I didn’t even know they existed until a couple of years ago!

Categories
C64 Games

Retrograde

Ah Retrograde, a Commodore 64 game released by Thalamus in 1989. The Rowland Brothers, of Creatures, Creatures 2 and Mayhem in Monsterland fame created this game and it shows. Presentation is top notch. Some would say that this is a repetitive shoot ’em up but I love it. Nice mix of flying around shooting aliens and then a bit of a break with the underground bits. I love the graphics and the sound is a delight.

The gameplay is very simplistic, especially underground but the flying weapons are super! Just make sure you have an autofire on your controller. My thumb was sore from two levels when I remember Vice can do the hard work for me. I’m also glad Vice can save a snapshot of the computer state to save my progress as this game takes some time to complete.

Here’s a video someone else made of it:

Categories
Games

You Have To Win The Game

What game? No, that’s the title of a free game on Steam and on the Commodore 64!

The C64 version can be found here on CSDb while the Steam version is here. The Steam version works on Windows, Mac and 32 bit Linux! A comment on the original announcement post links to what could be a port to something called FreeBASIC which is available here.

The game is a very hard platform game where you have to collect all the items in the game to complete it 100%. The CSDb page has some spoiler comments so beware of those if you want to avoid them. Then again, this game came out in 2012 so you probably know about it already.

The game is great, but the the stand out thing for me is the flawless C64 port. It looks very much like the modern Steam version, with the same sounds and graphics which isn’t surprising as they’re fairly basic. The game plays the same, at least as far as I’ve got to!

Many people love this game for the CGA colour palette but it’s a reminder that the PC had humble beginnings comparable to the Commodore 64. The Commodore Amiga released in the mid-eighties blew away anything produced on the PC for many years.

Categories
C64

Maze of the Mummy & Freeze64!

Maze of the Mummy, rare “purple” Freeze64 and my regular Freeze64

Look what the postman delivered last week! I entered a competition held by Freeze64 author/publisher Vinny for C64 game Maze of the Mummy and a rare misprint of the Freeze64 fanzine and I won! You should watch the live video of Vinny picking the winner, if only to wonder at everything he has plugged into his C64 and a preview of issue 18 of Freeze64. He pronounced my name wrong too, but that’s to be expected. 🙂

I have yet to play Maze of the Mummy as it’s been a hectic few days here but I’m going to get my 1541-II down out of the attic and make a backup d64 image to play in Vice this week.

I think the last boxed C64 game I ever bought was Creatures 2 which was a long time ago so handling a physical copy of a new game sets off a mix of nostalgia for the old and eagerness to try something new. I’m looking forward to trying this game!