Archive for the ‘Commodore 64’ Category

Hero of the Golden Talisman

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Like a lot of games that I played over the years, I had no idea what was going on in Hero of the Golden Talisman, and the title screen didn’t actually help me understand it at all.

Hero of the Golden Talisman

What I do know is that you’re a guy and you have to run around a labyrinth collecting flags and trying to find and defeat dragons. The flags somehow increase your firepower, which is kind of important because the dragons are kind of strong, and you have to kill off the dragons to get back the pieces of the titular Golden Talisman to… uh… I don’t really know to what end. I guess to win the game.

I played this game a fair number of times, but didn’t really make much of what you might call progress. This is due to two main things. Firstly, the map to this game is huge! A lot huger than I actually knew, and the impotent mini-map that’s provided to you is absolutely worthless. And somehow it never dawned on me to actually make a pencil-and-paper map to find my way around the place, which would have been a really smart idea.

Hero of the Golden Talisman Map

Now, you might notice by looking at that map that there are lots of vertical shafts that have ledges that you need to jump on. Thing is, though, that you can’t directly control yourself after you jump off a ledge, but you instead bounce off the walls, which brings me to my second thing. I had a real hard time lining up my jumps correctly. I’d invariably mis-time it, and miss the ledge I was aiming for by a few microns, then plummet far out of my way. Then I’d take the several minutes to make it back to the original ledge to jump it off again, only to mis-judge it the other way and still miss the jump.

Then, after missing the same jump a few dozen times, I just kind of got bored with it and decided to put in something that I was a little better at.

The Great Giana Sisters

Friday, October 5th, 2007

My first exposure to the Great Giana Sisters was with some bootleg disk that came from who knows where. I remember reading the documentation that came with it which said that the game looked very Mario-ish, so he changed some of the graphics around to make them looks more like the familiar Mario Universe. It wouldn’t be until years later that I would pick up the original version of this game and realize just how much of a Mario clone it is.

Story? What story? Typical of many games from that time, you were lucky if you got a paragraph or two telling you what was going on. You run to the right, collecting diamonds and powerups, stomping on or shooting fireballs at enemies, and have to reach the structure at the end of the level to proceed. And if you find a hidden room or two? Good for you!

The game itself is relatively solid, though I had to wuss out and turn on infinite lives to finish it (I was 10 and impatient). But the thing to take note of here is the music. It sounds pretty lethargic in the video above, and I can’t find a proper Commodore 64 emulator that will play the song at the tempo I remember it. So either my memory’s faulty or the emulators are. But the music for this game is quite good, and almost certainly fueled my lifelong interest in chiptunes.


Friday, September 7th, 2007

Video games don’t have to make sense to still be fun. I kind of wish that there were more games these days that were a little more off-the-wall, games where you had to suspend truckloads of disbelief to enjoy the story. In other words, the story is immaterial.

Frogger is a game about getting a frog across a street and across a river to the docks on the other side. The street? Full of traffic. Successfully dodge and weave your way around the cars and trucks or you’ll be squished. Then you make it to the band in the middle where you get a brief reprieve. You then have to navigate floating logs, and the backs of turtles who will dive at a moment’s notice because your frog, for reasons yet unexplained, can’t swim. Pick up the hot female frog and catch the fly for bonus points. Oh, and don’t get eaten by the alligators, dogs, or snakes.

Why can’t the frog swim? Why was the frog across the busy freeway to start with? Who cares? The game is fun anyway.

Bubble Ghost

Monday, July 9th, 2007

You could convincingly argue that there are no new ideas in video games. Snood is a ripoff of Puzzle Bobble, Zuma is a ripoff of Puzzloop, and Tetris… well, they just call Tetris ripoffs Tetris. Bubble Ghost, however, is not quite like any game that I’ve seen before or since.

The Bubble Ghost is a ghost that lives in a castle that is particularly inhospitable to bubbles, there are pointy things, fire, electricity, and fans(?) everywhere. Shockingly, the ghost has a bubble in its possession, and even more shockingly intends to take it through a series of rooms in the castle. You know, the ones with the pointy things. The ghost, as it happens, can’t touch the bubble or anything else, the only way he can interact with his environment is by blowing. He has to blow the bubble around the impressively dangerous castle. To what end? I can’t really say. I couldn’t get through more than a couple of rooms before I gave up on this game completely. Adorable games shouldn’t be this hard!


Tuesday, July 3rd, 2007

For a game that I played somewhat extensively as a youngster, Tapper hasn’t aged very well.

You take charge of a bartender in a series of bars, each with multiple… bars. Each bar in each bar has a door at the end that lets in thirsty customers. It’s your job to get them a cool, frosty mug of a beverage (either beer or root beer, depending on the version). You draw the draft and fling the glass down the counter where a customer will catch it and be knocked back a bit. Your goal is to fling the drinks down the counters and knock the patrons out of the bar, satisfied with drink in hand. If you break a glass, by either throwing it when nobody can get it or by failing to catch an empty glass thrown back at you, you lose. Allow a patron to get to the end of the bar without throwing them a drink, then you lose.

The game gets pretty hectic relatively quickly, so hectic that I end up losing by breaking glasses more than anything else. Mostly because some patron would finish off his first and then just sit there for a couple of seconds, pondering the aftertaste, while the new drink I threw at him sails right past.

Lemonade Stand

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007

There have been many, many Lemonade Stand-esque games, but the first one that I played was on the Commodore 64. These days, however, I can’t find much info on it, so I’m probably mis-remembering some of the details, but here we go anyway.

What kid doesn’t want to own a lemonade stand over the summer? Aside from all the normal kids, that is. As much as I wanted to earn money by selling ridiculously overpriced glasses of lemonade, I didn’t because I didn’t want to sit in front of my house in the scorching heat while nobody ever walked by. Thankfully, the old C-64 was able to provide me with an adequate simulation that I could run in the comfort of my house.

In Lemonade Stand you are the proprietor of your very own lemonade stand (duh). You have a sum of starting money, a weather report, and a shopping list. You need to determine how many lemons, how much sugar and how many cups you need to buy, as well as what what you want to charge for a cup of your swill.

It’s all a balancing act, you can sell more sweet lemonade than unsweet, but you can’t sell any lemonade without cups. You’ll sell more lemonade as it gets hotter, whether it’s sweet or not, and not so much in the rain, but the weather report may or may not be accurate (just like real life!). Your goal is to reduce expenditures and expand income in an effort to maximize profit… in a game geared toward children… that was actually fun.


Moon Patrol

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Lots of video games from the 80’s were set on or around the Moon, probably because it’s reasonably familiar, yet still just out of reach for most of us. I suppose, then, that developers looked to the near(ish) future and wondered what it would be like to live, work, or play on the Moon. Unfortunately, thus far it doesn’t appear that any of them has been particularly accurate.

I have recently learned, just minutes before writing this entry, that the pilot of the Lunar Buggy (that’s you!) is a Lunar Cop that works to keep the citizens of Luna City safe from Lunar thugs by going on Lunar Patrols in Sector 9 (home of some pretty tough customers!).

The top of the screen shows your progress, it looks like a zoomed-out view of the playfield, which is to say that it’s a line with a dot on it, I believe that these are called ‘mini-maps’ these days. On your patrol, you just drive in a straight line, from markers on the ground that are labeled from ‘A’ to ‘Z’, with checkpoints every so often. Littering the landscape are craters and rocks, and if you collide with either one, your buggy explodes. But don’t worry, you’ve come prepared.

Your buggy can jump over the craters and the rocks and can shoot the rocks (shooting the craters does very little good). You can also shoot straight up as well as straight-ahead, which comes in handy since the tough customers I mentioned before attack you from above… In their Lunar Space Ships.

So you have to get to the end of your patrol while:

  • Jumping over craters
  • Jumping over or shooting rocks
  • Shooting down spaceships and
  • Avoiding fire from enemy spaceships

Quite a series of activities that they packed into a game with a two-way joystick and two buttons, quite a feat for 1982. As you can imagine, it’s got a fairly steep learning curve. I could hardly manage to finish one patrol.

Mr. Do’s Castle

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Mr. Do, after dispensing with his lucrative underground cherry-picking career, apparently decided to retire to his luxurious castle. A luxurious castle that is inexplicably filled with the same Mini-Dinos as his underground adventure. Mini-Dinos that have managed to grow horns and are now called ‘unicorns’. But, I’ve gone off on a secant. Mr. Do’s goal is to apparently rid his castle of these unicorns.

How? Excellent question.

He’s traded his power ball for a hammer, but that alone won’t do the job, each time you whack a unicorn, it just stumbles back slightly. Each floor has sections that will collapse if struck with the hammer. Squish a unicorn with the falling floor section, and it’s gone for good (well, until the next level). Of course, if you miss, there is a hole in the floor that you can try and lure the unicorns into, and they’ll be stuck for a few seconds, flailing around in the hole until they repair the floor. This gives you time to dodge, avoid and then squish them. Once you squish all the unicorns you get to go on to the next level where the unicorns come back, faster and more aggressive.

This was actually the first Mr. Do game that I’ve ever played, and the only one that I’ve ever managed to find in an actual arcade. I still find it to be the most fun game in the series. It’s got a catchy tune and some oddly compelling gameplay. Totally worth the quarter.

Crystal Castles

Sunday, April 29th, 2007

Bentley Bear has a problem. He has an unhealthy need for gems. Gems that just happen to be scattered around castles. Castles made from crystal, crystal castle, if you will.

Of course, Mr. Bear can’t just go picking up gems willy-nilly, that would be seriously boring and not much of a challenge. So throughout the castles are crystal ball enemies that eat gems, ambulatory trees that eat gems, and Gem Eaters that… eat gems. There are reportedly other enemies as you progress through the levels, like swarms of bees, skeletons, ghosts, and Berthilda the Witch. The bees, well they like the honey that shows up on some of the levels. The witch? She likes making you lose lives. But as long as you have the Magic Hat, you’re invincible and therefore OK.

I’ve heard rumors that this game actually has an ending, but I never could get that far. The furthest that I ever got was wherever the warp in the first stage took you, and I only discovered that by complete accident.

Skate or Die!

Monday, April 23rd, 2007

Skate or Die! is both a mantra to live by and a short-lived video game series. For a time in the 1980s you could hardly walk a couple of blocks without falling over some guys with skateboards. Seemingly realizing this, Electronic Arts cashed in and developed a ‘meta-game’ with several mini-events based on skateboarding. You get to do these events in whatever order you like or you can do them all in a kind of Skateboarding Olympics.

Most of the events are for one player at a time, where you compete for some kind of high score. In the High Jump you mash the A and B buttons to try and jump as high as you can on a half-pipe. Pretty lame, especially if you used a turbo controller like I did.

In Freestyle, you took the same half-pipe and the same ‘mash A and B to gain speed’ control scheme, but this time you added the ability to waggle the control pad and mash the A and B buttons to try and to some tricks. You do more tricks, you get more points. You only get 10 passes on the ramp, so you need to chain together as many ‘things’ as you can without crashing in a hilariously horrible way.

Jam allows you to race down a hill covered with rad-to-the-max obstacles and two (yes, two!) paths you could take: one path is shorter, but much tougher to navigate, yielding more points and a potentially faster time. I would invariably end up falling flat on my face too many times and then purposely make my skater crash into the water just off the conveniently-place dock.

Now we move on to the two-player head-to-head events. Both of them.

First is the Race. This takes place in some seedy back alley. You get to race against Lester, the son of the proprietor of the local skate shop (and former marine) to the end of the very short alley, with a path that branches in an attempt to get to the end of the race faster, but ultimately to score more points. You score points by doing very simple tricks and smashing the trash that’s scattered around the alley (you get crazy bonus points for jumping on the squad car at the end of the alley). You also have the option of punch your opponent to sabotage his run while he does the same to you. This mode is great, but is way too short.

Then there’s the Pool Joust. I don’t really like the Pool Joust. In Pool Joust, you and another skater (my favorite is Poseur Pete) skate around an empty cement pond, and one of you has a ‘bopper’ (it looks kind of like a giant cotton swab). Your goal is to use the bopper to knock the other person off of their board. After every five passes, the bopper switches between you and your opponent. You knock your opponent off his board the requisite number of times and you win.

So, yes, it’s a party game, kind of like Caveman Games only with kids on skateboards instead of cave people, and not quite so bizarre.