Archive for the ‘Commodore 64’ Category

Donald Duck

Saturday, April 21st, 2007

Donald Duck has a problem, he’s broke and he needs to buy some playground equipment for his nephews. So what does he do? He does odd jobs around the town for spending money.

You can do each of the jobs offered around the time for anywhere from one to nine minutes, and the longer you work, the more money you can potentially earn. There are four jobs you can do around town, and you can do each one as many times as you want.

Job number one involves catching and sorting fruits thrown off the back of a truck. Each fruit that you put in the correct box gets you a few cents, while each one you miss incapacitates you for a few seconds.

Job number two has you sorting packages that go by on a conveyor belt and tossing them into the correct bin so they can be loaded on a series of planes. Each package you put in the correct bin will get you a few cents.

Job number three has you routing trains. You have a series of joysticks that control junctions on a giant railroad map. Your goal is to get the trains to their correct destination. Each train that you successfully navigate will net you several cents.

Job number four has you sorting toys at a toy store. You have to put the toys on the correct shelves, while making sure that the back of the shelving is closed when a train goes by. Each toy that you sort gets you a few cents, while every toy that falls on the floor costs you a few.

After you’ve worked a while and earned a few dollars, you get to head to the store and buy things that any kid would love to have on their playground. Stuff like: cargo nets, slides, and cardboard boxes. You then place these objects around their play area and watch them play with the stuff you bought.

So, it’s a tool to teach kids about how to work for money, and then letting them spend it on fun things. Almost like real life. With ducks.


Friday, April 20th, 2007

There are few things more stereotypically American than burgers, except for maybe apple pie. But since there hasn’t yet been a game called Apple Pie Time, we’ll have to make do with this one.

Burgertime takes the concept of making burgers and instead of taking this concept to its logical extreme, the game takes it to its completely illogical, crazy extreme.

I was never able to figure out if your character was a tiny chef or if the food was just gigantic, but I suppose it doesn’t really matter. what does matter is that you have a series of ladders with buns, meat, an lettuce on them. Your job is to assemble the giant burgers by walking along the pieces and making them fall down one level, and eventually create completed burgers.

Hindering you are foods that are the same size as our hero: Mr. Egg, Mr. Pickle, and Mr. Hot Dog. They will chase you down and if they touch you, they’ll kill you. Your only weapons are a shaker of pepper with an extremely limited amount of shakes (this will stun the enemy foods) and the actual giant hamburger components (these will squish and temporarily incapacitate the enemy foods).

Your goal is to just last as long as possible, create as many burgers as you can, and get lots of points. Oh, and to try and not go crazy watching the undulations of an ambulatory tube steak.

Pipe Dream

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Pipe Dream (a.k.a. Pipe Mania, or about a thousand different clones), I’m constantly surprised that more people haven’t heard of it.

Pipe Dream is a puzzle game that does away with the standard ’sort things and make them disappear’, and instead has you creating a network of pipes from random pieces to contain the flow of a mystery liquid. What the liquid is changes in each incarnation, but it really doesn’t matter what it is.

The liquid will start flowing shortly after the stage starts, with the length of this initial delay diminishing as the levels progress. Depending on the version and the level, you will have one or two goals to achieve: make the liquid flow through a certain number of pipes, and make the liquid flow through a certain number of pipes while making it to the end pipe.

It sounds easy enough, but you can quickly start to panic as you realize that the liquid is slowly but surely progressing and you aren’t getting the piece you need to connect the two halves of your pipe network.

Not that that’s ever happened to me.

Bump ‘n’ Jump

Saturday, April 14th, 2007

On the surface Bump ‘n’ Jump is your standard driving game. You take your car down the road and try to get to the end of the level with the eventual goal of rescuing your kidnapped girlfriend. You have the ability to bump other cars off the road that might be in your way, scoring precious points. The road you’re on inexplicably goes through rivers and other obstacles, but you’re fine. As you may have been able to glean from the title, your car has the ability to jump.

You primarily use your jump to avoid the suddenly-ending road, but you can also squish opposing cars for extra Bonus Points. However, you have to keep an eye on what you’re doing. If you are too busy squishing cars to pay attention to the obstacles, there’s a good chance that you’ll jump directly into the river/ocean/other obstacle.

The game has discrete levels, but I was not able to determine if it actually ever had an end. As interesting of a concept as this game had, I couldn’t play more than about five levels at a time before I got tired of it and moved on.

Toy Bizarre

Friday, April 13th, 2007

Before he was involved in mega-hit arcade games Smash TV and NBA Jam, Mark Turmell created an oddly engaging game for the old Commodore 64 called Toy Bizarre.

I kind of wish I had the manual for this game, I might then know what in the world was going on. The game, it would seem, takes place in a toy factory after hours. The toys have come to life somehow and it’s your job to control the flow of new toys into the arena by shutting off the valves located at the edges of the screen, and to disable and collect the rogue toys, presumably for packaging and shipping. The screen is full of complementary platforms. When you jump on one of the raised platforms, it will lower and its complementary platform will raise, incapacitating whatever’s on it, allowing you to collect it. If you happen to be on a lowered platform when something hits its complementary platform, then you = dead. Or more accurately, you = flying off the top of the screen.

Your progress is hindered by a mechanical female with a giant key in her back. To keep the game moving, when you turn off the valves, she turns them back on. She’ll also meander about the level trying to jump on the complimentary platforms to incapacitate you. You can temporarily dispatch her by turning the tables and hopping on the complimentary

The game is simple to understand, fun to play, and completely bizarre. In other words, my kind of game.


Thursday, April 12th, 2007

I suppose that video games and space themes go together so well because for a long time they were both somewhat futuristic. This might be because it was easy to make weird things in video games and attribute them to aliens or some kind of mysterious Future Technology.

One of the results of this pairing is a game called Starpost. Starpost is an exceedingly simple game. you control an outpost out among the stars. Who owns the outpost and for what purpose? I don’t know. It doesn’t really matter, though.

What does matter is that evil aliens are out to destroy your precious Starpost by crashing their ships into it, the curs. Your Starpost looks like four dice stacked on top of each other in a column. Its only defense is shooting a laser from either the left or right side of each section. You choose which laser will fire by pushing down the joystick: right will make the selector move clockwise, and left will make it move counterclockwise. Pushing the fire button makes the beam deadly. Your goal is to last for the duration of the time limit by destroying the rogue ships before they can crash into your post and disable the laser on that side (too many get destroyed and you lose).

Sounds hard, and it is for a while, until I hit upon an almost fool-proof strategy. If you hold down one of the directions on your joystick (doesn’t really matter which one) so that the targeting reticle rotates around the base, and only fire when it crosses over an enemy ship. Once I adopted this strategy, I was able to play long enough that I am now permanently bored with this game.

Roland’s Ratrace

Sunday, April 8th, 2007

Before I played this game, I had no idea who Roland Rat was. After I played the game, I still didn’t really know. I always assumed that he was some character created specifically for this game. Many years later I would discover, via the wonders of the Internet, that Roland Rat is a British puppet that happens to be somewhat of a television celebrity in his own country.

I almost never got to play his game, since it exhibits a quite unusual quirk: to play the game, you must disconnect the Commodore 1541 disc drive from your system, otherwise the game would hang immediately after you start. For months, I thought it was broken.

On the occasion that I finally figured out how to make this thing go, I was greeted with some of the catchiest music to come out of the SID chip, and one of the most unusual games I’ve ever played.

Roland navigates the sewers armed with nothing but his patented Glue-Pac, and must track down and assemble the pieces of a door for reasons not readily apparent (we got this game second hand, so we didn’t have a manual). You are pursued by ambulatory pairs of boots and the occasional train, and according to the Internet both of which can be temporarily immobilized with a shot from your Glue-Pac. I only ever tried to stop the boots, I thought trying to stop a train with a spot of glue was silly.

If you can manage to bring all of the pieces of the door to the… door’s archway, and manage to eat the blue glowing fruits to keep your health up (getting hit by a train hurts). You will have completed this game.

I couldn’t manage more than about half of it.

Lunar Outpost

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2007

Lunar Outpost is an interesting game. It’s a weird hybrid of shooting game and strategy game. It’s been an extremely long time since I’ve played this game, so I don’t really remember the story very well. What I do remember is that in the future (natch) humans have built an outpost on the Moon. You, the driver of a Lunar Tank, must protect the Lunar Buildings from a Lunar Invasion by extra-Lunar aliens.

The aliens want to destroy the sweet buildings that have been built on the lunar surface. These buildings, it so happens, recharge your tank’s batteries, allowing you to move. You play the game by navigating the Lunar Surface, which it turns out is a large rectangle, and shooting the Lunar Invaders with your Lunar Tank-mounted Lunar Cannon. You do this by patrolling the surface and keeping tabs on invaders via the radar in the corner. You seek out the blips that are a different color than your blip, and show them the business end of your Moon Missiles.

Actually engaging the enemy takes you to a screen that looks kind of like Space Invaders with the exception that you and your adversaries could move forward and back as well as left and right. Hey, it was 1984, that was ludicrously advanced.

The goal of the game was to stave off your attackers for a specific number of Lunar Days that you pick from the outset, with the eventual goal of surviving an entire Lunar Month (a.k.a. 28 days). Alas, I was never able to survive the entire Lunar Month, but I did manage to survive about a Lunar Week before my tank’s batteries gave out when I was equidistant from two power stations. That was right before I decided to retire this game.

Jupiter Lander

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

It’s hard to believe that a scant two dozen or so years ago the games that we know as the throwaway games you play in your browser when you have a spare five minutes were full, standalone products that wild-eyed kids (and some adults) would play, often for hours. Games that took one basic concept and sold it as a complete gaming experience. Games that just get harder the longer you play them, with the only reward being a higher score that was lost the instant you turned the power off. Games like Jupiter Lander.

Jupiter Lander tasks you with safely landing a craft that looks like the Lunar Lander (but it’s not, obviously) on some planetary surface, probably Jupiter.

You are capable of thrusting in three directions: left, right, and up. Each thrust eats up precious fuel, but you have to use your thrusters to slow your craft down to a non-crashing speed. Non-crashing in this case means between 0 and 0.5 miles per hour in any direction. Anything faster than means that your Lander explodes. It seems a little harsh.

You can choose to land on any one of several landing sites on the planet’s surface. The harder it is to navigate to the landing site, the more points you’ll get, but you’ll use more fuel.

People would spend hours upon hours on this game. Landing the same ship on the same planetary surface over and over again. I am not one of those people. I spent maybe three dozen minutes total on this game before I gave up, and those were 1998 minutes. With attention spans today, that’s roughly equivalent to three hours, which is more than enough.

Beach Head 2: The Dictator Strikes Back

Tuesday, March 27th, 2007

According to the manual for this game, there was a game called Beach Head. I never heard of it, never could find it, and never did play it. I did, however, manage to get some quality time with Beach Head 2, which was apparently superior in just about every way, so no big loss.

Beach Head 2 tells the classic story of the battles between Dictator of an Island Nation (presumably defeated at the end of the first game) and the Good Guy Army Corps. out to stop his Reign of Terror before it Spreads to Crush the Free World Under its Oppressive Boot.

How do you stop the Evil Dictator? With mini-games, duh.

There are four separate mini-missions for you to perform. The twist is that you can play either as the Allies or the Dictator. There are four or so missions that you can choose to do, but I only remember playing three of them, so the fourth one must have been terrible.

Game 1: You take control of the Allied Mobile Death Cannon, and scroll the screen slowly to the left while you control the cannon. You have to shoot the tanks, people, and ultimately what looks like a giant termite’s nest with guns, windows and flags all over it. I don’t think you can actually play as the Dictator in this one.

Game 2: The Dictator is in the Jungle with his Stationary Rapid-Fire Death Gun, in his Jungle Stronghold. The Allies parachute in, behind staggered walls, and run toward Hot Lead Death, in an attempt to make it all the way to the Gun. It’s kind of like Assault from American Gladiators, except with fake simulated bullets instead of tennis balls. You can either be the Dictator and gun down the Allies or you can be the Allied team deploying troops. Much more fun with two players.

Game 3: I dunno. Something with helicopters. I don’t remember much about it, so it must have been pretty boring.

Game 4: The final showdown, you’re on a platform on one side of a cave, and the Dictator is on the other. There is a river flowing beneath your platforms. Both sides have inexplicably run out of weapons, so they resort to sharpened sticks (poontas, the game calls them) that you throw at each other. You take enough hits, you fall into the water, and your side loses the War.

What’s striking about this game is that it makes use of digitized audio, which was pretty rare on for the Commodore 64. There are only three voice clips that I remember: the standard “Ungh!” when you get hit with something, the standard scream when you get hit with something that kills you, and the Dictator that says “You can’t hurt me!” when you throw a sharpened stick into his heart of course, he dictator sounded more like Snidely Whiplash than an actual villain, but it helped create an atmosphere. An atmosphere where I nearly jumped out of my pants the first time I heard it.

Fun times.