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Zapped to the Past podcast (C64)


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I borrowed Yie Ar Kung-Fu off a friend and it made a big impact on me at the time. The arcade game was a game of many innovations. It may be the first one on one fighting game using health instead of points as per Karate Champ. It was probably the first one on one fighting game where the combatants weren't clones, and the first one on one game where many of the characters wielded weapons from staffs to flying fans.

 

And from the title screen you knew you were in for a musical treat.

 

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The game impresses from the start with an animated background.

 

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And continues to impress with some amazing weapons for a C64 game. Just look at this chain!

 

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Here's the thing though. Most of you won't see the latter part of the game because of this cheeky git.

 

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Pole is the hardest opponent in the game. Your only hope is leg sweeps and I'm talking perfectly timed leg sweeps. If you get the timing even slightly wrong then it's your face meeting the end of that pole at light speed as he just smacks you with no mercy.

 

I'm still impressed over three decades later at the variety and speed for a single load game but it's a messy game to play and not a patch on slower, more traditional fighting games. In retrospect a lot of my great memories of this game is purely down to the amazing score, sound effects and musical stings. Apart from the music it's worth looking at just to see the inspiration for Street Fighter 2, Soul Edge and Smash Brothers.

 

At the time it blew the other 8bit ports out of the water but it's telling that while I was happy to borrow this for a few weeks I was also happy to return it and not seek out a copy of my own.

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I played Yie-Ar on the brilliant Konami Coin-Op compilation (with Green Beret, Mikie, HyperSports and Ping-Pong).

 

That weird flying jump and the sound was really off-putting, and a lot of the time i never felt in control.

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3 hours ago, merman said:

I played Yie-Ar on the brilliant Konami Coin-Op compilation (with Green Beret, Mikie, HyperSports and Ping-Pong).

 

That weird flying jump and the sound was really off-putting, and a lot of the time i never felt in control.

 

That's the arcade design at work there. The game really wants to chuck you off in three minutes.

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Arcade game is great and still one of my favourites but it doesn’t play like any other fighting game and the mechanics of the actual fighting aren’t very solid really; it’s all about trying to get a poke in and occasionally trapping your opponent while hoping your opponent doesn’t do the same before you.
 

There’s a vs mode in the Konami collection on GBA.
 

I haven’t played the C64 version for years. I say this a lot but I preferred the Spectrum version back in the day. 
 

The sequel is pretty weird and I was gutted when I got it. 

 

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On 26/07/2021 at 09:57, Unofficial Who said:

Phantom of the Asteroid is new to me. Ever since Pitfall and HERO I've loved games set in caves.

 

So, first the nice things to say.

 

Um.

 

Er.

 

I really like the loading screen?

 

348484-phantom-of-the-asteroid-commodore

 

As for the rest. It's the other trademark Commodore colour. Grey. Lots of grey.

 

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It's too hard. I found the music a little bit annoying. And the difficulty? It's not Rocket Roger but it's not far off. Good only for people who think Souls like games are too easy.

This was too hard, yes. Never mix your health and death systems. 

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On 26/07/2021 at 10:35, Unofficial Who said:

Time Tunnel is a game a lot of latter Zzap readers would have in their collection. When the cover tape trend was in full swing Zzap readers were promised a demo of Katakis, a hot game from Germany that was meant to be R-Type....but better.

 

144436-katakis-commodore-64-screenshot-c

 

Activision who had scored the actual licence were none to pleased with this and an injunction was taken out and instead Zzap readers got this weird arcade adventure as compensation.

 

I actually liked this back in the day. I never solved it but I found the backdrops kind of creative and there were some really weird but neat puzzles.

 

663992-time-tunnel-commodore-64-screensh

 

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I sat down with a guide tonight with the goal of finishing this off but I couldn't do it. The annoying inventory system and the short music loops drove me spare ten minutes in. As a freebie back in the day though it was not bad. I couldn't imagine spending full price for it.

 

Does anyone know who made this? Someone on Lemon64 said they had a lead back in 2014 but then went quiet.

Obscure in every way possible. I fear to complete this opens up a wormhole to another dimension. 

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I have fond memories of Yie-Ar Kung-Fu but as noted in the podcast, the collision detection leaves a lot to be desired. A really impressive port though in just 64k and my word that Jarre music on the title screen is nothing short of amazing. 

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Hi @squirtle.

 

I've started listening to this now and am really enjoying it (mostly).  Love the format and I think you are onto a winner here with your style and the way you guys come over.

 

I'd like to offer two pieces of feedback based on the first few hours (I'm only on EP2 - Part 2) if I may?

  1. The discussion about other non-Zzap media lasts a little too long in my opinion.  I don't mind a bit of perspective about what else was going on in the world but after a little while I'm just keen to get back into the games discussion.
  2. There's a lot of loud breathing (intakes of air) in the microphone that are actually louder than the speech sometimes.  It's often enough for it to put me off a bit.  Perhaps some better mics?  Some editing to fix it?

You'll probably tell me that the audio is improved in later episodes in which case I'm about 6 months late providing the feedback (sorry!).  I would have trawled through the last 26 pages but to be honest I don't have time for that.

 

Anyway, well done on the podcast - keep them coming. 👍

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@WizRider Glad you're listening and (mostly) enjoying it. Things tighten up as we go along and I bought a new mic at about episode 3 or 4 and Graham got better at mixing it. There's no link between episodes beside them being in chronological order, so maybe try one of the later ones and see what you think. We cut the news section so just music one week and film /tv the next for that month. Can't remember exactly when we ditched it, and I can't say we still don't go off on rambling tangents in the media sections, but you'll hopefully find it a lot tighter than those early episodes and better mixed. 

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Nonterraqueous never made it to the shops down here. Not that I saw anyway but I can imagine local distributors looking at the name and ordering another few copies of whatever cricket game was out instead.

 

And I had the same problem with this that I had with Phantom of the Asteroid. Why give you a life meter when certain objects are one hit kills?

 

1000 screens of this? (And this was my first of a few game overs.)

 

158141-nonterraqueous-commodore-64-scree

 

No thanks. I suspect if I had gotten this it would have gone to the back of the draw until someone had created some pokes.

 

I did have a look around to see if the ending was worth it.

 

 

 

 

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I feel like I've been a bit harsh on Phantom of the Asteroid and on Nonterraqueous. Part of that is I'm a lot less tolerant on instant game overs outside of rogue likes decades on. But part of it is the downside of the technical marvel of these two games and many other arcade adventures of the time. Inspired by Ultimate's output I feel like there was a more is more design idea in the same way some open world games today suffer from. Having so many screens squeezed into 64K is a marvel but in cases like this it feels like the experience is too spread out and diluted. There's a certain joy to mapping but it's a fine line and any game that suffers instant deaths is going to be a big ask for mappers.

 

Even games that I love in this genre like Firelord and Starquake are arguably too big to handle with just pen and paper.

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29 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

I feel like I've been a bit harsh on Phantom of the Asteroid and on Nonterraqueous. Part of that is I'm a lot less tolerant on instant game overs outside of rogue likes decades on. But part of it is the downside of the technical marvel of these two games and many other arcade adventures of the time. Inspired by Ultimate's output I feel like there was a more is more design idea in the same way some open world games today suffer from. Having so many screens squeezed into 64K is a marvel but in cases like this it feels like the experience is too spread out and diluted. There's a certain joy to mapping but it's a fine line and any game that suffers instant deaths is going to be a big ask for mappers.

 

Even games that I love in this genre like Firelord and Starquake are arguably too big to handle with just pen and paper.

I think we've said a few times that it seems at times like a tech arms race at this point to see just how much your can cram into such little memory. From a technical standpoint, very impressive. From the perspective of actually playing these games... Not so much. I mean Lords of Havoc had 2k screens. Did it make it better? No, just 2k times more boring. 

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I remember looking at a grainy screenshot of The Adventures of Bond... Basildon Bond in C&VG and being as perplexed as the previewer was.

 

293413-the-adventures-of-bond-basildon-b

 

I mean it's hard to parse even after playing it. I mean I love weird. But this is...well boring weird? I feel for the guy having to make this game. I have no idea who Russ Abbott was but I can imagine any programmer being told they had to make a game based on a comedy sketch show would also be pretty hard pressed to make something that wasn't generic and almost instantly dated.

 

293406-the-adventures-of-bond-basildon-b

 

 

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1 hour ago, squirtle said:

Everything about Russ Abbott should be stricken from history. 

 

And it has been. Never saw this in the shops down here, seemed like a game that was doomed only to be sold to a small portion of English grandmothers.

 

Now if probe had done a game based around Kenny Everett or The Goodies that would have had more traction.

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9 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:

Let's get one of the backlog out of the way right now. FA Cup.

 

177831-f-a-cup-football-commodore-64-scr

 

Yeah but nah. My idea of hell. (Rinse and repeat for all football management games for me.)

As a football fan, I found it strangely compelling and slightly nonsensical until it crashed on me in the final. 

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So I was late getting to The Master of Magic. And there's a certain irony as to why.

 

A couple of weeks ago I saw that UnderMine was about to leave gamepass. It's a game where a sorcerer press gangs random peasants to search a series of underground caverns for artefacts. 

 

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This sort of game is catnip to me and I was quickly hooked. We'll get back to the irony later.

 

I love these sorts of games. I first got hooked playing Adventure on the 2600. This was as basic as it gets.

 

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When I upgraded to the C64 I was desperate to find a similar dungeon crawl. I ended up playing a lot of Gateway to Apshai, 

 

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This a simplified version of rogue and it scratched the itch. I wanted to play something with more teeth and having seen the screenshots of Swords and Sorcery on the Spectrum I waited for the C64 port that was to come.

 

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Spoiler, it never did. And while I was waiting I missed out on this little gem. And here's the irony. The plot involves a sorcerer press ganging an ordinary person into fetching something from a cavern for him. Sound familiar?

 

MasterOfMagicDemo.gif

 

I'd never really been a fan of Richard Darling's work apart from BMX simulator because he always seemed to do average sports games. But this is incredibly clever and very well produced. Had I have gotten my hands on this back in the day I know I would have been completely and totally obsessed. I love the overhead map that only shows you what you can see, something that reviewers were going nuts about over indie darling Monaco about ten years ago. Here Darling is doing it first. His interface is uglier but more functional than Shadowfire recognising that the majority of users are going to be using a joystick or keyboard and not a mouse or electronic pen.

 

What's stopping me from playing this now? Well I'm spoiled for choice for rogue likes from Hades to UnderMine  with RAD and Children of Morta in the mix. But this is a release I feel real regret for having missed it back in the day. It's a little too slow and the character gets caught on the walls too easily. But back in 1986 this would have been an absolute bargain.

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@Unofficial Whoyou should stick with it. Once you know the way through it doesn't take that long and it's a fixed design so no rogue elements. There's a pleasure to be had in completing it and the difficulty is, for a change back then, really well judged. Master of Magic is a genuinely great game. 

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5 minutes ago, squirtle said:

@Unofficial Whoyou should stick with it. Once you know the way through it doesn't take that long and it's a fixed design so no rogue elements. There's a pleasure to be had in completing it and the difficulty is, for a change back then, really well judged. Master of Magic is a genuinely great game. 

 

It's on my list to revisit. I had a great 15 minute session with it today that was only broken because I had to go out to the shops on short notice to get some cooking ingredients.

 

What isn't on my list to play is Geoff Capes Strongman Challenge, a game I immediately looked at and thought "I'll never play that."

 

And today hasn't changed that. Bowing out because I'm not wrecking my joystick for a below average joystick waggler these shots didn't inspire me to change my mind.

 

It says something that none of the videos or images I found got past training and then the barrel lifting.

 

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I've heard he's a lovely man. He deserves better.

 

 

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I had a copy of Geoff Capes back in the day and the Rob Hubbard tune that ran throughout (something tedious like Roll Out the Barrel IIRC) was all wonky and off-key. I assumed forever that Hubbard had either intentionally fobbed them off with a wonky tune for a shit game or that he was drunk or something. Totally illogical of course (what software company would pay for a massively out of tune piece of music?) but made sense to my young mind. Of course, it was just a dodgy/corrupted crack and the game music is actually completely in tune and not wonky at all. But still shit.

 

EDIT: just watched a video and the game seems to start with a rendition of 'I'm a Lumberjack' but has different bits of music here and there. I'll have to find that dodgy crack now.

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Sadly I was unable to find my wonky copy of Geoff Capes. I was looking forward to hearing that racket again. I did fire up a few other games though that we've discussed on here recently:

BC's Quest for Tires. Did we slate this? I quite enjoyed the few goes I had on it last night, but then I'm a sucker for simple arcade-style games.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu. I've often seen the opinion thrown around that old arcade conversions are pointless these days as you can easily play the original games. I usually disagree with this notion, as I like exploring these conversions which are often still fun to play and offer a slightly different experience. This though does just make me want to play the arcade game. Especially when I reached Pole and he just comboed me to death each time. Also jumping diagonally sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu II. Still a disappointment. Lovely music though.

Super Cycle. Did we discuss this? Really nice to play until you reach the tenth track and wonder why there is no challenge.

 

 

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38 minutes ago, Camel said:

Sadly I was unable to find my wonky copy of Geoff Capes. I was looking forward to hearing that racket again. I did fire up a few other games though that we've discussed on here recently:

BC's Quest for Tires. Did we slate this? I quite enjoyed the few goes I had on it last night, but then I'm a sucker for simple arcade-style games.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu. I've often seen the opinion thrown around that old arcade conversions are pointless these days as you can easily play the original games. I usually disagree with this notion, as I like exploring these conversions which are often still fun to play and offer a slightly different experience. This though does just make me want to play the arcade game. Especially when I reached Pole and he just comboed me to death each time. Also jumping diagonally sometimes works and sometimes doesn't.

Yie Ar Kung-Fu II. Still a disappointment. Lovely music though.

Super Cycle. Did we discuss this? Really nice to play until you reach the tenth track and wonder why there is no challenge.

 

 

BC's Quest for Tyres isn't one we covered. We did Grog's Revenge, but the first one was pre Zzap and we had no relationship with it so didn't include it in ep0.

 

Ah, Pole. Such a bastard. 

 

Super Cycle... Don't think we've got there yet. 

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Alter Ego was out of reach for me when it came out. On disk and very expensive at that. And once I had a drive it was long out of print.

 

But when I discovered emulation in the 90's I was obsessed with this game. There was nothing else like it and I roped my friends into playing it one evening. They were transfixed despite how primitive it looked. One of my friends was weirdly pleased that his alter ego died an early death as a rent boy!

 

300px-Alteregotitle.png

 

There's a couple of flaws though. It's very conservative. No gay relationships here and there are some parts around depression that feel a little harsh now. 

 

Also check this out as "acceptable" as an old man

 

Alteregoold_age.GIF

 

Still there are some parts that are pretty poignant and it can be a little disconcerting how some games can end early, or even if they don't are still affecting. (One section as a child had an adult try to lure me to their car, something I didn't fall for and the description afterwards praised my caution. "This adult hurts children."

 

Another section as a teen working in a legal office was very satisfying with the option after being fired of revealing to the bosses wife that he was having it off with another staff member. And yet another section had me making friends with the local "crazy woman" only to find out she'd lost her daughter and husband in a tragic accident.

 

So the two downsides. One I can't solve. This was written in the mid 80's with 80's sensibilities. People in their 40's-50's will find something here. Otherwise it's almost a period piece.

 

The downside I can solve? Playing this on original hardware or on an emulator is tricky. But there are phone ports available and you can play the game online in a browser which is highly recommended. The free version makes you wait between chapters but this is a positive as it gives you time to ruminate on your previous actions.

 

You can play it here https://www.playalterego.com/

 

In terms of where this sits, this is incredibly ahead of its time. Ignored at the time for neither being an arcade game or not having the puzzles adventure games sought it was doomed to obscurity in the 80's. It feels very much of it's time now design wise, I'd love to see someone make a modern version of it.

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From the "about" notes on the web version. This explains why a modern day version even in text would be a massive undertaking.

 

Quote

Preserving Alter Ego

The current edition includes an updated interface and fixes bugs in the original version of the game, but the content of the game (the writing) hasn't changed from the original 1986 version of the game.

We've decided not to attempt to update the content of Alter Ego. Instead, we're preserving it as an artifact of electronic gaming history. Here's why.

The Life of an "Ordinary" American in 1986

Alter Ego tells the story of the life of an "ordinary" American, as Dr. Favaro envisioned it in 1986. It takes on significant assumptions about what the life of an ordinary American in 1986 would be like.

For example, in this game, no one discriminates against you on the basis of your ethnic background or the color of your skin.

On this basis, many readers have assumed (sometimes unconsciously) that the life you lead in Alter Ego is the life of a white American. The game never explicitly describes the color of your skin, but the life of an ordinary black woman in 1986 would have included a significant amount of discrimination, and some forms of that discrimination would be different from the discrimination a black man would have experienced.

Alter Ego doesn't let you live the life of just anyone; you only have the option to live as someone who doesn't experience racial discrimination.

By only offering the player a chance to play as an "ordinary" American, the game implicitly assumes that you're like the majority of Americans, that you are not yourself a minority in any way.

Same-Sex Relationships in 1986

Adding support for same-sex dating and same-sex marriage could be easy: the game could just offer you a choice of genders when you use the dating icon.

But in 1986, that's not what same-sex dating was really like in America. Same-sex marriage was illegal in every state, and gay/lesbian couples experienced discrimination from many groups, sometimes even from their own families.

Telling the life story of a gay man in 1986 means telling the story of coming out of the closet, prejudiced employers, encounters with parents, and so on. Some of those moments would be quite different when playing as a lesbian, and the life of bisexual characters would be different yet again.

Neverending 1986

The entire game of Alter Ego is set in 1986, despite the fact that you live eighty years or more. Nothing of significance happens in America over the course of your lifetime.

There is no history and no political conflict in Alter Ego. No technology ever develops in this game, and you are never surprised or confused by new technology.

Unsurprisingly, Alter Ego doesn't offer you the option to become a politician, an inventor, or soldier.

How could you become a politician in a world where there are no politics? How could you become a famous inventor when nothing can be invented? How can you serve in the military in a world without war?

 

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