Monday, December 18, 2017

Baby Jack

Published on Game On 04/90

Have you ever wondered what Bomb Jack did as a wee lad before he became the world-famous, cape-wearing bomb disposal officer? No? Well, that's too bad, because Baby Jack is here as an unofficial prequel, telling you all about the hero's thrilling past when he was still a tiny toddler.

The original Bomb Jack was an arcade game released in 1984 by Tehkan. It saw conversions to a lot of home systems, including the C64 in 1986.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Magic Disk 64 03/90

Any self-respecting treasure hunter knows about the Golden Key and the curse that is connected to it: Legend has it that any man who lays eyes on the mystical door opener will have his countenance changed to that of Indiana Jones. However, that does not mean he'll become a Harrison Ford look-alike, no. Instead, he will morph into the unpleasant proportions of an off-brand Chinese-manufactured Indy action figure. His face will forever be marred by lopsided, sloppily painted-on eyes, a nose that looks unfit for breathing, and a mouth completely devoid of an upper lip. He will eternally wield an oversized knife and a whip, without knowing why, and he will be damned to replicate famous poses from the movie posters.

On the plus side, he'll make it onto the cover of Magic Disk 64 03/90.

Not everybody can have an Oli Frey to do the artwork for their magazine, but deary me, this is quite the car crash. I like to imagine that the first draft of the cover was such a perfect rendition of Harrison Ford's features that somebody at CP Verlag strongly suggested changing the face in order to avoid a potential lawsuit. At that point, the original artist was unavailable, so the alterations were hastily done by a hapless staff member who barely knew how to hold a pencil. That's not what happened, but I like to speculate.

Aside from the dodgy art, the subject matter is also a bit strange, especially if you're familiar with Keyfinders, the game this picture is trying to represent. There is no golden key in the game. The protagonist does not use a whip or a knife. He is wearing a hat in the game, true, but it is purple, and so is the rest of his outfit. Ok, the color discrepancy can probably be forgiven. I wouldn't expect the cover to depict a guy dressed completely in purple unless it is a Prince album. On the other hand, that'd probably make for an epic image, if done right.

The rest of the picture is actually fairly decent, and I remember, as a kid, I found the combination of warm and cool colors on the pillars quite striking. It sort of reminds me that orange/blue would become a very popular color scheme for game box art (and movie posters) decades later, at least for a while.

I know it's hard to take one's eyes off the disastrous cover image, but it should not go unnoticed that the magazine's logo, the disk image, and the spiky price tag underwent some alterations. They now look a bit more stylish and less like they were drawn on an Amiga.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The Yawn

Published on Golden Disk 64 11/90

Today's game is The Yawn, a German text adventure illustrated with 36 multicolor pictures. It takes place in a decidedly weird fantasy realm and provides a ton of humorous text that doesn't always hit the mark and sometimes veers into rather questionable territory.

The colorful title screen is conspicuously abstract and manages not to reveal anything about the game. It's well-drawn, but nothing about it says fantasy to me. The catchy tune playing in the background also does its best not to evoke any medieval vibes at all. It's possible that the title logo and the music were commissioned before anybody really knew what The Yawn would be about. It's also possible that this was done on purpose since The Yawn is meant to be a parody and not a straight-faced fantasy story.

Saturday, November 11, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 03/90

Spacefighter incorporates elements from Defender, Elite, Uridium, and even Impossible Mission. It's hard to pin down to one genre, so I'll just call it a side-scrolling shooter with trading elements.

This is another game that completely undersells itself with the title screen. I mean, sure, the text is neatly arranged, and if there is no capable pixel artist around, it's certainly better than a badly drawn picture. Still, a game called Spacefighter evokes images of spaceships and explosions, but instead, we get a screen with the wholesome charm of a spreadsheet application. One might be excused for thinking that this is a text adventure.

Instead of just complaining about the lack of a title/loading image, I decided to create one myself, just for the fun of it:

And fun was had, even though it took me way too long to finish the thing.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Game On 03/90

In the distant future, dinosaurs will roam the Earth again, and mankind will celebrate their return by using them as race animals. Because that's just how we roll.

It's not hard to guess that this cover relates to the game called Dinorace 64, even though it isn't a very accurate depiction. The artist was probably told that Dinorace 64 is a game about racing dinosaurs, but nobody clarified that the prehistoric lizards compete in an individual time trial and run without riders. Inadvertently, this resulted in a cover where the subject matter was presented in a cooler way than how it actually looked in the game.

As with previous covers, the perspective doesn't quite work. The lizard in the back was probably intended to seem further away from the camera. Instead, it just looks like a smaller dinosaur with an equally smaller jockey is overtaking the larger one. Also, the front dinosaur's right leg kind of freaks me out, as its upper thigh seems to go right up to the lizard's arms without any torso in between. Try to imagine how the dinosaur would look like half a second later when the position of its legs would be reversed.

I like how the race is shown to take place on a circular race track in a huge, well-attended stadium. There are even some birds in the background, which I assume are doves the organizers released during the opening ceremony. Let's hope there isn't a huge open fire nearby where half of them get roasted to a crisp, like what happened at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul.

Last but not least, I have to commend the artist for their decision to have the dinosaurs run from right to left, which isn't something you see very often in western illustrations.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Price of Peril

Published on INPUT 64 04/88

A big reason why this blog is called Adventures in 16 Colors stems from my fondness of (text) adventures on the C64. Price of Peril[sic] was the very first adventure game I ever played, and thus it's only fitting that it is also the first one featured on this blog.

Price of Peril is a German text/graphic adventure based on Robert Sheckley's science fiction short story The Prize of Peril. It was programmed in 1987/88 by Michael B. Schmidt who is better known as Smudo, one quarter of the German hip hop group Die Fantastischen Vier. That's a fine piece of trivia right there, something with which to dazzle and enlighten your friends.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Puzzle Shuffle

Published on Golden Disk 64 11/90

Today's game is a non-stop action fest which sees you at the helm of a giant bipedal battle mech that has to destroy the lunar forces of the evil mastermind Zorloxx. This is Puzzle Shuffle:

Wait, my bad. It's not an action game at all; this is a sliding tile puzzle with pictures.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Ecstatic Code

Published on Magic Disk 64 01/90

Aside from games and utilities, Magic Disk 64 occasionally featured demoscene productions on the disk. Ecstatic Code by Cosmos Designs was the very first demo I ever got to see, and it introduced me to the whole concept of non-interactive, audiovisual real-time presentations.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Magic Disk 64 02/90

Up until now, each cover I've looked at illustrated one of the games found on that issue's disk. Not in this case, though, as what we have here is an exciting glimpse into the future. At least, it was at the time when this issue came out.

As far as I can tell, this cover is a loose interpretation of Anti, a game that would appear one month later on Game On 03/90: In Anti you are indeed flying around in a (VTOL) jet. However, you are not attacking a military base, but instead defending a nuclear power plant from incoming missiles.

Perhaps there were plans to publish Anti on this issue, but then the game had to be postponed for one reason or another. Admittedly, this is pure speculation on my part. Maybe they were just in dire need to put something exciting on the cover because the games listed on it were pretty much the antithesis of excitement.

The artwork is of the magazine's usual quality. It has some nice color gradients, but everything looks a bit lopsided, thanks to various perspective errors. The jet's exhausts, for example, are so deformed, they seem to be melting from the sheer heat that's coming out of them. The jet also appears to be shooting a laser beam at an awkward angle that caused some structure in the background to catch fire. It could also be a very distinct heat trail of a missile that already hit its mark.

Starting with this issue, the cover lines do not have solid colored backgrounds anymore, which makes some of them a bit hard to read, but allows for the picture to be more visible.

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 03/90

Helden is a flick-screen action maze game. The name is German for "heroes", which refers to the game's protagonist who wants to perform a deed worthy of several songs written in remembrance. I'm not sure why the title is plural, but I like to believe that it is a sarcastic commentary on the sheer number of lives you'll lose while trying to get anywhere in this game.

Monday, August 14, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 03/90

It's time to journey underground into a vast maze filled with valuables, creatures, and numbered keys. This is Keyfinders, an action adventure game inspired by Hero of the Golden Talisman (Mastertronic, 1985).

In the diskmag article, the game is interchangeably referred to as KEY-FINDERS, KEYFINDERS, and KEY FINDERS, which is quite the achievement for a text that's only six paragraphs long. In Italy, the game was released under the name Nebraska Joe, which is kind of ridiculous but thankfully didn't allow for as many alternative ways to write it. I decided to go with the name Keyfinders, as that's how it was written on the magazine cover.

Proudly sponsored by the color green!
The completely silent title screen is rather unassuming, but curiously allows the player to customize its look. There are options for changing the direction and speed of the scrolling background. As to why this feature exists, I really cannot say. It's probably just in there for the hell of it.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Golden Disk 64 09/90

Do you like adventure movies? Do you like Indiana Jones? If so, we've got him, or at least some other guy dressed up very much like him, right here on the cover! He's just found the treasures hidden within the walls of some ancient king's tomb, and, judging by his dumbfounded stare, he's also discovered that he is being filmed.

Of the three games on this issue's disk, the cover is clearly referencing Gordian Tomb, even though the burial chamber depicted here looks decidedly Egyptian. There is also a mummy emerging from its sarcophagus, but the game does not feature any bandaged tomb-dwellers. Furthermore, if you're hoping to play a whip swinging and gun-toting archaeologist, you'll inevitably be disappointed to find that Gordian Tomb's protagonist is a slight, unarmed guy wearing a sombrero.

I could be generous and call the apparent lack of common vanishing points in this picture an intentional depiction of non-Euclidean geometry to make the tomb feel unsettling and wrong. Alternatively, I could just assume the more probable case, namely that the artist either didn't much care for or wasn't very good at drawing stuff in proper perspective.

As it is usually the case, the cover image is not meant to be an accurate representation of the title it's referencing, as it was probably created long before there even was a playable version of the game.

Compared to the previous issue, the Golden Disk logo underwent a slight facelift: It's still shiny, but it now has horizontal metal gradients in the style of those chrome text effects prevalent in the 80s. The label of the disk was changed from the English NEW to the German NEU, which I find kind of amusing. I imagine someone working at CP Verlag complained about there being too many English words on the cover.

Despite its somewhat amateurish look, I remember liking this cover image when I saw the magazine at the local kiosk. The promise of a treasure hunt inside a tomb was tantalizing enough that I forked over the 20 bucks, which was a hefty sum for a twelve-year-old. In the top right corner, you can see a scan of that very issue with literally decades of smudges and scratches all over it. Click on it for a larger and potentially more disgusting view.

Saturday, July 29, 2017


Published on Game On 03/90

Today's game plays like Missile Command as if it were coded by someone who never saw the 1980 Atari classic, but instead had somebody else describe it to him in a confusing manner. Welcome to Anti:

Here's the intro picture which isn't used in the game but gets shown ahead of the instructions in the Game On diskmag itself. Even if you haven't seen the game yet, you can probably guess that your task involves piloting a green aircraft and defending the area from incoming missiles. The way to ward off enemy projectiles is rather odd and involves placing green balls that float in mid-air. More on that when we start the game.

Saturday, July 22, 2017


Published on Game On 03/90

Today's game perfectly fits into the category Short & Sweet, but with the emphasis clearly on short. Like, 20 seconds short. It's Dinorace, also known as Dinorace 64 or The Great Dinorace 64:

The unassuming intro screen not only sends digital greetings to various people and entities, it also displays a German scroll text that relates the background story to the player. Here's a summary:

In the distant future, dinosaurs have become de-extinct. Mankind is so awestruck by this contemporary miracle that it forces the Cretaceous creatures to compete in fights and foot races. Anyone who owns an Intercomputer TV3 can join these live spectacles from the comfort of their home and get remote command over one of the "participating" dinosaurs. The latest and most popular event is a race taking place on a battle asteroid (?) with its weather permanently set to rainstorms. The frequent thundering and flashing makes sure that all dinosaurs are completely scared out of their little minds while running, which is always a hoot to watch.

Admittedly, the original text isn't quite as sarcastic, but it's very clear that the author is going for an intentionally ridiculous premise. The jolly tune that's playing during this intro further manages to underline the game's flippant tone.

Sunday, July 9, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 02/90

Shift is a puzzle game in the vein of Sokoban with lots of additional elements that mix up the age-old formula of pushing boxes around. I remember being quite enamored with this title, though at the time I had not been familiar with Sokoban or any of its numerous clones. Let's see how well it holds up today:

You PROULY should have proofread this screen before calling it done...
Shift starts with this rather plain title screen which uses nothing but the C64's standard character set (commonly known as PETSCII, Commodore's version of the ASCII standard). There is nothing special going on here, except for the fact that the company logo is about seven times bigger than the game's actual name. Talk about getting your priorities straight.

What the title screen lacks in graphical fidelity, it makes up with its energetic music that achieves the remarkable feat of using a polka beat without sounding overly cheesy.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Gordian Tomb

Published on Golden Disk 64 09/90

Gordian Tomb is a flick-screen action adventure game inspired by Utopia Software's Montezuma's Revenge (1984). You are an explorer/archaeologist who is looking for a legendary treasure chamber inside a massive pyramid.

The titular Gordian Tomb probably refers to the burial ground that was found in the ruins of Gordium, the capital city of ancient Phrygia (located in today's Turkey). The tomb is a so-called tumulus, a large mound made out of earth and stone that's built on top of a grave. From outside it looks very much like a pyramid, though it is round in shape, like a cone. It is also known as the Tomb of Midas, even though the person buried in there is assumed to be Midas' father, Gordias, who founded Gordium. Midas is best known for the myth connected to him that anything he touched turned into gold.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Game On 02/90

In a post-apocalyptic world, Manbat will rule over the ashes of civilization. He probably won't be able to enjoy his reign for long, unless he's developed a special diet consisting of rubble, molten steel, and fire.
Despite his savage looks, he was decent enough to put on a loincloth. It looks like it's made up of leaves, though, which aren't that well-known for being fire resistant.

The image is obviously trying to depict the fourth game mentioned on the cover, which is simply named Bat. The thing is, Bat is nothing else but a Pong clone, and a particularly boring one at that. It is so crazily misrepresented that I get the impression the artist didn't know anything about the game except for the name. Either that, or it's just really hard to paint an interesting picture for a game that consists of nothing else than a ball and two paddles.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Tower of Terror

Published on Golden Disk 64 09/90

Tower of Terror is a platform game in which you play a valiant knight on a quest to free a maiden of noble descent from the clutches of a villainous wizard. The fair lady has been carried off to the top of the eponymous spire of suffering, which you must now ascend in order to rescue her. Succeed, and her hand in marriage will be yours because that's totally how love works.

The game opens with this glorious intro pic which just screams to be looked at in detail:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Crystal Fever

Published on Golden Disk 64 09/90

Crystal Fever is a Boulder Dash clone that also takes cues from Kingsoft's Emerald Mine series of games. It has quite a few shortcomings, but I'd still count it as one of the more successful Boulder Dash variants on the C64.

Let's go explore some caves and get rich quick!

Or die trying!

I was never quite sure if the guy's expression in the title screen was meant to show elation or fear. I mean, sure, being chased by green suckerbats is no time for celebration, but if you squint your eyes a little, the miner's mouth starts to look like a smile. What if the titular crystal fever overrides rational thought? What if it alters the afflicted's mind and makes the collection of crystals seem to be their only pursuit in life? Besides, a sane person probably wouldn't run with a stick of dynamite in their pocket, especially not with one they found just lying around in a cave.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Published on Game On 02/90

Krypton is a chemical element that is categorized as a noble gas. Xenon is also a chemical element that belongs to the noble gas family. Both names were used for games that happen to be shoot 'em ups.

While Xenon by the Bitmap Brothers is widely remembered, especially its sequel on the Amiga, the same can't be said for Krypton. Admittedly, the latter only saw releases on a diskmag. And yes, I'm using plural here. More on that later.

The game opens with this title screen where the Krypton logo seems to have slipped halfway down the screen. It's totally static, even though it is entirely made up of sprites, and there would be enough space for a classic sine curve movement. Admittedly, there is something to be said about deliberately holding back and not overdoing it with stuff moving about on a game's title screen.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Magic Disk 64 01/90

Meet Maze-Man, the C64's official* nineties mascot! He's the fastest dot gobbler around the electronic circuits! He's dexterous, he's clever, he's a pointy-eared troll with a toothy smile that puts your average ice hockey player to shame!

* by which I mean not official at all

Once again, the creator of the cover took some extensive artistic license. Neither the player sprite nor the maze looks anything like what is depicted here. I'm not complaining, though, because replicating the game's actual look would've resulted in something resembling a color vision test with an off-brand Pac-Man in the middle.

All in all, this cover image is not too bad. There are quite a few things wrong with Maze-Man's upper body proportions. I mean, try imagining him without the shirt. Actually, don't. I'm sorry I even suggested that.

I like how his spiky hair and ears line up with the mountain backdrop. Whether this alignment is on purpose or not, to me it conveys that he is a part of this world. While faces aren't the artist's strength (as you'll eventually see when I get to issue 03/90), this one's done well enough to bring the guy's opinion of the maze behind him across.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Published on Game On 02/90

Today on Adventures in 16 Colors I take a look at MegaParatrooper!, a multi-stage game that switches genres so frequently that you spend more time waiting for additional parts to load than playing the actual game. I'm not exaggerating.

That is certainly one of the largest title logos I've come across in a while. It also belongs to one of the worst games I've had the pleasure to review so far. We've officially reached a low point in software that got published on Game On.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 01/90

Since we're still in the middle of Edutainment Month, here's a look at another utility that could be interpreted as educational: Geninus! is a tool to create sine curves for sprite animation. I guess the name is a portmanteau of generator and Sinus (German for sine), since it is, in fact, a sine generator. I would've called it Sinerator instead, to keep the words in the right order, but Geninus! is a fine name as well, especially with the added exclamation point.

This isn't a very complex program, but I still wanted to put it in an article, mainly because of its presentation and how, back in 1990, it introduced me to sine curves in a very practical way.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Intro & Demo-Designer

Published on Magic Disk 64 01/90

April is Edutainment Month, and I'm using it as an excuse to waffle about something else than a game. Intro & Demo-Designer is a creation utility for intros and demos. Admittedly, that stretches the definition of edutainment a bit, but I expect to be more entertained (and possibly educated) by this program than the more recent games I had to endure on this blog.

Don't judge the program by its very plain welcome text. This tool packs quite the punch, and it allowed twelve-year-old me to spruce up several of my rather rudimentary BASIC games.

Saturday, April 1, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 01/90

Decton is a gravity-based action game similar to Muse Software's Space Taxi from 1984. Instead of passengers, you have to fetch nondescript cargo from several platforms placed across the level and transport it to the starting point. Expect to swear a lot when playing this one.

That is one colorful title logo, I have to say. So colorful in fact, it uses all of the C64's available colors, except for one. Sorry, Violet, this party's just not for you.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

TX - The Game

Published on Magic Disk 64 01/90

It's TX - The Game, not to be confused with TX - The Musical or TX - The US State. It's a fixed vertical shooter for one player. It's also one hell of a mess.

It's got a sweet mountain backdrop, though.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 01/90

Maze-Man is a game about a yellow ball that eats a lot of dots while differently colored enemies are chasing it. If the yellow ball gobbles up all the dots, the next level starts. If one of the baddies touches the yellow ball, it loses one of its three lives and has to start the level anew. I can't shake the notion that this concept sounds vaguely familiar...

Yeah, it's Pac-Man. Even the font used for the title is as subtle as a sledgehammer.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Golden Disk 64 08/90

This was the first Golden Disk 64 issue I ever bought. It was NEW, because it said so on the cover. As you can see, it was about double the price of Magic Disk 64, with the reasoning that Golden Disk games were of a higher quality. This wasn't always the case, but the content of issue 08/90 isn't too shabby.

The cover illustrates the game Krieg um die Krone. It shows a scene where humans are battling a horde of trolls. Well, horde is maybe not the right term when there are only three of them visible. I assume there are more trolls coming from the left side. Otherwise, they'll soon be completely outnumbered once that army of knights in the background joins the battle.

I don't quite understand why the castle's moat and interior seem to be violently ablaze, even though the trolls haven't reached the drawbridge yet. Maybe setting one's own castle on fire is a valid medieval defense strategy I'm simply not familiar with.

On second thought, I just remembered the reason for random stuff burning. Once you play the game, you'll get a good idea why it's not improbable for a castle in Krieg um die Krone to be aflame. The scorched trees to the left might already clue you in.

Even the odd circumstance that two castles were built almost next to each other on precariously craggy terrain is just in keeping with the game's world.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Krieg um die Krone

Published on Golden Disk 64 08/90

Krieg um die Krone translates to War for the Crown, which concisely explains the strategy game's goal. You and up to three other players take the roles of barons who are trying to find three symbols of power in order to become the realm's king.

Apart from competing against your human opponents, you also have to put up with armies of trolls and a sadistic dragon that just likes to burn stuff.

Look at the green bastard there, casually flying across the sky and already breathing fire with a gleeful smile on its lizard face. Maybe it wants to burn away that huge title parchment blocking most of the horizon.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Game On 01/90

Game On's logo is quite a stylish affair which makes Magic Disk 64's computer-generated version from the same time period look somewhat dull in comparison.

I think from a distance the cover art looks fine. The colors are quite striking, and the elements are easily recognizable. But as soon as you take a closer look, the picture falls apart.

Obviously, those are two ninjas locked in a sword fight, because ninjas are cool, right? The image also suggests that one of the games on this disk is a fighting game, which is very much true for Wastelands.

But what is the ninja dude in white doing with his left hand? Did he want to grab his sword with both hands, but then had a change of mind in mid-motion? What's more, the back of his right hand is rubbing against black ninja's blade. That can't be healthy for long.

The more I look at this scene, the more I get the feeling that this depicts a photo shoot with two unwilling subjects dressed up as warriors. Both of them are looking at something or someone off-screen, giving the impression that they'd rather be somewhere else. The weird angles of the shadows on the ground only support my theory that this illustrates a photo shoot at a studio.

As for the white ninja's left hand, I think I have a good idea what happened there: The artist wanted the ninja to hold the sword in both hands, but then realized that the pose made it impossible for the left arm to reach the hilt without looking unnaturally long. At that point, it was probably too late to start over and change the pose, so the artist drew the ninja's left hand as if it were awkwardly touching the right arm's sleeve.

Not that I noticed any of this when I bought the magazine as a kid. I thought it looked simply awesome.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Published on Game On 01/90

It's Wastelands, the classic, post-apocalyptic... one-on-one fighting game? Wait, what - oh, right, WastelandS.

The game opens with a blank screen and a digitized voice sample shouting "WELCOME TO WASTELANDS!" with a faint German accent. The voice is clear enough that you can hear the "s" at the end, thus erasing any doubt you might have about which of the two very similar-titled games you're about to play.

Thursday, February 16, 2017


Published on Game On 01/90

Acia is a real-time puzzle game with minor action elements. It's not directly based on an existing game, as far as I am aware, so this might be a rare case where we have a unique concept at our hands.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Jungle Patrol

Published on Game On 01/90

Jungle Patrol is a side-scrolling action game that is so easy, I could play it for hours. With the emphasis on could, because there are better things one can spend their time on. Like, for instance, writing a blog post about this game!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Published on Magic Disk 64 12/89

Merry Christmas! is an electronic holiday greeting card that is mildly interactive. As a kid I thought it was quite neat, and I sort of made a tradition out of starting it up every Christmas and showing it to my parents and grandparents, much to the latter's bewilderment.

I'm writing this article in February, so I'm either two months late or ten months early.

Sunday, February 5, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 12/89

Electra is a horizontal-scrolling shooter very much in the vein of Uridium.

The game starts with this rather gray title screen which doesn't exactly incite excitement. There is no animation or music, just a static, suppressive silence which is expectantly waiting for you to press a function key. The most remarkable thing here is probably the fact that five different fonts made it into one screen.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

No Mercy (Preview)

Published on Magic Disk 64 12/89

No Mercy is an Operation Wolf clone whose most defining trait is how much of an Operation Wolf clone it is. To its credit, it's a very competent clone, in some points even better than Operation Wolf's C64 port. I never saw the full version of the game (released on Golden Disk 64 07/90) at any kiosks, so I only ever got to play the preview version which consisted of one level.

Operation Wolf was an arcade game released by Taito in 1987. It's a side-scrolling shooting gallery that uses a mounted gun as an optical controller. You point and shoot at stuff on the screen and throw the occasional grenade. Getting shot or shooting friendly targets, such as civilians or nurses, increases your injury meter. If the meter is full, you're dead. Your ammunition is limited, but you can restock it (in classic video game logic) by shooting ammo containers and animals.

The game was ported to several consoles and home computer platforms by Ocean. The C64 conversion was quite decent and one of the few games that supported the use of a mouse.

Anyway, on to No Mercy (Preview). The game doesn't bother to hide its inspiration at all. Just compare Operation Wolf's cover art to No Mercy's intro screen:

Totally not Dolph Lundgren from Red Scorpion
Spot the non-difference!

Sunday, January 29, 2017


Published on Magic Disk 64 12/89

Timezone is an action/exploration game inspired by Activision's 1984 classic H.E.R.O. (from here on referred to as HERO because those extra periods mess with my punctuation sensitivities). I played this game a lot, thus I have quite a bit to say about it. Please excuse the occasional lack of structure and if I sometimes ramble on a bit too much.
Also, I have a confession to make: I only ever completed the game years later when I started replaying it on an emulator and made use of save states. For shame! With that out of the way, let's take a look at Timezone:

Monday, January 23, 2017

Loading Screens

If you load a C64 game, especially one on tape, there is a good chance for the data transfer to take a good while. Now imagine that all you see during that time is a blank static screen, and after 20 minutes you realize that the loading process froze 15 minutes ago, but the tape kept on running.

To let you know that loading is still in progress, many games display a graphical effect like this one:

This is comparatively subtle...

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Pixel Aspect Ratio

Screens with wrong aspect ratios are a pet peeve of mine that seems to follow me around everywhere I go. Each time I see a TV where people's faces look stretched I get the urge to find the remote and correct the display's aspect ratio.

All screenshots on this blog are pixel perfect, which means that each pixel of the original image is represented by one pixel (or an integer multiple thereof) on your screen. This also means that the pictures are not aspect-corrected.

On a real C64, the displayed pixels are not perfectly square. Instead, they are squished horizontally at a ratio of about 0.936:1. This assumes the computer is a PAL model which was the predominant version in Europe.

For this reason, the images shown here are all a bit wider than they would appear on the real hardware. This is most noticeable with pictures containing spherical objects, like this one:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Magic Disk 64 12/89

Magic Disk 64 was two years old when this issue came out, and it still used the same metallic logo from the very first installment. Unlike the airbrushed cover image, the logo was created with a graphics program. The resolution wasn't quite high enough for print, though, and there are visible dark fringe pixels where the letters meet the blue backdrop. Back then I thought it was kind of cool that the logo was made with a computer.

This issue sports one of Magic Disk 64's better cover images. The artist likely took some inspiration from the sci-fi movie TRON (1982), in particular the "solar sailer" sequence.

Most of the time, each issue's cover art was meant to illustrate one of the games on the disk. In this case, Electra was chosen, as it features a spaceship that flies over futuristic platforms. The actual game looks totally different, but at the time it was pretty common for the cover art of any game to be an artist's loose interpretation and not an accurate representation.

I remember being fascinated with the cover picture's cool colors and the mysterious futuristic world it conveyed. It was probably the main reason why I bought this issue. The overall perspective might be rather dodgy, but I still like this one.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The 16 Colors of the VIC-II

The C64's graphics chip, the VIC-II, is capable of displaying 16 predefined colors:

There are technical tricks to convey the illusion of more shades, but the C64's graphic artists are mainly stuck with the 16 colors provided, which makes their creations all the more amazing.

Mirage - The Pianokeys are Black and White (2006)