I found a pretty yellowed C64C in a box which is a symptom common with the C64C due to some cases using a particular type of plastic which yellowed very easily over the years. This one was pretty extreme, even the insides were in a state with rusted sheilding for the motherboard and plenty of dirt and dust. I had pretty much picked this one up a few years back second hand, packed it away for spares and forgot about it until having a sort out.
Inspired by Jason (Kenz) Mackenzie’s Speccadore 64, I decided to spray the thing black to create a very quick modded C64C. Firstly I stripped out the board, cleaned it throughly with cotton buds and alcohol on the board. Then I masked the C64’s machine logo and LED with masking tape to mask those areas and preserve them for once the job was complete.
The missus very kindly picked up a can of Plasti Kote from Wilkinson, which although didn’t seem a lot – did the trick of covering the machine. After about a day’s work, leaving the case periodically for 3 hours to dry on each side, and for touch ups … this was the result…
I had tried to use a C16 keyboard inside (which has grey coloured keys, which fitted the black case better), but found that the mapping is different, and the keys didn’t work – but the C64C keyboard still looked fine anyway in a very contrasting sort of way 😉
Only thing overall was that I rushed things a bit and ended up getting drips and imperfections around the case – but I was pleased enough with the results, and have learnt for next time when I do another case I have that is all messed up (next with a blue shade 🙂 ). If you try and do anything similar, make sure you apply thin coats first and apply in stages – not try to do it all at once!
I’ve always been fascinated with finding hidden messages/sprites and other assets within games, either via a particular SYS call, or via hacking with an Action Replay cartridge. It was ever since I was given a SYS call which pulled up a demo called “Daring Dots” by Ash and Dave, which was hidden away in their Fruitbank game and when my friend Jason Kelk gave me a SYS call which pulled up the complete intro sequence to his Reaxion game when Commodore Format froze it just after a particular effect had ran.
Then there was the famous “Trap” demo tucked away in the game of the same name by Tony Crowther. The hidden messages within the Ocean Loader before a game fully loaded in. There were many, a good few we have documented here:
If it wasn’t in a desperate way of filling up space, it was leaving left overs behind due to a lack of space (which was the case with Paperboy anyway).
A recent part of my weird “curiosity” has been looking back at the previews and demos which companies gave to magazines to put on their covermounts back in the day.
I have found that in some instances, demos come with some extra screens and bits tucked away (or even plain on show). There are potentially tunes in the previews which are not used in the final version – two examples of which I found recently with the Flying Shark demo from Commodore User magazine and also from Nobby The Aardvark from Commodore Format.
There are instances where the preview has looked fairly different to the final version. The very well known example is of course R-Type which CVG released, which was infact a completely different development to the final version that surfaced – which you can read more about here:
Another more recent finding with visible differences has been with Dragon Ninja’s demo from ACE magazine – containing a rather different main character sprite than the final version, as well as a completely different score panel and position. See below for the comparison!…
But what I have enjoyed far more is discovering that some previews contain far more than they should have done. Pretty much giving away the entire full game, just with only certain small segments unlocked to create the illusion of a “preview”.
My first discovery of such a thing was with the Arnie 2 preview on Commodore Format. The preview was a small segment of Level 1, before it cut away with a “Buy the game if you like it… blah blah…” type screen. Several months after the preview and game was released, one of the magazines produced an interesting tip which showed how you could exploit a flaw in the background graphics to slip past a barb wired fence at the very start to then just edge round a corner to complete the first level.
I didn’t have the full game, as I really hated the sequel compared to the first game, but I just wondered what would happen if I tried the tip on the preview. Would it crash?… What would it do? … To my shock and surprise, the level was completed and I was suddenly playing Level 2!! The programmer had practically given the entire game away and just locked down specific parts. The second level was fairly glitchy, and you randomly died – but with cheats enabled – you could go all the way to the end of the game and complete it. Only the rocket at the end was missing, but you could still shoot where it was and get the congrats message.
I hadn’t really discovered anything similar since then, apart from some half finished extra levels in Fuzzball’s demo for GTW. But then recently I learnt of a demo of Bubble Bobble which was given away on ACE magazine’s covermount. Infamously ACE had accidently given away the full version of the Spectrum version on the same tape, but luckily recalled most tapes before too many copies sneaked out. However, I had wondered if the C64 demo was much different to the final game as I had never seen a demo of the game before.
Stephen (Mort) Stuttard kindly dug out the TAP image of the game and I took a look. Initially there was nothing obviously different – sound, graphics and the 5 levels in the preview were exactly like the final game. However, oddly the levels were out of sequence – they jumped from 1, 5, 8, 10, 15. Was there a possibility of the other levels being tucked away?
I passed the preview over to Vinny (C64endings) Mainolfi, who has been prolifically hacking various games over the past 6 months or so and producing some excellent crazy hacks to extend the life of games which had otherwise ran out of life. I knew that he would be able to discover if there was more to this preview, and he didn’t disappoint!
After a bit of hacking around, Vinny discovered that pretty much all 100 levels are tucked away in the game. Below is a screenshot of the last level from the preview. At present a bit more work is required to get a full game working, as the characters are jumping randomly – but at the moment I can now set pokes to set the 5 levels to be whatever I want. When I have a bit more time, I hope to compare levels more closely to the final game to see if there is much (if any) difference.
It is pretty awesome to think that many people who had the preview, in fact had a near enough complete game without ever realising. Had the crackers at the time realised this, then it could have caused a bit of a stir 24 years ago. The awesome creator of the game was probably rushed, and didn’t have chance to strip assets – and maybe the jumping of the characters is part of a protection measure which was done quickly. It doesn’t matter – no-one found out until now 🙂
The discovery (thanks to Vinny Mainolfi) has stirred my interest into finding out if other previews also have more content tucked away, and so another job on the list to dig out some old covermounts! Vinny had better get ready for some more files going over his way! 😉
It’s that time of the year again. The Xmas update of Games That Weren’t is now launched, with plenty of findings and new materials, including:
(*) ‘PUTTY’ – Found and released!
(*) ‘UNDEAD’ – Fully recovered and added
(*) ‘PULSE’ – A new unseen puzzler preview
(*) ‘SCIMITAR’ – An early tech demo from Cyberdyne Systems
(*) ‘DEADLOCK‘ – More demos (including 2 early versions) added
(*) ‘ARMALYTE 2’ – Game music recovered
(*) ‘HALF LIFE’ – GFX remains founds
(*) ‘SAVAGE PLATFORMS’ – Game music recovered
(*) ‘TURN CHANGE’ – More remains added
In the age where technology is ever moving and evolving, what of the technology which has come and gone? And in particular with the data which has been forgotten about and disguarded?
These days there are pockets of digital preservers whom specify in preserving materials from a particular medium. For example preserving VHS/Vinyl to digital form is something that has been happening for a number of years. Like VHS, disks and tapes will sadly eventually decay and render useless in years to come as materials deterioate and signals fade and so it is important to have digital backups of these materials before they disappear altogether and have means of being able to access that data.
One of my big interests is digtal preservation in the retro gaming world. In particular across the Commodore brand of machines, the Commodore 64 and the Vic 20. This includes digitally backing up complete copies of tapes as digital .TAP files and disks as digital .D64 images which all can be ran back via a PC based emulator and are preserved for future generations. This process in the past has often been fiddly and quite tricky, with special cables having to be built to connect Commodore specific hardware to a PC and transfer data. The PC had to have a particular old style parallel port as well, which led to myself using a very old laptop from the late 90’s.
Thankfully within the past year or so we have been blessed with two new pieces of hardware which has made the process a whole lot smoother, and with the extra bonus of being able to play back our preservation work on the real hardware. These two pieces of hardware? The DC2N and the 1541 Ultimate V2….
The game was 98% complete when cancelled. Rumours are that the disk being obtained is a copy taken from the development machine just after the developer was sacked. We just hope things are still reading after almost 25 years…