Saturday, 23 April 2011

C64 Game Cartridges

In addition to our discmag project, over the past few years RGCD have been busy working alongside homebrew developers and C64 hardware guru Tim Harris to create a series of highly collectable (and of course 100% unofficial) C64 cartridges.

Unlike our short-lived GameBoy Advance venture, the development of new C64 game cartridges is an on-going process. We may have been on hiatus for a while, but RGCD are back with a handful of planned new releases.

Brief details on each cartridge are given below, together with links to their respective pages on the Commodore Scene Database (CSDB).



RGCD Cartridge #01: Kikstart C16
Developed By: Cosine
Released: 2007
ROM Size: 8KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Out Of Stock



Our début cartridge was Kikstart C16, itself the source of many confused emails due to the fact that Kikstart C16 is a C64 port of the C16 version of Kikstart, and not a C16 cartridge. Using a standard black cartridge case and box artwork designed by T.M.R and myself, early prototypes were sold via a forum post at www.retrogamer.net and proved to be surprisingly popular - even with RGCD's own SirClive, who at the time immediately voiced his regret at giving the game a 'so-so' review score back in RGCD #03 and gushingly praised T.M.R for his superb work.



RGCD Cartridge #02: Invasive Action
Developed By: Backward Engineering
Released: 2007
ROM Size: 8KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Out Of Stock



Invasive Action is a quirky little arcade shoot-em-up developed by T.M.R under his Backward Engineering moniker and based on 'Ivasive Action', a game featured on the infamous Cassette 50 C64 compilation back in 1984. Now, before you write this one off ("Cassette 50? WTF! ROFL!", etc.), it has to be said that T.M.R's unofficial sequel is a pretty good laugh. It received a warm write-up in the now sadly-defunct C64 discmag Game Over(View) and is certainly a more than worthy addition to your C64 collection.

To make things a little more interesting (and indeed saleable) Tim Harris suggested using transparent cases with the addition of an internally mounted blue LED - and if you look at the photo you'll see that the result is pretty eye-catching when the cart is plugged in!



RGCD Cartridge #03: Block Frenzy
Developed By: Backward Engineering
Released: 2008
ROM Size: 8KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Out Of Stock



Another of T.M.R's early Backward Engineering releases, Block Frenzy is in fact a C64 remake of a popular (at the time) casual flash game. The goal is simple; move around the play area avoiding collisions with other blocks for as long as possible. Instantly playable and featuring frenetic game-play, it's all about the high score. How long can you survive the Frenzy?



RGCD Cartridge #04: Not Even Human
Developed By: Onslaught
Released: 2011
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS (Limited)
Status: Available



Originally planned for release in 2009 (but delayed until 2011), Not Even Human is a frantic-paced two-player strategic battle game. With the addition of an AI 'practice mode', this competitive game gained a lot of fans when it was made publicly available for download back in 2007, and the original concept, graphics and musical score still feel fresh today.

Not Even Human has been tested on PAL/NTSC machines and has been confirmed as C64/128 compatible. The game is also playable on the Commodore GS, but lacks the AI mode or the ability to change colour schemes (due to the lack of keyboard).



RGCD Cartridge #05: Geir Straume's Minigame Collection
Developed By: Geir Straume
Released: 2009
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL C64/128/GS
Status: Out Of Stock



Only given a very limited release, this cartridge is a collection of four of Geir Straume's minigame competition entries all on one tiny 16KB cart. Including his popular Bell Ringer games (I & II), Diamond Maze 64 and Sub Destroyer, the few copies that were made of this sold out almost immediately.



RGCD Cartridge #06: Hyper!
Developed By: Arts of Darkness
Released: -
ROM Size: 8KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128
Status: Unreleased



Originally planned for release in 2009, Hyper! is a nice little one or two-player competitive cave flier in which your goal is to outlast your opponent. Although I did succeed in contacting SilverFox (the coder behind the game) who gave enthusi's cartridge conversion his blessing, this cartridge version was never released. If there's enough interest I'll consider making a limited run of these cartridges (in a transparent case complete with a multi-colour LED), but for now I possess the only copy.



RGCD Cartridge #07: Edge Grinder
Developed By: Cosine
Released: 2011
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Available



Some games require a back story, whereas other games don't. Edge Grinder falls into the second category. There's no need for an elaborate and clichéd plot detailing how you are mankind's last hope against yet another race of hyper-violent alien invaders hell-bent on destroying planet Earth; Edge Grinder is a game about scoring points, blowing shit up and grinding walls. And that is all there is to it.

The game originated from a collaborative cross-platform 8-bit development competition started on the Format War forum, the concept being the creation of a simple shmup that could easily be converted to a number of different machines. The name itself is a direct response to the whole Edge (TM) debacle starring everyone's favourite internet and trademark troll, Tim Langdell (however, as that issue has been mostly laid to rest thanks to Future Publishing's lawyers, there's no real need to go into that any further - google is your friend here).

During the early stages of development it became apparent that a 16KB cartridge version of the game would be possible. This discovery coincided with the launch of RGCD's cartridge game development competition, and it was decided that rather than being an entry, Edge Grinder would instead act as a benchmark, showing what was possible within the limitations of a 16KB rom. And Edge Grinder uses near enough every last byte of that space!

The end result of several months work is a Caravan-style, frenetic and challenging score-attack shmup. Edge Grinder only features one level, the goal being to survive the duration whilst simultaneously amassing as many points as possible by blasting enemies and flying dangerously close to the scenery. Compete against your friends, blog your high score online and brag about how you can beat Edge Grinder on one life! As with all set-length games there is a maximum possible score, but who will hold the record?



RGCD Cartridge #08: Fairy Well
Developed By: Wide Pixel Games
Released: 2012
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Available



Wide Pixel Games' universally acclaimed Fairy Well was the winning entry of 2011's C64 16KB cartridge game development competition. With it's multiple game modes (via a character selection at the beginning of your quest), huge randomly generated level maps, varied enemies and items, boss-battles and timeless gameplay, Fairy Well is a unique and ambitious flick-screen collect-em-up arcade adventure of epic proportions squeezed into a tiny 16KB of ROM space. Guide your fairy through the labyrinthine underworld on your quest to rescue the captured princess and restore peace to the forest!

Fairy Well is both NTSC and PAL compatible, and it's joystick-only control means that it's even playable on the Commodore 64 GS console. The box artwork was created by our resident artist Flemming Dupont, and the game comes in a purple cartridge shell complete with a printed manual and exclusive sticker.



RGCD Cartridge #09: Blok Copy
Developed By: Cosine
Released: 2011
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Available



Blok Copy began as a game written in order to learn the Atari 2600 hardware, where it utilised vertical splits to achieve seven independently coloured playfield objects. Although the Atari 2600 version is near enough complete, to date it remains unreleased on T.M.R's workstation. However, although the game is yet to make it's debut appearance on Atari hardware, Blok Copy has been released on three Commodore variations; namely the PET, C64DTV and of course the C64 (the cartridge you have here).

Shortly after releasing the C64DTV port of the game in 2009, T.M.R mailed over a feature complete C64 version of Blok Copy using the PET version's character graphics as temporary placeholders. Then in mid 2011, a video of a beta version of the game with proper multicolour graphics popped up on YouTube, with a comment suggesting that it may be suitable for a 16KB cartridge release. This game is the end result; Cosine's entry for the 2011 RGCD 16KB cartridge development competition.

The player's objective in Blok Copy is simple; the playfield contains seven numbered and distinctly different patterned tiles arranged into columns of five. At the start of each level the tiles are shuffled around, with the number of moves increasing as you progress through the game. The player must then reorganise the tiles to resemble their starting order against the clock to progress to the next stage until all ten levels have been successfully resynchronised.

Blok Copy plays similarly to a two-dimensional Rubik's cube (if you can imagine such a thing); instead of moving the blocks independently, you select a row/column via the joystick controlled cursor and rotate it either up, down, left or right.

The game has been tested on both PAL and NTSC machines, and works on the C64, C128 and C64GS (there is no keyboard input required to play). It comes in a slimline cardboard box with manual, and the cartridge is a transparent split candy coloured shell (one colour on the top half, another colour underneath) containing an internal bright LED so that it emits a glow when plugged in.

A disk version will be available for free download in the near future. (I'll try to convince TMR to release the original ROM font version too as additional bonus content on the D64).



RGCD Cartridge #10: Fortress of Narzod
Developed By: TRSI
Released: 2011
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL C64/128/GS
Status: Out Of Stock



Originally released at Breakpoint 2009, TRSI's C64 conversion of this Vectrex exclusive title remains one of the highest scoring games on the Commodore Scene Database - and for good reason too. Fortress of Narzod is an amazing little vector-based shmup that is quite unlike anything else on the C64, with it's bizarre array of enemies, bullet-ricochetting blast 'em up action and unique visual style.

Fortress of Narzod utilises the border areas of the screen to maximise the play area and the excellent 8580 soundtrack by Linus really takes this production to the next level. The game requires no keyboard input (even the high score table is controlled via the joystick) so it will work on the C64GS, but unfortunately the full-screen action comes at a cost of not running on NTSC machines (sorry!).

The cartridge is packaged in a box designed by Kay Failla of BitFellas, complete with a printed manual.



RGCD Cartridge #11: C64anabalt
Developed By: Paul Koller
Released: 2012
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC (Limited) C64/128/GS
Status: Available



C64anabalt is an official conversion of Adam Atomic & Danny B.'s award winning single-button 2009 indie game Canabalt for the 8-Bit, 64KB RAM, 1Mhz Commodore 64 home computer developed by Paul Koller (Paulko64). This particular version was designed to run from a 16KB cartridge (although there are also tape and disk versions available to download as well).

The game was developed as an entry for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition (2011), and the name C64anabalt was suggested by Adam Atomic himself. The physics and procedural algorithms are based on those documented in the original game's open source code.

There are two versions of C64anabalt available; one with a SID chip conversion of Danny B.'s original score by Mikkel Hastrup (Encore), and an alternative build featuring music from the PC indie game ThrustBurst by Andreas Slotte (Ghormak). Unfortunately it wasn't possible to fit them both into a single 16KB ROM, so we've made two versions available to order (more on that in a bit) or download.

Please note that C64anabalt is compatible with NTSC C64's, but lacks the static parallax background cityscape (the background scrolls instead) and it stutters slightly at high running speeds (due to the NTSC machine having less CPU time available). The game also plays fractionally faster than the PAL version. None of these issues severely affect the play of the game, but it should be noted that the game was coded specifically for PAL machines.

The dove-grey cartridge is packaged in a box designed by Adam Saltsman and comes complete with a printed manual.



RGCD Cartridge #12: Jars' Revenge
Developed By: Tristar & Red Sector Incorporated
Released: -
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS (8580 SID)
Status: Unreleased



Jars' Revenge is a full-screen (using all border space), PAL and NTSC compatible 2012 update of a timeless console shoot 'em up developed as an entry for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition (2011) by TRSI. The game is currently cartridge only as it actually uses a few bytes of the available ROM space as extra memory (have fun with that, crackers!)

As it is a remake of an Atari game (with the IP still in use), obviously there is no way that we could get away with officially selling copies of Jars' Revenge here at RGCD. Sorry about that. We have, however, provided the cartridge .rom for free download - so you are welcome to make your own cartridges or use the file in an emulator.



RGCD Cartridge #13: Panic Analogue
Developed By: Goin' Sideways
Released: 2012
ROM Size: 16KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS (Analogue Controller Required!)
Status: Available



Goin' Sideways and RGCD are proud to present to you 'Panic Analogue', a fast-paced and highly addictive analogue paddle controlled game for one or two players. The game was developed as an entry for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Game Development Competition (2011) and came third place out of 11 entries. Easy to learn, almost impossible to master, each of the 14 procedurally generated levels are carefully designed to challenge every kind of gamer - as well as offering almost unlimited replayability.

Your objective is to keep poor little Redhead alive, trapped in his cave. It's a cruel world in there with droplets of water and fireballs constantly falling from above. In order to survive he has to collect every water droplet in his mouth to stay fresh, and keep his torch alit by catching the fireballs. If a water droplet hits the torch things will go very wrong - and swallowing a fireball of course also leads to pure catastrophe!

NTSC and PAL compatible, Panic Analogue even works on the GS - the only requirement being a pair of analogue paddles. The original Commodore variety or Atari 2600 'Tennis' controllers will do fine, and the game website even gives instructions for making your own!

The transparent red, internally LED-illuminated cartridge is packaged in a box designed by Redcrab and comes complete with a printed manual and credit card sized vinyl-coated sticker.



RGCD Cartridge #14: UWOL: Quest For Money
Developed By: The Mojon Twins
Released: 2012
ROM Size: 64KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Available



RGCD present our very first 64KB cartridge with Albarbi's official conversion of The Mojon Twins' UWOL: Quest For Money. Originally released back in 2010, the C64 port of this superb little platformer has stood the test of time admirably and remains as enjoyable today as was on its initial release. With the ZX Spectrum game designer na_th_an on board, Algarbi rewriting the code and Conrad on soundtrack duties, UWOL's classic arcade design and addictive gameplay translated over to the C64 to create a game that's arguably better than the original - UWOL is more than deserving of it's respectable 8.9/10 score over at CSDB.

This cartridge version by iAN COOG was actually created to test our new 64KB PCBs, but it proved to be so much fun that we just had to look into the possibility of publishing it with The Mojons' permission. After a few quick emails and deals signed and secured, the final release candidate arrived at RGCD HQ ready for production - and now you too can own a physical copy of this great C64 conversion and guide UWOL back through Storm Mansion's cellar labyrinth on his quest for money!

UWOL is both NTSC and PAL compatible, and it's joystick-only control means that it's even playable on the Commodore 64 GS console. The box was created using the promotional artwork by Ferrán Criado, and the game comes in a red cartridge shell complete with a printed manual.



RGCD Cartridge #15: Soulless
Developed By: Georg Rottensteiner & Trevor Storey
Released: 2012
ROM Size: 64KB
Compatible With: PAL/NTSC C64/128/GS
Status: Available



On the 1st of June 2012, RGCD (in association with Psytronik Software) are proud to present Georg Rottensteiner and Trevor Storey's long awaited collaborative project Soulless. Our biggest game to date, it was a real struggle to squeeze this epic adventure complete with full intro and outro sequences into the 64KB limit, but nonetheless Georg succeeded in releasing a cartridge version to go alongside the tape, disk and download releases on sale via Psytronik's online store.

A hybrid of Draconius and Impossible Mission, Soulless is an exploratory platformer that sees you playing the role of a betrayed King who has been transformed into a beast and trapped within an subterranean prison, your mission being to gather the soul-stones hidden throughout the 70+ screen underworld in order to regain your humanity. When collected, the soul-stones must be placed in the correct sequence within the temple at the top of the map, but your quest will not be easy; not only is the underworld populated by foul traps and evil critters to avoid, but every time you play each of the stones will be hidden within a different object and their order randomised!

Soulless is both NTSC and PAL compatible, and it's joystick-only control means that it's even playable on the Commodore 64 GS console. The game comes in an internally LED illuminated purple transparent cartridge shell complete with two printed soul-stone sheets, an A3 map and poster, stickers, a companion CD containing 600MB of bonus material and a 16 page comic/instruction booklet!



(Please note - if you are interested in purchasing an out of stock or unreleased cartridge, express your interest below or send us a message and if enough people want a copy then I will consider arranging for a limited run to be made).