Saturday, 1 December 2012

RGCD C64 Cartridge Development Competition 2012

The second RGCD C64 Cartridge Development Competition concluded at midnight on the 30th of November with 10 brand new games (and 3 re-releases) for the C64!

Featuring conversions, original concepts and genre favourites, the last few days have been a frenzy of activity in the C64 scene as a result of the hard work the entrants put into coding their competition games over the past few months. With CSDB already becoming saturated in cracks and re-releases I've put together a brief introduction to each submitted competition entry below, listed alphabetically with links to their original database pages. Fire up your C64 or emulator and enjoy!




Unfortunately, due to real-life work pressures and commitments with other games, Richard didn't managed to complete his little Amazonian-themed horizontal-shmup, but the preview he submitted was very promising, with atmospheric music, nice graphics and solid gameplay. Richard has already assured us that the game will be finished early next year, and we're really looking forward to the final result of his work.




A close-to-deadline entry (but not the closest!), Enthusi, iLKke and Conrad joined the competition with nothing to show a few weeks back, yet the end result is already a CSDB favourite. A simple yet addictive puzzler based on PhotoStorm's Quartet (by iLKke and Richard Davey), Assembloids is all about assembling faces against a tight timer. Featuring high score verification codes and full screen open-border presentation (on both PAL and NTSC) there's a lot going on behind the simple design. Using player feedback, the team are already finalising a retail version with some nice improvements. Expect to hear more news on this one soon!




If the competition was about retro design, The Mad Scientist would be at the top of the score board with his fun and extremely challenging Manic Miner clone. It may have been more appropriate for the player character to be a sock escaping the laundry instead of a worm(?), but the game is already proving to be popular with the C64 old-school gamers over at Lemon64. I personally like the fact that the player character changes height when moving, resulting in the platformer requiring a little more thought whilst playing. Delightfully bonkers.




A welcome return to this year's compo (in addition to Endurion's other main contender), the formerly retail-only two-player version of Get 'Em DX is now free to download! Still a firm favourite here at RGCD HQ, it may lack somewhat in originality (being an improved version of a 2011 entry) but nonetheless it is still very much worth a play.




Ice00's 16KB Giana Sisters clone was a welcome addition to this year's line-up, with some excellent music from Dustbin and 15 stages of challenging and enjoyable run 'n' jump gameplay. NTSC and GS compatible, featuring a highscore table and even mid-level checkpoints it is clear a lot of effort went into the design - even if it is clearly inspired by one of the C64's most well-known platformers.




Match-Buster was announced near the beginning of the competition, but Simon Stelling kept the game firmly under wraps until the deadline. It may look like a bog standard mini Boulder Dash clone, but it actually features some really clever design mechanics borrowed and inspired from a variety of other games (including Pushcat and Portal), and even an attract mode showing how the game is played! Already excellent, there's still a lot of blank space left in the 16KB rom for additional content making Match Buster another game that I hope will see further post-competition improvements.




With its deliberately silly name, SOS left us guessing until the deadline as to what to expect from Monkey Eat Milkey, and hearing the news that Goin' Sideways artist Redcrab was involved only further whetted our appetite. A noteworthy improvement over last year's Pong clone, Monkey Eat Milkey is a simple, fun and beautifully presented one or two-player joystick-waggle game, with players frantically pulling left and right whilst burping their monkey at set intervals.




In addition to working on his main entry, Achim also packaged up his Seagull-vs-Sheep arcade game as a cartridge image when the competition was first announced. Defecating on sheep in order to protect a farmer's crop may sound like a questionable game design choice, but nonetheless you cannot deny that On The Farm III is both original in concept and fun to play.




We knew that Achim was working on a tribute to the Atari 2600 classic Keystone Kapers, but when Rent A Cop popped into the RGCD inbox complete with a surprise soundtrack by glitch musician Goto80 our ears exploded with joy. Like the original, the game itself is very solid and hopefully we'll be able to negotiate a final cartridge release with Achim in the near future. Grab your nightstick and bash some burgulars!




Joining the competition only a few days ago, P1X3L.net's conversion of complex indie-title SpaceChem may seem a little sparse, but there's a reason - it is probably the first and only game in about 28 years which is made for the Commodore Ultimax (a machine with only 4KB RAM, no Kernal, no Basic, no Font and no serial I/O). It seems the 16KB limitation wasn't enough of a challenge on it's own! ALeX and Retrofan plan to continue work on a proper C64 version after the competition, and it will be nice to see this challenging and educational puzzle game reach it's full 8-Bit potential.




Similar to Endurion and Achim, David's plan was to submit his Spike Dislike remake as a backup entry whilst he worked on another game, but sadly his stunning looking metroidvania wasn't finished in time. However, as a 16KB game Spike Dislike remains a respectable entry, despite the lack of any extra content. Here's hoping that David completes his other project in the near future!




This is the game that a *lot* of you were waiting for, and although it's only the 16KB version (which is not exactly the same as the Play Expo Edition we featured a couple of months ago), it shows huge potential for the final, official 64KB Vlambeer release due next year. Paulko64 and Encore promised a faithful conversion in 16KB - and delivered.




Finally, another late surprise - Endurion and Smila's Wonderland brings classic NES Zelda-style arcade adventuring to the C64 in 16KB! Featuring an insane number of locations (including an above-ground and under-ground world), boss battles, object utilisation and inventory, could Wonderland be the 2012 Fairy Well?



All the above games can be downloaded in a single zip archive here. We recommend VICE if you are looking for an emulator to run the cartridge images on.

Well, that's it for this year! The vote sheets have been sent off and if all goes to plan we'll have the final results ready to announce in two weeks time. Join us in having a beer and lets collectively raise our glasses to all the entrants who managed to beat the deadline! Good luck!