Monday 5 April 2021

Coming Soon! Retaliate DX & Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Commodore 64)

It's been crazy busy here at RGCD for the past month or so. Not only have I been ramping up production of Monstro Giganto, but I have also been working on preparing a number of other games for launch, including Endless Forms Most Beautiful and Retaliate DX. Oh, and I've assembled and flashed 150 copies of Icon64's Arcade Daze for backers of the Zzap 2021 Annual Kickstarter by Fusion Books as well!

One of these games - Retaliate DX - I have covered in some detail before. Since the last update, apart from the usual pre-launch fixes and tweaks, the only significant change has been the addition of a SNES pad control option (using the TexElec adapter). We're just waiting for the manuals to come back from the printers and a new delivery of GMOD2 to arrive and the game will finally be available to buy in our online store.

However, I've just realised that this is the first time I have made an announcement about Endless Forms Most Beautiful for the C64, so really I need to rewind a little bit and explain what this project is all about.

As explained in this article here, back in 2012 RGCD worked with Locomalito to remake David Hughes' modern ZX Spectrum homebrew game EFMB for the PC. More of a re-imagining than a straight remake, Locomalito's version carried his distinctive 1980's coin-op style - and with it's two-player mode it was really more akin to games like Snow Bros or Bubble Bobble than original. Back in the days when CD releases were still a thing for the PC, Locomalito even released a limited edition physical version of the game (which I proudly have in my collection). In short, if you haven't already checked it out, I strongly recommend you do so.

Jumping forward to 2019, one of RGCD's regular customers dropped me an email asking if I'd seen this new game called Endless Forms Most Beautiful on the Commodore Scene Database. I immediately assumed that it would be a port of the ZX Spectrum game - after all, that would make sense. But no, here was a game that was actually a demake of Locomalito's remake - making it a C64 demake of a PC remake of a ZX Spectrum game!

The C64 conversion of EFMB is really impressive and succeeds in staying as true as possible to Locomalito's vision. In fact, I was so enamoured by the game that I contacted Locomalito and suggested that we work with the developers to create a physical cartridge release. And that's what we've done - complete with packaging that has remained as faithful as possible to Locomalito, Gryzor87and Marek Barej's PC CD release.

Both EFMB and Retaliate DX are in the final stages of production and should be available to purchase soon!

Saturday 3 April 2021

Monstro Giganto Available on Cartridge! (Commodore 64)

Well, it's been hell of a couple of days. To coincide with the launch of the Godzilla Vs. Kong movie, on the 31st March RGCD & The Pirates of Zanzibar released the much-anticipated MONSTRO GIGANTO for the Commodore 64. With only 70 GMOD2 PCBs left in stock here at RGCD HQ, I tentitively opened up sales with an initial batch of 50 copies - and within hours, all of those had sold. With an order of 100 more PCBs already placed with Individual Computers, I decided to re-open sales again as a pre-order for a second batch (with a shipping estimate for the end of April), and here we are, two days later on the verge of selling out again. This makes Monstro Giganto one of our fastest selling and most popular games to date!

I already had a head start on building the physical packages (before even opening sales I had 50 flashed and assembled cartridges), but of course there's more to shipping out an order than just that. So far I've put together 100 internal packs (manuals, stickers, badges etc. in polythene bag), assembled 50 boxed games and physically shipped 25 orders before running out of bubble wrap and packing peanuts. It was areally sunny day yesterday (for a change) so I moved the entire operation out into the garden - I didn't want to waste the opportunity for sun and fresh air by being cooped up inside my cramped office - but I do wonder what the neighbours must have thought with the patio covered by a mix of game packaging, cartridges, packing materials and about three loads of family laundry!

I hope to ship out another 25 copies early next week, and then the rest as soon as my incoming GMOD2 shipment arrives. I'll be keeping the pre-orders open after the second batch sells out, but please note that there will be a significant delay before these arrive at their final destinations!

Anyway, enough talk about logistics - here's the game launch blurb!

Brought into existence through human misadventure, four gigantic beasts have emerged to duke it out toe-to-toe in an epic brawl across the continents!

Take control of the monster of your choice and battle against the AI or another player in this furiously-paced PESTCII party-puncher! Who will be hailed as the King of Monstros in the MONSTRO GIGANTO hall of fame?!

Developed by Antonio Savona, Lobo and Aldo Chiummo of The Pirates of Zanzibar, MONSTRO GIGANTO is a one or two player brawler of epic sized proportions! Featuring relentless arcade style gameplay, huge and highly animated player characters, 101% PETSCII graphics, over 250 words of digitised speech (your Commodore 64 has never been this chatty!), a killer sound track, on-cartridge high score saving, unlockables and full PAL/NTSC compatibility, MONSTRO GIGANTO is a game worth fighting over!

MONSTRO GIGANTO is an RGCD Production. The cartridge version of the game is presented in a custom RGCD banded three-part cardboard box with a glossy outer sleeve. The cover art was illustrated by Lobo and the game comes complete with a professionally printed 20-page A6 manual, vinyl RGCD and MONSTRO GIGANTO stickers, a 4-piece badge set, post-cards and a 170gsm matt-finished A3 poster. The GMOD2 PCB is housed in RGCD branded black cartridge shell with a 3D domed label.

MONSTRO GIGANTO was programmed to run exclusively from cartridge, as it continuously streams data from the ROM during play. For this reason, a D64/Disk version is not available. Instead, a downloadable .CRT is available in both GMOD2 and EasyFlash format with every purchase to use via emulation or on real hardware devices such as the Ultimate 1541-II. Please check that your hardware is compatible with these formats! (Note that a stand-alone digital download of the game will be available to buy soon).

Finally, and this is VERY IMPORTANT. MONSTRO GIGANTO will sound DREADFUL if played on an Ultimate64 without a real SID Chip. I'm sure the Ultimate's emulation will be improved in time, but for now, it just doesn't cut it. It does however sound great on both the MEGA65 and even TheC64!

The All-Important Links:

  • Buy the cartridge version HERE for £35 (from RGCD).
  • Buy the download version (COMING SOON!) HERE (from The Pirates of Zanzibar).

Saturday 13 February 2021

Making of Monstro Giganto (Commodore 64)

Following hot on the heels of last year's BoxyMoxy, the Pirates of Zanzibar are back again with a new game; 'Monstro Giganto', a furiously-paced PETSCII party-puncher! Coder and long-time RGCD member Antonio Savona started work on the project (with his fellow sea-dogs Lobo and Aldo Chiummo) during the 2020 Christmas holidays, aiming to knock out a fun little proof of concept based on some PETSCII art by Lobo. And now, just over a month later, Monstro Giganto is a near complete game that already takes up 480KB of ROM space on a GMOD2 cartridge.

But what is Monstro Giganto? Lobo came up with the idea of a PETSCII based brawler last summer inspired by a series of monster drawings he penned over 20 years ago based on Godzilla, King Kong and other giant beasts. It was initially planned as a comic book in which an army of monsters duke it out, but one thing led to another and the project ended up becoming a game instead.

"I made the first PETSCII tests of Gorgo and Jojo back in May/June 2020. Since I wanted to make a brawler with the largest characters possible the PETSCII approach seemed to be the most reasonably practical method to pull it off".

Indeed, that seems a sensible starting point when making a monstrous sized beat-em-up, but Antonio ended up with quite a few challenges to overcome as a result.

"The greatest challenge was nailing the game mechanics, given the constraints of working with large PETSCII based characters with a limited set of moves in a claustrophobic arena. On the technical side the only really complex part was keeping a steady frame rate and snappy controls. Those big monstros might be made up of PETSCII but that doesn't make them any easier to animate than other types of heavy, non-sprite based graphics. There's a good reason why the VIC-II offers sprites as a hardware capability, which becomes evident as soon as you choose to develop a game without using them!"

By the time I joined the project, Monstro Giganto was already a fully playable game with four playable characters and both a single player and two player modes. The music was in, as well as a load of cool sounding digital samples ripped from Mortal Combat. "You should hire a voice actor for this. Have a look to see if there's anyone suitable on Fiverr", I suggested. This was no more than a week ago - and now Monstro Giganto has grown to enormous size, with over 250 professionally spoken words of dialogue(!)

"Roughly 250KB are now used by samples. It could have been much less than that, but the good thing about variable rate speech compression is that you can adjust the rate and trade quality for memory footprint. There was a lot of cartridge space available and there was no reason to not use it, so I turned the knob up to 'maximum quality'. Overall, it's over 250 words accounting for around three minutes of speech (and roars). Most of the speech is contained within the unlockable origin stories for each of the four monstros, and there's a few words spoken in the intro. As much as I like talking in games, I think that speech should not be invasive or prominent, but rather something to complement the action."

Of course, it's worth mentioning at this point that to truly appreciate the game you really need to have a real SID chip in your Commodore, or at least a really good clone like that in the MEGA65 and of course the VICE emulator.

Monstro Giganto has evolved considerably from its humble beginnings, but Tony's to-do list now mainly consists of bug-fixes, polish and 'easy' code rewrites. It's exciting to see it all come together so quickly, and there's even been tentative talk of a sequel addressing some of the suggestions and ideas that came too late to shoe-horn them into the current framework. However, the journey from prototype to near finished game has seen many progressive refinements to the design, as Antonio explains;

"In the beginning I had only three attack moves per character (plus one defensive block) and a single screen arena that was barely large enough to contain the two monstros. Tremendous artwork and a decent concept, but very basic in the gameplay department. The first change to be made was to add the endless scrolling of the arena to break free of the limitations of the single screen; it's important to note that the arena has no end or invisible walls like most fighters - the players do not have an absolute position in space, just a relative one. Each monstro exists in a space relative to their opponent - you don't move left or right around an arena, but rather just move away or towards your enemy."

"Then came the hit detection; a punch only connects if you hit a specific point on your opponent, and each monstro and attack has a different reach, so the challenge is not about getting closer to your opponent but rather positioning yourself at the right distance for a specific move. I guess this is no different to what games like Exploding Fist have been doing egregiously for the last 35 years, so there was no point in not doing it in Monstro Giganto."

"Finally, I wanted to avoid the common problem that plagues many fighting games of having a one-move-kills-them-all, like the low-kick in Exploding Fist. So, a tiredness meter was added to address this issue by forcing the player to adopt a strategy instead of mindlessly bashing the fire button. The more you fight or block, the more your tiredness increases until you are eventually exhausted and your opponent gets an opportunity to strike you while you are defenceless. So it's important to time your attacks and rest accordingly if you want to win the fight."

"With these mechanics in place the game became really fun to play. It was even fun just watching my AI driven monstros skilfully beat the crap out each other in the attract mode! I've also given each of the characters specific skills and stats to add further variety to the game. For example, Eyeye is the fastest monstro and he doesn't tire easily, but his main attacks have a shorter reach and he is somewhat weaker. On the other hand, Mojo is a heavy hitter with an impressive reach and can stand a few more punches than your average puny lizard, but no matter how fashionable, the fez-sporting oversized gorilla is the slowest of the lot!"

Although there is no real end to the game (you continue to fight the four main opponents over and over until you lose) your stats are recorded in the hall of fame and there are unlockable rewards in the form of origin stories for each character - and there's even a couple of secrets thrown in there for good measure. But all that aside, the real test of a fighting game is how it plays when facing off against a human opponent - and if the reaction of my two gaming addicted kids is anything to go by then Monstro Giganto deserves to go platinum.

With development now in the final stages and print material in the process of being ordered, Monstro Giganto should be available for your Commodore home computer in late March/Early April.

MEGA65 Devkit - First Impressions

So, here I am in February 2021, typing a blog post in GeoWrite running on a never-released Commodore prototype from 1991 - or at least the nearest thing to it. Of course, I'm referring to the still-very-much-WIP MEGA65 from the Museum of Electronic Games and Art (MEGA); an FPGA based re-imagining or continuation of Commodore's ill-fated C65 prototype.

Those of you familiar with the Commodore 65 will be well aware that the few prototype machines that leaked into the retro computer market now exchange hands for tens of thousands of pounds - absolutely crazy money for an only partially-functional computer with no software. I mean, even if I had that kind of money to burn, there honestly would be no reason for me to have one. However, unlike it's predecessor, the MEGA65 is no overpriced, lame duck. In fact, I believe that the MEGA65 has the potential to become the Commodore's answer to the Sinclair Spectrum NEXT; an enhanced, future-proof 8-Bit machine (I know, what a contradiction!) with backwards compatibility and a strong focus on 'what could have been'. After all, the C65 was a machine that sat somewhere between the C64/128 and the Amiga 500 in terms of power (you can read more about the enhanced specifications on the project web page). It's an odd beast that sits between the 8-bit and 16-bit generation machines, and reminds me a little of the SAM CoupĂ© in that regard - but with a far, far better starting point than the bloody ZX Spectrum!

I was one of the lucky few (100, to be precise) Commodore fans to obtain one of MEGA's build-it-yourself devkits that were made available to buy last year. In contrast to the final design, these devkit versions have an Amiga 600 style form factor and use a transparent plastic PlexiLazer shell (much like that used by my daily driver customised C64). In fact, this was one of the main reasons I favoured the devkit over the final design - it just looks incredible and at only 35cm wide it fits far easier on my desk.

However, good looks alone do not make a good computer - and as with the prototype C65, currently there's very little native software available for the MEGA65. That's unlikely to remain the case of course - especially if the activity on the discord channel is anything to go by. I imagine that by the time the final model rolls off the assembly line there will be a fair sized dedicated library - enough to whet people's appetites at the very least. Personally though, I had another reason to get involved with the early access of the machine - not only was I interested in testing and assisting with the final polish of the MEGA65, but I was hugely curious as to whether or not any RGCD releases (past, present or future) would run on it. In fact, I even proposed to the MEGA team that if they can improve the machine's backward compatibility to support RGCD's releases, then they can bundle them for free with their machine when it goes on sale.

As it stands, compatibility with C64 games - especially modern-era ones - is low on the current firmware. The main issue seems to involve the use of illegal opcodes; those dirty shortcuts and tricks that modern day developers often use on the C64 to squeeze out the best performance from the machine. These are especially common in demos (I have yet to find any that run on the MEGA65), and the reason is simple; these opcodes are aimed at the C64 chipset - and as the MEGA65 currently has no way to force itself to become 'the lesser' machine, the C65 CPU fails when they are called. This could (and probably will) be fixed in the majority of cases, but it will take time. So those of you were are gutted that they missed out on the devkits last year - I expect the wait for the final model will be worth it. (Edit: since writing this post the MEGA team have already got the previously non-working Super Bread Box running on the machine from cartridge, so compatibility is improving all the time!)

On the plus side, having a devkit has been a bonus for RGCD as I've been able to assist in getting some of our future releases up and running on both the C64 and the MEGA65! In particular, this past week I've been busy helping Antonio Savona and Lobo with their PETSCII brawler 'Monstro Giganto', a game that you'd think would have no issues running on a machine as powerful as the MEGA65. However, until this evening the game was full of illegal opcodes and the game pretty much crashed and burned within seconds of turning the machine on. Thankfully, Antonio was willing to rewrite these sections of his code (mainly so he can make the proud claim of releasing a MEGA65 compatible game) and now Monstro Giganto runs perfectly. This process was quite painless - even when done remotely via Facebook messenger - because of the MEGA65's excellent built in freezer and memory monitor. I was able to take a photo of the monitor screen whenever the game crashed so Antonio could see what was causing the problem and work around it.

Whilst discussing Monstro Giganto it's also worth mentioning the performance of the MEGA65's dual soft SIDs - something that is especially important considering the 250+ words of sampled speech the game contains. Honestly, the MEGA65's SID emulation is one of the best I have heard on a hardware C64 clone to date - far superior to TheC64 and cleaner sounding than the otherwise brilliant Ultimate64. So whatever the MEGA team are doing on that front, they're doing it right!

With regard to RGCD releases on the platform, there's nothing currently planned in the immediate future, but at the very least I'll be encouraging the developers I work with to support the MEGA65 going forward. Antonio has said he might look into porting P0 Snake over as an experiment, and Marcelo Cabral has suggested that he could attempt a MEGA65 version of Retaliate DX (a WIP C64 game that already works great on the MEGA) - so who knows? There might be a couple of games from us before the year is out.

One of the most interesting things about the MEGA65 is that being an FPGA based machine it has the ability to run different 'cores'. There's already a ZX-UNO core that runs on the MEGA which turns the computer into a ZX Spectrum clone, and work has begun on Atari ST and Amiga cores as well. Similar to the popular MiST FPGA, this means that your MEGA65 could eventually become your one-stop retro computer covering a variety of platforms, with the bonus of being beautifully packaged in the shell of a classic computer (and having one of the best keyboards I have ever used).

If I get time I'll happily share any new developments or interesting info about the MEGA65 here on the blog, but for now I hope that this has served as an introduction. If you want a more detailed guided tour of the machine then I strongly recommend you check out the recent video posted by Nostalgia Nerd - I really feel his pain about snapping the top part of the case during assembly!

Friday 12 February 2021

Tiny Quest Available on Cartridge! (Commodore 64)

Far, far away, exists a weird and wonderful world of right-angles and crazy geometry. In this land populated by square trees, square clouds and square people, Mr Cube has fallen in love.

However, our hero's love interest is on the opposite side of the world - and between them lies a land full of hazards, obstacles and dangerous critters! Not only that, but Mr Cube is flat broke and he needs to raise enough cash during his quest to ensure that he can pay for safe passage home for both himself and his sweetie!

Oh, did I forget to mention that time is incredibly tight? Mr Cube will have to run and jump as quickly as he can if he's to make it before his energy runs out. He'll need all his stamina for the ceremony of geometrical pairing!

Steady your nerves, prepare your reflexes, grab that joystick and help our hero on his TINY QUEST!

Coded by Andrea "Wanax" Schincaglia, with graphics by Raffox and music by Gaetano Chiummo and Stefano "Dustbin" Palmonari, TINY QUEST is a game that requires lightning-fast reflexes, excellent memory, advanced planning skills, perfect timing and (a lot of) self control. You have been warned. There will be times when things appear hopeless - but you have our word - even the hardest screens are possible to beat with practice!

I was first introduced to Tiny last year by Federico, and after a quick play of the preview I immediately offered to assist with a release alongside BITMAP SOFT. The game is deceptively challenging - each single screen level might on first appearance appear simple, but there's real skill required to collect the coins and get to the exit before the time runs out. You have quite literally seconds to beat each stage, and no reprise between. It's a relentless challenge, and with only five lives and a temporary password every 15 levels (and there's a LOT of them to beat - the title is clearly ironic), TINY QUEST was designed to be beaten in a single sitting - but my kids and I have yet to achieve that as yet.

RGCD's cartridge version of the game is presented in our custom RGCD banded three-part cardboard box with a glossy outer sleeve. The cover art was illustrated by Simon Butler and the game comes complete with a professionally printed 12-page A6 manual, vinyl RGCD and Digital Monastery stickers, RGCD badge, post-card and a couple of code sheets to record your passwords on. The 64KB PCB is housed in a bright red cartridge shell, with a 3D domed label.

Note that purchases of the cartridge will (soon) include a downloadable copy of the *.CRT version of game for free for use via emulation or on real hardware devices such as the Ultimate 1541-II. However, as the game is not available digitally yet we have opted meanwhile to include a printed download link within each boxed copy of the game.

Note that due to COVID-19, international postage is still a real mess with huge delays, but parcels ARE getting through (albeit very slowly). If you are concerned, please consider buying insurance and tracking for your order before you hit the checkout.

The All-Important Links:

  • Buy the cartridge version HERE for £32 (from RGCD).
  • Buy the tape or disk version HERE (from BITMAP SOFT).

Six Monthly Update

Hi all - I hope you are doing OK and you and your families are well. It's been a nightmare six months here since my last update, with further lockdowns, home schooling, busy jobs and the stress of Brexit. I'm sure it's been no easier for the rest of you, but I've had very limited time for running RGCD lately and I've had to really juggle with my work and life balance. Here's hoping for a more positive and productive 2021!

The good news is that some progress has been made (albeit slowly) on a number of projects here and I have several announcements and releases lined up for the near future that I'm really excited to share with you. I've also recently become the proud owner of a MEGA65 Devkit which has been an inspiration to start writing on this blog again - so expect a future post about that soon.

Sadly I've been unable to set aside any time with fellow RGCD member Jamie to finish the new website. Although mostly complete, we had planned to spend a week together last year finalising the site functionality and fixing/updating the 500+ blog posts here after migrating across, but for obvious reasons that has been impossible (I actually spent all of 2020's annual leave home schooling my kids). Hopefully we can get to that after COVID-19, but before COVID-20 ;)

Frequent visitors to our online shop may have noticed that I've also gradually been replacing the packaging to some of our games; LuftrauserZ, Super Bread Box, C64anabalt, Bomberland and Aviator Arcade II have now all been given the upgrade treatment, and I hope by the end of the year to have discontinued the use of Universal Game Cases. The new three-part cardboard boxes are available to buy sperately so you can upgrade your own collection, and as Universal Game Cases are selling for around £2-3 each on eBay there's always the option of making some of your money back ;)

Actually, on the subject of Super Bread Box, imagine my surprise when Richard McManus tagged me on Facebook to say he'd just seen the game being played on Channel 4 daytime TV by former professional footballer Chris Kamara whilst Peter 'Nostalgia Nerd' Leigh talked about the wonders of 8-bit computers. However, I'm not sure that Kammy knew how to hold a joystick - he was pretty terrible at the game! On the plus side, I can now proudly say 'AS SEEN ON TV' when it comes to promoting Super Bread Box again in future. Nice one Nostalgia Nerd!

Back in a bit!

Thursday 20 August 2020

Boxymoxy Available on Cartridge! (Commodore 64)

The stupid old Wizard had cast a wrong spell, creating an invasion of chattering skulls and now no one can sleep! Two cats, Boxy and Moxy, are set to clean up this mess. Using their combined powers, you will traverse 60 levels over three areas in order to destroy all skulls and restore the beauty sleep to the people of the old Kingdom!

Developed by Antonio Savona (of P0 Snake and Planet Golf fame), designed by Lobo and with a soundtrack by Aldo Chiummo, Boxymoxy is a fiendish (or felineish?) puzzle game for the Commodore 64 unlike anything else you have ever played. Inspired by Lobo's cat Gelsomina, with a little Sokoban and a tiny dash of Angry Birds thrown in for flavour, Boxymoxy is a game about moving cats and smashing skulls using the power of logic.

Featuring 60 challenging puzzles, unique gameplay, a player performance-graded progress system with on-cartridge saving, 15 digitally-sampled and distinct meows from 12 cats and full PAL/NTSC compatibility, Boxymoxy is guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours in the purr-suit of that perfect or even under-par score! Simply put, it's the cat's whiskers!

Antonio and Lobo put this neat little game together incredibly quickly - I hardly had an opportunity to play it myself before a near final version landed in my inbox, hence why there's not been a mention of it here on the blog or in the mailouts! My kids and I have spent quite a few days during lockdown together working out the optimum solutions to the puzzles, and although we quickly unlocked all the worlds, we still have plenty of levels to get the three star award on. To quote my son - "it's all about getting those meows!"

Boxymoxy is an RGCD Production. The cartridge version of the game is presented in a custom RGCD banded three-part cardboard box with a glossy outer sleeve. The cover art was illustrated by Lobo and the game comes complete with a professionally printed 16-page A6 manual, vinyl RGCD and Boxymoxy stickers, Boxymoxy and RGCD badges, post-cards and a 170gsm matt-coated A3 poster. The GMOD2 PCB is housed in RGCD branded black cartridge shell, with a 3D domed label.

Boxymoxy was programmed to run exclusively from cartridge, as it continuously streams data from the ROM during play. For this reason, a D64/Disk version is not available. Instead, a downloadable .CRT is available in both GMOD2 and EasyFlash format to use via emulation or on real hardware devices such as the Ultimate 1541-II. Please check that your hardware is compatible with these formats!

Note that I'm currently swamped with orders and international postage is a real mess with huge delays, but parcels ARE getting through (albeit very slowly). If you are worried, buy insurance and tracking for your order before you hit the checkout. Also, I am well aware that postage prices have gone absolutely bonkers since COVID-19 due to reduced air traffic, but I am actively looking into other options.

The All-Important Links:

  • Download the game HERE ( (.CRT image format only).
  • Buy the cartridge HERE for £35 (from RGCD).

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Grid Pix Available on Cartridge! (Commodore 64)

"Grid Pix does stand out from the crowd." - 88% Retro Gamer magazine issue 198

"A splendid little Picross variant." - 82% ZZap! 64 Annual 2020

Welcome to Grid Pix! An exciting new world of logical puzzle solving awaits you, courtesy of Carleton Handley, Ilija Melentijevic, Hasse Axelsson-Svala, Andrew Fisher and Pierre Martrin!

Featuring 100 chunky pixel-art puzzles (and the option to load in more via future DLC packs), beautiful high-resolution graphics, multiple music tracks to play whilst you think (silence is also optional), PAL/NTSC compatibility and on-cartridge saving!

There are no annoying time limits or anything to distract you from the challenge ahead, just 100 hand-pixelled nonograms with only a single solution!

It's been quite a while since I first wrote about the development of Carleton Handley's Grid Pix and previewed it to players at Exeter's GAME>PLAY festival, but I'm proud to say that the final game has most certainly been worth the wait! A joint production released with our good friends at Psytronik Software, Grid Pix is available to purchase over at our online store on cartridge now! (In fact, it was actually first made available a week ago and announced first on Twitter and Facebook - so be sure to follow our accounts to keep informed!)

The cartridge version of the game is presented in a manufactured custom RGCD banded cardboard box with glossy outer sleeve. The cover art was illustrated by Ste Pickford and the game comes complete with a professionally printed 16-page A6 manual, holographic vinyl RGCD and Grid Pix stickers, Below The Tower, Psytronik and RGCD badges, a 10-page puzzle design notepad, post-cards and a 170gsm matt-coated A3 poster. The GMOD2 PCB is housed in RGCD branded black cartridge shell, with a 3D domed label.

Please note that Pystronik Software will be selling the game on 5.25" diskette very soon! Grid Pix is also available to buy as a downloadable .D64/.CRT/.T64/.PRG image to use via emulation or on real hardware devices such as the Ultimate 1541-II.

Note that I'm currently swamped with orders and international postage is a real mess with huge delays, but parcels ARE getting through (albeit very slowly). If you are worried, buy insurance and tracking for your order before you hit the checkout. Also, I am well aware that postage prices have gone absolutely bonkers since COVID-19 due to reduced air traffic, but I am actively looking into other options.

The All-Important Links:

  • Download the game HERE ( (.D64/.CRT/.T64/.PRG image format).
  • Buy the game on disk HERE SOON! (from Psytronik Software).
  • Buy the cartridge HERE for £35 (from RGCD).

Tuesday 18 August 2020


Hey all - I hope you are all staying safe and well. It's been a while since I last wrote here and so much has been happening that I really don't even know where to begin! Firstly I guess I should start by writing about the two new games that we released last week, but before that I think I need to rewind a bit to cover everyone's favourite subject. Videogame packaging.

OK, so that's a bit of an exaggeration as I'm sure that no one really wants to discuss packaging at all, but it's a subject that has taken up so much of my time, effort and finances lately that it would be rude to not give it a brief mention here on this blog at least. So first of all, let's discuss the problem. Those of you whom are into collecting retro games are probably familiar with the Universal Game Case - the same case that RGCD has used for the past few years as packaging for our cartridge releases (with a custom made foam insert). Until recently these were both affordable and widely available, but since COVID-19 kicked in, they've become rarer than rocking horse shit. This has resulted in delays to RGCD game releases and restocking issues, so I had to find a solution.

However, I was reluctant to look of another off-the-shelf packaging option, as since starting RGCD back in 2006 I have already been through six variations of packaging already - so this had to be a final solution. One package to rule them all, etc.

One of the issues I have had with Universal Game Cases is that they are a bit too small for holding anything other than a cartridge and a thin game manual. Add anything else to the package and they bulge slightly and are difficult to keep closed. I resolved this for the last couple of projects I worked on (Dragonspire and Argus) by adding an outer sleeve, but the cost of doing this for every release would be prohibitive. It did however, put me on the right track.

During a discussion about this with long-time RGCD contributor and graphics-maestro Steven Day, we began to reminisce on the game packaging of the home-computing golden years. After covering the pros and cons of a variety of big box style games released on the Amiga, PC and C64, Steve noted how clever Microprose had been at using the same box packaging across all formats, utilising a generic inner box and an outer sleeve with stickers to highlight the target machine. I replied that I held a particular fondness for the Renegade/Bitmap Bros packaging on the Atari ST and Amiga, which again had an internal box that used an exterior sleeve but was a slightly smaller size. So, with this concept in mind, I looked into manufacturing costs while Steve knocked up a template.

You see, the main issue with any sort of custom made game packaging is the fact that it is only *really* affordable when ordered in large quantities. And by large, I mean thousands, or tens of thousands. Now, obviously this was no problem back in the 80's and early 90's, but shifting thousands of copies of a game for a retro platform in 2020 is a lot to ask, so some corners have to be cut in order to keep the costs down. After all, what is the point in beautiful packaging if it drives the price up to a prohibitively expensive level? Clearly the Microprose/Renegade 'sleeve' concept was the way to go. The final design from Steve was built up of modular components; a matte base with a removable insert (for holding a cartridge, or not), a matte lid with spot varnish RGCD branding and finally a glossy outer sleeve. My initial order was for 500 inner boxes, and 500 sleeves spread across five different designs. This resulted in a high quality box that was only slightly more expensive than the previous UGC, foam and printed insert combo (and definitely cheaper than current Game Case prices and the aforementioned additional outer carton option).

So there you have it, a few months after starting out on this journey and I'm proud to announce that Grid Pix and Boxy Moxy have both been launched debuting the new design (and best-sellers LuftrauserZ and Super Bread Box are the first older titles to be relaunched with it). The beauty of the new packaging is it's modular nature; if a particular game sells less than the predicted target, the majority of the packaging costs are automatically reallocated to a more popular game. In addition to this, just removing the insert immediately makes the package suitable for Amiga or other platforms as well, without detrimentally reducing the strength of the overall package. Oh, and of course there's the obvious environmental factor and storage space saving; 500 flat-packed boxes takes up half the volume of my previous solutions - even more so when you factor in all the different options I already stock.

Finances permitting, I hope to be able to continue to relaunch titles from the back catalogue with the new boxes on a monthly basis, and have even listed them as a product in my shop so people can upgrade their previous purchases (sold at cost price plus shipping). If fact, considering the going rate for second hand Universal Game Cases on eBay, you might even be able to make a profit!

In conclusion, I really, really hope you like the new boxes and I assure you that with the level of investment involved, these really will be the 'final' revision of RGCD game packaging. I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback, so leave a comment below or drop me a line via the contact form.

P.S. - Fun fact; the images shown within this article are actually of a non-final sleeve which had to be re-ordered. I'd accidentally signed off the proof with a matte finish when it was supposed to be gloss. As a result, all 500 sleeves ended up in the recycling shortly after these photgraphs were taken! However, the final_final_final sleeves were really worth the additionally incurred cost.

Friday 10 July 2020

Sid Chip Club Available on Cartridge! (Commodore 64)

RGCD are proud to present a Commodore 64 cartridge version of LMan's new album, SID Chip Club. Fresh from his successful Kickstarter, this new 8-track, hardware 'LP' of dope, club-orientated techno and house music is now finally available for those of you who may have missed the fund raising campaign in 2019.

With LMan on the keys combined with some nifty programming by code wizard THCM, the limitations of the Commodore 64 and its legendary SID chip have been twisted into a truly unique sound, bringing the dark and sweaty vibes of the underground club into your lounge/office/studio.

LMan started making electronic music in 1990 on a C64, later on Amiga and then PC DAWs. He co-founded and has run since 2001 (a web community about remixing music from C64 and Amiga games). Between 2012 and 2015, he made a name for himself in the international coloured pencil artist community, holding exhibitions and being published in various art journals. In 2015, LMan returned to the SID chip and actively entered the demoscene, where he has released several acclaimed C64 tunes, gaining attention with elaborate and out-of-the-box sound design and sample usage. Markus is a member of distinguished scene groups like MultiStyle Labs, Maniacs of Noise, Censor Design, Performers and TRSi.

Sid Chip Club is presented in a pocket-sized, glossy 420gsm cardboard carton, with cover design and illustration by Markus Klein. The GMOD2 PCB is housed in RGCD branded black cartridge shell, with a 3D domed label. The cartridge also comes with a free instant download (MP3, FLAC and D64 music disk).

We only have 28 cartridges left from the initial run, so grab your copy from our online store today! Please note that Sid Chip Club is also available to buy direct from LMan here as a vinyl record or as a digital download.

Sunday 17 May 2020

Kobo64 & Argus Available on Cartridge! (Commodore 64)

Hey everyone, been a while since I wrote - in fact, it seems like the world was a very, very different place the last time I did. I really hope you and your families are well and that you are coping under the strain of this seemingly never-ending quarantine. It’s sure been hard here at RGCD HQ, with three kids of very different levels of ability all needing home schooling and my wife and I both working full time (as key workers nonetheless), but I consider us to be lucky - we at least know where our next pay cheque is coming from, unlike many others.

I’d been putting off launching new releases because of this. I know how passionate some of you collectors out there are (I’m the same with limited edition rap and funk 45s), and I didn’t want to cause unnecessary stress by encouraging people to spend their money on new Commodore 64 software when perhaps that cash could be better spent at this time ordering a surprise take-out meal for your family, getting some drinks in or renting a few movies/buying a box set for you to enjoy with your partner. So please, rest assured, these two will be available for some time yet - if the initial batch sells out, there will be more in the future.

With that said, on to the games!

First up we have a special cartridge edition of Argus, a stunning role playing adventure for the Commodore 64 originally developed for Psytronik Software by Achim Volkers with graphics and design by Trevor Storey and the soundtrack by Saul Cross. Vast in size, with an atmospheric soundtrack, stunning visuals, smooth 3D transitions between 1500 different locations and animated intro and end sequences, Argus received wide acclaim upon release in 2017. RGCD are proud to present this special 2019 cartridge edition of the game created by Siem Appelman with hugely improved loading times and on-cartridge game progress saving/loading.

Argus is sold in a modified plastic Universal Game Case complete with custom made foam insert (as with the rest of our deluxe range), presented in an external cardboard box. The cover art was illustrated by Trevor 'Smila' Storey and the game comes complete with a professionally printed 12-page A6 manual, large weather-proof vinyl RGCD sticker, Psytronik and RGCD badges, post-card, a 170gsm matt-coated folded A3 map and a a 170gsm matt-coated A3 poster. The custom PCB is housed in a translucent purple commodore-style cartridge shell, with a 3D domed label.

Please note that Pystronik Software are also selling the game on 5.25" diskette and cassette, in addition to Argus being available to buy as a downloadable D64/PRG/TAP file here for use via emulation or on real hardware devices such as the Ultimate 1541-II.

Purchase your cartridge today from our online store! (Note that purchases of the cartridge include the downloadable version of the game for free).

Ever wanted to destroy massive space stations and uncountable enemies with a small ship for fun, profit and fame? You're at the right place - The Alliance Of Planets are hiring aspiring wannabe-heroes and veteran starfighter pilots to combat the Kobonian infiltration of our galactic territory!

The Kobonian Empire have established heavily-defended space stations within 50 different sectors that must be eliminated with extreme prejudice in order to dissuade the filthy reptiles from expanding further into Human space. Their huge maze-like structures are protected by heavy firepower and an armada of fighter craft, so vigilance is required!

Are you up to the challenge? Fame, fortune and (most likely) a hero's funeral awaits!

The initial version of KOBO64 was released as a 16KB cartridge game for the RGCD annual C64 game development competition (in 2013). Now, in 2019, RGCD and Singular present what is probably the final version of the game, revision 313. Still only 16KB in size, and featuring 50 levels with procedurally generated maps, triple-buffered, 25FPS, 8-directional scrolling, an overwhelming number of enemies/bullets on screen, 10+ enemy types, full PAL/NTSC compatibility and Joystick or keyboard control!

KOBO64 is presented in a modified plastic Universal Game Case complete with custom made foam insert (as with the rest of our deluxe range). The cover art was illustrated by Flemming Dupont and the game comes complete with a professionally printed 20-page A6 manual, large weather-proof vinyl RGCD sticker, a post-card and a 170gsm matt-coated A3 poster. The 16KB PCB is housed in a neon-pink cartridge shell, with a 3D domed label.

Please note that KOBO64 is also available here for FREE as a downloadable .CRT and .PRG image to use via emulation or on real hardware devices such as the Ultimate 1541-II.

​Note that this release of KOBO64 is a zero-royalty, ‘for fame & glory only’ production on the request of the developers, and we’ve passed that saving directly on to you.

Purchase your cartridge today from our online store! But most importantly, stay well!

Sunday 19 January 2020

C64anabalt, Super Bread Box and Bomberland Back in Stock!

After a busy couple of weeks, I'm pleased to say that our entire catalogue of games is now back in stock over at the RGCD online store! This includes all our popular releases - many of which have been unavailable for months - such as Paul Koller's C64anabalt and Super Bread Box, and Michal Okowicki's Bomberland. My office is currently overflowing with C64 gaming goodness.

In addition to this, I spent all day Friday assembling copies of Kobo64 and Argus for sale (the outer cartons still haven't arrived for the latter, although they have left the manufacturer and should arrive next week).

So in short, if you've missed out on any of our past releases, grab them from our online store today - and keep an eye out for some new arrivals soon :)

Friday 3 January 2020

Happy Christmas/New Year!

Hey all - just a quick post from Jamie and I at RGCD to wish you all a Happy Christmas/New Year!

The second half of 2019 was pretty quiet here at RGCD, mainly due to a huge renovation project taking place in my house. However, on the positive side, that work is now complete and as a result I now have a brand new office from which to run the business :)

Of course, that's not to say that we've been completely idle here. On my desk I currently have two projects complete and awaiting release; a collector's edition cartridge of Kobo64 (the much acclaimed 8-way scrolling shmup) and a cartridge version of Psytronik's popular RPG Argus complete with an on-cartridge save function. Both games will be available to purchase as soon as the product photography returns from the studio.

Following those two will be the eagerly anticipated Retaliate DX and Gridpix - both of which are in the final stages of production with just the manual and box layout work to complete.

In addition to this, we've been working on delivering perks for two Kickstarters; a cartridge version of Psytronik & Icon64's Lord of Dragonspire for backers of the Zzap 2020 Annual, and a cartridge version of the Sid Chip Club LP by LMAN. Dragonspire is actually complete (all 150 cartridges have been flashed!) but the contents of the box were a little too snug, so I have opted to get external cardboard cartons manufactured. As soon as these arrive I'll be able to deliver them to Chris at Fusion Books (should be no later than mid January). The Sid Chip Club album itself is also just about complete, although the binary front end for the cartridge version is still in development.

So aside from the projects above, let's discuss the elephant in the room for a moment... what happened with the RGCD compo this year?!

Far from being forgotten, our game development competition unfortunately concluded back when my house was having a new roof and 2nd storey installed, and as a result the entirety of the previously attic-based RGCD office was secured away in lock-up storage. In fact, I've basically been without a computer or workspace until a couple of months ago, and since then it has been non-stop catching up with orders and accounts. However, I'm now at the stage where I'm able to give it the attention it deserves to get the final judging organised and concluded - so watch this space!

Like many of you out there, this Christmas I received a surprise gift of TheC64. Despite already having half a dozen Commodore computers, I suppose that it was the ideal 'readily available' gift to get a C64 aficionado like myself! Anyhow, ignoring the moans of the "it's just an emulator" crowd, it's actually quite a fun and convenient machine to use - case in point, I'm using a raspberry pi portable screen and typing this blog post on it right now. It'll also prove valuable in the development of the still-WIP RGCD Megatape too - after all, it's modern systems like this that the USB cassette was created for :)

Also in the background, Jamie has been working part time freelance and part time for his previous employer over the past year, and has recently picked up work on the long-postponed new RGCD website. Here's hoping we'll both keep the momentum going over the following months to give it the refresh it deserves!

Ok, so I'm off now to grab what's left of the mulled wine and put my feet up in front of the fire. Here's wishing you and yours the best for 2020!

Saturday 15 June 2019

Relentless (Commodore 64)

Already this year the RGCD 16KB Cartridge Game Dev Compo has received its fair share of shoot 'em ups - and as shmups are my favourite game genre, this makes me very happy! With Sarah Jane Avory's excellent Neutron, Richard Bayliss' Blastopia DX and Let's Invade 2 already submitted and two more planned from C64CD (Stercore XD and Death Weapon), you'd think there wouldn't be room for any more.

You'd be wrong.

Back in 2013, Paul 'Axelay' Koositra, rexbeng and Tom & Jerry released a stunning 16KB shoot 'em up called Relentless for the Amstrad CPC - also, somewhat fittingly, as an entry in a 16KB cartridge competition - which it ultimately won. Then, to celebrate Psytronik releasing the cassette version of the CPC game, rexbeng uploaded a C64 version of the loading screen to CSDB as a teaser - but that was all - there was no C64 conversion planned... Until now!

Similar to the original, Relentless 64 is a high speed, non-stop score-chasing shmup with some neat score chaining mechanics. The enemy waves come at you thick and fast, and taking out an entire wave rewards you with an increasing score multipler, resetting back to 1x should you miss a ship or crash.

Level progression is akin to Konami's Scramble - no pause to catch your breath, no 'level complete' text, just a scenery/enemy change and onwards you go, leaving a trail of destruction in your wake. The gameplay, aside from the scoring, is pure - no power-ups or bosses, just classic horizontal shooting action at a breathtaking speed (beaten in this competition only by Stercore XD).

It's fantastic stuff, with multiple difficulty settings (changing the rate of fire of the scenery mounted turrets and player autofire), options for music, sfx or both (with the soundtrack provided by the awesome Cyborgjeff) and proper high score entry (which even remembers your initials between rounds). There are also plans for medal icons to show the difficulty scores were achieved on in the high score table.

As with Moonspire II, rexbeng's artwork gives the game a unique futuristic feel - the player ship and bullets are vibrant and despite the minimal ROM space he has achieved a rich and varied set of enemy types and scenery pieces. The randomly selected enemy waves also help to keep it feeling fresh with every play.

All that currently remains prior to submission in the competition is a reworking of the front screen and some minor tweaks and changes here and there, but in all Relentless 64 is shaping up as an excellent 16KB game, and one that we're especially proud to announce will be available from RGCD and Psytronik in physical format in the near future.

Keep an eye on the 16KB competition progress here, and make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up to our mailing list so you don't miss out when the Relentless 64 is released!

Sunday 9 June 2019

Wolfling (Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga & PC/Linux/MacOS)

Earlier this year, shortly after the launch of the Amiga versions of Powerglove and Tigerclaw, Matthias 'Lazycow' Bock released Wolfling for the Commodore 64, a conversion of his 2017 NesDev competition entry and possibly his most accomplished platform adventure to date. Featuring a shape-shifting werewolf protagonist, Wolfling is most notable for it's interesting mechanics; you can use rays of moonlight to transform from girl to wolf, with both characters controlling differently and having unique abilities and attacks. The game improves on the already high standard set by Lazycow's previous C64 games, with greater environmental variation and more developed story-telling, the only downside being it's relatively short length.

The more observant of you may have noticed that shortly after launch, the Wolfling page was updated with a new cover illustration. We've been keeping this pretty quiet, but that was actually commissioned by us after we reached an agreement with Matthias to team up together for a cartridge release of the game. Why the secrecy? Well, before making any announcement public, we needed to be in a position to actually confirm exactly *what* we were announcing...

Now at last, several months later, we're super proud to disclose that not only will Wolfling be getting a physical release, but it will be further expanded with two new levels, save-points, a mini-map, new graphics, parallax scrolling, new items (including a sword) and a power-dash for the Wolf! Oh, and the big news is that as with Matthias' other releases, this enhanced version of Wolfling will be available for the Commodore 64 *and* 1MB Commodore Amiga!

We've still got quite a long road ahead of us before release; currently the two new levels are built but most of the rooms are placeholder graphics only, and of course for the Amiga version all the artwork will need to be redrawn. There's also the question of how it will be packaged; at the moment I'm considering using the same boxes as used for our Amiga releases, and having the same print material for all versions (like in the old days).

This not only simplifies things for the customer, with one product page with the option of which version you wish to buy (C64 cartridge, Amiga CD and floppy disk, or both, all in the same box), but also saves on production costs - meaning we can sell the game at an affordable price. In fact, with there being Windows, Linux and MacOS ports too, it makes more sense to include a glass-mastered, CD32 compatible CD containing *all versions* of the game even with the C64 cartridge, and have the manual in the format of a CD booklet inside the jewel case.

We'll be back with an update when further progress is made on the Amiga version, but in the meantime, check out the latest public release of the game (currently available for Commodore 64, NES, Windows, MacOS and Linux) over at Lazycow's page.

Make sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook or sign up to our mailing list so you don't miss out when the game is released!