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!

Friday, 7 June 2019

Introducing the RGCD Megatape

I've been looking at getting some RGCD branded USB sticks made up for a few years now, but could never settle on a style that I was happy with. I figured it would be a nice extra to add with our physical cartridge games so that they can be played on TheC64 Mini or Ultimate64, but the cost price was always so prohibitive - especially so when in comparison with what value they'd add to the buyer. I mean, a 4GB USB stick holding a few kilobytes of data just seemed wasteful.

Then recently those cool guys at Hewson Consultants launched a (successful) Kickstarter for a collectors 'USB cassette' release of Puppy Games' Droid Assault (a game we championed back in 2009, when RGCD was still a CD-based magazine). I'd previously seen Hewson's USB cassette of Hyper Sentinel and I thought the format was a cool gimmick for an indie game, but seeing the Droid Assault Kickstarter aping the style of vintage game cassettes for the Sinclair Spectrum and Commodore 64 made something click... and the concept of the RGCD Megatape was born.

I (like many of you) have an Ultimate 1541-II cartridge with my Commodore 64, and over the past decade I've built up quite a large collection of games, demos, artwork and music releases, all of which are now neatly stored on a single USB stick. However, it takes time to build up this sort of hand-picked collection, and with the scene being currently swamped with hundreds of new users thanks to devices such as TheC64 Mini (and the Ultimate64), I figured that a nicely packaged RGCD collection would possibly be well received.

The RGCD Megatape will not only compile all of our past releases and RGCD competition entries in one place, but will also act as a platform to showcase some of our favourite modern-day freeware C64 games and various stuff from the demoscene. The format of the USB cassette itself not only fits in perfectly with genuine retro game collections, but it's also super easy to use with modern hardware (although I may need to provide an optional short USB extension cable looking at how tightly it fits when used with the Ultimate 1541-II cartridge). In fact, if you want to impress your work colleagues, you could just bin the contents and use it as your regular work USB stick in the office! ;)

As you are no doubt aware, RGCD release C64 games exclusively in cartridge format - although we of course have collaborated with Psytronik and Protovision for floppy and cassette versions of some titles. However, compared to other media, these cartridge games are a little more expensive - which makes the Megatape an ideal way for people to add a physical RGCD release to their collection at a more affordable price. And what's really cool is there's no need for a 'Volume 2' - the contents will be regularly updated on a yet-to-be-built website (currently proposed as and ultimately free for anyone to download. Consider this our gift to the scene.

So, when will it be available? And how much will it cost?

There's still a lot of work to do. In some ways, I jumped the gun in asking Christina Antoinette 'Castpixel' Neofotistou to assist with the design and amazing illustration, but I was eager to see what the samples would look like before investing too much time in putting the contents together. Dr. Martin 'Enthusi' Wendt has also been hugely helpful in re-purposing his amazing diskmag engine for use as a note viewer - from the start I wanted to ensure that any readme texts were accessible as stand-alone programs (I don't think TheC64 Mini supports text files, although the Ultimate 1541-II and Ultimate64 do), so I've been busy writing them using a most 'unique' toolchain...

Enthusi's diskmag engine only compiles on Linux - an operating system I've personally failed to get to grips with. However, RGCD's Jamie Howard already had a Raspberry Pi on his network at home acting as a 'smart-doorbell', so we opted to just put the assembler files and scripts on there. So every time I want to compile a note I have to WinSCP the files across to the other side of Exeter, have a chat with his doorbell via PuTTY to compile it before finally transferring back to me. Yes, that's right, the Megatape README.PRG's are compiled remotely by a fucking DOORBELL. I don't think the inventors of the Raspberry Pi ever imagined their hardware would be used this way! :D

So, we're a few months off at least, but I hope to have the the first build of the Megatape available in our store by Autumn. I'll be at Nova Party in a few weeks and will be working on it there (between beers, smokes and socialising), so hopefully I'll have a better launch date estimate after that. Cost wise, these cassettes are not exactly cheap to have made as a short run, but I'm aiming for a price of around £15 plus postage. However, the RGCD Megatape is being developed more for fun than profit (the £2 mark-up per unit is literally just to cover the cost of the artwork), so I'll do my best to keep the price as reasonable as possible.

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

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

RTFM(!) - The Evolution of RGCD's Instruction Booklets

Here at RGCD we're currently knee-deep in near-completed projects, and one of the biggest milestones in getting a game published is of course the print material finally coming together. With that in mind, I thought it was time to introduce Chris Mantil - one of our unsung heroes. But first, let's reminisce a little...

When I was a kid in the early 90's, buying a new video game meant taking a 30 mile bus trip into Exeter, walking down to either the independent or chainstore, handing over my £20 or so, then catching the bus home again - and as soon as I got on-board I'd tear open the cellophane and pull out the manual to digest on the way home. Manuals back then were pieces of art themselves, often full of the promise of the excitement ahead, if not more exciting than the games themselves (I recall loving the novella that came with Frontier: Elite II much more than the actual game!)

Of course, in today's gaming environment no player is expected to look at a manual - modern-day game developers are encouraged to either make their games so intuitive that instructions are unnecessary, or provide extensive tutorials that hold the player's hand. Gamers have never had it so good, you'd think. But for me, part of buying a physical release was always about the manual, and for this reason I've always striven to provide full, printed documentation with every RGCD release.

In many cases, this has meant writing a story for an already completed game. Particular examples I'm most proud of include Get 'Em DX - an arcade game which really doesn't need a back story, but received one anyway, and Moonspire - where I had to crowbar a believable sci-fi background into a game that seemingly had no setting at all, despite the futuristic title. (Thankfully, for the sequel Rexbeng, Dusan and I have actually been working out all the plot details before building levels and have even moulded the gameplay to suit!)

However... I'm no graphic designer. Early RGCD releases came with manuals that I put together in MS Word, printed out and cut and stapled together. The text may have been full of plot, trivia and facts, but the presentation was basic to say the least. Then, back in 2016, I received an email from Chris whom introduced himself as a graphic designer (and RGCD fan) who wanted to join the team. The timing couldn't have been better as we'd just agreed to ship Tiger Claw as a perk in the "The Story of the Commodore 64 in Pixels" Kickstarter - a game that very much needed a decent manual. And now in 2019, thanks to Chris, all of the games in our currently available catalogue are up to the standard I always hoped for - with beautifully presented manuals deserving of the player's attention.

One of the things Chris has introduced for RGCD is the 'compatibility grid' - a collection of cells on the first few pages of each manual highlighting features and system requirements. Rather than present these in a bullet-point list (as previously managed), Chris chose a more visual approach that has remained consistent over the past few years - making it immediately clear to the user what they need to run each game.

In addition to this, there's the consistent style he's given each game manual so that it fits the overall package; with Rocket Smash EX's manual having a 1950's aesthetic that matches Flemming Dupont's box illustration, and Aviator Arcade II's 'Field Manual' having the appearance of a fictional Military file. In fact, every time I receive a new set of PDF proofs from Chris my inner kid gives a whoop and a high five!

This year we're continuing the laborious process of working through our back catalogue of 'deleted' games to give them a much-needed refresh and re-release, with 2011's Fairy Well by Wide Pixel Games next to come off the assembly line. I'm hoping to continue to do this alongside the new releases, but it's a pretty expensive venture to redo the manual, create new labels and update the prints, so it will take time for all of our games to become available again.

However, if you have any of our early revisions it's worth noting that some of these can now be (cheaply) updated by purchasing one of our upgrade packs. In fact, if purchased alongside another game or item, the postage is free - so check them out - and please, put my original hand made efforts where they belong - in the recycle bin! :D

Words from the Designer

I emailed Chris a copy of this post for him to check over for factual errors prior to publishing, and in his reply he asked if he could add a few words. What I received back from him was a bit more than 'a few words', but it was so warming to read his thoughts about his time working with RGCD I just had to add it here. Chris, thanks again for all your help!

"I blame C64anabalt for my rekindled love of the C64. After finding out the game had been ported to the 30 year old computer, I quickly fell down the rabbit hole that is the C64 scene. It blew my mind seeing people not only porting games, but also creating entirely new games for the system.

I was so young when we owned a C64, It was hard not to remember it as anything but this funny little computer that our grandparents handed down to us. I wasn't really sure what it was. All I knew was that it was the only form of videogames in our house and that my sister was way better at playing Jumpman than I was.

Diving into the scene as an adult let me track down all the games I played as a kid and appreciate them on a whole new level. I also got to discover a ton of new games, like Knight and Grail, which was easily my favourite game I played that year.

I soon discovered RGCD and again was just blown away by the amount of games that were being released. I also really appreciated that RGCD was committed to putting games on cartridges. As kids, we only ever had a stack of floppy disks, and as much as I loved playing those games, I was never a huge fan of how tedious it was to get them loaded (I didn’t even know games came on tapes)."

"I could tell that there was a lot of care going into these games, and (despite what James may say about his original manuals) I really respected the level of polish that was being put into the packaging. I wanted to be a part of that so I sent James an email and offered to help in any way I could.

It's been three years and I have worked on 18 game manuals as well as boxart for the 2015 16k Cart Competition. It's been a ton of fun collaborating with RGCD and I am very proud of the work we have done together.

Despite being relatively simple, these game manuals are always a bit of a challenge. We usually have limited art assets to work with and often times what we do have is 8-bit sprites. The fun comes from trying to work within these limitations. I always want the instructions and controls to be clearly communicated, but I also want to visualise the tone, energy, and style of the game.

I am particularly proud of the C64anabalt manual. C64anabalt is simple but extremely stylish and relies heavily on atmosphere, as well as a sense of speed and momentum. By replicating the onscreen visuals across double page spreads and the selective use of text, I think we did a great job of conveying the games atmosphere while also communicating how the game moves and plays. Other standouts for me are Super Bread Box, LuftrauserZ, and Rocket Smash EX.

I remember how much fun it was as a kid to pour over game manuals, and I hope my work brings back those fond memories for other people too. It's a ton of fun getting to be a part of this scene. I am constantly impressed by the amount of work people are putting into keeping this computer relevant and I am so glad I get to help out in any way I can."

C. Mantil.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Moonspire II (Commodore 64)

It’s been a long time since I wrote anything about Dusan Milivojevic’s Moonspire II project, and for good reason. Originally planned as a free DLC-style set of extra levels, then re-styled as a stand-alone sequel, an early preview was uploaded to CSDB in which unfortunately 75% of the rest of the game levels we’re hidden in the cartridge image - and of course, when it was ‘cracked’, those half-finished, broken levels were found and unlocked.

This was hugely demotivating for Dusan in particular, and the project was almost binned. However, I suggested that instead of refitting an set of extra levels as a sequel, perhaps this would actually give us the opportunity to start the project again from scratch.

And that is what we’ve been doing for the past year.

Working together with Harris ‘rexbeng’ Kladis and Ari ‘Agemixer’ Yliaho, our plan for the sequel was to tear-up the rulebook and start with a fresh design; instead of crow-barring a plot into a game, this time we’ve been working on a properly structured story with cut scenes and mission briefings that fit the levels. In addition to this we’ve completely revised the control method and even included a huge, scrollable in-game map.

Where the original saw the player infiltrating an alien moon base, in Moonspire II they take the fight to the Draxx, stealthily boarding their leviathan space craft, and uncovering the alien's plans for the human race via a series of intelligence-gathering missions. This has required a huge amount of graphics reworking, and Harris has delivered a unique visual style unlike anything I’ve seen in a C64 game before, with detailed animations and mechanical, futuristic sprites and tiles.

Agemixer’s original acid track from the sequel has been further extended, with additional music being programmed for the intro sequence and outro. In fact, the only thing really holding back the demo release is a missing intro track (which we hope will arrive soon).

The upcoming single-level demo will showcase some of the new features - your mission involving hacking a number of surface mounted computer terminals in order to gain access to the inside of a Draxx fleet ship. There are now switches that unlock sections of the craft, teleporters that take you to otherwise impossible to reach locations, defensive gun turrets and tiles that restrict movement or inflict damage to the player. On the positive side, you now have a cloaking device that renders you temporarily invulnerable added to your arsenal - and the other weapons have been linked to the F-keys for faster selection (rather than using the spacebar-driven menu from the original).

rexbeng has bold plans for the rest of the game, and although development of the six remaining levels will no doubt be a slow process (fitting it in around family commitments and work), if the detail he has put into the demo is anything to go by then it will be worth it.

Moonspire II will hopefully be available in early 2020. In order to document the development and maintain motivation I intend to post regular updates as progress is made, so 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!

Note: the original Moonspire can be purchased as a *.crt image for download here, or as an actual physical game cartridge from our online shop!

Friday, 17 May 2019

Grid Pix (Commodore 64)

Nonogram puzzle games on the Commodore 64 are like buses, huh? You wait 30 years for one, then two arrive at once! Hot on the heels of Carl-Henrik's 'Nono Pixie' (released as an entry in our 16KB game development compo), follows our own commercial release of Carleton Handley's 'Grid Pix', featuring puzzles designed by Ilija 'iLKke' Melentijevic and music from Merman, TDM and Cyborgjeff!

(Of course I know there are other nonogram games out there for the C64 - Oziphantom released his 4KB 'Picross' game back in 2016, and there's an unfinished C64 port of CEZ's 'Illogical' out there somewhere too!)

We first showed Grid Pix back in February at the GAME>PLAY festival in Exeter, and since then we've been busy preparing the game for release, adding two additional soundtrack options, commissioning a fantastic piece of cover art by Ste Pickford and further tweaking and refining the game. Progress has been slow yet steady, but I'm pleased to announce we are (finally) nearing the finish line :)

Interestingly, the trickiest part of putting together a nonogram puzzle (or 'picross', as they are commonly known) is ensuring that they are logically solvable. For each puzzle, following the numerical clues, there must be only one correct answer, and when it comes to drawing the puzzles this can be a real headache. Ilija must have submitted at least another 30 puzzles that didn't pass Carleton's testing program - add this to the fact you really want to keep puzzles from being too easy to 'guess' and avoid excessive symmetry in such a tiny 1-bit frame, and... well, you get the picture! (pun intended)

An interesting bit of trivia is that when Carelton was originally designing the game, he used the puzzles from Mario's Picross on the GameBoy as test data, and as a result, Grid Pix saves it's data in exactly the same format! In fact, this week Carleton has been introducing a system allowing the cartridge version of the game to upload 'expansion pack' disks into RAM, and guess what has been doing the rounds internally to test that the system works?

(check out the image below - these of course are NOT available with the game!)

Our plan for the release is to ship Grid Pix with 100 puzzles, and then to provide free, future puzzle packs as .D64 images to add to the longetivity of the game. If you'd like to get involved and submit some puzzles for a future pack, please drop us a line! Puzzles can be any size up to 15x15 pixels, but obviously have to pass the testing algorithms before inclusion ;)

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!

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Retaliate DX (Commodore 64)

Way back in early 2018 I came across a preview of Marcelo Cabral's Retaliate on CSDB - a simple looking shmup that on first glance appeared to be no more than a generic Space Invaders or Galaga clone. However, upon closer examination my interest was piqued - the production notes described it as a demake of a Android/Roku game of the same name, and the summary page highlighted a novel mechanic whereby you have to collect bullets with your shield in order to fire them back at the enemies - similar to the system Nicolas and I devised for r0x Zer0 on the Atari STE.

After playing the game a few times I could see the potential - in fact, after familiarising myself with the Android version I realised that with a little polish the C64 version could potentially surpass the original - which is quite an uncommon feat for a demake!

At it's core, Retaliate is a high-score chaser, and an unusual one at that. In order to achieve a high score, you can't just camp out and use your shield to survive the waves of enemies - instead you must catch the bullets and take the fight back to your aggressors - hence the title of the game.

After introducing myself to Marcelo, I reached out to Trevor ‘Smila’ Storey, Richard Bayliss, Antonio Savona and Jon Eggleton, and as a team we’ve been assisting Marcelo to further refine the game - Trev redid all the in game art and helped redesign the GUI, Richard composed a new title track, Antonio assisted with the cartridge code and Jon Egg delivered an amazing title screen. Retaliate DX was born. I, on the other hand, simply pestered Marcelo again and again with tweaks and amendments - something that anyone who has worked with me before can probably relate to!

My initial concern involved the player hitbox - in fact the player has two hitboxes - a large one for when the shield is activated (by pulling down on the joystick) and the other for detecting death-collisions with bullets and enemies. No doubt to Marcelo's annoyance, this second hitbox caused me to request revision after revision; the game features several unlockable craft, all with slightly different spite shapes and sizes, yet we needed to find a one-size-fits-all solution. Personally I’ve always been a fan of smaller hitboxes (I love the feeling in shoot em ups when you fluke a near miss), but the original game features full-sprite-width collision detection, so whilst the C64 conversion does now differ, this has involved a lot of conversations about not deviating too much from the source material.

Talking of source, some of you may be interested to know that Marcelo has actually branched off the code for Retaliate and the source code for the game (minus the revised artwork, etc) will remain freely available on github as a ‘community edition’ for people to view and learn from for their own projects.

One of the nicest bonus features that made the transition from the original Roku game is the ability to customise the appearance of the player ship; using sliders you can repaint the hull of your ship and the colour of the shield. From this 'hangar' screen you can also select from the available craft, unlocked by achieving score targets in different difficulty modes, and each complete with slightly different stats.

As it stands, the game is now nearing completion and will hopefully be ready for release within the next couple of months. Marcelo has been frequently sending over new test builds for Antonio and I to play, and already the game seems very far removed from that original beta I played over a year ago. With its refined game play, smoother controls and a wider variety of enemies and attack patterns, we're hoping that you'll soon be enjoying Retaliate DX as much as we have been :)

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!

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Kickstarter: SID Chip Club: Vinyl album & C64 Cartridge

Those of you who are into modern SID music (and Commodore 64 cartridges) should check out this Kickstarter project by Markus 'LMan' Klein. LMan has been blowing the scene away with his unique club style SID tracks over the past few years, and with this project he not only proposes putting together a six-track vinyl album, but also making it available on cartridge so you can play the tracks on a real Commodore 64! Alternatively, for those of you who prefer records, "SID Chip Club" will be released on a high quality, 160g yellow vinyl record with a special black splatter effect. The pressing will be performed carbon neutrally by an experienced manufacturer.

I've been a fan of LMan's work for quite a while - after all, music productions by people like him, Jason Page and Linus are the reason why I have a C64 set up and plugged into a sound system on my everyday work desk. So it should come as no real surprise that RGCD have offered to help him with the cartridge side of things. You can rest assured that the final result will be a quality physical release that will have you dancing around your C64, lights off and volume up to the max, jacking like its 1988...

The Kickstarter is currently sitting at about 2/3 of the way to it's much-needed target, so if this is something that remotely interests you, please consider giving it your support by clicking here. Records are available for £22-24, and the cartridge is only £30!