Sunday, 12 August 2018

Rocket Smash EX Available (Again) on Cartridge!

I know, right? You don't hear a peep from RGCD for months, and now three news posts in a row!? Well, the truth is that just because we've been silent doesn't mean we've been idle - I really needed to get YOOMP! 64 released before announcing anything new. But here we are, this time with the announcement that the long-out-of-stock ROCKET SMASH EX is finally available to buy again on cartridge!

  • Check out our press kit HERE for a load of information about the game.
  • Download the game HERE ( for FREE/pay-what-you-want (complete with VICE for Windows, macos and linux).
  • Buy the game on disk or tape HERE (Psytronik Software).
  • Buy the cartridge HERE (RGCD).

Developed for the Commodore 64 home computer, ROCKET SMASH EX is an extended version of Saul Cross and John Christian Lønningdal's ROCKET SMASH, released in 2013 as an entry in RGCD's annual 16KB gamedev competition.

Your goal is simple; on each of the single-screen levels you must reassemble and refuel your crashed rocket ship before your oxygen runs out. However, the hordes of fearsome aliens and deadly meteor showers on each planet will ensure that your mission is far from easy!


  • Rockets! Aliens! Meteors! Lasers!
  • Story and pure arcade 'loop' game modes!
  • Three difficulty levels!
  • Cutscenes!
  • A hidden game! (Cartridge version only)

As with our other re-releases, ROCKET SMASH EX now has a new gel-label and RGCD comrade Chris Mantil has kindly given the manuals a professional redesign to match the rest of our catalogue, making this now the definitive version of the game. And don't forget, the cartridge also features a bonus game by the legendary 4-Mat (as announced in our easter eggs post!)

So what are you waiting for? If you missed out on the game last time round, grab your copy now! (Oh, and if you didn't miss around, note that the manual and gel label are available as an upgrade pack, with free postage when combined with another purchase).

YOOMP! 64 Available! (Download, Disk and Cartridge)

It took a little longer than I'd hoped, but at long last Zbigniew 'Zbych' Ross and Michał 'MCH' Brzeski's YOOMP! 64 has finally been released! Available now as a 'pay-what-you-want' download, disk and (of course) cartridge, from, Psytronik and RGCD respectively. The all-important links follow!

  • Check out our press kit HERE for a load of information about the game.
  • Download the game HERE ( for FREE/pay-what-you-want (complete with VICE for Windows, macos and linux).
  • Buy the game on disk HERE (Psytronik Software).
  • Buy the cartridge HERE (RGCD).

YOOMP! 64 is a Commodore 64 port of the classic Atari XE/XL indie arcade game Yoomp! Developed by Zbigniew Ross and featuring an original soundtrack by Michał 'MCH' Brzeski, bounce the ball through 23 three-dimensional textured tubes, collect as many points as you can and try not to fall off the edge!

Note that YOOMP! 64 is a PAL ONLY game. It will NOT run on NTSC Commodore 64 systems.

YOOMP! 64 features:

  • 23 levels of three-dimensional, fast-paced, rhythmic arcade action!
  • Innovative texture-mapping system!
  • Over a dozen bonus and hazard tile types to hit or avoid!
  • Password system to play previously unlocked levels!
  • An awesome SID soundtrack by MCH!
  • SD2IEC compatible loader!
  • Compatible with THEC64 Mini(!)

Please also note that as I felt we'd let Zbigniew and Michał down with all the (sadly unavoidable) hold-ups, RGCD are not making any profit on this release, so all money (minus costs and fees) will be going straight to the development team. So, please be generous and show your appreciation by sending a few virtual coins their way!

The cartridges are currently out of stock, but the page is open for pre-orders (so you can yoomp to the front of the queue for the next batch). The games will ship at the beginning of September.

Finally, Javier Couñago of Commodore Spain sent me this amazing photo of YOOMP! 64 being played the way it should be played - in an arcade tabletop C64. Just wow.

RGCD Easter Eggs: More Hidden Games & Screens

Waaaaaaaay back in 2014 I compiled a list of the various easter eggs that have been hidden away in the spare rom space of our game cartridges. Since then we've released quite a few games - and although not *all* of them have featured secrets, I figured that enough time has passed to spill the beans!

Quod Init Exit on the MAH Cartridge

It was a real honour to be involved in the release of Retream's leftfield arcade game MAH, and this greedy little easter egg game was added as a personal request of mine. You see, back in 2012 we released a cartridge version of Quod Init Exit, a beautiful looking single-screen eat-em-up using multiple, layered hi-resolution sprites that really looked more like an Amiga game than a Commodore 64 one. However, following the release, Simone decided that he wasn't done with the game and released a series of updates that rendered the cartridge version obsolete - meaning that I had no choice other than to remove it from sale.

So when Simone was looking for something to pad out the huge space on MAH's gnod2 rom, I knew what had to be done!

To load the (now) final version of Quod Init Exit, press Q on the main menu. It's as simple as that! You can buy the cartridge HERE.

Warpzone Remix on the Rocket Smash EX Cartridge

Another of my favourite secrets, courtesy of Jason Kelk and 4-Mat at Cosine Systems! Originally released back in 2003, Warpzone Remix was one of the early Cosine games that I'd always wanted to get on cartridge, and with Rocket Smash EX that finally became possible. An oldie, but a goldie, this arcade blast is launched by simply holding down FIRE on the joystick in port 2 when booting up the Commodore.

I particularly love the way that it drops you back to BASIC as part of the loading sequence! Worth booting up for 4-Mat's amazing soundtrack alone.

You can buy the cartridge HERE.

2K Race on the Planet Golf Cartridge

Hats off to RGCD's own Antonio Savona for producing the most convoluted easter egg to date! To access this neat two-kilobyte, open borders, casual-yet-crazy-hard minimal arcade game, first you need to achieve a high score in Planet Golf - which is no mean feat in itself! Enter your name as "I WANT MORE", and then the name entry will change to "SPACE FOR 2K RACE". Follow those instructions, and boom! Now you can 2K Race to your heart's content!

You can buy the cartridge HERE.

Music Player on the LuftrauserZ Cartridge

What's a reward without the risk? If you want to listen to all six music tracks in Paul Koller's LuftrauserZ without unlocking all the parts, you'll need to do something a little risky... From the options menu, select 'RESET GAME' - but hold DOWN on the joystick AS WELL as holding FIRE for three seconds. This will NOT reset your game, but instead load this little juke box! Use the joystick (left and right) to select the track, and read the short lower-border scroller text.

You can buy the cartridge HERE.

Invert on the Trance Sector Ultimate Cartridge

Moving on to the out-of-stock and discontinued titled, Trance Sector Ultimate received a limited release on cartridge back in 2015 (50 copies only). For those who have it, you might be interested to hear that another of Richard Bayliss' game was also hidden on the cart!

Originally an entry in our 16KB game development competition, this version of Invert is the full-fat TND version, and can be loaded by holding UP on the joystick in port two when booting up the Commodore. Although the cartridge itself is no longer available, the download of TSU can be found HERE, and Invert itself can be downloaded separately from the TND website.

Darkipede and Darkness OST on the Darkness Cartridge

Another limited edition release (yet one that I'd like to make available again in the future), Darkness also had a couple of undocumented extras; Darkipede, a homage to the Atari classic using the game sprites, and the Darkness OST, a joystick controlled jukebox similar to the one hidden in LuftrauserZ.

To load the games on the cart, after the intro sequence push UP on the joystick to load Darkipede, or DOWN to load the OST.

A Whole Load of Extras on the Tiger Claw Cartridge

Finally, this Kickstarter exclusive Tiger Claw cartridge was stuffed full of extras! I'm not sure whose idea this was, but in addition to the original game, the cartridge also featured an illustration of Bruce Lee, plus two full games by Wanax; Jump Ninja and Break 64.

I'm not sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that one of these (if not both) were altered slightly for the cartridge version, removing any necessity for keyboard. If so, they've not been publicly released AFAIK!

To load these, hold down FIRE on the joystick when booting up the Commodore. When you see a blue screen, continue to hold FIRE but also push UP for Break 64, LEFT for the Bruce Lee picture and music, or DOWN for Jump Ninja. Make sure to let go of fire as soon as you see the loading indicator '@' in the bottom right of the screen!

Tiger Claw is available to buy as a downloadable .crt HERE.

And that's all till next time!

Monday, 12 March 2018

Yoomp! 64 - Arriving Soon from RGCD & Psytronik

Way back at the end of 2007 - back when RGCD was still a disc-based magazine - I reviewed an Atari XE/XL game called Yoomp!, a game that I was asked NOT to describe as “Trailblazer in a tube” (which in fact, it pretty much is). Truthfully though, Yoomp! is in fact a 3D reinterpretation of a Atari 8-bit game called 'Jump' by D. Johannsen, originally released back in 1986 - which is coincidentally the same year as the aforementioned Trailblazer.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, we championed the game back in 2007, awarding it 5/5. You can read the full review here. As to be expected, discussions of porting the game to other platforms popped up across various forums and irc groups, but at the time Yoomp! was generally considered to be a game that would be impossible (or at least incredibly difficult) to convert over to the Commodore 64.

Fast forward to 2016, and Zbigniew ‘Zbych’ Ross (joined by MCH) took it upon themselves to achieve the near-impossible task of creating Yoomp! 64 - a game that RGCD together with Psytronik will be releasing in the next few weeks on cartridge, disk and as a ‘pay-what-you-want’ download.

Zbigniew’s port (as briefly mentioned in the previous issue of Vandalism News) shows off what a capable beast the humble Commodore 64 really is, with 23 levels of increasing difficulty, smooth rhythm-synchronized gameplay and some bassbin-rocking new SID tracks from MCH.

As with the original Atari 8-bit version (and indeed ‘Jump’ before it), in the opening stages you are gently introduced to the different tile and bonus types - including jumps, holes, teleports, tunnel stop and start, increase and decrease brightness, lightning and screen-shake - and of course the occasional extra life and long jump pick-ups. Passwords are earned as you progress, and you’ll need them too - the game gets pretty brutal near the end!

The main hold up on our end was of course the family issues I had last year, but the end is finally in sight - all the material on my end has been ordered and I’ll be putting together the page later this week, with the packaging going to the photographers soon after. One aspect out of my control was a delay in the cover art - a situation that interestingly resulted in the game receiving two finished cover designs/illustrations that arrived within the same week earlier this year! With both Ilija’s and Tommes’ submissions being of excellent quality (as seen above), in the end we decided to use them both (with Ilija’s homage to the original artwork as a poster, and Tommes as the cover).

There will be more news soon, but for now check out the awesome game play video below! And turn up the speakers loud :)

Friday, 2 February 2018

Planet Golf Available (Again) on Cartridge! PLUS the Space Lords are Back!

As with our recently released Luftrauserz cartridge, a brief tweet was all it took for the first batch of new cartridge versions of Antiono Savona's Sizzler award-winning Planet Golf to immediately go out of stock again! To make matters worse, I ran out of boxes to package the game in as well - so it's taken until today to restock the game again. But the good news is that the game is finally available to buy again! Pop over to our online store and grab yours today :)

Planet Golf is a stunning 2D golf simulation that takes place across 99 levels on 5 different planets in the solar system, each with its own realistic physics, unique terrain and devious obstacles and enemies! Packed with innovative touches, flawless presentation, superb sampled speech, effects and humourous touches this is an unmissable release for C64 gamers!

Planet Golf is a Psytronik & RGCD Production. For full details on the game, please check out the official press kit here.

In addition to this, we've been continuing to work away behind the scenes on reissuing some of our long-out-of-stock releases, and this week I'm proud to say that's awesome multiplayer party game Space Lords has returned to our store with a new cover, English/German manual and cartridge label!

Initially released as one of the higher scoring entries in 2011's C64 16KB Cartridge Competition, ALeX, Retrofan and Taxim from are proud to present the 'Centaurus' version of the game on a 16KB cartridge courtesy of RGCD, complete with a space-freighter load of aesthetic and gameplay improvements over the previous Andromeda and Andromeda II builds. Full details on the game can be found in our all-new press kit :)

You can grab a free download of Space Lords (Centaurus) from our page here, and buy the cartridge from our store here.

Continued Progress & New Game Releases from Psytronik

Hey all, it's been a busy week here at RGCD. We've been busy working on fixing various bugs that our Steam beta test of Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat has thrown up, Jamie has started playing around with various unfinished projects and I've been cramming in the hours finalising stuff for our upcoming C64 cartridge releases of Yoomp! 64, M.A.H., Argus and Aviator Arcade II - all of which deserve a blog post of their own (coming soon!) Oh! And Jamie and I gave a talk about game development to a group of students last week at Exeter's Royal Albert Memorial Museum - so yeah, busy!

However, big news this week in the C64 scene comes courtesy of our friends over at Psytronik; they've only gone and released not one, but two massive and long-awaited metroidvania style games! Make sure to check out Pains 'n' Aches and Steel Ranger over at their site. Both games are available to purchase as a download now, with physical releases from Psytronik coming soon... and in answer to the oft-asked question, nope, there are not currently any plans for cartridge releases of these.

I've been meaning to write a piece about how the C64 games scene has evolved over the past couple of years, but I don't have time for that right now. However, Kenz and I (James) are still good mates and will continue to collaborate on co-releases, but with the level of recent investment Psytronik has made in their new product range Kenz has explained that he needs to keep some games exclusively 'Psytronik' - similarly how we have also operated in the past with some of our games being exclusive to cartridge.

Things may change further down the line, but for now the only 'confirmed' PSY/RGCD collaborations we have planned for 2018 are Yoomp! 64, Argus, Platman Worlds, Aviator Arcade II, Soulless 2 and Black Star. More news on these projects soon - in the meantime grab that competition pro and throw your dollars at :)

Monday, 29 January 2018

Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat (Finally) Submitted to Steam - Hopefully Out Next Month!

So, it's been a while since we discussed Pan-Dimensional Conga Combat here, hasn't it?

If I'm completely honest, part of the reason that updating the game for Steam has taken so long was due to a severe lack of motivation following the initial release. Despite a positive outreach campaign on Twitter and a really great write-up on EuroGamer, we're still only at about 25% of the way to breaking even (being sold on both GameJolt and Around the time we launched Conga back in 2016, our Greenlight page for the game had also stalled at just over 1000 views and was sat at around 33% to the top 100 with only 700 or so votes - a record low for RGCD. All of this combined had Jamie and I feeling pretty down in the dumps.

Then, after months and months of zero sales, POW! An email out of the blue arrived in our inbox around the middle of last year from Valve saying that Conga Combat had been Greenlit.

This really highlighted to me what a total bonkers system Greenlight was. I mean, I'm not knocking Conga Combat at all - Jamie and I are both proud of how the game turned out (even if it has completely failed to find an audience), but how exactly was it Greenlit when it was so far down on the list? Sure, considering the niche genre we had a pretty good split of yes/no votes (49/49% with 2% undecided), but only 1000 page views, and 700-odd votes? Wow, Conga Combat must be one of the lowest scoring games ever to break through the Greenlight barrier. But hey, at least it made it in the end.

However, 'making it' presented us with another problem; we had to invest more time into the game to tick all of Valve's boxes for release. Time that, quite simply, we didn't have last year.

Coming back to the game after such a long time provided some surprises; the first being what a cool game Conga actually is. Neither of us had played it in ages, and with fresh eyes it looked, sounded and played really, really well. I had an absolute blast play-testing it again. However, Jamie soon found a bug that had been there since launch, and that meant trawling through code neither of us had looked at in over a year! We nailed it in the end (thanks to some half-decent structure and clear commenting), and Jamie completed tweaking and finalising the Steam Achievements and leaderboards code he had started on last year. By Saturday we had completed working through the epic Steamworks checklist and hit 'submit', with a launch proposed for next month. I just hope that the extra work will be worth it! :)

If you'd like to receive a Steam key to assist us with beta-testing the new features, don't be shy! Drop us a line (via the contact form/Twitter/email) and we'll see you soon on the scoreboards!

Monday, 15 January 2018

After-Action Review: An Overview of the Making of LuftrauserZ

After releasing LuftrauserZ last month, a few people asked for a post-mortem on how Paul Koller created his opus, the demake that many thought was improbable -if not impossible- to achieve on the modest 8-bit breadbin. A brief making of both Luftrausers and LuftrauserZ is included within the game manual, but with a limited page count a great deal of info was missed. So, to rectify this and fill in the blanks, Paul has helpfully written the following blog post on the creation of LuftrauserZ.

Of course, it would be foolish of me not to remind you that the game is (currently) available to buy again on cartridge and as a download. The cartridges don't tend to stay in stock for long though!

Monday, 1 January 2018

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year all! Well, thankfully that's another decadent winter holiday behind us and it's finally time to escape the family and get back to work tomorrow (or at least that's the case here). So, with only a few hours of free time left I thought I'd put it to good use and type a quick news post about our recent games restock and a few recent developments in the C64 scene that you may (or may not) be aware of.

RGCD Restocks & Rereleases

Ok, so the good news here is that all three of Paul Koller's cartridge games are currently back on sale - the all-new LuftrauserZ, and the re-released C64anabalt and Super Bread Box, both of which are now complete with new professionally printed manuals and labels. If you missed them first time around, now's your chance to grab them!

In addition to this, Jam It!, Moonspire, C-2048 and Powerglove are available again on cartridge, with a reissue of Space Lords and Bomberland currently planned for next month. Check out the available games in our revamped shop.

Galencia and Sam's Journey Available from Protovision

If you follow the Commodore 64 games scene then there's no doubt that you’re already aware of this, but the long-awaited Sam's Journey by Knights of Bytes was released on the 24th December - and here at RGCD we've been giving the game quite considerable screen time. It's a totally amazing game that you should most certainly check out (if you haven't already). Head over to for the download, or Protovision for the physical release!

On a related tip, prior to the release of Sam, Protovision launched Jason Aldred's excellent old-school arcade blaster Galencia as a download, disk and cartridge, so check that out ASAP!


Last but not least, Richard of TND released an awesome little shmup over Christmas that you should grab. Starfysh, a collaboration with WEC (whom previously worked with Richard on Woolly Jumper), makes up for its short duration with some quality music, amazing artwork and pure blast-em up action. It's one of our favourite TND games to date, and certainly worth downloading from either CSDB or TND.

And that's all for now! Next post will feature some new releases of our own, so watch this space :)

Thursday, 21 December 2017

LuftrauserZ is Available (Again!)

Hey there people! So this post is a little late, but that's actually on purpose. You see, a couple of weeks back I was busy preparing the first batch of cartridges for Paul Koller's long-awaited LuftrauzerZ, and when I finished creating the shop and pages for the game I thought I'd post a quick tweet about the game before posting a full web/blog/newsletter announcement. And much to everyone's annoyance, *poof* the game sells out within a couple of hours. Ooops.

"Oh well" I thought. "No point in announcing anything until I have it back in stock again then".

And two weeks later, here we are. So, drum-roll please...

"The skies will be set aflame and the seas will overflow with wreckage in Vlambeer's stylish arcade shooter LUFTRAUSERZ! Select from over 125 combinations of weapons, bodies, and propulsion systems and take to the skies to battle enemy fighter planes, battleships, and rival aces for glory, honour, and high scores. Bravely volunteer for one of over 60 daring missions to unlock new Rauser combinations and become the most legendary Rauser pilot of all time!"

LUFTRAUSERZ is an official conversion of the 2014 indie classic LUFTRAUSERS for the C64 computer, developed by Commodore enthusiast Paul Koller and published on cartridge by Vlambeer and RGCD.

Exclusive to C64 cartridge, LUFTRAUSERZ drop-kicks your Commodore 64 into the 21st century with its hyper-aggressive, arcade-style gameplay, fluid 50FPS 8-way scrolling and endless waves of enemy fighters to blast out of the sepia-coloured skies!


  • Four THOUSAND unique player sprite frames stored in ROM (a C64 world record?!)
  • Endless waves of enemies and MEGA HUGE BLIMPS to destroy!
  • Smooth as silk 8-way scrolling, 50FPS arcade action!
  • Automatic score loading/saving to internal flash memory! (Physical cartridge version only)
  • Unlockable cutscenes and full game statistics!
  • Multiple heavyweight SID tracks by Stein Pedersen!

For further information on the game, please check the press kit.

...and there you have it! So at the moment, the game is available to buy (bundled with VICE) via our page with a 50% discount until the end of the year (a bargain at $2.49!) - and for those of you with a real Commodore 64, you can buy the cartridge (£40) here. Note that the game is PAL ONLY!

Cartridge Restock, Webshop Update & New Releases!

Ok, so just a super quick post here (before the big LZ announcement) to say that C-2048, Moonspire, C64anabalt, Powerglove, Super Bread Box, Jam It! and something else are all currently back in stock at our web shop (which has also recently received a massive facelift). New labels and manuals are also now available for Super Bread Box, C64anabalt (and Powerglove) for those of you who purchased the games before but want to give your copy an upgrade.

And talking of upgrades, new manuals and labels are also in production for Space Lords, Bomberland, Assembloids and Rocket Smash EX, so expect to see those titles back in stock in the new year.

Finally, joining them will be a handful of new cartridge games too! Planet Golf by Antonio Savona, MAH from Retream and Yoomp! 64 by Zbych. So watch this space!

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

C64 News Update

[This article was originally written by J. Monkman for issue #67 of the world-famous Commodore 64 disk magazine Vandalism News, and has been reposted here with permission from the editor. If you wish to read it in its original form, download Vandalism News from CSDB].

Hey there, it's been a while. I've had a lot going on in my life since the last time I wrote an article for VN - in fact, this time last year I nearly lost my home and family due to spending too much time with this hobby, and as such I don't have a huge amount to report.

Back in the Spring I started refreshing some of our product range, and ordered new cartridge labels and commissioned new manual designs from Chris Mantil for Powerglove, Super Bread Box, C64anabalt and Bomberland (to match those used in Jam It!, Moonspire and Tiger Claw). At the time of writing, C64anabalt and Powerglove have received the update, with Super Bread Box due out this week and Bomberland, Space Lords and Rocket Smash to follow in the new year. You can purchase these from our store here.

In terms of new releases, I've received everything for the physical release of Paul Koller's long-awaited LuftrauserZ - apart from the manuals, which are due to arrive from the printers next week. LuftrauserZ is a faithful demake of Vlambeer's Time Pilot/Jetstrike style arcade shmup Luftrausers, and is the first game we've released that uses iComp's new GMOD2 cartridge. The game will be available just in time for Christmas, so add it to your wish list!

In non C64 related news, I'm currently swamped with DD/DS 3.5" floppies in preparation for the release of Powerglove (followed by Tiger Claw) for the Amiga. Now that LuftrauserZ is complete, the next job will be to convert and update the C64 manual and poster/map for these two games, before finalising a CD image (the games will run on the for the CD32, with a floppy provided for classic Amigas). I'm hoping that both of these games will be available early in the new year, if not before.

Another couple of releases that are sat here awaiting print material are Retream's MAH and Antonio Savona's Planet Golf, both of which are collaborative releases with Protovision and Psytronik respectively. If you've not played either of these yet, MAH is currently available to from Retream's page and Planet Golf can already be purchased from Psytronik as a download and disk release.

Since the release of Moonspire, Dusan and Ari have been working behind the scenes on a sequel/expansion pack for the game. Using the same engine, the follow up (currently going by the name 'The Draxx War') is a far more challenging game than the original and features new graphics, new enemies, new maps and an unfinished song by Agemixer that is (currently) seven minutes long! No confirmed ETA on this one, and we're undecided as to whether or not it should be download-only or available on cartridge (we'll let a poll decide nearer the time).

Yoomp 64, a C64 port of the popular and acclaimed Atari 800 game Yoomp, has been sat in my 'ready to release' folder for quite some time. The game itself is complete, but we're still waiting for the cover art - a 3D render by Thomas Koch that is due to reach us in 'a couple of weeks'. Yoomp 64 is a challenging arcade experience coded by Zbych that plays like Trailblazer wrapped around a 3D tube, pushing the C64 to its limits. The music by MCH is (unsurprisingly) awesome and a huge improvement over the already decent soundtrack in the original Atari game. We're working with Psytronik as a joint release for this one, so expect more news soon.

There's a handful of other projects on the horizon, such as a collaborative effort between Carleton Hadley and iLKke to create a console-style Picross game with all new, unique puzzles based on Ilija's artwork, as well as various games released by Psytronik that missed a cartridge release in my absence from the scene. I'm hoping to work out the feasibility of these over the coming weeks. Additionally, we've given our webshop a bit of a clean-out, and work on a new RGCD website, various presskit updates and entries continues in the background. Hopefully some of this stuff will be complete in time for the next issue of VN! See you next time :)

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Pico Breed (PICO-8)

Back in the mid-nineties, one of the deciding factors that persuaded me to 'upgrade' from an Atari ST to an Amiga was playing a little budget game called Alien Breed (Special Edition) by up and coming studio Team 17. I'd cycled 4 miles on my BMX to a friend's house in the next village to check out his new Amiga 600, and after initially laughing at it's childish form-factor I was soon taken aback by the quality of the games on the thing compared to my trusty old Atari.

Looking back, Team 17 certainly had some balls in releasing Alien Breed. The follow up games swapped the xenomorph-lookalikes and face-huggers for more generic/non-copyright-infringing sprites, but that original game captured the pure essence of James Cameron's Aliens. It was unlike any other top-down exploratory shoot-em up of the time; your bulky marine felt slow and vulnerable, there was a constant feeling of dread and the scarcity of ammo and keycards forced you to constantly weigh up your options and make difficult decisions. The endless waves of xenomorphs meant that getting lost or taking a wrong turn could have dire consequences - and when that self destruct sequence countdown started... well, you just knew you were in the shit.

20th Century Fox missed out. They could have put an official seal of approval on the thing and Alien Breed would have been the best Alien home computer game ever. It really is a classic, and a game that I've yet to find a modern counterpart that successfully captures the same feelings.

Until today.

Who would have thought that it would have been an Alien Breed 'tribute' on the humble Pico 8 that almost got it right, causing those happy memories to come flooding back? But yet here we have Pico Breed, a game by a developer who has quite clearly been touched by memories of the 'Breed' in a similar way to yours truly. And damn, those teeny weeny alien sprites are almost too cute to kill.

Of course, being a Pico 8 port, there's been some cuts. There's only one short level, and aside from the three-headed queen there's a grand total of two alien types; predictably full grown 'xenos' and little facehuggers than spawn from eggs. Thankfully your stereotypical marine-tough-guy can take a huge amount of damage before kicking the bucket, and if you act smart and target the alien spawn points first then you'll find there's enough ammo to last for days.

Progress is made through this top-down shoot-em-up via the collection of key cards and hacking of terminals to open doors and sealed bulkheads. The layout of the stricken spacecraft is typically Alien-Breed-ish; i.e the architects were clearly on some heavyweight recreational narcotics when they came up with the layout and had no regard for common sense or health and safety. There are dead-ends and maze-like ventilation shafts a-plenty, key cards kept safely behind locked doors and ammo lying about in the most unlikely of places. At least on this version there's no self-destruct sequence with barely enough time to escape and tons of hurty-hurty one-way electric gates. What kind of sicko space-engineer came up with the idea for those anyway?

Surprisingly Pico Breed has also nailed the sound of Alien Breed too. There's an ominous background hum, the doors open with a lo-fi "swish" and the explosions and gunfire are suitably punchy. Even the alien death-throe chirrups are as perfect as you can get with the Pico 8 limitations. In addition to this, the starfield zipping by in the background gives a feeling of speed and urgency that Alien Breed never managed; there's a genuine sense of panic as the starship full of alien scum hurtles towards Earth.

There have been a few complaints on the BBS that the game is too hard, but I guess they are missing the fact that the spawning points can be disabled, or perhaps they missed the weapon upgrade? Not meaning to sound as though I'm bragging, I found the game pretty easy - I think it took all of two or three goes to successfully reach the end. But hell, it was a blast to do so and thanks to the speed-run timer I'm tempted to give it another shot. Gabriel Crowe, I salute you.

Download/Play the the game here (from the PICO-8 BBS).
Run it using PICO-8 (Commercial).
4 out of 5

Friday, 26 May 2017

Continued Progress

Good evening all! A rather eventful week so far here at HQ, I've been busy continuing to flash Paul Koller's Luftrauserz cartridges, we've just about finalised the manual text ready for Chris Mantil to work with, and lastly the Luftrauserz C64 case inserts have arrived and look just as dope as the indiebox originals. Check them out below; even the sepia is a perfect match!

As mentioned last week on Twitter, over the past six months our stock levels have run down from a healthy surplus to a mere handful of cartridges. We'll be taking advantage of this situation by relaunching our out of stock games with improved cartridge labels (see the post header image above) and newly designed and professionally printed manuals - in addition to new product photography and preparing proper press-kits and pages for each re-release.

For those of you who already own the games, don't fret. We'll be selling the new manuals together with the labels as upgrade kits, priced at around £4 plus postage (with free shipping when combined with other orders). The quality of the newly packaged version outshines our original hand-printed labels and manuals by far, as I'm sure anyone who owns one of our more recent games can testify (the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Just check the comparison below for yourselves (Powerglove original manual is left/top, new version is right/bottom).

The justification for this price is due to the high unit cost (due to the low order quantity), design fee and new product photography. Upgrading the manual and label for an already released and sold out title is a bit of a risk, so we have to ensure that it pays back what has been already invested. If they prove to be popular, then we should be able to drop the price in future.

We're also phasing out the 'standard' cardboard cartons. They sell in such low quantities compared to the plastic case versions that they end up raising the overall costs due to the additional print material that ends up being (mostly) unused. This will come as a blow to many of you who prefer these little boxes, but they are simply not economically viable. I'm really sorry about that!

Anyway, back to the restock/upgrade. First off the assembly line will be Powerglove for the C64; with the Amiga version available soon, we thought it would be nice to give the original game a little more love.

C64anabalt, Super Breadbox and Bomberland will follow soon behind with their own upgrades. In fact, the manuals for C64anabalt have already been ordered and Super Bread Box is being worked on as I type.

More news soon!

Jam It & Moonspire Back in Stock!

Just a quick heads up to let you know that both Jam It and Moonspire are now back in stock, with 25 copies of each arriving in the mail yesterday. More information on these two popular modern day Commodore 64 releases can be found here and here.

Talking of Moonspire, I recently received a copy of Dušan's six-level expansion 'The Draxx War' and have been giving it a blast. Although the differences between the original Moonspire and this follow-up are mainly cosmetic, I have to say that it feels pretty much like a full-blown sequel.

We're currently debating whether or not the game warrants a cartridge release, or whether we should stick to our original plan of simply offering the game for download (with Moonspire) for emulators at a very slightly increased price tier. On that note, if a cartridge release of Moonspire: The Draxx War is something you'd like to purchase, you can express your interest to do so here.

As for the original Moonspire and Jam It, grab your copies today from our online store!