We’ve reached halfway in our epic series unpacking every Pack! In March 1993, an old friend returned…

RE-BOUNDER

Commodore Format introduced younger C64 fans to Bounder for the first time back in issue 4. Gremlin’s 1985 bounce ’em up cast you as a tennis ball. You time your leaps to land on the solid bits of platform and avoid the obstacles or plummet to your death. In this sequel (described by CF as an overhead Cosmic Causeway) you get to choose your path at the end of each level instead of just scrolling forwards all the time. Er, and you’re armed and on the hunt for the Overlord for some reason (hey, it’s another “5pm on the day the instruction book needs to go to the printers” storyline -Ed).

Some of the tiles you land on give you power ups and energy but others have a less pleasant surprise, which means there are some very tedious style-of-the-time jumps of faith. Touching a nasty will drain you of energy, but you can charge that up now and again by visiting a “pump station” where you waggle your stick like it’s Daley Thompson all over again (fair warning if you’re using a 64 Mini stick – Ed). To defeat the Overlord there’s only one correct route – so this one’s gonna need repeated play and your own map.

Re-Bounder was ten quid on its Summer ’87 release and fawned over by ZZAP! 64 (90%), which was only disappointed by what it called a sub par Ben Dalglish tune (“the gameplay’s better [than the original], the graphics are better, the effects are better, the parallax is incredible and the sound…well, four out of five ain’t bad” said Steve Jarratt). CVG rated it a 9, too, but the response on the ground was more mixed and the game wasn’t a huge hit. Certainly, the charm of the original feels like it’s missing somehow and there are lots of very C64-ish browns and greys. The “incredible” parallax can be pretty tough on ageing eyes, n’all. But comparisons to the original aside, Re-Bounder is a notch up from a lot of 1987’s offerings and it justifies a load.

PACK FACT: So yes, there’s only one route to the Overlord. If you go the wrong way, you reach a dead end. To help you focus on the path, here’s CF‘s brilliant “stop falling” listing. Use it and you’ll never drop down another gap!

SLAYER

A few years back there was some annoyance that the C64 Mini was being reviewed in mainstream newspapers by people who hadn’t been old enough to enjoy a Commodore machine the first time around. On the whole, that’s probably a fair enough beef – ‘cos c’mon, half the thing isn’t the games, it’s the memories connected to them.

On the other hand, the 20-somethings who got their mitts on a Mini made a couple of sober points. One of them was that lots of old games are carbon copies of one another, and we’ve taken two paragraphs to tell you that Slayer is a great example. It’s left to right shooty action over three levels with a guardian at the end of each and some power-ups. Which, yes, means it’s like Armalyte or IO or a dozen others. It looks nice, there’s a two-player option but it is brutally hard and the restart points take you back for daaaays. ZZAP! liked it, though, and Commodore User scored it 10/10 (Armalyte scored 9 in the same issue, can you believe, so we’re gonna say they were weighting Slayer against its three quid price tag. Either that or CU lost its shit even earlier than we thought).

Anyways. You already know what to expect, so if it’s your thing and you’ve beaten Armalyte why not?

PACK FACT: The title screen tune is a cover of Blind Youth by The Human League, almost certainly without permission. Glorious.

DAEDALUS

Here’s more of Commodore Format‘s creep towards knowledge mag territory, a place it would comfortably sit after the games dried up in the coming year. If you turn to page 47 of this month’s magazine Andrew Smith writes his first tutorial on Sensible Software’s epic utility The Shoot ‘Em Up Construction Kit. Almost every Commodore owner has botched together something of comedy value using this outstanding tool, but if you’ve never encountered it before just know that SEUCK does all the hard work (number grinding, routine stuff etc) leaving you to focus on the creative fun like the map and visuals. The thing is, knowing how SEUCK works and knowing how to design a good game are two separate skills. In The Secret of SEUCKcess!, Andrew goes heavy on how you make your games fun – and to illustrate the points, there’s his own game Daedalus on the tape. Nice.

PACK FACT: Andrew also did Aquablasta back on tape 19.

AND FINALLY…TWO THINGS IN BASIC FROM KINGSWAY PD

If you fancy a flutter but you’re broke, Blackjack lets you bet up to 25,000 Commodore dollars a pop. When you’re bored, hit RUN/STOP to break the program and change the words to rude stuff (it really is very late in this article isn’t it? – Ed). Then you’ve got Music Maker 64, a sort of My First Music Sequencer. It isn’t earth shattering, and the fact it’s in BASIC means it chugs a lot, but you can get your head around making songs for the Commodore on it really easily and you can save stuff too. We typed in the song they provide you with in the magazine so you don’t have to, by the way. It’s the theme tune to Neighbours.

SUMMING UP

Both Re-Bounder and Slayer appear divisive in modern times, but both of them for free with the mag ain’t bad. The shift towards PD and reader games in recent months is probably the story in hindsight. We’ll see a lot more of that over the next year or so, and we’ll talk about why next time. CF