This issue had a subscriber’s newsletter. Read it here. Read the accompanying Power Pack feature We’re now entering the era of the great “lost” C64 game. By late 1992, if […]
We’re now entering the era of the great “lost” C64 game. By late 1992, if it didn’t look as if a title was going to be ready for the Christmas market it was cancelled as kids (and thus software publishers) moved on to sexy new consoles like the SNES. This month’s Commodore Format cover features one of the most famous unreleased games of all: Fuzzball. Look at how beautiful it is!
System 3’s upwards scrolling, 50-level platformer saw you – a blue ball of fuzz – collecting collectables and shooting all the other fuzzballs in your quest to get turned back into a human. It played beautifully; we know this because issue 24 also came with a two-level demo on the Power Pack. The game looked set for Corker status. But then – as C64 owners would become accustomed to in 1992/3 – nothing happened. Fuzzball didn’t appear. So what’s the story?
WE DONE SOME DIGGING
The game was actually pretty much finished, but with the bottom dropping out of the C64 market System 3 decided not to take the financial risk of releasing it. One story has it that the programmer, Miles Barry, was also called back to Prism Software to work on Football Manager 3, and his lack of availability may have sealed Fuzzball’s fate.
Interestingly, in recent years the guys at Games That Weren’t found a few hidden goodies within the Commodore Format demo of Fuzzball that show you what the first 15 levels may have been like. There’s even a chance that the full thing might appear one day! To read more, visit our friends at Games That Weren’t.
EVERYTHING ELSE WAS GOOD, THOUGH
September 1992 was a very good month for games. There were only six titles given the full Power Test treatment, but what doozies they were. Ugh! is the world’s only, er, caveman taxi simulator. It’s a delicious platform collect ’em up which we’ve written about in our Christmas ’92 roundup here. Then there was point ‘n’ click adventure Elvira 2, featuring some of the best graphics you’ll ever see in a commercial C64 release. There was a lot of disk swapping but it was worth it. Look at how “Amiga” it feels:
Yup. Thalamus’ beautiful, colourful platformer Nobby The Aardvark had reviewer James Leach wondering why “more C64 games aren’t like this” (read our full feature here). It scored at 92%, but after a hefty delay in its release it was notched up to 96% in issue 31 by Clur Hodgson. That makes it CF’s third best rated game ever. Smart.
…AND ONE MORE GAME THAT KIND OF WASN’T
Hagar The Horrible, based on the viking comic strip, was an 82% platformer complete with level access codes, a shop to buy new axes and even a bit of combat. Sadly, it too fell victim to the C64’s waning popularity: it did get a European release, but never saw the light of day in Britain.
And the story of Hagar and Fuzzball is one we’ll hear more and more of in future installments of Issue Review. There is no doubt that games for the C64 had continued to get better and better. Stuff like Elvira and Nobby would have been unimaginable in 1982. But they were drying up, for sure, and more crucial to the story was Commodore Format‘s inside back cover this month. Boots were having a half price, everything-must-go fire sale of all 8-bit games. This wasn’t out of the goodness of their hearts: they wanted to get rid of it to fill the shelves with stuff for the SNES, CD32, Megadrive and other more powerful machines. It was the first of the major chains to completely abandon selling C64 games in the UK, but more were to follow. With fewer publishers willing to risk games on the machine and ever fewer shops willing to sell them if they did, the alarm bells were definitely ringing. CF
ON THE POWER PACK
A really decent tape this month! The lead game was Enigma’s Famous Five text adventure, which had been released at full price mere months earlier. It scored 76% in the February of 1992, yet here it was free with Commodore Format just seven months later. A generous gift? Nope. The game had shifted virtually zero units, and Enigma had sold it to CF to try and recoup anything it could! One thing was for sure: burned badly, Enigma would never make another C64 game.
The rest of the tape was made up with brilliant demos: last month’s rave, Cool Croc Twins, was here to try out. A level each of Nobby The Aardvark and Ugh! were great coups and tied in neatly with the reviews in the mag. There was also a look at the upcoming Match of The Day footie game. Here’s the full feature on a great Power Pack.
- More issues of CF
- Commodore Format 24 is dated September 1992. It first appeared on Thursday August 20th.