Commodore_Format_PowerPack_28_1993-01

CF‘s 28th tape arrived just in time for Christmas. Three demos for new games thumbed their nose at the “Commodore is dead” doom merchants, and there was a festive surprise if you wound the tape to the end of side 2. First up, a reader favourite:

RECKLESS RUFUS

Yorkshire-based publishers Alternative Software had a sketchy track record on the 8-bits, largely famed for buying the rights to kid’s TV stuff like Postman Pat and Huxley Pig and then churning out mediocre platform interpretations for a few quid a time. Rufus, though, was different. This is a three level demo of an original and hugely popular puzzler.

Our hi-res hero is a walking ball of green glob, and you’ve got to help him clear 130 screens of action. To finish each stage, you must collect all the diamonds. Marsh land gets in your way, sucking you down on contact and depleting precious lives. To navigate the boggy ground safely, you use the numbered blocks strewn around each level. They allow you to build rocks for passage, but only up to the number that’s written on the side. That means you have to think super carefully about where you stick your slabs. Making things even tougher are the alien meanies trolling up and down the landscape. You can kill them with a laser, but you only have limited shots.

The baddies are probably the only thing that detracts from the fun of this incredibly likeable game. You can work out how to get through a level safely, only to have an enemy come at you from out of nowhere. If you’re fresh out of ammunition you have no chance. It feels unfair in an otherwise thoughtful, well-paced and original game.

PACK FACT: In 2015, author Mike Berry got in touch with us. “Yep, I agree that the aliens were a pain in the backside. At one point at the final stages of getting the game ready for release, I did mention to Alternative that I thought that it needed to be made a little easier with regards to the baddies. They seemed to think it was fine and would give the game a little more longevity. So, I’m pointing the finger at them!” Mike also gave us these drawings of the game’s first stage:

recklessrufuslevel1

LOCOMOTION

Here’s another late offering from German publishers Kingsoft, last seen on the C64 just a few issues back doing a very good impersonation of Bomberman. Locomotion is an anorak’s dream, putting you in charge of a railway network and the routes your steam engines take.

Each level is a single screen – there are three in this demo – and when a train is ready to leave, its station will flash. The choo-choo emerges with a number on it, which tells you the place on the map it needs to go. Locomotives merrily chug along until they hit a bumper, at which point they’ll retrace their journey backwards. It’s your job to switch the points where tracks diverge to keep them going in the right direction.

The fun comes in later levels with multiple trains that you’ve got to stop crashing in to one another. There are also nice little touches like bonus points if trains arrive in the order they left. Less a puzzle game and more a test of your organisation and cool, it’s a lovely little thing that deserved more than issue 27’s 74%, especially given that the full version lets you make your own levels to terrorise your friends with.

PACK FACT: Kingsoft worked with Commodore to sell a ton of C16s in West Germany back in the day. Their publishing arm produced promotional Commodore magazines that you could pick up in Aldi. These days they’re part of EA’s German distribution wing.

NICK FALDO’S CHAMPIONSHIP GOLF

And so to this month’s 93% cover star. Grandslam’s massive golf tie-in came from the same team who’d bring us Liverpool later in the year.

You probably already know what a golf game on the Commodore looks like, but this one has two distinct differences over 1986’s Leaderboard (the preferred putter of many a 64ster). The first thing is the speed. You don’t sit around waiting for the screen to redraw the hole thanks to a combination of clever programming and distraction (you get score cards and other stuff to look at when the machine’s working). Second, Nick Faldo’s Championship Golf is a ridiculously deep simulation that lets you control pretty much every aspect of what you do on the fairway. You have to take into account things like the weather, too, which might be too much for arcade animals but as a sim’ of the sport it’s tough to fault.

This demo lets you play one hole and then it resets, so you’ve gotta load again. Good an excuse as any to go and find the whole think, we reck.

PACK FACT: The Amiga version has a hidden course that lets you play on Mars. Some websites claim there’s one in the C64 one, too, but a quick rummage around the code didn’t turn anything up for us. Let us know if you find it!

FIRST STRIKE

This shameless Afterburner clone was coded by Dave Thomas, who you’ll probably know from Buggy Boy. It’s brilliant, and it’s better than either version of the very thing it imitates (Afterburner for C64 had a US and UK version back in the day – Ed).

You’re an F-16 pilot with a job to do, but the eight missions aren’t just your standard seek and shoot fodder. The satisfying thing about First Strike is that you’ve got to take some time to think about tactics before each flight. For a start, there are weapons. Mavericks and bombs are good for attacking tanks and naval targets, but you’ll need sidewinders for the MIGs and choppers. Cannons, meantime, do a good job on anything. Then there’s fuel: you can install a bigger tank for longer missions but the weight means you’ll have to leave behind your ECM, leaving you more exposed.

This game’s a looker: you’ll love flying above and below the clouds for the fun of it, and the little “side quests” of dealing with scrambled enemy craft add a bit of depth. Add in lovely touches like the parachute on the back of your plane as you land and the fuel truck trundling out to fill you up and you’ve got a deeply rich 8-bit experience here.

PACK FACT: Don’t want to end up at the bottom of the ocean on your first mission? First Strike is way ahead of its time with a training mission option for rookie pilots.

THE COMMODORE FORMAT CHRISTMAS DEMO

Although this is the January ’93 CF, the mag sneaked into shops for Christmas week ’92. As a treat, editor Trenton Webb held back a couple of festive features from ish 27 for this one. There’s Roger Frames’ Christmas Carol (with Steve Jarratt as Scrooge), and then there’s this seasonal demo from Explosive PD.

It’s a simple two part thing. The first screen has a tree with enough scrolling messages to give you an aneurysm:

cfchristmasdemotree

Then you press space for a CF logo and a Commodore rendition of Erik Satie’s Gnossienne No.1.

cfchristmasdemocredits

PACK FACT: For once, CF gave a tape count for this one. Wind side two to 120 to get straight to the show.

AND FINALLY…FIFTH GEAR (AGAIN)

This futuristic, violent race game originally appeared back in issue 7. Some readers experienced the game crashing, particularly if the C2N was stopped after loading or knocked during play. This fix sorted things out. Head back to our April 1991 feature to find out more about this one.

SUMMING UP

It’s a tape light on stories but full of fun: First Strike is the standout on an underrated Power PackCF