Commodore_Format_PowerPack_5_1991-02This month’s Power Pack pages begin with an apology: apparently, some datasettes were having trouble with last month’s Robocop 2 demo. It was the fast loader causing havoc on older machines,  and it’s the reason that CF would eventually move to having all of its Power Pack programs on a standard loader routine that worked on both the C64 and 64C.

There was misfortune this month, too, as the promised Dick Tracy demo apparently “failed to turn up” at the CF office. If you’re geeky enough to be reading this far into a website about Commodore Format, you’ll already know that this isn’t such a bad thing and that Dick Tracy is one of the worst C64 games of all time. We’ve got a full feature and investigation on that here if you’re new to the site, by the way, so have a look.  Was the demo merely late in turning up? We’d say no. Even Titus would know what a dud the conversion was, and were probably trying to shield it from the very kids they wanted to buy the game.

Finally, Inner Space was pulled from Power Pack 5 at the last minute. Editor Steve Jarratt decided that the sideways shoot ’em up – bought by the mag as part of a bulk deal with CRL – wasn’t good enough. As we’ll see, another CRL title made the grade instead. First, though, a look at something a bit different.

SHOCKWAY RIDER

On its original release, Julian Rignall said Shockway Rider is the sort of concept that only ever saw the light of day because computers exist. It’s a left-to-right fighting game set on the moving sidewalks of the future, known as the shockways. You have to navigate through twelve violent districts, punching anyone who gets in your way. Alternatively, you can pick up a brick or bottle and lob it at the assailant’s futuristic bonce. The challenge isn’t so much in the scrapping but in navigating the constant forward momentum of the shockways. Scrambling up and down one of the three moving pavements to get a brick before somebody else does can be frantic, but it is one of those infuriating ’80s efforts that keeps pulling you back in for one last go. It’s all set to a memorable Rob Hubbard soundtrack. Also, er, your head falls off when you die. One hellish vision of the future, eh? PACK FACT: There’s quite a good, albeit unusual, digitised human on the title screen. Anyone know who that person is, or why they blow kisses when you press fire? Let us know.  

SUNSTAR

This one is CF‘s last-minute replacement for Inner Space. CRL’s 1987 arcade adventure is the cause of some confusion as it was known as Solar Star in some markets, but it’s this version on Power Pack 5 for which it is most well known. The program begins with the sort of attention to detail we’re more used to in modern times; you’re asked to select the game’s colour scheme. Once you’re set, a rare tap of your C64’s RUN/STOP key gets you going. This is a 3D shooter based on a 360 degree grid. You’re on the prowl for enemies to shoot and get crystals from; get enough, and you find the warp gate and move on to the next stage. A neat scanner flags up where the baddies are, giving you a real feel of complete freedom (sometimes, for example, you need to do a total 180). There are power ups and improved weapons to find in this fun little outing: the 3D actually works by tricking the brain a bit, but who cares? It’s a good laugh, if a bit TOO hectic at times, and a worthy inclusion. PACK FACT: This is one of the few games of the era to evade a ZZAP! 64 review.

WARLOCK

Oof – a demo so complex and rich it takes up almost a whole page of the mag! Warlock The Avenger is the third in the adventure game series after Druid and Enlightenment. Both were inspired by Gauntlet and it’s fair to say (as Gordon Houghton does in his review here in CF7) it doesn’t exactly kick the series along very much. But if you’re taking an “if it ain’t broke” approach – which its fans back in ’91 absolutely did – what we’ve got here is a sprawling overhead landscape in which to open treasure chests, find keys, cast spells and beat back the ghoulies. It’s also, quite possibly, the only C64 game in which you have to regularly mash at the £ button (to “invoke the Golem”, if you must know – Ed). Absorbing, serious stuff. Erm, and from the sublime… PACK FACT: You can’t actually complete the finished game. You just wander casting spells for eternity. Or until it’s bedtime.

VIZ 

…to Viz! For the benefit of our healthy chunk of non-Brit readers, Viz is a long-running comic for adults which has been running since 1979. It’s most famous in 2018 for the useless “top tips” given out over on their Twitter feed, but in the ’90s the publication was experiencing something of a mainstream heydey. Its foul-mouthed characters like Johnny Fartpants, Buster Gonad and Biffa Bacon had starred in their own late night TV cartoon, and Virgin snapped up the rights to turn them into a computer game. How? Er, they’ve made a race game. You choose your character and make your way through five stages of sideways scrolling running. It’s colourful, violent and very, very sweary – which is no doubt what appealed so much to kids at the time. The sub games between races actually look beautiful and wonderfully parody sports sims’ of the period, but the game’s crippled by a terrible tape multiload. This (heavily censored) demo suffers for it, too. Once you’ve played through once, you have to reload the thing. As Viz itself might say – bollocks to that. PACK FACT: WH Smiths wouldn’t sell this until Boots marketed the fact they would.

SUMMING UP 

Most kids remember this tape for Viz, and many got in trouble with the ‘rents for it. The demo worked for Virgin: in spite of its idiotic loading system, the game sold very well indeed. The standout item in reality is probably Shockway Rider – it just keeps you coming back. And hey, we dodged a bullet with that Dick Tracy demo. CF 

 

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