Cracktro Tuesday #1 - Exploring the very latest releases from the C64 Scene

Welcome to a new series of articles where I pluck a selection of C64 programs from Commodore Scene Database (CSDB), play them live on my Twitch stream on real C64 hardware, and write up the highlights here on Indie Retro News. Whether it's artwork, demos, music, classic games revisited in the form of trained cracks or the very latest games - we've got it covered!

I kicked off the stream with "Crapman", a demo by new C64 scener: Latex. This was an entry for the C64 demo comp at Fjälldata 2019. It's a simple demo consisting of a wonderfully drawn logo and 3D PETSCI Pac-man, a remixed version of the Pac-Man level entry jingle, and some scrolling text with things like: "I am Pac-Man - Furious Pill Eater, waka waka waka". It's great for a first demo, and Latex also promised to focus more on the C64 scene.

From brand new sceners to established veterans, next up I put on "Beezarro", by Atlantis. This has some of the best artwork, consisting of bees, a skating ninja a PETSCI bird, Berlin scrolling landscape and awesome psychedelic effects. All to a thumping bass filled SID track, this demo is perfect for showing off exactly what a C64 can do. This demo was Atlantis' entry into BCC demo party #13 for C64 Club Berlin and finished a well deserved 2nd place.

After wow-ing the viewers with some demo magic, it was time to check out some games.  "Zig-Zag +2DG", cracked and trained by the Digital Monks at Hokuto Force. Always willing to shine a light on those old releases not regarded as classics, this was a chance to check out a game I would not have ever known about otherwise. It plays really well, kind of like Scarabaeus with an animated 3D maze, but the idea is to corner the elusive armoured Scarabaqs and avoid the hover tanks. This release is well worth checking out if you haven't played the game before, and viewers seemed to appreciate the frenetic gameplay on the stream.

Next I played another Fjälldata entry, but this time a SID track from Steel of Genesis Project. "I Love You Son" is a hot jam which you must add to your SID collection. It achieved 3rd place in the music compo at Fjälldata. Author Steel reveals that the song was built around a melody his 7 year old son produced when messing around in Goattracker!

Sticking with music, and 4th place entry into the demo party's Mixed music competition was "I want to Love You Tender" by TDM of Triad. This went down particularly well with my Finnish viewers who informed me that it's actually a cover version of a 1970s Finnish pop song: Tahdon olla sulle hellä by Armi ja Danny. Classic pop!

Returning to games for most of the remainder of the stream, a couple of Pac-man games caught my eye: Pacman 2 and Pacman +3. I chose Pacman +3 expecting to be greeted with the classic 70s arcade game, but was greeted with some quite unfamiliar level layouts. This is in fact titled Pac-Man and it's a 1988 homebrew game by Mario Bruksch. The game plays similar to the original, but has added a shooting enemy type, extra pickups, some will help you and some like the poisonous plants will kill you. And unique level layouts which change drastically as you progress. The game was fairly enjoyable, but the simplistic enemy AI didnt present much of a challenge, as they simply walk in random directions so the frantic chasing was lost from the arcade original.

Next up was a request from one of my viewers... Dumper__ had spotted an interesting release: Boulderdash JR 2 from right here on Indie Retro News. These are 20 new levels, and as I love Boulderdash, I jumped at the chance to play this for Cracktro Tuesday. I played this for quite a while, as I kept getting extra lives and not losing them... In fact none of the levels presented much of a challenge at all. Maybe one just to give to your kids to get them into the classic series with some easy starter levels. Unfortunately when the levels are completed, nothing tells you they are done and it simply loops the levels with no increased difficulty. Also the levels all follow the same brown colour scheme, and so overall it seemed to lack a lot from the original.

Next I got I.B.D... which is unfortunate because it stands for Irritable Bowl Data, and symptoms include Jealousy of cool coding, fear of missing out on gaming and sudden gas releases from the knuckles. IBD is a simple demo created by Beardswitcher and Jeff. Apart from the cool SID track, there's little to see, just some BASIC text and a single flashing sprite moving.. probably the IBDs.

Finally I had time to checkout two of the classic game cracks released this week. “The Original Tetris Game” by Frank Brodersen and cracked by Laxity. This 1992 homebrew Tetris clone looks like it may have been submitted to Activision but declined for release, as the high score table says “Copyright by Activision” but the game was never released by them. The game is a solid Tetris clone, better than the official Tetris game, as it plays much closer to the original gameboy version, has patterned and coloured blocks, and it does not instantly drop the pieces into position when pressing down. The trainers added by laxity include level skipper, instant game completion and a high score saver. Not a bad release.

And last up I saw there was a re-released and cracked version of “Spitting Image”… A game I never played back in the day, so I was saving this one til last. Unfortunately it just a terrible still screen fighting game where you can pick from 6 of the classic Spitting Image characters. But as usual moves are limited and cumbersome on the single button joystick, combat feels terrible and fights are normally a mess. The reason for the release is to put the game out as an Easy Flash compatible cartridge download, so one more cart to your collection, but not the best.

And that wraps up the release highlights for the week. As I’m writing this the 2nd episode has already aired, and we’ll have a full write up over the next couple of days. If you can’t wait that long the full video is in the links below. Featuring the brand new Doc Cosmos, A Petscii animation creator, more demos, SIDs and games. You can also watch live on Cracktro Tuesday on my channel. I stream 2-3 times a week so feel free to drop by and say hello.

This episode aired live on Twitch Tuesday 5th March 2019.  Episode 3 will air on Tuesday 19th March around 8PM GMT until late. See you then!


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