Jan
07
New Retro Games for 2019 – L’abbaye Des Morts, Realms of Quest V


Hello, and welcome back to another episode
of “New games for old computers.” So, what I try to do once or twice each year is
to do some reviews of new games that have come out for old computers in this particular
case, these games are all for the Commodore VIC-20 and 64. And rather than do a single,
you know, 20 or 30 minute long episode on a single game, I like to do several games
in one episode that way you just kind of get a little bit of an overview of each one. So,
let’s get started! These are some of the games I’m going to
be showing you today. We’ve got L’abbaye Des Morts for the Commodore 64. Fire for the
Commodore VIC-20, Realms of Quest V for the VIC-20, and Mancave for the C64. Let’s take a look at Realms of Quest V.
I was particularly interested in this one because I was always a big fan of the Ultima
series on the Commodore 64. There was never really any sort of complex role playing game
like this for the VIC-20. Sure, there was a cartridge version of Ultima Escape from
Mount Drash, but this game was very simplistic, and to be honest I never really found it entertaining.
Ultima gave you a whole world to explore and increasingly difficult battles to fight. I
suspect the reason the VIC-20 never got any games like this is due to the need for more
RAM. With 5K of built-in RAM, these sort of games just wouldn’t be possible. And since
no game developer dared to write a game for the VIC-20 requiring a 32K RAM-expander, we
would simply never see this sort of game done. Until now, of course. Opening the box we find a manual and two floppy
disks. This, in and of itself is very unusual because I don’t think I’ve ever seen any
VIC-20 games that come on floppy disk. They were usually distributed on cartridge or cassette
tape. Next, we get a little coin here of some kind with the name of the game on it. This
is also made of real metal, so it’s not plastic. And last, but not least, we get a
cloth map. This is very similar to other games of the era. So, these are some pretty nice
physical goodies that come with the game. Looking at the manual, it’s quite a substantial
manual. Quite a few pages. One of the things I thought was great is that it has the VIC-Dude,
as I like to call him, which is a little guy that looks like a VIC-20, which was featured
heavily in the original users manual for the VIC-20. So, it does say it requires 32K of
RAM, and of course a disk drive or two. So, first I’ll take care of the RAM problem
by using my Penultimate cartridge, which has a RAM expander option. And according to the
manual, the game actually supports dual disk drives. So, I can put one disk in here, and
the other disk in there. However, I may have to flip the disks around to the reverse sides
throughout the game, but this should reduce disk swapping a lot. Or, I can just use a
1581 disk drive instead. Although the disk isn’t included, the digital download does
include an image for one of these disks, which can hold the entire game on a single disk,
thus eliminating any disk swapping. However, I’m going to cheat a little bit more than
that, in that I’m going to copy the game to an SD-card and use my SD2IEC to play the
game. This is a modern device that plugs into the disk drive port. And it also gets 5 volts
power from the cassette port, so I’ll plug that in too. OK, now I’m going to fire up my VIC-20,
but since I have the penultimate cartridge installed, I get this screen first. I’ll
need to go down and select RAM to be 32K. And now, I can load the game. I’ll start by looking at the introduction.
This is a nice intro, especially for a VIC-20 game. It’s got music, narration, and these
pretty pictures. These intro pictures are actually pretty cool. The truth is, VIC-20
games never included full-screen artwork like this. The main reason is that a full screen
of graphics consumes more RAM than the VIC-20 even comes with from the factory. So, without
a RAM expander, this sort of thing just wasn’t possible. OK, so there are some other things on the
main menu, like the book of beasts. So let’s have a look. So what this does is give you
a list of all of the monsters you might encounter in the game and let’s you view information
about them. And dang, there are a LOT of them here. I’ll just have to pick one. Here’s
ghost. So, it tells you a little bit of information about the ghost, and after a moment it will
show you a low resolution picture of one. I’ll pick another one. Here’s a gnome. Ok, let’s take a look at the settings menu.
So, you can change the game speed between fast, slow, or medium. You can turn the music
on or off. You can select the tiles to be multi-color or hi-res. And then another interesting
feature is font. You can select multiple different fonts to use. This one is probably the easiest
to read, but not the coolest to look at. So yeah, we’ll leave it on Realms font. And
then also you can select 1 or 2 disk drives. But this doesn’t apply here since I’m
using the SD card version. So, much like any role playing game, you do
have to create several characters. It looks like you can create up to 10. And with each
character you can pick all of these various things. Then, as to be expected, you start
with a certain amount of gold and you have to buy some weapons. And now, we’re off to explore. The actual
playfield area looks very small. However, it is 11 by 11 tiles, which is the exact same
as Ultima, the only difference is the tiles are much smaller. I suspect this was done
to make room on the screen for all of this other information being the VIC-20 text mode
is only 22 columns. So, I went off exploring, and was almost immediately
attacked multiple times by different creatures. And to be honest, I didn’t really know what
I was doing as this game is surprisingly complex. I also must admit being a little disappointed
that you don’t really get to see the battle from a top down scene. In Ultima, I could
always see exactly who and how many I was fighting, and could plan my attacks more carefully.
This seemed to leave a lot up to the imagination. In fact, several of my party died pretty quickly
before I was even able to find another town to visit. So what do I think about this game? Well,
for me personally in the year 2019, I think the game is too complex and requires too much
of a learning curve for me to really want to get into it. However, I’m sure if this
game was released in 1981, perhaps bundled with a RAM expander in the box, I’m sure
it would have sold a million copies. In fact, it may have changed the landscape for the
VIC-20 because there would finally have been a killer app that got people to buy a RAM
expander, making other games viable that also could use more RAM. The next game I’m going to show real quick
is called FIRE. And I’m not going to spend a lot of time on this game, because honestly
it’s not that great. But I do find it interesting due to a similarity it has to another game
I do like, and let’s see if you can spot it. So, you start off with a little map of
the city and there will, of course, be a fire somewhere. So you have to plot out the course
that the firetruck is going to take to get to the fire. And then, you have to actually
drive the firetruck down the street avoiding obstacles. And once you are there, you have
to catch all of the falling people that are jumping out of the building. And that’s
honestly about all there is to the game. It’s about the same quality of game you would have
had from a magazine type-in program back in the 80s. But did you notice the similarity
to another game? Well, I think it closely follows the formula for Ghostbusters. This
is the C64 version I’m showing here. So, you have to plot your course, and then drive
to the location, and of course, once you are their you have to catch the ghost. Anyway,
I just thought that was interesting, but we’ll move along. OK, so now we’re going to switch gears and
put away the VIC-20 and move to some new games for the Commodore 64. Let’s take a look at L’abbaye Des Morts,
which is French and roughly translates to Monastery of the Dead. The first thing I notice
about this is that it comes on a cartridge, which is pretty cool. However, I know it is
also available on floppy disk and a digital download for SD card readers. And also included
is some sort of ring, which is far to big for any of my fingers. It does have a manual,
but it is surprisingly thin. It only has a few pages. And also it includes this fold
out mini poster of the game artwork. I’ll go ahead and insert the cartridge into
my C64. And, let’s power it on! So, being a C64 coder myself, the first thing
I notice about this game is that it actually runs in character mode. And there’s nothing
terribly unusual about that, but they are using the hi-res characters instead of the
multi-color characters. This means you can only have one color per character, along with
the main background color, which in this case is black. Apparently in this game you are playing a
heretic that’s being pursued by the Catholic Church. So yeah, there they come running after
me. Fortunately, there is this abandoned church nearby I can hide in. They keep banging on
the door, but I guess they aren’t getting in. So, you grab these little scrolls and they
have clues you can use later. This is where I’m really just stunned by
the work they have done on the graphics. Each room is like a work of art. And I know first
hand how difficult it is to make nice looking artwork in hi-res character mode, since that’s
what I used for Planet X2. Besides the graphics, the music and sound
effects are surprisingly good. I also noticed the music changes depending on what room you
are in. For example, when you look out the window. This is a really cool scene here,
I just love this. I also like how every room has a name, which is displayed on the bottom
right of the screen. I don’t know if I’ve seen that before. You know what this game reminds me a lot of?
Monty on the Run. Not only from a gameplay perspective, but it also used the same graphics
mode as well. This game appears to be a lot more complex, and dare I say better artwork
than Monty on the Run, though. So, now that I rang the bell upstairs, this
room now has an opening in the floor I can fall into, and now I can go through this giant
underground labyrinth. In some rooms, you may have to push down on
the joystick so you can crawl under low areas. This room has another one of those clues on
a scroll. Jump to death and prove your faith. Well, from experience I can tell you it doesn’t
apply to this room you’ll definitely die in this room. But here in the next room, after
you avoid this critter, you can jump down here, and you’ll fall through where you
need to be in the room below. This room has an invisible platform you have
to jump on, so you can get to the switch to open the door below. So, a lot of little mysteries
to figure out. The game is surprisingly hard. It took me quite a while to be able to make
it this far. And I don’t even know how many levels this game has. But I’m really impressed
with this game. It’s fun, it has great graphics, and great sound and it’s easy to learn.
You don’t even need to read the manual to figure it out. So, I definitely recommend
this one! OK, next up we’re going to have a look at
Mancave. Unfortunately, mine got a crack during shipping, but I think it will be okay. Reading
the description here, this is quite an unusual game premise. I’ll explain it in a minute. Let’s open it up. I think this piece of
cardboard is just for shipping. Inside we get a floppy disk. And wow. I like that sleeve.
That’s quite elaborate! And of course, the warnings on the back. The jewel case insert
appears to also double as the user manual if you open it up. This intro screen is bizarre. Even though
it is loading from disk, it has an intro that looks like something that would be loaded
from cassette the way the graphics load in slowly like this. I’m going to fast forward
so this doesn’t take forever. I do like the intro music. It has a very nice melody. OK, so the premise to this game is that you’re
a middle aged man and you just got home from work. Your two kids discovered your collection
of pornographic magazines from when you were a teenager and they have placed them all over
the house. And your wife is about to get home and discover them. So you have to collect
the magazines and put them back in your mancave. That’s quite an interesting game idea. So here we are. You have to play the balding
middle aged man at the bottom there, who actually looks surprisingly a lot like me. He might
could pass for Techmoan as well. Anyway, I just collected a magazine and I have to wait
for another one to start flashing somewhere. Now, there are some very weird concepts in
this game. First of all, if you run into your kids, you actually die. Which makes no sense.
Also the kids run back and forth on a particular level. They can go off the screen to the left
or the right, but the never go down the stairs. Your character, on the other hand, is exactly
the opposite. You cannot go off the edge of the screen, but you can go up and down the
stairs. So the goal is to avoid the kids by timing
everything just right, and getting the magazines. Once you’ve picked up a few, you’ll have
to take them back downstairs and deposit them in the green bucket on the bottom right of
the screen. On the bright side, this middle aged man must
be very wealthy as his house has 5 stories and you haven’t even begun to see the rest
of it yet. The game play reminds me a bit of donkey kong, or maybe even avoid the noid. So, what do I think of it? Well, the game
is well polished and I like the music and the graphics are also well done. I feel it
lacks a bit in the gameplay department. I feel like this is a game you’re probably
going to get tired of playing after about 20 minutes. It reminds me a lot of a Mastertronic
game or some of the other budget games of the 1980s. Which makes sense because the game
is relatively inexpensive and is available on cassette, disk, or digital download. So
if you like collecting, it is cheap enough you can say, why not? One last little thing here about it. I like
the hall-of-fame setup. It’s a wheel of letters you rotate to pick your initials.
Let’s see where I end up. Looks like I am taking the number 8 and 9 spot. I have a ways
to go to work my way up this list. Anyway, I have one more surprise bonus game
to show here. So yeah, this is called Vegetables and I just got this a few days ago as a digital
download, so I don’t have a box to show you. I love the intro artwork and the music. OK, so at the menu here you can decide whether
you want your 3 SID voices to be for music or for sound effects. This first round I’ll
do with sound effects. So, this is your basic match-three game, similar
to bejeweled or candy crush. I think everyone knows how to play these. For joystick implementation,
you just select the one you want to move, hold the button down and pick which direction
you want it to go. It’s actually pretty fun and the learning curve is very short so
you can get right into this game quickly. And if you get stuck it will give you hints
as to what to move next. I’ll start it over and we’ll try using
in-game music instead. So yeah, I think I actually prefer the music over the sound effects.
So, much like Tetris, this is a good game if you just want to relax and veg. That’s
probably why it’s named Vegetables. So that about wraps it up. I was also planning
to show this Remute cartridge, which is for the Sega Genesis. And it’s not so much a
game as it is just like a musical album on cartridge. But, it turns out Techmoan just
recently did a full video on this. So, I thought he did a pretty good job and I don’t see
any reason to replicate that, so I’ll just put a link down in the description for his
video. And the next video I’m going to be working on is actually not going to be on
this channel, it’s going to be on my other channel, 8-Bit Keys, and I’m going to be
covering the musical keyboard attachment for the Mattel Intellivision game console. So,
stick around for that and thanks for watching!