Well, it’s pretty much coming up to 15 years soon since GTW64 first went online and began to recover many a lost title. One thing we haven’t really done is sat back and reflected on some of the best findings and recoveries from that time, so here below are a list of the top 10 recoveries that we have made over the years. The choices do not necessarily reflect the quality of the game, but also in the manner in which the game was found or how sort after at the time. And it is a huge thanks to all of you for all of your help over the years, as well as those who have helped fix up various titles in a form that can be released (many of which we mention in the titles below).
This list is in the author’s opinion at least! Please feel free to comment below if you feel we have missed anything from the list or maybe got any of the list wrong!
In no particular order:
Out of the blue, Wayne Billingham got in touch with the hope of still having remains of Mega Twins and various other titles. He didn’t disappoint – with graphics from Mega Twins and several games/previews recovered – this gem was recovered from an old cassette tape. The game was being developed by Chris Walsh (of Murder! fame) with Wayne on graphics and was floated around the various budget labels without success. Why? We’re not sure. The game was subject to some heavy recovery work by Chaos Engineer, GRG and Skeletor which helped to also bring the game to your C64 screens.
No doubt Daffy Duck has been high on the wanted list for many years now, and when the search got to Hi-Tec’s owner David Palmer, he was happy to assist trying to find it. Rather surprisingly and in a bizarre twist, it wasn’t Daffy Duck that was turned out, but the full version of Bugs Bunny! A neat multi-loader title, and possibly the last remaining copy of the game in existence – the game was quickly backed up and released to the world. It additionally gives hope that Daffy Duck will some day follow.
As part of the recovery effort from Wayne Billingham’s disks, Captain Dynamo was a rather surprise finding. Upon extracting some graphical files from one of Wayne’s disks, it was found that some were corrupted. Passed onto Skeletor to see if he could save any more of the disk, rather surprisingly found was a scratched out file named Captain Dynamo 2.
After unscratching the file, it was found to be a very close to completion sequel of Captain Dynamo that never was. Completely forgotten about, it was very possible that had it not been for the disk being corrupted and sent off for checking, that this one could still be very much at large.
For years the Zzap preview screenshots teased us with the stunning Rob Levy artwork. And after knowing how the quality would have been from the results of Armalyte, we were desperate to know just how good this game could have been. Dan Phillips stepped forward back around 2003 and had been busy recovering his disks – and was very happy to pass on many different variants of Deadlock from between 1989 and 1991.
What we got to see was a stunning looking title, scarily like Super Metroid – but pre-dating by a few years. A full story was also given about its development and over the years it has been added to with various bits and pieces. Even today, many still talk about the game and hope that Dan and Rob can be convinced to finish it. Along with Deadlock’s finding, Armalyte 2 was also recovered in its very early stage state.
A game by the creators of Myth, Devious Designs was a gorgeous sounding game with some very “devious” puzzles and an interesting mechanism. We were teased with brief preview screenshots, show casing some cool looking Bob Stephenson artwork. After much tracking, we finally got hold of Pete Baron – and very surprisingly, Pete had kept hold of all of his work and source disks.
Pete swiftly recovered all of his source code and some executables of the game – but this was only the beginning. Glenn Rune Gallefoss was the man who would go on to piece together the sources into a fully executable package for people to finally play. This was done over a few months with the help of Pete Baron, which resulted in the closest thing we’d ever get to a complete game – with many levels, completely playable – and only lacking on music. It was another curiosity solved.
Advertised with a loading screenshot inside an existing Players Software release, Fungus 2 was never released for rather unfortunate reasons. At 99.5% complete, the game only needed some minor bug fixes to be released, but Karl Hornell’s machine broke down. Not able to fix it, he sent the final game to Players in the hope they would fix and release. For reasons very much unknown, they didn’t!
And so the game was to gather dust for years to come. After some hunting around – we finally managed to track down Karl and luckily he still had all of his work disks. Very kindly, Karl sent us his only remaining copy of the game which was ported over and then fully preserved. Essentially complete with all its music and loading screen, this was a fantastic finding.
It seemed like we would never get to see the demo which was shown in Commodore Format issue 13′s preview page. Putty was canned on the C64 after being decided that it was too ambitious a title to achieve. We would never get to see John Kemp and Robin Levy’s efforts. After the finding of Deadlock, it gave hope that Putty could be saved – but it was nowhere to be found. Years later, John Kemp was contacted and was found to have kept all of his work disks.
These were loaned to Robin Levy, who in turn loaned them to GTW64 for digital preservation. After some routing around, we found a demo file – which when loaded up presented us with that familiar screen from Commodore Format. It was saved! Although not much to see – there are a few screens with the Putty object moving around, showcasing that there was something workable here.
Solar Jetman was our first major finding back around 2003 time. Originally all we knew about the game was from a small news snippet about the game getting a C64 conversion by Storm. Imagine the surprise when Haydn Dalton contacts GTW64 with the news that the game was actually completed! With no screenshots ever shown in the press, it was a surprise that there was potential to actually see a conversion of the NES classic. We had a full set of credits for the game, but unfortunately a brick wall was hit early on.
John Buckley confirmed that he no longer had any of his C64 work, Haydn also had long ago lost his C64 disks – and Geoff Follin was the same. Early on Solar Jetman was a game about to have the door closed on it. It was during a clear up by Haydn Dalton as he prepared to move away from the UK for a new job, that he found a briefcase stuffed behind an old radiator. Inside was a load of materials and leaflets from an old computer show from 1991 time … and to his surprise there was also a Solar Jetman disk!
Swiftly posted over to GTW64, the game was carefully put into a 1541 drive and the load command sent. After a few minutes of raster bars, we were greeted with a loading picture and some Geoff Follin music blazing out. Against all odds, here on the disk was the final version of the game – and it was saved.
A very recent finding which was found on Darren Melbourne’s disks which had been ported by Andreas Wallstrome. For many years we have had Firebird’s Runestone listed in the archives without any clue of what happened to it. All we knew was that Jon Hare did graphics for it before his Sensible Software days.
Rather oddly, whilst searching through some of Darren’s disks to see what was there – a disk full of Compunet bits and pieces had a file named “Roonstone”. Upon loading up, we were presented with the game. Jon Hare then later excitedly confirmed that it was indeed the game that had been lost since 1985 time. A completely bizarre and random finding which goes to prove that unreleased games can pop up in the most strangest of places.
Finally, our last in our 10 has to be Tyger Tyger! … Gary Liddon’s infamous Black Tyger clone for Firebird which was shelved after a year or so’s worth of work. Again, it was one of those titles which we had all seen the adverts and preview shots and salivated over the graphics done by Dokk. Many were desperate to play it – including myself!
In the early days of the internet, Jason Kelk had been in touch with Gary and asked about Tyger Tyger. Jason was then surprisingly given a copy of the game in its PDS format. Jason eventually passed this onto GTW64, who instantly had the problem of having the final version of the game in a format which essentially needed decoding and piecing together like a huge jigsaw. Up stepped Jani Tahvanainen and Henrik Jansson – who had the very heavy job of piecing it all together – and almost a year later it was finally ready. The game itself was not actually that playable, but you could move the main character around some gorgeous maps and see all the titles and other effects. This was all that ever was of the game, and it was great to finally see what could have been.
And there we have it! I’m pleased to say as well that we have only really scraped the top of what has been found over the years. Going through the archive to produce a top 10 really brought it home on how much we’ve achieved and how many titles we’ve helped save. But of course our work is nowhere near finished (and probably will never finish). With many titles still on the horizon to be found, we certainly hope this is merely just the beginning.