Inspector Gadget

Melborne House

Status: Preview, Findability: 4/5

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It almost brings a tear to my eye when thinking back to watching this great cartoon series as a young kid. So much so that when I found the game in a second-hand shop, I was quick to buy it.

Loading up the game when I got home, I was sadly disapointed to find a poor arcade adventure game based around a murder at a circus.

When researching for GTW and generally playing various games, I came across this interesting preview of the game, which is nothing like the abysmal game that was released.

This version of the game is much closer to the style of Melbourne House games which was typical at the time (Muncher, Street Hassle), with a chunky main character (Though accurate and well animated!).  Graphically very funny, and the animations for each part of Inspector Gadget are very faithfully reproduced.

Gadget has to run through a horizontally scrolling level (Very much best described as a Metro Cross clone), jumping obstacles and getting Gadget skates and other gadgets like the Helecopter, spring legs and other bits. Very faithful to the cartoon original, and much more fun!

Collecting certain objects, makes you jump to other screens, which I can’t quite make out. This can be put down to the fact that its an early preview, and one that crashes fairly frequently, but its damn playable!

No music exists in the preview, apart from an awesome rendition of the theme tune in the intro sequence, a lot more accurate than Jason Brooke’s version in the released game, and much closer to the the cartoon and the style of old Melbourne house music. You can check it out for yourselves from the downloads below.

Recently it has been discovered that the version in Gamebase 64 has the missing intro sequence, which is a very faithful rendition of the cartoon’s intro… superb!…. Plus it has the music which has been sitting in HVSC for a while. This updated version has been added in the download recently.

Well, the scanned advert (thanks to Peter Weighill for supplying a link) proves that this WAS to be Circus Of Fear….. So it seems that there must have been some kind of problem with the game, or disagreement over pay maybe?…. We weren’t sure at all at the beginning of our search.

Thanks to a contributor, the creators were found around 2008 time and now we find out exactly what happened to this game. Check out the Creator Speaks pages for more details.

Essentially, the game was being developed by Ian Chia, and was almost getting to a complete stage. But towards the end there was a bug that kept crashing the game, and unfortunately after many banging of heads, the developers could not find what was
causing it. With deadlines looming, Melbourne House had to concede defeat, and so new developers were very quickly drafted in to knock out a quick effort which was the dire arcade adventure game which was released… Dire maybe because it was rushed.

What is quite sickening though is the fact that soon after the contract was passed over to another development team, the developers of the original game found that it was something startlingly simple that was causing the crash, and that they could have after all fixed it and finished the game. Sadly bad luck prevented what should/could have been an excellent licensed game had it been polished up.

It is not known exactly how the game has managed to sneak out, but it is believed that this is the final version, and indeed it does crash on occasion. Both developers did not know how the game was sneaked out, and were quite surprised to see it after so many
years. Ian was only around 16\17 when he was developing the game.  It is suggested that someone who saw the game at CVG when the article preview was produced (see Gallery) may have leaked it then.

The main thing to be taken out of this, is that the preview has sneaked out. It is possible more graphics, level maps and enemies are hidden in the code and haven’t been implemented just yet. Possibly this is something that can be explored in the future.  From the article that CVG ran, we learn that the game was divided into three worlds – the first was really a training level to get to grips with all the gadgets that Inspector Gadget had (including Gadget Skates, Gadget Copter, Gadget Elastic legs and more).  It could be that the preview has all of the features, just includes a bug and a lack of music/sfx.

It is a game that could be finished maybe. But one thing is that we can close the case on this game at long last, and we now know that this was never more complete than what we have here. Enjoy it, and dream of what could have been.

Contributions: Peter Weighill, Mat Allen, Mat (Bondclone), Andrew Partis

Supporting content

Available downloads for this entry

  • Music_Inspector.zip
  • Preview_InspectorGadget.zip
  • Don Havelberg talks to GTW64 about Inspector Gadget:

    “I don’t know if I should admit to it, but yes I am. wow, that’s my past coming back to haunt me.

    The game was never finished because Ian left the company and the game kept crashing. I worked out years later that when you get two timer interrupts happening at the same time on the C64 one of them doesn’t happen and that made the whole game crash. It would have been a very simple fix…

    I have no idea how it got out there, i was going to ask you where you got it from. I don’t have any thing about it left. Was all way to long ago.”

    Don Havelberg.

    Ian Chia reacts after seeing the preview:

    “Huh – that’s incredible! I haven’t seen those screens for a very very very long time. Last time I saw that was in 1987 (I was 17 or 18 I think), when I was working on it.

    Amazing – how on earth did that code and screenshots get leaked?”

    Ian Chia.

    One Response to Inspector Gadget

    1. Wow! A brilliant find! I must admit that I never liked the cartoon or ever played the game.

      It’s funny how we can all look at the screenshot above and instantly recognise it as a Melbourne House release. They seem to like their sprites larger than life 🙂

      Great find 🙂

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