Space Ace

Gregg Kustudic

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A rather interesting entry for an unofficial conversion of Space Ace for the C64. Not the same as the planned version being done by Empire Software in 1990-91, but a version way back in 1987/88 by Gregg Kustudic and his friend Scott.

The developers were so disappointed by the Dragons Lair conversion that was done by Software Projects, that they decided to have a go at doing Space Ace and show how a Laserdisc could be converted successfully to the humble C64.

They produced the first level from a possible 15, after borrowing a Space Ace cab and carefully replicating the various parts of the level. According to the developers it was very faithful, and of which can be seen partly from the screenshots.

They showed and pitched it to Electronic Arts, but they were not interested and rejected it. However, a year later and EA were releasing their own conversion of Space Ace on the likes of the Amiga.

It seems that Gregg then decided to call it a day and the C64 conversion was canned. However in recently years Gregg got a web presence and added up a page with the work on the game and various screenshots – which seemed to suggest that the conversion still existed and was still runnable.

In 2009, GTW got hold of Gregg and he very kindly offered to post us a copy of the final remains of the game. He did this, and GTW is very proud to present what Gregg and Scott produced, which is a rather nice conversion!

It is a little rough around the edges, but it shows just how well a C64 conversion could have shaped up. It reminds me a lot of the work of Paul Norman, and works very well. It’s a shame that Electronic Arts didn’t sign up the guys to finish it off! The preview happens a bit fast, so we recommend you read the instructions. Please note that the disk original version is NTSC based, so use the patched version instead if you are PAL based!

Salvaged and preserved … a taste of what could have been. Case closed!…

Contributions: Doc, Ian Coog, Gregg Kustudic

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Available downloads for this entry

  • Preview_Spaceace.zip
  • Gregg Kustudic talks about work on Space Ace (Taken from website)…

    “Now lets travel back in time a ways. 1987, and two guys who listen to music by a band who’s name we’re not allowed to say on the air attempt an ambitious port of the arcade laserdisk classic Space Ace to the Commodore 64.

    Scott did most of the graphics, while I handled the programming. We began by bribing a friend’s friend who worked in an arcade to take the Space Ace machine out of service and haul it in back where we recorded a playback of the laser disk onto videotape.

    Scott and I eventually finished one out of about 15 carefully planned levels, and it turned out absolutely great. We used a funny little box called “Computereyes”, which was a video digitizer for the Commodore 64, to digitize this frame from Space Ace, which we captured on Scotts’ Parents’ at the time fancy new frame store VCR.

    The idea was to have a digitized frame from the arcade game introducing each of the levels.

    The game we put together was truly amazing, in that it actually WAS Space Ace! On a lowly Commodore 64! One could master Space Ace in the arcade, and then play our C64 version, and all the moves and timing needed to beat the arcade game were exactly the same in our version.

    I guess Scott and I were deeply offended by the horrible port of Dragon’s Lair that had come out previously, which bore no resemblance to the play mechanic of the original. We were determined to show that a laser disk game COULD be ported faithfully to the Commodore 64.

    This was accomplished through some clever machine language code I devised, which actually took the form of what would now be called a virtual machine interpreting byte code. As well, it was accomplished through Scott’s fantastic multisprite graphics.

    The story gets stranger. We shipped our demo to Electronic Arts, who rejected the game, saying that they had never heard of an arcade game called Space Ace. But EOA released their own game called Space Ace within a year of having seen our demo.

    Scott and I never did manage to see what the Electronic Arts version of Space Ace actually looked like, and find out if they stole anything from us. Anyone out there with knowledge of the Electronic Arts version of Space Ace: it would be a gas to hear from you.”

    Gregg Kustudic.

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