What is it with fantasy games from the 1980s and the letter Z? So many characters, particularly in American fantasy (so it seemed to me) start with the letter Z. The wizard from the American version of Heroquest was called Zargon (The UK version had Morcar, which is much better!); Beastmaster had King Zed and let’s not forget the many trips made to Zork.
The UK chipped in with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain being called Zagor and at least one other effort, Zorakk the Conqueror, which was released on the BBC Electron and CPC but not on the Spectrum or C64.
Due for release in 1984 (the same year that The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was released on home computers), the game was slated to come out with Space Station Alpha, another GTW, neither made it onto the market.
The game itself is described as a graphical adventure game and follows a formulaic concept of recovering broken pieces of an artefact to rid the land of evil/win the game. You control Zorakk and lead him and his band of warriors across dangerous lands in search of the ‘long lost crown of Ultimate Darkness’.
From the screenshots, the style of play looks typical for the time, with the in-game shots presented in a layout similar to King’s Bounty and games of that ilk.
Icon Software, the company behind the games, did have several releases on the Spectrum, including Bug-Eyes, Merry Xmas Santa and the fantastically named Frankenstein 2000. All these games were released between 1984 and 1985, and three of their games are listed as MIA on World of Spectrum, suggesting they may have had a problem with getting games released into the market in large numbers, if at all.
Furthermore, there is no listing for Icon Software or any of their games on GB64 or Lemon64. Could it be that they tried to expand into the C64 market and overreached, leading to a collapse of the company?
Zorakk was definitely released on the CPC and BBC Micro (which we have added a review from Personal Computer Games thanks to Stoneoak Valley), and screenshots of the game can be seen over at CPC Zone. They have the game listed as released in 1985, as the advert we have is from September 1984, perhaps there was a delay in the release of the game, various platform formats were scrapped and only the CPC version made it out.
It is ironic as it is the only listing from Icon Software on CPC Zone so logically the Spectrum version would be the one they’d want released, as that’s where their market was, along with the BBC, where Zorakk was also released, along with Space Station Alpha and other games that are MIA for the Spectrum and C64.
Judging from the fact that there are so many more games on the BBC Electron from Icon Software, than on the Spectrum, CPC or C64, it looks possible that the company never fully made the transition to the larger markets in the 8-bit scene.
As such there is probably a wealth of unreleased material on the Spectrum, C64 and CPC from Icon Software that will almost certainly include fully playable games, hopefully one of which will be Zorakk The Conquerer, which may one day be found and can fully take its place alongside the rest of the 1980s ‘Z’ obsessed fantasy games and films.
Can this golden oldie ever be found?…
Contributions: Peter Weighill, Guinness, Stone Oakvalley