1987 Archer Maclean / System 3 / Activision
Platform: Commodore 64
In late 2023, Games That Weren’t was tasked with trying to preserve all of the late Archer Maclean’s work disks – including Atari and C64 formatted disks. At the time of writing, work is still ongoing, though we have been given permission by Chris Wilkins (Fusion Retro Books) to add any executable/early prototypes to show you that we find along the way.
Next up are a selection of prototypes from International Karate + (aka IK+), which show how Archer’s early idea for creating a 3rd fighter would start to blossom and build up into the IK+ game that we all know and love. If you haven’t already, we recommend checking out this great documentary on how both IK and IK+ were created: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zRFZS9wzt7s
What is particularly interesting (making sense when you think about it), is that Archer had taken the original game’s code as a starting point and built into that to get the basic concept going. When you look at the last prototype that we have found, its almost like a complete hybrid of IK and IK+. It looks as if Archer was building over the top of the first game, at least during the early stages. It’s glitchy as hell, and it’s clear Archer still had a lot of work to do to get it all working smoothly.
There is then a music demo that was supplied to Archer by Rob Hubbard, which is pretty much what is in the final game – apart from two sound effects which seem to have never featured in the final game in the form of explosion effects. A series of graphic screens were also found, which indicate how the iconic background to IK+ was created and evolved. There are some panel tests in there too and what may be early fish and splash sprites.
Then another surprise was the finding of a quickly hacked version of IK+, which includes sleeveless fighters. It seems that Archer was toying with the idea of having sleeveless fighters just for the US version of the game – but the idea of this was dropped for some reason. There are two builds, one is fairly stable – but not quite right with the graphics. The other is almost there with the graphics, but is very unstable.
This is all we have found so far, though check out our page on International Karate, which has further findings. If we find anything more, we will continue to add to this page. David Simmons and Martin Pugh have also compiled together a special compilation of some of the prototypes with a special Archer Maclean image and menu selector, which you can find within the download.
Finally, we have also produced a short video, where Frank talks through the findings, along with the IK+ prototypes that you can visit at:
With huge thanks to Chris Wilkins (Fusion Retro Books) for the loan of Archer’s disks to preserve and permission to add executables to the site, Dave Simmons and Martin Pugh for putting together a special tribube collection disk for the materials, Alan Hammerton for hardware help and Mat Allen for the flippy PC drive loan.
In memory of Archer Maclean – 28 January 1962 – 17 December 2022.