From the publishers of Polar Pierre was to be a new title called Adam Caveman, another platform game with cute large characters. Bizarrely this title never had a release, and still remains at large today. What happened?
An advert was shown in issue 19 of Zzap 64, but then never appeared again. It appeared alongside Polar Pierre and was advertised as being available for both the C64 and Atari. You can check out the advert in the scans below.
The game itself seems like a BC’s Quest for Tires style of game, mixed with a bit of Frak for good measure. Maybe Databyte went under just before this one could get a release? (This and Mumbles Super Spy didn’t quite make it.. and only Polar Pierre did).
For many years, we desperately tried to find out more about this title. The first early assumption was that the game was by the same developers as Polar Pierre. However, when we spoke to Art Huff in 2013, he suggested that he had nothing to do with the game and didn’t belief Ron Rosen was either. So the search went on.
Thanks to Fabrizio Bartoloni, the game was found to have been reviewed and listed as available for both Atari 800 and C64 in MC Microcomputer (See scans – interestingly showing Galivan as a screenshot and also Mumbles Superspy), which Fabrizio reports was a usually reliable magazine. The magazine suggests it was good graphically and played well.
Apparently the game was available from Mastertronic, an Italian distribution of the UK company. Computer Boss International also listed the game as available on both cassette and disk in an advert within Swedish magazine Dator Magazin.
GTW64 researcher Gaz Spence made a good point that Polar Pierre was originally copyrighted by Datamost Inc in 1984 but later Digicorp Incorporated owned the copyright by 1986. It’s therefore possible that Adam Caveman was originally being developed for or by Datamost.
In July 2021, contributor Kratki then made a good spot that the style of the game is quite similar visually to those created by Optimum Resource, Inc. As Kratki rightly points out, there is no link with them to Databyte, but it was something to chase and check out/rule out. We never had a response from those involved to confirm.
Thankfully in December 2022, Ron Rosen got in touch to confirm that he was indeed the developer of the game after all and that Art had been mistaken. Art had actually done all of the graphics, and the game was fully completed on both Atari and C64. Ron wasn’t aware that the game had never been released.
Ron revealed that Art had sadly passed away in recent years, but that Adam Caveman was actually named after his son Adam. He also did a game called Billy Boulder, which was named after his other son Billy.
Unfortunately Ron confirmed that he no longer has any code for any of his past works, though there are a few other contacts who may – so those routes are for now being examined to see if anything could be located. Ron also solved another mystery by confirming that he and Art were behind Mumbles Super Spy.
Watch this space and hopefully we’ll have some more positive news soon.
Contributions: Art Huff, Fabrizio Bartoloni, Ross Sillifant, Kratki, Gaz Spence, Ron Rosen
- 19/12/22 – Confirmation of the developer and further details about the game.
- 05/03/22 – New suggestion from Gaz Spence regarding who may have been involved on the game.
- 23/07/21 – Further tidy ups to make clearer about assumption of same developers + new suggestion from contributor Kratki.
- 14/07/21 – Tidy up of page
- 19/12/19 – Magazine details added thanks to Fabrizio Bartoloni.
It is worth noting that Polar Pierre was originally copyrighted by Datamost Inc in 1984 but it appears that Digicorp Incorporated owned the copyright by 1986. I suspect this transferal of ownership was due to the dissolution of Datamost and it’s possible therefore that Adam Caveman was originally being developed for or by Datamost and the rights of the unreleased game passed to Digicorp Inc.
That’s a very good point Gaz – i’ll add that into the piece, as that could be crucial to tracking down who was involved on the game.
The assumption that the developers of “Polar Pierre” had anything to do with “Adam Caveman” seems completely unfounded. Databyte were a UK distributor that licenced games from a few companies (Datamost, First Star Software) and individuals (Robert Jaeger’s “Montezuma’s Revenge”), and even had an original release on the Atari 8-bits, a utility called “Graphic Arts Department”. The fact that that they have placed “Adam Caveman” and “Polar Pierre” in the same ad means nothing – “Adam Caveman” might have been in development by a completely separate group.
All of Ron Rosen’s platform games for the Atari 8-bits and C-64 (i.e. “Polar Pierre”, “Mr. Robot and His Robot Factory”, “Nuclear Nick”), are rather similar multiple-level, single-screen collect-them-all platformers, and at least on the Atari they are all so similar that for certain they share the same codebase. The available screenshots for “Adam Caveman” share nothing of that style with the other games.
If anything, the style of the “Adam Caveman” ad screenshot resembles the games developed by Optimum Resource, Inc.: http://www.atarimania.com/list_games_atari-400-800-xl-xe-optimum-resource-inc_developer_157_8_G.html
But there is no known connection between this developer and Databyte.
Hi kr0tki, Thanks very much for your message. I completely agree – there is no evidence that Adam Caveman was by the same developers. It was a suggested assumption to kick things off years ago, but with the caveat that “we need to chase up this possibility first”. I’ll reword that segment slightly to be a bit clearer.
I don’t think its by Ron Rosen either for the same reasons you describe with the style – though until we had any solid leads, we try and put multiple suggestions in the credits to act as a starting point and cross off over time. Art Huff for instance was on credits at one stage with a (?) next to his name, but confirmed to have no involvement – so was removed.
Fantastic suggestion regarding Optimum Resource! There does seem to be some similarities with the style. Although there is no link – its one that is worth checking, as you just never know. Thanks for the tip! I’ll add you to the page credits and will see if I can track anyone down.
The link to Mumbles Superspy is broken, it should point to https://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64/mumbles-superspy/ instead.
Fixed, thanks Fabrizio!
My usual post scriptum: the game is listed as available on both cassette and floppy disc, with prices, from Computer Boss International at page 36 of Dator Magazin C64/128, a Swedish computer magazine, issue 04/1986: https://dmzarkivet.se/pdf/198604.pdf
The game got reviewed and listed as available for C64 and Atari 800 at page 88 of MC Microcomputer, an usually reliable Italian magazine, issue 59/1987: https://archive.org/details/MC_microcomputer-059/page/n87 It says it’s extremely refined from the aesthetic point of view and quite playable. A bottom note says all the game reviewed in the same page are available from Mastertronic (it was an Italian distributor founded in 1986 by John Holder, a local branch of its British counterpart).
Just to clarify; I meant the “box art” style was different in style to the reused US-release artwork one would typically expect.
But the in-game graphics themselves are different too, yes. They look like they *might* be impressively cartoonish, though it’s hard to be sure given the lowish resolution of the printed image.
FWIW, I had a game for my Atari 800XL called “Nuclear Nick” by Ron Rosen, which was (AFAICT) only ever released via US Gold’s “Americana” label, i.e. a UK market budget release. This is odd given that his other games appear to have been originally published in the US as full price releases (some later distributed in the UK by Databyte). Maybe they decided not to release an Atari-800-only game into the fast-changing US market?
So it’s possible that Databyte might have picked up a game that wasn’t already distributed elsewhere, but… it’s all still somewhat odd!
Well, i’ve dug as far as i can into it, hit dead ends.So other than posting up on here plus Atari Age and hoping Tim or someone who knows him will see and Tim gets in touch, there’s sadly no more i can offer.
Shame as Tim would make an ideal person to interview.
Update time:The Atari User article writer never replied…
But, thanks to a recent interview i carried out that’s just come in (won’t say anything on just who it was until it gets a home :-) ) i can update people on the Datatbyte situation:
Databyte was it seems, in effect just Tim Holland and his girlfriend Karen.He’s ‘gone dark’ as it were and totally dissapeared off the radar from both the person i interviewed and a contact of his that also knew Tim.
Other than knowing that Tim loved his Atari 8 Bit hardware, the trail has sadly gone very cold.
Thanks Ross, hopefully they will come across these pages in the future and will have something to say.
Well, just found Andre, emailed over question of wether he actually saw A8 version running at that ATARI show or wether it was just based on PR release, along with scan of actual article.
Lets see what response, if any i get….
I’m starting to take a different route with ‘Lost Games’ these days. Rather than trying to find coders of…i’m looking into who wrote the articles claiming games were on show etc.
So, With Adam Caveman, which i believe was never released on A8 or C64, i’m looking for:
Andre Willey, as he wrote:
‘Databyte launched Montezumas Revenge, Adam Caveman and Polar Pierre’ (At the London Atari Show, in the Jan’87 issue of Atari User.
Article headline is: ‘Seen at the show’.
So, did he really see it? or was he just re-printing what was on a PR release?.
I know which my money is going on…..
As far as I knew, Databyte were only the UK distributors for games originally released by American companies (e.g. Polar Pierre was released by Datamost in the US).
Unlike US Gold, who later went on to do their own stuff, I’m not sure that Databyte ever did any games of their own (though they may have had some of those US games converted to UK formats like the Spectrum?)
Bearing that in mind, it seems odd that Databyte’s demise would affect this; also, they were around for some time after 1986. It seems unusual that the “Adam Caveman” artwork is a somewhat different style, and more primitive, even with more basic lettering.
Thanks Michael for that useful info. It seems then that Datamost is the route we should be chasing. Yeah, Adam Caveman does look a little odd… I did wonder at some stage if maybe the graphics were just mock ups. I guess time will tell! :)