Status: Full Game, Findability: 3/5

In the early 80’s, the Dutch games scene for the C64 was blessed by the coding talents of a guy called John Vanderaart – who was pretty prolific! Outside of Holland, sadly we didn’t get to see many titles – but did get to see Eindeloos and Hopeless released by Ariolasoft.

Back in Holland, John was most famous for his Dutch text-adventures (with “De Sekte” being probably his best known). He stopped programming on the C64 back around 1987/88 and left the game development scene pretty much soon after. Sadly he doesn’t like to talk much about the old days (a sadly familiar tale with many!)

One of the very last games that John produced was a title called Aurum in 1987, which was a large adventure based on one of his first adventure games “Steen der Wijzen” (Magic Stone). It was reviewed in a dutch computer magazine at the time, but has been the subject of a large scale search for many years. Rumors spread that the game may not exist at all!

It is a huge shame, as the game itself sounded pretty superb with some great graphics throughout. Is it one that can ever be saved?

Well, after months of work – the collaborated efforts of Paul Koller, Ralph Egas, Fix, Pugsy, Enthusi, Jazzcat and Scout have seen Aurum miraculously saved from obscurity. It is by pure chance that the game was preserved thanks to the efforts of Paul…

Somewhere in the beginning of 2014, I again did an internet search for Aurum and Vanderaart and actually found a hit from an old newsgroup from 1999 from a guy who actually claimed he owned this game!

I looked him up on Facebook and contacted him. Ralph Egas is also a big C64-fan and I actually visited him yesterday talking about all kinds of C64 stuff. And indeed, he owns a copy of Aurum. Well, his copy was actually “copied” at a Dutch audio-visual conference “Firato” in the 80s, where a friend of his (Conno van Wijk) met John Vanderaart.

While talking to him, John said he was getting a drink and Conno was allowed to look through his personal disk-collection. And there Aurum was “secretly” copied. Conno and a friend put a VERY simple intro in front and also “tagged” the original title screen as a kind of joke (no real scener apparently :) ).

This version was given to Ralph who copied it to a d64 file and sent it to me yesterday and I played it today for the 1st time. It’s a really nicely put together adventure, although not very useful if you don’t know Dutch :)”

The game was passed over for fixing and translation, and finally the game is now ready to be shown to the world. Originally intended for release by Radarsoft – just why it never got released is a mystery. But check it out finally for yourself!

Case closed!

Contributions: Paul Koller, Ralph Egas, Fix, Pugsy, Enthusi, Jazzcat, Scout, Edwin Drost

Supporting content

Available downloads

Update history

30/06/14 – Dutch version added.

Posted in: GTW64 archive | Tagged: | 17 Comments

17 Responses to Aurum

  1. This was one of my first games I made graphics for. I made my graphics on the koala pad. It was my reward I got as payment after I made the graphics. My inspiration I got from the comics ‘de rode ridder’

    • Hi Ron, thanks very much for checking in and recollecting about your work on the game. If you would like to share any more memories about your time working on the project, i’d be very happy to add to our “Creators Speaks” area. Feel free to contact us via the main Contact form on the site.

        • I still am proud of what i did. Nowadays is pixelart making every dot with a pen on a koalapad. And faking different missing colours by alternating available colours. I a had a lot of rode ridder comicbooks as inspiration. John told me about the scene and I tried to draw it. We came in contact trough a computerclub where john was teaching machine language then.

  2. Curiouser and curiouser! In the Dutch magazine “Commodore Dossier aktief” of 1987 in September, John “DRJ” Vanderaart mention this about “Aurum” in the Adventure section called “Wat nu weer?” (An article that will give tips for Adventure games);


    Verdwaald in “Aurum”

    Via Dossier Commodore of via de software-handel kunt u aan een origineel (we spreken niet meer over kopie!) van dit adventuur komen. Low-budget weliswaar hoewel dit alleen aan de prijs te merken is…het adventure daar gaat het om.


    Lost in “Aurum”

    You can get an original (we are no longer talking about a copy!) of this adventure via Dossier Commodore or via the software trade. Although low-budget, although this is only noticeable in the price … that’s what adventure is all about.

    Here it is;

    • Hi Edwin,

      I strongly believe that the name of the column about adventure games in Commodore Dossier, at least the proper 3-monthly magazine, not the monthly “Actief”, was called “Er was eens…” (including the 3 dots). “Wat nu weer?” does however sound very much Vanderaart-like and I’m thinking this was another column he did later, maybe in the PCM or much later in Computer Totaal.


  3. Actually, the point is that the person (W. van Otterdijk) from Drachten (a small town in the north of the Netherlands) played “Aurum” to pieces with also the use of a 5-bit code that was given by John Vanderaart himself.

    That map that you have seen in the previous article (it is from the same issue) was an original map made by W. van Otterdijk that, however strange, deviated slightly from the map of John Vanderaart. (or could have been made by John to correct him?)

    PS: Actually I wanted to keep this as a bit of a surprise, (well, it depends if you all have already seen this or if you count it as one), but here it is;

    • Ah I see! Thanks Edwin for clarifying. And wow, the game was being advertised to purchase – so I wonder if any copies snuck out at all in this way?

    • Hmm, as far as I remember there wasn’t a specific 5-bit code you had to enter (as your post suggests), but all the text used in the game was *encoded* in a string of 5-bit units, whereas normally you’d have the glyphs correspond to 8-bit ASCII (or PetSCII actually) and as such would be legible. This was John’s way to prevent hackers (well, anyone with a machine code monitor, like all C64 owners, practically) from generating spoilers. John put some text in PetSCII that was in fact legible to tell the hackers what he had done, also saying “Stuur eens een kaartje!” (Translation: “Send me a postcard sometime!”) and his adres in Leidschendam, where he actually lived (imagine that in this age). I used the address to call a PTT (nowadays KPN) service line to retrieve the associated phone number and called John. From that moment onward we had calls about game programming and other cool things every 2 weeks or so. I was 14 years old and a huge fan of Vanderaarts ;).

  4. It is strange. The map was made in 1987, but published in 1988-april! A year later. If you know what I mean.

    Here is also the preview (in Dutch) of the game “Aurum” (plus “Smakeloos” and “Gravity”) for those who wants to see it themselves; AND:

    PS: Sorry, if my posts are all still clustered together and make it really hard to read and needed to be fixed by someone else. I still have no idea how to create those spaces between posts. Anyone? (could it be like or something?)

    PS: I have kept the most strangest thing as last: It is from another page of the Dutch magazine “Commodore Dossier aktief” of 1988-april!;

    Have you spot it?

    • Thanks! I’ll get those added to the page.

      Posts all look fine by the way – spacing looks ok? Is it with the editor you’re having issues?

      Spotted Aurum in the last scan – is it someone asking for hints?

  5. You know…I actually found it completely by accident, but there was even a map of Aurum in the “adventurerubriek” article in the Dutch magazine called “Commodore Dossier aktief” of 1988-april!


    • Thanks for the heads up – that is very strange! Must have been done from a review copy and then just assumed the game would be released at some stage and produced the map?

  6. By accident googling my name I saw this post.
    Great that this game is out. Only I don’t seem to find out how to view it. I will surely look how to do it. Two years ago I threw away all my thousands disks of D64, only kept the Reference Guide. sorry guys. I also could not load the game and the graphics anymore I’ve made. So I am really wondering how my graphics were those days. (is it possible to post some screencaptures?) It was Fun to create the graphics those days on my KoalaPad I got it as present from John. I don’t know the whole story anymore of the adventure. I did my inspiration for creating the visuals from old comic books The red Night.( I created two games with John. Nachtwacht and this game.

    • Hi Ron,

      Good to hear from you! There are screenshots towards the bottom of the review under “Gallery”. You can also download the full game under the “Downloads” tab and load up the game in a C64 emulator package.

      Hope you enjoy taking a look! :)

    • Ron ik was destijds met John bij iemand langsgeweest in Heemstede die bezig was
      met de GFX voor een text adventuregame op de C64. Aurum als ik het goed begrijp.

      In dat geval leuk om je hier weer tegen te komen!!!

  7. I really hope this game surfaces, haven’t been able to find it online yet. I have good memories regarding this game, it definitely exists since I completed it when it was released. In Dutch only, but that’s an easy language, have been speaking it all my life ;)

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