Captain Courageous was an action game in the style of an Indiana Jones game, which was commissioned to Arcanum Developments to be completed. This team consisted of Mark Kelly, his brother, Robert McGowan, Barry Leitch and Alan Mac.
It was an ambitious title with every level a game in itself according to Alan. There were up/down scrolling commando style levels, diagonal scrolling levels where you went down a river in a dingy and a platform style game inside buildings. Sadly these were just on paper, or so was believed!
It was possible that these ideas may have been scrapped for something much simpler. According to Alan, it didn’t get very far, and he couldn’t remember doing any graphics for it other than the odd sprite and maybe a loading screen. Music was created by Barry Leitch, and is in HVSC labelled as Arcanum. This is all the music for the game, and you can download it here too.
Robert McGowan however remembers things differently, and confirms that the game was completed – but cannot recall why English Software didn’t release it. He recalls Alan having completed all the graphics for the game as well.
Robert reveals that the diagonal scrolling level was a river rapid scene where you had to avoid boulders and other objects. A horizontal scrolling shooting part had you having to clamber over objects and avoid being shot by enemies. A vertical scrolling climb had you leaping between 4 vines, avoiding falling boulders and enemies.
All of the code was pretty much done by Robert, who did all the graphics designing applications for sprites, scrolling blocks and the music driver. He had hacked turbo assembler to assemble out the parallel port of one C64 into the parallel port of another, as source and graphics couldn’t fit into one device.
The guys apparently weren’t paid well, and got paid basically in Kebabs! So they promptly left and did their own thing. Unfortunately the experience soured things for Robert to the point that he left the games industry.
C&VG had a brief news article on the game, with a shot of the game’s cover art (well, we believe it is as it accompanied the article), and said the following:
“Oh No!, It’s Captain Courageous – prettier than Rambo and twice as touch. Cap’n will be coming your way from English Software, after he’s dabbled in a bit of hair-raising jungle combat, perilous river rides, sniper attacks and a helicopter rescue bid. Available from September for the C64 on tape and disc at £8.95/£12.95”
So far, everyone we’ve asked about the game have confirmed that they no longer have anything of the game itself. This could be incredibly tricky to track down as a result – but you never know what could surface some day.
Contributions: Alan Mac, Barry Leitch, Robert McGowan, Peter Weighill, Ross Sillifant
Alan Mac speaks to GTW about work on Captain Courageous
“Captain Courageous was I guess an Indiana jones type adventure arcade game thing, it was, looking back now, stupidly ambitious, every level was a game in itself really (up/down scrolly Commando style levels, diagonal scroller floating down river in a dingy, platformer style inside buildings) at least that was the design on paper.
As far as I remember it didn’t get very far at all, or it changed into something a hell of a lot simpler. Don’t remember doing many graphics for it anyway other than the odd sprite here and there (and bizarrely a loading screen?!?) although i did bugger off early on when I too realised that salaries were not in fact paid in hard cash but kebabs.”
28/07/22 – Tidy up of the main piece.