Crystal Castles V1


Status: Full Game, Findability: 3/5

You may be shocked to know, but there were two versions of Crystal Castles in development – both before the U.S. Gold release in later years.

Atarisoft were doing an official conversion themselves back in the early 80’s of Crystal Castles that didn’t get released, but there was in fact another version developed a little earlier by a company called Thundervision, which is the focus of this post.

Around the time of the Atarisoft game – a company called Thundervision worked on what was believed to be an unofficial conversion. Kurt Woloch informed GTW that he read a story from the programmer that the Thundervision game wasn’t made to get the licence to sell, and hence was leaked to the community to play. This was a few years before U.S. Gold released the game in the UK, but would have been around a similar time that Atarisoft could have released their version.

It suggests that the leak of the Thundervision game could have been the key reason why the completed Atarisoft game didn’t make it beyond prototype release stage, though the company itself had collapsed around that time anyway.

Another source suggests that an Australian programmer did the game and offered it to Atari, but were turned down and as a result leaked the 99% complete version underground. Was this the case?

On the Lemon64 forums, a “Jim” laid claim as to being someone who worked on the game, along with someone called Jon. In Gamebase, there is another “Thundervision” title from a year earlier, which lists the developer as a Jim Larsen. Hopefully we can speak to Jim soon to learn more about what happened exactly, or if Jim sees this – please do get in touch.

Unfortunately, it has been highlighted that the Thundervision edition of the game crashes at the end, so it isn’t possible to play the final level properly. We don’t believe that there is a version out there which fixes the issue. Does anyone fancy trying to fix it for posterity and create a 100% working version of the game?

For now, check out the original version from Atarisoft, and compare against this superior Thundervision version.

Contributions: Mat Allen, Charles Haley, Kurt Woloch, Grinder, Rob Moss

Supporting content

Available downloads

Creator speaks

Jim (Unknown surname) speaks about work we believe on the Thundervision version (nabbed from Lemon64)….

“I am one of the authors of this game. I did music and half the field research (we had to play the game to the end in the arcade, and photograph every screen!) It is very flattering to hear the stories about who we are (Jim and Jon). So far, no one is right! Live long and prosper. By the way, that’s not our cover art!”


Posted in: GTW64 archive | Tagged: | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Crystal Castles V1

  1. “Crystal Castles” (US Gold) was reviewed in a 1986 special issue of the german magazine “Happy Computer”:

    The editor of the review wrote that the “Thundervision” version of the game came out of nowhere an there were rumours buzzing around that this version of the game was programmed by an australian fan of the game who got no license from atari.

    The mysterious programmer was bitter about this and spread the 99 % complete version of the game to the software underground.

  2. Sorry, but I think you’ve got one thing wrong… the Thundervision version of Crystal Castles is a totally different version from the U.S.Gold one. The U.S.Gold one looks like the screenshot above, while the Thundervision one has a slightly different perspective angle which actually looks closer to the arcade version. I read a story that the programmer of the Thundervision version didn’t make it to get the license to sell it and subsequently leaked it to the community. This was 1-2 years before U.S.Gold released their version. I have both versions on disks, and they are really quite different to each other.

    • Thanks Kurt! … I didn’t realise that in fact the Thundervision version was completely different!
      This seems to give the reason why the AtariSoft version never actually got released properly … the leak may have well killed it. I’ve updated the entry accordingly and left things open to confirm in the future. Cheers!

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