Our next entry into the GTW64 vault is a very bizarre title that was leaked back in 1988 by Phoenix (PHX). This is a title which is based on James Herbert’s relatively less known sequel to The Rats, of which the C64 had already seen a strategy game released. In the sequel, London is suddenly nuked by 5 bombs (which corrolates to the start sequence in this game).
What is slightly odd is that the cracker refers to the game being published by Alternative Software. This is the first time that we have heard about the game or any such licence at all. It certainly doesn’t seem to have been released either.
Compared to the title that was released, this is an arcade adventure game where you run around picking up items to then further progress within London and the different rooms and areas.
It’s quite glitchy overall at this stage, and there’s a untidy overlap of the character on the game window before the screen changes. Thanks to Dan Warren, it’s been confirmed that it is a complete game. Here is a play through: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFrM7U9wWCE
There are no credits or details within the game to give any clues as to who the developer was, though the music is clearly by David Dunn in their indistinguishable style. That could well be a possible lead to find out where exactly this game came from, as well as seeing if Alternative Software recall anything too.
Professor Chaos also suggests that the game could have been earlier than 1988, even 1986 – with the year referenced on the introduction screen as “London 1986” and David Dunn’s music routine lacking a few effects that would appear in titles such as Trapdoor (released in late 1986). This does seem a solid theory, so i’ve changed the year for now.
Interestingly as well, Professor Chaos spotted that the font is very similar to the small font used in the C64 conversion of Outrun that was released in 1986. Almost identical apart from some minor pixel differences on some of the characters. Co-incidence?
If you know anything more – please do get in touch, but for now – check out this obscure oddity for yourself.
Contributions: Michael Plate, Dan Warren, Professor Chaos
- 21/07/21 – Information update on sequel of book, plus info from Professor Chaos.
- 14/07/21 – Confirmed as a complete game.
Little nit: The game is not based on “The Rats”, but on a less known sequel, itself called “Domain” and also written by James Herbert. That book starts with London suddenly nuked by 5 bombs (hence the get-ready animation and many in-game backgrounds).
For research’s sake, something about the year: While the game maybe wasn’t seen before 1988, there are signs it could have been MADE in 1986: It says “LONDON 1986” on the get-ready screen, and the music routine lacks a few effects (esp. pulse sweeps) it has in, say, Trapdoor (scored by David Dunn, released in late 1986).
The font reminds me a bit of Outrun. Though probably still too different to draw a connection. Which other games have a 6×8 pixel font?
Ah, I didn’t know that! Thanks Professor Chaos! I’ll update the page quickly.
And a good point regarding the year as well – both on the in-game date and also the music driver. I’ll go with that for now and will adjust then mention the reasoning in the write up.
The font is *very* close indeed to Outrun, but ever so slightly different. It is plausible that it was borrowed and then just tweaked slightly.
It’s actually a full game. I completed it here some time back: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFrM7U9wWCE
Ah awesome – cheers for confirming Dan. I’ll update the page.