Every so often, the C64 scene will spring up a few surprises and quite often its when an ex-C64 programmer decides to unleash the contents of one of their work disks. Dux is a shining example of this, and is the work of Luc Van Den Borre, whom you may not have heard of, but you would have thought you had heard it more after seeing this lovely little title.
From what seems to be heavily inspired by Hunters Moon, Dux also has that little hint of Time Pilot ’84 about it, and there is one thing for certain, there are no ducks! See Luc’s explanation in Creator Speaks, but certainly I was expecting more a Dynamite Dux clone at first… Narrow mindedness is my strong point it seems! 😉
Now what is so surprising about Dux is that its actually finished and a very well polished little game. Certainly it stands up to its 1988/89 birth date, and would have no doubt fared fairly well in the C64 commercial charts.
Sadly although the game was almost complete, some bad stuff happened in Luc’s family, and it affected the development and finishing off the game. A very tragic and sad story, which we will not go into, but this is the reason why the game never got pitched to any publishers. It sadly gathered dust, and by the time Luc came back to programming, the C64 was long gone.
The game looks very nice, and features some awesome explosions, matched by some very tough gameplay. It is a 8 directional scrolling game, flying over various terrains. Your ship can build up with some additional armoury and weapons, and all of this is needed to get past all the asteroids and lasers dotted around over the landscape.
Sonically the game is quite limited, but features some good sound effects. Presentation is brilliant, with a neat little interluding screen before your ship zooms off for battle.
Really, you are treated to something quite nice, but its a bit sad that the programmer never really got full credit for this work. Maybe track his site down and send him an email if you like it. Certainly this is a rare thing to occur and see a game of this calibre escape the commercial eye, but sadly these things happened.
Its seeing the light of day, its got no ducks, its great…
Contributions: Luc Van Den Borre
Luc Van Den Borre speaks about work on Dux (As from his site)…
“Dux is Commodore 64 game I developed around 1988 – ’89. Grab the D64 image and try it out. It is kind of hard (some would say unplayable), but at the time I liked challenging games. It has got a few technical features that I am quite proud of (and rarely seen in commercial games), and the graphics and sound effects were fun to do. It was to be my ticket into the games industry, but by the end of it I was so sick of games programming that I got rid of my computers and went to university instead. After which I ended up a games programmer anyway…
I have an inch-thick printout of the assembly source, and some old disks with the apparant source code on them, so perhaps I will release those some day, if there is any interest for it.
As you can see the game has nothing whatsoever to do with ducks. I was studying Latin at the time, and dux is Latin for leader.
You start off in an asteroid field with some standard piddly lasers. You can get upgrades later on. Fly north from here to get to the main ship.
This is where it gets hard. Lots of energy barriers you need to maneuver through. There’s some switches you can fly over to switch off energy barriers. There are also pickups for increased fire power, and there are some energy founts to replenish your shield power. If anyone ever gets this far, email me and I will write up some instructions.”
Luc Van Den Borre.