I was very surprised when GTW’s David Simmons contacted me in late May 2022 to see if I knew anything about a C64 conversion of Exorcist, a game that was released by Commodore on the C16/Plus/4 in 1984, programmed by Greg Duddle under the Mr. Micro label.
Certainly there didn’t seem to be any evidence in magazines that a C64 version was in the planning or offering, but yet a C64 version saw a very low number release in Spain. It has now only just been fully preserved after a copy finally surfaced.
We did wonder if perhaps Greg had originally written the game on the C64, to then just convert to the C16 – similar to what Anthony Clarke did for Dork’s Dilemma. However, the C64 edition has its own custom character set, improved graphics and titles in comparison – making it clear that a proper C64 release must have been intended.
So the mystery that now needs solving is to why this only saw a limited release in Spain, and why Commodore didn’t release it for the C64.
Thanks to Vinny Mainolfi (who contacted Greg to find out more), Greg could only recall a C16/Plus 4 edition being coded. Upon seeing this finding, it was all but a mystery to him. He believes he probably wrote it on the C64 originally, but then Commodore contacted Mr Micro asking for software support for their new C16 platform – so the game was converted over. It doesn’t quite answer why the C64 version wasn’t released too – but perhaps Commodore felt it was too simple for the platform?
Thanks to the efforts of Celiddoro, Kopsec and David – you can check out the full game for yourself, which also comes with a newly found and early David Whittaker tune for the next HVSC update.
Contributions: Celiddoro (supply), Kopsec (conversion), David Simmons (news), Greg Duddle, Vinny Mainolfi
Bieno posted on his blog about how the game was saved – here is the piece in full:
“Broadway Video imported this game from Mr. Micro Ltd and of which only the C16 version was known until now, nothing else. It is strange that this game has been distributed here and not in England, where it originates from, and also the fact that it is not possible to find any information about the importer, Broadway Video. In addition, we do not know of the existence of more copies than those that were sold in national territory and, again, we must once again thank Celiddoro for providing the original and thus being able to preserve it.
The game is a variant of Pacman but more complex. We will select a level at the beginning and we must collect a series of objects that are marked on the map at the bottom right. As we collect them, the map will be drawn and it will be easier for us to reach the rest of the objects. Once all the objects have been collected, we must go to the lower right, avoiding the maze and facing the exorcism. The Exorcist was written in 1984 and was marketed a year later through Broadway Video, a company based in Barcelona, another company that embarked on the adventure of importing and distributing software in Spain. Mr. Micro Ltd was an English company that was based in Swinton (west of London) and where its managers, Greg Duddle and Evan Parton, were the ones who programmed many of the titles that they themselves sold and distributed. As a curiosity, all the melodies in his catalog were made by the musician David Whittaker. Mr Micro was founded in 1983 and closed a few years later, in 1987.
For preservation, Kopsec is the one who has managed to digitize the tape file that neither Celiddoro nor a server managed to achieve. It is he himself who narrates the process:
There were multiple options to try to recover it and the first thing was to try to load it. To help me I use the “datassette pass through” a small PCB that I plug into the datassette port, which has a 5V output to power an SD2IEC and a small speaker that allows “hearing” the datassette. I connect the battle datassette and although it sounded good, I can’t even load the header. I try with an almost new one that has loaded everything and neither. A third and nothing. I was already thinking of outputting a wav with any of these datassettes using the “MP32C64 player/recorder” (output audio from the digital signal on the datassette), but the chances of it working would be slim. Suddenly I remember that I have an old Philips walkman, which was the culprit for me messing with the Commodore 64 again and that I used to recover an old tape with my programs (hardware things with the user port and a modified game) with a PC and a “C64S” interface connected to the parallel port. I find the Walkman and try another tape to make sure it doesn’t jam and can’t damage the tape. Now I connect the Walkman with the MP32C64, which allows the C64 to be loaded with any audio source, I adjust the volume and at first, it loads the header, but then it gives an error. I turn up the volume a bit and voila!!!! LOADING READY. I couldn’t believe it, well sometimes luck is with us… Now comes the issue of how to dump it. One option was to convert to WAV on PC, but I remembered that the Ultimate II+ has an option to create a TAP from tape. It is not very intuitive but after watching a couple of videos on YouTube I get to work. After loading it with the same setup, the created TAP does not load me. Since the program is loading normally and without protection, I loaded it on the C64 and then recorded it on the “good” datassette and checked that the recorded tape loads well. Then I repeat the process with this tape and now the TAP does me good !!!!!!”
07/09/22 – Details from Greg Duddle thanks to Vinny Mainolfi