F-86 Sabre Strike


Status: No Download, Findability: 1/5

Our next entry is a flight simulator which was to be released by Accolade back in 1988 called F-86 Sabre Strike – which is thanks to contributor Billy. The game should have been released on the PC and C64.

The game wasn’t specifically advertised heavily for the C64, but was listed as being due for release on the C64 according to a schedule.

However, hardly any of the titles listed in the honor roll were not penciled in for release on the C64, so it could well have been planned. So just how far did the game get? The PC version seemed to be getting far, with some advanced screens shown in the advert and Games Machine magazine. The C64 hasn’t been seen or heard of…. but then neither has the PC version either.

It seems for some reason, this game as a whole was canned… was it due to a licencing issue? Or was there another reason?

Billy made a few good points which I thought i’d share:

“There is also a chance Accolade might had a contract with a separate design team to produce this game – for example, Canadian Sydney Development/Artech Digital, who were frequent partners of Accolade when it came to the development of action/simulation hybrids (“The Dam Busters”, “Ace of Aces”, “Desert Fox”, “The Train””

Contributor Nemo also had a valid suggestion that Distinctive Software Inc (Don A. Mattrick) was another development team that did C64 work for Accolade. In 1989, around the time of F-86 Sabre Strike, it was reported by magazines that the relations between Accolade and Distinctive Software Inc were broken. If Distinctive were actually working on this conversion, then it could make sense why it never appeared if relations soured. Here is a quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distinctive_Software:

“In 1989, programmers Pete Gardner and the “Old Kid” (Amory Wong) of DSI(Distinctive Software Inc) , under the pseudonym USI (Unlimited Software, Inc.), converted Sega’s arcade game Out Run into a DOS version. For Out Run, they used several software libraries they had developed for Test Drive II. Consequently, Accolade charged that DSI violated a working agreement, and sued. Accolade sought a preliminary injunction against the distribution and sale of Out Run. Distinctive Software argued that it had only used source code that did routine functions, such as clearing the video screen and that Accolade did not own a copyright on those functions.

Accolade argued that their contract for Test Drive II gave them the ownership and copyright of the final product””the game””and the source code used to create it. Distinctive Software won; the court ruled that “the licensing agreement transfers to Accolade the copyright to the concept and design of the video game but not the underlying source code.” The court also found that Accolade had failed to demonstrate that the balance of hardships was in its favor”

Of course, we need to make the connection that Distinctive Software did indeed do the conversion. Nemo suggests that something that supports that scenario is that Unlimited Software (Distinctive’s porting division), had done the C64 conversion for another flight sim in 1988 called Thud Ridge – American Aces in Nam.

An interview in French magazine Tilt (issue 61) in December 1988 spoke with Accolade’s vice president Peter Doctorow, where he said the following:

“Then, we plan to release two programs of a different kind: F-86 (the first aircraft to break the sound barrier, and this simulation will make you take on the role of test pilot) and… All these programs are for PC, C64 …..”

later saying:

“Our developers mainly work on PC and C64; For us, PCs are the biggest, accounting for 40% of the market, Then comes the C64 which is still doing very well and which represents 25%”

It is very likely that the game got pretty far on the C64. So what happened to it?

More research needed – but some big potential leads thanks to the great efforts and detective work of Nemo!

Contributions: Billy, Nemo

Supporting content

Update history

  • 21/07/17 – Updated notes from Nemo
  • 19/01/16 – Scan added and some theories and potential links to developer thanks to Nemo
Posted in: GTW64 archive | Tagged: | 4 Comments

4 Responses to F-86 Sabre Strike

  1. The link with Distinctive seems likely and one wonders if this was the case if any assets between the unreleased Accolade game and Thud Ridge were shared. Also interesting to note as an aside is that the box art for the C64 Thud Ridge actually features screenshots from the Amiga version that doesn’t appear to have surfaced at all. Another GTW!

  2. Has anyone tried reaching Amory Wong to ask him about it?

    He still does interviews it seems:


    But if his memory about SNES era games is a bit of a Blur, maybe C64 era is too far back for he to recal much on.

    Pity as i’d of liked to of asked him about his Atari 8bit work on Ace Of Aces and Fight Night and to see if there were any other lost A8+C64 games he worked on….

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