Judge Death


Status: Preview, Findability: 4/5

Also known as: Horror City

A 3D Operation Wolf style blaster featuring 2000 AD’s Barbie lookalike Psi-Judge Anderson gunning down the evil Judge Death’s zombie hordes. Unlike previous games of this genre, Judge Death actually showed your hand clasping the lethal Lawgiver (gun favoured by Mega City One Judges), though aiming and shooting was via the usual cross hairs.

It’s not a brilliant game by any means, but for its time it looked pretty good. The main problem with the game was that they apparently used Koala Pad to design all the backgrounds, and unfortunately the C64 did not have the power to shift them around effectively. Piranha were apparently quite annoyed off with the conversion according to graphic artist Stephen (SIR) Robertson.

The game was being developed by Hobbyte, a Hungarian team of around 10 programmers in total, who were according to Crash magazine (issue 47, December 1978, page 88), preparing the game for the ZX Spectrum, C64 and Amstrad.

Stephen was drafted in to make the graphics “Less clean”, and add some graffiti around the place. He did do some nice Dark Judges sprites in addition to his work, but these were sadly never used. Piranha software sadly went under with debts, and this game was caught up in it all. A lot of publicity went into this game, and some of this you can see within the scans area.

What is interesting is that a version of the game, seeming to feature a number of levels was released in 1989 and now credited to Novatrade. There are suggestions that they picked up the game, removed references to Judge Death and then released it in limited numbers under a new name of Horror City.

There have been suggestions of some C64 fans having purchased an original copy, though as of yet none of surfaced and we haven’t seen a box scan yet of the game. Can you help us confirm if Horror City was released in any shape or form?

Graeme Mason in November 2017 additionally had a wonderful article published on the 2000AD games, which mentions Judge Death and various other games from that era: http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017-11-19-a-brief-history-of-2000ads-8-bit-games

It’s all a bit of a mess, but certainly worth a look to see a piece of gaming history that has thankfully been preserved in some shape/form.

Contributions: Ian Osbourne, Jason Kelk, Mat Allen, Gaz Spence, Ross Sillifant, RetroAndGaming

Supporting content

Available downloads

Creator speaks

SIR speaks about work on Judge Death…

“As for Judge Death, well the game was developed in Hungary, but I remember the producers in London weren’t very pleased with the game. The original design for the game – done by a guy called Kevin Williams – was pretty good, but they hadn’t done a good job in coding it.

They’d decided to develop it using bitmapped graphics drawn on a Koala pad (like I used for my loading screens). The problem with this was that the c64 just didn’t have the power to move those graphics around smoothly, hence the really jerky scrolling and sluggish controls.

The publisher wasn’t very happy with the game or the graphics, and I was drafted in to help to try to get the game up to an acceptable standard. I remember visiting the publisher to discuss with them what we could do. To start with the graphics weren’t very good, and too clean – there was no detail. So I added all the graffiti and background objects you see in the game.

I didn’t have much time so I couldn’t do a lot. I did do some very nice C64 Dark Judges sprites, but unfortunately they didn’t end up in the game. The publisher were keen on an ST version, and I did some sample graphics to show how the ST version could progress, but again nothing happened.”


Update history

  • 01/05/23 – Added reference relating to Hobbyte and further details – with thanks to Ross Sillifant and RetroAndGaming.
  • 26/11/21 – Tidy up of the page and write up.
  • 10/03/17 – More scans added thanks to Ross Sillifant.
  • 29/05/14 – Previously unseen screenshot (unless you read CVG 74?) – thanks to Ross Sillifant
Posted in: GTW64 archive | Tagged: | 9 Comments

9 Responses to Judge Death

  1. The Games Machine claimed a Hungarian team by name of Hobbyte were ‘a fair way into’ developng this title.Mix up in names?.

    • Could be! Might be the Andromedia had contracted the game out to the Hungarian team. That name sounds familiar though!

    • In Crash magazine issue 47, December 1987 page 88 the game is discussed. “The quite different 2000AD comics went down well with Hobbyte’s ten programmers, who are preparing Judge Death for Spectrum, Commodore 64 and Amstrad.”

      • Thanks RetroAndGaming! Sounds like that they may have been the original development team working on it. I’ll get the page updated with credit to yourself.

  2. Appaloosa sadly went under after releasing Jaws (PS2/Xbox etc) which was crippled by an appalling camera system did they not?.They were interviewd in the Official DC magazine years back, i think…will have to have a dig around, see if anything said on their previous works….

  3. Hi Frank,

    It doesn’t matter as far as the game itself is concerned, but Novotrade were a Hungary development studio responsible for Ecco the Dolphin, and changed their name to Appaloosa later. Could it possibly be that “Horror City” is the released Hungarian version of the game, possibly distributed in that country by Novotrade (with Andromeda developing)?

    Certainly the only logical thing that makes sense in my mind.

    • Could be, though there hasn’t been any evidence surfacing yet. We’ll leave this here though in case anyone else wishes to comment. You could be right?

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