Lock On


Status: No Download, Findability: 2/5


An interesting conversion which never seems to have got much spotlight, but was indeed a C64 conversion in the workings. Confirmation made by the screenshots printed in Commodore User magazine back in the time.

This was kind of a cross between Top Gun and G-Loc back in the day, and was a conversion of an old Data East/Tatsumi Coin-op which wasn’t too well known compared to the likes of Afterburner. From the screenshots we can see a game which seems to have been taking shape, although looking a little plain.

Looking at the time of the screenshots, it seems to suggest that the game was in development around the same time that R-Type V1 and Time Scanner V1 was being worked on. Could this have been part of the same development team behind one of these games?

Well, if you look carefully at the font at the top of the game, it is practically identical to the font used in The Real Ghostbusters and Karnov, which were both developed by Mr. Micro Ltd. This means that we could be looking at Greg Duddle/Jason Heggie as developer, James McDermott as graphic artist and perhaps Dave Jones as musician.

Apart from the preview mention in Commodore User, the game was never seen again. It wasn’t long until we learnt why. Commodore User (August 1988) had the following news article which explained why this never quite surfaced:

In a shock development, Mediagenic/Activision have announced that they won’t now be releasing their licensed conversion of psychedelic coin-op shoot ’em up, Lock On. This is the second major coin-op licence which has failed to appear from Activision – there is still no sign of their long overdue 64 version of Super Hang-On. In both cases the programming house involved in the conversion work was Southampton-based Electric Dreams.

The decision to drop Lock-On came after a review of the work-in-progress to date. According to an Activision spokesperson. “Basically the 64 version wasn’t fast enough, and it just wouldn’t have been an economic proposition to continue working on it. It just didn’t look like it was going to be up to standard without a lot more time and money being invested in it”. The company felt that they had no option other than to scrap the game.

“Though we’re obviously very disappointed to have to shelve a game, it just wasn’t coming together on play test. And frankly, its a lot better than releasing sub-standard product. After all, play testers are ultimately there to stop consumers from being ripped off”.

Well, never stopped Activision before on the C64! But still, its a huge shame. So, the game was overall dropped merely because of speed issues. From the looks of things, it used a vector based approach, maybe sprites could have been better used?

Recently a guy called Kjell got in touch as he had some computer game T-Shirts from the late 80’s and we think from computer shows. One of the shirts is a Activision/Mediagenic shirt for Lock On, see the photos below in the gallery.

In a strange twist in 2012 – Mtboggs88 (based in the USA) from the Lemon64 forum came across a manual for Lock On which was labelled for the Commodore 64 and disk based. Here it is. After some digging, it seems like the game was released on the PC, Atari ST for Data East US by Quicksilver … http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quicksilver_Software

Quicksilver of course did the US versions of Ikari Warriors and various others which differed to the UK versions. This suggests that there were possibly two Lock-On games in production, both in the US and UK and neither got a release! We found it on sale as well in a US sales catalog from August 1988.

The C64 label seems to have been a cock up though on all released versions. An ST website confirming this with scans of the manual including the C64 label. So, did a US version also exist and do we need a separate entry for that?

Martin/Stadium64 found another advert for the game which included the C64 sticker – so it is seeming more likely that a conversion was under way. Where is it now though?

Contributions: Peter Weighill, Kjell, Mtboggs88, LouisG, Martin/Stadium64, Stephen Stuttard (Scans)

Supporting content

Update history

  • 26/04/24 – Improved scan added and possible credits.
  • 17/12/17 – Another scan added thanks to Martin / Stadium 64
  • 23/09/14 – Extra advert scan added thanks to LouisG
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