Even after well over 20 years since the formation of the GTW64 digital archive, we are still often surprised by what turns up from time to time. In October 2021 is yet another surprise thanks to preservationist Ken Van Mersbergen.
Ken got in touch with GTW recently and provided two early versions of Parker Brothers titles that he recovered, including this very different and early Popeye prototype that hasn’t been seen for almost 40 years – until today!
If you compare to the actual released version, you can see that this is a completely different development, and one which was done by Jack Verson for On-time Software.
Jack has also been linked as the developer for Joust which was recovered last year (also by Ken), and a direct port from the Atari 400/800 edition. It seems that Jack did the same thing for Popeye, as looking at the Atari version – you can see that this prototype is almost identical apart from some graphical differences.
Ken has been going through the archive of a retired programmer who used to work for Roklan and On-Time Software, and this is where the Popeye prototype was found.
Originally Joust was found on a disk that contained the source code to Popeye, but nothing was thought of it at the time. Little did we know that the Popeye code was for an unreleased edition. It is thanks to Ken that we have been able to play this very interesting curiosity.
The game seems to be complete, with all 3 levels and loops round once you finish. It is currently unknown why this conversion was not released and why it was redeveloped from scratch. Our initial thoughts is that Parker Bros. rejected it.
Until we find out more, check out the prototype for yourself and get a glimpse of what was a very different Popeye conversion for the C64.
A huge thank you yet again to Ken Van Mersbergen for his fantastic preservation work and for getting in touch with GTW to share his finding. Enjoy!
Contributions: Ken Van Mersbergen
Popeye is a nice little game and I will be happy to play the original on the C64 platform.