A famous sequel to a famous series of games, Solar Jetman was released on the NES platform, and other 8-bit conversions were planned, including the C64 and Spectrum. A little news snippet was mentioned once in Zzap about the conversion by Storm, but that was it.
The game never surfaced and became a myth when mentioned on the C64. But GTW one day received news of the game being fully completed on the C64, with music by Geoff Follin, code by John Buckley and with Haydn Dalton supplying the graphics.
The game was being converted by Software Creations for Sales Curve way back in 1991. Martin Holland, another guy from Software Creations, informed GTW about the game, adding that the conversion was really good.
GTW got to work and began to search for this elusive conversion, and started with Haydn Dalton, who sadly could not find anything of the game after some searching. Two years later, and a month or two after the site relaunch, efforts were made to find the game’s programmer, John Buckley as a last ditch effort. After tracing John down to PlaypoolUK, GTW got the news it dreaded.. John hadn’t got any of his old disks no longer…
But a week or two after almost giving up hope of finding the game, Haydn Dalton was one day searching through some things at home, when he stumbled upon a disk with the label missing. The label was in there too, and stated “Solar Jetman Disk 1”, and after a bit more digging, Haydn found the second disk.
In an excited hurry, Haydn sent them special delivery to GTW to port over (see scans for the letter that came with the disk!), hoping that they still worked after all this time. And luck favoured all… Clean as a bell, the 1541 “wurred away” and there it was…. A Geoff Follin tune and title picture, and then a fantastic game to follow… Solar Jetman was saved!… The last known copy in existence was very quickly backed up and ported. For the first time ever, Solar Jetman could now be appreciated by the fans as it should have been back in 1991.
But why not release such a stunning little game?…. For crazy reasons, Sales Curve decided that the title was not suitable material for the C64 games market. And after the relatively poor sales of the NES game, this kind of confirmed the cancellation of the game. Ludicrous really to turn down such a nice little game, and something you almost didn’t see.
But thanks to the fate of Haydn finding the disks, you can see and play it for yourself. And now John and Haydn can receive the credit they deserve. You can also check out the game ending on Vinny Mainolfi’s C64 endings website here.
One of the most important findings ever on C64… Case closed!
Contributions: Haydn Dalton, John Buckley, Martin Holland, Tony Williams
John Buckley speaks to GTW about work on Solar Jetman..
“It was the best c64 game I had worked on, it played just as good as the nes version, we just had to cut down the number of maps to fit it all in.
Haydn contacted me about it a few years ago and I searched everywhere but found no sign of it.
It was dropped , I think on commercial grounds. The Atari st and Amiga were also done in-house and were also finished, Tony did the spectrum version freelance which was already a playable demo and would of been “a classic”.
Solar Jetman (Original) was a strange sort of game some people loved it others hated it. I loved playing it because I gave it time, but I wouldn’t of bought it. I still think it should have been released though. The C64, Amiga and ST versions were fully complete and the spectrum version was well on the way.
Solar Jetman was as close as we could get to the Nes version. But even at the time there was things I would of liked to of changed . Music for one, it would of been nice to of had a piece of subtle music running on each level rather than just fx.
It also gets a bit frustrating at times as various gravity pulls thrust you into the background, just like the Nes version. As I remember the only compromise we made was to reduce the number of levels and size of maps. Also a couple of homing missiles had to go.
I remember we had to go through each level and “condense” it, while keeping the same overall shape. Where as the 16 bit guys just used the maps in the Nes.”
John Buckley .
Haydn Dalton speaks to GTW about work on Solar Jetman…
<Talking about the rating of the game>
“As a port of the NES version, it should get 95%, because it was very close to that version (the pickfords did some great work on that). As a game, I’d say mid to high 80’s. It’s a little bit hard to say now after all this time. When it was being done, I thought it was a good conversion and the NES was scoring 90’s.”
<Talking about the game’s map>
“I forgot about the map sizes. That was a big problem. Again the maps ate character graphics because of the slope angles more than anything”
Haydn Dalton .