Potentially this was originally thought of as vaporware until we had received confirmation that it wasn’t. This was thanks to early adverts for Space Ace by Empire/Readysoft, which reported a C64 version as coming soon.
Additionally though in recent times we have knowledge that indeed a deal was being thrashed out for a C64 conversion of Space Ace by Empire software. With a ton of game design document information and notes recovered by Paul Cawley and scanned in. Check out the downloads for a massive PDF showing a ton of information and specifications for the C64 edition being proposed.
Basically, Empire were trying to arrange conversions for not only the C64, but also the Amstrad and ZX Spectrum. We know at least that the C64 version was being pushed for UK based development during late 1989. They also wanted the game to be kept to around a 512k product to maintain portability at a later date to the Nintendo Entertainment System.
The document carefully explains what key sections would be focused on and converted, and how they could be converted – i.e. using vertical scrolling, switched perspective etc. It wasn’t going to be trying to emulate a laser disc game at all, but do something akin to Drgaon’s Lair, and make an interpretation/demake of some of the scenes.
Later adverts (and at least the ones we have seen) do not have C64 listed, so it was clearly scrapped off the list early on. It seems that discussions got stuck in a bit of a loop between the owners of Space Ace and Entertainment International UK, who were trying to negotiate the 8-bit conversions.
Things dragged well into mid-1990 and the owners of Space Ace got a bit fed up and even started to pitch to other companies to do conversions. They wanted to ensure that development was started asap, so they could get a Christmas 1990 release. It never happened, but we don’t know if anyone actually started any kind of conversion or if an agreement was ever made. The information ran dry at this point.
Readysoft did eventually release a C64 title in the form of Wrath of the Demon, which has a kind of laserdisc feel in its graphics for some strange reason. Maybe because of the large cartoony graphics. Maybe a proof of concept was done with Space Ace in Wrath of the Demon’s engine to start with, was scrapped and Wrath of the Demon grew out of the C64’s proof of concept?… A bit far fetched speculation?
More I feel is yet to be uncovered on this conversion, and something may well have been started – not only on C64, but Spectrum and Amstrad platforms too!
Contributions: Karl Kuras