Puzzle games are quite abundant in GTW64, and Stratagos is now about to add to the tally – a puzzler by Andrew Rodger.
Stratagos may have actually seen a release, but in very limited numbers. The game was offered for sale as part of a GEMS compilation pack by Digital Dynamite. An advert was listed in Issue 61 of Zzap, with a review of just the text adventure game which came as part of the pack of 4 games. The adventure game managed to find its way out though… http://www.gamebase64.com/game.php?id=9297&d=18&h=0
Andrew that he was paid for his work and the game contained his Red Sunset tune as a title/in-game tune.
The game itself is a neat puzzler where you must replicate a sequence of colours by moving over a set of tiles in order. If you go over the same colour twice, then it removes it from your list. It is an interesting idea which is a bit difficult at first, but once you grasp it – its good fun. Graphically it looks quite nice too. The only thing is that you may get frustrated once you realize that past level 99, it loops to 1 :-)
Sadly it seems that the idea of 4 mixed games genres of unknown quality in a mail order advert for £8-11 wasn’t a great idea, and so Digital Dynamite disappeared without trace, and it seems not really anyone picked up a copy.
But regarding saving the game – we hit luck with Andrew Rodger, Duncan Kershaw and Mark Wilson all had copies. Duncan started things by digging out some photos of the GEMS collection, and then Mark Wilson followed recently with the disks themselves.
Mark had backed up the game to D64 images – and has very kindly passed these onto GTW to include and show Castle Boy and Stratagos for the for the first time. It is very possible that only those involved on the project ever got a copy in the way of a complimentary copy. What is warming to learn, is that all the developers seem to have got paid for their work – but the company themselves just didn’t make the money and Digital Dynamite was no more. A shame!
So now finally you are able to play this hidden gem from Andrew thanks to the efforts of Mark.
Case pretty much closed!
Contributions: Andrew Fisher, Andrew Rodger, Duncan Kershaw, Mark Wilson
Andrew Rodger speaks about work on Stratagos:
“I’m not sure if my only completed assembly language game effort ‘Stratagos’ qualifies for GTW64, as it was technically released (on the GEMS compilation by Digital Dynamite).
Stratagos was a puzzle game, but unfortunately Zzap! only reviewed the adventure game on the disk, the other games were ignored. I guess a mixed genre disk wasn’t the best of ideas, but that’s with the benefit of hindsight. Digital Dynamite were kind enough to send me £50 for my efforts, even though they made no money (or more than likely – lost money) on the whole project. I used my tune ‘Red Sunset’ as the title screen/in-game music, as I recall. I still have Stratagos on a disk and the original GEMS commercial package that Digital Dynamite were kind enough to send me, but I’ll need to see if it still loads.
Whilst looking at floppy disks for Andrew’s article, I noticed the name ‘Lemonoids’ that I’d scrawled on a disk label. That was to be a semi-sequel to Stratagos, but with lemons (with faces) that you had to re-arrange, somehow, I think this was circa 1990. Like the Cyberman turning his head, I probably spent longer working on the lemon-face sprites than the actual game, which (again, with hindsight) probably wasn’t a good idea!
There is only one tile layout in Stratagos – I did tricks in other levels such as rotate the board 90° or flip it to try and disguise this. The ‘homing star’ that makes an appearance later was a lazy way of making the game more difficult instead of designing harder layouts!”
- 13/01/14 – Added scans confirming existence of GEMS pack
- 15/02/14 – Added Gems pack download!
- 16/02/14 – Added cracked version of game
- 01/03/14 – Added notes from Andrew on the game in Creator Speaks