Yes, Time Scanner was actually released on the C64, and many of you can claim to own it. But how many of you can claim to own the version that should have been?
In July 1988, UK magazine Commodore User presented in their preview pages, a promising Time Scanner conversion for our C64’s which looked something like this colourful shot we have.
Looking at the scan shot, you will notice some colourful graphics present… but then load up the actual C64 version that was released, then it will become clear a major difference between this picture and the actual game. For a start, does the above picture look like a Spectrum conversion?…. no, but the official game does.
In TGM however, we found yet another screenshot of the game… this time an actual C64 shot which looked like a Spectrum conversion… but with a completely different set of graphics *again* from the final release (This recently has been confirmed to be a Spectrum shot).
But what happened really, and what about the colour version?… Did Activision do the same as with R-Type and bring in new coders, maybe the coders were those of R-Type V1, and there was a major bust up to present a split with the coders and Activision. Well, it seems so… Barry Leitch’s music for the game has recently sneaked out thanks to HVSC, and confirms that indeed this was a V1 in production.
And it was Catalyst Coders again who were behind this title, but with Paul Cole as the developer (Who later went on to write Strider on the C64). Chris Edwards was on graphics. Interestingly though – Bob Pape’s book on R-Type suggests that both Jim Smart and David Jolliff were the original programmers on an aborted conversion – but Jim confirms he had no involvement.
Paul had the following to say about the conversion, including excitingly how complete it was…
“It was near completion, but there were problems between Activision and Catalyst, We had attended a meeting on the morning it was pulled with Activision and they told us that it was still going ahead, we drove from Southampton to Portsmouth, by the time we got there, Activision had phoned up cancelling it.
At that point, I was refused access to the PC to get any code.
The project was then sent to another company who messed it all up, What annoyed me was about 4 months after that, I got a call from Activision directly asking if I still had the code as my unfinished version was better than what they had.”
So sadly Paul no longer has anything of what sounds like a far better game, but Chris Edwards may have something yet. It’s early days, but we’ll have to try and see what happens. Otherwise it could be case closed for this game.
Additionally – the other team that was brought in – could have been Foursfield, who were the team behind Incredible Shrinking Sphere. In the ACE review of the game, it is stated that Foursfield were given the role of converting Timescanner. Was this before or after Paul Cole? Eitherway, it suggests that Colin Reed was one of the programmers on a conversion.
Some extra info from Games Machine 10-88 reveals that Time Scanner had suffered as a result of all the conversions that Mediagenic/Activision were trying to cover all at once.
Although the graphics and game were all there and finished, the most important part of the game – the ball movement – wasn’t right, so Time Scanner was re-coded, but obviously the end result ended up being worse than the original version which they tried to get Paul Cole to come back and release.
Very exciting developments, we now know there was a second version, we know who did it and that it was near completion. Now can we find it?
Can you help us find it?…
Contributions: Martin / Stadium 64, Barry Leitch, Paul Cole, Martin Webb