While I was away doing exams and coursework in 2004, a few games suddenly surfaced out of nowhere, and Trac Troopa was one of the pleasant surprises to surface from an ex-C64 programmer’s work disk. Jon Williams is not to be confused with the Jon Williams of “First Samurai” fame, but was another developer from the 80’s with a programming talent.
Jon and his friends created what is known as Trac Troopa, a sideways scrolling tile based game in a similar form to Bounder.
Graphically the game is quite impressive, with a decent array of sprites with hi-res overlays. Sonically there was nothing here, unless you count the tune that Richard Bayliss later added. Both versions before and after are included in the zip.
The game was touted to companies such as Firebird, Mastertronic, Codemasters and Gremlin. It was the last company which showed a keen interest, but pen was sadly never put to paper and the game was never released. Funnily enough, Gremlin had not yet released their Bounder game, so maybe
they borrowed a few ideas from Jon’s game?
Anyway, after a set of unsuccessful attempts to market the game, Trac Troopa was laid to rest on its work disk and put away in the attic to gather dust. After worrying about losing the game forever, Jon transferred the game to PC and then onto CD. It was in 2004 when he was requested to dig the game out, and finally it was released into the C64 world for the first time.
So here is the game that should have been snapped up by one of the big budget companies, or even full price companies. Sadly, Jon didn’t have the luck he deserved. But at last, Jon is now able to gain the credit for his hard work that he deserves, and GTW is proud the present the full game with all the documents and also some rare designs of the game’s graphics.
A full GTW game launched and playable… Case closed!…
Contributions: Jon Williams, Richard Bayliss
John Williams speaks about work on Trac Troopa…
“I am J.Williams, the programmer of Trac Troopa, but unfortunately I was not involved in First Samurai – that must be another JW.
If you are wondering why my sig does not match the author’s name exactly, I used to drop the ‘h’ in the C64/Compunet (cnet id: JW9) days.
Trac Troopa was “completed” in 1987 but lacked music and sound effects. The game was never published and remained hidden away in my C64 disk box for many years. I feared the disks would eventually become unreadable so I unpacked the C64, copied the files to a PC which were then copied to CDR.
Now we are in 2004, and Tod asks for the game, he sends it to Richard Bayliss (of TND) and he kindly adds some music – what a great surprise that was.
I’ve done some digging around and I’ve found a folder in my drawer with some Trac Troopa docs. In it, there appears to be a number of letters, each one inviting a publisher to accept the product. The copies of the letters are to Mastertronic, Codemasters and Firebird. I can’t recall if these actually
went out to those companies, but I can’t see why not.
A ‘Work in progress’ of Trac Troopa was also demonstrated to Gremlin Graphics (based where we live – Sheffield), at this time I believe Bounder was not released – is it a coincidence that Bounder resembles Trac Troopa, who knows?”
Jon Williams .
Saul Cross speaks about work on Trac Troopa…
“Hi, my old friend John Williams contacted me to let me know that not only was Trac Troopa (John – code, Myself Graphics and Steven Oldale on maps and additional Graphics) released but that a version with a soundtrack was available, so I popped over to your site to take a look and I am so very pleased to have a new and improved version of Trac Troopa in my collection of D64 files. Thankyou for your site and thanks for the very positive review, I was pleasantly surprised that John had managed to find an original sketch and the original plot that we cobbled together, and I am very pleased with the music that Richard Bayliss has produced for it.
I can tell you that the letters to Mastertronic, Codemasters and Firebird were sent although I cannot remember if we got any reply. One big problem was the lack of a soundtrack, we had thought of ways to do this but the only tool we had available for music writing at that time was Rock Monitor and it would not have been impossible to incorporate music from that in few enough raster passes (remember using the scan to time interrupts).
We did talk to Gremlin, but they would not take the game without sound and were not willing to comission a soundtrack from Rob Hubbard or Ben Daglish, although I did get to talk to Rob Hubbard over the phone. It would be spculation to say that some ideas were borrowed and used in Bounder or Re-Bounder, but there are similarities, especially in the latter.
Your site is great, keep up the good work.”
[[[[[[[ TRAC TROOPA – SCENARIO ]]]]]]]
It is the year 2138, the colony of humans on the planet of Aaross 4 has been
in a state of decline due to a problem with the water supply. The cause of
the problem has been identified as damage to 1 of the 10 aquaducts which
surround the colony (the water travels through low resistance transmission
tracks from lakes nearby but any damage to these tracks would reduce the
flow to a trickle.) It is not known which of these aquaducts contains the
damaged tracks and to visit each one with a repair crew would not only be
expensive but would be dangerous as the areas outside the colony are
inhabited by Yorkoss an advanced alien race who live within a material known
as etheriite (an armour which can pass through anything absorbing energy and
can only be destroyed using plasma weapons.) To save money and to avoid
endangering navigators unnecessarily the colonists have built a suit of
pyrocrete traction armour complete with rechargeable shield, programmable
plasma cannon, and an autocooled nuclear power unit to supply power to the
traction system and on-board computer. As a class A inspector in the P.O.C
Patrol (prevent ongoing crime patrol) you have been selected to patrol the
aquaducts. Some things you should know are :-
A) Your plasma cannon is not programmed but programs can be found on route.
These will always increase the potential of your current weapon by giving
you 40 shots of a faster or larger plasma charge. It is important that you
try to reserve some shots as you will only receive a slow low power charge
when you have no shots in reserve.
B) The supply for the shields and the supply for the cooling system on the
nuclear reactor are one and the same. If this runs out the reactor will go
critical and explode killing you. You can recharge this supply along the
C) The shields will protect you from most things (if you fall you will be
safely transported to the start of the present aquaduct but this uses 100
units of energy from the shield supply.) The only thing which can penetrate
the shields is flourascite, if this does so the armour will short circuit
and the reactor will go critical.
You have your mission so go out there and get on with it.
[[[[[[[ TRAC TROOPA – INSTRUCTIONS ]]]]]]]
Play the game with the joystick in port 2.
The player figure travels at three different speeds over a scrolling
backdrop 4 blocks deep. Changing speed is done by pushing the joystick left
and right (speed does not change smoothly but suddenly, expect this.)
Changing heading is done by pushing the joystick back and forth (there is
inertia in effect when you change heading.) Firing is obvious. You start
with 1000 shield energy and no firepower. The only other thing you need to
know is what the various different background blocks do so the following is
a set of descriptions :-
1) TRACK. This has no effect on your armour but should be followed unless
recharge pads or weapon programs are easily accessible.
2) ICE. To be avoided whenever possible as it is a totally frictionless
surface and for this reason it is impossible to change your speed and
heading whilst on it.
3) JUMP PAD. This is an eletrostatically charged pad which repels your
armour causing you to summersault (the distance covered by the jump is
proportional to your speed.) It should be noted that these are most useful.
4) SLOW PAD. This magnetically interferes with the computer which operates
the traction system causing you to move at minimum speed. It is a definite
5) DROP. This is exactly what it says, hitting this causes you to return to
the beginning of the present aquaduct and lose 100 shield energy units.
6) PYRAMID. This is a pyramid made from flourascite, to touch this is fatal
as it pierces the shield short circuiting the armour and causing the reactor
to go critical. AVOID AT ALL COSTS.
7) RECHARGE PAD. This recharges the shield energy reserves and is therefore
extremely useful but it will sometimes lead to a trap for the greedy player.
8) WEAPON PROGRAM. This increases your fire power and is very useful indeed
but again you must be careful not to be fooled in to following a fatal path.
9) END PAD. This is the most welcome block of all as it signifies the end of
the aquaduct and transports you to the next one.
10) ARROW PAD. This pad does nothing more than signify the start of an
aquaduct although you may see the odd one lying around giving some good and
some bad advice.
There you have it. Good Trooping………