Ventura Software

Status: Full Game, Findability: 5/5

Also known as: Wilberforce: The Sorcerer's Apprentice

For this game, we go back to when the C64 was dying out, or at least Commodore Format was, and there was a little spurt of new games coming from various sources.

One such game was ‘Wilberforce’, which looked like some kind of Cauldron clone, however, featuring an apprentice and not a witch.

The game was reviewed in Commodore Format issue 46, scoring 55%, but although the game was advertised for sale, it seemed to have never got released anywhere. Not even Gamebase had the game listed in their records.

Well, we found that the game did indeed have a very limited release to just a handful of people. Sadly because of the low grade, the game’s sales were appalling.

Nabil Gonem, the game’s creator, tells GTW that it was pitched to several companies, but they turned it down as the C64 games market died out. So he decided to go it alone and sell it by mail order.

What is quite impressive is that Nabil was a one man show and did all his own music, SFX, graphics and code. There was no-one to help him. He enjoyed doing the game, and all in all it was a bit of fun to him.

What seemed to be a lost game was eventually found when contributor Michael Culshaw found the game in his attic, and ported the game to PC. He has kindly passed this onto GTW, and we can now proudly present this long lost title. Although it had a very limited release, it sits here because of its commercial pitching.

It is not a fantastic game, but it is playable and a nice title. I’m glad its been found, as it would have been a shame to have been lost. The zip is two disk sides, and there is also a text file containing the manual which came with the game.

Nabil is now a web developer, and has not followed up a career in games creation. You can hear from Nabil about the game in Creator Speaks.

Enjoy this nice little game like it should have been back in 1994. A case finally closed and another game saved…

Contributions: Michael Culshaw, Andrew Fisher, Nabil Gonem

Supporting content

Available downloads

Creator speaks

Nabil Gonem talks about work on Wilberforce…

“I wrote this game many many years ago. I am surprised that anyone even remembers it. The game was based on the story of the Sorcerer’s apprentice. The premise was that through inexperience, the young wizard had cast a spell on the brooms which had thus come to life and run amok! The object of the game was thus to destroy all the errant brooms.

The first three levels involved going in and out of caves, accessible through a main passageway, and burning all the brooms. Magic ingredients could also be found, which when mixed together formed “extra life” or “extra time” potions. The final level was a dash to freedom flying on a broomstick. The game was reviewed in Commodore Format, gaining a disappointing 55%, but was also reviewed in a German C64 magazine (I forget the name) which awarded it 70%. The funny thing is that Mayhem in Monsterland (by the famous Rowland brothers) was reviewed in the same issue and scored less than this!

It is true that the game was only available by mail order, as by then the C64 was dying out and there were hardly any serious publishers left in the field. I’m afraid I don’t remember which publishers I tried, and I didn’t keep any material relating to the game. I wasn’t really trying to make much money out of it, it was all just a bit of fun. And I didn’t make any other C64 games.

Unfortunately, the low mark in Commodore Format meant that not many copies were sold. I am amazed that someone still actually has a copy and that he happened to see your site!

Regarding credits, this was a solo effort by myself. I was graphic designer, sound effects and musician and programmer all wrapped into one. I built the game directly in machine code, using a Zeus assembler. I offered the game to several publishers, but by this time few if any publishers were marketing any new games, so I marketed it for sale by direct mail, but sold only a few copies. It’s nice to know that there are still a few copies floating out there!”

Nabil Gonem.

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