The first thing to say for this shoot ’em up is that the lack of a C64 version may not be a huge loss. Amiga Power magazine described it as "possibly the least involved game we’ve ever reviewed", and Electronic Arts’ Simon Jeffrey later described it as the worst Amiga game they ever did.
Still, a C64 version was in the pipeline, and that makes it potential GTW fodder.
According to Amiga programmer Julian Alder-Salter, Sean Dunlevy and Haydn Dalton were working on the conversion.
It got as far as a simple demo featuring the main character walking around a primitively-parallaxing background, but had not advanced very far when it was decided that the number of sprites it required was not feasible. Sean Dunlevy speaks more about the woes of the game in his Creator Speaks segment.
Julian has nothing of the C64 version, so now we await news from Sean to see if by chance he kept anything of the conversion!
Possible hope for this one being found…
Contributions: Barry Leitch, Julian Alder
Julian Alder-Salter, Amiga programmer and Sean Dunlevy speak to GTW...
"The c64 version of zone warrior was cancelled very early on.
I worked mainly on the Atari st and amiga versions of the game. A programmer named Sean Dunlevy (aka gilbert the goat!!!) was the main coder for that sku. From what I remember there was a very simple demo of the game that was done – maybe to the 1st or 2nd milestone basicly a simple horizontal scrolling backdrop with the main character walking left and right over the top. Iirc there was some parallax but there were issues with the number of sprites required and the multiplexing that was necessary which caused it to be canned.
Last I heard Sean was working at core but they were bought by eidos so no idea what’s become of him. I have retail versions of the st and amiga version kicking about somewhere but nothing for the c64 – I’d be very surprised if that existed anywhere now – if you can track down sean dunlevy he might have a version but I’d not bank on it.
I’d love to know when you’ve got the entry sorted so if you have the time I’d love to be kept up to date."
Sean Dunlevy :
"I was the person working on the C64 version of Zone Warrior. The game was just awful; awful design, awful graphics, hopeless conversion. To begin with, the main character used 4 hardware sprites alone. Since there were so many frames, the left-facing animations had to be flipped in software, then drawn. In fact, it used SO much memory & CPU time that I had to store 1/2 the sprites facing one way, the other 1/2 facing the other.
Since the design asked for parallax door-frames, these also had to be sprites and again used 4 hardware sprites. You get the picture. I had to draw bullets and such in software to the background to save sprites.
All I can say is that I was glat to dump the thing in favour of helping convert Times Of Lore from the Apple II to the C64. At least it was a pretty good game. I learned from it as well. If your designing a game then understand the strong & weak point of a platform.
I went on to do Thunderhawk on the PC, then Wolfchild one the Master Sysem/Game Gear. The thing I was MOST proud of on that project was that the engine was good enough (and commented enough) so that Gibby (a new guy who hadn't written a game before) could re-use it. To me, the C64 was an amazing platform and MUCH more fun to code than, say, the Amiga. 8-bit consoles ae my forte. Years later I did Tomb Raider on the Gameboy Color and though I say so myself, it looked pretty damned good."
What do I do now? LOTS of things. Hardware, software, design and so on. I've written an LPC10 type decoder that uses some tricks to reduce CPU time to an extent that a C64 could handle it. Imagine the ESS (electronic speech systems) codec (as used on Ghostbusters, Beachhead II and so on) but getting about 75 bytes per second speech.
Oh, I also managed to get the whole of the Collins dictionary into 32K. 2-bits per letter. 00-not valid, 01-valid, not the end of a word,10-valid end of word, 11-valid, MAY be the end of a word.
Tables inside tables inside tables. I've also got a Dutch dictionary (I lived in Amsterdam for 2 years) and a Fench one. I figure I can get something like Babelfish into an applet for commercial use. Combined with the LPC10 decoder it would be a good, cheap, portable helper for the blind/partially sighted..."
BTW I also wrote Tomb Raider on the Color Gameboy. Dan reused my engine for the second TR CGB game I spent so much time on the engine that I couldn’t use it fully…. but Dan did, I was proud of him.
Right now I am coding an MP3 decoder for the ARM Cortex M0+ processor i.e. it used the Thumb instruction set. Amazing that a 32-bit RISC processor can use 12000 gates. The 6510 used, well, 6510 gates.