• Tag Archives Epyx
  • Epyx Fast Load

    USA 1985

    The Commodore 64 in addition to being an excellent computer for its time was also an incredible games machine. The one significant drawback it had was long load times…sometimes very long. Being a computer and using a disk already meant longer load times than a cartridge based video game system but the disk load times on a Commodore 64 were much slower than they should have been for various cost saving and backwards compatibility measures for the VIC-20 that were really unnecessary. Anyway, being a computer with easy programability and expansion ability, this was a problem that could be overcome.

    One of the first solutions to this problem was the Epyx Fast Load cartridge. It sped loading up to 5x and when you were talking load times that could sometimes be measured in minutes or with games or applications that would have multiple loads, this was huge. The Fast Load cartridge simply plugged into your user port and no other effort was necessary to enjoy much faster load times.

    In addition to speeding up loading, it also added a few shortcuts commands. For instance (from memory) typing ‘$’ would give you a directory listing and typing ‘←*’ would fast load the first (or only) application/game on the disk. What was most important, however, was the faster load speeds.

    The Fast Load cartridge was released in 1984. It did have a few downsides. Mainly, it did not work with some copy protection schemes that came later. Of course, this was just another incentive to pirate games or to use pirated versions stripped of copy protection even if you bought the original. Eventually it became common and ultimately virtually universal for fast load schemes to be built into programs. This made the Fast Load cartridge much less useful but at the time it was released it was virtually a ‘must have’.

    The ad above is from circa 1985.

  • Epyx (1984)

    Source: K-Power – Issue Number 8 – November/December 1984

    While only a distant memory now, Epyx was once a powerhouse among game developers. Epyx first published for Atari computers and then the Commodore 64 when it came along. By 1984, the Commodore 64 was much more popular and Epyx did the bulk of their business on that platform. While shareware wasn’t really popular yet, companies were already finding ways to let you try before you buy. This ad shows one such attempt by Epyx.

    While you may not remember the Epyx name, you should remember some of the games, at least if you were playing games then. Included on this disk are Summer Games, Impossible Mission, Breakdance, The World’s Greatest Baseball Games, Silicon Warrior, and PuzzlePanic. I never had this disk and it isn’t clear to me whether these are playable or non-interactive demos. My guess is there is probably some of each. At any rate, a refundable $3.00 which included shipping isn’t a bad deal to get to see and/or play these games before shelling out $20-$40 for something you might not end up liking. Epyx tended to make pretty good games though. Summer Games and Impossible Mission are my favorites from this batch.

    Epyx later went on to play a large role in the development of the Atari Lynx but as we all know, that system didn’t do so well in the long run and that was pretty much the end of Epyx.

    The above ad is from the November 1984 issue of K-Power.

  • Winter Games (Epyx, 1985)

    Winter Games (Epyx, 1985)


    As I mentioned in my previous post on the subject, the Epyx Games series were my favorite sports games of the 8-bit era. Of those, Winter Games was probably my favorite.


    Like Summer Games, Winter Games was developed first for the Commodore 64 and then ported to a wide variety of computer and video game platforms. This ad explicitly mentions the Commodore 64, Apple II and Macintosh so I suspect those were the first three available. Again, the events available varied slightly depending on which version you were playing but the original Commodore 64 version includes Hot Dog (freestyle ski jump where you do tricks), Biathlon, Figure Skating, Ski Jump, Speed Skating, Free Skating and Bob Sled.


    Though the events are different, the setup is just like Summer Games. One to eight players, practice, compete in some or compete in all events, etc. My favorite events were Hot Dog, Bob Sled, Biathlon, Ski Jump and Speed Skating. That’s most of them but then that’s why this is my favorite of the series. I like most of the events.


    Interestingly, the original Commodore 64 version of the game was released on Nintendo’s Virtual Console in 2009. Unfortunately, I believe it was a European only release. However, like Summer Games it was also available on the C64 DTV. If you can’t find on of those and don’t live in Europe and you want to give it a try, you’ll have to track down an original copy or an emulator and disk image. Make sure you are using a decent Atari style digital joystick for best results though!