• Tag Archives retrocomputing
  • Paperboy / Gauntlet (Mindscape)

    Paperboy (Commodore 64, Atari 800, Atari ST) and Gauntlet (Commodore 64, Atari 800, Atari ST)


    This 1988 ad is for the initial computer ports of Gauntlet and Paperboy which were done by Mindscape.

    Gauntlet started life as an arcade game developed by Atari and released in 1985. It was inspired by Dungeons and Dragons and an older Atari computer game called Dandy. Up to four players could take the role of a Wizard (Merlin), a Warrior (Thor), a Valkyrie (Thyra) or an Elf (Questor), each with different strengths and weaknesses. The game is played from a top down point of view and the goal is to make it to an exit at the end of a maze that will take you to the next level. Along the way you must battle ghosts, grunts, demons, wizards and thieves among other enemies. You also must find food to regain energy and may also collect treasure and other special items.

    This particular ad mentions the Atari 800, Commodore 64 and Atari ST. I can only assume that these must have been the first ports released because Gauntlet was ultimately available on a wider variety of platforms including the Apple II, Macintosh, Apple IIGS, and others. It was later also released for the NES, Sega Genesis and Sega Master System. I played the arcade version some but it was the Commodore 64 version I played the most and I always thought it was a very good conversion.

    Gauntlet: The Deeper Dungeons, a 512 level expansion that required the original game, was also released for the Atari ST and Commodore 64. Gauntlet was also released in emulated form as part of Midway Arcade Treasures released in 2003 for a number of platforms. I highly recommend the Commodore 64 version but the Midway Arcade treasures version is more convenient and will give you a closer to the arcade experience.

    Paperboy was also originally an Atari arcade game and was released in 1985. This game is played from an overhead and slightly isometric point of view. You take the role of a paperboy delivering newspapers from your bike. The goal is to throw the papers accurately and avoid missing a delivery to subscribers or damaging their house (e.g. by accidentally throwing a paper through the window). You will face various obstacles along the way (dogs, etc.) and you must avoid crashing.

    While this particular ad only mentions (in small print) the Commodore 64, Atari 800, and Atari ST versions, this game was ported to just about every late 1980s and early 1990s platform you can think of. Again, I mostly (I think exclusively in this case) played the Commodore 64 version. That particular version got mixed reviews but I always though it was fun if a bit repetitive after a while. The controls are a bit awkward but are ok once you get used to them. This game also appeared as part of Midway Arcade Treasures. Interestingly, the NES version of this game was the first NES game developed in the U.S.

    Screen shots above are from the Commodore 64 version of the games.

  • Might and Magic II

    Might and Magic II (Commodore 64, Apple II, DOS)


    Might and Magic II, subtitled “Gates to Another World”, was originally developed as a computer role playing game for the Apple II in 1986, ported in 1988 to the Commodore 64, DOS, and Macintosh and later also ported to the Amiga and other computers as well as the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo. It is the sequel to Might and Magic Book One: Secret of the Inner Sanctum and offers a few improvements over that game including improved graphics, a “delay selector” to control the speed of the game, an indicator to make it obvious when input is necessary, and auto mapping (if you have a character with the appropriate skill).

    In this game you control a party of six characters at a time though up to twenty-six can be created. You can also import your characters from the previous game. In addition, you can hire up to two additional characters to join your party. They are controlled in the same way as the rest of your party but you have to pay them a certain amount of gold every day based on their level. New characters, more spells, a larger number of quests and secondary skills were also added (including the cartographer skill that allows auto mapping).

    While Might and Magic II spends a lot of time on combat (battles could be massive), there are also plenty of clues to be found, mysteries to be solved and things to discover. There are a number of features unique to RPGs of the time including the fact that your characters age (and can die of old age). Time travel and sci-fi elements were also thrown in to this otherwise fantasy-based RPG.

    Might and Magic II received mostly positive reviews and the series was a long lasting one, stretching into ten games for the main series plus a number of spinoffs with their own sequels. Some of these are better than others but I highly recommend the first two and the next 5 or 6 are pretty decent as well. The most recent one (Might and Magic 10) was just released in 2014 and while it is a decent game it obviously bears virtually no resemblance to the first few.