Alternate Reality Newsletters

Do you know this game? This is the second of a two-game series called Alternate Reality: The Dungeon. The first game was Alternate Reality: The City. This game was formative in my view of video games. It took me from a general gamer to an RPG-heavy gamer, in a way that not even The Bard’s Tale series could.

It was an ambitious project. The concept was that there would be seven games, and you could make a character that could go in and out of the seven games at will, with transfer points that were established in each scenario. Quests in one game would be solved in others, and some games were planned to sharpen certain skills more than others.

Even within each game, a tremendous amount of features and details were crammed into these 64K systems. The area is vast, it keeps track of all the basic stats and some hidden ones, as well. Your alignment is not just good, neutral, or evil, but a range of 0 to 255, with different things affected at different levels. Your hunger, thirst, weariness, and warmth are all monitored, with multiple levels of each condition, causing negative effects at the extremes. I could go on and on, I still manage to discover something new once in a while.

As usual, money got in the way. Only two games were released. Actually, those two games were supposed to be one, but the developers were pushed to release immediately, so the 8-bit versions of The City were left incomplete, making The Dungeon a far more polished game.

Anyway, any modern RPG I play gets measured by Alternate Reality. I often search for boxed copies on eBay, trying to find a good-condition boxed version of each game. Datasoft’s boxes have a habit of creasing and collapsing. I have a pretty decent City, but no Dungeon at all.

One day, my search led me to an unexpected find: these newsletters! I never even knew these existed. I have scanned them into PDF files for anyone who wants to read them.

Issue 1
Issue 2
Issue 3
Issue 4
Issue 5

Super Mario Bros. on Commodore 64?!

A coder by the name of ZeroPaige worked for seven years to bring this classic gem of video game history to the Commodore community.

It looks nearly identical to the original NES version, although you can notice some subtle differences. The most noticeable I’ve noticed is the animated lava in the castle levels. The sound is quite close to the original, but one SID isn’t quite up to the task. If you happen to have two, however, this game can use it for improved accuracy. The game has a tendency to slow down a bit if there is too much action on the screen at once. But if you have a Commodore 128, it slows down a little less often. If you happen to have a SuperCPU, it can really keep up with the action!

Using a one-button joystick to control the game works as you’d imagine. The button for fireball/accelerate, up for jump. It’s not ideal, but it’s just how these things go. You can definitely still enjoy this game!

As this is not licensed by Nintendo, most download links have been disabled to avoid legal action. I think if you look around a bit for it, though, you can still find it without too much trouble.

Pets Rescue

I’d like to show you a new game for the 264 series of computers (Plus/4, C16, C116). Commercially released games for this system almost universally targeted 16KB even though the system could be upgraded to 64KB. As a result, they didn’t take much advantage of the 264 series computers’ expanded color palette, nor did they have very complex music.

This game, however, targets the Plus/4, or a C16 or C116 that have a memory expansion installed up to 64KB. I’m not sure if it leverages the entire 121-color palette, but with its smooth and colorful animation and substantially complex music, this is easily a contender for most amazing game available on this system.

The game is called Pets Rescue. It went on sale in 2019. The version pictured below was a limited collector’s edition which is already sold out (sorry!). It comes with tons of bonus items, but more than anything I just can’t get over this box. The manual is also quite nice.

My 264 series machines aren’t always hooked up, so first I had to set up the hardware.

All ready to go! Time to load the game and give it a whirl.

The game has some different environments, each set to their own music. The gameplay was hard at first, but after getting used to it a bit, things were going better. By world 1-3, though, I was tapping out and switched from the Plus/4 joystick sold by Commodore to the Epyx 500XJ, which I did a lot better with.

I’ve attached some additional screenshots to the bottom of the page.

If you’re interested in this game, there are three versions available for purchase. The digital download is not expensive at all, and lets the authors know you want to see more like this!

Digital Download – $2.99 USD – Purchase Link
(Digital download gives you access to the disk image. You can use it in an emulator that supports Plus/4 or C16/C116 (such as WinVICE), or you can copy it to a real disk with any disk copier capable of writing 40 tracks.)

Budget Expanded – £6.99 UKP – Purchase Link
(Includes the floppy disk and special sleeve plus instruction manual, all pictured above.)

Premium+ Expanded – £13.99 UKP – Purchase Link
(Same as Budget Expanded edition above, but in a clear clamshell case with full-color artwork insert.)



Tenebra Macabre

Here’s a quick look at a relatively new game – Tenebra Macabre.

In this dark world, you have to contend with not only the standard enemies, but even spiky floors! At the beginning you can only see your immediate surroundings, but every once in a while, lightning flashes and you can get a glimpse of your surroundings. Make your plan and proceed with caution!

There’s also a candle in each room. Make your way and light it, and then you’ll be able to see in that room.


As the name implies, the environment and accompanying music is a little on the creepy side. Makes for a fun, eerie time!

So not only is this game free, but it’s available for the gamut of Commodore 8-bit machines (except MAX Machine, never gets any love!). Pick your flavor – C64, Plus/4, C16, C116, or VIC-20.
C64 – https://majikeyric.itch.io/tenebra-macabre
Plus/4・ C16・C116 – http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=80399
VIC-20 – http://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=80408



Donkey Kong

This is an excellent port of the arcade version of the game. It was made in 2014. The gameplay is fantastic and features vibrant, original graphics.

It works in both PAL and NTSC. NTSC machines are missing a few lines of image at the top, but it doesn’t affect the enjoyability of the game.

The game has all four of the original levels from the arcade. At first I thought it was pretty hard, but I got much better at timing jumps. Still a little difficult!

What a wonderful time to be a Commodore user. This game is free. You can download it on the page linked to below.

https://csdb.dk/release/?id=151272

More MAX Machine games

There was a pretty big batch of MAX Machine games going down on Yahoo Auctions.

Four boxes were completely new to me, and some boxes replaced older boxes that weren’t as nice looking.  I resold the leftovers on Yahoo Auctions

This is the collection as it stands now:

I’m still looking for Bowling, Billiards, Gorf, Slalom, and MAX BASIC to complete the collection.

MAX Machine Manuals

Here are PDF files of the MAX Machine manuals I’ve accumulated and scanned. These are suitable for viewing in your web browser, but if anyone would like to print these, I’ll link to a temporary higher-resolution file.

MAX Machine – Avengers

MAX Machine – Clowns

MAX Machine – Jupiter Lander

MAX Machine – Kick Man

MAX Machine – Mole Attack

MAX Machine – Money Wars

MAX Machine – Omega Race

MAX Machine – Radar Rat Race

MAX Machine – Road Race

MAX Machine – Super Alien

MAX Machine – Wizard of Wor

 

Software Collection

I am much more of a hardware collector than software. But I do have a fondness for certain software brands, machines, or particular titles. So I’ve assembled a mish-mash of stuff.

For example, the Commodore branded cartridge manuals. This was initially the only thing I was going to collect. This collection has grown recently. I’m only interested in the ones with the fun artwork, so Gorf, Dragonsden, etc. aren’t really of interest to me. I know I still need Avenger,which I think my friend is holding on to for me, and maybe a couple more.

I also have some of the boxes, which I never actually intended to collect, but lucked into a couple of batches of them in good shape, so I guess I’ve started collecting them, anyway! When it comes to the boxes, as opposed to the manuals, I definitely want Dragonsden and Gorf and… well, you know, all of them. My friend has about ten of these for me, too, but some are duplicates. I also added my MAX Machine boxes because it brought more balance to the arrangement.

Next are my arcade classics (and Bop ‘n Wrestle, because it didn’t really fit anywhere else). Not likely to expand on these too much because boxes for Atari’s C64 releases were kinda boring, and that’s where many of the classics are.

My ratty Plus/4 carts. Nice artwork, though!

And finally, my RPG/fantasy stuff. Taking this picture, I feel like a sucker for settling for the small Shogun clamshell. I expect to add Knight Games to this collection, and if I can ever track down a nice Alternate Reality: The City or The Dungeon box, those too.

The Bard’s Tale Series

I don’t buy a lot of software, but Bard’s Tale II was the first Commodore 64 game I ever owned, and I also really loved Bard’s Tale III. I found this for a reasonable price on eBay, so I nabbed the whole series. I hardly ever play on real disks anymore, but for games like these, it is great to flip through the manual while playing, and having to use the real codewheel gives it a sense of authenticity. I also really enjoy the box artwork.

There’s a large patch of wrinkles on the front of the Bard’s Tale box, but from a distance the box looks quite clean.

 

There’s a bit of a dented section on the front of the Bard’s Tale II box, but the image itself looks nice.

 

The Bard’s Tale III box looks fantastic!

I also got a pair of clue books.

I’m still currently playing through Alternate Reality: The Dungeon, but I am thinking of playing all three of these in order next!