I hope all are well and enjoying the first few days of the new year. I start mine on a bit of a high note regarding retro gaming because like an unknown song going round and round in your head, I’ve finally been able to put name to a game I’ve been trying to recollect for nearly thirty years!
The game in question is for the Commodore Vic-20, a computer owned by my cousin at the time who I would often see at the weekends for gaming and generally hanging out with. He was a little older than myself and had all manner of cool stuff like handheld video game machines, a massive collection of rock/heavy metal LP’s and a medium sized snooker table that had been converted into a war gaming board and could slide out on wheels from under his bed. In the days of Dungeons and Dragons , Fighting Fantasy and White Dwarf magazine, this was cool (geek) stuff indeed and many happy hours were spent on that snooker table without actually ever striking a cue ball 🙂
It was one of the first ‘proper’ computers I had regular access too and I even purchased a few games for it even though it wasn’t my machine.
My only recollection of what the game looked like was that contained some sort of mask/face you had to shoot at multiple times….and that’s about it. He has a black and white TV at the time so I have no colour reference either.
I’ve been searching for years now and asking around various gaming forums but with so little clues as to what it might be, it’s a game title that’s always eluded me. My cousin has no recollection of the game either…did it even exist I started to wonder?
Burned in my brain are those masks though. They kinda remind of these that you see depicting laughter and sadness. Especially the smiling one.
Some years ago I thought I was on the right track with a game called XOR. The masks looked familiar but on playing it (C64 version) I knew that these weren’t the droids I was looking for (sorry…Christmas TV turned out to be a bit of a Star Wars fest). Beside, versions of XOR were available for many computer formats but not the VIC as far as I could see.
For those time when I’ve not got my Vic-20 setup on the geek desk, I’ll turn to emulation and as an avid user of Gamebase64, I thought it was high time I took a look at the Vic-20 version which has just recently received a large update.
I’m sure you all know about Gamebase20 but if not, in a nutshell it’s a nice graphical frontend for running Vic-20 games under VICE and has plenty of tools for searching and the ability to create custom game lists as well as displaying screenshots, cover art and all manner of details about each game. It also configures games to run automatically with the correct RAM configuration settings within VICE…a very handy feature on a computer that has many types of specific RAM requirements.
Screenshot from my Gamebase20 – my word, that is one scary looking Puck-man cover!
Any-ho (yes, I’m getting there!) Gamebase20, contains a huge amount of VIC-20 games and so it’s also useful for discovering new(old) games to play. I was browsing around the games list the other day and stopped dead when I saw this particular screenshot.
I loaded the game and sure enough, this is the game I’ve been looking for. My mission is well and truly accomplished and I can finally put this puzzle to rest after all these years.
The game is called Phantom Attack, a budget released by (wallet friendly) Mastertronic and contained another of those great Sci-Fi covers Mastertronics used to use on a good proportion of their games (maybe by artist Mark J. Brady?).
edit 07/01/2014 – I’ve received a rather nice response to my email to MJB confirming he was the cover artist for this game.
Phantom Attack is, well, quite frankly a bit crap 🙂 I’m not entirely sure what you’re supposed to do here apart from blasting away at the masks until the stage is clear. Yup, 80’s entertainment @ £1.99 🙂
But I don’t care, I’m just happy that the little hole in my memory bank has been filled and it’s all thanks to Gamebase20.
Hmm, something doesn’t look quite right though.
Much better 😉