Jasper by Adam Davidson & Andrew Pollard
This is a classic shoot 'em up from the heady days of 1988. My first experience of Raffaele Cecco's work was getting a copy of Cybernoid from a friend (a la tape-to-tape). After playing it solidly for several hours before dinner I was so excited that I felt all nauseous and pukey. Great stuff!
However Cybernoid 2 wasn't seen by mine own eyes until I was looking in the window of Computabase in Plymouth (while playing hooky from my job - I was eventually rumbled and fired, much to my shame). Seeing the amazing amount of colour and things going on in the game amazed me completely (it even distracted me from the Atari ST running Where Time Stood Still) and so I spent a good few hours mooching in the shop and staring at people playing the game on the Speccy +2 provided for testing software. If I recall correctly I even tried having a go myself but got turfed off the machine by the shop staff. The sods.
I didn't actually get a copy myself until a fair bit later, and even then it was a slightly ropey copy as the inlay was an Amstrad one with a gaudy "Spectrum" sticker plastered messily over the corner. Still, I spent many happy hours playing the game and probably even got to level 3 at one
point before being blasted to smithereens.
Anyway the reason I remade it was because Russell Hoy was working on a remake and I was helping him out a little with the programming. Anyway, I got a *little* carried away with helping him out bit (I wrote a level editor and a bunch of other stuff) and so he kindly offered me the chance to take over the remaking of the game. I didn't need telling twice. :)
And so several months later, here's the game itself. I hope you enjoy playing it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Which was quite a lot, surprisingly. Oh, except the wall-huggers. I hated writing that bit.
The idea of the game is to get through the five levels of the space pirates base in a strict time limit (about 5 minutes per level) recovering 1500 points worth of cargo on each level (you can find it lying around or get it by killing the little aliens that spawn in most of the rooms). It doesn't really matter if you manage to get the 1500 on each level, but if you do it's worth some bonus points and an extra life at the end of the level. Given how chocka' with enemies the game is, those extra lives will come in handy.
The game is played from a side-on perspective with a flip-screen display that prevents you from going back on yourself. Though there are often a fair few enemies on screen, you are fortunate that your cup positively runneth over with weapons of mass destruction - ranging from rockets to smart bombs which clear the whole screen. You can also upgrade your ship with an orbital mace that kills pretty much anything, a rear firing laser gun and an orbital ship which fires when you do.
Anyway, it's pretty easy to pick up and play, so why don't you do just that?
The default controls are as follows:
CURSOR UP - Up
CURSOR DOWN - Down (only used in the Pause menu and when entering high scores as gravity pulls your ship down anyway)
CURSOR LEFT - Left
CURSOR RIGHT - Right
LEFT CTRL - Fire (hold down for approx half a second to activate sub-weapon)
ESCAPE - Pause game
1 - Select Rocket (follows an upwards or downwards curve depending on your ship's vertical motion)
2 - Select Timebomb (explodes after a few seconds destroying nearby large emplacements. Doesn't harm the spawning enemies)
3 - Select Shield (protects you from harm for about 5 seconds)
4 - Select Bouncers (bounce around the screen killing most things in their path and destroying destructable scenery)
5 - Select Seeker (homes in on the nearest large enemy and blows up - will only launch if there's a viable target on screen, also locks onto some organic growths in the base)
6 - Select Smart Bomb (destroys all enemies on screen instantly, except the pesky wall-huggers)
7 - Select Tracer (drops from the bottom of your ship them follows the edge of the screen destroying all enemy emplacements in its path)
Z - Previous Weapon
X - Next Weapon
You can also use a joypad (it has to be DirectX compatible, though). Now, I use a PlayStation Dual Shock Pad connected via a PSJOY adapter, this means that the DPAD actually registers as button presses instead of a digital or analogue value of movement in the X and Y axis. However your common or garden Sidewinder is quite different as it uses a Dpad which outputs a proper analogue value.
To allow for this when you define the joypad controls it first asks you to try moving the Dpad around and see if any red arrows light up, this will indicate that you have an nice and proper output on your joypad (if you're using a DSP in non-analogue mode you might find that your pad ermanently
registers a down-right direction, lighting up the ppropriate arrows) however if you can't control which arrows light up then just follow the instructions on-screen and you should still be able to configure your pad with the minimum of fuss.
If, after that it still fails to work, then tough cheese, use a keyboard. That's how real men play. ;)
Btw, I've had reports that you can't use the keyboard controls at the same time as the joypad ones (which shouldn't be true at all) so I'd be interested to hear back from anyone who suffers the same problem (if you could include details of your OS and joypad type that'd be swell).
Original game by Raffaele Cecco, original graphics by Hugh Binns, original music (Spectrum) by J Dave Rogers and (Commodore 64) by Jeroen Tel.
Remake programming by Graham Goring, remake graphics by John Blythe, remake level design and building by Russell Hoy and all remake original and remixed music by Will Morton.
This game was written in the excellent Blitz Basic (http://www.blitzbasic.com) which was itself written by Mark Sibly.
The game also makes use of Terabit's Pak routines to store most of the files in one tidy location and to stop nosey peeps from nicking the graphics without going to a bit of trouble. Get the routines by visiting Lee Page's website (http://www.terabit.btinternet.com) if you're interested.
Testing was carried out by those staunch fellows of Retrospec, thanks in particular go to Russ Hoy for finding a few bugs and suggesting the expansion pack thing, John Blythe for getting me to put in joypad control and finding a
few other bugs, Dan Condon for complaining about the difficulty and making me see sense about letting the player start on any previously reached level and Neil Walker for making me put in the previous/next weapon buttons in the
keyboard controls because he can't remember 7 numbers. ;)
Raffaele Cecco and Hugh Binns for writing the original game.
Russell Hoy for letting me steal the project from him and then staying on to help with it. :)
John Blythe for the cracking graphics and the nice new rendered title screen.
Will Morton for the great remix and the lovely atmospheric in-game piece.
Mark Sibly for writing Blitz BASIC in the first place.
Lee Page for his PAK routines.
And all the rest of my Retrospec chums for their critiques and moaning. Aw, hell, I better name-check them or they'll just moan like ninnies...
Dan Condon-Jones - For seeing sense and embracing BB2D.
Neil Walker - For being our Web Guru and spending all his time tinkering with the site instead of pulling his finger out his arse and writing a game. ;)
Matthew Smith - For not being more narked at me due to my consistent failure to produce graphics for him.
Richard Jordan - For being one of our founding fathers, producing the best damn remake ever and in doing so indirectly getting me my job.
Jeff Braine - For having more screws loose than my self-assembled wardrobe.
Peter Jovovich - For returning to the fold once more after many months in the wilderness.
Myke Pickstock - For staying in the wilderness. ;)
John Dow - For being an incredibly prolific founder member and providing the webspace.
Ignacio Perez - For being a lovely bald Spaniard and in many ways initiating the approaching wave of isometric games from Retrospec.
Bill Harbison - For joining us recently and putting us all to shame with his commercial quality graphics. The big sod! :)
Graham Goring - email@example.com (http://www.duketastrophy.demon.co.uk)
John Blythe -
Russell Hoy -
Will Morton - (http://www.willmorton.co.uk)
www.blitzbasic.com - to find out about Blitz BASIC, the language this game was written in. Very easy to get to grips with and fairly powerful, too. This game was written in Blitz BASIC 2D, but there's a 3D version which allows you to make stonkingly lovely looking games with graphics in them that are a whole "D" better than mine. ;)
www.retrospec.org - Home to Retrospec, a group of lovely people (and Neil Walker) who remake old games. So far only three of our number are using Blitz BASIC, but soon more will come under it's influence! Bwu-hahaha!
www.terabit.btinternet.com - Website of Lee Page who wrote the great file packing routines. The very routines that stop nosey oiks stealing John's graphics. You know who you are!
Where To Get This Game From:
The latest version (excluding private beta releases) should be available from http://retrospec.sgn.net, however in the instance of those servers going kerplooey, then you should be able to find it on my personal webpage of http://www.duketastrophy.demon.co.uk. Only use my personal
webpage as a last resort and bare in mind it'll only be on there as long as I've got room for it. As soon as the next project comes along I'll be dropping this from Duketastrophy faster than a hot potato with nails in it.
Please note that personally I have a very limited amount of bandwidth (about a hundred meg a day) and what with this game weighing in at about 7.5mb zipped it'll only take 16 people grabbing it from my own site in one day for my page
to get bumped to the crappy servers. Bare this in mind. If you do find it anywhere else, by the way, please do mail me with details of where you found it, it'll be quite cool to see where it pops up on the 'net. :)
Well, as long as it's not somewhere shite like GameHippo. ;)
Actually, it'll probably find it's way onto [JJ] and [Hitman's] excellent Retro-remakes before long. If you're interested in remakes of old games I can recommend no better place to go looking than their site. Truly exhaustive.
||01 January, 2001
||08 April, 2002