Monday, July 30, 2012


As most are aware I couldn't care less about the Olympics but it pleases me to hear that sales of Tubular Bells have increased by 750% this week thanks to Mike Oldfield's performance at the opening ceremony. At least it has made people aware of his wonderful music if nothing else!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Songs that remind me of my childhood Number 19 - Pictures in the Dark (Mike Oldfield)

Well, it's been a while since the last S.T.R.M.O.M.C. but here we go...

Ever had one of those songs which you have not heard in such a long time that you forget all about it? Then, one day several years later you randomly hear it, and old memories flood in to your head?

That's what happened when I heard this song a week or so ago!  A little heard rarity from Mike Oldfield back in 1985 - Pictures in the Dark.  What's crazy is I actually had it in my Mike Oldfield collection, and didn't even know it!

I can't get it out of my head now!

Oh... and today is a special day - it's me and my wife's 9th wedding anniversary!!!  Woohoo.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 10 : Castle Master (Commodore 64)

Castle Master was the 5th game released by Incentive Software featuring their wonderful, and very impressive (at the time) Freescape solid 3D system.  The previous games which featured Freescape were Driller, Dark Side, Total Eclipse and Total Eclipse 2 : Sphinx Jinx.

As a big fan of these games, Castle Master to me will always be the best - up until Incentive released the 3D Construction Kit - more on that later.

The game is a first person adventure game and begins with you selecting whether you want to be the Prince or Princess (they're twins by the way).  It doesn't really matter which one you choose, and it makes no impact on the game.  The character not chosen is then whisked away by a dragon to Castle Eternity, and your aim is to rescue your twin from Magister, the so called Castle Master!

As I mentioned before, you view the game world from a first person perspective.  Remember, this game preceded games like Doom and Wolfenstein by several years.  Although it does not feature textured graphics, it does have very detailed solid vector graphics which move incredibly fast considering the complexity of some of the rooms.  As well as saving your twin, you also need to destroy the spirits that occupy the castle.  They can be found in various rooms and must be destroyed before they sap away your energy. 

The castle is vast, and it can be very easy to get lost, especially in the catacombs beneath the castle.  Mapping the game is very helpful, and recommended.  Most of the gameplay involves destroying the spirits, or finding keys to unlock doors in the castle.

I spent many hours of my childhood playing this game.  It was one of those titles which I really looked forward to playing after a long day at school.

Freescape on the Commodore 64 was notorious for being very slow compared to the other 8 bit computers, but this never really bothered me.  In fact, for games like Castle Master, the slowness added to the atmosphere of the game.  Of course, it also had fantastic music playing throughout which helped, which I believe the other 8 bit versions did not have.

Castle Master was only topped when Incentive Software released the 3D Construction Kit a year or so later.  That wonderful piece of software enabled anyone to create their own Freescape games.  I became such a fan that I created a website devoted to it.  You can check it out here, plus you can also download all of the official Freescape games for all systems, including of course Castle Master.

I would recommend all of the Freescape games, no matter what system.  Castle Master is definately the biggest out of all of them.  A sequel was made called Castle Master II - The Crypt which could only be purchased via select sellers in a special compilation box containing the original Castle Master.

A 3d map of Castle Eternity which I created - Click to enlarge

A 3d map of Castle Eternity which I created - Click to enlarge

A 3d map of Castle Eternity which I created - Click to enlarge

A 3d map of Castle Eternity which I created - Click to enlarge

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 9 : Treasure Island (Commodore Plus 4)

Sorry for the delay in getting another post on Captains Blog...  Things have been a bit stressful at home at the moment with us having a new kitchen fitted.  Very difficult when you've got three kids to entertain in such a small, limited space!

The title screen, along with a jolly ditty

Treasure Island is a game by Greg Duddle, and was released in 1985 by Commodore for the Commodore Plus 4 computer.  It was actually one of ten other games (well, eleven since Space Sweep and Invaders came on the same tape) which came with the system, although this was by far the best of the bunch.

The game is yet another fun, but simple maze-style game which has you play the character Jim Hawkins. You must locate some buried treasure on the island, avoiding the many pirates that are scattered on the paths.  Once you find the treasure, you have to get back to your ship before Long John Silver catches you.

The adventure begins

Pirates come in three types - Green and Brown pirates will throw a cutless at you if you get too  close to them (which you can pick up and use against them if they miss you).  Blue pirates will not shoot at you, and the only way to pass them is to find a cutless and throw one at him.

You need that shovel so that you can dig up the treasure.

Although the game is very easy and can be finished in about 15 minutes, the challenge is to to get a score of 100% - The only way this can be done is by killing every pirate, and collecting every item.  Believe me, it's not as easy as it sounds.

A cutless!

I have fond memories of this game, mainly because me and my sister would watch for hours while our Mum tried to complete it.  Very exciting stuff for the time!

The treasure!!!!!!!!!

Collect the treasure, and Long John Silver starts chasing you.

Finish!!  Excape to the boat without Long John Silver touching you, and the win the game.

The tape cover (not very exciting)

The tape!



The game came with this excellent, and very useful map.  Click to enlarge.

A classic game.  It was released on the ZX Spectrum, and Commodore 64 as well, although I didn't think it was as good.  Another game for the C64 called The Willow Pattern Adventure was released which had EXACTLY the same map, but with different graphics!  Worth a play.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Games that remind me of my childhood Number 8 : Trashman (Commodore 64)

The ultimate rubbish man simulator - welcome to Trashman!

Released in 1984 by New Generation Software. Trashman was originally released on the ZX Spectrum before shortly getting a conversion on the Commodore 64.  The game is very simple and has you control the 'trashman' who must collect the rubbish bins dotted along the street and empty them in to the rubbish collection lorry before the timer runs out.  Simple eh?

When you have successfully emptied a bin in to the lorry and have taken it back to the house it came from, the front door opens and you get an invite to go in and get a tip (extra time) from the resident of the house.   You must however stay on the path - one step on the grass results in the timer running down quicker, and no chance of a tip!

There are seven streets in total to complete.  The first street has 5 rubbish bins to collect, the second has 6, and so on until you reach the seventh street which is 12 bins to empty.  Obstacles to avoid are cyclists riding on the pavement, however the main cause of death in this game are the cars and other road vehicles .  If you are run over, then it's game over!

I was introduced to this game by Colin, a family friend who had a Commodore 128, and I remember wanting it so much, thanks to fun gameplay, and effective and realistic (at the time) 3D graphics.  As was the case with many games of the time, we only had a Commodore Plus 4, and this was another game which was never converted to that system.

A fun game in 80's surburbia, and a fond childhood memory.

Level 1 - Staunton Street (Click to enlarge)

Level 2 - Pultney Street (Click to enlarge)

Level 3 - Grove Street (Click to enlarge)

Level 4 - Lyncombe Vale (Click to enlarge)

Level 5 - Widcombe Hill (Click to enlarge)

Level 6 - Lansdown Hill (Click to enlarge)

Level 7 - Milson Street (Click to enlarge)