Watching Crazy Demo (C64)

Crazy Demo by the Norwegian Crackware Company was released way back in 1985 and the style is reminiscent of other releases around that time like the titles page of the Flying Crackers’ game Crackers Revenge; it’s bright and delightfully cluttered with multiple scrolling messages poolting past, some elements pulsing through the C64’s five shades of grey and a sprite logo pushed into the lower border. All of this is accompanied by Rob Hubbard’s Crazy Comets soundtrack, which works well regardless of which tune has been selected via a prod of the space bar.

This is a fun one-parter which came up during a Facebook discussion about the origins of the demo scene a couple of days ago, with former NCC member Stein Pedersen – currently a member of Offence, Prosonix and Panoramic Designs -posting a link as the topic slowly suffered a little bit of “feature creep” and drifted off into the realms of early demos. It was subsequently accompanied by a further tangent about classic Doctor Who titles sequences because they look a bit like demo tunnel effects, so that was me pretty much happy for the rest of the day.

It’s always interesting to see where people started out and, whilst it isn’t a C64 milestone in the same way that a couple of the other demos I’ve been squinting at recently like Readme.prg was for the Atari ST, Crazy Demo is still an early step in a fantastic demo programming career and a lovely example of C64 releases from that time. On a related note, I’m now stuck with the Crazy Comets theme rattling around my head for the rest of the day. Again.

Playing The Last V8 (C64)

The end of the world has already happened and what remains of humanity ekes out an existence in fallout shelters, biding their time by monitoring the environment and, in one particular case, tearing apart a car and modifying it for this new, radiation-soaked world. The day finally comes when this supercharged and heavily shielded vehicle rumbles out into the post nuclear wilderness to explore and perhaps track down survivors, only to be surprised by an alarm going off on the dashboard signalling that a delayed nuclear strike is on its way. For any other car the journey back to the Undercity and on to the safety of the Sci-Base would be impossible… but this is The Last V8.

David Darling‘s Mad Max-inspired, post-apocalyptic driving game is divided into two parts, the first is a manic race through twisting countryside back to the relative safety of the underground city before the incoming nuke hits – the car’s shields are good but won’t withstand a full-on nuclear blast – requiring the V8 to be driven as close to the edge as possible despite hairpin bends in the road and fatal to the touch surrounding foliage. Once underground the pace settles down a little as the player manoeuvres through the tight, maze-like passageways to the Sci-Base’s entrance, avoiding collisions and trying not to dwell too long in the invisible but deadly radioactive zones which are a result of that recent detonation.

The Last V8 has always divided opinion in part because the difficulty is deliberately and frustratingly high, presumably to draw things out since a seasoned player can complete the entire thing in under three minutes. Meeting that challenge starts with learning how to properly control the V8, practicing until able to clear the first level consistently or at least knowing where the short cuts are – I’ve included the most common one as a bonus in the video after the main playthrough is done, along with the rarer second option that I tended to use personally – and then working out the path through the Undercity which had the least radioactive zones. Making the levels punishingly hard in this way is a cheap design choice, especially since there would have been more space for maps if the two low quality but reasonably long chunks of sampled speech hadn’t been included.

Despite the unforgiving difficulty I’ve always been fond of The Last V8 personally, absolutely loving the in-game soundtrack whilst playing it extensively on both the C64 and Atari 8-bit back in the day – the Amstrad CPC version is a bit of a car crash, if you’ll excuse the “pun” – and managing to complete the entire game on countless occasions despite claims of it being declared “impossible” online. I think there was actually a time in the late 1990s where the only map of the Undercity was one I made in ASCII and posted to Comp.Sys.CBM on USENet, although I sadly can’t find it now. This game does stir a few other childhood memories of living through the cold war with that imminent threat of nuclear death hanging over all of our heads that the game’s scenario is based around, although I’m not sure those are strictly speaking good memories…