Wednesday, 18 November 2009

More Psytronik goodies on the way!

Hiya gang!

Things have been busier than the Mayor of Busyville on a busy day at the Psytronik HQ recently. I've actually been working on FOUR Psytronik releases simultaneously (eep!) which I'm trying to have finished and released by the end of 2009. The good news is two of the releases are now ready and are now available in the BZ retro store. They are The Wild Bunch (which I talked about in the last blog entry) and the superb VIC-20 RPG package Realms of Quest.

Realms of Quest for the VIC-20 - featuring swords, scorcery, dungeons AND dragons!

And on the subject of Realms of Quest, congratulations from the Psytronik team go to Peter Hamilton from Midlothian who has won himself a rather smart Commodore Computer Club polo-shirt as he was the first person to order the game. Well done to Peter for winning the shirt and our thanks go to the excellent guys at the Commodore Computer Club for donating the shirt.

There was a bit of a delay with the release of the disk version of The Wild bunch as some eagle-eyed gamers spotted a couple of minor bugs in the tape version of the game. These bugs were duly squished by Jon and I'm pleased to say the disk version of the game is now being shipped and the disk features the full and final bug-free version of the game. While Jon was busy fixing the game it gave me a bit of extra time to work on the game artwork. In the end I decided to have the Premium inlays professionally printed in full colour and the inlays also feature the game instructions printed on the inside in full colour too - coooool!

A still from the cool Wild Bunch intro sequence (exclusive to the C64 disk version)

A lot of progress has been made on the stunning PC conversion of Armalyte which is being handled by the heroes known as S-A-S Designs. I'm very pleased to announce that the main game itself has now been finished and is now in the hands of the beta-testers who will be giving the game a serious thrashing (oo-er) before it's unleashed into the universe at large. Smila has sent over a bundle of new screenshots from the PC version of the game for you to drool over:-

Firing some serious weaponry on the Alien-esque second level

Snaffling some power-ups while walkers stomp around beneath

Unleashing some laser-death torpedoes on an end-of-level baddie

Check out those gorgeous background graphics by Smila!

Rampaging through the shiny sparkling crystalline level

Not only will the CD-ROM contain the full PC version of the game but it will also contain some rather tasy bonus extras too. These will include a stunning MIX-E-LOAD demo (inspired by the famous C64 Delta mix-e-load), an Armalyte MUSIC JUKEBOX featuring the fab music from the PC version of the game and a really neat executable slideshow showing the development of the new game artwork.

The brill Armalyte PC Jukebox - just one of the bonus extras included with the game

The CD-ROM will also contain the original C64 version of the game in emulator-friendly form along with assorted other bonus goodies carefully compiled for your entertainment and enjoyment. To pre-order your Armalyte PC CD-ROM head on over to the BZ store.

The final Psytronik Software release for 2009 will be the awesome Amstrad CPC shoot 'em Star Sabre. The game itself is now finished and I've also produced the inlay for the Premium disk version of the game which you can see below:

At long last an Amstrad CPC title has been added to the Psytronik range!

The game will be available on original Amstrad 3" disks and will be compatible with the Amstrad CPC 6128 along with the CPC 464 (as long as you have a disk-drive and memory expansion!) Hopefully the game will be available in the BZ store some time in December 2009.

The Star Sabre loading screen complete with Psytronik logo - groovy!

One final tasty titbit of news for ya. Since I released the Psytronik Premium Range earlier this year I've been literally swamped with a couple of requests (heh!) from people asking if they can buy the plastic 5.25" disk cases from me. The answer to that question is now YES as I've made the replacement cases available in the BZ store (click here for ordering info!)

At last you can replace those busted C64 game cases!

And that's yer lot for now. Keep an eye on for more news and info on the latest Psytronik Software releases.

See you ... IN THE FUTURE!

Kenz /

Thursday, 10 September 2009

There's a snake in my boot!

For a long time now my coding chum Jon Wells has been working on a C64 conversion of the Western adventure game The Wild Bunch. This was originally released waaaay back in 1984 by Firebird Software on the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad. I'm particularly fond of this game as it was one of the first budget titles I bought for my Speccy and I remember having great fun trying to round up members of the Wild Bunch, drinking and gambling in the Saloon and taking part in deadly gunfights (as you do).

Reach for your guns, you blue-faced varmint! (ZX Spectrum)

Jon is also a fan of the game and one of his early coding projects was a C64 conversion of the game. Work on the C64 version ground to a stop and for a long while it looked like the game would never appear on the C64. This was until Jon unearthed some disks in 2008 that contained his unfinished C64 conversion of The Wild Bunch. After an enthusiastic response from Frank 'Games that Weren't' Gasking, Jon decided to continue working on the game. A development diary was put online (which you can read HERE) and after another year of development the C64 version of The Wild Bunch was finally completed in September 2009.

Aaaarrgh! He got me! (C64)

So what does this have to do with Psytronik Software I hear you cry? Well, when Jon decided to finish off his C64 conversion of the game he sent me an email to ask if I would like to help out with the packaging of the game. As I'd had an excellent time working with Jon on various projects back in the 90s I jumped at the chance of working with him again. I produced a full colour tape inlay for the game along with authentic Firebird-style tape labels to go with it. I also put together a Wild Bunch soundtrack CD which contained music from the game (digitally recorded from my C64) along with various other C64 Western style tunes. 25 copies of the CD were then given away in a prize draw to people who pre-ordered the game from Jon.

An early pic of my Wild Bunch C64 inlay.

Once I had produced the tape inlay for Jon I then had an idea. As a bit of an experiment I used the tape inlay template and designed a full colour Psytronik Software inlay for Jon's game Sceptre of Baghdad (which was also the first Psytronik release). I was never happy with the black and white photocopied inlay that the game was presented with back in 1994 so it was really nice to see the game with a proper full colour inlay. When my C64 chums Frank Gasking and Vinny 'C64 Endings' Mainolfi saw the new inlay for Sceptre of Baghdad they urged me to properly re-release the game with the new artwork - and so I did! This led onto the re-release of ALL the Psytronik titles along, the re-release of classic C64 games like Mayhem in Monsterland, Creatures 1 & 2 and Armalyte and of the release of new C64 titles like Sub Hunter and Knight 'n' Grail! So it was the creation of the tape inlay for the C64 version of The Wild Bunch that led to the relaunch of Psytronik Software!

But our story doesn't end there. For the last few weeks I've been secretly beavering away on a special top secret release for Psytronik Software ... I'm very pleased to announce that a Premium Disk Edition of The Wild Bunch will be released by Psytronik in October 2009. Renamed slightly to Wanted: The Wild Bunch the Psytronik disk version will feature a new animated intro and end sequence (not included on the tape version) along with the complete game itself and a brand new bitmap loading screen (drawn in dynamic Kenz-o-Vision)! The game will be presented with full colour glossy artwork and the Premium Edition will also contain FREE copy of the The Wild Bunch soundtrack CD that I mentioned earlier!

The lovely PREMIUM Disk Edition of Wanted:The Wild Bunch!

You can pre-order the tape and Psytronik disk version of the game NOW from the Binary Zone Retrostore. You also order the tape and (very soon) a DIGITAL DOWNLOAD version directly from Jon Wells - click the banner below for details:

And that's yer lot for now, thanks for reading, pardners!

Kenz /

Monday, 20 July 2009

VIC, VIC, Hooray!

I've always been intrigued by the VIC-20 computer but had never really used one properly until recently. It was during the release of the VIC-20 game Carling the Spider on the Psytronik label that I finally fired up the XVIC emulator and started dabbling with VIC-20 games. And you know what, I was impressed! A bit of YouTube searching also revealed some fantastic VIC-20 demo releases - many of which were designed to run on an unexpanded 5K VIC! Check out these babies:-

We are the robots, doo doo dee doo!

It's not possible - it's Impossiblator!

WOW! I hadn't realised there was such an active demo scene on the VIC and as I just lurve demos I rapidly became a new fan of the machine. Emulation and YouTube videos are one thing - experiencing them on a REAL machine are another! So I recently took the plunge and bought a complete VIC-20 setup from eBay. As well as being able to experience games and demos on the real deal it also means I can properly playtest forthcoming VIC-20 Psytronik releases (and play Carling the Spider on a proper machine - yay!) :)

Hi-ho, Vic, hi-ho, hi-ho!

And talking of our little spidery chum Carling, I'm pleased to announce the game will be available on TAPE from VERY soon (budget / premium disk & digital download versions are now available). Here's a pic of the tape version for you to drool over:-

Along came a Spider (being chased by BALLS OF STEEL!)

And I've got some MORE great news for VIC fans. The big Summer Psytronik VIC-20 release REALMS OF QUEST is nearing completion. Here's how the premium disk version is currently looking:-

"Let me tell you of the days of high adventure"

The complete Realms of Quest trilogy along with a host of
bonus games - all on one flippy-floppy!

If you look closely at the pictures above you'll see there's a Commodore Computer Club logo on there. This is because the heroes at the Commodore Club club have very kindly offered to sponsor this release! Many thanks guys. :)

The disk will contain the complete REALMS OF QUEST Trilogy of RPG games - including a special 16K DUNJON CRAWLER version of REALMS OF QUEST III. You also get the choice to play the new REALMS games with the original graphics designed by the games author Ghislain - or a special enhanced edition with fantastic graphics by Saehn of Style Designs. Check out the screenies below:-

Aaiieee! A skeletal warriour attacks!

Have at ye Kobold!

The REALMS OF QUEST disk also contains a fantastic selection of bonus games on the flip-side of the disk. These will all run happily on an unexpanded VIC-20 and the compilation includes conversions of classic arcade games + much more. The disk-only release will be presented with glossy full colour inlay art and a whopping 36 page manual!

REALMS OF QUEST will be available to order from Psytronik Software in September 2009. Keep an eye on for details.

Thanks for reading, keep it RETRO!

Kenz /

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

New Psytronik website now online!

Greetings blogonauts!

Since the relaunch of Psytronik Software things have gone a bit barmy - so much so in fact it got to the point there simply wasn't room on the Psytronik webpage to include all the info about the new releases. This is probably down to the fact that the Psytronik site began merely as a "history of Psytronik" page hiding within the Binary Zone Interactive website.

Anyhoo, rather than try to cobble info about new releases onto the history page I've been busy working on a shiny new website for Psytronik Software. The end result is now online and is hopefully a bit of an improvement on the old site! At the moment the new site contains all the info from the old Psytronik page - but this time neatly arranged with separate sections devoted to news, releases, history, and press etc. Some sections are still incomplete at the moment but the site will soon be bulging with retro gaming goodliness. Head along to to check out the new site.

The new Psytronik site - slicker than the mess dumped in the sea by the Exxon Valdez

So what else has been happening in the weird and wonderful world of Psytronik recently? Firstly, our Summer mega-game Knight 'n' Grail is now ready to be shipped at long last! The final version of the game has been approved by various reviewers and testers and I'll be busy bundling the K'n'G disks in the post in the next week or so. To promote the launch of the game I've put together a brand new promo video for the game which will be unveilled at the LCP party in Sweden later this month. Here's a picture from the promo vid for you to drool over!

Wok-wok-bligga-blogga! There's dungeon capers aplenty in Knight 'n' Grail!

I'm also very pleased to announce the first Psytronik release for the Amstrad CPC range has now been confirmed. It's the stunning 128K version of STAR SABRE which will be available as a premium 3" disk release soon. The game is an excellent sideways scrolling shoot 'em up in which you control a Sabre scout craft on a mission to defend a Xeno-archaeological site that is being attacked by vessels of unknown origin. Featuring excellent presentation, gripping shoot 'em action and funky 128K music this is yet another Psytronik release you should not miss!

Eat laser death you big blobbling red ... er, space thing!

And that's yer lot for now. Thanks for reading!

Kenz /

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Psytronik PREMIUM Range Released!

Greetings once again Retro Chums!

One of the most difficult things I've had to do since relaunching Psytronik Software is to find a good way to package C64 disks. The tapes were easy to do as people still use tapes and you can quite easily buy blank tapes and empty cases. Disks on the other hand were an entirely different matter. As soon as the first couple of Psytronik tape games appeared I received emails asking if disk versions would be available so it was obvious I needed to release the games on disk as well ... but how? I couldn't exactly walk into my local stationary shop and ask for some 5.25" floppy disk cases - I would have gotten some funny looks doing that in 2008!

My initial idea for the Psytronik disks was to package them in plastic wallets - the same as the ones US Gold and Melbourne House used back in the day. I thought as the packaging was quite generic something similar still may be on the market today ... I was wrong. After much trawling through the web and stationary catalogues I couldn't find anything even resembling the wallets. So I then moved onto plan B. I contacted a plastic manufacturing company and told them what I was after. They seemed to think they could help so I sent them a US Gold game case to examine. Good news! They had the equipment to produce similar wallets and sent me a sample which, although not perfect (their equipment would have to be calibrated to produce the proper sleeves) it was close enough. Enclosed with the sample was a price quote for supplying 200 of the wallets - it was almost 900 pounds!! This meant the disk wallets alone would cost almost £5.00 each (and that doesn't include the artwork, floppy disk, disk sleeve, disk label and instruction sheet).

C64 disk wallets - it's not cheap to produce these in 2009!

I abandoned that idea and resumed my search. As I had no luck finding plastic cases or wallets my helpful chum Dave (from Retro Software) pointed me to a site that sold cardboard packaging. I rather liked their white boxes and the internal measurements were just right to hold a C64 floppy disk. As the boxes were rectangular it meant I could use the same artwork that I used for the Psytronik tapes. With the boxes bookmarked I then searched for glossy labels I could stick to the boxes. I found some A4 glossy labels online but they were a tad pricey. As I was really keen on getting the disk range launched I took the plunge and ordered 200 labels. Fortunately, the labels were excellent quality. I designed templates that could be cut out and folded around the white boxes. There was enough room on an A4 page to also include a label for the back of the box, a Psytronik logo and the disk label! The Psytronik Deluxe Disk Range was born.

The Deluxe Range meant I could make disk games available at last.

The Deluxe range wasn't without its problems however. I hadn't taken into consideration how long it would take to produce each box. Every single box had to assembled, the artwork printed, cut out and applied to the front and back. Fiddly! The boxes were also a pain to package and post. They had to be reinforced inside so they didn't get squashed during transit - and I also had to include extra packing inside (along with loads of bubble-wrap) to protect them from the wrath of the Royal Mail. Still, the boxes looked cool though so I was willing to put up with the hassle of producing them ... but then disaster struck! In April 2009 the place where I bought the A4 glossy labels stopped trading. Aargh! A search for alternative glossy labels immediately ensued and I managed to find some A4 glossy vinyl labels. These were excellent quality, really nice to work with but were REALLY expensive. So now I had a decision to make ... do I increase the price of deluxe games or try one last time to find alternative packaging. I opted for the latter ...

With time (and glossy labels) rapidly running out I went back to searching for plastic cases. This was actually inspired by my office job in the "real world". We received an update for the accounting package we use and the CD came in a 5.25" plastic case just like C64 games used to use. "Aha!" I thought. If this company is using them then you must still be able to buy them. A more intensive search ensued along with emails to suppliers I used in my previous job ... One of my old contacts replied saying he could supply cases the size I required. I tentatively ordered a box of cases from him and waited for them to arrive. Not quite knowing what to expect I ripped into the package that arrived a few days later and my heart jumped when I saw what was inside. The cases I received were almost *identical* to the ones that C64 games were packaged in back in the day ... but these were brand new!!! Using measurements from an original C64 game sleeve as a guide I produced a template that I could use to adapt the existing Psytronik game artwork to fit on the new sleeve. A test inlay was printed and I was gobsmacked ... I has holding in my hand a *proper* C64 disk game in a plastic case! The Psytronik Software Premium Range was born.

You have no idea how long it has taken me to find these cases!

The last few weeks have been spent producing new artwork for ALL the Psytronik Premium titles. The good thing about re-doing all the artwork is I was able to *improve* on the game artwork in places ... It was fun adding little things like having the catalogue number on the spine, moving the Psytronik slab logo to BELOW the fist logo (I have no idea why it was above on the tape spines!), fitting FOUR screenshots on the back of the disk inlay and for the final embellishment - a nice gold (or silver) PREMIUM EDITION logo now proudly adorns the front of each inlay.

Psytronik Premium Disk Releases - Now that's what I'm talking about!

I'm really pleased (and relieved!) to have finally solved the problem with the disk packaging. The Premium Psytronik releases look exactly how I wanted the Psytronik disks to look originally - just like proper C64 games from back in the C64's heyday! You can now order ALL the Psytronik disk games in the Premium packaging (CLICK HERE) and don't worry if you've already bought budget or deluxe versions, you can upgrade your existing versions to Premium Versions! (CLICK HERE).

The new Premium range - it's all spiralling out of control! :)

Please note that I will be discontinuing the Deluxe Range as soon as I've used up my last few labels and cardboard boxes - so if you want any Deluxe titles for your collection you'd better be quick! :)

Thanks for reading!

Kenz /

Monday, 4 May 2009

Armalyte blasts off once again!

Greetings once again fellow retro-beings!

Can you believe it has been over 20 years since we returned to Delta-space to do battle with the H'siffian Khanate?! Well, now here's your chance to re-live that epic battle as Armalyte has now re-launched for the C64.

I've spent the last few days finishing off the packaging for the Psytronik 2009 re-release and I must say it has turned out rather neat. One of the things I enjoy doing with the Psytronik releases is improving on the original release where possible. For example, I typed up the disk instructions using the original Thalamus instructions as a guide. When I reached the SCOREBOARD section I was surprised at how poor the illustration was that depicted the status panel functions. To remedy this for the re-release I used a screen-grab from the game along with red arrows to point out the various functions. Have a look at the pictures from each manual below to compare the difference!

The 1988 scoreboard pic - not gorgeous!

The 2009 manual - mm! gorgeous!

Another thing that I improved for the 2009 instructions was the SHIP ENHANCEMENT section that detailed the power-ups. The original version was text only and the generator power-up had been omitted completely! For the new version I included images of each power-up so you know what you are collecting and included the generator power-up in the manual. I know it's not really vitally important to include these things to the manual but it's nice to be able improve on things where possible ... :)

And talking of improving things, I received the completed disk menu from Jason 'TMR' Kelk yesterday. I really liked the disk menu that came with the original disk version of Armalyte (I loved those colour cycling rasters in the original) so I thought it would be neat to feature something similar in the re-release. As side 1 of the disk contains just the actual game there was no need for a disk menu there - but side 2 is a different kettle of fish entirely (who exactly keeps their fish in a kettle by the way?) Anyway, as side 2 of the disk contains lots of goodies (the loading screen + music, two Walkers Warbles music demos, three rare Armalyte game previews and a demo of the unreleased Armalyte 2) I asked TMR to produce a menu for side 2 done in the style of the original menu - and he did just that!

When I received the menu the first thing I did was prod number 1 to try out the loading pic. But nothing happened! So I tried all the number keys and nothing loaded ... umm! The penny then dropped and I tried moving the joystick - and the cycling colours moved! Pressing fire then loaded the desired program. I didn't actually realise you could use the joystick to select a file on the original C64 version - I've always used the number keys (and to think I've owned the original disk version for over 20 years! hehe!) Anyway, I asked Mr Kelk if he could also add keyboard select to the menu and he did just that, what a nice chap!

Anyway, now that the disk contents are ready and the packaging and instructions are complete the first wave of Armalyte deluxe editions are now ready to launch. Here's a photo of a few of them in all their shiny loveliness! These will hit the Royal Mail this week so if you've pre-ordered the C64 disk version you won't have to wait long now.

And now some exciting news for those of you looking forward to the PC remake of the game. Smila has uploaded a video featuring footage from the PC version of the game. I nagged him to include the Philip Glass music as it gave me goosebumps when I watched the video while listening to that music! Obviously we can't use this particular track in the PC remake of the game but I'm hoping the in-game music will be inspired by it!

You can order the 2009 C64 Edition of Armalyte NOW from the Binary Zone Interactive store (click HERE for details). You will be also be able to pre-order the PC version soon as well (keep an eye on this blog for details).

Until next time, per aspera ad astra!

Kenz /

Sunday, 26 April 2009

The quest for the Holy Grail

Greetings once again retro chums!

A forthcoming Psytronik C64 release that I'm particularly looking forward to is Knight 'n' Grail. The game is being programmed by Mikael Tillander with additional graphics (and box artwork) by HÃ¥kon 'Archmage' Repstad and it really is shaping up into something special.

I've been playtesting the game recently and the more I've been playing it the more it has been impressing me. So much so in fact I thought I'd devote a blog entry to the game just so I can bring you some screenshots from the game. Before that though, here's a preview of the superb box artwork by Archmage to whet your appetites:-

The game features a brave armour-clad Knight on a quest to find the legendary Holy Grail. The game begins in a castle which you must explore. Scattered around are switches that open up new areas when you smash them with your sword. You must also find special suits of armour and swords which are important for your quest.

The game is made up of over 200 (!) screens split into different scrolling areas. During your quest your will encounter various monsters and an assortment of rather large bosses. Lets take a look at some screens from the game shall we?

The picture above is from quite early in the game. The Knight is wearing the the armour of water which he has just collected. This will make him immune from the water dripping from the ceiling. Using the elemental armour is an important part of the game - but that's all I'm going to say about that! :)

Another screen from inside the castle. The knight is battling some spinning stone nasties here. These guys are made of pretty solid stuff so it's better to dodge underneath them as they bounce up and down rather than waste time hurling your sword at them. You can use your sword to kill a lot of the enemies in the game and certain swords are more effective against certain enemies.

Here's a shot of the Upper Cave. The Knight has encountered a tall stone Golem who takes a quite a few hits to kill. One of the things I like about the game is how it uses scrolling. The areas you explore in the game scroll smoothly horizontally. This is very impressive especially considering how much colour is being displayed on screen.

Here you can see the Knight riding a mine-cart in the game! Wheeee! Not only do you use the mine-cart to travel along this part of the game but you will also need to stand on it to reach some objects high up on the screen.

Our brave night has found the well of wishes. This is actually a teleport that allows you to travel from one end of the map to the other instantly (which saves a lot of time as this is a BIG game!)

I love this section of the game - it really reminds me of the bridge section from Ghosts 'n' Goblins. The fireball that you can see in front of the Knight has actually burst through the ground from the lava below. I love the use of colour in this area - superb! One of the (many) things I like about this game is how it rewards you with some new gorgeously drawn background graphics, monsters or even a boss confrontation as you progress through the game. It really makes you keep wanting to carry on playing just so you can see the deeper levels of the game!

Here be dragons! This is just one of the awesome bosses that you will encounter in the game. This particular dragon attacks you with a hail of ice. Wearing the correct armour will protect you from that - but you still have to defeat the dragon itself!

Here's our hero battling through the lower temple. Not only has the Knight got to contend with claws bursting through the floor but an evil wizard is trying to Zzap! him with magic too. I guess you could say it's a hard days Knight (gnn!) Dig that shiny gold armour though - you will have to work hard to earn that (but lets just say it's definitely worth the effort!)

Knight 'n' Grail is really coming together nicely now and most (if not all) of the screens are now in place. I've just played a version that includes music for the first time and it works really well and adds lots of atmosphere to this beautifully constructed game (the title tune is reminiscent of the classic C64 theme from Ghosts 'n' Goblins - how cool is that?!) All being well the game will be available to order on disk for the C64 in June 2009 from so please keep an eye on the website (and this blog) for more details.

Thanks for reading!

Kenz /