RGCD is gearing up to unleash a great new vertical shoot-em up game, Aviator Arcade II, for the Commodore 64.
The backstory to Aviator ArcadeII is that an unknown militarised terrorist unit has occupied the peaceful city of Suburbia and you have been called in to fly your state ofthe art attack helicopter into the city limits in to neutralise the threat.
Your chopper is initially equipped with a basic missile weapon system and some bombs. As you progress through each level you will come across various weapon upgrades giving you access to more power such as dual missiles, homing missiles and during the later stages, lasers. The game provides the option to enable autofire, which then allows you to deploy bombs via the FIRE button, instead of the spacebar.
Aviator Arcade II provides you with three lives with a life being lost when you lose all your health bars. Health upgrades are available to collect, which fully restores your health and an extra life awarded for every 100,000 points you accumulate.
In collaborating with Saul Cross (Graphics) and Thomas E Petersen (Music/SFX), developer Mark Hindsbo has ensured that Aviator Arcade II features great fun blasting action mixed with rich production values and engaging story telling. We were lucky enough to get some time with Mark to have him some provide some insights into the making of Aviator Arcade II.
VITNO: Arcade Aviator II appears to be an enhanced extension to the initial version 3 level version released as part of RGCD’s 16K competition. What motivated you to take on the challenge to do Aviator Arcade II?
The first Aviator Arcade was a personal challenge helping me get back to coding on the Commodore 64 after 30 years or so. RGCD’s 16K competition was perfect in terms of scope and having a deadline to keep me focused. However I could not fit the game I always wanted to make into 16K, nor into the timeline allowed. Therefore Aviator Arcade II was born to deliver a state of the art 8 bit shoot-em-up to be proud of!
VITNO: You’ve collaborated with other talent to provide the graphics, music and sound effects for the game, how did you find this process?
We are lucky that there is such a great and vibrant community around the Commodore 64 today! I met first Saul Cross online and he offered to lend his fantastic pixeling talents to the second install of the game. The first game was mainly my coding graphics, with some help from Redcrab, and Saul made a huge difference. He is probably one of the best game graphics talents in the Commodore scene today. Later my Danish heritage brought me in contact with Maniacs of Noise who generously volunteered to bring world class SID music to the game. While originally meant to be a team effort, Thomas Egeskov Petersen ended up making all the music and sound effects for the game. Thomas didn’t just contribute the various tracks, but it is also his coding behind the driver for both music and sound effects. Last, but not least, James Monkman has been part of the project from the beginning helping move it forward towards publishing. I really feel blessed having worked with Saul, Thomas and James on this endeavor!
VITNO: What was the most challenging part of working on this project?
The most rewarding and the most challenging part of the project was working with all these enthusiastic people across the globe. Hopefully it is obvious why it is rewarding, but was equally challenging because it is a hobby for all of us. Real life had a tendency to constantly interfere with completing the project. Different team members would have to check out a month or two at different times. Moving the project forward and keeping everyone motivated was occasionally quite hard. If those pesky jobs and families hadn’t interfered we could have been done in a fraction of the time it took. It certainly at times tested my patience as a project manger to wait for one of the key team members to resurface … and I am sure I tested their patience as well!
VITNO: Arcade Aviator II does not contain any mid-level checkpoints, did you ever think about including them?
Mid-level check points has been a consistent piece of feedback from multiple people. However, to me checkpoints feels like something introduced in a later era of gaming. Original arcade and 8-bit games were more unforgiving: Get killed and you have to replay the entire level! So while I have taken a lot of other feedback, and thought about adding checkpoints, a stubborn part of me refused to reduce the penalty for getting killed. I promise though that if there is an Aviator Arcade III it will feature multiple checkpoints.
VITNO: How does feel to finally have all your hard work about to come out in a physical form as a major release title for 2018?
It honestly is a dream come true to publish a major release on the Commodore 64. Call it a childhood dream getting fulfilled 30 years later … or call it a mid life crisis :-) Regardless it feels great and I have been looking forward to holding the real box in my hands for a long time. It is truly remarkable that there is so much passion around the platform that it is still possible in 2018. A lot of us owe our passion an career in IT to the Commodore and other 8-bit machines!
VITNO was able to spend a week playing through the near final version of Aviator Arcade II and this is what we thought of the game.
What We Liked
- Graphics are bright and well defined
- Smooth scrolling and precision control
- Music and sound effects
- Good story telling keeps the player constantly engaged and enourages them to keep on going to unfold what happens next.
- Plenty of variation in terrain settings and enemy types with the game setting switching from Earth to outer space.
- Difficulty curve is well balanced as you are rewarded with continual play
- Over 30 minutes of game play from start to end.
What Could Be Improved
- Adding in a checkpoint system before coming up to Boss battles so that you don’t have to replay the whole level when you die in a Boss battle
- Provide feedback when your chopper gets hit. With all the frantic action going on at times, its difficult to know if you have taken a succession of hits
Aviator Arcade II is set to be one of the best shoot’em up games to be released for the Commodore 64 during the current modern era. There is no hesitation in recommending Aviator Arcade II.
A video game review of Aviator Arcade II is available below:
Aviator Arcade II is set to be released very soon in cartridge format by RGCD, with Psytronik Software handling the diskette edition.