Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cover to Cover: Aardvark Ltd. 1983 Catalog (pp. 11-12)

Aardvark's spring 1983 catalog continues, with page 11 featuring yet more classic game concepts for a variety of early home computer platforms:

Blackjack / Acy Ducey [sic] is a pair of gambling games, for the TRS-80 Color and Commodore VIC-20 computers (though the VIC-20 version, oddly, is missing the split-a-pair option.)  Space Zapper is a version of Midway's early coin-op Space Zap, a simple but fun reflex game engineered by Nutting Associates.  Timetrek is another Trek game, with graphics and more real-time feel, which makes we wonder why Aardvark was still pushing Starship Hercules back on page 9.

Starfighter is puzzling -- it sounds more like a simulation of close-quarters space combat than a game of Space Invaders, but it's hard to imagine just what this one might have played like based on the catalog description.  This source code listing for the OSI version (no longer being marketed in this catalog) comes from Jerry Travis' OSI archive site and makes this a little bit clearer -- it's a turn-based war game with random elements, and the available difficulty levels alter the player's odds of success.

And, finally, Games Disk #1 compiles several of Aardvark's older TRS-80 Color games onto one disk, with Quest, Killerbot, Mars and Battlefleet covered elsewhere in this catalog; only Slashball had fallen out of print, it was apparently another CoCo port of an OSI game from Aardvark's early days.

Page 12 features a fairly broad-ranging customer guarantee, though one wonders how "as advertised" was interpreted -- apparently the key was to return the product within 15 days if it was found unsatisfactory.  But it's pretty rare today to see a software product with guaranteed, money-back functionality -- those install-time agreements we all skim and click are usually dominated by disclaimers of any responsibility whatsoever should the software fail to perform.

I seem to remember buying a handful of Aardvark's "used and bungled" cassettes once upon a time, an attractive offer on my paper route income.  This page also features the traditional solicitation of software authors with interesting products that Aardvark might want to publish -- most small software companies were dependent on outside developers, though Aardvark founder Rodger Olsen created many products himself.  There's also a mention of a separate OSI-specific catalog.

Almost done -- we'll wrap this catalog up next weekend!

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