Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scraper! Caper! Vapor!

Big Five Software had a major hit with Miner 2049er in the early 1980's -- the game debuted on the Atari 400/800 home computers and was ported to almost every viable platform of the day, although  I was personally annoyed that a version for the TRS-80 Color Computer was advertised but never released.

At least others got to share my pain later, for hero Bounty Bob's second game was to suffer a similar fate.  Big Five ran this two-page magazine ad, with new artwork by popular videogame box artist Scott Ross, for Scraper Caper, with Mr. Bob rescuing people from a burning building.  But despite the advertising investment, the game never came out.

Its failure to manifest at retail can't be blamed on the traditional industry crash/bankruptcy scenario, however.  Creator-developer Bill Hogue simply decided Scraper Caper wasn't shaping up as he had intended, and opted to turn his attention to a more straightforward sequel, Bounty Bob Strikes Back.  In those days, when preorders were unheard of and game budgets ran into the low thousands of dollars rather than the millions, publishers and programmers had more flexibility to abandon a project.

And we still have the ads, the artwork, and the name.  The term "vaporware" hadn't entered the techno-lexicon at the time, but the poetry in this case is hard to ignore: scraper and caper both rhyme with you-know-what.

I secretly like to think that Bounty Bob's faithful donkey from the Miner 2049er box art, seen weeping in the background of the Scraper Caper ad here, prevailed upon Mr. Hogue to bring Bounty Bob back to the hills and the radioactive, mutant-infested mines. 

Maybe that boy just warn't cut out fo' the city.

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