Insert Disk collects Hunchback for the Commodore 64 (C64).
Today’s retro game review is Hunchback for the Commodore 64 (C64). This retro gaming classic was one of Ocean Software’s first arcade to home conversions. Hunchback features some impressive platforming as you take control of Quasimodo in order to save Princess Esmeralda. Hunchback is addictive and fun, a must play for any retro game collector.
Greetings collectors and welcome to today’s retro game review. I’m feeling nostalgic today so I’m going to take us all the way back to 1984 to re-visit the Commodore 64 classic that is Hunchback.
Originally an arcade release in 1983 Hunchback soon saw home versions arrive. Its simple premise yet fiendish difficulty established Hunchback as a must play game of its time. The Commodore 64 version of Hunchback was brought to the home by Ocean Software as one of their very first attempts to establish themselves in the arcade to home conversion market. The end result is a fantastic addictive side-scrolling retro masterpiece of fun.
You play as Quasimodo the Hunchback with the sole aim of rescuing Esmeralda from the castle. It’s yet again a variation of rescue the princess but this is true old school princess saving. Controlling the hunchback you must simply journey from left to right avoiding pitfalls, arrows, cannonballs and knights of the realm. It’s so simple yet so effective as a game. On the right hand side of the screen ring the bell to signify the completion of the screen. There are several elements to hunchback that give it depth. Firstly the knight climbing the wall. This character acts somewhat as a timer, give him enough time to scale the castle wall and he will capture you.
The second interesting element is the notion of not failing. Each time you ring a bell to complete the stage they accumulate in the top left hand corner. Collect 5 in succession and you will be justly rewarded by points and in this game point mean prizes. In this case extra lives. Fail on a stage and your bells will be set back to zero. It’s a real driver to make the perfect run. The game starts out reasonably easy. Just jump a few cannonballs here, jump a gap here and so forth. All of a sudden though it’s all gloves off as it becomes a game of pattern recognition and memory. For instance, on this screen you must jump immediately to avoid an arrow in the back. Now that’s about the cheapest death I’ve ever seen. Still, next time you will remember.
So, how much for this massively addictive classic? I’d recommend paying no more than £3 at maximum for this title or $3.50 US dollars. The reality is that Ocean mass produced Hunchback on an industrial scale. Most microcomputers of the day saw a release of the game and it’s a legacy of hunchback’s popularity that means that there are still plenty of original copies to go around. This is a UK PAL cassette version of the game. The artwork is rather charming and continues its family friendly feel on the inside of the case along with the cassette itself.
Hunchback is a game of small victories. Each screen brings you closer to the end goal. It’s been decades since its release yet hunchback still has the ability to hold my attention. It’s difficult to convey through watching alone but its tension that the game creates that is the true magic. Jumps must be pixel perfect, leaps of faith at just the right time and the anticipation of impending doom.
For anyone looking to pick up a retro game I’d insist that you play hunchback. It’s a game that truly embodies all that is good about retro gaming and why it is still relevant today.
Hunchback is fun, frustrating and so addictive that I’m still playing it decades after its original release.