Pastfinder, Commodore 64

Well. Come. Back.

Back in time, my friends, to 1984, or should we say 8878? No - I was right the first time: 1984. A plucky chap, way back when created a game on one of the Atari 8-Bit computers called Explorer. Activision got hold of it and said - no chance - we're calling it PASTFINDER. Also, get someone to port it to the C64 – because we’re selling shed loads of them. And lo - they did.

David Lubar’s “Pastfinder” is an absolute gem of a game. Reviewed in the very first edition of Zzap64 it scored some 86% (it was reviewed many years later when released on Mastertronic’s MAD budget label and clocked up a whopping 93% - which is much more fitting!) earning itself a Sizzler to boot. It’s bloody brilliant. Bloody difficult. Bloody bonkers. But bloody brilliant.

A key contributing factor to this is simply the gameplay – it is so, so, so simple. Though, the background and actual thread of what you have to do always felt way more complicated in the 80s – I’m still not quite sure now. But the way your Pastfinder craft moves, with its vaguely arachnid-esque leg movements and stunning spinning horizontal movement - delightful; the frankly very basic, but excellently-designed planet surfaces and colour combos are interesting and some are dynamic: with moving parts causing terrain obstacles and forcing erratic avoidances; the limited SFX and repetitive noises – all add up to a cracking computer game steeped in that heavy metal / radiation / future gone tits up vibe. It is delicious.

The idea is to collect artifact’s from the surface of a plant gone wrong (never stop learning, kids!), irradiated and desolate, with a defensive battery of AI Robots (SKYNET!) trying to take you down, or just, literally, sitting there, waiting for you to crash into them. These can be dropped off at bases and stations once located as you traverse the planetary surface utilising a rudimentary map displaying low, medium or heavily-radiated sectors.

The game just plays beautifully and once you get a handle on what the actual chuff-badgers you’re meant to be doing, you really get involved in your strategy and tactics, spending more time than one might think necessary on the very basic-looking map planning your route to the spot that will next expand the map. Apparently, following the arrows leads to bonus replacement craft…

In the playthrough below I expand the map borders thrice, I believe – one away from the maximum, but I really still do not know what the End Game Goal is. But I simply don’t care – as this little beauty is just so much fun to have a little play on.

If you haven’t ever played it – I really think you ought to and if you have played it, I really think you should get a copy and boot it up and marvel at just how much fun this game is almost 40 years after it was made. Proper game, that is.

Proper job.

Zzap64 Issue 1 - 85% (Full Price); Issue 48 - 93% (Budget)
Download: Pastfinder
YouTube: LogrusUK

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