Pastfinder is a classic C64 title from 1984 by Activision and is one of those games that didn’t look that good on the surface, but it’s a very good game once you understand what you need to do.
The aim of the game is to control a spacecraft that crawls along the planet surface working your way around the map by entering various zones to find artefacts. You then need to drop these off at the nearest station, which is indicated on the map. The more artefacts you drop off, the higher your rank becomes. The key to playing this game well is mastering the ship controls, which after a few hours of practice becomes second nature. The difficulty with the controls is that when you push forward on the joystick, the craft leaps off the planet surface but it also increases the craft speed. This can cause a lot of trouble in tight situations where the levels have been cunningly constructed to make you inadvertently crash into an enemy or a wall.
Having played the game for approximately 6 hours, I now understand why this game was so popular with a lot of gamers back in 1984. It’s a tricky game, but it is very enjoyable once you get the hang of it. My only criticism is the lack of decent sound and music, but what it lacks in the audio department it makes up for in originality and gameplay. It’s a fantastic piece of programming that still plays well today…
HOW WAS IT COMPLETED?: Using an infinite lives cheat.
SO WHAT HAPPENS?: As you progress through the ranks, you finally reach the rank of Cosmic Hopper. If you manage to safely return 200 artefacts to the base a short message appears that reads ‘YOU ARE GREAT’. The game then continues so that you can rack up a larger score, but the game is beaten.
Vinny: YIKES! What a poor ending to a cool C64 game 😦 Oh Activision – what were you thinking!
Andrew Fisher: For me, this is a classic. I love the background generation, which seems to have inspired Andrew Braybrook’s Alleykat…
But is this the TRUE ending? Had you visited every level, Neil?
Neil Collins: Classic game, Great to see it up on the site Vinny.
If I remember, I visited almost all of the map. The ones I didn’t were impossible to access.
I also read up a bit on the game and it seems that the aim is to get the specified amount of artefacts. I remember poking the code to see if anything happened with more artefacts but it didn’t.
Really cool game though. I never understood the fuss when I was a kid, but having put a lot of time into it I fully appreciate the game now.
Gaz Spence: A nailed on classic, as others have said. We can forgive and forget the ‘ending’ 😉
Brendan Phoenix: Never played it back in the day – and I hold my hands up – I still don’t think I have today. Some of these old Activision titles just didn’t look interesting to me back in the day – I didn’t even like the boring covers, stuff like Master of the Lamps, etc.
I will give it a go one day.
As for the ending – very disappointing considering it seemed like a bit of a ball ache to complete.
FINAL SAY: Sadly this one is let down by it’s ending.