DiscoverRetronautsRetronauts Micro 59: Atari's SwordQuest

Retronauts Micro 59: Atari's SwordQuest

Update: 2017-04-21


Jeremy and Benj discuss the history of Atari's fascinating, extravagant, and incomplete SwordQuest series with (literally!) one of the authors of the game's new comeback: Comics scribe Chris Sims.

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it's a trilogy is not a word the the the deficit is brought to you by audible audiobook service with more than one hundred and eighty thousand titles to choose from a free audio book and a thirty day trial at audible trial dot com slash game the gaming creates machines to make every experience more intense and real from powerful Dell gaming PCs with Intel Core processors to the Ultimate alien experience there's a PC your best game at every level because the best feature of a is the power to make you forget it's there don't just play games visit Dell dot com slash gaming to learn more Dell dot com slash game in the the place and a host of the podcast for book lovers in interviews with bestselling insider scoop on the hottest releases reading book clubs and a plea of books to skip altogether to download booked but purpose Tuesday just one my tunes and don't forget to rate review the Everyone and welcome to a retro dots micro special episode is a little different than the format I usually use for it or not my crew because it's not just me my logging into a microphone that's right it's an adjunct to retro Nazis with me here today we have Benjamin's story you and also joining us is special guests Chris Jones and Chris Simms why are you joining us today I'm joining you because I of the co writers of the upcoming sword Quest comic book of the first new Atari comic in the thirty years that's right I did post a blog about this a few weeks ago by the publisher you're working with the dynamite Entertainment ok there the waters of the art of Atari book in the upcoming book The it all becomes clear I understand okay so yeah when I found out that Chris who lives here in the Raleigh area very conveniently is working on a comic book based on an old Atari series it seemed like a pretty sensible and logical decision to have him come in and talk about the comics and also the games because it's been really fascinated by the sword Quest series but I don't really know much about them and I tried playing them but without the manual in the comics to sort of the original comics to sort of makes sense that everything I have no idea what the hell is the kind of like E T in that regard where like if someone explains it to you or you have manuals or die or something oh yes OK I understand these abstract things are happening on the screen what they represent but maybe it's a little tough to just pick up but um definitely ambitious Games series really on the Atari twenty six hundred so I know Benji knows the games pretty well on their history and because I don't know how much of that you know but here we can try emulate between the three of us can come up with a pretty good discussion perhaps soul with that said um actually Chris how the heck do you get involved in writing a comment about sword Quest is actually really was a really interesting process of dynamite came to chat my job hours my writing partner we've been working together on an eighty two for Marvel Comics pool I love graphic novel and they came to us because Chad was a no lose some of the editors and have been for awhile just you know letting him know that if they had a project that all the right fork to get in touch and he said Hey we don't dormitory book is a huge success for us we want to revive some Atari properties comics and he literally a three page list of every property that already owns and is a picture into them so and honestly as you know a lot it was like super blackjack or baseball in today's literally just give you a list of first party Atari twenty six hundred yes the plan is for the day was everything I mean the pitching of a couple different ones I actually I think I figured out how to make pom work of the end of going forward the Leica Forrest Gump tie and all the way I still want to do and it was a about about doing spoiling of going to list we solemnly cool we always try and do something with a little different than the last project we don't and coming off of Super Heroes we've been talking a lot for a long time about doing something fantasy inspired Morse and sorcery so obviously adventure was one that I looked up you're down of the couple as we were going to list the sword Quest was alphabetical order and I had never heard of it but I have played in the dungeons to you know basically what sort of quest means no and then I read about the contest and then I read on the forty three games and I saw that there were actually comics made for that by all arguably some of the most famous of the creators of the era of comics are written by Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas I didn't realize that now come with the Hoosiers may know is a longtime screenwriter created the publisher with Ross Andrew to be firestorm Calderon Regency on TV every week Thomas was the second editor in chief of Marvel Comics after Stanley and they were drawn by George For as in seriously it was literally the top guys in DC Comics doing these weird Atari times of throwing cash at the CSA I think they were at first and then they ran out of cat stories they are after all I cannot having read about the video in Chrysler in nineteen eighty two they backed a truck go to all of the DC Comics just the money fellow Atlantic since they would be a DC tie and because of the time Atari was owned by owned by Warner Communications who now owns DC I don't know if they only see back and I assume yes so it was all one big happy family she was the Atari Force of the time which is very fondly remembered and has some great art by Jose Villa so there was already some kind of connection and also the DC was doing like the mini comics for the He Man toys and places and stuff going on of soul and when read those comics and tracking down and read through them really especially if you're by side with leaked on YouTube intelligence or questionnaire world are so close to the world because they are vastly different than what you what you see it really made me think about all those times I'm sure you both screens as well o Being kids in the barons from the twenty second of two the US and having the kind of complete the story and you know I have very fond memories of vacation to Myrtle Beach where I was where I drew Street Fighter comics about it was also there on the game's culture no be so of the kind of got fascinated by the fact that there were existing comics and there was a deeper existing mythology than anything else unless you know obviously there was the likely missile Command and yours revenge that we were that was our list of stuff to pitch but the more we thought the request and the more about the contests that really inform the story right now I think it's time to actually talk about what these games are and this where Benjamin's he even brought in a copy of Atari age from nineteen eighty two where this is September October nineteen eighty two and one number three yeah so this is this is where sword Quest was announced and then this was a lake the goal of the the original video game console market before the crash like the epitome of Atari hubris why why would they do something as ridiculous I don't know but it's so cool that they didn't so sad that never actually you know went through all the way except to say they must've been feeling with cash and success at this time to think that they could do this or I mean look at the top is abt this already sold more copies of Pac Man than they were actually consul to another concept occurs to me as they may have considered this like a lottery where they know they wanted people to buy into it by buying the cartridges and say to convince him by to buy it and make more than whatever was under fifty thousand total for the prizes and that's like peanuts and the thing itself is the uh why don't we talk about what the games actually were there for them it was a tent Rollin she requests trilogy there's no such word and thank you Gerri appreciate it Fox needs to get punched in the face for that they destroyed our language but yeah there were four games and each of them had an elemental theme it was kind of like an early rough draft for Abbott are there was a fair world afire world earth world and water world no relation to water world a movie or to the amazing Virtual Boy game based on the movie Water World but yet the idea was That's there were these four games they were part of a series each one had a contest attached to it as and when shipped with not only the instructions but also a comic book created by amazing people that would we just actually explain what you were doing in these very abstract games but I don't know what you're doing in these abstract The Whole Earth Earth Quest came first and that never hers were the world came for sari or throw came first and it looks like it was around October eighty two an egg game I remember playing that and you're just a guy walking around the sort of maze this feature lists and you go from room to room and it makes absolutely no sense course I think that these charges are for all the fire world and they know they make zero sense without the comics most of the twenty six games ago as a kid were bought at flea markets and stuff so I never had the comic book form you never track down complete copies of these games know that fanatical collector yet the time I don't know that more be interest the interest in doing it now than when I was younger these games complete self or to Menino have anything to much until May is so everyone was buying right now guys would get up on e bay leaf I'm looking for anybody hears this one I think a complete copy over and over three hundred bucks it's actually not nearly as bad as another thing that might increase its value that tangent which is um don't know if you guys have read Ready Player One my earnest declined it is and that has a giant video game contest theme to it that seems to be dramatically inspired by the sword Quest contest and they even mentions it in the book and one that becomes a Steven Spielberg movie which they're filming who knows when they're done with it that might increase the exposure of this idea say your comical tie in with them very well we have we of I never ever the firewall and to another and then we did the convention we did the convention a couple weeks ago we had two people in one day be like Oh it's just everywhere one right that the UI of course it does yet see everybody is trying to get married that for years and years it came out I finally read it when I want the same disgusting a plane for six hours was like I'll read it finally and I loved it very well they go through things with those really interesting about the games is that each one is meant to be themed around a sort of something mystical world is meant to be themed around the zodiac and I think one is themed around the separate victory over some very hard to part with them and I think it was their world the last one that was supposed to be the teaching but I don't like having it just from from watching the plays and hit videos online I really comes through in the games themselves that's more of the theme the accessory materials the comic books and stuff and the manual that give you that that feel of the story to it so in addition to being like elemental theme it's also kind of each game was sort of based in a different culture like the Chinese culture or Judaism what's interesting is the key part which is I actually created these things just briefly trying to figure that out WHO program at these puzzles you know really know that if you grab a copy of the art of Atari from the the one nice little bit of information there on I think it was Thomas fry fry fry and Hitchens and let's call him right now given her a time fry of course was the guy who did twenty six in a Pac Man but that's not his faults like a short deadline yes um yeah so anyway we haven't really talked about the contest element which is really important each of these games it was maybe one of was that the first game that had sort of a real world prize element attached I know the released throughout time throughout the years that have not liked Red roster for any of the Activision patches might count for something we could take a picture of those were the rewards that prize the other wasn't really a contest as were limited to is if you got high score then you got the patch where as these there was like one jealous one crown once a year there's a there's a later one called Treasure master for the knee injury ok and not obviously not actually listening to this the doing right now but I could summarize maybe some of these prizes here they said that the grand total of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars with prizes and one of them was a talisman which was that for known for her and know what this is I believe that is the talisman of ultimate truth that was for ur world world and the crown I think was Water and it shall as our firework a water world Alice going to end on the first known as the last one for that was the fair world which is all we see is a picture of the box that comes in but it was supposed to be a piece of white Jade I think underneath it according to eyewitness or so people were denied the opportunity to live forever by the fact that the crash happened well the floss or status was to transmit metals into gold and think Please sir I got my fav my true lor mixed up with Harry Potter or my allergies so basically the work is you would be walking through the game he said of two numbers and then you would do in the making with the company of which I didn't realize I was looking at become what it was the mini comics or pack it full size so the is much harder you would do to that page and panel and then you would hunt for hidden war and the works would show up in cracks in the stone wall of bubbles and a fountain or like the filigree on crown or something and then do would be an additional rule that you have to solve to make those words make sense in a sentence like there's a kind of poem looking at the Graham in the first one and one of the words I think the word prime is colored slightly differently to different shade of purple from the other purple the smallness and so you are only supposed to use the words that were on prime numbered pages ok wow you with the Atari and you would be if you've got everything right then you would have the chance to win the challenge to Arizona's plan totally ripped this off because like the clues are like the same cat thing is weird obscure count the numbers of this this is an uncommon pretty common becoming like little mystery type thing there was a killer weekend I was recently a few months ago reading about it on the Atlantic where Ian about a PC game that had a very complex riddle that no one's ever Salt Lake people supposedly solved it that when they went to the place and dug up the treasure was and so forth but yeah like that sort of you know really cryptic puzzle challenge is is a very classic part of gaining so this is an interesting I think exercise in it I bring that element into video game was kind of gaming talking about like the Indy know it's just the idea was like ok so I really drew nigh to it was the idea that this was a video game contest where it wasn't just money it wasn't just something it was meant to be the thing you were looking for in the game which never happens like you know obviously the challenge and crown and philosopher so that our ear of the don't have magic hour the resort of sharp metal ends of the idea that you could kind of as a as a player go on a quest that would have a real eye for war it would make you pay more attention both to the game and to the comic story I think we were both really fast like this is a it was extremely fascinated thing that I had never heard of you dedicated veteran officer so it's not often that I really wanna talk about this before yeah we should clarify about the sword which is that there were so therefore contest reach game and each prize is worth twenty five thousand dollars in after the four finalists with one there is supposed to be a contest where the I think it was the four players will compete for the fifty thousand dollar soared against with gold and encrusted with and diamonds and things like that interesting but that never took place yeah I think I think the closest we've come to talking about something like this in restaurants was with the likes of the four crystals that they gave away a Nintendo Power for Final Fantasy and who remember that contest number Is this really good pal and here yet and I think the gateway for those but yet we haven't really talked too much about prizes that's almost an episode itself because there have been like some crazy contests through the years but this was sort of the first of them going into the power of the woman was you could be Robocop car allow issues don't I'll always wonder if anyone's ever thought about the ethics of actually giving like a kid of twenty five thousand article that just means that one of the people who I don't think it is one the A's get within adults yeah and I believe the person who won the first price of the giveaway melted it down and tells him and he saved the jewels the melted on the tiles and I think to pay for like the taxes on the prize for her college know that's a little more noble but also you can kind of understand wanting to pay for the taxes because you do that accidents like this So that's that's kind of the the surprise element to it to a contest like this all you gotta get this awesome golden crust tells me go walk around wearing that I can help me a ticket to the mall to look out for me they just rode him like he's the guy who wore the giant clocks the flip yet seen the talisman oh that's true he can be yelling What are they saying I don't know what we kind of danced around this by the fact that this series never actually saw completion it was launched in nineteen eighty two and was was to run through this basically two years eighty to eighty three but as we the bottom of a lot of the Atari market at the end of nineteen eighty two that posted their huge public losses was like three hundred million or something which was mostly tied to the collapse of the Atari platform and at that point Atari was toxic and everyone's are losing their Atari games and were soft targets et-cetera So yesterday went from having like a dump truck full of money and jewel encrusted golden relics to not having anything and to cut most of their staff the local vet's the employees that they had gotten there in the desert okay not literally harm to score yes in eighteen eighty two they released First World and fire world and then the market collapsed and water world came out in nineteen eighty three but it only came out as the mail order a game that you could purchase direct from Atari and never saw a retail release and then the final volume air world never happened I think they found like this the type or I think not people said that as fake or something so I had this terrible terrible needed accuracy and see what we keep eating because our favorite source of air world is the one based on teaching supposedly two prototypes are widely rumored to exist which it was a slimy of on it myself all the great Halloween if Frank added he was and he would be sitting on a good reason to believe in and he sort of the anti collector you want to spoil their fun and give it to everybody like hers but you know people who get rare one of the kind prototypes and then hoarded and saying ever play this except me like what benefit does not have to humanity by unforeseen wants to be for it I believe bio Force ape has been set free I was frank yet so yeah Frank is Frank is one of the good ones he forgotten code lost a lost data but I wouldn't be surprised if one of the you know the early days ROM herders has gotten ahold of and Ellen's it than I do actually know who Rob orders are and I don't want to know because I would be gripped them to be that difficult to live I fully buy that will be a prototype because there's not a lot of variation what I've seen games like there's just when you said you're walking around a dungeon exploring and then you run into many games so alike and Water World for instance you basically when you're going for a room you either play from her or jump over iceberg right and there is in this thing with octopus or swim around sharks or something I remember that the fire was actually kind of cool it might be why I have three copies of this appeal may have bought it for fun because there is some sort of Space invaders like shooter elements to him when we seem to be catching a bunch of daggers flying down from the sky looks like Kaboom yeah I don't know it's like it's just psychedelic maybe dislike of them a little bit but it just like Why are you catching daggers of this platform should look at us you know I I believe you on this and you're right about the psychedelic element I know from what I've seen of footage and try playing of these games they do have really impressive graphics for the twenty six and are these a lot of the sort of color cycling and other techniques to solve the system's lights are the support for this podcast in the following message comes from upside dot com A New Way to Buy Business Travel upside bundles are flights and hotel together for one low price that saves your company so much money they're able to reward you in the form of a popular gift card every time you buy a trip this is upside dot com and use promo code trip to get at least a two hundred dollars Amazon gift card the first time you buy a trip save on travel and get a gift card every time minimum purchase required see upside dot com promo code TR IP for complete details if you're like me you love to read but you don't want to have your eyes constantly glued to something in front of your face I mean honestly constantly reading a book that's no 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Retronauts Micro 59: Atari's SwordQuest