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Written by  :  WWWWolf (453)
Written on  :  Apr 28, 2006
Platform  :  Commodore 64
Rating  :  4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars4 Stars

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Redefinition of 'pushing it a bit'

The Good

Now here's something. A 3D virtual reality creation toolkit. On Commodore 64. This thing really made it possible to do all sorts of 3D environments. Okay, it was not overly complex or anything, and the 3D engine was somewhat limited (can't place objects within each others' bounding boxes, and the 8-bit versions suffered from lack of colors anyway), but this thing was affordable, pretty powerful for what it did, and certainly interesting.

I've used a lot of 3D apps, and this thing was clearly the simplest of the 3D game creation kits. I had to wait until recent years and GameBlender to get anything comparable and modern!

The Bad

Well, one obvious thing comes in mind: Commodore 64 was a tad bit underpowered for making 3D games. A screenful of shade-filled polygons at one frame per second was quite a good speed. If we were to understate a bit, C64 just wasn't made for 3D graphics, but I'm still kind of impressed by how well they pulled this off, considering the limitations of the platform!

Also, the thing is far more like a "Virtual Reality" toolbox than a "Game" toolbox. There's a scripting language, but you can't do much with such a limited language (okay, Alan Turing is probably spinning in his grave if I say that). The player can only interact with the world by shooting, activating things, or moving to specific areas which might trigger sensors or something. The game can output text messages which is a bit complex. All in all, you combined with the somewhat slow and dull-looking 3D engine, somewhat limited sound effects, and especially the slow screen updates, and lack of interaction possibilities, you couldn't do whole lot with this. You sure can't remake Quake in this thing. Don't expect high action. It might be perfect for slow-paced exploration/puzzle games...

The Bottom Line

What we're witnessing here is a redefinition of one of the earliest home computer full-3D graphics engines. Back in those days, you needed Heavy and Expensive Gear to run 3D stuff. Now, these crazy people decided to do the same thing on home computers, and blaspheme the gods of Virtual Reality by building *games* on top of that. 3D shooters. On 8-bit computers. On the frigging mud flap *Spectrum*, for crying out loud. Nineteen frigging *eighty six*. The kids who play Halo and Cow-Strike don't know what they missed.

Now, the company wasn't content with building a full-blown 3D engine on 8-bit machines, no. They made games on top of that. And a few years later, they made 3D Construction Kit (aka Virtual Studio, as it seems), which allowed people to build virtual reality stuff - and *games*, again - on their home computers.

This is an app where you can create virtual reality things and some simple games too. Simply put, there has been few attempts that have succeeded in getting the task done so simply and making it easy to approach. However, the 8-bit versions might not be the best for these tasks - the Amiga and PC versions, which I haven't seen, seemed to be much more capable.