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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu Sep 29, 2022 12:59 pm

This morning I was watching an episode of one of my favorite (old) shows, which was broadcast from 1983 to 2002 on Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the USA: The Computer Chronicles.

TCC has so many episodes filled to the brim with pure unadulterated tech nostalgia - most of which I've never seen. So watching 1-2 per week is a fun guilty pleasure.

Today I watched an episode from December of 1990 titled, Battle of Video Game Consoles. This was a partial departure because the focus is almost always computer hardware and software. This episode talked entirely about video games, arcades, consoles - and a couple of PC games.

CC-1.jpg

At the 8:50 mark we're introduced to David Riordan of Cinemaware. He's asked by the host, Stewart Cheifet, to explain the hardware we're about to be shown running this particular Cinemaware title.

Riordan responded:
Well we're looking at a standard PC with a CD-ROM drive attached to it.
The reason I bring all of this up is because the game in question we're about to be shown is Cinemaware's Defender of the Crown.

CC-3.jpg

Reminder: this is 1990. We are next presented with what looks to be Amiga-level graphics, yet with pure audio CD with voice actors and orchestral music. I don't recall ever seeing this game look this good on a PC back in the day. From what I recall, the DOS version was ported to CGA (4 color) and EGA (16 color) and it was a mere shadow of the Amiga version. And yet here we are...

CC-2.jpg

According to Wikipedia, DotC was the 2nd game ever put to CD, way back in 1989. But ... was it this version? If so, what happened to this remarkable port? Has anyone ever seen it look like this on a PC before way back when? I'm genuinely baffled.

Could this have been an early Amiga-driven CD-ROM prototype shown in PC clothing? It does appear to be shown on an IBM PS/2 16" monitor either way.

Note: For those not aware the show's co-host was often Gary Kildall, who created the CP/M operating system. (He actually isn't in the episode I just focused on, however.)

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intric8
Seattle, WA, USA
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Posted Thu Sep 29, 2022 11:01 pm

Update!

From Archive.org:
Scanned and imaged material from the [sic] one-thought-lost CD-ROM version of Defender of the Crown. From the description of a youtube playthrough of the game:

Just over a week ago, a PC CD-ROM version of Defender of the Crown was finally discovered. It was known that a PC CD-ROM version was in development, but it was believed to have never been published. Well, apparently it did receive a release of sorts in Europe, but the version found only supports EGA graphics.

The finder found a full retail boxed version of the game. The box includes 2x5.25" DD disks, 1x3.5" DD disk and one CD. The game's code and graphics are contained on the disks, which can be installed to a hard drive. The CD is an Audio CD with two tracks. The second track runs for about 22 minutes and contains all the music, narration and background/ambient effects tracks. Direct sound effects, like the income count, are still generated by the PC Speaker.

The game was programmed to run only with certain Hitachi CD-ROM drives. It will send play and status commands using Hitachi's proprietary CD command set. The play command requires the start and end time of that portion of the track to be played, and the status command lets the program know when the track has finished playing. The play command can also act as a stop play command by setting the start and end times to the same value. So out of the box this DotC PC CD-ROM Version will only play with a Hitachi CD and the interface that went along with it. MSCDEX will not do anything. Fortunately a patch was released to translate Hitachi drive commands to MSCDEX, allowing me to capture this footage for your edification via DOSBox (using 1000 Cycles).
Annoyingly, however, the video does not show the "Amiga-like" graphical version - just the EGA low-color version. But the sound is right.





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