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Seattle, WA, USA

Posted Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:47 pm

I'm not unique when I reveal that one of my favorite games as a kid was the C64 version of Bruce Lee, by Ron Fortier at Datasoft.
I had a crack of the game back then, but I played it religiously for days until I beat it. It was one of the few games I could actually play and beat. And that accomplishment made me feel like a million bucks, I'll never forget: sweaty hands, slippery joystick and elevated heartbeat that 2nd to last level (the one right before the weird final boss that isn't hard to beat at all).

These days I have an original disk, along with a few other epic Datasoft classics.
I've been hunting for boxed versions of these games (even just empty boxes) and they are damned near unobtanium these days. Happy to have the disks, though.

I fired it up the other night on my C128D and showed my son (10) for the first time. I hadn't played the original in years and surprised myself how far I got on my first play. It all came back to me. My son really liked watching me play, and commented on how great the sound effects were.

I played it again a 2nd time last night before bed, and beat it. Such a fun game. I want to check out the fan-made homebrew that came out last decade: Bruce Lee II. Bruce can even swim! Looks very cool. I think I'll play that version off my 1581 drive. =)

Happy Friday, everyone. Love this tune. Interesting tech note:
I discovered that my original disk has some very unusual copy protection. In fact, you can't even perform a BASIC directory listing. You know:
LOAD "$",8

It will spin the disk for a long time, then eventually fail. I asked Robin from the 8-bit Show and Tell fame, and he pulled out one of his original disks. It did the same thing to him.

I tried, and it gets stuck loading the directory on my original Bruce Lee disk too. The directory at track 18, sector 1, points back to itself so it'll never finish loading. Nice way to wear out a rare original disk 😮
He also mentioned, "Bruce Lee also refuses to load with the Super Snapshot cartridge enabled, probably as some kind of copy protection, but doesn't seem to offer any fast load of its own; it takes quite a while to load. Still, great game."

I reached out to the programmer of the game, Ron Fortier, about the peculiarity with the disks and if it was a weird side effect of the copy protection.

Ron Fortier:
DataSoft had a proprietary duplication and copy protection system. All manufacturing happened in our facility in Chatsworth and then Northridge, CA. I don't remember what we did that would make for a slow loading game. Everything we did was custom with the intent of speed.

User avatar
Cupertino, California

Posted Tue Jan 21, 2020 11:09 pm

That was an amazing game, I have fond memories of playing that with my brother for hours and hours. Thanks for this post!

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