Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

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Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by toot_toot » Sun Dec 01, 2019 9:03 am

I was reading this interview with DK tronics MD David Heelas in Your Spectrum magazine, originally published in 1985.

https://spectrumcomputing.co.uk/mag.php ... 28&page=72

And David Heelas mentions they have Popeye due to come out, except it would have been released sooner if the “programmer hadn’t done a runner”. It made me wonder, was there a different version of Popeye that was never released and DK Tronics very own Don Priestley was called in to make the game - and make a brilliant one at that. Or was it just BS from David Heelas, although he did have a reputation for straight talking.

I can’t find any reference to a different version in previews, but if the story is correct that Don Priestley did step in then it must have been a great stroke of luck as it became the blueprint for so many of his great games - Trapdoor, Gregory Loses His Clock, Flunky and Benny Hill’s Madcap Chase!!

Does anyone else know of the background to Popeye by DK Tronics?
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by Stefan » Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:03 pm

See also the interview with Don Priestey in Crash 34 page 108 which also mentions the other version, also without details:
The game had been a long time coming though, and more ads for it appeared in the twelve months previous to its release than after. Don fills in the background: 'a version of Popeye had been already written by A N Other, and it was duff - a platform and ladders game. I was asked to do it again.
Maybe this refers to a conversion of the 1984 Timex Parker Brothers release?
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by Alessandro » Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:57 pm

Stefan wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:03 pm
Maybe this refers to a conversion of the 1984 Timex Parker Brothers release?
No, that was not being either programmed or released by Dk'tronics but by Amazon Systems and Parker Games, a subsidiary of the Parker Brothers group (see here). Parker cartridge-based games were developed in-house for both the Spectrum and Timex 2068 and were not released at all in the end except for Panama Joe/Montezuma's Revenge and Death Star Battle (both by Sinclair) because Parker pulled out of the videogames market in 1984.
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by Stefan » Sun Dec 01, 2019 4:51 pm

Alessandro wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:57 pm
No, that was not being either programmed or released by Dk'tronics but by Amazon Systems and Parker Games, a subsidiary of the Parker Brothers group (see here).
That's a rather strong no. In that thread Amazon Systems' Gil states:
The games were complete, but were never issued, because Parker didn't feel it worth while to negotiate the Trade Mark rights etc.
Dk'tronics did get hold of a license to use the Popeye trade mark, so may have looked at using Amazon System's version - which does just happen to have platforms and ladders.

Update and after playing the Amazon Systems' game for 5 seconds, I can confirm that it is duff. :lol:
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by Alessandro » Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:31 pm

Stefan wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 4:51 pm
Dk'tronics did get hold of a license to use the Popeye trade mark, so may have looked at using Amazon System's version - which does just happen to have platforms and ladders.
Again, I don't really think it was the case given Dk'tronics record (they developed everything in-house), the fact that Amazon Systems's titles were most probably unheard of in the UK apart from those two which were published by Sinclair, and in fact they were rediscovered many years later, etc. Maybe the first attempt was directly inspired by the coin-op, rather than by AS's feeble conversion?

Anyway - besides being pure speculation, all we can say until now on the subject does not matter that much, since the Popeye we got was and is great :D
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by toot_toot » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:25 pm

Stefan wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 1:03 pm
See also the interview with Don Priestey in Crash 34 page 108 which also mentions the other version, also without details:
The game had been a long time coming though, and more ads for it appeared in the twelve months previous to its release than after. Don fills in the background: 'a version of Popeye had been already written by A N Other, and it was duff - a platform and ladders game. I was asked to do it again.
Maybe this refers to a conversion of the 1984 Timex Parker Brothers release?
Thanks for posting this! I did a quick bit of research on DK Tronics and if it were the case where it was an “in-house” programmer who had made it, or at least had made some games for DK Tronics previously, then there could be two possible contenders.

Derek Brewster programmed Munch Man for DK Tronics in 1983 before moving on in 1984 to develop classics like Codename Mat and... Jasper, a platformer starring a rat.



David Turner programmed Galactians for DK Tronics in 83 again and then only programmed one more game - Turmoil for Bug Byte.



Coincidentally Turmoil was one of the first games I got for my Spectrum and I think this could definitely fit the bill of the original Popeye. It’s very similar in design to the original arcade game and if he did a runner, as is claimed, I’m sure he could have easily “reskinned” it with a mechanic (Popeye) gathering oil (spinach) being chased by Arabs (Bluto).
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by djnzx48 » Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:55 pm

An interview with David Turner in Sinclair Programs states that he was inspired by the Kong and Popeye arcade games. But there's no evidence of the game being reskinned, and according to him "the idea originally started with the garage" and the working name for the program was Pit-stop.

Additionally, Sinclair Programs has two news stories about the launch of Jasper and acquiring the rights for Popeye on this page.
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by Stefan » Mon Dec 02, 2019 7:06 am

toot_toot wrote:
Sun Dec 01, 2019 11:25 pm
David Turner programmed Galactians for DK Tronics in 83 again and then only programmed one more game - Turmoil for Bug Byte.
Hmm... and the programmer for the Amazon Systems' Popeye goes to a David with no surname... the plot thickens. ;-)
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by 5MinuteRetro » Wed Dec 04, 2019 11:16 pm

Okay, so I know this is my personal obsession but I looked up the address of DK'Tronics and here's the Google Street View, in all its g(l)ory:

Image

I do this all the while and even I'm surprised by the nondescript nature of this one. I always considered DK to be a 'real' company, rather than yet another cottage (terrace) industry.
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Re: Popeye by DK Tronics - a different version?

Post by hitm4n » Thu Dec 05, 2019 12:30 am

Ahh Dons Popeye, one of the Speccys finest hours...
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I don't have anything cool to put here, so i'll just be off now to see a priest with yeast stuck between his teeth and his friend called Keith who's a hairpiece thief...

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