Thursday, February 7, 2019

EPISODE 11: Zarlor Mercenary


#PA2030, Published by Atari Corp.
In this episode I cover the very last game originally developed at Epyx, Inc., Zarlor Mercenary, released in October of 1990. Alphabetically, it's also the very last original-release game for the Lynx. Plus, as far as I know, it's the only Lynx game that has "Mendicants"...or "Medicants"...or "Merdicants." I've included vital statistics, credits, gameplay, reviews and ratings, some fun facts and trivia, and some listener feedback about the game.

Release Date: October of 1990.
Initial retail price: In the US: $34.99; in the UK: £29.99.
Cartridge: 128k (likely) stereo curved lip-style cartridge.
Genre: Top-down vertically scrolling shooter for one player, or two-to-four players using the ComLynx cable.
Screen/playfield orientation: landscape (horizontal).
Other Ports: There were no ports of this game to any other systems.
Sequels: There were no sequels to this game.
Levels: There are six levels, or "Missions," in both the single and multi-player versions of the game: Level 1-Cadmar Desert; Level 2-Mesort Swamp; Level 3-Docrit Sea; Level 4-Sedimor Domes; Level 5-Mardic Ice; and Level 6-Cedmite City.
Carton:  Full-color standard-tab regular-size carton (5 3/8" by 4 3/8" by 7/8"). There were also French and Japanese versions of the carton sold, as well as a blister pack.
Manual: A 20-page (including front and back covers) stapled regular-sized booklet manual in monochrome, measuring the usual 4 7/8” high by 3 ¾” wide.
Languages: As far as I can determine, the manual was available in the U.S. in an English version only.

Developer: Epyx, Inc.
Programming: Chuck Sommerville  (audio and video of Chuck's joint interview with LX Rudis in 2018 on The Atari Lynx Handycast)
Graphics: Matthew Crysdale
Levels, Music, SFX: Christopher Grigg
Additional Programming: Stephen Landrum

Ninjabba's At It Again!
Jasper van Turnhout, also known as Ninjabba on Atari Age, and who released his critically acclaimed homebrew game Wyvern Tales back in May of 2018, has now released a new teaser demo that he has developed for what could potentially become another homebrew title for the Lynx. The demo is called Nomad Rally 2018, and anyone interested in viewing the demo in emulation or in downloading it to a multicard can find it here.

Luchs Soft Taking Pre-Orders for Space Battle and QuadroMania!
Luchs Soft in Germany is now taking pre-orders for two after-market titles, both to be available on April 1, 2019. Space Battle is a Harry Dodgson prototype (from 2000). It will be available as a single cartridge or two cartridges (for 2-player gaming); both versions will come complete with curved lip-style cartridge(s) inside a full-color carton, along with a manual, poster, and collectible lapel pin. The game can be played by up to eight players using the ComLynx cable.
The other game, QuadroMania, was discovered in 2013 by Alex Thissen, a.k.a. (who provided high-res scans of his hand-drawn Slime World maps here) and who released a very limited run of 20 copies of the game in 2017 through Beta Phase Games. Now, Alex has secured permission from RPM Software (Robert Maidorn) to market a new run of the game through Luchs Soft; it will also come complete with a curved lip-style cartridge inside a full-color carton, along with a manual, poster, and collectible lapel pin.

Who Doesn't Want a Funky Xmas?
In other homebrew news, Martin Wendt, Xamil Wolnikowsky, and Bruno Moraes, known collectively as PriorArt, have also released a new homebrew demo for the Atari Lynx; this one is entitled Funky Xmas 2018. Rabid Lynxters may recognize Wendt and Wolnikowsky as two of the developers of the eagerly anticipated upcoming homebrew game Lacim's Legacy. A zip file of this new demo can be downloaded here.

Information About Zarlor Mercenary:
Atari Age title info/rarity guide for Zarlor Mercenary
Atari Gamer title info/rarity guide for Zarlor Mercenary
Digital Press title info/rarity guide for Zarlor Mercenary
Wikipedia article about Zarlor Mercenary
Moby Games article about Zarlor Mercenary
GameFAQs article for Zarlor Mercenary
Zarlor Mercenary Fact File in Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine (US; Issue #19; February of 1991)
Zarlor Mercenary Tips, Cheats & Easter Eggs from Atari Age
Zarlor Mercenary Cheat Codes from GameSpot
“Atari Lynx Hint Book”, published by Atari in 1993 for Lynx game developers; tips and hints for Zarlor Mercenary can be found on pages 68 and 69; how to access a port of John Horton Conway's 1970 classic "The Game of Life" Easter Egg can be found beginning on page 70.

Reviews and Ratings for Zarlor Mercenary:
Review by Clayton Walnum in STart Magazine (US; Issue #39; December of 1990)
Ratings and Reviews by The Review Crew in Electronic Gaming Monthly Magazine (US; Issue #19; February of 1991)
Review by Paul Glancey in Computer and Video Games Magazine (UK; Issue #111; February of 1991)
Review by Les Ellis in RAZE Magazine (UK; Issue #5; March of 1991)
Review by Hawanja at Ultimate Console Database
Review by Robert A. Jung at IGN (1999)
Review by JDeLuna at GameFAQs (1999)
Review by Govvy at GameSpot (2006)
Review by Guuthluhu at GameSpot (2007)
Review by 8BitJeff (Jeff D. Fulton) at 8-BitRocket (2012)
Review by Kyle Knight at (2013)
Review by Jon Mc at Atari Gamer (2018)

YouTube Videos About Zarlor Mercenary:
Music (pieness)
Playthrough (StaxX28)
Playthrough (World of Longplays)
Playthrough and Review (CGRUndertow)
Playthrough and Review (rampboraph4life)
Retailers Selling Zarlor Mercenary:
B & C ComputerVisions: The price lists systems at B &C crashed on 8/3/18 and they have still not been restored, as of this recording date.
Best Electronics (last updated May 31, 2018; check website for availability): US$28.50 (CIB); US$19.95 (loose cart)
The Gamesmen (Australia): AU$28.50 (NIB)
The Goat Store: None Available.
Telegames (UK): £12.49 (listing does not include whether it's a loose cart, cart/manual combo, or CIB)
Video 61 & Atari SalesUS$49.95 (NIB)

After-Market and Homebrew Lynx Titles Now Available:

As of the recording date, here are the after-market and homebrew Atari Lynx titles available from Luchs Soft in Germany (prices do not include shipping costs):
Alpine Games (€46,99)
Ejagfest Slideshow (€41,99)
Hanoi (€41,99)
Quadromania (pre-order) (€46,99; ship date: 4/1/19)
Retro X-MASsacre (pre-order) (€36,99; ship date 2/1/19)
Space Battle (pre-order) (€46,99 [single], €62,99 [double]; ship date: 4/1/19)
Unseen (€41,99)
Weltenschl√§chter (€41,99)
Yastuna-The Alchemy of Cubes (€41,99)
Click here if you're interested in ordering from Luchs Soft.

As of the recording date, here are the after-market and homebrew Atari Lynx titles available from Songbird Productions in the US (prices include tax/shipping costs):
Alpine Games w/Bonus Multicart (very limited; $69.95)
Bubble Trouble (very limited; $69.95)
Championship Rally ($59.95)
Crystal Mines II: Buried Treasure ($59.95)
CyberVirus ($59.95)
Hyperdrome (very limited; $69.95)
Lexis ($59.95)
Loopz ($59.95)
Lynx Reloaded Multicart (backordered; $49.95)
MegaPak 1 (backordered; $59.95)
Othello (backordered; $39.95)
Ponx ($59.95)
PokerMania (backordered; $42.95)
Raiden (very limited; $69.95)
Remnant: PW3D ($59.95)
SFX ($59.95)
SIMIS (backordered; $39.95)
Sokomania (backordered; $39.95)
Songbird 20th Anniversary 3-Pack (Lexis, Ponx, SFX) ($129.95, a savings of $50!)
Super Off Road (very limited; $69.95)
T-Tris (backordered; $39.95)
Zaku (limited; $59.95)
Click here if you're interested in ordering from Songbird Productions.

As of the recording date, here are the after-market and homebrew Atari Lynx titles available from Telegames in the UK (all prices include tax):
Alpine Games (pre-order) (£49.99)
Bubble Trouble (£49.98)
Championship Rally (£44.99)
Crystal Mines II: Buried Treasure (pre-order) (£49.99)
CyberVirus (pre-order) (£49.99)
Fat Bobby (£49.99)
Hyperdrome (£52.98)
Krazy Ace Miniature Golf (£49.99)
Lexis (£49.99)
Ponx (£39.98)
Raiden (£52.98)
Remnant (pre-order) (£49.98)
SFX (£39.86)
SIMIS 5 w/Space Invaders (£49.98)
Sokomania (pre-order) (£52.98)
T-Tris (£49.98)
Click here if you're interested in ordering from Telegames.

Resources for Atari Lynx Console/Game-Related Collecting Materials/Tools:
Resource: Game Boy Color cases for Atari Lynx cartridges from Joom
2 1/2" coin storage sheets from Amazon
Atari Lynx regular-size game carton sleeves from BuzzandBingosMoonCircus (eBay)
Resource: Atari Lynx large-size game carton sleeves from CollectnProtect
Building a custom Atari Lynx game carton shelving unit from AtariGamer
ResourceAtari Lynx II display stand from Etsy

"Thank You's" and Other Lynks:
Antic: The Atari 8-Bit Podcast (Thanks to Brad Arnold, Randy Kindig, and Kevin Zavitz for the shoutout about The HandyCast in Episode 50!) (Thanks to Igor for incorporating The HandyCast into his excellent website!)
The Atari 2600 Game By Game Podcast (Thanks to The Podfather himself, Ferg, for encouraging his listeners to check out The HandyCast in both Episode 151 and Episode 154!)
The Atari Jaguar Game By Game Podcast (Thanks to Shinto for encouraging his listeners to check out The HandyCast in Episodes 22 and 26!)
Into the Vertical Blank Podcast (Thanks to hosts Jeff and Steve Fulton for "singing" about The HandyCast in Season 1, Episode 10!)
Please Stand By (Thanks to Zerbe and Ferg for helping to promote The  HandyCast on several episodes of this fun-to-listen-to show, starting with Episode 60!)
The RCR Podcast (Thanks to the Retro Computing Roundtable: Paul Hagstrom, Quinn Dunki, Jack Nutting, and Carrington Vance, for highlighting The HandyCast in Episode 167!)The Retro MacCast Podcast (Thanks to Retro MacCast hosts James Savage and John Leake for highlighting The HandyCast in Episode 475!)
Retro Video Gamer Forums (Thanks to TrekMD for helping to promote The HandyCast on his wonderful forums!)
PDF of Historical Atari Lynx UK Magazine Advert/Reviews Collection (Thanks to AmigaJay for compiling this compilation, and also to Bobbi Iddod Moore for alerting me about it on Facebook!)

Thanks go to everyone who contributed feedback about Zarlor Mercenary for this episode: Bobby Tribble, Curtis Herod (Cujo), Eugenio (TrekMD), Scott Tirrell, and Shinto; I really appreciate it!

Also, I would like to thank the Free Music Archive for the following musical artists and songs that were used in this episode under the Creative Commons License: “8-Bit Core” by Tagirijus (opening and closing theme music), along with "Dawn of the Cosmos," "Howling Down," "An Innocent Sword," "Knowing Nothing," "Lion's Haven," and "Waterfalls," all by Mid-Air Machine.

I would especially like to thank Shinto for submitting his memories of various Atari Lynx games he's owned in the past to The Atari Lynx HandyCast...they are greatly appreciated. And you should all check out Shinto's wonderful Atari Jaguar Game by Game Podcast; it's definitely worth listening to, even if you don't own or have never even seen a Jaguar console. You can find it here.
Many, many thanks also go to Zerbinator for his continued support. His encouragement and expertise are very much appreciated by me. You can find all of his fun-to-listen-to podcasts here, including my favorite, Please Stand By.

Finally, my thanks to Ferg of The Atari 2600 Game by Game Podcast. His inspiration and dedication to covering every game cartridge ever made for the Atari 2600 (I think over 1000 of them!) is what gave me the courage to begin this podcast. Please, check out his don't-miss podcast, even if you're not an Atari 2600 collector; or at least visit his website here.
I hope you enjoy this episode of The Atari Lynx HandyCast. And please don't forget to visit the official Atari Lynx HandyCast website by clicking here!


Next Episode: "EPISODE 12: KLAX"

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