When it comes to completing the Mastertronic collection, checklists are vital. But with the gaps in the numbering system used, the question still remains whether there are any “lost” games out there that we don’t know about. Are there unreleased titles, or just ones released on other platforms that were originally going to have a unique number but changed at the last minute. Sometimes we discover these by accident but the games hunt is always a challenge…
Out Of Order
The numbering has always been something of a mystery. We’ve seen instances in the original run where two games have been assigned the same number (0059 was used for both Finders Keepers and Doodlebug). But there are also countless gaps in the series too. Some of these gaps in the cassette list have been filled by the USA exclusive disk releases, but others are still elusive.
So it’s left to collectors to spend a substantial amount of time researching the missing games. There are a lot of fans who have tirelessly worked to produce near-complete lists of what exists across every range. That’s no easy task especially as many – especially the international releases – aren’t included in Mastertronic’s sales records. But when it comes to other games, or ones that we think might exist, there’s still some excitement in the potential hunt surrounding new games.
A typical search often starts with sales posts on retro game stores online, discussion forums or more often than not on eBay which has usually lead to a few gems being uncovered, even to this day. When I’m looking on the latter, I tend to perform a wide-reaching search because it’s so hard to find the more obscure games and we don’t know exactly what was released!
That being the case I often do a generic search for “Commodore 64 disk” or variations of that and see what turns up to find American exclusive releases, and in many cases searching different eBay sites incase sellers have limited their sales to a single country.
During one of the searches, I found an eBay seller who had a number of loose disks for sale. All individual titles, but just the disks in sleeves with no packaging. I do tend to buy these if I can’t get the games any other way and amongst the listings I found a couple of Mastertronic ones…
But here’s the interesting part about this particular search – these were games that neither myself or any other collectors I knew were aware of in the Mastertronic range! Both were re-releases of games published by other software houses as was common for the US titles. Obviously I just had to own them and about 2 weeks later they arrived… BUT it was clear seeing the disks “in the flesh” that they had home printed labels and were obviously copies.
Curiouser And Curiouser
Strangely, these games were dating back to the 80s, yet the labels were in colour and had the same design style as Mastertronic. Someone had obviously gone to the trouble to make them *look* like legitimate Mastertronic releases. It warranted further investigation…
The “labels” had been printed on paper and cut out (there were pencil or pen marks for the outline where to cut) and they had been glued on to the disk. The second notches on the disks (to allow the reverse sides to be used) had also been cut out badly so it was a quick home made affair. On the eBay photo it was impossible to tell all of this but obviously it was too late when I’d purchased them.
This didn’t stop my curiosity so on went the C64 to check the disks for myself. On loading the disks they were the games they were supposed to be, but with no reference to Mastertronic.
Instead, they looked like home-made disk versions with custom title screens and disk structures. One, however, raised our curiosity. Booga-Boo was first released by Quicksilva and they HAD licensed one of their other games to Mastertronic for re-release in America which added weight to the hint that it might have been genuine.
Call For A Detective!
Even though these disks were clearly fan made fakes, it still had me curious enough to want to look further. Was there a chance that these two could actually exist as Mastertronic games and the seller (or whoever they acquired the disks from) had seen original Mastertronic disks and decided to copy them?
So just for these two games I spent the better part of two weeks hunting for any reference to them being released by Mastertronic – cover art scans, sales groups, online stores, collectors sites… everywhere imaginable. Unfortunately nothing was forthcoming and from what I could ultimately deduct from all of the searching, the two were just elaborate fan-made bootlegs. It was a lot of effort and searching for nothing.
It does get frustrating when time is spent tracing titles when the search proves futile, but similar searches have unearthed games that weren’t known about or variants turn up unexpectedly. The dual-format release of Action Biker for the Commodore 64 and Spectrum was one such release that appeared completely by chance and is one that doesn’t appear in Mastertronic’s own sales records. Hopefully our other searches will uncover treasures that have long been forgotten…