Project: Space Station (Commodore 64)

One of my favorite games was Project Space Station. The game was fun, but the implementation had a couple of deficiencies …

… first, the programmer(s) decided to put the splash screen into raw sectors and load it in via a bunch of block-reads. Although the game could be copied to another floppy by regular file copy, the splash screen would be missing.

Second, the disk wasn’t write-protected. Players would commonly forget to save games to separate disk, and thus corrupt the splash screen (and incompletely create the save file). This might be why many images floating around on the net have either a corrupted splash screen, one or more splat files, or both.

Third, a fastloader was incorporated. This fastloader wasn’t very fast and didn’t work well (or at all) with anything that wasn’t a first-flight 1541.

When I was much younger, I fixed my copy to do the following:

  • load the splash screen from a regular file,
  • disable the fastloader so that better (hardware) methods could be used,
  • use $BA instead of a hardcoded 8 so the game could be run from other drives,
  • load all files into and from a REU if detected to dramatically speed I/O.

To accomplish this, I removed the save files to make room for the splash screen. That seemed to be a decent compromise at the time.

I sold my Commodore in the late eighties, and with it went this version of the game. It probably doesn’t exist anymore …

… but I decided to recreate it. The new version leaves out the REU support, though it would be trivial to re-add. I used Exomizer to shrink “TITLE” and the splash screen data so that the example save files wouldn’t have to be removed.

This version works very well (and very fast!) on a uIEC; I expect it would do well on any JiffyDOS-equipped machine. It recreates the original playing experience (i.e., without annoying “cracking scene” intro) and fixes issues with new hardware.

The .d64 image and various files modified from the original can be downloaded here.

About Chris Kobayashi

I'm a security systems engineer, specializing in UNIX, network, and physical security. I'm in Tokyo, and I'm mostly retired now. I'm well-versed in both electrical and software engineering, with a particular interest in old computers and game consoles. You can contact me here.
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