I'm back from vacation and again have a big remarkable auctions catch up post. This time I look at recently closed auctions for The Elder Scrolls: Arena - Deluxe Edition (PC DOS), Stack-Up (NES), Ultima (Apple II), The Witness (Apple II), and Zork Trilogy (Amiga):
As you probably know, I've been rather busy lately with various book projects, so I've fallen behind on my "Remarkable Auctions" postings. This post, discussing several recent eBay auctions, should make up a bit for that:
Bruce Lee ($100 plus shipping and handling): Datasoft's 1984 action platformer classic, Bruce Lee, always goes for a decent price, but this particular auction ended at roughly double what a complete example usually goes for. The fact that this is a sealed Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit flippy version no doubt helped the final sale price. The only complete version I personally own is for the Atari 8-bit. All other versions are loose or copies.
Starcross ($282.55 plus shipping and handling): Infocom's 1982 text adventure classic, Starcross, always sells for north of $100 in its original plastic saucer packaging, but this particular Atari 8-bit version, even though it's yellowed, went for quite a bit more. (Regret using the Starcross saucer as a Frisbee as a kid yet?) I only own the standard box version of this for the TI-99/4a and also have it as part of several Infocom compilations.
CP/M-86 ($295.00 plus shipping and handling): Though Microsoft's version of DOS gets all the glory, there were in fact two other operating system options for IBM's newly unveiled PC in 1981, including UCSD p-System and CP/M-86, the latter of which was the 16-bit 8086 version of what was the most popular 8-bit operating system standard of the day. DOS's low price and just good enough functionality won the war, and UCSD p-System and CP/M-86 are now historical footnotes and expensive collectibles. I have the boxed Digital Research version of CP/M-86, but no boxed versions of the UCSD p-System.
James Bond 007: A View to a Kill and James Bond 007: Goldfinger ($72.00 plus shipping and handling): James Bond 007: A View to a Kill (1985) and James Bond 007: Goldfinger (1986) were Mindscape's attempts (via developer Angelsoft) to bring the James Bond mythos to life via the text adventure. Though far more logical as a text adventure than something like Rambo: First Blood Part II, which I own for the Apple II, the James Bond games garnered a lot less notice than expected.
Survival Adventure ($131.50 plus shipping and handling): Though I don't know much about United Software of America's 1981 Apple II release, Survival Adventure, the fact that it's an early zip-loc baggie game is pretty much all any of us needs to know in relation to its value. Luckily, I have quite a few of those types of games in my collection, and, what they lack in polish and packaging, they make up for in historical importance.
Today's remarkable auction is Sierra On-Line's (OnLine Systems), Ultima II: Revenge of the Enchantress, big box version, for the Apple II. Ultima II was Richard Garriott's somewhat divisive sequel to the first Ultima game, and one of the most sought after entries in the series for collectors. There were several different versions of the game, some in large boxes, some in small boxes, and some with Origin as the primary publisher rather than Sierra. Origin also re-released Ultima II in yet another variation, this time in conjunction with Ultima I and III, in a materially scaled back compilation called the Ultima Trilogy. In any case, what makes this particular auction remarkable is not so much the final sale price, which was a relatively fair $257.00 with free shipping, but the fact that the game was sealed, which had the potential to drive the price even higher. As with most of the Ultima games, Ultima II saw release on a wide range of platforms, but the Apple II version was the original, and also was one of the only Western platforms to get a slightly upgraded re-release. I personally own all the games in the Ultima series boxed except for Ultima II, which I only have outside of PC CD-based compilations in the Commodore 64 version of the Ultima Trilogy, though I do have the original disks for the Atari 8-bit version of Ultima II. Though not spectacular, the Japanese-only FM Towns version of Ultima II, is arguably the nicest looking of the official releases.
Check out the video from LordKarnov42 below to see the original Apple II release in action for the RPG game that tasked you with traveling to every planet in the solar system, including Planet X:
Today's remarkable auction is a doozy, Cyborg for the Apple II, Softsmith Software version. Why is it a doozy? Because the Softsmith Software version was the budget-packaged re-release of the Sentient Software original, and it sold for an amazing $157.50, plus shipping and handling. The original Cyborg, from computer game pioneer and sci-fi author Michael Berlyn (also of Infocom fame) and published through the Sentient Software (both of whom also did the more famous, Oo-Topos, which I personally own, which also had a later re-release (and update) through another publisher), was released in 1981 for the Apple II. An Atari 8-bit version followed in 1982, as well as a Commodore 64 version. Cyborg is a science fiction text adventure game in which an artificial intelligence is electronically merged with your body as the result of a scientific experiment. Your mission is to find a source of energy to keep you alive. The game uses a text parser, except for character interaction, during which you choose a question from a predetermined list.
In any case, at some point Softsmith Software got the rights and, apparently without Berlyn's knowledge (and, obviously, consent), created a PC DOS version that, amazingly, had compatibility issues with most true PC's (see the trivia section, here). Though not shown on the Mobygames Website, there was in fact an updated Macintosh version that Berlyn mentioned that was published through Broderbund, shown here. As you can tell and what I find appalling about the final sale price, the Softsmith Software version was packaged in that company's usual generic boxes in as lazy a manner as possible (though of course, even the original version of the game was just a folder with some instructions, but at least a colorful folder with actual artwork). To me, that throws any significant value right out the window, but of course, to us collector's, that's often irrelevant to the end goal of possession.
The latest remarkable auction is none other than the legendary computer role playing game hybrid, Shadowkeep, from 1984, by Trillium, for the Apple II, which sold for $529.00 (with free shipping). Trillium was best known for their high quality text and graphics adventures, like Amazon and Dragonworld, that featured solid parsers and excellent graphics, and were typically written in partnership with a famous author. Shadowkeep was something of a departure for the company as it was essentially a lushly illustrated role playing game that had a text-based interface. As for this game's famous author connection, Alan Dean Foster created a companion book for the game with the same title whose existence was advertised prominently on the game box (actually, the company's usual thick multi-fold folder) cover.
Much like with Penguin Software having to change their name to Polarium after Penguin the book publisher took notice, Trillium ended up having to change their name to Telarium after Trillium Press got on their case. That's why today, Trillium versions of the games are worth more than the later Telarium versions, though most releases were otherwise identical. I believe I personally have the complete Telarium Apple II version of Shadowkeep along with the paperback novel, though I'll have to verify if in fact instead it's the Trillium version. In any case, the typical pricing for Shadowkeep has been in the ~$250 range, so for this latest game auction to go for double that is indeed impressive, and is probably due in part to the completeness of the example.
Shadowkeep is also notorious for a few other reasons. First, is an incredibly robust copy protection scheme. Second, is that all of the known Apple II images/ROMs on the Web have been altered. You see, if you play directly on the game disks rather that making play disks, the game is irrecoverably altered. That's right, once you play on the originals, there's no going back to its original state, ever. I have yet to check if my disks are in fact intact or have been played on, and thus, altered. Finally, there's the question of other versions outside of the Apple II version. The Commodore 64 and IBM PC versions were at least ANNOUNCED, and there have been occasional sightings that would make Bigfoot hunters proud, but there's still no credible evidence that those versions of the game were ever actually released.
Sierravision's The Dark Crystal (Hi-Res Adventure #6), just sold on eBay for the remarkable price of $158.63, plus shipping and handling. As you can tell, Roberta Williams' 1983 release, based on the cult classic Jim Henson movie, is among the most sought after of the original Sierra text and graphics adventures. The game received middling reviews when first released and the graphics are fairly average. The Atari 8-bit version looks almost exactly the same, just with different coloring; I am unfamiliar with the Japanese PC-xx versions. Other translations of the game were planned, but probably due to the lack of relative financial success for both the movie and game, those plans were canceled. However, Al Lowe's mostly forgotten Gelfling Adventure was released a year later in 1984 and is essentially the same game, just with a modified interface and child friendly difficulty level.
Here's some gameplay footage of the Apple II version from YouTube, via Yzzyxz:
INTV Corporation's Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball just sold on eBay for a remarkable $1,826.00 plus shipping and handling. This was one of the last cartridges released by INTV (along with Stadium Mud Buggies, known as Monster Truck Rally on the NES) circa late 1989 and is obviously extremely sought after by hardcore Intellivision collectors (though rarely reaching anywhere near what it just sold for, particularly unsealed). The limited releases of both Spiker! Super Pro Volleyball and Stadium Mud Buggies marked the end (1990) of the Intellivision's remarkable 10 year old original commercial run, even though Mattel had given up on the platform less than halfway through.
Check out the video below from "ed1269" to see how all those years of experience with the system paid off in the quality of the late-life games:
For those familiar with So Cal Mike's popular "Chasing the Chuckwagon" Website (he also appears monthly on Retro Gaming Radio), I have great news. So Cal Mike has also set up a great new "eBay alternative" (or "killer" for those burned by the Bay), specifically for videogame and computer stuff, called - not surprisingly - "Chase the Chuckwagon".
Here are some of the great features of "Chase the Chuckwagon" straight from the source: