Missing features in old Amiga games
January 5, 2021 3:33 AM   Subscribe

I have a vague memory that in the old days of computer games ('87-'90), you might get home with your newly purchased computer game, excited about a feature advertised on the back of the box. But then you would find an errata card saying that the manual was incorrect, that this exciting feature was not actually in the game after all, possibly because it was too buggy to ship. Can someone help me identify a specific game where this might have happened?
posted by johngoren to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Turbo (MicroIllusions, 1989 [Amiga]):
Because of the delays in getting this product to you, most of which were due to complications in perfecting modem-play, MicroIllusions has chosen to release Turbo as it stands: Modem-play is not reliable and not recommended, but in one- and two-player modes Turbo works fine.
(It was a mess of bugs and objectively was not great, but I loved Turbo to bits. I reviewed a whole lot of games back in the day, but they were often pre-release so I didn't see final documentation. I remember a few handwritten notes about bits to avoid writing about from the publishers, but not many others that would admit to bugs.)
posted by scruss at 6:20 AM on January 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

The guy who runs the LGR channel on youtube plays and reviews old games/game tech. This sounds like the sort of question that's right up his alley.
posted by Captain_Science at 7:45 AM on January 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

There's a story along these lines about the Atari 2600: the very first version of the 2600 box included pictures of various kinds of games you could play including chess, but Atari didn't actually have a chess game for the system until a couple of years later. The box was quickly redesigned.
posted by offog at 7:47 AM on January 5, 2021 [2 favorites]

Very generically speaking, features can go missing from the game for various reasons. Though something that was promised on the box and not delivered would be quite rare.

Often, the developers simply setup the wrong scope of the project and did not have the time or resources to finish what was intended, or several features had to be merged into one instead of the multi-faceted approach that was intended. And as shipping time closes in, some hard choices had to be made. There were many post-mortem articles on gamasutra.com that are worth reading.

Sometimes, due to platform change you're working with a different set of hardware limitations and capabilities, thought Amiga at the time is one of the more powerful computers on the market, so that's probably not the reason. This is more for porting to something less powerful, like PC to mobile, or PS4 to Nintendo Switch.

While not directly related, I find this series of articles by Kiva, one of the game designers at Hare Brained Scheme, the creators of Battletech (the game) quite fascinating. As she is female, it attracted some of the bad attention as she was quite vocal about her choices (one of them was "I care more about the people than the giant robots", which, in a game such as Battletech, is practically sacrilegious!) But it's an interesting bit about how the narrative drove the game.
posted by kschang at 11:50 AM on January 5, 2021

It's not quite what you're looking for, but TCRF has a ton of nerdy info about revisions, hidden features, easter eggs, unused code, etc. in old games.

Category: Games with revisional differences

Also I think this was unlikely to happen on the Amiga because Amiga was the ultimate platform for PC games for awhile, but lots of times games released for "lesser" platforms like the C64 or Atari came in the same box as the "flagship" version, just with a sticker slapped on the cover and worse graphics/gameplay. I don't have a specific memory of encountering this in my youth, but it's possible some game features were removed for the ports and this was explained on the manual errata sheet.

(I suppose as the 1990s progressed and the IBM PC surpassed Amiga with its multimedia capabilities, this might have also applied to the Amiga eventually...)
posted by neckro23 at 8:05 AM on January 7, 2021

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