Commodore 64 RPG Newcomer boasts 20 years of development time and a ton of retro gameplay.

One of the biggest RPGs to come out this year will also be one of the smallest. A group of programmers and artists that began work on a Commodore 64 RPG called Newcomer back in 1990 have kept it alive for 20 years, and hope to release it in 2010.

When the Commodore 64 fell out of commercial viability in 1994, Newcomer‘s creators weren’t sure what to do with it. Thanks to the online community of C64 revivalists that sprang up, they kept developing the game and released a version in 2001. However, it was bug-ridden, the text had readability issues, and it wasn’t well balanced. Development resumed, and the “Ultimate” version of Newcomer is planned to come out as donationware before the year’s end on the C64, PC, Mac, and Linux.

Newcomer‘s developers say it provides anywhere from 70-280 hours of entertainment, but it only takes up 2MB of space. It may boggle your mind to learn just how much content has been shoved into those 2MB. The game has 180 NPCs to interact with, more than 10 members that can join your 6-person party, 50 areas to explore, 100 cutscene graphics, 130 items, 180,000 words of in-game text, thousands of puzzles, many endings, non-linear gameplay that requires multiple playthroughs to see everything, and various game modes including the challenging solo mode. 2MB went a long way in the days of the C64.

Newcomer appears to transport the main character from the future to a strange location where he’s the “newcomer.” To survive, you’ll have to gain the respect or fear of other party members as you journey through various locations, changing clothes/armor when necessary, picking door locks or just blowing them apart, and collecting as much information as you can. Screenshots show battles with giant bears, rats, and riot police holding shotguns, so there’s apparently a wide variety of enemies to fight too.

It looks like Newcomer will have a lot of depth for anybody that likes hardcore RPGs and doesn’t mind retro graphics and gameplay. Maybe it’s because I grew up playing C64 games, but I think there’s something to be said for the blocky art style that was used back then. Whether or not Newcomer will keep my attention as far as the game goes will have to wait until it’s released, but my retro switch has definitely been hit, big time.

The Newcomer website currently states that its developers are “fixing the last known issues in preparation for the gold master.” While we wait, more information can be found here.

Source: Rock, Paper, Shotgun

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