Unsung Heroes (Part I)

I decided to start posting about some of the game programmers that have inspired me in the past (and also in the present) along with some of their more memorable creations. For my first installment, I am putting the spotlight on 2 classic Jimmy Huey titles that appeared on the Commodore VIC-20, “Sidewinder” and “Scorpion”.

I remember as a kid (around 1982 if I recall correctly) walking into my local computer shop one day (actually this was an EVERYDAY routine), to drool over the TI-99/4A and the Atari 8-bit (400/800) computer brochures, etc. Looking down into the display case, something new had caught my eye…

  

What is this magic that I see before my eyes?? As a VIC-20 owner, decent games were few and far between, so this side scrolling defender-like clone had me all a tingle! I asked the salesman about it and he said it was awesome, highly recommended… I needed no further convincing! But wait… one problem, the game required the 8K RAM expansion cart… something I did not have (or could afford as a 12 year old). Well, my new mission in life was to convince my parents that I needed more memory for my computer, that I couldn’t do any “school” related stuff or “learn” anything new without it! Fast forward to them finally caving in and me purchasing the much sought after “Sidewinder” the very next day for which I must have played continuously for weeks on end that summer. The name “Jimmy Huey” and “Dragonfly” now etched into my brain… I was determined to seek out more of his work. I did end up buying his “Swarm!” title as well, which was decent, but it wasn’t until this baby that I really was blown away again by his technical expertise…

 

  

 

A multi-directional scrolling shooter with varied enemies and frantic gameplay… just what the doctor ordered. I love this game and play it on occasion even to this day! (Hint: a remake may be in order in the future) Jimmy was able to do some amazing things with the character graphics mode of the VIC-20… although somewhat lacking in the smooth scrolling and movement, the excellent game play made up for it.

Both these games provided endless enjoyment for me until I upgraded to a Commodore 64 the following year (’83). I’ll never forget these two titles as they inspired me to start programming my own games on the VIC-20. Some of the style elements from his work directly carried over to mine own creations, and even to this day I rank him up there with my other great influences such Jeff Minter, Eugene Jarvis/Larry DeMar/Sam Dicker, Soren Gronbech, Andrew Braybrook, Archer MacLean and Sean Cooper.

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2 Responses to “Unsung Heroes (Part I)”

  1. Very cool! Thanks for sharing your inspirations! It’s amazing what could be done so long ago. And it’s more amazing what vintage game developers are continuing to do by making games unimaginable back then.

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