Just when I think I know everything about a particular subject, I'm proven wrong. Last year I wrote a blog claiming to contain information on every Dukes console video game available. I wrote about the ColecoVision game from the Golden Era, and the Playstation, Game Boy, PS2, and X-Box games from the Silver Era. I thought I covered them all. But I was wrong. I was talking with some fellow Dukes fans on twitter when Luxor the Moonprince (@Prince_Luxor) told me about a U.K. produced version of the Dukes on a system I wasn't aware of.
The system is called the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k. According to the ol' internets, the original Spectrum was among the first home computers in the United Kingdom and comparable to our Commodore 64s. The 48k was a later model with updated specs.
Luxor told me that the game isn't uncommon and pops up on ebay often. Somehow, after all these years of scouring the great bay filled with e, I've missed this particular piece of memorabilia. There was one on there when I checked and it wasn't in the best shape, but I'd never seen it before and it was cheap so I pounced on it.
Your first thought might be the same as mine...it's a cassette tape! I won't act like I know how this stuff works. I used to think that Michael Jackson was singing Thriller live somewhere every time I hit play on my little brown Fisher Price tape player. I was probably four. I do know from experience that you can unravel a VHS tape and it goes about the length of the Brownsville Area High School from the TV Lab down to the end of the Freshman building and about half way back. Remember that Jeff? The principle wasn't all that happy about that. But how you can get a video game on a cassette tape? I guess it just confuses me because I think of retro games being cartridges...thanks Atari and Nintendo.
The tape is in better shape than the package. The label has a few little stickers on it and something torn off the bottom left.
A logo or something was taken off the bottom. The proper copyright information is on the bottom along with a release year of 1985. The story, controls, scoring, and gameplay are all detailed on the inside of the label. The story mentions Rosco and his police force. Rosco is unfortunaly spelled wrong, (Roscoe) and his force includes Jethro, an ace helicopter pilot, Jake and his veteran monoplane, and Cletus the balloonist. What?!!? 1985 was the last year of the show. Cletus had been off the show for a few years. I wonder is it was just a coincidence that they made a character up named Cletus. It also mentions that you have to watch out for Boss Hogg in his station wagon. Weird stuff.
You know I had to put this cassette into a regular old tape player to see what happens. I uncovered the old stereo in the garage and popped the tape in. Nothing happened. The play button wouldn't press down and I could barley get the tray to open to get the tape back out. I don't know what I expected to happen. Perhaps some secret message containing the whereabouts of a long forgotten cache of hidden Dukes memorabilia would play. A collector can dream.
It only has a label on one side.
Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I found the World of Spectrum which has ton of information on every game released for the system. They have a page dedicated to the Dukes game with ads, reviews, roms, and screenshots of the game. I borrowed quite a few below.
Here is an ad for the game. This is the same artwork as the Album, but poor Rosco got the boot. The game was apparently released on Saturday 23rd February. Silly non-American way of displaying a date.
The site has the sleeve for Spain's release of the game. It was in a clamshell box as opposed to a cassette box. It would be cool to find this version too.
In the last big video game post, I linked to videos that I made of each game's gameplay. I went to painstaking lengths to procure a driving wheel module for the ColecoVision, but I don't think I can find a Spectrum 48k at the Game Vault. They are opening another location nearby, but I still doubt it. The above gif showing the menu screen is from World of Spectrum. Given the release year, this game seems comparable to Nintendo games rather that Atari and Coleco. The graphics seem years ahead of the first Dukes game.
The General Lee has an 01 on it, and Rosco's car is recognizable. There seem to be a bunch of other random vehicles in the game like hot air balloons, dune buggys, motorcycles, and helicopters. It looks like it might have been another driving game first, and then the Dukes license was added to it.
Luckily, a like minded Dukes enthusiast recorded some gameplay and added it to youtube. The Dixie horn starts the game off. It's worlds above the Coleco game.
World of Spectrum also has several reviews of the game. These are great to read now knowing how far video games have come. Many reviews didn't like that you had to continuously tap a key on the keyboard to accelerate. Another reviewer said up until this game, the greatest achievement of Elite, the company behind the game, was the hologram on their packaging. That's pretty funny. Perhaps that's what was ripped off of my copy. Most reviewers didn't like the game.
Below are several reviews and ads from World of Spectrum.