Broken Crystal Castles released for IOS — shame on you Atari

Why am I so upset?  Well,  where to begin.

They didn’t give me any credit.  I wrote the code,  designed it, did the music, sound effects and 3/4 or the level design.  They didn’t give anyone else any credit either,  so I’m in good company.  Part of the problem is that the old Atari didn’t allow in-game credits.  This policy was changed right after the original Crystal Castles was released.  There was a ROM update with credits in it,  but that update seems to never be used when the game is emulated.  As a result,  the only credits in the game are my initials.  That big FXL on the first level are my initials.  This is small consolation.  A lack of credits for the developers should no longer be allowed to happen.  It’s just plain unfair.

Atari didn’t contact me.  I’m easy to find.  I could have helped them make the game better.  The same can be said for my ex-colleagues at coin-op Atari.  We’re still alive and actively developing stuff.  Not only are we not getting credit,  we’re totally out of the loop.  Sad, really.   We built this industry.  Where’s the love?

The graphics are screwed up in Crystal Castles.  The trees are transparent in the trunk.  It’s a simple and obvious bug to anyone who knows the original game.

The controls are a problem.  There are two versions of the controls,  but neither control scheme feels very good.  It’s tough to get the controls right on a touchscreen port of a trackball game,  but there’s definitely room for improvement.

I want to use my right hand to operate the trackball,  but the button in only on the right side.  The original coin-op had two jump buttons to accommodate both left and right handed players.

The game screen is too small.  I’d like to see the entire game on the screen with overlay controls.  Instead the game looks tiny,  which is very different from the original arcade experience.

At least the user reviews are mostly poor.  It’s odd that I’m in favor of poor reviews of one of my games,  but I totally agree with most of the one-star reviews that I’ve seen.  There are so many that I don’t have time to read them all.  I also give it 1 star,  and I’m the original designer!

And oh,  by the way,  I’m not getting any royalties or payment of any kind from the sale of this game.  That’s what happens when you do “work for hire” as a game developer.  Keep your IP (intellectual property) if you want to avoid this sad situation.

This is the reason I quit my job at Atari in 1984.  Amazing that it’s still an issue 25 years later.

About Franz Lanzinger

Franz Lanzinger is a classic video game developer with video game credits for Atari's coin-op Crystal Castles, Tengen Ms. Pacman, SNES Rampart, and the Gubble series. He has a degree in mathematics, wrote "Classic Game Design", a book about how to make classic video games, and is a professional pianist, accompanist and piano teacher.
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