1985 unlicensed Dr. Who game for the CoCo

In 1985, a new game was advertised by Prickly-Pear Software for the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer:

DR. WHO

Here is the ad found on page 68 of the the December 1985 issue, typos and all:

Dr. Who ad in the December 1985 Rainbow magazine.

As a kid who had watched Doctor Who on the local PBS station in Houston, Texas, I just had to have this game. I had just moved from Houston to the tiny town of Broaddus (population 225) and no longer could receive a PBS station, so this would be as much Doctor Who as I would get while living there.

I do not think I even had a disk drive of my own yet, since I recall ordering this on cassette.

In those days, us kids would go down to the post office and buy a money order and mail it to the company, then wait for them to mail back the software. This really helped build up anticipation.

Finally, the game arrived:

Dr. Who by Larry Lansberry, as sold by Prickly-Pear Software.

It came with a manual, which I have yet to locate. When I find it, I will scan it and upload it to the Color Computer Archive. Fortunately, it at least has some instructions:

Dr. Who instructions, page 1.

Dr. Who instructions, page 2.

And, the promise of many levels of difficulty:

Dr. Who difficulty levels.

I was a bit disappointed to find that the game was written in BASIC. It also included one machine language program called “CTRYROAD.BIN.” This was a multi-voice music file that played John Denver’s Country Roads hit from the 1970s. And it played it while displaying the instructions, so you had to sit there for several minutes until the song was complete.

After this, the game would present some side scrolling text explaining what keys did what. Thank goodness for the manual! The text went by pretty quick.

After several minutes of generating data for the game, you were presented with the main game screen:

Dr. Who main game screen.

And, you also had the map view:

Dr. Who map view.

There were also animated scenes that showed the TARDIS descending to the planet’s surface, but without the manual, I cannot remember how to even get to the planets.

But … the effect was less than impressive. It was a very disappointing purchase from a cosmetic and user-interface standpoint.

HOWEVER, the actual game was quite good. It reminded me of the Star Trek-style games where you moved around a galactic grid in search of starbases and Klingons.

I must have written Prickly-Pear Software because somehow I got in touch with the author, Larry Lansberry, and we exchanged some letters. I recently found some of these letters, so I need to re-read them and see what we discussed. I know he explained the music choice and why the animation style was done like it was.

I always thought this game would be fantastic with a facelift. Perhaps now that it has been unearthed, someone may consider doing an update/remake of it.

You can try it yourself in a CoCo 1/2 emulator. The disk image is available here:

http://www.colorcomputerarchive.com/coco/Disks/Games/Dr.%20Who%20(Prickly-Pear%20Software).zip

And, just for fun, an old Doctor Who music demo I wrote has also been posted:

http://www.colorcomputerarchive.com/coco/Disks/Demos/Dr.%20Who%20Demo%20(Allen%20Huffman).zip

Doctor Who music demo.

Side Note: I don’t think Zigwald X. Malushi was a real person, and if he was, he had nothing to do with this demo. I used to see that name pop up on random pieces of software, often of the “questionable” nature. Since I was posting a copyrighted tune, I did not want to post it under my name so I used that one. I should find some of the other “Zigwald” programs and make a collection of them. I wonder how many used that name.

Enjoy!

4 thoughts on “1985 unlicensed Dr. Who game for the CoCo

  1. Stewart Orchard

    I enjoyed your Doctor Who music demo :) Also couldn’t resist doing a search on Zigwald X. Malushi. It turned up some fine ascii art :)

    Reply
    1. Allen Huffman Post author

      Probably the oldest thing I typed on the internet! I’ve looked, too, wondering if there was a real ZXM. If I recall, he was supposed to be a Russian exchange student…?

      Reply
    1. Allen Huffman Post author

      How funny – I was thinking about how I wanted to get YOU to redo this, fixing up the user interface but the same game mechanics. As soon as I find the docs, we’ll be set!

      Reply

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