26/05/2018: A Development Version Sword of Sodan is now Archived! It's playable, although bugs remain...on the IIGS...right now!!!

I was cautiously optimistic when Rich Walter posted in the Apple IIGS Enthusiasts group on Facebook that he'd found the 3.5" disks that friend Jimmy Huey had in storage for over 20 years which contained a development version of Sword of Sodan for the IIGS...that was playable. Jimmy had the disks as Discovery Software gave him the option to complete the project when programmer Scott Patterson moved on from it, but Jimmy turned it down. It had sat in limbo ever since.

 

Storming the City Gates for the first time on the IIGS!

 

The disks were sent to John Keoni Morris, who I recommended to carefully image as working on his Applesauce device, a way of creating disk images including the copy protection itself, he's proven multiple times from testimonials across Apple II fandom that he's been able to image disks that no-one has been able to image before. The disks were sent via mail and we all held our collective breath. Would the disks still work after nearly 30 years? Would there be one sector error that prevented the game from being playable?!

Thankfully, John was able to image the disks! As bad luck would have it (at least for everyone waiting to get their hands on the disk images), I'm out of town staying with friends, and haven't been checking social media or emails...until this evening. I've since sprang into action quickly looking at the disk images on my MacBookPro, emulating the IIGS with Sweet 16.

I've only quickly checked the game in Sweet 16, and the game appears to work! I was amazed that the title screen even appeared with the same genie like affect that the Amiga version has – I really didn't expect that, as the demo we all drooled over never included it. The game does start, however, joystick emulation in Sweet 16 is...not great. Also, not having a numeric keypad, I can't play by keyboard control under emulation. But I've taken screen shots and John has said the game works...and is hard! It looks like you can choose to start from any level, which I don't believe was in the Amiga version, but it's been a while since I checked it out. It's likely this is a development feature to help debug the game.

 

Shardan kicking arse.

 

But enough reading this – you want to play it yourself, as every IIGS game has since 1989! Go to the Sword of Sodan archive and download the disk images there. 1meg of RAM should be enough to play with. Thanks to Antoine Vignau for an old scan of the box of the Amiga version, although if anyone has the boxed Amiga version, I'd ask if someone else could scan it, that'd be great for a better quality scan. As well as the manual, which may help.

The source code has yet to be found amongst Jimmy Huey's archives, but you can be sure Rich Walter and Jimmy will keep looking for it. More news as it comes!

UPDATE: Antoine's already begun disassembling it and has already made a single volume version so it doesn't require any disk swapping. I've included this single volume with the .zip file containing the disk images. I've also included the demo disassembly Antoine did back in 2010, for which I took screen grabs from the Amiga version under emulation to fill in for the graphics that the code was asking for, but was missing.

UPDATE 2: Matt Reichart seemed to be the first to play through the game and make notes of what works and what doesn't:

The levels are:
0 - Outside the City Gate
1 - Between the City Walls
2 - In the City Streets
3 - In the Heart of the Forest
4 - In the Land of the Dead
5 - In the Foyer of Castle Craggamoor
6 - Descend the Stairs
7 - In a Passage Deep
8 - In the Catacombs
9 - In the Foyer of Castle Craggamoor (repeat of 5)
A - At the Wizards Tower

The levels are in various states of completeness. I think 0, 1, 2, 4 and 6 are mostly complete (not a surprise that 2, 4, and 6 were seen in the demo). Level 8 is somewhat complete but is missing the large bird animal thing you have to ride and the water pit trap. Levels 3, 5, and 9 are empty but playable. Level A only has the first part of the boss and that doesn't display right. The second boss isn't even there.

Speaking of broken, there are lots of bugs and issues. I had the game ask for a garbled disk number sometimes and crash. I also had it ask for disk 7 at one point! There are random sounds that play on levels 5 and 9. The foreground tree graphics in level 3 aren't right or are missing, and of course the last boss is all glitched up.

UPDATE 3: I've played through the game quite a lot and after some practise, can quite comfortably play all the way to level 6 – Descend the Stairs. Although I've played the Mac version a bit in the past, I've got to say, playing it on the IIGS is awesome. Joystick control is very responsive and it really does feel like an arcade quality title that we all hoped for more of on the IIGS. Antoine's single disk image version makes play even more enjoyable, as with the CFFA3000, the game could only see the first two disks and the third had to be copied to a real 3.5" disk for play to continue.

I do hope we can all somehow contribute to a fuller version of the game, but I fear without the source code, or raw artwork, this will likely not happen.