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robcatron

John Harris On-line Systems Jaw Breaker Variation

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So Jawbreaker is in my top 10 Atari 8-bit games.  I recently acquired another original On-Line Systems disk in a large lot of loose disks.  Upon booting it, I noticed right away that it is an entirely different maze/version than the my beloved game.

 

So my question is - what's the story behind the two different John Harris versions?  I know the whole sued by Atari, Jawbreaker II release etc.

 

I have attached photos.  So the screenshots are this new version (you start on the left side of the maze and the enemies emerge right center.  I have been an Atari 8-bit user since 1982 and I have never played this one before.  The only versions I have ever had was the maze where you start on the right of the screen and the enemies emerge top center.

 

The diskette screenshot features my traditional (or at least what I thought was traditional) version at the bottom (with the "JB: 001-201" part number on it), and this "new" variation (again, at least to me) above it.

 

 

 

 

IMG_4734.jpg

IMG_4733.jpg

Edited by robcatron
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hmmm, could you post both pictures and possibly ATX etc of both disks, maybe one of the curators or disk wizards might see a reason, at the very least both variations may need proper preservation.

Edited by _The Doctor__

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That looks like what I have. The color may be a little different, but looks the same to me

 

https://youtu.be/q8niceSrQrU

 

My dad actually did the original cover art for this as well

Jawbreaker-1981.thumb.jpg.27dc05f6f533db1af7cae6c4194d11d3.jpg

Edited by Gavin1968
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Certainly.  So the attached photos here are of the version that I have only ever known.  Different layout completely - the tunnels are on all sides of the screen (not juse the top and bottom), and the ghosts emerge from a smaller box, and can come randomly out in either up or down direction.

 

Looking back at the alternative version I just acquired, as you can see from those photos, the tunnels are only located at the top.

 

Also, the center where the enemies appear is different.  

 

It just seems very odd that there were two different mazes released.  My speculation is this:  The one that that I recently squired, with only to tunnels was the first release.  Perhaps Harris deemed it a bit too difficult and change the maze layout and added the two additional tunnels? 

 

 

 

 

IMG_4736.jpg

IMG_4735.jpg

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1 minute ago, Gavin1968 said:

That looks like what I have. The color may be a little different, but looks the same to me

 

https://youtu.be/q8niceSrQrU

 

My dad actually did the original cover art for this as well

Jawbreaker-1981.thumb.jpg.27dc05f6f533db1af7cae6c4194d11d3.jpg

Yes - that is the same version.  I need to look at my packaging - as I see the "screenshot" on the back of yours matches the screen layout.  Curious if mine matches the game I have

 

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8 hours ago, robcatron said:

 

IMG_4733.jpg

 

This maze is the Arcade Pac-Man maze turned on its side, or at least very, very close.  I'd guess (and this is only a guess) this was an earlier version of the game, but On-Line was forced to change the maze design to avoid legal entanglements.

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14 hours ago, FifthPlayer said:

 

This maze is the Arcade Pac-Man maze turned on its side, or at least very, very close.  I'd guess (and this is only a guess) this was an earlier version of the game, but On-Line was forced to change the maze design to avoid legal entanglements.

You are definitely onto something there.  I always assumed that the potential litigation from Atari is what spurred the total rewrite from the John Harris Jawbreaker to the Chuckles-written Jawbreaker II, but it would make sense that the litigation caused On-line system (and thus John Harris) to change the maze up totally different than Pac-man and issue that revision to the public.  I would think that the revised maze version is the more common one (as again, it's the only one I have ever played in all of my years), but I could be wrong.

 

 

 

 

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Yeah, I vaguely remember it happening it two waves... a complaint that the game was too much like PAC-Man, and a follow up complaint that it didn’t change enough, which led to the entirely new rewrite.

 

Are there dates on the executable files on the original disks? But I’m pretty sure your summation is correct, the Pac-Man on its side was the short run first version. 

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Yes, the disk in the first thread is the original version with the PAC-MAN maze variation. Maze color is simply a side-effect of the artifacting phase, am guessing you're running this on an XE?

 

-Thom

 

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I'm sure it's been mentioned in other threads, but there is a fairly good telling of the Jawbreaker story in the book Hackers: Heroes of the Computer Revolution by Steven Levy.

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Interesting.  I have a copy of this buried somewhere.  I'll have to check and see which version it is.

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9 hours ago, Psionic said:

Interesting.  I have a copy of this buried somewhere.  I'll have to check and see which version it is.

Great. Post up an .xex or a rom of it do we can play it too, please.

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On 2/7/2021 at 7:03 PM, FifthPlayer said:

This maze is the Arcade Pac-Man maze turned on its side, or at least very, very close.  I'd guess (and this is only a guess) this was an earlier version of the game, but On-Line was forced to change the maze design to avoid legal entanglements.

FWIW, this version was on at least 3 or 4 menu disks along with other bootlegs; I remember it because the rotated Pac-Man maze was the one I played growing up, but also because it was repeated on 3 or 4 disks. Such a terrible abuse of disk space 😁

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