Lock 'N' Chase®

INTELLIVISION CARTRIDGE [#5637]

Release #34 July 9, 1982

Based on the Data East arcade game

Program: Mike Winans, Julie Hoshizaki

Graphics: Peggi DeCarli

Sound: Bill Goodrich

Package Illustration: Jerrol Richardson


Instructions Posted Here

1982 CATALOG DESCRIPTION

Your thief is robbing the local bank! Four police officers are hot on his trail! Grab gold coins and treaures on the run! Keep one jump ahead of the law! When the cops close in... lock a door...make tracks in another directon. Run smack into a cop and you"re "caught". There is nowhere to hide.

  • One of two player game
  • Unique "lock-out" feature
  • Dramatic sound effects including music


PRODUCTION HISTORY

Lock 'N' Chase was the first in a series of conversions based on Data East arcade games, a series that eventually would include Bump 'N' Jump, BurgerTime, Mission X, Thin Ice (based on the arcade game Disco No. 1) and the unfinished PizzaTime (a BurgerTime sequel). The association carried over to INTV Corporation, which did Commando and Diner (another BurgerTime sequel).

Mike Winans almost killed himself trying to fit the game into 4K. He finally proclaimed it couldn't be done and, reluctantly, 6K was authorized. Mike managed to just squeeze it into the 6K, although the control of Lupin wasn't ideal. (In the arcade game, the thief is named Lupin, a nice touch of personality that Mattel left out of our version.)

When the game was released, press and customers complained about how difficult it was to control Lupin. (You had to time turns precisely, or Lupin would stop dead.) The problem was considered bad enough that a running change was ordered: after the 6K cartridges were sold out, improved 8K versions would be released. By this time, Mike had transferred to the Design & Development department, so Julie Hoshizaki was assigned to make the improvement. The improved versions aren't marked on the package; the easiest way to tell if you have an improved version is to watch what happens when a cop catches Lupin. In the arcade game, Lupin collapses into his hat -- an animation there wasn't room for in the 6K version. The collapsing animation is in the 8K version.

An M Network a Atari 2600 Version and an Apple II version were also released. IBM PC and Aquarius versions were announced, but never completed.

FUN FACT: In the arcade version, the thief is named Lupin, but not in the Mattel Electronics version. Why not? In the early 1900s, French author Maurice LeBlanc wrote a series of books featuring Arsene Lupin: Gentleman Thief. The books became popular in Japan, where they later inspired a series of comic books that were even more popular. The problem: the comic books were not authorized by LeBlanc. At the time, it was difficult enforcing a French copyright in Japan, so Lupin entered Japanese culture, eventually becoming synonymous with the word "thief." The copyright was enforced in the United States, though, where the Japanese Lupin comics developed a following. In English translations, the name Lupin is often changed to Rupin to avoid the copyright problem. For the game Lock 'N' Chase, Mattel avoided the copyright problem by leaving out the name altogether.

FUN FACT: An insignificant typo almost caused Mattel to dump tens of thousands of dollars of perfectly good ROMs and to delay the release of Lock 'N' Chase by several months. Why? First, some background:

The legal department required programmers to include an ASCII copyright notice somewhere in every game so that it could be read if someone dumped the cartridge's object code. Traditionally, if there was room, the programmer would also include his or her name. (It was forbidden to hide your name in the game such that it could ever show up on screen, but object code was OK.) For Lock 'N' Chase, Mike included his, Peggi's, and Bill's name in the code. The day the game was to be shipped to the ROM factory, the three of them went to lunch to celebrate. At lunch, Mike realized for the first time that Peggi's last name is spelled "Decarli." He had spelled it "de Carli" in the code. No problem; he went back after lunch, corrected it, then bid everyone farewell and went off to his new job in Design & Development.

What Mike didn't know was that Bill Fisher, who was in charge of coordinating with the factory, had copied the finished game off of Mike's hard disk during lunch and shipped it out.

Three months later, ten thousand plus ROMs were finished. Sample chips were sent back from the factory. Bill loaded one into a ROM reader, then compared the chip's checksum to the checksum of the archived version on Mike's hard disk. To Bill's horror, they didn't match. There was a bug in the ROMs!

Programmers started playing the game for hours on end, trying to see how bad the bug was -- would the game crash? Marketing needed to know instantly if the game was releasable. Should they toss out tens of thousands of dollars worth of chips and lose at least three months time, or should they risk the bad publicity of sending out a bug-filled version?

Finally, after a couple days of panic and anxiety, they asked Mike to come up from Design & Development to help track down the bug. After working on the problem for awhile, he slowly remembered lunch that day three months earlier. Learning how to spell Peggi's name....

Mike went to the archived version of the game, changed "Decarli" back to "de Carli" and recompiled the program. Now the checksums matched. Crisis averted, the cartridges went out.