The Realm of Darkness assimilation effort!


Over the past few weeks a great synergy took place regarding this game. First of all, Howard Feldman sent us 6-paks of his original. Sadly, the game uses an extremely complex loading/protection scheme, which routinely bumps the disk drive's heads on track one and other sectors of the disk, half of which is heavily error protected. The same is true for all three disk-sides of the game.

Furthermore, Gamebase member Matt Larsen bought an original on e-bay, only to find that the boot disk was corrupted :(

Still, by whatever data were contained in the 6-paks plus the extra-info gained by the on-hand original, Dr.Markus Brenner was able to piece together a first alpha version of the game. Far from finished, this 'preview' version crashes every other second when the loader's routines try to access the protection, but still I managed to capture a significant amount of screens, which I present here for your perusal. Sadly I was not able to descent into the dungeons, the encounters in which are presented in a style similar to that of Wizardry V.

Meanwhile, MayhemUK is trying to secure another original in order to help Markus complete the 'restoration' effort.


After a LOT of effort from a determined team of individuals over the last few months and an accumulation of originals (most of them already used, unfortunatelly) a more stable beta version has been pieced together:

We experimented with dumps of the latest Realms of Darkness originals, and it seemed that the produced images were close to 100%. The game now did not crash on any ONE screen like before. The three created images matched exactly the latest original ones (we did not reinitialize the game, and it seemed that the latest version we got was hardly ever played, as there weren't any characters located in any of the disks, and the manuals and maps looked unused).

Since we have all the maps which are contained in the hintbook, we made sure that every screen from the countryside (not including the dungeons) was accessable. The game does *occassionally* crash like before, although it is in different map areas. It seems that the game (on the adv1 disk) "briefly" goes to track 18 during every screen-load and, once in a great while, it crashes. Fortunately, if one reloads the game, he can go back to the point where the game previously crashed and everything will be okay. We concluded that this copy seemed to be about as close to a working version as it was possible to get with nibbled images, that is until someone undertakes to remove the copy protection or tweak the game.

Unfortunately, further testing sadly showed that the game will ALWAYS crash in the dungeons :(

To reach the crashing area from the starting screen, do the following:

E, S, W, and N to enter the merchant's shop. Press P, pool silver and purchase a Lantern. S to leave the shop, E to enter the EQUIP menu, RETURN to select the character who bought the lantern. Equip all items until you equip the lantern S, W, N, to reach the ruins, D to descent the ladder, I to invoke the lantern (You can now see around!). When you see a door, use O to open it/go through it. Move around the dungeons -- at random intervals the game tries to load something and it crashes while trying. We conclude it does so whenever an enemy is encountered, as we were not able to find any enemies, despite encountering items like bones and creatures' beds etc that imply their existence. Don't forget to enable the NTSC mode of your emulator before loading this game.

And the conversion effort continues...

UPDATE: In an interview of the hacker 'Hell Hacker /TSM' (as interviewed by Jazzcat in Domination #15), which is displayed here, he mentions the following:

"Some of the games I did: Barbie (!) by Epyx (laugh) Realms of Darkness (no one ever cracked it for like a year after it was out, and ESI finally did it)"

Furthermore, this was his reply to the question "What release impressed you most on C64?":

"In my time, I'd have to say it was a tie between two. California Games (...) The other was Realms of Darkness which was another crack by ESI (I was in the group at the time). This game was, I think, 4 disk sides and there were so many files, the protection so nasty, that it had been out for about a year. Mitch was bored so he actually started to crack it. A time or two in the middle he had told me he wanted to just put it aside since it was such a long and drawn out crack, and no one really cared. But he did it anyway."

Can anyone contact these guys and help us locate a copy of the ESI crack?


We'd like to thank the donators of originals, Howard Feldman, Matthew 'Mayhem UK' Allen, and our own Matt Larsen for sparing no expense to secure original copies of a game that by nature destroyed itself after played for some time. More thanks and our gratitude to our good doctor Markus Brenner, whose expertise made this version possible, and who despite his loaded schedule managed to devote the amount of time needed for a game with a never before encountered GCR-code based protection.

You can follow the conversion process by reading Markus Brenner's diary.

Use the VICE emulator, as the game reports 'disk errors' when using CSS64 (at least during the process of creating new characters), and don't forget to put the emulator in NTSC mode.



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