In the early days of gaming, developers were quite blatant in their ripping off of the arcade classics. It still happens today, but because of the vast depth in modern games, it is a case of picking small pieces out and comparing whilst back then it was harder to hide! If you replicated a classic arcade's name, then you were sure to feel the wrath of Atari, Konami or Namco etc. However, some plucky developers and publishers found that it wasn't so bad if you just tweaked the title a bit (of course later, things got tougher so you couldn't just change the name to get away with things, see Great Giana Sisters for example) so on the VIC 20 for example, you had Space Invader clones with names such as Avenger and Terminal invaders whilst Hoppit, Froggie or Frog were all copies of Frogger.
Pac-Man was another title that was repeatedly duplicated, and Quikman is an unexpanded VIC 20 clone which has recently been recovered by the game's, author, originally written back in 1984. At the time it was already looking superb and comparable to the official conversion by Atari, but sadly the game never quite got out and missed the boat. Recently the author by chance re-discovered his old work tapes thanks to his brother and preserved the game from its 1984 state. When looking back, he saw that there were a few issues with Quikman game which began to niggle away at him, so much so that he has now taken his game, disassembled it and revamped it into this 2008 release with some vast improvements to the movement and gameplay.
Quikman 2008 does something that the other clones kind of failed to do on the VIC, it provides a proper representation of the original arcade version maze, lacking some detail because of the VIC's chunky resolution but otherwise pretty much spot on! The game details the ghosts and player very well with the VIC resolution, and everything looks and feels close to the arcade original. Presentation is kept simple but effective, with a attract sequence consisting of the maze changing colour whilst the ghosts move around. Sadly it's lacking a bit in the sound department, basic effects are present without any little sounds for when Quikman gets caught but considering we are dealing with an unexpanded game, then this can easily be forgiven when the game itself has been given plenty of love like it has here...
And indeed the love put into the game is very evident; Quikman 2008 plays like a dream and is very smooth moving, responsive and the action in keeping with the playability of the arcade original. The game features the fruit bonuses and all the standard features you would expect from a good clone; of course, it lacks certain cosmetic features due to memory limitations but these are minor things that are missing and don't detract from the game itself.
This is impressive stuff for the VIC 20 and up there in the ranks with the recent Frogger conversion; although some would disagree, it would be great to see a memory expanded version of Quikman 2008 with extra features crammed in, as some more sound and features would bring it very close to being spot on! Jelly Monsters may play a good game of Pac-Man with all the bells and whistles, but Quikman 2008 is finally a worthy challenger to Commodore's long-unrivaled clone. This is overall an excellent rendition of an old classic on the VIC and well worth checking out.