Jordan Mechner Made An Apple II Game Called Deathbounce

JORDAN MECHNER
Jordan Mechner, creator of Prince of Persia, gave the PAX East 2012 keynote speech.

Last week, Jordan Mechner was the keynote speaker at PAX East, Penny Arcade's annual three-day celebration of gaming and gamers. Mechner kicked off the event with his personal story of how creating Karateka and Prince of Persia indirectly led him to fulfill his life goal of breaking into Hollywood, and how he has since revisited those properties many times across various media.

Mechner's tale was one of persistence and perseverance. When he first tried his hand at programming in 1982, his debut Apple II game garnered the attention of Broderbund's Doug Carlston. "Unlike in Asteroids, where you're a triangle-shaped ship shooting at rocks," described Mechner, "in my game, you're a triangle-shaped ship shooting at colored balls. It had physics and everything." Despite the compelling name of Deathbounce, the game remained unpublished — "There's a reason [Carlson] passed on that," said Mechner.

But once Mechner went public with the story of Deathbounce, PAX attendees demanded its release, going so far as using the Q&A session to hand Mechner money toward a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Hey, if it's worked for Tim Schafer, Brian Fargo, and Al Lowe, why not Jordan Mechner?

Mechner wrote in a follow-up blog post, "I don’t know what scares me more — that [a Kickstarter campaign] might be a total bust, or that millions of dollars might pour in and then I’d HAVE to make it." So to avoid that pressure, Mechner has released a disk image of Deathbounce. It can be downloaded from his site and played on your Apple II emulator of choice — or, if you prefer, in monochromatic glory via an online Javascript adaptation.

Is this the beginning and end of the Deathbounce tale? Possibly not. Teases Mechner: "To any programmers out there who’d like to take on the iOS/Android version: I have the source code. You know where to find me."

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