DataSoft, Masters of Successful Movie to Game Translations

DATASOFT!!!  Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in a long time….A LONG TIME… (saying it with a look of being in deep thought)

…DataSoft went Lehman Brothers many years ago, however, their legacy will always be remembered on a positive note. Datasoft was a company from California that ported licensed hit movies titles to the Atari/Commodore computer systems. They made great games that kept my family and I entertained for many hours.

Many games have been made about movies and/or TV-series since the beginning of time however, most of them have failed because movies don’t make good games and vice-versa.   We all remember the deplorable ET version on the 2600 as well as Superman 64. The games that did do well are often ones that don’t literally copy the formula but make something up of their own.  Datasoft mastered this strategy beginning in 1983 with the following examples… Why no one picked up on it still boggles my mind.

4. Zorro – Puzzle solving – 1985


I never had the pleasure of playing this game, but all of the reviews I have read compare it to two of my favorite Datasoft games, Bruce Lee and the Goonies.   Zorro was released by Datasoft in 1985 and the basic object of the game is to collect various objects that you will use to ultimately win the love of a woman. The objects throughout the game are used creatively, for example, you will get a bottle of beer which you give to a man to get him drunk. After drinking the beer he passes out and you can bounce on his stomach. If the game sounds strange, it isn’t, but it is fun to play, although the music gets rather annoying after a few minutes..Shades of Return to Zork, Want some Rye? Course you do! ???

3. Conan- Platform – 1983


Conan, what an exciting game…I really enjoyed this game growing up. It was challenging as heck but the fact I was able to play as Conan was very cool.  The game featured 7 levels to conquer, which without a save feature kept the player very busy.  I remember collecting gems along the way jumping somersault style and tossing  boomerangs to defeat enemies. The soundtrack was first rate and the details in the graphics were second to none in 1983.


2. Goonies – Platform – 1985

Who wouldn’t buy this game after watching The Goonies growing up? We all wanted a chance to punch Mama Fratelli in the face (god rest her soul) after saying that infamous line in the movie..”I hate Kids” Arrghhh!  What a great game, it was a fun puzzle game that made you think and had hints of the movie here and there to keep it exciting.  It was a team based puzzle game requiring the player to play as different characters to complete levels. Most of the figures were indiscernible, except for Chunk, Chunk was identifiable in the first screen as the fat stocky kid.  The game also featured a run-in with the ever-famous Octopus that was referenced at the end at the movie but was deleted in the final cut (see the Outtakes section on the DVD.)

1. Bruce LEE – Arcade, Beat ’em up – 1984

The best of all of Datasoft’s efforts, Bruce LEE! It may not have had the flashiest graphics but the fun factor made it such a great game to play. You were able to play together with a friend, player two could play as the green yamo, together you can kick some ninja butt! Other obstacles included Electrical beams, lights streaming across the floors and exploding flames that appear from under you.  No sweat for Mr. Bruce, HIYAA!

Well that wraps up my tribute to DataSoft.  As you can see they perfected the movie-game genre and no one took notice of their model. Maximize the popularity of the movie recognition and mix it with a game specific puzzle highlighting some of the movie’s plot.  This was their recipe for success.

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