Interview with Robert Jaeger
In 1984, an 18 year old saw his dreams come true and Montezuma’s Revenge was released into the world by Parker Brothers. As one of our favourite games to ever grace the Commodore 64, we are thrilled to welcome the creator of Montezuma’s Revenge, Robert Jaeger. Robert takes us back to when he was only 11 years old and started creating video games. We learn of his early creations and what lead him to create Montezuma’s Revenge and how it was picked up by Parker Brothers.
When someone tells you to watch out for Montezuma’s Revenge, you are likely thinking that you should not drink the water in Mexico. In the land of video games, however, they are likely talking about the 1984 game from Parker Brothers which was released on all kinds of platforms.
Called Panama Joe on the ZX Spectrum, Montezuma’s Revenge has you playing the role of Panama Joe (originally known as Pedro) and moving him around from room to room in an expansive labyrinth underground of a pyramid built by a 16th century Aztec God. There are enemies, obstacles, traps and various dangers along the way and you are tasked with collecting jewels and killing enemies. You’ll need to find keys and collect special equipment like torches and swords along the way to achieve your goals.
There are nine floors in the pyramid and 99 rooms to explore. You are trying to reach the treasure chamber and it’s a task that’s quite difficult although the game does offer nine different difficulty levels.
The game was developed by Robert Jaeger who was only 16 when he sold the concept and early code to Parker Brothers. He developed it on an Atari 800 using the full 48K but Parker Brothers wanted to release it on cartridge and trimmed the game back to only 16K. Disk versions included some extras like animated titles and enhanced character animations among others. After releasing the game on consoles with cartridges for the Colecovision, Atari 2600 and 5200 Parker Brothers was faced with dropping sales after the 1983 videogame crash. They released the Commodore 64 and Atari versions on a flippy disk instead of cartridges to save costs and then brought out versions for many machines.
In 1988 a port came out on the Sega Master System with better graphics, sound and a few other features. Suggesting long-standing interest in the title, a 3D game came out in 1998 called Montezuma’s Return, of which a 2D version was created for the Game Boy Color. The game is also available today on the iTunes store available from Normal Distribution, which is a company owned by its original creator, Robert Jaeger.
A lot of people will remember this game but it has long since lost the shine it once had. If you love platformers, this is certainly a great one to revisit!
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