Master of the Lamps
General Description [ 1.0 ]
How To Play [ 2.0 ]
Hints [ 3.0 ]
Game History [ 4.0 ]
Commodore History [ 5.0 ]
[ 1.0 ] General Description
It tolls for thee.
Indeed, it summons you to the far reaches of fantasy. To ride a magical roller coaster and solve mystical riddles. To banish devious genies and rightfully claim a shimmering palace - and its powerful throne.
It was once a land of peace. But now, the King is gone, and a mischievous band of genies has escaped and ransacked the palace.
As the sands of his life drew their final measure, a brave king bequeathed to his son an incredible throne - and a terrible trial.
Now, you can help the young prince return three genies back into their lamps and regain his rightful place on the throne.
An Evil Upon the Land
"It has been our sad fate for centuries, my son. Upon a king's death and the interruption of power, three evil genies escape from their prison-like lamps and threaten our land.
"Only you, my young prince, can reconstruct the lamps and recapture the genies. By surviving incredibly dangerous journeys. By entering the genies' dens and solving their mystical riddles of sight and sound, you will be rewarded pieces of the lamps.
"Three genies. Three lamps. Seven pieces each. If you, my eldest son, can prove your mental and physical worth - prove the power of good over evil - the genies will be banished once again. And the kingdom will be saved.
"May the flame of strength and wisdom burn brightly in your young heart!"
Even as the dying king's warning fell from his quavering lips, three evil genies swarmed over his beloved land. And only a young, untested prince could stand in their way.
Embark on a spectacular journey through time and space.
Take an unbelievable, three-dimensional magic carpet ride into the very dens of danger.
Solve unique, mystical riddles of music, memory, and color as you help a young prince reconstruct magic lamps and recapture mischievous genies.
Two years in the making. A masterpiece of computer design!
[ 2.0 ] How to Play
How to Start
Press F1 to start. Use the up and down controls to select your game. If you have problems try holding down the control instead of tapping them. Press fire to start the game.
The Task Before You
Luring those three genies back into their lamps is a two-part challenge:
1. Fly the magic carpet through twisting tunnels of diamond-shaped gates that lead to the genies' dens.
2. Once there, match the tones and/or the colors sent forth by the genies.
Succeed at each level, and one piece of the genie's lamp will appear on the screen. There are seven pieces to each lamp. Each completed lamp will pull a genie back into its chamber. Complete all three lamps to regain the throne and win the game.
Controller one is a flight simulator. Push forward to fly down, pull backward to fly up.
Controller two is an arcade simulator. Push forward to fly up, pull backward to fly down.
At the game selection screen, you can choose Seven Trials (Beginner's Game), Throne Quest (Standard Game) or Magic Carpet (Flying Practice) by moving the joystick up or down. We recommend that new players start with the Seven Trials. Once you have made your choice, press the joystick button to begin that game.
Seven Trials - The tunnels are easier to navigate, and you are aided by both colors and tones in the genies' dens. Mastery is achieved upon completion of one seven-piece lamp.
Throne-Quest - Mastery is achieved upon completion of three seven-piece lamps. Color and tones are given alternately:
In the Seven Dens of the First Genie - Color and tone are given, but colors disappear quickly. In the Seven Dens of the Second Genie - No tones are given, and the colors disappear as quickly as above. In the Seven Dens of the Third Genie - No colors are given, just tones. Play it by ear.
When, at last, the three lamps are completed, fly a final tunnel back to the palace. You will see the palace in ruins, ransacked by the mischievous genies. But, since you have now proven your abilities so well, striking the gong three times will bring pleasing results.
Magic Carpet - For flying practice only. Select any of the 21 tunnels used in Throne Quest (numbered 1 through 41, using odd numbers only). When you move the dot down to this selection, keep pulling back on the joystick until the desired tunnel number appears. Once flown, the same tunnel will be repeated. (Note: The joystick button may be used during this level to restart or select a new tunnel.)
To begin, walk to your Magic Carpet by moving the joystick in that direction, then watch the carpet rise.
Fly through the tunnel to the genie's den by maneuvering the Magic Carpet with your joystick. If you miss a gate and fall off the carpet, you'll begin that tunnel again.
Once in the genie's den, you must match the tones and/or colors the genie sends forth. But first, practice moving and hitting gongs. You can hop quickly from gong to gong by pressing the joystick button and moving the joystick in the desired direction. To walk from gong to gong, move the joystick left or right. To hit a gong, push forward on the joystick.
When you're ready to summon a genie, hit any gong three times. He'll materialize and blow colored tones into the air. When he is finished, the first note will move to the top of the screen and begin to drop. At this time, hit the gong which corresponds to the note which has risen. Match each successive note in the correct sequence. Do not hit the gong before the note reaches the top of the screen. But when it does, move quickly! If you don't match the tones in time, you'll be transported out of the den, back to the beginning of the tunnel. Then, you must begin the same journey again.
If you match all the tones in one den, you'll go on to the next tunnel and the next den, until all of the Lamps are assembled.
The keyboard can be made to act as a joystick. See the Game Options section on how to configure the keyboard for use as a joystick.
Joystick one is a flight simulator. Push forward to fly down, pull backward to fly up.
Joystick two is an arcade simulator. Push forward to fly up, pull backward to fly down.
You can hop quickly from gong to gong by pressing the joystick button and moving the joystick in the desired direction. To walk from gong to gong, move the joystick left or right. To hit a gong, push forward on the joystick.
[ 3.0 ] Hints
Special Tips From a Master's Notebook
The most important tip is to get to know the tunnels. There are 21 in the Standard Game, and they always move in the same manner. Some move up and down, some move left and right. So, if you always crash in tunnel 29, select "Magic Carpet 29" on the menu screen and practice.
Hot Tip #2: A good navigator will keep his/her eye on the farthest diamond and try to keep it in the center of the screen. You really don't need to move around too much. Don't overcompensate when you're trying to get back on track.
You can also play Master of the Lamps with a friend, since both joysticks will work at the same time. For instance, while flying through the tunnels, one of you can steer left and right while the other steers up and down. Or, you can match half the notes the genie sends forth and your friend can match the other half. Be careful,
though -- since both joysticks work simultaneously, you can cancel each others' movements if you try to move in opposite directions!
[ 4.0 ] Game History
Russell Lieblich - Designer
"I worked on Master of the Lamps with Peter Kaminski. He was the programmer, and I did the music and the design of the game. Part of the goal of Master of the Lamps was to create a digital sound-light landscape to experiment with color-sound relationships, even with full knowledge that the system had very finite limits."
"Master of the Lamps was originally scheduled to be released on the Intellivision. But by the time it was finished, it was too late to release on that system."
Before joining forces with Activision, Russ spent most of his time studying music. He currently owns a recording studio in the San Francisco area, and occasionally works on computer game projects. He plays the keyboard primarily, but is also a professional saxophone player. He also did the music for a CD game called "The Manhole".
[ 5.0 ] Commodore History
Birth of a Legend
Commodore International Limited was founded in 1958 by Jack Tramiel, a typewriter repairman from the Bronx, New York. It received much of its financing from Canada's Atlantic Acceptance Corporation and quickly grew to include typewriter manufacturing. However, Atlantic went bankrupt in 1965, threatening to take Commodore with it.
To save his company, Tramiel began hunting for a new source of funds. He found it in Irving Gould, a Canadian venture capitalist, who supplied the ailing company with $400,000 in exchange for 17% of the company and Tramiel's pledge of all the receivables.
Price War and the Lean Years
By the 1970's, Commodore Business Machines had grown further, branching into calculators and other office machinery. Business boomed until Commodore lost in a brutal price war with Texas Instruments. Commodore had been assembling pocket calculators with TI microprocessors. The chips cost Commodore about $50 per calculator, and the final product sold for about $100 each. In response, TI came out with a competing calculator of its own manufacture using the same chip that sold for only $49. Commodore lost $4 million on sales of $56 million and nearly sank.
Tramiel learned a valuable lesson. In 1976, Commodore bought MOS technologies, a failing semiconductor manufacturer, for $800,000, ensuring that it would no longer be dependent on outside vendors for needed parts.
Under Tramiel's deliberate guidance, Commodore grew into a $1 billion company, growing sevenfold from 1981 to 1984. It was one of the largest suppliers of home computers in the world.
Commodore 64 Era
By early 1982, Commodore had five new products in development, one of them being the infamous Commodore 64. Believing he had a winner, Tramiel took a gamble. He sidelined the other products and built up massive inventories of the C64. Then, he flew in the face of the computer industry by enlisting the same mass merchandisers (K-Mart, Toys "R" Us, Target, and others) that sold the Vic-20 to market the C64. By doing so, he proved that computer buyers didn't need to rely on the hand-holding of an elite class of computer-literate salespeople and their specialty store prices.
The C64 was rushed to market with haste bordering on recklessness, and about 1/4 of the machines shipped didn't work. Commodore's solution was a no-questions-asked policy on the exchange of defective machines. After several months, the defect rate had been whittled down to a more acceptable 4-5%.
By 1984, about 4 million Commodore computers were in use around the world, and 300,000 more were being sold per month. However, Commodore's leadership believed that market saturation was still a long way off, since only about 6% of U.S. households owned computers. This was far less than the 20-25% that owned video game players during the peak of the home video game craze.
Tramiel had been known for his iron-fisted style of management. He was involved with every aspect of the company and anything or anyone he didn't like was changed or removed. This led to a class action suit in November of 1983, which charged that Commodore failed to disclose information about its operations and did not build a strong management team.
According to a statement released in January of 1984, Tramiel said, "personal reasons prevent my continuing on a full-time basis with Commodore." Gould recruited Marshall F. Smith from Thyssen-Bornemisza NV, a conglomerate based in the Netherlands Antilles, to replace Tramiel.
At the time of Tramiel's departure, the home computer market was failing, causing Mattel and Coleco to leave the business. Another company that decided to leave the industry was Warner Communications, which sold Atari to the newly unemployed Tramiel for a pittance. Shortly thereafter, a stream of Commodore executives followed him.
In an effort to make Commodore profitable, Smith took to downsizing, cutting the payroll by more than 45%. Though the company had an impressive $339 million in 1985 holiday revenues, it made only $1 million for the quarter after paying off about 1/4 of its bank debt.
Commodore suffered through Fiscal Year 1985, losing $237 million, and getting into trouble with its creditors. The banks granted a much-needed one-month extension on Commodore's loans, and, with the success of the company's second-best Christmas sales ever behind them, Commodore defied the Gods of Bankruptcy yet again.
The Rattigan Years
In March 1986, Thomas J. Rattigan replaced Smith as Commodore's CEO. Rattigan was hired in April of 1985 with the understanding that he would replace Smith, who remained on as a director. Rattigan's objective during the first few months of his leadership was clear - cut costs in order to stabilize Commodore's position, allowing it to rebuild. Once again, the payroll was trimmed from top to bottom, and
three plants were closed in five months. New controls were added in the finance department to prevent the sloppy reporting that had undermined Smith's leadership.
Commodore continued to sell respectable numbers of its $150 C64 throughout 1986. The Commodore 128, a successor to and more powerful machine than the C64, was selling for $300 at the time, also helping to keep the company afloat.
Rattigan's policies worked. By March of 1987, Commodore had caught up on its loans and posted a $22 million earning in the quarter ending December 1986. It also had $46 million in the bank, the most cash since 1983, its most profitable year.
Commodore's next move was to release the Amiga line of home computers. Code-named 'Lorraine' during development, Amiga was quickly dubbed the "save-the-company machine." The Amiga was packed with computing power. At its center was a Motorola 68000, the same chip that powered Apple's original Macintosh. The Amiga had an additional set of three custom-designed chips, one to handle stereo sound, one for graphics and one for animation. The Amiga was also one of the first computers to multi-task, performing several different computing jobs at once - such as word processing and game playing.
The Post-Rattigan Years
On April 22, 1987, Rattigan was replaced by Chairman Irving Gould, the venture capitalist who had been involved with Commodore for over 20 years. It is unclear as to why Rattigan was replaced after turning the company around and posting $28 million in profits over the four quarters ending in March 1987. Rattigan himself claimed that he was forced out by Chairman Gould due to personality conflicts and that Gould was upset about Rattigan getting credit for the company's turnaround. Gould argued that the comeback in the U.S. was insufficient compared to its rebound in overseas markets, which accounted for 70% of its sales. In fact, despite its profitability, Commodore's U.S. revenues had declined by 54% in the same four
According to Gould's ideology, the North American operation was to be a sales and marketing extension of the company, rather than the unwieldy, semi-independent entity it had become. For the third time in Commodore history, a new leader began his term at the helm by drastically downsizing. Under Gould's reign, the payroll was cut from 4,700 to 3,100, including half the North American headquarters'
corporate staff, and five plants were closed.
On April 29, 1994, Commodore International announced that it had been unable to renegotiate terms of its outstanding loans and was closing down the business. The liquidation process lasted for months, owing largely to the far-reaching size of the corporation. In addition, the fact that the company was incorporated in the Bahamas while a large share of the creditors were from the United States made legal
proceeding tense and drawn out. On April 20, 1995, almost a full year later, Commodore was sold to the German company ESCOM for approximately 10 to 12.5 million dollars.