The Commodore Zone for C64 emulators, games and articles -
By TCZ webmaster
Published on 08/23/2006
In the history of home computing there are numerous examples of innovative and technically impressive companies appearing and then suddenly disappearing without trace, usually because of financial reasons. One of these companies was Andy Walker's Taskset, with the obscure slogan ‘Taskset – the bugs stops here!” – a company that was way ahead of its time which developed highly original, technically sophisticated software for the Commodore 64 computer, way beyond what other companies were producing at the time.

Legends of the C64 - Taskset

In the history of home computing there are numerous examples of innovative and technically impressive companies appearing and then suddenly disappearing without trace, usually because of financial reasons. One of these was Taskset founded by Andy Walker, with the obscure slogan, Taskset – the bug stops here! – a company that developed highly original, technically sophisticated software for the Commodore 64 computer, way beyond what other companies were producing at the time.

A notable feature that set Taskset games apart from their contemporaries was the range of user options available on some of their games. Everything from the number of lives, skill level, sound setting, start screen, and load and save highscore table.

Some games, like Bozo’s Night Out and Poster Paster, included a special registration card, which you could fill out and send back to Taskset. You would then be informed of any future game releases and qualify for competitions - one of the winning prizes was a VIP trip to the Taskset offices in Bridlington. Where you could see how the games were made, meet the programming team responsible and also demonstrate how good you were at playing Taskset games!

Taskset Registration Card
Taskset Registration Card
Taskset Commodore User Advert
Taskset Commodore User Advert

It is interesting that Taskset ended up being such an impressive and fascinating company, as their first effort Cosmic Convoy was hardly a revelation! In fact, to be honest, it was a mediocre space game based around transporting goods. Graphically it was nothing special – it showed none of the extraordinary capabilities that Tasket became famous for, but it did use interrupt driven sound, which was a first for a C64 game.

Cosmic Causeway Taskset
Cosmic Convoy by Taskset

Jammin Taskset
Jammin by Taskset

After such an uninspiring start, things really looked up for Taskset, with the game Jammin, based entirely around a musical concept as the name would suggest. It involved collecting musical notes and moving around a technicoloured maze.

This was the game that gave an indication of Taskset’s potential – the graphics were bold and colourful and the “drum beating” music was excellent. The legendary musical maestro Rob Hubbard apparently stated at the time - that when he first heard the music on Jammin, he started to realise the potential of the 64’s SID chip.

However, it was Super Pipeline which really put them on the map (in the article 'Taskset In Profile' there is a wonderful insight in to how the idea for this game came about).

It showed great use of the 64’s vic and sid chip capabilities and was an important benchmark that the company set for itself and the home computer game scene in general.

It had all the classic Taskset ingredients that would become familiar in their future games. Great originality, technically impressive in terms of graphics and sound and addictive gameplay.
Super Pipeline Taskset
Super Pipeline by Taskset

Politics and Wobble Juice
Their next game was Bozo’s Night Out – this is probably along with Super Pipeline one of their most popular games. Bozo involved going to various pubs, getting drunk, and avoiding unsavoury characters – the object was simple to get home safely! The more you drink the more points you scored and the more drunk you became!.

This game was nearly controversial because the programmer originally wanted to use beer as the drink in the game but it was later changed to wobble juice! The striking thing about this game was not only the usual quality Taskset features, but that it was such a simple and brilliant concept.

The gameplay was great with increasing levels of difficulty (the more you drunk of course!) you could easily play this game for ages. An inspired idea was the use of popular drinking tunes for the in-game music and variations on the names of well known drinking companies appeared on the high score table.

The more you drank, the more drunk you became - a clever touch was the way your character Bozo became more difficult to control because of the way he would wobble! The drinking music would also slow down as if slurred to indicate how drunk you were! This made the game more frustrating to play but it was innovative.

The game featured a number of interesting characters, like the old granny with her stick!, the policeman and even a punk rocker! As you walked Bozo along the street, various obstacles were in your way like the manholes in the pavements and an area called "Weirdo Park" where strange creatures lurked or was that the drink…
Bozo's Night Out - Taskset
Bozo's Night Out by Taskset
Gyropod Taskset
Gyropod by Taskset

Gyropod shortly followed and continued the good work. It was a “sideways” variation on the space invaders concept but with 3d graphics. A typical space shootem-up in many ways but the sideways design helped to make it a little different.

There was a neatly rendered 2d graphics part of the game, which was an escape from the hectic space battle, your space rocket would land on a planets surface, and your astronaut would come out to investigate and collect any items in the area!

This added some variation to the game which was really a trademark of Taskset, they always tried to think out of the box and not restrict themselves to the usual limited mentality of the 'make em and sell em' approach of other companies. They just had to be that little bit different.

Their next games Seaside Special and Poster Paster were graphically impressive and entertaining. Although Poster Paster was certainly the better game.

Seaside Special was a little controversial at the time because it involved throwing seaweed at top UK politicians! The idea came about because in the UK every year the main political parties have conferences usually in seaside resorts! An interesting concept, unfortunately the game was a bit hampered by rather repetitive gameplay, it just became a little tiresome, constantly going back and forth to pick up seaweed! The political aspect was not that popular, and the novelty of it soon wore off.

Poster Paster is what the name suggests. You went around town pasting posters on wall hoardings. The character you controlled in the game was Bill Stickers! It was great fun to play – as you progressed the posters got more and more complicated and took longer to put up. One of the most frustrating and difficult parts of the game was the level which featured flying flower pots that obstructed you from pasting your posters - a nightmare!. The usual gremlins were around to try and interfere with your pasting, including a nasty called a “wazzock”!

There was an arcade game around at the time called Bristles but I think you will find that Poster Paster was based around an original idea devised by Taskset and not copied from the arcade game. Besides, Poster Paster was technically superior to Bristles in every way and had far more enjoyable gameplay.

Poster Paster Taskset
Poster Paster by Taskset

Seaside Special Taskset
Seaside Special by Taskset

Biggest game ever made?
Due to the success of the original Super Pipeline it was almost a certainty that a sequel would follow – which it did. Obviously similar, but with improved graphics and tougher gameplay. It lost a little of the charm of the original, like the animated title screen, but it was a worthy sequel.

It was highly rated by Zzap 64! magazine, which no doubt helped to sale even more copies of the game!

In 1985 Cad Cam Warrior was released with a big promotion in the magazine Commodore User – it was claimed to be the biggest computer game ever made at the time with over 8000 screens!

The problem was all the screens were essentially the same but in a different colour! It was unfortunately one of those ideas that on paper probably seemed great, but in practice it really didn’t work.

The game became far too boring and repetitive and to be honest rather mindless – because as the game screens were so similar you never really felt you were making any real progress!
Cad Cam Warrior Taskset
Cad Cam Warrior by Taskset

Souls of Darkon Taskset
Souls of Darkon by Taskset

Before Tasksets outstanding Commodore 64 work, they developed a number of adventure games on the ill-fated Sinclair QL computer. They intended to produce some similar games on the Commodore 64.

The last game they released, before their unfortunate demise, was Souls of Darkon, an illustrated text adventure. Unfortunately it was very poor, with a limited parser and weak graphics. Certainly the worst game they ever made and not what Taskset originally planned.

With the Taskset company now in decline and the tough time the company was going through you can appreciate why their last few games were weak and its surprising that they managed to release anything during this period.

The games that will be remembered will be Super Pipeline and Bozo’s Night Out both of which have their place in C64 gaming history.

If the company was so talented what happened?

Unfortunately we may never know for sure, but I suspect due to the usual financial problems that plagued software companies at the time, some poor marketing and of course the increased competition from American software houses – that it all conspired to shorten the life of this great C64 company.
Taskset Catalogue Card
Taskset Catalogue Card

Divided We Fall...
Unfortunately as always seems to be the case with any team of people (rather like a family), eventually some members of Taskset had a few disagreements and differences, mainly between the Managing Director Andy Walker and Tony 'Gibbo' Gibson. These differences largely appear to be the usual office politics and particularly the development of the game Seaside Special. Tony Gibson and fellow programmer/musician Mark Harrison, who were given the task of developing the game, wanted to make an environmental as well as a political statement with the game. This stemmed from Tony Gibson's support of an environmental group called the Green party. Tony Gibson wanted some of the profits of the game to be given as a financial donation to this group and the inlay of the games cover would include a text comment to this fact and probably implying opposition to Nuclear energy. Remember, this was around the time of a serious leak at the (BNFL) British nuclear power plant in Sellafield. So it was a topical and controversial issue of the day.

Andy Walker decided that this would be a step to far. Taskset as previously mentioned was having numerous difficulties at the time, and anything else that contributed to this could be fatal. Personally, I think Andy Walker was right to be wary of this, on two counts: the game Seaside Special was obviously making a political/environmental statement anyway, as it involved the main character Radium Rodney visiting 10 Downing Street and throwing radio-active seaweed at top British politicians, who appeared at the windows! Also, due to the arrival on the British political scene, of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher  (the Iron Lady), who won landslide election victories as leader of the Conservative (Tory) Party in the 1980's and was clearly and firmly pro-nuclear.  As we now know, Tasksets fate was already sealed for other reasons, so perhaps this would not of made much difference, in fact a little controversy may of helped!

The friction between Andy Walker and Tony Gibson continued and eventually Tony Gibson even started working from home, rather than going into the Office, although Tony offered another reason for this, which was due to other members of the Taskset programming team, incessantly listening to Radio One, which annoyed Gibbo, it was to say the least - not particularly conducive to concentrating and programming the latest game!

With the eventual break-up and collapse of the Taskset company, some of the Taskset programmers went on to produce software for other game companies. Tony Gibson went on to develop Ghettoblaster for Virgin games. Interestingly, the bad feeling between Walker and Gibbo appears to have spilled over into Gibbo's creative flair - with one of the in-game enemies being called a 'Tone Deaf Walker'. I doubt very much if Walker was amused...

Ghettoblaster has all the quality you would expect from a Taskset game and in some ways I would regard this as Taskset’s last great game rather than Souls of Darkon! conceptually brilliant, with good, fun, gameplay.

Tony 'Gibbo' Gibson and Mark Harrison
Tony 'Gibbo' Gibson and Mark Harrison
ex-Taskset programmers - Ghettoblasting.

Ghettoblaster Virgin Games
Ghettoblaster by Tony Gibson aka "Gibbo"
a former Taskset programmer

You play the character of Rockin' Rodney with the objective of finding and collecting ten music demo tapes and delivering them to the InterDisc music shop on Funky Street!

As you progress though the streets of Funky Town you can blast any people that bother you with a tune from your Ghettoblaster which puts them in a dance trance!

Its all done to a time limit and when the counter on your Ghettoblaster reaches 999 its game over.

Some great, catchy tunes throughout, neat animation and originality all add up to make this a classic game in the Taskset tradition.

The game Yabba Dabba Doo by Quicksilva based on the famous Flintstones cartoon was also done by some of the old Taskset team and it certainly showed, as the quality graphics were obvious, with well drawn cartoon characters – Fred Flintstone has never looked better! Unfortunately the game did suffer from rather difficult gameplay, which marred what could of been an excellent game. An “avatar” of the Fred Flintstone character is available for use in the Commodore Zone discussion forum.

They were also behind the Quicksilva games - Rupert and the Toymaker’s Party and Rupert and the Ice Castle – again you can see the trademark Taskset features in these games – The main character Rupert Bear is beautifully drawn. The background graphics especially on Toymaker are well defined, and colourful. The gameplay is above average on both games, with the Toy Maker’s Party probably the better of the two.

Yabba Dabba Doo! QuickSilva
Yabba Dabba Doo
by former Taskset programmers

Rupert and the Toymaker's Party Quicksilva
Rupert Bear and the Toymaker's Party
by former Taskset programmers

In my opinion, it was a great shame that Taskset disappeared from the scene. This is one of the few companies that should have survived and deserved to. If you consider the success of other companies at the time that are still around today, like Activision or Electronic Arts - it makes you wonder what Taskset would of achieved if they had stayed in business until now. They may well of ended up developing some of the greatest games to ever grace a home computer, there can be no doubt that they had the talent, imagination and ambition. They were a great loss, but with their software legacy they have earned their place in the gaming history of the Commodore 64.

Game Release Timeline
1983 1984 1985

Cosmic Convoy
Cosmic Convoy

Bozo's Night Out
Bozos Night Out

Super Pipeline II
Super Pipeline II




Cad Cam Warrior
Cad Cam Warrior

Super Pipeline
Super Pipeline

Poster Paster
Poster Paster

Souls Of Darkon
Souls of Darkon

Seaside Special
Seaside Special

A number of articles about Taskset that appeared in Commodore 64 magazines are available in the
Legends of the C64 - Taskset category:

Taskset In Profile by Bohdan Buciak, which appeared in Commodore User.
Is The Force With Taskset's Skywalker? by Chris Jenkins, which appeared in Commodore Horizons
The Biggest Game In The World by Tony Takoushi, which appeared in Big K.
These articles contain some rare photos of the Taskset team.

If you would like to comment on this article then please use the comment/rating feature available.

This article differs from the original article published on the old Commodore Zone website. The After Taskset section has been changed to Divided We Fall... and additional text has been added. Also the paragraph on Cosmic Convoy in the Introduction has been amended to mention the interrupt driven sound.