Velika Akcija and the Lost Games of Radio Ventilator 202
June 1979. A series of administrative changes have shaken up the Yugoslavian radio station Beograd 202. The new head editor Nikola Mirkov and his deputy Mihajlo Čurčić have invited the already well-known disk jockey Zoran Modli back to the roster, with a simple offer; he could come up with any show he wants and begin broadcasting it on Sunday at nine.
Modli’s new show, named Ventilator 202 (meaning Electric Fan 202), kicked off slowly. Its specialty was broadcasting demos sent in by artists from across the country. Ventilator gave way for the new wave of, well, new wave artists, along with the progenitors of post-punk and similar genres that were taking over the Yugoslavian mainstream. At this time, disco was (unfortunately) on its way out.
With time, Ventilator 202 became an oasis of alternative music from the region. In the ocean of stations and shows that played demo songs, one thing made Ventilator exceptional and relevant today.
In the late autumn of 1983, Ventilator began distributing software. How? Computers of the time such as the ZX Spectrum used the same cassette tape as the medium for recording audio and programming. The code was thus easily duplicated by listeners recording audio of it played back from the station. It was a niche technique, briefly popular in the early 80s.
Shrill crinkling and beeping would fill the airwaves across Yugoslavia daily as the station would release new software for Spectrums, Commodores and Galaksija computers. During the shows runtime from 1983 to 1987, about 150 programs were broadcast. Most of these were homebrew software and games. Some were even cracked commercial western programs! The tradition of East European digital piracy is a long one B))). Of the most interest to me are, of course, the homebrew games.
That’s right!!! They got games!!! A lot of games, in fact. And almost all are completely, 100%, utterly, absolutely lost media. I don’t even know what they were about, except for one which I can confirm was a flight simulator. Unless they’re still in someone’s basement on a casette, they’re all lost in the crinkling and beeping of almost 40 years ago. Except for one.
One game did partially survive, and is even archived online. You can play it for yourself (assuming you speak Serbocroatian) here.
Velika Akcija (read as Velika Akciya) was developed by Aleksandar Radovanović during 1984. It was a single-man project save for the contribution of Predrag Miličević who drew the loading screen. However, a pirate group known as “Computerland Software” distributed the beta of the game without Radovanović’s permission. The author was revolted and rather than publish the game, he let Ventilator 202 broadcast it as freeware in the spring of 1986. This completed version of the game seems to be lost.
What is available to us, assuming from the Computerland Software watermark, is the 1984 pirated beta which is only partially complete.
Regardless, it’s a fragmentary peek into a world of lost media that’s very dear to me. So let’s get right into the game!
It begins with a brief introductory text explaining the story:Archive