Oil’s Well (Sierra, 1983)

Oil's Well

In 1983’s Oil’s Well by Sierra (before they were Sierra Online), players control a drill bit and must “devour” pellets of oil. Your drill bit can be broken by hitting land mines and various critters roaming the tunnels beneath the earth. The game is almost identical to another popular game released for home computers in 1983, Datamost’s Ardy the Aardvark, which apparently was based on the 1982 arcade game Anteater.

The dinosaur seen above is Slater the Petrosaur, as seen in the 1990 PC version of the manual. Slater has essentially nothing to do with the game. I guess they just needed a cute mascot to put in the manual for marketing purposes.

Oil’s Well was released for the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, MSX, and the IBM PC. I spent some time playing the Apple II version this week and it’s really addictive. Your drill bit is controlled by the joystick, while the button retracts it quickly. If a critter touches any part of your drill bit it breaks, so getting all the oil located on the bottom levels is quite challenging.

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My current “retrocomputing desk” consists of two Raspberry Pi computers, a Commodore 64, an Apple IIe, and a MiST (Amiga and Atari ST) machine. I had hoped to try out a few more games last night but all I did was play Oil’s Well for a couple of hours.

Here’s some footage of the Commodore 64 version of Oil’s Well…

…and here’s some footage from the 1990 MS-DOS version. Keep an eye out for Slater!

Unboxing the IBM PCjr

I appreciate all the nice comments I got after the video unboxing of some PCjr games. So, I decided to unbox the PCjr itself to see if it still runs.? The video reveals if the PCjr survived 18 years in storage.

About the IBM PCjr:

Announced November 1, 1983, and first shipped in late January 1984, the PCjr?nicknamed “Peanut” before its debut[2]?came in two models: the 4860-004, with 64 KB of memory, priced at US$669 (equivalent to $1,589 in present-day terms); and the 4860-067, with 128 KB of memory and a 360 KB 5.25-inch floppy disk drive, priced at US$1,269 (equivalent to $3,015 in present-day terms). It was manufactured for IBM in Lewisburg, Tennessee by Teledyne. The PCjr promised a high degree of compatibility with the IBM PC, which was already a popular business computer, in addition to offering built-in color graphics and 3 voice sound that was better than the standard PC speaker sound and color graphics of the standard IBM PC and compatibles of the day. The PCjr is also the first PC compatible machine that supports page flipping for graphics operation. Since the PCjr uses system RAM to store video content and the location of this storage area can be changed, it could perform flicker-free animation and other effects that were either difficult or impossible to produce on contemporary PC clones.