Alternate Reality - The City

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Alternate Reality - The City
Start screen of game
Game No. 496
Voting 6.50 points, 6 votes
Company Paradise Programming
Publisher Datasoft, U.S. Gold
Musician Gary Gilbertson
Release 1986
Platform Amiga, Apple Macintosh, Apple II, Atari 400/800, Atari ST, C64, C128, IBM-PC
Genre Adventure, RPG 3D (Role Play)
Gamemode Single player
Operation Icon Port2.pngJoystick Keyboard
Media Diskette
Language Language:english
Information Sequel: Alternate Reality – The Dungeon

Description[edit | edit source]

The intro sequence: a spaceship appears over the city and beams people aboard, including our main character...

A spaceship appears over the city and sends several beams down to the surface. A short time later it turns away. Apparently it abducts several people from Earth. Among them our main character. A little later, the character wakes up in front of a gate with rotating numbers. After passing through, the character finds himself in an unknown medieval town on a square with a floating gate. Unarmed. and unaware of where we are, we begin to explore the area to find out what has happened.

Alternate Reality - The City is the first part of a role-playing game series by Datasoft that was originally intended to have several episodes. Although the opening sequence suggests a science fiction setting, it is a fantasy RPG played in the 3D perspective. The series pursued quite ambitious goals. In the two completed parts, some innovative elements have already been implemented, such as the permanent death of the character, the extraordinary use of music with lyrics and various trait values that develop in the background. The second part, of the game originally developed for the Atari 8-bit machines, was also ported to the C64.

Plot[edit | edit source]

In addition to the two parts The City and The Dungeon, a total of five further sequels were to be created in the role-playing game world Alternate Reality. The titles of the planned games were announced in the manual of The Dungeon. They were to be called:

  • Arena
  • Palace
  • Wilderness
  • Revelation
  • Destiny

Background[edit | edit source]

Game designer Philip Price, who had only received advance payments from Datasoft but not profit sharing, left Datasoft due to his precarious financial situation even before the final completion of the second part Alternate Reality - The Dungeon. He left his concept and the game idea to his partner, the musician Gary Gilbertson, and the developers Ken Jordan and Dan Pinal, who were permanently employed by Datasoft, so that they could finish the game for the Atari 8-bit computers and the C64. Datasoft was bought out some time later, and the Alternate Reality team was initially employed on a freelance basis, but then dismissed, so the series was never completed, nor were some of the ports of The Dungeon (e.g. for the Amiga).

Design[edit | edit source]

The game world is explored in the 3D perspective. In the middle of the screen, a window shows us the city from our character's line of sight. The third above shows the name, the current ability values and status points of our character. The green double line of the panel contains descriptions of the location and also shows the music lyrics. The lower third is reserved for the current text descriptions and menus. Technically, it contains some sophisticated and innovative elements. The landscape changes in the dark, and it can rain in the game world.

The portal leads into the city of Xebec's Demise, and sets the main character's skill values as you pass through...
...the floating gate is located in the centre of the city and is the starting point of the game... the central square there are various shops to stock up on clothes, weapons and equipment for money...
...all over the city there are encounters with NPCs. This courier means us no harm....

Graphics[edit | edit source]

Floating Gate: When walking through the portal, the character's base attribute is set.

The upper panel is surprisingly colourful in design. While its attractiveness is debatable, it has become a bit of a distinguishing feature of Alternate Reality games over the years. Visually, the game is not very appealingly designed and does not make full use of the C64's capabilities. Many of the graphics are very reminiscent of the templates from the Atari 400 version. The game allows switching in the start menu between a thematically appropriate medieval character set and a more readable classical CBM character set.

Sound[edit | edit source]

Music and sound effects are an important part of the game and are well integrated. The pieces by Gary Gilbertson are catchy and underline the mood of the game, even if they do not exhaust the musical abilities of the SID. One of the absolute peculiarities is that Gilbertson has written lyrics to the composed pieces, which are faded in every now and then in a kind of karaoke manner. By means of the little melodies during encounters with other NPCs, you can also tell whether they are hostile towards you or not. Game designer Philip Price had written an engine called Advanced Music Processor for the integration and visual synchronisation of the music. However, some compromises are said to have been made in the ports and not all elements from the original Atari 400 version were adopted.[1]

Hints[edit | edit source]

Controls[edit | edit source]

Start menu: The character set can be changed to a classic upper/lower case here if desired

The game is controlled predominantly via the keyboard. During interactions in shops or with NPCs, flashing initial letters in the lower information area of the screen indicate which key executes which command. When freely exploring the city, the following keyboard commands are assigned.

Movements in The City (keyboard)
key Direction/Action
I  Walk forward / enter shop.
L  Turn right.
J  Turn left.
M  Walk backwards.
Movements in The City (Joystick Port 1)
Button Direction/Action
Joystick forwards Walk forward / enter shop.
Joystick left and press fire button Turn right.
Joystick right and press fire button Turn left.
Joystick backwards Walk backwards / leave the shop.

The character in The City takes comparatively small steps. So, unlike in other games, a forward movement does not correspond to advancing a complete square on the map.

Actions in The City (keyboard)
Key Command/Action
R  (R)eady - To (r)eady a weapon.
D  (D)rop - Discard an item.
P  (P)ause - Pause the game. Press again to continue.
S  (S)ave - Save a character.
F7  Show inventory & various status indicators.
F8  Show inventory & various status indicators.

In the game, many other commands are selected via key commands. In battles or in shops, the respective letter (usually an initial letter of the command) is displayed flashing within the menus in the lower half of the screen.

Experience Points[edit | edit source]

As usual in RPGs, your character becomes stronger by earning experience points and advances to different levels. You get experience for various things: adding damage points, killing enemies, but also finding potions or high-quality coins (not copper pieces).

Experience table of The City
Level ! Experience points
1 250
2 500
3 1200
4 2400
5 4700
6 9300

Economy[edit | edit source]

Clothing, armour, equipment and food are bought in shops in the town of Xebec's Demise. The shops are subject to opening hours and the offer as well as the prices change daily. For overnight accommodation and regeneration there are inns, which vary in price. Weak characters should not travel at night in the beginning, as encounters are more dangerous then. Prices are usually displayed in copper, sometimes also in silver. The conversion to the currency in the higher-value metal is a factor of 10 (1 silver coin = 10 copper pieces; 1 gold coin = 10 silver coins = 100 copper pieces).

exchange rates for coins
Gold Silver Copper
1 gold piece 10 silver pieces 100 copper coins

You get coins after winning fights or by selling items. If you flee from fights, it is possible that the opponent will steal coins or items from you as you flee.

Weather, time and seasons[edit | edit source]

It rains during the month of Rains. Beware: in bad weather, encounters also become less friendly...

In Alternate Reality - The City, weather and times are simulated realistically. One hour in The City corresponds to about four minutes in real time.

As an inexperienced character, you should not roam the city at night, as encounters with dangerous creatures become much more likely. The same applies in bad weather. Rain and the glaring sun have been visually well represented in the game. Also, the landscape becomes much darker the deeper you travel at night. Inappropriate clothing (For example, going naked in the cold or rain?) is also said to affect the character. There are seasons in the game that affect the frequency of rain or sun. If you want to know exactly what time it is, you can ask the time in the inns. In the game, the abductions count as the turning of the times for us.

The year in Alternate Reality consists of 12 months, each with 30 days of 24 hours.

The months in Alternate Reality
Order of the months Name of the month
1 Rebirth
2 Awakening
3 Winds
4 Rains
5 Sowings
6 First Fruits
7 Harvest
8 Final Reaping
9 The Fall
10 Darkness
11 Cold Winds
12 Lights

The game begins on the 30th day of the month of the rains in year 1 since abduction.

Inns (Inns)[edit | edit source]

Inns are not only important for rest. You can also find out what time it is here.

Inns are important places to go in Xebec's Demise. You can regenerate lost hitpoints by staying here. They are also the only possibilities in the game to get information about the exact time. The inns offer rooms with different levels of comfort at different prices, but the prices of the inns also differ from each other. Especially at the beginning of the game, it makes sense to stay near the inexpensive inns. Inns are open around the clock.

Locations of the inns in Xebec's Demise
Name Coordinates Note
Adventurers Outfitters 3E, 12N -
Green Boar Inn 9E, 19N Cheap place to stay overnight
Lazy Griffin Inn 33E, 52N -
Midnight Inn 32E, 23N -
Royal Resort 31E, 3N Expensive
Sleeping Dragon Inn 60E, 6N Very cheap place to stay
Travellers Inn 31E, 25N Best location at the Floating Gate - correspondingly expensive
Warriors Retreat Inn 28E, 54N Good value accommodation
Inn prices
Quality of the room Green Boar Inn Lazy Griffin Inn Midnight Inn Royal Resort Sleeping Dragon Inn Travellers Inn Warriors Retreat Inn
floor of the common room 10 16 5 60 30 7 80
A bed without a bath 20 32 10 120 60 15 160
Bed with shared bathroom 30 48 15 180 90 22 240
Room with shared bathroom 40 64 20 240 120 30 320
Room with bathroom 50 80 25 300 150 37 400
Premium room 100 160 50 600 300 75 800
Luxury Room 200 320 100 1200 600 150 1600
Small Suite 400 640 200 2400 1200 300 3200
Large Suite 800 1280 400 4800 2400 600 6400
Best Suite of the House 1600 2560 800 9600 4800 1200 12800

Healer[edit | edit source]

Typical healer. Never there when you need him...

Healers are an important place to go to heal from poisonings and plagues in The City. However, healers do not have fixed opening hours, so it can always happen that you are standing in front of a closed door despite a medical emergency. Prices also seem to be random or dependent on the level of poisoning/contamination and can range from 200 to 800 copper pieces.

Healer in Xebec's Demise
Healer Location Notes
One Way Soothers 29E, 29N -
Alpha Omega Healers 4E, 19N -

Shops[edit | edit source]

Honest Traders - There is a wide selection of clothing in The City


Shops in Xebec's Demise primarily offer clothes for sale. However, you will also be offered a compass for 5 silver pieces (50 copper pieces) - usually when you leave the shop. The clothes the character wears are supposed to influence his perception by other NPCs.

Shops in Xebec's Demise
Name ! Coordinates Note Opening hours
Adventurers Outfitters 3E, 12N - 08:00-20:00
Best Bargain Store 35E, 30N Directly opposite the Floating Gate 19:00-22:00
Betelguese Sales 38E, 56N Long opening hours 03:00-23:00
Da Place (north) 60E, 61N - 08:00-20:00
Da Place (south) 19E, 5N - 08:00-20:00
Exclusive Outfitters 21E, 43N Short opening hours 11:00-16:00
General Store 55E, 17N Long opening hours 05:00-24:00
Grubron Imports 0E, 13N Short opening hours 10:00-15:00
Honest Trader 35E, 24N Directly opposite the Floating Gate 08:00-22:00
Merchants Grotto 52E, 9N Long opening hours 04:00-20:00
Ono Goods 9E, 37N - 09:00-18:00
Pauline's Emporium 46E, 37N Short opening hours 11:00-17:00
Smiley's Shop 25E, 15N - 08:00-21:00
Sunset Market 33E, 55N - 09:00-20:00
Warrior's Supplies 26E, 59N - 05:00-18:00

Smithy[edit | edit source]

Best Armorers - The Armor Shop at the Floating Gate.

Blacksmiths are among the most complex sellers in the game. They recognise the character's disposition and can raise prices if they don't like us. The opening hours of the blacksmiths vary greatly. The offer changes regularly. If you make too low an offer when trading, you can be thrown out of the shop.

Blacksmiths in Xebec's Demise
Name ! Coordinates Note Opening hours
Best Armorers 32E, 27N Directly opposite the Floating Gate 08:00-19:59
Knights Armorers 50E, 35N Short opening hours 11:00-15:59
Occums Weaponsmiths 19E, 32N Often has a cheap dagger on offer, long opening hours 05:00-21:59
Sharp Weaponsmiths 54E, 9N Long opening hours 04:00-20:59

Healing potions[edit | edit source]

Swallow or don't swallow? What could go wrong with an orange liquid?

In Alternate Reality The City there are a total of 44 different potions with different effects. With some experience, you can try to recognise potions by their colour and taste (examine, sip - see tables below). However, the effects - positive and negative - only take effect when you empty the potion in one gulp (quaff). Below is a list of potions sorted by effect. For some negative effects there are potions that neutralise them. As a general rule, however, you should consult a healer. Which effects are currently affecting the character can be seen on the status screen (F7). Effects usually last for several hours. Gremlins often carry potions with them.

  • Neutral: Water, fruit juice, mineral water and milk quench thirst but have no other effects.
  • Salt water and vinegar make you thirsty.
  • Wine, spirits and Potion of Inebriation' cause drunkenness and impair movement and fighting skills. To sober up, you should see a healer.
  • Potions of Delusion cause you to have strange things happen to character traits. You remove the delusions by seeing a healer.
  • Poison causes initial hit point damage and then continues to affect stats until you die. You can neutralise poison by seeing a healer or by taking a Potion of Curing Poison.
  • Acid unlike poison has no permanent effect, but can be dangerous if does not last (like that of poison), but acid can also be deadly if hit points are low.
  • Potions of Cleansing heal diseases.
  • Potion of Healing Wounds do exactly what they promise: they heal wounds. How completely wounds are healed depends on the strength of the potion - that is, on chance.
  • Potions of Weakness, Slowness, Dumbness and Ugliness reduce Strength, Speed, Intelligence and Charm by 2 trait points respectively.
  • In contrast, Potions of Strength', Fleetness, Intelligence and Charisma each increase the character's Strength, Speed, Intelligence and Charm by 1 point.
  • Protection+1 and Protection+2 act as temporary armour.
  • Invulnerability to Earth, Air, Water, Fire, Power, Cleric, Mental, Sharp and Blunt provide temporary protection from certain weapons and magic. This does not mean that it is impossible to be injured by them, but the probability is much lower.
  • Treasure-Finding increases the ability to find treasure after battles. This is (like karma) an invisible value that is calculated in the background. It leads to the fact that one finds more often and more valuable treasures after won fights.
  • Potion of Noticeability makes other creatures notice the character more easily and thus increases the chances of encounters. Unnoticeability has the opposite effect. The only way to neutralise either of these potions is to drink the corresponding counter-potion (quaff).
  • Invisibility makes you invisible to all life forms except magical and elemental ones (wizards, ghosts, goblins, etc.). You become visible again by standing unclothed in the rain.

Potions by colour[edit | edit source]

Due to the large number of potions, it takes a lot of effort to decipher them by trial and error. The procedure is as follows: First, remove the seal and examine the colour. Then you taste the potion to get a second clue about the taste. From the combination of both characteristics, you can tell which potion it is. However, there is no hundred percent certainty, as some combinations occur in several potions. Below is a list of potions sorted by colour and flavour.

Amber Potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Plain + Poison healing
Sour - Spirit, inebriation
Black Potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Acidic + Protection against fire
Bitter - Delusion
Plain + Protection against sharp weapons, protection against mental attacks, potion of fleetness
Salty + Protection for air attacks
Sweet + Protection against blunt weapons or clerical attacks
Alkaline + Protection against water attacks
Dry + Protection against power attacks (power)
Sour -; + Strong poison; protection against earth attacks
Transparent Potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Acidic -; + Acid; Potion of Cleansing - cures diseases
Bitter + Potion of Unnoticeability
Dry + Mineral water: Potion of Invisibility
Unnoticeable/flavourless (plain) 0 Water
Salty 0 Salt water
Green watering trough[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Sour + Heal light wounds
Sweet - Potion of Ugliness reduces Charm by 2 points.

Orange Potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Inconspicuous/flavourless (plain) - Inebration
Sour + +2 armour protection
Sweet -; + Dumbness (Intelligence -2); +1 armour protection
Red Potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Acidic 0 Vinegar
Bitter + Strength Potion
Dry - Wine
Sweet -; 0; +, Deadly poison; Fruit juice; Treasure hunt
Silver-coloured potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Bitter -; + Weak poison; Potion of intelligence (+1)
Plain + Heal severe wounds
Sweet + Charisma (+1)
White Potions[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Alkaline -; 0 Poison; Milk
Bitter - Slowing down
Salty + Complete wound healing
Yellow Potion[edit | edit source]
Taste of the potion Effect of the potion Name/description of the potion
Bitter - Potion of Noticeability
Dry - Potion of Weakness
Inconspicuous/flavourless (plain) + Wound healing
  • + = Positive effect
  • - = Negative effect
  • 0 = Neutral/no effect

Solution[edit | edit source]

Since the further sequels that would have been necessary to actually solve the game never appeared, the game is not solvable in the true sense. There are no quests to complete. You cannot ultimately win, but only explore the town. The City is ultimately about survival and exploration. The actual goal is to create a strong character to have better chances of survival in the following part Alternate Reality - The Dungeon.

Map[edit | edit source]

The manual contains a started map of Xebec's Demise. The starting point of the game and one of the safer areas is the marketplace in the middle of the map around the Floating Gate. The map of The City is 64x64 squares in total. For the coordinates, count up from the southwest corner. So the first box at the bottom left has the coordinate 1/1 (or 1E / 1N).

First orientation. This started map is included in the manual...

Step by Step[edit | edit source]

  • At the beginning of the game, you should stay near favourable Inns to regenerate your health points.
  • Goblins and Muggers are good opponents to gain experience at the beginning.

Cheats[edit | edit source]

There are no known cheats.

Voting[edit | edit source]

Voting of the C64-Wiki-User (10=the best vote):
6.50 points at 6 votes (rank 644).
You need to be logged in to cast a vote.
C64Games 7 20. June 2021 - "7" 2989 downs
Lemon64 7,6 4. July 2021 - 25 votes

Reviews[edit | edit source]

Zore64: "Alternate Reality - The City is the prelude to a series with great ambitions and many good ideas, which unfortunately was never completed. On the Atari 8-bit computers, the series enjoys iconic status - though surely also due to the lack of competition from series like The The Bard's Tale. The City suffers from several additional flaws. Actually, the game should have formed the first part of the series together with The Dungeon, but was split for commercial reasons in order to enable the delivery of the ports before the Christmas sales. As a result, The City loses a lot. With no quests and no goals, it feels like you're moving through a preview. In addition, the very simple graphics and the high difficulty level spoil the fun. In the sequel, The Dungeon, many things are already much better, and you get an impression of what a fantastic series "Alternate Reality" could have become."

Miscellaneous[edit | edit source]

Cover[edit | edit source]

Front view of the C64 packaging.
The back cover of the C64 packaging.

Screenshot comparison[edit | edit source]

Amiga: Intro...
Amiga: Starting portal...
Amiga: Exploring the city...

Apple II: Intro...
Apple II: Staring portal...
Apple II: Exploring the city...

Atari 400/800: Intro...
Atari 400/800: Starting portal...
Atari 400/800: Exploring the city...

Atari ST: Introduction...
Atari ST: Staring portal...
Atari ST: Exploring the city...

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • A Java-based Alternate Reality Remake is currently in development. A previously started remake for modern PCs is also in development, albeit with major interruptions and uncertain outcome[2]
  • Probably a programmer gimmick: If you want to become visible again after taking an invisibility potion, you can make your character walk naked in the rain.
  • When creating a character, you can enter additional invisible letters after the name by pressing the CTRL key. This is considered a kind of password function so that no one else can play with your character.

Disk[edit | edit source]

The disk.

Highscore[edit | edit source]

Topscore of Zore64
  1. Zore64 - 381 - 1 (08.07.2021)
  2. Ivanpaduano - 100 (15.07.2021)
  3. Nobody - 0 (

#2 Ivanpaduano #3 Nobody
#2 Ivanpaduano #3 Nobody

There is no classic high score in the game, but the development of the character could be considered a high score. The more experience points (XP) the character has, the higher the rank in the high score.

Links[edit | edit source]

WP-W11.png Reality: The City Wikipedia: Alternate Reality: The City
WP-W11.png Wikipedia: Alternate_Reality_(series)


  1. , Philip Prize Interview, "The movie-like intro-with pan-shots, synchronised audio and video-was the most fun, though most of the conversions heavily edited the intro and didn't have all of the effects. The 8-bit Ataris were awesome in their day and the Apple II and C64 were hard for Datasoft's programmers to convert my game to, so they cut some corners."
  2. G.H. De Sousa, General update - March 2021, 14 March 2021, "I haven't done any further work on this since the end of 2020 but I'd like to get back into some coding on this soon and try to bring this project to some sort of logical conclusion."