Hareraiser

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Hareraiser

Hareraiser-Prelude.jpg

Hareraiser-Finale.jpg

The first scam in video game history.
Genre: "Puzzle"
Platforms: Commodore 64
ZX Spectrum
Amstrad CPC
BBC Micro
MSX
Oric
Dragon 32
Acorn Electron
VIC-20
Release Date: 1984
Developer: Haresoft Ltd.
Publisher: Haresoft Ltd.
Made in: United Kingdom


"In these days of dubious pre-order bonuses and parts of games being held back for DLC, do take some solace in the fact that you are at least getting a game and not receiving some random bunch of tree pictures as part of an iffy get-rich-quick scam from a bunch of cheaters."

Stuart Ashen


Hareraiser was a 1984 "puzzle game" for numerous home computers developed and published by Haresoft Ltd., made as a treasure hunt game similar to Kit Williams' 1979 book Masquerade, where the winners would recieve the Golden Hare, which is said to be worth £30,000. The game was divided into two parts: Prelude and Finale.

Printed advertisement

Hareraiser challenges you!

GOLDEN 30,000 PRIZE

It's not an arcade game

It's not a boring adventure trek

It's a genuine puzzle that could be solved by you!

Hareraiser the unique computer treasure hunt, a computer puzzle of graphics and text in 2 parts. Each part contains vital clues to places or locations which will enable you to discover the whereabouts of this golden treasure. It has not been buried you just have to pinpoint its location to claim this amazing prize... This puzle (sic) has been specifically designed to break away from individual arcade and adventure type games and provide family involvement. A competition for all the family. Once you collected all the clues you can work on it anywhere, individually or in groups.

You could solve this...

Part 1 (Prelude) available now!

Part 2 (Finale) ready for Christmas.

@ £8.95 each

Why It Sucks

  1. The game cost £17.90 to purchase (£8.95 for each part), which was rather expensive for the time. The most advanced computer games at that time were sold for a maximum £7.95, and the Masquerade book was cheaper than either part at £3.50.
    • Not to mention, the game code for each part is tiny (less than 8K), meaning there's no reason for the game to be split into two parts.
  2. The text at the start of the game is hard to read.
  3. Awful music, with terrible renditions of "You Are My Sunshine" at the title screen of Prelude and "Scarborough Fair" in Finale.
  4. The game lacks the artistic charm that Masquerade had.
  5. The game does not give any hints whatsoever.
  6. Boring and bland graphics.
    • In some versions, the Golden Hare isn't even colored close to gold, like in the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC versions.
  7. The text on the screens makes no sense, and is very misleading, for example: "Help is Here".
  8. The controls are incredibly unresponsive.
  9. At some points, the game may randomly crash.
  10. Finale added spiders that crawl in some screens for no reason.
  11. The whole game seems to be made as some kind of a scam, and to this day, nobody solved the game's puzzle.

Reception

Hareraiser: Prelude, despite recieving lots of publicity with its advertising, recieved overwhelmingly negative reviews from the various magazines of the time, citing it as an expensive cash-grab, and they were swarmed by letters from confused or pissed-off buyers as well as a few obvious developer sockpuppets shilling the game (like Mrs. J.Y. Widdowson). When asked about why they made Hareraiser so expensive, Haresoft said it was to "make it fun and enable competitors of all ages to participate", showing that Haresoft couldn't take criticism and came up with lame excuses for the game's quality and price. As a result of the negative reviews, Finale was only released on a handful of computers that also had Prelude, wasn't reviewed by the magazines and bombed as a result, making it rare and expensive. After Finale sold poorly, Haresoft went bankrupt in 1985 and the Golden Hare that they owned was auctioned off by the liquidators at Sotheby's in late 1988 to an anonymous buyer for £31,900, almost the same price valued by Haresoft.

Controversy

This game was made by "Ken Thomas" (real name Dugald Thompson; the founder of Haresoft Ltd.), who had given Kit Williams, the writer of Masquerade, the correct solution to the book's puzzle of the Golden Hare's location. It was later discovered that he cheated, as he appeared to have stumbled on the location not by solving the puzzle but by a lucky guess, later revealed to be the result of a series of personal connections. Williams was understandably crestfallen when Thompson’s deceit was made public in 1988. Stuart Ashen discusses the game's controversy further in the video below.

Trivia

  • Ports of Hareraiser for the Tandy TRS-80 and Atari 8-bit systems were advertised, but never released for unknown reasons.

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