Marauder II – Amiga
Discovery Software International, Wyndmoor, PA, USA
1987 – $39.95 – 512k RAM required
Link To My Video Review Of Marauder II
Growing up with the Amiga in the United States I have always felt my experiences with the machine differed greatly compared to our brother’s across the pond. The online adf archive is full of “cracked” games. These consisted of a non nuanced form of piracy where a group of hackers dived into the code of a game. They would remove its copy protection and distribute the game to others for free. There was extreme arrogance with all of these cracking groups in my eyes. They always had to leave their calling card, as it were. This consisted of some of the worst “Engrish” you will ever come across. Scrolling text with annoying music would instantly greet you upon inserting a disk. The text would mostly consist of patting themselves on the back and bad mouthing other cracking groups… Just a bunch of crap that makes me roll my eyes.
^ Your typical annoying crack intro
My father had a lot of software and games for the Amiga. Quite a bit of it was purchased but there were some (although he wouldn't admit it) that he must have gotten illegally. As an American I never once came across a single crack intro. Not in all of our Amiga software or our Commodore 64 software. Most of his Commodore 64 collection was pirated, yet I've never seen an obvious example of a crack… This is ALL I ever see when downloading C64 or Amiga disks online. Contrary to popular belief, the Amiga was very much an important market with over a million units (some very expensive units) sold in America. Quite a few great games and an overwhelming majority of software came from America. With this in mind why had I never run into a single crack until my emulation days? Because American’s didn't crack games.
So how did we copy illegal (and legal) software? With a program such as Marauder II. These were programs that may have cracked the copy protection, or perhaps just had techniques for copying the entire disk with copy protection. I’m not entirely sure how Marauder II works because they have the courtesy of not shoving their accomplishments in your face like cracking groups did!
Marauder II was a legal piece of software and believe it or not, even the most anti piracy people had need for such a program. Far too many games and software had on-board disk based copy protection. This form of copy protection would not allow the disk to be copied in conventional ways like through Workbench’s duplicate tool. Imagine paying well over a hundred dollars in 1987 for a word processor and not being able to back up your disks. Floppy disks (Amiga floppy disks especially) were not the longest lasting things. Many honorable software companies told you that you should backup your original disks and only play using those copies. They said you should keep the originals in a safe place in case the copies went bad. You have every legal right to copy things you have bought for backup purposes. Companies that chose to go down the route of disk based copy protection were creating a market they probably would come to regret.
^ Marauder II's interface/Copying a disk
The honorable way to use Marauder II was to backup your honestly purchased programs. Of course we all know that’s not the only thing it was used for… The thing about piracy in America was that here we would tend to have the full gaming experience. When a European group cracked a game and it spread you created a situation where nobody had the manual for these games. I believe this is a big reason why some fantastic big games made in America are completely overlooked by Europeans these days. Much like NES owners in America, European Amiga users seem to love their platformers. American Amiga owners loved their RPGs/Adventure/Simulation/Strategy games. These are games that could cost well over $40 and come on multiple disks. They pretty much required a manual in order to find any enjoyment out of them. But for those who found enjoyment from them, you had an experience that Zool could never touch. When American’s pirated software they were most likely borrowing the copy from someone they knew who had the real deal. They took the manual and they went to a local printing shop and they printed the whole damn thing. This meant those that did pirate software in America were not missing out on anything, unlike many Europeans.
^ Partial list of games Marauder II could copy
Marauder II is so powerful yet so damn simple. It has a long list (for the time) of games it can copy and it simply copies them without any fuss. There’s no need to input anything or tell it what to do, it just does it. If you have more than one meg of RAM it will load the disk into memory and can copy the same disk up to 4 disk drives at the same time! I’ve never seen any program copy a disk as fast as Marauder II does. I can’t stress just how important and necessary a program like this was to legitimate users. The American magazine Amiga World praised it while making sure to disown any unethical uses. To quote them, “To make copies of software I own for legitimate backup purposes is a right given me (and you) by the U.S. congress.” Looking back in time I just can’t believe companies would crap on their honest customers like they did. They created the need for this program, they should have thought another way.
^ An ad for Marauder II. Note comparisons against The Mirror
^ Partial Amiga World review
Marauder II also features copy protection, the more traditional look up this word from the manual. The manual is actually quite nice about it because it lists the line numbers for you. I was quite shocked at first when it asked me to enter a word from line 36 until I saw that line 36 was easily found. Their own advertisements make note that you are allowed to copy Marauder II when certain other copying programs don’t allow you to copy themselves. I guess they even included a utility on disk to copy The Mirror, their chief rival at the time, which did not allow their own disk to be copied. Ha! I find stuff like that hilarious to no end! Amiga World noted how easy it was to use for such an extensive program and its bargain price.
Indeed, while of little use to us these days, this is a prime example of an important piece of software that is in danger of being lost to time. If you have memories of the forgotten and left behind software of old, sit down at your computer and start typing my friends. The Amiga world is in desperate need of you! To see me keep the memories alive, please check out my video review of Marauder II.
^ Front page of the manual. I call it "The Floppy Dance" and it's making a comeback!