Carnival' was one of the most controversial computer games for the Sinclair Spectrum
, along with Martech
's 'Inspector Gadget
' and Odin
's 'The Great Space Race
' (all were hyped
to high heaven and turned out to be appallingly bad when released; 'Inspector Gadget
' was pulled from distribution after a week on the shelves).
In 1984 Artic Computing released a game for the Sinclair Spectrum. It was called 'World Cup Football' and it was quite good fun, albeit of dubious accuracy (each team fielded six players and the pitch appeared to be the size of a tennis court).
In 1986 US Gold software spent a fortune on the official licence for that year's World Cup. After trying and failing to write a game to go with the licence, they spent a much smaller fortune on the rights to Artic's 'World Cup', which they re-released as 'World Cup Carnival'. The title screens and some of the graphics were altered (the pitch boards that displayed the Artic logo were changed to US Gold), but the game itself remained the same. There were an impressive series of advertisements in the specialist press, some posters were included with the game, and pre-orders alone ensured that it was a big hit.
Unfortunately, nowhere in the advertising (or on the packaging) did US Gold reveal that the game was a re-release - at full price, too - of the older game. Review copies were not sent out, so people were in for a rude shock when they loaded it up. 'World Cup Football' was fun in 1984, but was badly out-of-date at a time when Ocean's Jon Ritman / Bernie Drummond classic 'Match Day' was the benchmark.
US Gold's explanation was that it was "a modified, improved, enhanced, localised version of another piece of software: it has two A2 colour posters, a cloth patch, the World Cup competition - all in addition to a better version of the game". In other words, feel the width.
This kind of renaming is not unique ('Super Mario Brothers 2' and 'Puzzle Bobble' are two recent games which hide their origins as other games - 'Doki Doki Panic' and 'Bust-a-Move'), although the cynicism of Ocean's move was particularly virulent. The company went on to create a string of games, licensed from popular films, which illustrated that people will buy anything provided it has a familiar name and logo.