After 33 years, the original "abandoned" version of Total Recall for the Commodore 64 has been found, thanks to the efforts of Frank Gasking of Games That Weren't.
The game based on the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie of the same name was in development for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum at the Manchester-based studio Active Minds in 1990 with Ocean Software attached to publish. However, after issues emerged during development, these versions were abandoned, with members of Active Minds and Ocean Software instead banding together to create two entirely new tie-ins in only a matter of weeks, in order to avoid disaster.
The former Ocean employee Mark R. Jones and programmer Adrian Singh released a playable demo of the "abandoned" ZX Spectrum version in 2017 (a demo that was previously only released in an unplayable form in a Spanish magazine MicroHobby), but for the longest time, all anyone had been able to recover from this lost C64 version of the game were some screenshots that appeared in Issue 66 of the magazine Zzap!64 back in the day as well as some internal documents about the two troubled projects.
Then in December 2022, Gasking made the first of two breakthroughs after he managed to get in touch with Mike Lyons, the original developer of the Commodore 64 version.
Lyons initially told Gasking that he didn't possess any code or materials relating to the game, but after hunting through some C64 disks for another project, a second breakthrough occurred when the programmer discovered an unknown file called "RDemo", which contained a build of the project. Lyons sent this build to Game That Weren't and it is now available to download as a demo from the site.
Gasking warns it is still unfinished and contains glitches and a lack of polish. Nevertheless, if you are interested in video game history and abandoned projects, it is remarkable to see this piece of history salvaged and made available for the first time.