Acorn Electron Box art
|Platform(s)||Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, C64, VIC-20, Dragon 32, MSX, Oric Atmos, ZX Spectrum|
Hareraiser is a computer game, originally released in 1984 in the UK for most home computer platforms. It was released in two parts; Prelude and Finale. A prize worth £30,000 was on offer if the game could be solved. The game was released on Acorn Electron, Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro Model B, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20 EX, Dragon 32, MSX, Oric Atmos 48k and Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1984 at £8.95 for each part.
The game takes the form of a series of graphical screens depicting grass, sky and trees with occasional text clues. The only interaction is pressing the cursor keys to follow a hare which moves across the screen and disappears off one of the sides.
There are no hints as to how the puzzle can be solved but it may be the case that the text and the position of the trees, sun, clouds and other elements (which are different on each screen) can be interpreted in some way. The solvers of Prelude would also then have to buy and solve Finale. They could then enter a competition to locate the prize, the bejewelled 18 carat "Golden Hare" pendant featured on the cover.
The golden hare had previously been the prize for solving the book Masquerade, by the British artist Kit Williams. It had been buried at a secret location (Ampthill Park in Bedfordshire), the object of the game being to solve the clues in the book that would lead the successful treasure-hunter to this location and the golden prize. Several sources state, erroneously, that Hareraiser is based on Masquerade - in fact, the only thing apart from the prize that the two have in common is that both feature a hare.
Haresoft was founded by Dugald Thompson, the controversial winner of Masquerade, and his business partner John Guard.
Haresoft stated that an additional clue had been revealed in Harrods by TV personality Anneka Rice. The nature of the clue remains unknown, as does whether or not Ms. Rice was aware that she had revealed such a clue.
The game did not sell well and Haresoft went into liquidation. Hareraiser was never solved, and the hare was sold at a Sotheby's auction by the creditors in 1988. Although only given a guide price of £3,000-6,000, it did in fact exceed Haresoft's stated value, selling for £31,900. Although it was rumoured to have been sold again in the early 90s, its whereabouts were unknown for over 20 years until July 2009 when an appeal was made on BBC Radio 4. The current owner's granddaughter got in touch and Kit Williams was reunited with the hare for a BBC TV documentary.
The game was awarded 3/10 in Sinclair User with reviewer Richard Price struggling to find any reason to play the game except "the sincere need to get rich".
At the Norwich Gaming Festival in 2017, comedian and computer game historian Stuart Ashen described and showed the game play, and called it "The worst game ever," further revealing that the solution to the videogame's predecessor had been discovered via cheating. Ashen further stated that he believed the puzzle was intentionally designed to be unsolvable so that Haresoft would not lose the art piece (the golden hare).
- Original advertisement for the game
- "Play to Win" in Retro Gamer, Issue 17
- "Masquerade & the Mysteries of Kit Williams FAQ" Archived 2009-04-27 at the Wayback Machine. at bunnyears.net, accessed 3 May 2009
- "Gremlin". Sinclair User. January 1985. Archived from the original on 2009-01-03.
- "The Masquerade Hare" in Sotheby's auction catalogue, 5 December 1988
- "Artist reunited with golden hare" by Torin Douglas, BBC News, 20 August 2009
- "Business not pleasure". Sinclair User. December 1984.