Cracker's Map: Belgium
In this segment I will push forward into the Kingdom of Belgium, one of the lowlands, home of nice beers.
As one of the smaller scene countries, Belgium has a small but potent cracking history.... Special thanks to Mason for his invaluable information as usual! Disclaimer: notice missing detail? something wrong or want to leave some feedback? Send me a mail.
Be The Future!
Despite going into a coma in mid-1988 the group came out of retirement in 1990, but this time as the budget/fake label for Legend. Often their releases were imported to the states by Lamers 'r Us (LRU) (the budget label of NEC/NEI). A funny note here is that CSI, as far as I know, never imported LRU cracks to Europe.
As the lamer label of Legend, the group continued to with some fun releases to pressure the big groups, for example Enigma and Empire released No Deeper Meaning several times so CSI (Legend) and Afros (Armageddon) released a 100% version. There was no greater insult than a fake label doing a proper version of a real label's ware.
The group died toward the end of 1992 but did some releases again in 1998 which coincided with the rebirth of Legend.
Only the strongest survive!
Commando Frontier (CFR) is the second group from Belgium to get really known internationally and the first to be really competitive. The group did quite a few demos but also pushed out some quality cracks, their first being Shaolin's Road back in February 1987. Some of the CFR members visited the PCW Show in London each year; it was here that they established a good connection with the Ikari guys. When Nik of Ikari travelled around in Europe he also visited Mad All and Stef from CFR and did a few co-op cracks between both labels. When the group disappeared most members went to the Amiga and the most of the people who continued on the Commodore 64 joined WOW. They shared affection for Eddie, the popular mascot from the British heavy metal group Iron Maiden.
The Will of God
Besides releasing cracks they also did a lot of imports and PAL fixes - mostly released by North East Crackers (NEC) as they worked together with Horizon/NEC+NEI. The other way around North East Importers (NEI) imported and NTSC-fixed most of the Legend cracks. Before NEI the Legend cracks were imported by Fucked Beyond Repair (FBR). After NEI another rising group took over importing the Legend wares to North America and that was The Shaolin Monastery (TSM).
The group dominated the release charts for around three years, fighting off competition from the likes of Illusion. Ocean was the biggest software house during the peak of the C64 commercial game industry and it was Legend that released more Ocean games than any other crew. The group dissolved in 1994 but emerged again in 1998 for a few months. They put up the first ever internet-BBS for the C64, Second To None, using custom-coded software (QCBBS) by UncleD (ex-Dave).
Legend was the most famous group in Belgium and one of the fastest cracking groups in the scene with many full price games appearing under their label.
* A rumour said that the cartridge games were cracked by switching the cartridge with an Action Replay cartridge and Powerplant killed several C64s because of this - not confirmed. One of the mentioned cartridge cracks is the crack of Myth Cartridge. Before Westbam (aka Narc) died he mentioned the crack several times.
* Legend was accused of recracking Chuck Rock from ICS, again unconfirmed. As with all top elite groups, they are often the victim of false facts.
* Apart from their cracking fame, they were largely involved with the SH0CK magazine (paper and disk) which was a leading independent publication.
* The group had a very elite approach to the scene; one of their internal rules was not to release previews as they believed that these "scraps from the master's table" could go to other, lesser groups. On one of the few occasions that the group did release a game preview was with Turbo Charge.
During the European Computer Trade Show (ECTS) in April 1991 the legendary software house System 3 had a stall and their new game Turbo Charge was on display, Legend's reliable UK source walked past the display and snatched the disk in the drive for the preview and kept on walking. Not long after this Turbo Charge Preview was available in the HOT WARES drive #1 of the major US boards. Somehow that disk in the drive at the System 3 stall kept on screaming: "Excell, take me and release me it's the will of god", and so he did...
* There was a "Fuck You Legend" intro used mainly by Avantgarde. This all started when Jazzcat kindly declined Deff's offer to joined AVT and instead took up Westbam's offer. Legend rebuked Avantgarde by commenting on their budget releases and Avantgarde accused Jazzcat of lying about like Flimbo's Quest II and other games they believe he could not possibly supply. Avantgarde's supply of German games was infiltrated with the Legend release of Firefox, which was a game by their Avantgarde member Jim Novak of Twice Effect (aka Tricom). This really annoyed them and so they buffered "The Throne Room" (the private sub) of the Legend BBS 'The Shaolin Temple' under a fake account and released it as a file called 'Legend Lies'. This little battle helped cause the creation of the "Fuck You Legend"-intro. Fun times!
* Westbam joined under his original handle Narc in around 1990. He was a driving force as an original supplier and wares runner and later an organiser. In 2007 he passed away. It is still unconfirmed on the cause but he always had a heart condition, so it's assumption at this point. Regardless, he will be sorely missed! R.I.P. Mike!
Another Step Closer To Perfection
Raiders of the Lost Empire were founded by The Blue Guard (now known as Commander) and Knightrider in April 1989. Whilst they were certainly not a powerhouse when it came to cracks, they did release their fair share of cracks along with demos, collections and their magazine Rock'n Role. They had a cracking cooperation with fellow Belgians WOW.
The group are still alive today and their website is at:
The Bam was the first cracker and cracker group to get known outside of Belgium. In the beginning it was only BAM in the group, but later on more members joined. The person and group were known for his built-in trainer-screen. You can see the examples of this in 1942 and Bomb Jack. If you check 1942 you can see how he modded the joystick control on the title screen to access his trainer menu, which is one of the features you do not see much of later in the scene. His use of intros was also good, as in 1986 things were quite simple but the intros of The Bam had a good look for their time.
Pride of Belgium
The group has focused mainly on the "mail scene" with some great cracks by the likes of Sorex, Brainkiller, Vinzz and most recently Jockstrap (Jox). The group is also very well known for their long running magazine Internal. They still continue today!
...and that's all for this Cracker's Map. In the next section, it is Bienvenue en France! As we take a look at the groups from that country, their exploits, how they stole from the rich and gave to the poor (as cracker's do).