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LD!

THE ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO CLASSIC GAMES


MONSTER
O
MASH
HOW MASAHIRO UENO
CREATED SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

ALSO INSIDE
RAINBOW WALKER | STURMWIND
DEACTIVATORS | ZEPPELIN GAMES
AMSTRAD | COMMODORE | SEGA | NINTENDO | ATARI | SINCLAIR | NEO GEO | SONY | COIN-OP | MOBILE SPECTRUM 128K | PRINCE OF PERSIA

THE COLOURFUL STORY OF ONE OF


GAMING’S QUIRKIEST CELEBRITIES

SAN
WH DY

20
ITE
30 Y
ANEEARS
ISO CDOTEOF IND
MET S F UST
RIC ROM RY
MA TH
STE E
R

YEA
RI CANRS O
ATGAUAR FO NO F
JON DD N
MIN HARE ER
JA ’
WH NGE Y
S
Y IT OU
E TO ION
TIM R OPIN IATU ON
RE CRE
MAY ATIN
HEM G
CHA

FEATURED INSIDE THIS ISSUE:


25 SNES HITS BRAIN STRAIN COUNTERSTRIKE
ISSUE 119 IS SUPER MARIO WORLD KEY DEVELOPERS LOOK BACK AND THE STORY OF A COMMUNITY MOD
YOUR FAVOURITE GAME? UNRAVEL THE HISTORY OF PUZZLE GAMES THAT BECAME A SMASHHIT
LOADING

THE RETROBATES BEST PUZZLE GAME

LOADING…
S
omething interesting happened
this month. I was listening to
DARRAN JONES PAUL DAVIES people in the office talking about
PAUL DRURY
I’m going for Tetris DS. It I love the brain-mangling Panel De Pon ! It was re- old games when Atari’s Jaguar
marries the classic design of beauty of Echochrome and released as Pokemon Puzzle or
the original with new modes Echoshift. They gently bend something, but I’ll always love came up. Immediately I began hearing the usual
and Nintendo characters. It’s your thinking into some very the original for getting everyone
brilliant fun. strange shapes. hooked despite featuring lots of stories about the console from those involved.
Expertise:
Juggling a beautiful wife, two
Expertise: pastel colours and little fairies!
Expertise:
The first thing I thought was: ‘I’m really old’.
Motion-capturing puppets
gorgeous girls and an award- Currently playing: Banging my head against a The second thing I realised was that some
winning magazine Game & Wario brick wall
Currently playing: Favourite game of all time: Currently playing: of them were between five and ten when the
Shadowrun Returns Sheep In Space Halo 4
Favourite game of all time: Favourite game of all time: machine was launched, and not all of them had
Strider Ghouls ‘N Ghosts played on one. Fortunately, I happened to have a
Jaguar under my desk (don’t ask why, I just do),
so when I heard one person complaining about
how uncomfortable the controller was, I was able
to show them that this wasn’t actually the case.
It’s interesting, because it makes you
question how many people form opinions from
what they’ve read as opposed to their own
experiences, and highlights how important
magazines like Retro Gamer are and why they
need to do things properly. We’re sometimes
accused of creating revisionist history and painting
JASON KELK JOHN MARTYN certain consoles and companies in a more
Sensitive on the C64; it’s
frustratingly addictive and has
SZCZEPANIAK CARROLL
stolen far too many hours
There are hundreds of puzzle Has to be Puzzle Bobble. I’m favourable light – something I don’t believe we do.
games and we’re only allowed pretty sure I have a version for
from me! one? OK, Catrap on the Game every console I own. What I do believe though, is that some
Expertise: Boy, aka Pitman. The designer Expertise:
Being a homebrew hero and his wife invited me to Games that blipped and buzzed consoles, like the Jaguar, have got a raw deal
Currently playing: their home!
Uridium 2 (Amiga) Expertise:
Currently playing:
The Starship Damrey
over the years and it’s time to put that right. I’m
Favourite game of all time:
IO
Japanese games Favourite game of all time: not going to lie to you and say it’s ‘the best
Currently playing: Jet Set Willy
Writing a book console you’ve never played’,
Favourite game of all time:
Star Control 2 but I will say that you should
reconsider your opinion on it
going forward.

Enjoy the magazine,

DAVID CROOKES IAIN LEE RICHARD


I was a particular fan of
Puzznic. It lent a nice spin to
Tetris. It’s an obvious answer
but it’s just so perfect.
BURTON
I played the sliding puzzler Split
the matching tile sub-genre. Expertise: Personalities endlessly on the
Expertise: Pretending to be an American Spectrum and Amstrad. It feels
All things Amstrad CPC, Dizzy, on Xbox Live even more retro now with the
Atari Lynx Currently Playing: Thatcher, Reagan, Sir Clive and
Currently playing: Halo 4 Alan Sugar puzzles...
Grand Theft Auto III Favourite game of all time: Expertise:
Favourite game of all time: Elite (the BBC B version) Spectrum and Amstrad gaming
Broken Sword Currently playing:
Slap Fight
Favourite game of all time:
Manic Miner
CONTENTS
>> Load 119 Breathing new life into classic games

FEATURED
36 Classic Moments The story of

Q*bert
Castle Of Illusion
Starring Mickey Mouse
We relive some of the greatest
moments from Sega’s hit platformer
38 Brain Strain: A Bluffer’s
Guide To Puzzle Games

20 Warren
Alexey Pajitnov, Peter Liepa and other
puzzle developers run us through the Davies explains how a foul-mouthed
history of this mind-bending genre oddity became an unlikely celebrity
46 The Making Of
Deactivators
Behind the scenes of the 8-bit bomb-
detonating puzzler
48 Top 25 SNES Games
Readers reveal their favourite games
for Nintendo’s 16-bit console. How
many have you completed?
54 Power Up:
Spectrum 128K
Martyn Carroll explains why Sinclair’s
128K upgrade was a big improvement
for gamers
62 From The Archives
Zepplin Games
The Gateshead publisher, still going
strong aer 25 years
70 The History Of
Cannon Fodder
Jon Hare talks about the original game
and his canned threequel, while Stuart
Campbell recalls Cannon Fodder 2
88 Minority Report
A bunch of weird and quirky platform
games to play, courtesy of Rory Milne

58 108
RETRO REVIVALS In the hot seat this month…
60 Rainbow Walker 28 TEDDY LEE 90 SANDY WHITE
Darran returns to this classic Atari 8-bit release
from Synapse Soware and still finds it great fun Aer falling in love with The creator of Ant Attack,
Rogue Legacy this Zombie Zombie and I, Of The
96 PaRappa The Rapper month, we decided to
speak to Teddy about its
Mask on isometric gaming,
modding his Spectrum,
The classy music game from Masaya Matsuura that
creation, the popularity feminism in games and his
kick-started the rhythm action genre
of PC games and his fourth game that he never
gaming heroes. managed to finish.

4 | RETRO GAMER
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Head over to www.imagineshop.co.uk

A rare example of a perfect ESSENTIALS


videogame sequel Samuel Roberts 613 Retro Radar
Retro Diary
68 Subscriptions
104 Homebrew
14 Back To 108 Letters
82 Future The Eighties 111 Next Month
Classic 16 Back To
The Nineties
114 End/Game

Samuel Roberts
explains how Pikmin
2 got everything so
RETRO RATED
very right 98 Rogue Legacy 102 Final Fantasy VII
100 Sturmwind 102 Superfrog HD
101 Pikmin 3 102 New Super
101 Willy’s Great Luigi U
Adventure 102 Project X Zone
101 Hotline Miami 102 The Night Of The
84 Counter-Strike 102 Deus Ex: The Fall Rabbit
Discover how Minh Le and Jesse
Cliffe created their hit PC mod

76 Atari Jaguar
20 years on
Two decades on, we decide to
re-examine Atari’s ill-fated console

30 Super
Castlevania IV
Get
Masahiro Ueno exclusively reveals the
creation of his macabre masterpiece

18 RICHARD SCARRY’S
BUSYTOWN
Retro Gamer reader Ryan Davies online
now!
explains why you should investigate this
Mega Drive curiosity.

.net
Visit the Retro Gamer
website and upload your
very own classic profiles
www.retrogamer.net
>> GIVE US TWO MINUTES AND WE'LL GIVE YOU THE RETRO WORLD

>> The big


AMIGA CLASSICS TO
news this
month is
the recent
acquisition of a
HIT MOBILE DEVICES
AMIGA GAMES INC TALKS EXCLUSIVELY ABOUT
large number BRINGING 16BIT CLASSICS TO HANDHELDS
of classic Amiga games for a

T
staggering $500,000. We also he gaming community obviously there’s a past with Amiga
was rocked recently and this was a way to provide funding
speak to Brandon Cobb about by the revelation that for these games and get them out
the return of some classic distribution company there on these devices and on these
Mega Drive RPGs and look Writer’s Group Film had acquired platforms. Without going into too
at the incoming PC update of Amiga Games Inc for $500,000. much detail, Amiga licenced the
Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow The huge deal has already set the games for specific use on handheld
Amiga community alight, with some devices etc and we are going to take
wondering what games are included those games, port them to different Amiga Games Inc. So, the Blackberry

CONTENTS and how they could be acquired due


to the numerous licenses involved.
The rights remain with the original
devices and pay Amiga a royalty in
doing so. Amiga Games Inc is set up
solely for that purpose. It’s not taking
releases and the current ones that are
out there and any other channels that
Amiga Inc were using to bring content
6 AMIGA CLASSICS TO copyright owners, with Amiga Games the games and using them for every to new devices – all of that is going to
HIT MOBILE DEVICES Inc simply redistributing be under the umbrella
Eric Mitchell and Patrick Roberts discuss their
$500,000 Amiga deal
classic games. We were
lucky enough to sit Our goal is to work with of Amiga Games Inc.
As far as software goes
8 IAIN LEE
Our regular columnist learns that not all retro
classics age gracefully
down with Eric Mitchell,
CEO Writer’s Group Film the publishers to put these they’re still working on
stuff using operating

10 NEWS WALL
All the latest retro news, from Mega Drive
Corp and Pat Roberts,
interim president and games out systems and we’re
specifically dealing with
COO of Amiga Games Patrick Roberts the classic games.
remakes to Castlevania: Lords Of Shadow
Ultimate Edition Inc, to find out what the
deal means for retro fans. different output, it’s just solely for Will they be distributed through
12 PAUL DAVIES handheld devices, tablets etc. current Amiga emulators?
The ex-editor of C&VG explains why he’ll
always end up choosing traditional controls
How did Writer’s Group get PR: No. A few people have done this
over waggle involved with this acquisition? How will this affect the games with their own games, but there’s
Eric Mitchell: Through Pat, who being sold by Amiga Inc? not really a channel for distribution
13 DIARY I’ve known for a long time, we saw Patrick Roberts: All the operations where you have the licensed titles.
All the latest gaming news, from the past and
for the future the opportunity to basically take that Amiga Inc had in the republishing All the titles we’re going to be putting
Amiga games and put them back of the Amiga games; preserving the out are licensed from the rights
out there on handheld devices etc. legacy of Amiga content is going to holders. They’re not ROMs that
The opportunity exists because rest with we’ve grabbed from somewhere,

» [Amiga] Cinemaware is another company that will have its


titles redistributed under the Amiga Games Inc umbrella.

» [Amiga] Eye Of The Beholder


II is another game that’s perfect
for touchscreens.

6 | RETRO GAMER
RETRORADAR: AMIGA CLASSICS TO HIT MOBILE DEVICES

DEBATE
we actually license them from the >> From the
publishers that own them.
forum: What
So they’re not just ADF files then? do readers
PR: [Laughs] I don’t like getting sued think of the
and I don’t like to speak for Eric, but buyout?
I’m pretty sure he feels the same way.
Eric especially has worked in content VISIT RETROGAMER.
distribution for about 22 years, so our NET/FORUM TO
goal is to work with the publishers to
HAVE YOUR SAY
» [Amiga] We can see games like Super Cars 2
put these games out, license them being well suited to touch controls.
correctly and make sure everything is
legally in place for us to be able to do “Why no Lemmings? Is
that and pay royalties too. The people
who own the rights deserve to get What’s included? paper trail where everyone that has a
stake in the IP gets rewarded.
it a license issue? That’s
a shame as it is one of
paid for the release. >> Here’s a selection of my fave puzzle games
the 200-strong titles Will these be enhanced versions?
So the games are still owned by
Amiga Games Inc plan PR: We’ll be doing certain of all time. The original
the original companies and you’ve
to distribute across
enhancements that are outside the and not the sequel”
bought rights to be able to license game content itself. Our license right DoraemonTheCat
certain versions of those games. mobile platforms now with the publishers allows us to
PR: That’s correct. ■ Eye Of The Beholder, Eye Of put the game out as it is, as the original.
The Beholder II I don’t want to say that we won’t do
Some are concerned that this is a (Westwood Associates) (EA) anything in the future, but we’ll be doing “Personally, I can’t
legal minefield. What can you say ■ Valhalla trilogy (Vulcan) things like graphics filtering to improve imagine that Amiga
to put their minds at rest? ■ It Came From The Desert the graphics quality and audio filtering
PR: My history and Eric’s history in (Cinemaware) to improve the audio quality. We’ll
Games would be a good
the entertainment industry has all ■ Rocket Ranger also be trying to integrate some of the fit for that format, even
been around dealing with content and (Cinemaware) technologies that have come up in the so, there have been
creating content. I worked for Disney ■ Xenon, Xenon 2: Megablast last 20 years, as a wrapper to provide Spectrum & C64 apps
and I worked for Dreamworks. The (Bitmap Brothers) the best gaming experience that we
reason I got paid by those companies ■ Gods (Bitmap Brothers) can. If we can integrate things like high
available for some
is because they could sell their content ■ Battle Chess score tables that are networked across time now” Nemesis
and make money off their content. It’s (Electronic Arts) users or across the platforms we’re
ingrained in our culture in Hollywood ■ Desert Strike going to try and do that kind of stuff.
that you have to pay for your content. ■ (Electronic Arts) We want a retro gaming experience,
■ PGA Tour Golf but modernise [the games] in a way
Are the two industries similar? (Electronic Arts) that enhances the experience. “If they build in Moga
EM: I think [they’re] quite similar. ■ Turrican trilogy (Factor 5) Pro support, release
I’ve spent a good 20 years working ■ Super Cars, Super Cars 2 How do you select the games that on Android, do decent
in the movie business and the most
important thing when you move
(Gremlin Graphics)
■ Deflektor (Gremlin Graphics)
you want?
PR: To start off, it was a case of ‘these
conversions and don’t
forward with a project, or finance a ■ Zool, Zool 2 are the publishers who are most open charge too much…
project, is making sure you’ve secured (Gremlin Graphics) to licensing their titles for retro gaming’. I might be interested!
a chain of title to whatever the IP is ■ Alien Breed: Tower Assault So that’s why they’re on the list. We Otherwise I’ll just stick
that you’re working on. There has to (Team 17) are trying to license more libraries to emulating”
be not only a paper trail, but a correct ■ Assassin (Team 17) as well. Some publishers… no one’s Prof Mango B Coconut
said no but certain publishers may not
know where the rights lie with their
libraries, or it’s just not as important to
them as they’re concentrating on other “Half a million is a lot of
platforms. I got lucky because two of
my favourite titles are actually in that
money to shell out for 20
list, so I’m looking forward to playing year old games, many
those again on my tablet. of which I’m sure lots of
people will never have
heard of.
It’s a big gamble, but
I hope it pays off. Will
be great for a new
» [Amiga] Although many Gremlin games generation of gamers
are part of the do, the Lotus trilogy sadly
isn’t included. to enjoy retro classics”
Paranoid Marvin

VISIT RETROGAMER.NET/FORUM TO HAVE YOUR SAY RETRO GAMER | 7


retr columns
Here’s the bio...
Iain Lee has been a fervent gamer since he was tiny. And that was a long time ago. In
between playing computer games and collecting crap from eBay, he has presented
Channel 4’s The 11 O’Clock Show and Rise, and currently does bits of stand-up as well
as presenting the 2 Hour Long Late Night Radio Show on Absolute Radio at 11pm.

>> RETRO RECOLLECTIONS WITH CELEB IAIN LEE

Hi there, my name’s Iain Lee. You


might remember me from Thumb
Bandits, The 11 O’Clock Show and
Absolute Radio, but now I’m here to
confess my love for retro

Pole position no longer


I
f you are reading this then we share a it was wonderful. My brain did that thing that of ‘File Under Stinker’ is the fact that it’s just
common sense of what is right and good – old kids seem to do quite well and filled in the gaps, so dull. You’ll get no enjoyment or sense of
videogames. There is a chance that you are bringing the home micro version up to the achievement from playing it.
also a fan of obscure late-Nineties comedians standard of the arcade cab. How on earth did the young me derive any
but, let’s be honest, it’s unlikely. I was so into it, I even managed to endure the pleasure from this tepid excuse for a game? And
I have a soft spot for all old videogames, the Pole Position cartoon. I can remember nothing how did it become a worldwide phenomenon?
look, the feel of the controls, the sound. A lot of about this show at all, apart from the catchy They must have put something in the water. The
them actually stand the test of time – all down to theme tune that every now and then pops up as Eighties were a crazy time. The thing is, I know
the gameplay. They can look ropey, but are still an earworm and drives me completely mad. I’m there are some of you reading this who have
as playable as they were 20 years ago. Some, guessing it was some kids that drove fast cars gone back to some of the games you thought
though, are complete and utter guff and offer and… maybe… solved crimes? Did they solve were wonderful in your youth and simply cannot
nothing but disappointment and a hollow sense crimes? There was probably a talking dog or a see what the attraction was. If that’s you, do let
of ennui as you replay them and realise your robot as well*. me know what they are: iain@iainlee.com is my
childhood was based on nothing but hollow Anyway, a quick game on Pole Position virtual address.
dreams and ashes. recently broke my heart. It is shit. There are no
Pole Position was one of my favourite games redeeming features. It’s slow and sluggish, the *I just Googled it. They did solve crimes and,
as a kid. I loved the arcade version. At the time, movement is jerky, the explosions are laughable, while they didn’t have robots, the cars – Roadie
I considered it the pinnacle of motor racing the sound is pony. Now, most of these things and Wheels – could talk. Actually, it looks pretty
simulators. I had it on my BBC, and even though don’t necessarily mean a game is going to be no good. I’m off to YouTube to fall down the rabbit
it was a pretty poor conversion, I still thought good. But, what really sets it into the category hole for an afternoon.

8 | RETRO GAMER
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>> EVERYTHING THAT’S BEEN HAPPENING
IN THE WORLD OF RETRO THIS MONTH

MEGA DRIVE
GEMS GO PC BRANDON COBB ON
CONVERTING SUPER FIGHTER
TEAM’S GAMES TO PC AND MAC

I
f you’re fans of Sega’s Mega Almanac, it was a Japanese exclusive RPG Trifecta Pack, meaning that the
Drive you may recall Super RPG that was given a Western games will be digital downloads.
Fighter Team releasing three localisation by Super Fighter Team. “So many people have written in to
homebrew games for the
popular system. Beggar Prince
All three titles proved to be extremely
popular at the time and boxed copies
request digital download versions that
I’ve lost count,” begins Super Fighter ECCO
GOES 3D
was released in 2006 for the 16-bit of them will often sell on auction sites Team’s Brandon Cobb. “As I think
console, and was effectively an for three figure sums, making them everyone knows by now, I’m what you
English translation of a Chinese RPG quite an expensive proposition. That’s could call a ‘purist’, in that I feel it’s best

S
that had first been released in 1996. now changed however, because Super to play console games on the console ega continue to delight
After the success of Beggar Prince, Fighter Team is making all three games itself, not via emulation. But forcing and frustrate us, by
Super Fighter Team released Legend available to PC and Mac owners, my preferences on everyone else has announcing classic
Of Wukong in 2008. Its most recent meaning that even more gamers will limited the exposure of these games, 3D treatments of past
Mega Drive release was 2011’s Star gain access to these quirky RPGs. which is contradictory to my original classics, then refusing to release
Odyssey. Originally known as Blue There will be no physical versions of the goal of sharing them with the largest them outside of Japan. So far,
possible audience.” Sega has released Altered Beast,
» [Mega Drive] Beggar Prince proved The RPG Trifecta Pack is the result Sonic The Hedgehog, Super Hang-
to be extremely popular, so it’s great to and should be available for purchase On and Space Harrier and has just
see it reaching a larger audience now.
now. There are no additional extras announced Galaxy Force II and Ecco
however, with Brandon telling us: “They The Dolphin. The official site also
are direct adaptations of our cartridge teases two additional games, which
releases, which can be played using a we’re hoping are OutRun and After
keyboard or gamepad.” We were keen Burner. Priced at 600 yen (£4), the
to know if Brandon was concerned games have been overhauled to take
that the release would upset those full advantage of the 3DS’s 16:9
who bought the more expensive screen and 3D capabilities.
originals, but he doesn’t feel that will Quite why Sega won’t
be a problem, telling us: “No. I think, if release them outside
anything, it upsets those who haven’t of Japan remains a
had the opportunity to purchase the mystery, as we’re
physical copies – something we hope to sure they’d sell

RETRO GAMER remedy in the future by manufacturing


more of them.”
like proverbial
hot cakes.

COASTERS
OUT NOW
I
magine now has a range
of fantastic retro coasters
available to buy. Sold in
packs of four, each coaster
is extremely well made and
features some of our best covers
from the first 100 issues. Pac-
Man, Missile Command, Laser
Squad, Sonic The Hedgehog
and Metal Slug are just a few
of the covers shown, and they

METAL GEAR LEGACY CONFIRMED


all look stunning thanks to a high
quality gloss finish. The coasters
themselves are extremely sturdy,

E
utilising a strong cork backing uropean gamers are going to get to to PS3. It will include Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear
that makes them hard to break, experience the Metal Gear Solid: The Solid 2: HD Edition, Metal Gear Solid 3: HD Edition,
while protecting your desk surface. Legacy Collection later this year. It was Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker HD Edition, Metal
They go brilliantly with our Retro initially revealed as a Japanese exclusive, Gear Solid: Special Missions and Metal Gear Solid
Gamer mugs and are the perfect but Konami has now confirmed that the Metal 4: Trophy Edition. It will also contain two MGS
Christmas gift. Each coaster pack Gear Solid collection will be sneaking its way to digital graphic novels and should be the perfect
costs £4.99 and is available now Europe in September. Unlike Metal Gear Solid HD way to pass the time until MGS V: The Phantom
from www.imagineshop.co.uk. Collection, The Legacy Collection will be exclusive Pain finally arrives.

10 | RETRO GAMER
RETRORADAR: THE WALL

DEAD OR ALIVE 5 GOES ULTIMATE


Amazing titles on
greatdigitalmags.com

T
ecmo Koei recently revealed » [Xbox 360] The new version of the version which was All About Space
a new version of its popular based on the original version. Confused? So are we. In Issue 15 of All
About Space, we
fighting franchise. Dead Or Alive 5
take you on a journey
Ultimate features all the additional across the icy crust
content from the Vita’s Plus version of of Europa and delve
the game as well as additional bonuses. deep into its interior,
exploring the secrets of its strange
New characters – including Ninja Gaiden’s
sub-surface oceans and rocky-
Momiji – will make their debut, and Team iron core. We also look at next-gen
Ninja is promising the biggest roster in rockets and the ten biggest things
DOA history. Additional moves will be in space.
added and tag fighting will be enhanced,
while there will be new locations including games™
Peter Molyneux
some from the Ninja Gaiden series. Team
details Godus in this
Ninja is also claiming that this version of issue of games™,
the game will include the most realistic while there are
and sensual graphics of any game in the also exclusives on
Batman: Arkham
series. Take from that what you will…
… Origins, The Division and The
ABOUT Sims 4, along with retro features

IME
TED
EXCI
on Castlevania, Elite and Eternal

MOST
IN T Darkness. Reviews include DOTA

CASTLEVANIA BACIKVE 2013


2, The Walking Dead: 400 Days,
Shadowrun Returns and lots more.

L How It Works

POWERUPS
it
en vis r a
s? Th
In How It Works’
fo
8 - bit tune eptember landmark 50th
Love r on 15 S arity music issue we explore
heste ted ch ts
Manc aglish hos order ticke /
50 of the most
HOW KONAMI IS ENHANCING LORDS en D can .c o m amazing and
OF SHADOW FOR PC B . You ook
event ww.faceb ive
life-changing
w e L inventions of all time in a special

K
from InTim
onami is releasing an before. Another bonus is that the Back 11-page feature. From the
printing press to the particle
enhanced PC edition of its Ultimate Edition will include both
accelerator, this feature has it all.
2010 hit Castlevania: Lords Reverie and Resurrection, the two We also belt-up for a spin in the
Of Shadow at the end of the pieces of downloadable content that world’s biggest vehicles and visit
month. Released to tie in with the were released for the original PS3 and Silicon Valley.
incoming Lords Of Shadow 2, the Xbox 360 versions.
new PC version will improve on the Other improvements include a Apps Magazine
This month we
original in a great number of ways, new storyline, additional weapons
assemble a
hopefully making it the definitive and power-ups, as well as brand new definitive list of the

STRIDER
version of the successful reboot. Titan battles. The original skirmishes best superhero
The most important will be that with Titans, while enjoyable, felt too games, including
Batman: Arkham
the game will now run at a super sparse. Hopefully, the ability to fight

RETURNS
City Lockdown,
smooth 60 frames per second, which more behemoths should make them Man Of Steel, Avengers Alliance
should make Castlevania’s combat feel like a more integral part of the and more. We also review the
even more satisfying to play. It will core game. The whole package is iPad editions of XCOM: Enemy

J
Unknown, Star Wars: Knights Of
also run in 1080p — the original rounded off with trophy integration, ust as we were going to
The Old Republic and Limbo.
was 720p — which means that the cloud saving and the ability to explore press, Capcom revealed
impressive visuals of the original brand new locations. Expect a review something so brilliant Learn more about
should look even more dynamic than in the next issue. – so astounding – that
greatdigitalmags.com
Darran still doesn’t believe it’s Imagine Publishing’s
true. The unbelievable news? greatdigitalmags.com makes
» [PC] We’re already confident it even easier to buy popular
that this will be the ultimate Only that a new Strider game will
magazines like Retro Gamer,
port of Lords Of Shadow. be released next year. Capcom
SciFiNow and How It Works.
unveiled the remake/reboot (we’re greatdigitalmags.com is an
not quite sure what it is yet) at innovative new digital portal that
this year’s Comic Con to ecstatic offers access to every magazine
in the Imagine Publishing portfolio.
cheers. While some are concerned
Regardless of your interests, you’ll
about Helix Games’ past track discover plenty of titles to suit your
record, it does seem to have nailed needs. Giving you instant access
the essence of Capcom’s ninja to Zinio and iTunes versions of
your favourite magazines, this
in the early footage that’s been
means that getting the latest issue
released. More news next month, has never been easier. Head to
providing we can shake Darran out greatdigitalmags.com now.
of his state of shock.

VISIT RETROGAMER.NET/FORUM TO HAVE YOUR SAY RETRO GAMER | 11


retr columns
>> PAUL DAVIES GIVES HIS VIEWS ON THE RETRO WORLD
Here’s my bio…
In 1992 I started out on Mean Machines Sega and Nintendo Magazine System. In 1995
I became editor of C&VG. I led the C&VG website from 1998 until Christmas 2000,
then I left journalism to be concept design manager at Criterion Games. I returned to
journalism in 2002 and from 2005 I’ve been running my own company, Unlikely Hero.

Hello, retro gamers. My name


is Paul Davies. I used to be the
editor of C&VG and have also
worked on a number of classic
gaming magazines over the years

Finger on
the button
Y
ou and I are never going to love millions of people. Practice makes perfect,
gesture control, because it goes or at least performance-ready, and we
against what makes us human. can respect those of us that have attained
Not so much a ‘pub conversation’ a higher degree of competence when it
this, but definitely one for a fizzy pop in the counts. Because buttons matter (something
park. No matter how hard I try to admire Sony was at pains to point out with
the motion-sensing marvels of Kinect and PlayStation Vita in February 2012), we can
PlayStation Eye, something just doesn’t add differentiate a good gaming controller from
up. But I have a very good idea what this a bad one by its ergonomic design, heft
might be… and tactile feedback according to taste over
Sure, I grinned the first time I played time. The throw of an analogue stick, the
with EyeToy in 2003, those boffins at Sony distance between two of them, dead-zones
– whatever would they dream up next? and the speed at which a button returns
More recently I have to admit that EyePet to its default state… anyway, all of this
and Wonderbook are very clever. Kinect matters and is ingrained.
Adventures and Dance Central for Kinect So how did the Nintendo Wii get everyone
are kind of cool for a couple of nights trying so fired up? At the time it struck me like
to make my missus love Xbox. Somehow a magic trick and was so much fun that it
though, they’re not exactly catching fire are didn’t matter so much that accuracy didn’t
they? Marketing teams can’t even convince play a crucial part. Somewhere at the back of
OAPs to look vaguely interested for Daily my brain, however, was the nagging thought
Mail editorials any more. that the experience was unproductive.
If I might dare to point something out, A friend of mine was often fond of
with only a hunch to back this up, the reason saying “it is what it is” when confronted
hands-free gaming is struggling to catch with something immovable. For gaming,
on is because it removes one of the basic the need to connect directly with the
pleasures of gaming – becoming good with experience means hands on the controller
our hands. Those of us blessed with our full and eyes on the screen. It’s a pastime that
complement of digits have enjoyed making is never going to appeal to everyone but,
the most of them since humans evolved (or rather like learning a musical instrument or
were zapped into existence, if you’re God- practicing a craftsman’s skills, it can benefit
fearing). Opposable thumbs are the secret to other humans too – such as, you know,
our success as a species; our ability to grip friends and family. Always good to have a
something and use our fingers to manipulate proficient gamer on your team!
with extraordinary skill. Musicians and From the first ping of the missile in
mechanics alike perform miracles using the Space Invaders to the run-slide-ready
human-exclusive thumb and fingers setup. awesomeness of Dolphin Diving in Black
Gamers too, you may have noticed. Ops, tactile feedback from games is going
Muscle memory and manual dexterity nowhere for as long as I can see.
make gaming absolutely compelling for Thank God.

12 | RETRO GAMER
RETRORADAR: PLANNER

retrodiary
retro
16 August – 12 September

>>A month of retro events both past and present


August 23 1991 23 August 2013 25 August 26 August
■ The SNES is ■ Saints Row IV is due for 1983 1985
launched in America its European release on the ■ Acorn Computers ■ Gremlin
with Super Mario Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. reveals a new Graphics releases
World and F-Zero. The game has already been product – the its classic platform
banned in Australia for being Electron – at the game Monty On
inappropriate. Acorn User Show. The Run.

31 August 1997 30 August 27 August 1992 27 August 1979


■ id Software’s 1987 ■ The very first Super ■ Atari releases its
fantasy first-person ■ Capcom releases Mario Kart game is first vector graphics
shooter Hexen II Street Fighter, released for Super coin-op arcade game,
debuts on PC. complete with Nintendo. the ‘land a spaceship
ridiculously huge on the moon’ game
buttons to mash. Lunar Lander.

1 September 1982 1 September 1 September 3 September


■ Namco and Atari’s 1997 2006 2013
racing game Pole Position ■ Rare releases its ■ Much hack and ■ Blizzard
makes its debut in the demolition game slash mayhem Entertainment’s Diablo
arcades of Japan. Blast Corps on the ensues with the III, the action role-
Nintendo 64 in the release of N3: playing game, is due for
UK and Europe. Ninety-Nine Nights release on the Xbox 360
on the Xbox 360. and PlayStation 3.

9 September 6 September 1993 6 September 3 September


1998 ■ The Amiga CD32 is 1982 1998
■ The Sega released in the UK and ■ Released by ■ Kojima and Solid
Dreamcast makes underwhelms everyone that Activision and Snake sneak onto
its debut with touches it. It is discontinued developed by David PlayStation with Metal
an American just seven months later. Crane, Pitfall! arrives on Gear Solid.
release. the Atari 2600 console.

9 September 11 September
2011 10 September 1997 2012
Silhouette Mirage, a 12
■ Zombie horror ■ Double Dragon September
Dead Island gets a side-scrolling action game Neon is released on
by Treasure, is released 2013
European release PlayStation Network. ■ New issue of
on Xbox 360, PS3 exclusively in Japan on the It is influenced by the
Sega Saturn. Retro Gamer hits
and PC. Eighties and is awesome. the streets.

VISIT RETROGAMER.NET/FORUM TO HAVE YOUR SAY RETRO GAMER | 13


» [Atari 400/800] An early game from
Automated Simulations, who later became
Epyx, the monster movie mayhem mash-
’em-up, Crush, Crumble and Chomp!

THE LATEST
People had already glimpsed the at under $300 – a long-term prerequisite
machine at the 1980 Consumer of Commodore’s Jack Tramiel. The
Electronics Show, but its development American VIC-20 also hit its price point.

NEWS FROM
could be traced back another two We didn’t have to wait too long for the
years. It got its name from the Video UK debut of the VIC-20, as it would take
Interface Chip, which Commodore had centre stage at the three day Commodore
developed for use in the videogames PET Show commencing on 18 June.

MAY 1981
console market. Unfortunately, its timing Atari released its latest coin-op
coincided with the first inklings that a game, Red Baron, complete with its
videogames crash was impending, and impressively large cabinet. The first-
so decided to develop its own reasonably person flight simulator saw you take on
priced colour home computer. the role of a World War I fighter pilot
The public took to it immediately and flying in a bi-plane for the Allied Forces.
it sold rapidly, becoming the first home The levels were all pretty samey, with
MAY 1981 – VIC-20 debuts, Red Baron computer to pass the 1 million units sold your task being to shoot down enemy
crashes, Space Odyssey an oddity, landmark in January 1983. By the time
the VIC-20 was discontinued in January
planes, blimps, tanks and buildings during
alternating ground and airborne phases –
Temple Of Apshai starts the Dunjonquest 1985 it had shifted over 2.5 million units. all while avoiding crashing into the vector
and Crush, Crumble and Chomp! begins Japan had already had its version of
the VIC-20 since June 1980, when the
graphic drawn mountains and dodging
enemy fire.
the Epyx monster mash. Richard Burton renamed VIC-1001 had been launched The graphical style was similar to
Atari’s Battlezone, as both games ran on
asks ‘what’s that coming over the hill?’ virtually the same hardware. Red Baron
arcade cabinets were often refurbished
Battlezone cabinets with the Red Baron

O
fficially released this month livery stuck on top of the Battlezone
in North America was artwork. Unfortunately, the coin-op just
Commodore’s VIC-20 home didn’t engage with gamers and it flopped
computer. The keenly priced rather badly as a result.
machine boasted a professional Taito unveiled its arcade shooter game
keyboard, colour, sound, room Colony 7, which played like a cross
for expansion and a user-friendly between Atari’s Missile Command and
BASIC 2.0 operating system. The Taito’s Space Invaders. The premise of
key to any new computer release Colony 7 was that you must defend said
was its software base, and a very colony from an alien attack with two
promising roster of software large ion laser cannons. You also had an
houses releasing and developing ion shield for temporary protection of
titles for the VIC-20 seemed to your people and the ominous sounding
have secured a rosy future for Eradicator Rocket, which was essentially
Commodore’s newest baby. » [Arcade] Don’t be fooled by the screenshot, Space Odyssey a smart bomb that wiped out everything
was a tedious stinker of a game.

14 | RETRO GAMER
on the screen. An unusual feature for the city as possible. There were other
Colony 7 was that these extra weapons objectives and, when combined with THIS MONTH IN...
and shields could be bought by inserting the variety of monsters to play and the ANALOG
additional coins rather than the usual create your own monster option, Crush,
A preview of Atari’s Missile
power-ups earned with points/credits Crumble And Chomp! had considerable
may 1981 in-game. gameplay longevity.
Command conversion to the
Atari 8-bit family of computers
Sega released Space Odyssey In 1986, Epyx released a sequel for the
arcade was featured favourably. Despite
this month with development help Apple II and Commodore 64, The Movie
1 Pac-Man (Namco) there being just one missile base
from Gremlin Industries. This vertical Monster Game, which also did well and
– rather than the
2 Phoenix (Centuri) and horizontal shoot-’em-up looked featured new objectives such as rescue,
three of the arcade
3 Missile Command interesting enough, with colourful escape and destroying landmarks. It was
coin-op – the
(Atari) graphics and seven varied levels including also played in a much more arcade style.
conversion was
a meteor dodging section. However, Also available from Automated
4 Asteroids Deluxe (Atari) adequate, with
when the action began and the gameplay Simulations/Epyx this month was the
good gameplay
5 Battlezone (Atari) flowed it was difficult to hide your RPG Temple Of Apshai for Atari 400/800
despite its
disappointment. Black holes featured and Apple II. The game had originally
acorn atom disappointing
prominently, and if you ran over one been released in 1979 on the TRS-80 and
graphics output.
1 Fruit Machine of the many scattered throughout the had sold very well, so a newly updated
(Bug-Byte) vertical levels you would become stuck version was released. Once again, it was
2 Atom Invaders and open to attack. By that point you a resounding success and was converted SOFTSIDE
(Bug-Byte) didn’t really care any more anyway… to Commodore 64 and VIC-20 and then, Probably the most quirky left-field
It looked and played like a Scramble later, the Amiga and Atari ST. computer magazine cover ever
3 Demon Dungeon (Micro Power)
clone, but the woefully animated graphics You play the part of an adventurer was this oddball from Softside. A
4 Invader Force (Micro Power) of the alien ships and abysmal collision who must battle through a dungeon type-in listing for a TRS-80 dairy
5 Pinball (Bug-Byte) detection made the game hard work, scenario against various monsters while farming simulation
tedious and thankless. collecting treasure and attempting to did feature inside,
atarI 2600 but did that
Newly released for the Atari 400/800 escape. Temple Of Apshai became the
1 Warlords (Atari) and Apple II was Crush, Crumble And first game in Epyx’s Dunjonquest series, warrant putting a
2 Pele’s Soccer (Atari) Chomp! a movie monster game from which would include expansion games for herd of Friesian
Automated Simulations under its Epyx both Temple Of Apshai and the later RPG cows on the
3 Dragster (Activision)
label. It would later ditch its company Hellfire Warrior. cover? As the
4 Fishing Derby name to take on the much snappier name While all of Epyx’s RPG releases were magazine itself
(Activision) of its Epyx brand. very heavy on strategy and statistics, it put it, an
5 Missile Command (Atari) Crush, Crumble And Chomp! would was undeniably influential in the early “udder delight”.
see you take command of a movie years of the genre. It came as no surprise
mUSIc monster attacking one of four major that more RPG titles followed, the BYTE
1 Stand and Deliver cities. The game itself was played on a biggest of which was Origin System’s Another odd cover, in as much
(Adam And The Ants) scrolling map with simplistic 2D graphics first release in its Ultima series, The First as there was no wording other
2 You Drive Me Crazy and was turn-based, with the main Age Of Darkness, which was due out than the magazine name and
(Shakin’ Stevens) objective being to destroy as much of next month… the Software Piracy article title.
The series of articles inside
3 Stars On 45 (Starsound)
delved into the
4 Chequered Love (Kim Wilde)
mAY WOrLD NEWS age-old software
5 Chi Mai (Ennio Morricone) piracy problem and
debated different
5 May saw the death of Bobby Sands suffering severe blood loss. Agca was aspects including
at the HM Prison Maze in Northern immediately detained, arrested and, in back-up copies and
Ireland at the age of 27 while on July, sentenced to life imprisonment. software libraries,
hunger strike. There were five demands He was later pardoned by the Italian all with no
which prompted the hunger president at the personal apparent solution.
strike, including the right not request of Pope John Paul II.
to do prison work or wear May was a good month for
prison uniform. music releases. Among some
Sands was a volunteer of the choicest aural delights
with the Irish Republican were Magnetic Fields (Jean-
» [Arcade] Despite decent gameplay, Red Baron didn’t attract
Army and also an elected Michel Jarre), Computer World
new gamers or even old Battlezone fans. Member of Parliament (Kraftwerk), Anthem (Toyah)
for Fermanagh and South and Tinsel Town Rebellion
Tyrone, representing the (Frank Zappa).
Anti H-Block/Armagh Political Prisoner 29 May saw the world premiere of
party. However, he died a month after Dead And Buried. The inhabitants of a
being narrowly elected and never got coastal town begin killing tourists and the
the chance to take his seat in the House local undertaker disposes of the bodies
of Commons. – until they start coming back to life! It
13 May saw Turkish national Mehmet featured Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe in
Ali Agca attempt to assassinate Pope Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory)
John Paul II in St Peter’s Square in the and Robert Englund (A Nightmare On
» [Arcade] Take a splash of Missile Command, a
» The VIC-20 is launched. Just a year and a half later over 1 Vatican. The Pope was shot four times Elm Street’s Freddie Krueger). pinch of Space Invaders, mix well and you have
million users had succumbed to its charms. Colony 7. Add gameplay to taste…

RETRO GAMER | 15
» [Nintendo 64] Could Nintendo
pick a better game to launch
with its N64 to showcase its
capabilities? Didn’t think so…

THE LATEST NEWS


FROM JUNE 1996 LucasArts gave us another reason several levels seeing Rendar ditch
to shell out for a Nintendo 64, with a his Outrider ship and embark on foot for
JUNE 1996 – the N64 finally arrives, development update regarding its hotly some up close and personal blasting.
gamers feel the Force of Shadows anticipated new Star Wars game, Shadows
Of The Empire.
The variety of levels, the attention to detail
and the quite superb orchestral soundtrack –
Of The Empire, Lara Croft goes tomb The first/third-person shooter would see written specifically for the game – made for
raiding, Soviet Strike goes red raiding you play the part of smuggler Dash Rendar. a decent Star Wars offering.
He must rescue Princess Leia from the There was exciting news from Electronic
and Conrad B Hart goes fading. evil Prince Xizor, head of the Black Sun Arts for fans of its Strike series as it detailed
Richard Burton has flashbacks and criminal syndicate, who also fancies wiping the future release of Soviet Strike, the
then fades to black… out Darth Vader and replacing him at the
Emperor’s side as a Sith Lord.
fourth game in the franchise. The hugely
successful trio of Desert, Jungle and Urban
The large 3D levels were detailed Strike would be a difficult act to follow.
and varied, ranging from the snowy Your task as the Apache gunship

A
fter months of false starts and wastelands of Hoth battling AT-ATs in pilot was to defeat the armies of the
delayed launches Nintendo a snowspeeder to riding Swoop bikes Shadowman, an elusive ex-KGB figure
finally released its Nintendo around Mos Eisley. It wasn’t all vehicle intent on plundering nuclear warheads from
64 console – albeit only in based shooting though, with the USSR for sinister purposes.
Japan – on 23 June, with a launch price Soviet Strike was played out across five
cheaper than both of its two main rivals huge levels, each split into smaller missions.
at a competitive $199.99. The biggest noticeable difference was that
The Japanese launch titles couldn’t have Electronic Arts had dropped the isometric
been much better for showcasing the perspective of the older games in favour of
console’s abilities – Super Mario 64 and an enhanced overhead view.
Pilotwings 3D. Super Mario 64 did such With its lovely graphics, picturesque
a good job of promoting the Nintendo 64 backgrounds, engaging gameplay and
and lifting sales of the console that the some wonderfully executed full motion
game eventually racked up sales of over video segments, Soviet Strike did well
11 million units. The forgotten gamers in the sales department when it was
of Europe would have to wait until released on PlayStation in November. So
March 1997 for their Nintendo 64 much so, that Electronic Arts released
» [Sega Saturn] Guardian Heroes had it all; great graphics,
official release. sound, gameplay and an engaging narrative. a sequel in what was to be the last in

16 | RETRO GAMER
JUNE 1996
SEGA SATURN PLAYSTATION PC MUSIC
1 X-Men: Children Of The 1 The Need For Speed 1 Star Trek: Deep Space 1 Killing Me Softly (Fugees)
Atom (Acclaim) (Electronic Arts) Nine: Harbinger (Ocean) 2 Three Lions (Baddiel & Skinner/
2 Virtua Cop (Sega) 2 Alien Trilogy (Acclaim) 2 Dogz (Mindscape) Lightning Seeds)
3 Sega Rally (Sega) 3 Magic Carpet (Electronic Arts) 3 Worms: Reinforcements (US Gold) 3 Mysterious Girl (Peter Andre)
4 WipEout (Psygnosis) 4 Actua Soccer (Gremlin Graphics) 4 Civilization II (Microprose) 4 Because You Loved Me (Celine Dion)
5 Golden Axe: The Duel (Sega) 5 Namco Museum Vol 1 (Sony) 5 Worms (Ocean) 5 Don’t Stop Movin’ (Livin’ Joy)

» [Nintendo 64] Star Wars comes to the N64 and it’s good fun about how the character was essentially Good reviews followed, as did good
too, despite the first level being the best level in the game…
pixelated eye candy for hormone ridden sales on the PlayStation. Delphine had
JUNE WORLD teenage boys. Either way, Lara Croft and also planned Nintendo 64 and Sega Saturn
NEWS Tomb Raider made Eidos a fortune and versions of the game, both of which sadly
grew into a hugely successful franchise. failed to materialise.
8 to 30 June saw England Conrad B Hart was back. After a While Saturn gamers may have missed
host the tenth European stunning debut in the action/adventure out on Fade To Black, they did get a
Football Championship, with platform game Flashback by Delphine superb game this month in the form of
anticipation high for the home Software, the long awaited sequel was the excellent Guardian Heroes. It was part
team buoyed by the Baddiel & released this month on PlayStation. Fade hack-and-slash game, part RPG and part
Skinner’s Three Lions ringing To Black wasn’t simply more of the same, side-scrolling beat-’em-up.
around the terraces. the textured 3D polygonal graphics were Developed by Treasure, there were
Despite high hopes and the Strike series, the ominous well implemented with a similar graphical several interesting features to the game –
good group results it took a sounding Nuclear Strike. viewpoint to Tomb Raider – an over the such as an incredibly diverse story mode
penalty shoot-out to defeat Core Design gave a news update on shoulder camera position which would which you controlled by means of multiple
Spain in the quarter-finals. its latest project, a third-person action change depending on your location. game paths. You choose your direction
Germany awaited England adventure which introduced us to Lara As a game, Fade To Black was decent. It and what to do after each level, taking you
in the semi-final. Alan Shearer Croft, a pistol-toting, pony-tail wearing had the right pace for an action adventure down different routes with new bosses to
scored within three minutes, archaeologist with a sassy line in tight tops game with enough puzzles, albeit fairly defeat and, ultimately, a different ending.
Stefan Kuntz equalised shortly and equally figure hugging shorts. straightforward ones, to keep both gaming Add to this to an excellent six-player
afterwards and it remained In the game, Lara must find the location camps happy. The atmospheric tension was versus mode, the hidden characters and
that way until full-time. of three artefacts while despatching cranked up and really added to the game, crisply defined graphics and you had quite
Extra-time saw drama, with dangerous creatures and solving puzzles helped by a narrative arc that you could a game. Best of all, it was intuitive and fun
posts being struck and toes along the way. The perspective of Tomb easily immerse yourself in. However, it to play. You would be hard pushed to get
inches away from finding a Raider was realised extremely well, with didn’t quite match the majesty of Conrad’s bored of Guardian Heroes; it was arguably
Golden Goal winner. Sadly for Lara central on the screen with the first outing. one of the best Saturn games ever released.
England, the game ended in a camera following behind her. This was all
penalty shoot-out. Two words throughout detailed 3D levels in which
– Gareth Southgate. Gah. she would need to climb, shoot, jump and
Germany went on to defeat swim her way to her objective.
the Czech Republic 2-1 in the Tomb Raider would be available in
final with an extra-time Golden October for the Sega Saturn and a month
Goal scored by Oliver Bierhoff. later for PlayStation and PC, eventually
Sci-fi shows took a hit becoming a massive hit for its publishers
when two programmes were Eidos Interactive with sales touching 7
cancelled during June. million units. It also made a celebrity out of
Space: Above And Beyond Lara Croft, with much written about this
ended after just one 24 strong female rolemodel breaking new
» [PlayStation] If only archaeology was like this on Time Team. » [PlayStation] Soviet Strike continued from where Desert,
episode series on 2 June. Set ground in videogaming and, conversely, Could Tony Robinson fight a dinosaur? Jungle and Urban Strike left off. Extremely playable.
in 2063, it followed the United
States Marine Corps Space THIS MONTH IN...
Aviator Cavalry or ‘Wildcards’,
with episodes linked by the MEAN MACHINES SEGA OFFICIAL SEGA SATURN AMIGA FORMAT
ongoing Chig War. Sega was reportedly planning a series of MAGAZINE Amiga Technologies was sold once again.
Also meeting its maker Sega World indoor theme parks featuring It was a superb month for Saturn gaming After being purchased by Escom who
this month was seaQuest rides based on its games and with an abundance of great titles released really didn’t seem to know what to do with
DSV, cancelled after three plenty of coin-op amachines. simultaneously. Delights it, VisCorp acquired all
series spanning 59 episodes. Sites for these parks such as Guardian Heroes, In stock, property and
It starred Roy Scheider as included London, Shanghai The Hunt, Ultimate Mortal staff from Escom in
Captain Bridger in a series that and Sydney, with smaller Kombat 3, Panzer Dragoon a $40 million deal. It
felt like an underwater version Sega Parks introduced Zwei and Destruction seems VisCorp wanted
of Star Trek, based on a high- to the not so exotic Derby were out and vying the Amiga’s technology
tech submarine. locations of Tamworth for your interest… and for interactive TV set-
and Wolverhampton… hard earned folding stuff. top boxes.

RETRO GAMER | 17
.net

Richard Scarry’s Busytown


Watch a classic book come to life
» Novotrade » Mega drive » 1994 First, I had to put all the pieces of the ship in the right
#65 For someone whose earliest education was based on
the teachings of Richard Scarry’s seminal 1968 book
place, then drop all the crew members into the right
rooms and paint the thing! Joy!
What Do People Do All Day? playing this game is the Oh, there’s no text either. Everyone talks. Yep, a Mega
equivalent of an 80-year old listening to a load of Drive game with full speech. Lots of fun there! If you
Andrews Sisters music on a bright and shiny CD. Or fill someone’s drink up too much and it overflows, your
something to do with Star Wars… customer actually asks if you’re blind – in the friendliest
The point is that this game is pure joy in cartridge manner possible of course.
form. From the big splashy title screen with Lowly Go to the delivery company, and you get tasked
Worm’s big smiling head to the little mice playing in the with making deliveries around Busytown. The more
park, every moment takes me back to that special place. deliveries you make, the busier Busytown becomes – like
A place where there was still such a thing as ‘bed time’ a miniaturized Sim City. All those new things opening up
and popularity was judged on how fast you could run. have their own little games to play too.
Starting with a great big map of Busytown, you move It’s fantastic for kids, what with all the fun activities
your happy little cursor around and find something to and the lack of hard words to read – but it’s also fantastic
do. I headed straight for the harbour – as the double page for grown-ups, what with all the fun activities and lack
ocean liner cutaway was always my favourite part of the of hard words to read. This is definitely where Sonic has
book – and I suffered no disappointment whatsoever. been going wrong in recent years…

18 | RETRO GAMER
RETROBATE
PROFILE
 NAME:
RYAN DAVI
 JOINED ES
: 3 DECEM
 LOCATI BER 2008
ON: LIVERP
 OCCUPA OOL, UK
TION
GADDABOU :
T
 FAVE GA
ME
MEGA DRIV SYSTEM:
E

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RETRO GAMER | 19
r t
The story of

Q*be 0,
At the grand old age of p3re
w
ci
ith
at ive
a ca
fan
me
s,
o
th
in
ing
a
s
h it
ar
m ovie and
e definitely
a new generation of apMike Bevan talks to designer Warren
looking up for Q*bert. and others involved about the history
Davis, artist Jeff Lee e unlikeliest of arcade heroes
behind one of th
depicted in the public
what could be said and

W
est
e are asking, in the nic arena,” observes Jeff Lee
, the man who
possible way, what the dle d the little fella with the orange
first doo
@!#?&! Q*bert ’s creato
rs
cou rse in Q* ber t, we only hinted
at snout. “Of monly used
kin g. An d wh uag e so com
were thin at the coarse lang word balloon
s up an impossibly ugh the
kind of person dream by adolescent boys thro
g videogame hero? id Thi el’s brilliant ran dom chatter.”
cute, expletive-spoutin and Dav
eanour and
a slightly dem ented sense of Despite his sweary dem
“One with off pyr am ids, Q*bert’s
rre n Davis. “Among aversion to falling
humour,” laughs Wa high as it was three
gro win g up were Mad profile seems almost as
my infl uen ces his way from
Bro the rs and Don decades ago. He’s made » There were numerous home
Magazine, The Ma rx
ade fam e to app earing in the versions of Q*bert.
verent.” Eighties arc
Rickle s. I enj oye d bei ng irre ate d film Wreck-It Ralph,
we were recent Disney anim and Donkey
“I suppose you could say and is up there with Pac
-Ma n
ties , an era when people icon. And, there
children of the Six and film- Kong as a vint age gam ing
like Lenny Bruce, Jim Mo rrison between being chased
boundaries [of] were other similarities
maker s we re pus hing the neo n ghosts, avoiding a
around a maze by
rep tile and hopping
bad-tempered purple
colo ure d blo cks .
across
ly an influence, as
“Pac-Man was definite
re of the game,” admits
far as the structu
colours of the pyramid
Warren. “Changing the
enemies in Q*bert are
is like eating dots. The
sts , esp ecia lly Coily who chases
like the gho
g ont o discs and returning
after you. Jumpin
the tunnel in Pac-Man
to the top is like using
ape an ene my and get to the other
to esc
the game with just a
side. And you could play
joystick and no but ton s.”
nded was a
Being able to play one-ha
nite plu s poi nt in term s of keeping hold
defi
r, confesses that he

SAM
of your pint. Jeff, howeve
of a Pac -Man fan. A bigger
was never much
s MC Escher, the Dutch
inspiration for him wa THE
ing enious optical illusions.
SLI TWIN
artist fam ed for his
sed to make us
“What genius he posses C
look at the wo rld thro ugh another prism,” UN K, THBROTH
r pro gra mmer, Kan DOE IS M ER
Jeff reflects. Anothe S YO ONS OF
um oto , had not iced Jeff experimenting UR TER
Yab
with a pseudo-3D cube
pattern on an WO
RK

20 | RETRO GAMER
THE STORY OF Q*BERT

Q*bert
Characters
The heroes and villains
of Warren’s arcade hit

WR Q*B SLI
ONG ERT HE
CK
WA HE’ C
S OR CUBHANG

Y OBNPROUDANGE E E
AD
A ORI S BACS Q*BE
WHNGERO OXIO , AN ,
USL D
GIN K TO RT’
AL TH S
O LI US Y LO COL EIR
K
UP OES TOGREML UD OUR
N Q SNE IN
*BE AK
RT
» A play field and character
movement proposal.

COI UGG
LY
BOTONCE H
HE’TOM OFE HITS
THIS
SIM LITTLE
LL F TH TH ILA PI
OLL E SC E WR R TRA G HAS
OW REE ONG ITS T
Q*B N WAY O
ERT

RETRO GAMER | 21
ATA COM COL
■ G RI 2 MO ■ P ECO
ive 6
betw n the c 00
■C
D
our Q*ber ORE
64 V
Bro ably t ISIO
rob
64 est N
e a v tu t lo ther he b
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s co nve Par
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this are an t ’s arca ulf lovi nd th d her rt, w Cole yability rsion a er
con d th de ng er o, ith cov is co s far
won versi e hum visi ly anim est of Coily t resp ision n
der. on is ble on. ated the c he on Q* cerne
cut- Des a 26 the Un i a the sive a bert is d,
dow pite thing o 00, slug fortuna n sprite st arca nd f f
n, it bein f gish tely -o- de g eels ast,
’s a g side , it’s am mu
n ef some . a bi e. ch l
fect w t on ike
ive hat
effo
rt.

ATA GAM
400 RI EB
/
■ O 800
■T
O
3 o was th Y
his
nt /5
Q*b he 8-b 200
n th e p
feel e SNE recurs
i
w t Ata of th S, an or to
ert
Cole as v ri pla Boy is ve d we Q
co ery tfo Co rsio pr *bert
slig vision simila rms
htly por dea lor rem n to th efer the
r t lw a eG
and jerkie t, albe o the scro ith the ke. Bot ame
wor r ch it w lling devi h ve
km a it the ce’s t rsion
anli racter h play in s
ke g a
rap nimati ing y scre
hics on field en b
. . y

NES
Conversion PLA
■ W YST

@!#?&! A
■ The
gra e not b TIO
e’r
of d NES w
oin as p hi N
ig
arca g justi more but, cs in H fans of

Capers
de g ce to than luck asbr th
by K ame the o capa to th ily, y o’s re e polyg
on .T rig ble e tra ou ca mak on
Gam ami su his por inal Unf d n e
es, bsid t, re ort itiona switc
the is ia lea blig unatel l arcad h back
Eigh the mo ry Ultr sed We try out some of the hted y, e
ties st a a by p this co game.
hom uthe home versions of the oor n
e co ntic con version
nve o arcade original trol is
rsio f s.
ns.

» [Arcade] By the four


th level
Q*bert really starts to
seperate
the men from the boy
s. It’s an
insanely tough game.

Apple computer and decided to adapt a “Ron Waxman, VP of Engineering, had


mock-up on Gottlieb’s coin-op hardware. This a habit of sitting behind programmers after
planted the idea for the bare bones of a game hours and watching them work. He was
in Warren’s mind. doing that with me one night while I was
“Seeing the full screen Escher pattern hopping the little orange character around
that Kan was working on triggered an image the screen with balls bouncing and he said,
of a pyramid, simply because that would ‘What if the tops of the cubes change
provide a falling object two choices of which colours when he lands on them?’ That was
way to bounce, which required me to learn the moment when the light bulb went off…”
to program randomness,” Warren recalls. “I While Jeff and Ron had hit upon the key
needed some bouncing balls, which required mechanics of the game, it was Jeff that
me to learn to program gravity. Once I’d originally came up with Q*bert ’s surreal
done that, I set myself the goal of getting a protagonist. “Once I had the balls bouncing
player-character hopping around. Then, the down the pyramid randomly, I wanted to
obvious choice was for the player to have to add a player-character,” remembers Warren.
avoid the balls. But beyond that there was “So I came to Jeff and asked if he had any
no plan.” lying around that I could use. He showed

22 | RETRO GAMER
THE STORY OF Q*BERT
» Q*Bert ’s iconic cabinet art still
looks absolutely striking.

» [Arcade] Jump on a floating platform


and you’ll return to the start square.

me a few and I picked the orange one with


the long nose. Jeff’s intention was that this Coily is too far away, he’s smart enough not
character could shoot stuff out of his nose to follow you off.”
[inspiring the bizarre working title Snots And Adding to Q*bert ’s enemy roll-call are the
Boogers] but that didn’t really work for a equally annoying Slick and Sam, two impish-
character hopping on a pyramid of cubes. For eyed green blobs that undo all our hero’s » [Arcade] You nev
er
a time there was some pressure from my hard work by reverting the colours of any saw this language
on
Wreck-It Ralph!
peers who thought shooting out of his nose pyramid cubes they touch – unless players can
would be cool. And I didn’t disagree, I just intercept them while running a merry dance
couldn’t figure out how to make it work given around Coily. “I was looking for obstacles to
the physics of the pyramid and the way the challenge the player and having a character
game was evolving.” who undoes what you’re trying to accomplish “I was a little resistant because I couldn’t

S
seemed like an obvious thing,” says Warren. quite wrap my brain around how to program
o Jeff’s as yet unnamed character Rounding up the game’s line-up of baddies are it and do the collision detection,” confesses
morphed swiftly from an anti- the porcine Ugg and the gremlin-like Wrong Warren. “But I eventually came around and
social snot-firing aggressor into a Way, a couple of gravity-defying foes who figured it out. This was why I enjoyed my
cube-hopping pacifist. Thankfully, climb the pyramid in what appears to be a collaboration with Jeff so much. He had great
the pair decided to grant the defenceless completely different dimensional plane from ideas that sometimes challenged me.” With
critter another way of thwarting the relentless Q*bert, just to mess with player’s heads. Warren’s programming skills bringing Jeff’s
» [Arcade] We’ve finally
pursuit of his nemesis, Coily the Snake. “At “My original game proposal was to allow completed the first stage. ingeniously bizarre characters to life on the
the time we had Q*bert moving about the the unnamed hero the ability to shift planes distinctive pyramidal playfield, a new and
pyramid, and if he jumped off it, he died. and be invulnerable to enemies in the ‘wrong’ unique arcade game had taken shape. It just
We also had Coily chasing after him, but the planes,” Jeff divulges. “That’s why Ugg and needed a decent name.
problem was… how does the player defeat Wrong Way exist in Escher-esque planar “I added a word balloon, the’@!#?@!’,
this enemy? Jeff suggested the hovering gravity. All of that was quite complicated, which in turn inspired [sound engineer] David
disks, which would act as an elevator to bring especially from the player control standpoint Thiel to generate the wacky gibberish which
Q*bert to safety while Coily would follow – likely disorienting to the player – and used added so much to the character,” Jeff recalls.
him to his doom… a very elegant and organic up too many foreground sprites. Warren One proposal was that the game might be
solution, I thought. The trick in programming discarded most particulars of my original named after the speech bubble utterance,
» [Arcade] Change those cubes
it was to tune how close Coily had to be on proposal and implemented his own ideas, Q*bert, and do it quickly. until it was realised that no-one would be
your tail for this to work. If you jump when which gave the game a simpler elegance.” able to pronounce it.

al sk et ch es o f Q*ber t are in black


“ The origin ca m e tim e to colour him I
and white. W h en it
him in o ra n g e a nd th at was that ”
arrayed JEFF LEE » The original arcade version with
its expletive-inducing diagonal
joystick control system.

RETRO GAMER | 23
» [SNES] Playing snake-bait in Q*bert 3. » [SNES] One of Q*bert 3 ’s » Previous Q*bert world record holder Doris Self
increasingly psychedelic levels. at CGEUK 2005. She sadly died in 2006 aged 81.

© Simon Roberts
“I had compiled a list of the names for the in the game. He even toyed with having
characters,” Jeff continues. “One of the the floating discs move, a feature that later
suggestions for the main character was made it into an unofficial ‘remixed’ version.
Q*bert, a combination of CUBE (QUBE) and “It seemed that it was too hard for a lot of
HUBERT. Don’t ask me who Hubert is…” people, so I kept making it easier,” he says.

Q
“Once it was released, some people could
*bert has a decidedly fatal play it for hours and hours and I started to
difficulty curve, with gravity- worry that I made it too easy, which is what
influenced death only ever a few prompted me to re-tune it into what became
joystick presses away, something Faster, Harder, More Challenging Q*bert –
which didn’t go unnoticed by Warren, Jeff but Gottlieb decided not to release that.”
and the rest of the Gottlieb staff. “We had When the game was finally unleashed on
test cabinets that we’d put in arcades before the public, its arcade pulling power became
it went into production,” says Warren. “It evident. Q*bert was suddenly everywhere,
was fascinating to watch people play it. his carotty, goggle-eyed visage peering from
Some people would put in a quarter, hop off a range of merchandise, from Frisbees to
the pyramid three times in a row and walk board games, lunch-boxes, watches and, later
away in disgust. But the interesting thing was on, his own TV cartoon series. Gottlieb had
that they’d come back later and try again, its first and, it would transpire, only hit coin-
especially if someone else was op. “I was asked to do a new Q*bert game
playing it and not dying. That was and I passed,” says Warren of the inevitable
when we knew we were on sequel, Q*bert’s Qubes. The game was
to something...” somewhat more complex than the original,
Understandably, Warren spent introducing a Rubik-like puzzle element.
a lot of time tweaking Q*bert ’s “Another programmer, Neil Burnstein, had
gameplay, adding features like this idea and went for it, with my blessing,”
the green enemy-freezing ball and Warren continues. “But I think where the
having to hop on each block original had a nice balance of reacting to the
more than once to environment and puzzle-solving, the puzzle-
change them to solving aspect of Q*bert’s Qubes may have
the desired been a little too difficult for most people.”
colour later Warren makes a sound point, as Q*bert’s
character
nal Q*bert
» Jeff’s origi can see Slick and
“Y ou
sketches. Q*berts
ge and two
Sam in oran snake, oriented to
under the ramid.”
ne of the py
another pla

» [iOS] The recent iOS remake features


Q*bert in various new guises, including
jungle-bert and spaceman-bert
THE STORY OF Q*BERT

Qubes is a very difficult game to grasp. It


pushes too hard to make something that’s
more puzzley than the original game and, as
a result, loses the simplistic appeal that made
Q*bert so enjoyable to play. It’s a shame,
as conceptually it’s a very sound idea and a
seemingly natural evolution for the original
game to take, blending the aforementioned
Rubik-like puzzle elements with Tic-Tac-Toe.
But, ultimately, it just ends up being a little
too clever for its own good. It can be tricky » [Arcade] Q*bert’s Qub
es
was an interesting idea
enough just clearing a screen in the original it was a little too clever
, but
for its
game, but when you’re contending with own good. A real curi
osity.
rotating cubes of different colours, avoiding
monsters and trying to create a winning line,
it becomes even more difficult.
This didn’t stop home conversions of both impressive batch of over 100 different and
games hitting many of the major platforms often spectacularly trippy stages, framed
of the time. Warren, while flattered, remains by oscillating, kaleidoscopic backgrounds. was once again called in to provide design
slightly sceptical of some. “I remember The game was developed by Realtime and animation. It featured some all-new
asking Jeff to give me a frame of Q*bert Associates, a California-based company enemies, far-out kaleidoscopic backgrounds
with knees slightly bent so that, when he formed by a group of ex-Mattel employees and a host of colourful new levels layouts,
lands on a cube, he looks like he’s absorbing fronted by Dave Warhol, the coder behind which again scrolled as Q*bert hopped
the impact a bit,” he says. “It was a very the Intellivision classic Thunder Castle. around them.
subtle effect, but it meant a lot to me. I was Q*bert 3 also happens to be the prettiest “The artists who supplied the background
disappointed that some of the home versions of all of our bouncy, profanity-spouting graphics were Connie Goldman, Diane
neglected to do this.” hero’s outings. Realtime Associates updated Piepol and a dashing, pioneering, visionary
The Super Nintendo was the platform of Q*bert, Coily and co with a new, more artist from Germany named Brummbaer,”
choice for the third official Q*bert game, solid ‘claymation’ look, for which Jeff Lee recalls Dave. “They were given free reign
the console’s powerful 2D hardware offering to come up with anything odd and cool. It

arning curve
the chance to create an was Brummbaer who figured that, by

th at ther e’d b e a le rapidly moving a static animation depicting

“ We knew d id n ’t kn o w if people
different animation states, the entire field

for player s bu t w e could be seen to animate. Other images

it out. Luckily,
were distorted with sine waves perpetuated

k e th e tim e to fig u re through the horizontal scroll registers. A lot

would ta of people thought they were distracting and

most people did ”


would play with the backgrounds off.”
Q*bert 3 was a far bigger game than
WARREN DAVIS its successors as well, but that need for
expansion created additional issues for the

Converting Q*bert
team to solve. “We also felt, as a sequel,
it should have some more depth. Because
the original characters were so haphazardly
creative, it was difficult to come up with
Developers big up some of Q*bert’s best conversions things that felt that they belonged in that
■ Cosmetic differences aside, some of the home ports of Q*bert are actually random-like universe,” continues Dave. “This
very good, particularly the Atari 2600, which is quite an achievement given was not without its dangers. We added a
its primitive hardware. “Not having access to the source code, my job was character that looked like a big Hershey’s Kiss
to play through the arcade game and document how each of the levels and thought that was pretty cool. As it turned
worked,” recalls designer Tom Sloper, discussing its creation. “We found the out, this is the Japanese cartoon equivalent
dip-switches on the motherboard, turned on infinite lives and I was able to of, putting it kindly, a pile of doggy doo.
document a lot of levels. The programmer’s name was Dave Hampton. To
make the cube tops he used tricks like triplicate sprites and background as
opposed to foreground. Dave later programmed the Furby, and rumour has
it that he’s doing well as a result…”

■ The Game Boy conversion by Realtime Associates is another excellent


port, also adding new level layouts that make it a pseudo-sequel of sorts.
“Nobody wanted to do Q*bert on the Game Boy originally, as the only
approach they could think of was with a single screen,” recalls Realtime’s
president, Dave Warhol. “Realtime came up with the approach of scrolling
the screen around Q*bert and it was picked up by Jaleco, at the time one
of the larger publishers. We interspersed storytelling sequences every
few levels, like Ms Pac-Man, to motivate players to play higher levels
to see the story unfold. If I remember correctly, it had to do with Q*bert
getting hit on the head with a coconut and then going through trouble to
rectify the situation.” » [Game Boy Color] Hasbro’s Game Boy Color remake
features a new optional character, Q*dina.

RETRO GAMER | 25
Q*B

Q*Bert
CHAERT
■ F RA
PLU
uzz C TE SH
nufa lush d RS
ma y p
C ct
ure olls

Collector’s
am db
e
ado in two y Ken
rab n
le s equally er.
izes
.

Corner
■ German arcade fan Adrian Scheel has amassed a
Q*B
■ F ERT
F
of th bee in RIS
ris

com me’s hape EE


e ga the s B
ARC
■ C AD
E
sold wing g GUM
arc
he
in a um f
box rom S
mightily impressive collection of Q*bert memorabilia pl h o ade s T
over the years and has been generous enough to on t ete wit overin f one ma haped opps,
chin
op gd
share some of his most treasured items with the
hQ
Par . Manu *bert iscs, e. like the
ker fact fi
readers of Retro Gamer. “Almost all the items are Bro ure gure
s. d by
from the USA,” says Adrian. “I especially like the
plush characters (I always carry one with me when
on holidays [see Q*bert’s Travels boxout]), the frisbee,
the fuzzy fun game, the arcade flipper, the Kenner
figurines, the wind up figure and the Renzi savings
FUZ Q*B
box (I built myself a nice lamp out of it with Q*bert on
■ M ZY
FUN FIG ERT
top of a flying disc).” ys UR
com INE
See the entire collection at www.console-picture- day ister’s ■A
plet S
s a k id
page.de/catalog/ of th go and s visite Q*b
e e
e Q* had daf rt s
cho bert fr ew and chara et of si
se t item ee choi Coil cter x
and he F s. ce y, m s, w mini
grew uzzy F They ade ith S
by K lick
Q*b un ga enn
bea me
ert er.
rds.

RUB COL Q*B


■ C BE
R PLAORFO PUNERT
ma merci STA ■ F Y S RM ■ B CH
om
de f M E S
set zy Fel T
uz a BAL
usin unny Industr P
al ll
the oon-lik LS
g w o i es wi t-st me e
crea the ‘Q’ rd gam bac th ‘pyra yle pla (no d punc Q*bert
, re
tion for n es kgr
on c ound id’
m y ally hing b -
‘Tak s. St ew w boa ). a gs
e th amp ord har
acte rd a
eIQ r
*be eads rs. nd s
tick
» [SNES] The redesigned characters
rt te -
st’.
in Q*bert 3 were again created and
animated by Jeff Lee.

WIN Q*B Q*B


Q*B DUP MO ERT CATERT
■ A ERT NE ■ A CH
MA
ran Y B
M GI
mitt of Q* ITTS C
cu ■O pair
mo ge pla OX
Ken te win ens ber
ner d-u ney t-t
pop that w p toy stic ball w h
ular by by R bank Q*be s, m ith two emed
bac as real enz
i.
ma r
de t Res ade b sticky
k in ly earc y Sy V
the h Co nerg elcro
day rp. H istic
. our
s of
fun.

Q*B Q*B JIGS


GAMERT SHRERT PUZ AW
EW ■ N INK ■ 6 ZLE
and ufactu ATC
■M
an oh Y
with ome w DIN
0-p
iece S
fea red H Littl the S omp S
out as c K P ark
e puz
vers turing by Ne e h le ‘Q*l r Broth zles m
ion l r t eop er ad
of th a minia sonic Q
shri *bert inky Di e up ‘ atra’ a s. Feat e by
e ar ture nk i cha n Q*p u
cad n th ract k. n
id’. d the ring
e ga e ov e
me. en. rs that love
d-

26 | RETRO GAMER
THE STORY OF Q*BERT

Q*Bert Travels
As told by Adrian Scheel
■ “It must have been around 2006 when I first carried a Q*bert with me, just for fun,
and I had the idea to take photos of him in front of famous buildings and country-
typical architecture or nature. Maybe I was inspired by the film Amelie where a
woman carried a garden dwarf with her and made funny pictures in front of the Eiffel
Tower, Westminster Abbey and so on. Now I cannot go anywhere outside the country
without taking him with me…
“One day, I met Oliver Soehlke (creator of pong.museum.com) while doing an
interview with some students in the Computerspielemuseum in Berlin. I had Q*bert
with me that day and Oliver fell in love with the travel idea. So, he created the website,
and he got a Q*bert and also started traveling with him. Then, some friends and well-
known collectors like Jens Brinkmann and Jens Klöpfel started to hang around and
travel with their own. The thing is starting to get bigger and bigger and there are funny
upcoming pictures including Q*bert in the legendary Dortmunder Westfalenstadion
soccer stadium…” For more globe-trotting Q*berts see:
www.q-bert.pongmuseum.com

» A homeless Q*bert plus Coily and


chums in Disney’s Wreck-It Ralph.

I can only imagine what the Japanese came together in this game in terms of the
players thought of that…” talents of the team,” Jeff muses. “The stars
Although this was the last outing in the never did align again in the same way for our
franchise to be produced by Realtime, Dave other games, unfortunately. But a little piece
reveals that there could have been another all- of work I did many years ago found a happy
new Q*bert title in the works after the SNES home in the memories of many people.”
game. “We pitched a side-scrolling Q*bert Seeing Q*bert in last year’s Disney feature
adventure to a few publishers, where he still Wreck-It Ralph was something that Jeff
had the discreet hops,” he tells us, “but were and Warren could proudly show off. “Oh,
Q*B
TABERT never able to get it off the ground. It featured yeah, I’ve always been granted an iota of

■ T LET
flat areas mixed in with elevated areas, but it awesomeness among my kids, cousins,
O
a co snazzy P G
his never made it to prototype.” nieces and nephews and some of their
lour ta AM Q*bert’s last major gaming outing came friends, no matter how else I annoy them,”
ore D scr op fea E
am LC blet with the 1999 3D remake by Hasbro, quips Jeff.
of th than p een an tured released for the Playstation, Dreamcast “I don’t think it raised my standing with
e ar a d
cad ssable played and PC, plus a 2D remake for the Game any family members,” admits Warren. “They
e co
in-o version Boy Color. Unfortunately, the home know me as me, rather than the guy who
p.
console versions drew flak for their made Q*bert. But I’m glad that it
control systems and the reintroduced Q*bert to a new
overcomplicated level generation. I’ve always believed
designs of ‘adventure’ there was more to the character
LUN mode. Thankfully, than was ever explored. I still do.”

■ P CH
the package included
erf K
sch ect for IT
a pixel-perfect Thanks to Warren Davis, Jeff
oo Q translation of the Lee, Dave Warhol, Adrian
with l dinne *bert-r original coin-op classic Scheel, Thorsten Ludwig, Kim
th rs ela
m eme and c ted
atch d o that put its creators firmly Wild, Robert Hazelby and Simon
ing lunch- mplete in the arcade hall of fame. Roberts. Visit Jeff’s site for art
The
rmo box an “Everything just and Q*bert related-goodness:
s fla d
sk. www.qbertlee.com

RETRO GAMER | 27
A MOMENT WITH...

Teddy Lee
This month we’ve decided to talk to Teddy Lee, the designer
behind the brilliant new retro roguelike Rogue Legacy
Who is Teddy Lee? Why choose 2D visuals?
Teddy Lee has been working in the industry We like 2D. 2D is cool. It’s also way cheaper.
for the past five years and is part of Cellar Door We also have no idea how to do 3D so we just
Games. He’s worked on a variety of formats, stick with what we know.
from mobile to internet web games, and has
recently finished work on the excellent Rogue Have you been surprised by its success?
Legacy – a roguelike that combines Spelunky Totes McGoats. The reception for our
with Demon’s Souls and Super Metroid. game has been amazing, and we’re really
appreciative of our fans for all the help
Where did the inspiration for Rogue Legacy we’ve gotten by them spreading the word
come from? and letting their friends know. We literally
Our main source of inspiration was Demon’s had no marketing budget. Our trailers were
Souls , with Castlevania being a close second. made by our brother and, like, that was it.
Everything else was designed as a way of The YouTube community also helped us
resolving issues we’ve had with the roguelike out immensely. When the game was first
and RPG genre. We’re very mechanically announced not much press was given. A few
driven, so we like to think up solutions to sites picked it up, like Rock Paper Shotgun,
gameplay problems and then wrap a thematic Destructoid and Kotaku, but for the most
around them. part it was the YouTube Let’s Players, » [SNES] Teddy is
showing off videos of the game to their first. So we have a lot of work ahead of us
a massive fan of
subscribers, that really helped to get Rogue Super Mario RPG, before we can think about future content for
What was the hardest thing to create from
praising the way the game.
a technical point of view? Legacy out there. it blends different
It’s probably the collision system that gave genres together.
us the most headaches. There were all these Will you be expanding the game by adding What’s your favourite game and why?
fringe cases where enemies would fall through new areas? My two favourite games are probably Super
the ground, or other things, which we’d have We don’t know yet. When we made this Mario RPG (SNES) and Braid. Super Mario
to constantly go back to and try to fix. And, game we crammed in as much as we possibly RPG because it brought a whole slew of new
oftentimes, a fix for one collision bug would could. Literally, we were adding in features mechanics to a very established genre and
result in another appearing or it would undo or fixes up until about three hours before tied it into a platforming system which, I
the work on something that was resolved launch. We’ve been working on trying to iron think, even the quasi-sequels (Paper Mario,
prior. So we would frequently have to ‘fix’ the out as many bugs for people as possible and Mario & Luigi etc) have been unable to
same collision bug multiple times. we’ve been busy trying to get the ports done capture. It’s also one of the most charming
games I’ve ever played. Also, Braid because
» [PC] Teddy’s brother Kenny did the majority it is extremely innovative and the fact that it
of development work, with help from Glauber does so many things right and so very, very
Jotaki (artist) and Gordon McGladdery and
Judson Cowan (contract musicians). little wrong.

Why do you think the PC has so many


diverse games?
Probably because of the low barrier to entry.
More accessible platforms will drive more
creative ideas, especially because everyone’s
generally on a low budget. And, when you
don’t have the money to polish your product,
you need to rely on the ideas to stand out
from the crowd. I think that’s probably why
the Flash community makes such creative
games. Low barrier of entry, low cost, low

view
development times and massive competition.

ull r
F pagee

98
on
Which industry developer impresses you
most and why?
Edmund McMillen for his creativity and
development speed, Jonathan Blow for his
design and standards of quality and Shigeru
Miyamoto because he creates genres.

28 | RETRO GAMER
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It heralded the evolution of
M
asahiro Ueno – or Mitch to his » [SNES] The moody opening
friends – has been involved still gives us the shivers.

the franchise into 16-bit and with a lot of amazing games.


Not that you’d always know

was a technical showcase for this, as he was often credited as Jun


Furano. “I used ‘Jun Furano’ as Konami did

the SNES. John Szczepaniak not allow us to use real names in game
credits back then,” reveals Ueno. “I made

speaks with main programmer up the name after a Japanese TV drama


called Kita No Kunikara. It took place in

and total director, Jun Furano Furano, Hokkaido, and Jun was one of the
main characters.” This fish-out-of-water

– known by his real name, series was very popular in Japan, and
involved a father taking his two children to

Masahiro Ueno live in the countryside.


It was common policy in the old days
not to credit developers, or to do so
“People move more often these days,
but many of my old friends are still
with Konami.”
under a nickname. Western fans have Unfortunately, this discrepancy with
speculated if it was to prevent names means that websites aren’t always
headhunting – the impression complete. “MobyGames is missing some
being that, in Japan, with of the games I worked on,” admits Ueno.
the ‘job for life’ culture “Such as Track & Field II on the NES,
at the time, people Lethal Enforcers for the Mega Drive and
IN THE seldom changed
jobs. “I think it
many more recent games.” As a fresh
university graduate when joining Konami,
KNOW was to prevent Ueno’s first game was an educational
 PUBLISHER: KONAMI headhunting,” title for the Famicom Disk System that
 DEVELOPER: KONAMI says Ueno. was ultimately cancelled. His second
 RELEASED: 1991 game, which was his first to ship, was
 PLATFORM: SNES
porting Metal Gear from the MSX2 to the
Famicom in just three months. Changes
 GENRE: PLATFORMER

30 | RETRO GAMER
THE MAKING OF: SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

were made at the request of management dev kits. We only had a hard copy of
to differentiate the two versions – this specification documents.”
also due to the limitations of the available “The Super Famicom was definitely
Mapper chips. It was still an impressive more powerful than the Famicom,
achievement, and the game sold copious especially in graphics and sound,” states
amounts in America. Ueno, “but the CPU is a bit more difficult
Ueno continued to work with the to work with as it’s more like a slightly
Famicom on Japan exclusive games like faster 8-bit CPU with integrated bank
Ganbare Pennant Race! and MADARA. registers,” he continues, detailing the
In later years, he supervised Konami » [SNES] Curiously, statues of vampire technical side of SNES development.
classics such as Contra III and Axelay, hunter Sypha Belnades seem to stand “Unlike modern consoles, we had access
and played an integral role in the outside Dracula’s castle. to all the hardware registers and we had
Lethal Enforcers series (including as an to figure out how to use those effectively,
actor in the sequel). But, his first 16-
bit role was Super Castlevania IV – aka “We started with a small which I really enjoyed. But, it took us
some time and experiments to find the
Akumajo Dracula in Japan – as the
main programmer, enemy and boss R&D team, without actual dev right ways to use various tricks during
actual gameplay.”
programmer, as well as overall director.
Super Castlevania IV was released in kits. We only had a hard copy CVIV was the ninth release for the
series – previously, there were three
October 1991 for the Super Famicom, but
working out when development started
of specification documents” mainline Famicom games, unique
standalone titles for the MSX2 and
requires some detective work. For the MASAHIRO UENO arcades, two Game Boy releases, plus
sake of clarity, hereafter all mainline a Famicom spin-off featuring Dracula’s
Castlevania games will be referred to “CVIII was released in late 1989, so the son. Castlevania was obviously important
as CV, followed by their number. “I timeline [has to] match.” Ueno adds, “I for Konami, as Ueno concurs. “The
don’t recall exactly when we started the think we started CVIV almost as soon as expectations were really high, as it was
project,” ponders Ueno, thinking back. we got the information from Nintendo, so already a successful franchise and now
Describing his thought process, the feeling we probably started the development of on the new ‘super’ hardware. Personally,
is that it could have been in early 1990, CVIV in 1989. I am not too sure though. It I liked the original CV the most back then.
but then he has a revelation: “CVIII on the was more than 20 years ago!” Of course, I played them all before we
Famicom was developed almost in parallel finalized the direction of CVIV.”
with CVIV, by the same people behind CV Ueno proudly declares, “I wanted to
and CVII. We all worked closely with the make CVIV a pure action game without

I
sound team – Konami had the best sound t’s important to understand the any RPG elements, similar to the original
team and they really did a great job.” This underlying context of this era. CV.” This also brings up overlap with
is fascinating for several reasons. Firstly, The technological jump from the
the main team behind CV has never been Famicom to the Super Famicom » [SNES] Mode 7 sections like this started out as
disclosed as the original release featured (released November 1990) was massive, experiments, and then Ueno and his team thought
of how to add fun gameplay.
fictional names. It also means that the with more noticeable results than the
original NES trilogy was developed by the jumps we see today. How did it feel being
same core team, while Ueno’s team was on the cutting edge? “Naturally, we were
brought in to get to grips with the new so excited to work on the new console,
Nintendo hardware. as we felt we’d done everything we could
CVIII was released in Japan on 22 do on the Famicom without additional
December 1989, meaning that Ueno chips in the cartridge.” Ueno then reveals
would have had to have started before another clue that his team must have
this, possibly using only proposed design begun long before the Super Famicom
specs for the as yet unreleased Super had actually been released. “We started
Famicom. “You are right,” he concurs. with a small R&D team, without actual

» [SNES] One mudman becomes two » [SNES] Tread carefully – jumping on these
mudmen, and then four, and then they all die! platforms activates a trap that drops into a death pit.

» [SNES] Due to strict NOA


rules, these topless statues
had to be censored before
the English release.

RETRO GAMER | 31
Rogue’s Gallery
Your guide to Super Castlevania IV’s superb bosses

MEDUSA KORANOT
One of the series’ most iconic enemies – Known as Big Stone in the Japanese
appearing in just about every game, and manual, the golem boss is Ueno’s » [SNES] It wouldn’t be Castlevania without
some well cured meat hiding in the walls.
based on the Greek legend of Perseus. In a personal favourite. It first appeared in
beta video it seems that this boss appeared the Haunted Castle arcade game, and
slightly different to the final version. went on to feature regularly its direct predecessor. He continues,
in the series. “CVIII is a great game though. If CVIII
had [already been released] before we
started CVIV, I would have followed that
direction.” The two games definitely share
some DNA though, notably the twin-
headed water dragon boss and a cameo
appearance by CVIII ’s Sypha Belnades
PUWEYXIL ORPHIC VIPERS (in statue form), just before entering
First seen in Super Castlevania IV. Known in Japan as soutouryuu, Dracula’s castle.
Known in Japan as Death Breath meaning double-headed dragon, “Because the team was small,”
Head, the English name must be read similar bosses also appeared explains Ueno, “everybody was involved
backwards. It features a sprite-jointed in the earlier in the design. Some ideas came from
tongue, impressive transparencies Castlevania III and creative artists and others were from
and real-time damage to Boku Dracula-Kun. It programmers’ experiments. The whip
the background. made a return in Dracula X feature was really a big part of the
on PC Engine and SNES. game and it was experimented with
and implemented by Yaipon. We drew
maps on paper but I think we changed
a lot as we iterated the game.” Yaipon,
also known as Yaiman, was of course
Mitsuru Yaida, who programmed the
player’s character. He left Konami along
with others to form Treasure, later
programming Gunstar Heroes.
THE MONSTER ZAPF BAT Ueno, meanwhile, was in charge of
Although not named as such, this iconic One of the game’s coolest boss programming, so we asked about
boss is unmistakably based on the bosses. Although giant bats their design and his overall favourite. “I
creature made by Dr Frankenstein, as have featured in just about came up with rough boss ideas first and
featured in Mary Shelley’s eponymous every Castlevania game, only in then [additional] programmers came
novel. A series regular. Castlevania IV is one made out of up with more detailed patterns as they
possessed treasure! implemented. We wanted to make earlier
bosses relatively easy so that the players
AKMODAN II SLOGRA could figure out weak points and effective
Another series veteran appearing A unique boss created specifically weapons without retrying too many
in most CV games, except this time for the final section of Castlevania times. For some bosses and traps we
he’s been given a name in the US IV, and one of the toughest.
manual, reinforcing his Ancient Slogra resembles a zombified
Egyptian heritage. pterodactyl. It was later re-used
for Symphony Of The Night and
subsequent games.

GAIBON DRACULA
Another unique end boss created The main attraction. Having
specifically for this release that said that, the Japanese
you fight directly before Dracula. series name of Akumajo
As with Slogra, Gaibon was re- Dracula actually places more
used for Symphony Of The Night emphasis on the Count’s
and subsequent games. ‘demonic castle’, than the
vampire himself.
» [SNES] Everything seems fine, until the
red hands in the wall grab you and the
enemy walks forwards.

32 | RETRO GAMER
THE MAKING OF: SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

Ueno is a bit unfair on himself though.


Konami released a promotional video
from an early build and, when you
compare this early footage to the final
version, it’s astounding how much polish
the team managed to add. “I was not
aware of this promotion video, but it
seems the footage was captured from an DEVELOPER
early build,” admits Ueno, when given HIGHLIGHTS » [SNES] Despite swinging being one of the best things about
CVIV, it was strangely absent in future 2D instalments.
the YouTube link. We ask if anything was METAL GEAR
removed from this build due to memory SYSTEM: FAMICOM had a little interaction with the PC Engine
restrictions, citing a snake-like boss which YEAR: 1987 team as they were in a different group,”
is different to the final Medusa. “I don’t MADARA II admits Ueno. “Both games are great, and
decided to use Mode 7 first, then came up recall any severe memory restrictions PICTURED [the] PC Engine version brought the game
with ideas. I like the golem boss, simply back then, so I think these changes were SYSTEM: SUPER to the next level.”
FAMICOM
because it uses Mode 7.” made to improve gameplay.” YEAR: 1993 In addition to its own lineage, CVIV
CVIV is a phenomenal showcase of influenced other developers, such as
LOST IN BLUE
programming skill and design talent. SYSTEM: DS C-Lab with Rusty for PC-98 and DOS
Reflecting on this, we asked what Ueno YEAR: 2005 computers. In this case it was almost

T
here’s debate regarding whether a direct copy, right down to the whip
CVIV is a remake of the original,
which is controversial since it “Everybody was involved swinging. “No, I am not aware of this
game,” declares Ueno. What’s interesting
contains so many revolutionary
elements – a better example of a in the design. Some ideas about Rusty is that it was released in
July 1993, predating Dracula X on PCE by
remake would be Akumajo Dracula
on the X68000 computer. But what came from creative artists over three months. Rusty also featured
a screen-filling ‘item crush’ attack, which
does CVIV ’s director think? “I consider
CVIV as a remake of the original CV to and others were from first appeared in an official Castlevania
game with Dracula X. According to a
some extent.” But what about all the
new features, like being able to leap on programmers’ experiments” detailed analysis on VGMuseum there
are about 16 major similarities with the
and off of stairs freely? “The original MASAHIRO UENO later released Dracula X, implying that the
CV is a great game, but I felt it was influence went both ways.
a bit too difficult and many players was most proud of. “In addition to In the years following CVIV, Ueno
got frustrated,” continues Ueno. “The the new gameplay, I wanted to make eventually moved to Konami’s US branch,
changes in the ‘stair behaviour’ was to the environment more interactive and heading up games like Project Overkill
give more control to the players and lively. The music and sound effects for PSone. Looking over the list provided,
reduce the frustration. The new whip really contributed to make the game’s Ueno has worked on more than 60 games
system was to introduce some new atmosphere spooky and real. So, I am over the last 25 years, including as a
gameplay that had not been possible on proud of the atmosphere we created.” producer on Lost In Blue, the Frogger
the Famicom. We had freedom to make And, would he change anything if he series, TMNT and various Sims games
many changes, but we wanted to keep had a time machine? “I would probably while at EA. He’s an unsung hero in an
the game aligned with the original CV.” add more branches to give the players industry that favours anonymity.
It wasn’t always easy though, as Ueno a sense of exploration as found in other » Masahiro ‘Mitch’ Before parting company, we asked if he
Ueno – programming
tells us, “Like many other games, we had Castlevania games.” legend and all-round
knew why Contra III was ported to GBA
a long crunch time. Making a game on While the fantastic Indiana Jones -style cool guy. but not CVIV, and if he’d followed the
new hardware requires so much effort, so whip swinging wasn’t resurrected for later release of CVIV on the Virtual Console.
the crunch time lasted almost six months. instalments, CVIV still redefined a template “I was not a part of porting discussions
But, we were so excited to work on the that influenced the series for years to so I don’t know,” says Ueno regrettably.
game. When the game was completed, as come, notably through several unique “I do have CVIV on my Wii though!”
is always the case, I had mixed feelings. I enemies which featured in Symphony Of And with that, join him in the Director’s
was very satisfied with the fact we finally The Night. What about the other 16-bit Commentary section as he talks us
completed the game, but I also wanted console releases on PC Engine and Mega through the various stages…
more time to polish it.” Drive? “I remember I gave some feedback
to the Mega Drive team, as the lead and I Special thanks to Castlevania expert Kurt
worked on the same projects before. I only Kalata for his help with this feature.

» [SNES] Note how different the harpy sprite is in this » [PC-98] Rusty may have copied CVIV when released
version, resembling Lemmy from Motorhead a bit. in 1993, but did Rusty influence Dracula X? Google the
names and VGMuseum for an analysis!

RETRO GAMER | 33
Super Castlevania IV
The Director’s Commentary
Masahiro Ueno gives us the lowdown on Super Castlevania IV’s creepy castle

STAGE 5
STAGE 4
This is a short stage and there’s no boss at the end.
This series of stages nicely Also, the timer has been reduced, because we wanted to
shows how powerful increase the feeling of rushing forward as players finally
the new hardware was: entered Dracula’s castle. Now it really begins!
boss transparencies and
jointed sprites, plus Mode
STAGE 3 7 for the rotating room,
spinning bridge, and final
Although there are no golem boss. I think it
branching paths in Super shows Super Castlevania
Castlevania, we tried to at its best.
make every stage different.
There are four sections in
this stage: you start outside,
enter the caverns, climb a
waterfall and finally, enter
the moat area.

STAGE 2
Konami released a promotional video
from early development. If you compare
it to the final release, you can see how we
polished the river section by adding more
background details and improving the
transparency effects. We also redid the
Medusa boss.

STAGE 1

1
Some names were changed
during translation into
English. In the Japanese
original, the flying horse
heads were called ‘Uma no
Namakubi’, loosely meaning
‘freshly severed horse head’.
In the English release it was
changed to Mr Hed.

34 | RETRO GAMER
THE MAKING OF: SUPER CASTLEVANIA IV

STAGE 6 STAGE 7
You only see one swinging
chandelier at a time because
10 To keep players interested we continued to add new things
to later stages. Here you will encounter the moving book
Mode 7 only rotates a single platforms, and also two unique regular enemies: a giant
large background layer. If you’re centipede and a carpet monster that pushes you into spikes.
stuck on the boss check the wall
before the steps, we hid a 1UP.
Also, did you find the crying man 9 STAGE 8
and his dog?
8 I’ve been told players ask
about the blood changing

7 4 from red to green. I worked

6
on both Japanese and English
versions, so yes, I am aware
of the changes. It’s not serious
– we were simply asked to
change the colour palette.

STAGE 9
Always keep an eye out for
any whip hooks high up.
There’s one area where you
need to swing across to reach
some power-ups. If you fall,
you’ll notice we placead the
hooks slightly too high to
reach from the ground.

STAGE 10A
It would not be a proper
Castlevania game without
a clock tower and spinning
STAGE 10B gears. The Super Famicom
allowed smoother
I don’t think many players discovered this at animation for the cogs
the time, but there’s a secret area just before turning. Using your whip to
the final staircase to Dracula. Today with the hang from moving chains
internet, I think players have found all the also allowed for new styles
secrets we added – or have you? of gameplay.

RETRO GAMER | 35
CLASSIC MOMENTS

Castle Of Illusion
Starring Mickey Mouse
» Platform: Mega Drive » DeveloPer: Sega aM7 » releaseD: 1990

C
astle Of Illusion excels in
so many respects, but its
classic moments can mostly
be attributed to its carefully
considered level design. The quality of
Illusion ’s varied stages is consistently high,
making it hard to pick just one standout
level, let alone one standout moment.
However, the superlative platforming
provided by the second section of the
Enchanted Forest makes the short time
you spend there particularly memorable.
The whimsical mode of travel asked of the
player is to leap from one floating leaf to
another while avoiding the section’s many
spiders. Well-worked layouts, beautiful
backdrops, accomplished pixel art and a
dreamy score complement these simple,
yet beautifully realised moments of
gaming. The experience may be brief but,
sometimes, less is certainly more.

BIO
With its luscious coloured
backgrounds, playful animation and
cheerful, carefree soundtrack, Castle
Of Illusion casts players in the lead
role of a Mickey Mouse cartoon.
This Disney-based platformer also
boasts perfectly gauged gameplay
and lovingly crafted levels, with your
task being to rescue Minnie Mouse
from a wicked witch by finding
gems hidden in her mystical worlds.
Created by Sega AM7, and part of a
second wave of Mega Drive releases,
the title helped to establish the
system’s reputation as the console
of choice in Western markets, while
also paving the way for the arrival of
Sonic The Hedgehog. A remake is
due later this year courtesy of Sega
of Australia and will be released on
Steam, PSN and Xbox Live Arcade.

36 | RETRO GAMER
MORE CLASSIC
CAStLE Of ILLuSIOn
MOMEntS
An apple a day
Castle Of Illusion has a
reputation for being a
little on the easy side, but
the game’s first moment
of jeopardy is one that
makes a real impression.
The Enchanted Forest
starts with a gentle introduction but, just as complacency sets in, the
player is hit with a sucker punch as a giant apple appears and chases
them down a hill, Indiana Jones style! It makes for quite an impressive
set piece and is repeated later on in the game.

Dancing on the ceiling


The third section of
Toyland makes inventive
use of cartoon physics
by introducing gravity-
inverting trip switches.
Tripping these devices
handily causes all on-
screen opponents to fall to the ground. Or should that be ceiling? Either
way, they lose their footing and plummet to their doom while you keep your
feet firmly planted on terra firma, albeit upside down. It’s confusing but cool,
and is another excellent example of Illusion ’s impressive level design.

More tea, Mickey?


In a surreal turn of events,
bonus levels are to be
found by jumping into one
of two giant cups of tea
where the aim is to swim
past anthropomorphised
sugar cubes in an attempt
to collect gems and apples for additional bonus points. Swimming around
the teacups provides a pleasant diversion and a dream-like change of
pace from the more conventional platform fare offered elsewhere in the
game. There’s a swish graphical effect on display as well.

Every witch way but loose


Castle Of Illusion provides
several Disney-esque boss
fights, including someone
that looks suspiciously like
Pete’s Dragon, yet none are
more visually impressive
than the final showdown
with Mizrabel. The encounter occurs in the witch’s magical castle, where a
fierce lightning storm provides a tense and foreboding atmosphere. Mizrabel
is protected by ghostly apparitions and uses teleportation to avoid your
attacks, but persevere, as defeating her is hugely satisfying.

RETRO GAMER | 37
BRAIN
STRAIN A BLUFFER’S GUIDE
TO PUZZLE GAMES

Puzzle TILEBASED PHYSICSBASED


types ■ Games including Repton or
Boulder Dash can be termed tile-
based due to their grid-like feel.
■ Games where an action leads to a
realistic end-result. For example, in
a game like Cut The Rope or World
There are different Conversions of traditional puzzlers Of Goo, the principles of physics are
puzzle videogame can also fall into this category, from put to good use.
genres, a few of Chess to Scrabble.
which are clearly
defined, while others TILEMATCHING ACTIONPUZZLE
overlap. For example, ■ Most typically, a tile-matching ■ When a puzzle game involves
Tetris could easily game is either a falling block puzzler getting the player’s heartbeat to race
fall into both like Tetris or Hexic, or a ‘match- in some way, perhaps via a sense
tile-matching and three’ game such as Candy Crush of danger or a time-limit, it could be
action-puzzle Saga. They became hugely popular termed an action-puzzle – a genre
from the late-Eighties onwards and that tends to include characters like
are still going strong today. Lode Runner.

38 | RETRO GAMER
When your fingers ache aer another blast example, was created in 1750
and the first crossword puzzle

with a shoot-’em-up, it’s time to let your brain was published in 1890 at a time
when newspapers were beginning

take the strain. David Crookes looks at the to see how attractive they were to
readers. In 1972, a text-based game was

rich tapestry of puzzle games that have been created called Hunt The Wumpus that,
while many would consider it an adventure

released over the years game, was indeed an early puzzler.


Gregory Yob created this maze game using

H
BASIC on mainframes at the University of
ere’s a puzzle: What is a puzzle involve blocks, some require catapulting Massachusetts and it came in the form
game? A dictionary may well birds into pigs, others require cutting ropes of a type-in. With 20 connected rooms
define it as a toy or a game that of matching fruit, but all need brainpower to and players hunting for a monster called
presents a problem which requires solve. So, whether or not we are looking at Wumpus, the idea was to work out which
skill or ingenuity to solve it, but that leaves hidden object games, physics games, tile- room it was in and then arrow it to death.
things wide open. Could we term Tomb matching, reveal-the-picture or action puzzles, Such maze games – and it’s worth
Raider a puzzle game because it contains or whether we are just going for full-on pointing out that they have a 4,000-year
puzzle elements? Even a first-person traditional, it matters little. Puzzles are puzzles history – have long proved popular. Gotcha, in
shooter like Call Of Duty will involve mental and that is the premise we’ll be using here. » [DOS] Alexey Pajitnov’s 1973, was the first maze arcade game. Atari
legwork. It’s mind-bending stuff. Puzzle games have been popular for Tetris remains one of the manufactured the coin-op, and early cabinets
most popular puzzle games
Thankfully, there’s a game called Tetris. centuries. The first jigsaw puzzle, for of all time.
had pink bulges rather than joysticks. These
When we discussed puzzle games with our were believed to represent breasts and,
numerous interviewees, this enduring title indeed, the Atari staff referred to it as the
was the first to be mentioned time and time ‘boob game’.
again. To that end, we could just concentrate “If a puzzle game is more like a maze and
on Tetris throughout this entire piece. After trying to find your way out then Gotcha is a
all, it would appear the puzzle game genre perfect example,” says Steve Bristow who,
started and ended with this Russian-made along with Steve Mayer and Larry Emmons,
game from 1984. Puyo Puyo, Dr Robotnik’s was part of the team behind the Atari 2600
Bean Machine, Columns and Pac-Attack were but started work at the company during
all critically adored things-falling-from-the-top- the early Seventies. “You and another
of-the-screen-and-being-joggled-around-with person had to manoeuvre between
puzzle games. Amstrad Action went as far to the walls to get to each other.
say these titles were “just sons of Tetris”.
But, important as Tetris is – and we shall
come back to it later – it is just one of a large
number of types of puzzle games. Many

HIDDENOBJECT MUSIC PUZZLERS


■ With lots of hidden-object games ■ A more recent sub-genre, the music puzzler involves the use of audio. Chime
on tablets and smartphones, this is a and Lumines are good examples of this, the former involving blocks that
popular genre where you are shown created a tune when dropped.
items to discover and then scour the
screen in a bid to find them. They
often feature simple stories as well.

REVEALTHE BRAIN PUZZLES


PICTURE ■ Whether they involve words,
■ If a puzzle has a series of pieces mathematics or just pure Mensa-
or puzzles – such as Mario’s Super style powers, these puzzles – which
Picross – that will eventually reveal became incredibly popular thanks to
a photograph or an image or pattern Dr Kawashima – require an element
of some sort, then it will fall within of careful thought and an aptitude
this category. for learning.

RETRO GAMER | 39
It was around in the days before the What makes things even more confusing is
classic puzzles such as manoeuvring pieces. that Atari Video Cube was actually re-released
Just as well – the graphics didn’t really in 1984 as Rubik’s Cube but, unfortunately,
support that kind of game at the time.” Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, Pong designer
The success of Gotcha paved the way for Allan Alcorn and Steve Bristow cannot
similar titles. The coin-op ‘rush-to-the-exit’ remember either game, so it remains to be
game Amazing Maze by Midway was released a mystery.
in 1976, the same year as the first cartridge- Still, the Atari 2600 – and its rival Odyssey
based console puzzle game, Maze, which
was developed by Fairchild Semiconductor for
Your inner five-year-old 2 – were blessed with more than just maze
and cube games. Established games were
the Fairchild Channel F console. It was one of knows that rocks and dirt are mined for their gameplay and there were
releases of Othello and Tic-Tac-Toe. They put
tons of fun
just 26 games for the system and consisted
of a simple square block which the player the art of thinking at the heart of gameplay
controlled around a maze. Yet such a spartan which meant that those who didn’t want to
Peter Liepa
look and feel didn’t matter – puzzle games blast their way through a game and instead
didn’t need extravagant presentation, it was all preferred a slower pace were being catered
about the gameplay. the use of a joystick and a large dollop of for. But, by establishing that computers could
In 1978, Ralph H Baer and Howard J concentration. This early Atari game stripped be a perfect platform for puzzles, such games
Morrison created the memory skill game, away the true 3D nature of the Rubik’s Cube allowed later, more innovative, titles like the
Simon. It wasn’t long before the concept was and instead had a sprite running across 2D unique Qix to flourish in 1981.
taken up by a videogame. Mindbuster was blocks to swap-out the colours, although each Qix was intriguing. The idea was to
one such title which, having been released set of blocks was one side of a cube. If the complete each screen by filling it with at least
for the Microvision handheld console, became colour of the block matched the colour of 75 percent of your colour by drawing stix or
» [Arcade] Taito’s Qix was an
the world’s first handheld puzzle game in the character, he couldn’t step on it, forcing early puzzle game that walked a lines, before Qix (multicoloured lines) came
the process. With six or 12 moves needed spatial thinking by the player and preventing it fine line between luck and skill. to get you. In many respects this relied as
to solve a puzzle and tapping into reasoning from becoming too easy. much on luck as skill, which may go against
ability, it allowed tests to be solved by Atari’s inspiration actually the definition of a puzzle game. But such a
pressing buttons in the correct sequence. ran deeper. In the same year it combination has become commonplace in
It seemed to be an era of innovation. had worked on a game which the genre. With a lot of puzzle games players
Four years earlier, the Rubik’s Cube was seemed to fully emulate the are encouraged to keep trying to get better
invented and helped to create a different Rubik’s Cube in 3D but it was and, in many ways, they always lose. The
type of puzzle, one that took in the third never released. Whether or not principle of effectively only allowing players
dimension. Atari took inspiration from it there was a programming issue to control how long they can go on for before
when it created the Atari Video Cube game or whether copyright or licensing they do lose is prevalent among so many
in 1982, a solo-playing effort that required problems surfaced is not known. puzzle games.

Play the game


Tetris is the most well-known puzzle game of all time. We talk to creator Alexey
Pajitnov and Henk Rogers, the man who took the game outside of the USSR
Why is Tetris so iconic and what helps that the game is easy to HR: Puzzle games rely on basic
makes it so addictive and popular? understand and therefore quick to mathematical (geometric)
Alexey Pajitnov: I’ve always learn. So, the game’s popularity concepts. This means they do
said that Tetris, at its core, is is based on the fact that people not rely on popular characters
fundamentally a simple game can quickly and easily find a basic (like Mario or Angry Birds) or effects. Making
that’s easy to understand. There pleasure center and stay there for on popular game mechanics chess pieces colourful and
is also a visual and relatively long periods (adventure games or farming animated does not make chess
intellectual challenge of time. games). They rely on timeless a better game. In fact, more
to the game that makes concepts. Euclidian geometry is decoration is just distracting. Tetris
it very appealing, Puzzles games remain not a fad, it’s how we have been is a simple game. If you find a
especially because it’s extremely popular today. building things for the last simple game that works, Keep It
human nature to be Why is this? 2,000 years. Simple, Stupid.
challenged to fix things. AP: Puzzle games are
I created Tetris almost 30 quiet and subtle and What lessons can be learned from If we had never played Tetris, how
years ago, and that we rarely demand more looking at Tetris? would you sum it up in 20 words?
are still talking about it today tells than just your concentration. AP: To me, Tetris is a game – a AP: Different shapes fall down.
you something about its popularity. Typically, puzzle games have very fun game – but its intent Pack them together as dense as
challenges that are short and was never to teach any lessons. possible so they disappear, giving
Henk Rogers: I believe that Tetris clear, making the goal quite easy Nevertheless, I’ve heard it might you more space to play.
touches a basic human pleasure to understand. Other genres of help with reaction time and
centre, which is to create order games tend to be rather exclusive, making decisions quickly. HR: Tetris is a very compelling
out of complexity. The geometric but puzzle games have an inherent computer game in which you
shapes are universal and equally inclusiveness to them. It also helps HR: KISS! When you find a great manipulate falling geometric
appeal to all cultures, age groups that people like to feel smart as game, don’t bury it in a mountain shapes into forming solid lines
and both genders. It really they’re solving them. of fancy graphics and special of blocks.

40 | RETRO GAMER
BRAIN STRAIN: A BLUFFER’S
S GUIDE TO PUZZLE GAMES

Evolution of Tetris
Tetris has been taken as the basis for many similar
puzzle games. Here we look at seven key departures

WELLTRIS HATRIS 3D TETRIS TETRIS PLUS THE NEW TETRIS DS TETRIS


■ YEAR: 1989 ■ YEAR: 1990 ■ YEAR: 1996 ■ YEAR: 1996 TETRIS ■ YEAR: 2006 PARTY
■ SYSTEM: VARIOUS ■ SYSTEM: NES, ■ SYSTEM: ■ SYSTEM: ARCADE, ■ YEAR: 1999 ■ SYSTEM: DS ■ YEAR: 2008
■ DEVELOPER: GAME BOY, ARCADE, ■ VIRTUAL BOY GAME BOY, ■ SYSTEM: N64 ■ DEVELOPER: ■ SYSTEM: WIIWARE,
■ INFOGRAMES TURBOGRAFX16 ■ DEVELOPER: PLAYSTATION, ■ DEVELOPER: ■ NINTENDO ■ DSIWARE, WII, DS
■ SPECTRUM ■ DEVELOPER: ■ NINTENDO SATURN ■ NINTENDO Tetris was the killer ■ DEVELOPER:
HOLOBYTE ■ BULLET PROOF Sometimes Tetris played ■ DEVELOPER: Released in 1999, it was game for the Game Boy ■ HUDSON SOFT
Instead of blocks falling SOFTWARE games with your mind ■ BULLET PROOF time for a fresh spin, so and became a cultural ■ TETRIS ONLINE
down the screen, this Another game designed by and you’d look at brick SOFTWARE the Nintendo 64 game phenomena because of it. ■ NINTENDO
game by Alexey Pajitnov Alexey Pajitnov, Hatris had walls and try to rearrange As if to give rise to the provided it by allowing By the time it was released AUSTRALIA
had them cascading down hats rather than blocks them. With this Virtual argument over whether gamers to create four for another Nintendo Can Tetris be a party game
a well along one of the four falling from the sky. Five Boy exclusive, the mind- Tetris is actually a puzzle by four squares of four handheld – the DS in that gets you up and out
sides into a bit made up of identical-style hats needed bending properties of game, Tetris Plus added pieces that turned gold 2006 – the familiarity of the of your chair? It seems
an eight by eight square to be stacked in order to Tetris went up a notch a puzzle mode that was or silver. Three upcoming concept meant it wasn’t so. Tetris Party for the Wii
grid. Each of the four walls clear them. As well as as you looked into a actually quite arcade-like pieces were also shown quite the same must-have supported the Balance
had to be kept as clear as making an appearance on 3D playing field with a in nature. You had to help and a spare piece could be game but it did have online Board, of all things, and
possible by the player. the NES and Game Boy, contraption strapped a professor get to the set aside for later. and local multiplayer. encouraged multiplayer.
the game also made it to to your head. It was the bottom of the screen using You had to lean left or right
the arcades. Virtual Boy’s final release. the usual Tetris methods to move the blocks and
before a spiked ceiling lean forward to drop them.
came down on his head. Squatting rotated them.

“You can always blame bad luck and not In 1982, the first logic puzzle videogame, industry but I can’t get distribution to order
feel too bad,” says PopCap founder Jason Rocky’s Boots, was released by The more than 40,000 units,’” recalls Henk.
Kapalka. “In some ways that’s a very casual Learning Company. Gamers needed to use a “He calls in Shigeru Miyamoto and says to
approach and why a lot of games for kids – mechanical boot to kick squares, diamonds Miyamoto, ‘Is this a great game?’ Miyamoto
board games and so on – rely heavily on dice and crosses, connecting a series of logic says, ‘Yes.’ Yamauchi says, ‘How do you
rather than something like Chess because it gates to the boot in order to only kick the know?’ Miyamoto says ‘because all of your
takes that burden of failure off the player and positive objects. This was also the year that employees including your accounting staff
puts it on this random chance.” Q*bert combined puzzles with platforming are playing Tetris during lunch and after
Developers seemed to find ways of putting as the main character hopped onto cubes in work.’” Nintendo grabbed the game. Rogers’
a fresh spin on old formats. Sliding block a bid to change the colour of them all while company, Bullet Proof Software, ended
puzzles were invented in 1880 but, in 1981, avoiding a host of enemies. up selling 2 million copies on the NES and
Loco-Motion showed how computer games And then, in 1984, came Tetris. “I’ve Nintendo sold over 40 million on Game Boy.
could update such an old format by including always said that Tetris is, fundamentally, a Like Tetris, Boulder Dash by Peter Liepa
» [Atari 8-Bit] Boulder Dash was
a train. Players had to move track pieces into simple game that’s easy to understand,” a big hit for First Star Software,
and Chris Gray was also released in 1984
vacant squares to ensure that the train would says the game’s creator Alexey Pajitnov. spawning lots of sequels. for the Atari 8-bit computers and was
continue to shunt along while also picking up “There is also a visual and intellectual
passengers at the stations that surrounded challenge to the game that makes it very
the playing area. With a crazy train that your appealing, especially because it’s human
locomotive had to avoid thrown in for good nature to be challenged to fix things. I
measure, it was an example of an early created Tetris almost 30 years ago, and
arcade-puzzler that kept gamers on their toes given we are still talking about it today tells
by introducing an element of danger. Eight you something about its popularity.”
years later the principle still remained popular. Tetris proved to be a massive influence
Pipe Mania didn’t have sliding blocks, but on puzzle games, in particular from 1987
you had to place pieces of pipe on a board when it appeared on US shores. Its popularity
to prevent fast flowing flooz from oozing out. peaked at the end of the Eighties when it
Puzzle games got the adrenaline pumping. was bundled with Nintendo’s Game Boy.
The intervening period was a golden one Videogame designer and entrepreneur Henk
for puzzle games. Moving tiles became a Rogers had travelled to Kyoto, Japan in
recurrent theme. Zenji, Confuzion, Rock ‘N’ 1988 to meet owner and CEO of Nintendo
Bolt, Collapse, Scarabaeus, Split Personalities Hiroshi Yamauchi. “I met Mr Yamauchi and
and Deflektor followed this trend. Puzzle I said to him ‘I think I may have one of the
games were not stuck in a rut, though. most important games in the history of our

RETRO GAMER | 41
BEJEWELED 2001
“There’s definitely been a lot of interest
in Bejeweled type games over the years
like Puzzle Quest and Jewel Quest,”
says PopCap founder Jason Kapalka.
Bejeweled was a tile-matching puzzle
game that made its debut on browsers in
2001 and has since had three follow-ups
and sales of more than 75 million, making
TETRIS 1984 it one of the most popular puzzle games
Russian-born Alexey Pajitnov made Tetris while he working as a computer engineer for the of all time.
Soviet government’s Soviet Academy of Sciences. Since he was under state employment, he
was unable to receive royalties for the game. Following the end of the Cold War in 1991, he
moved to America, founding the Tetris Company. In the meantime, Nintendo had snapped up
the Tetris license, bundled the title with its Game Boy (shown here) and created history.

SLITHERLINK 2011
SlitherLink is a logic puzzle that requires
a good dollop of thought. Players have a
series of dots on the screen and they need

Digital brain
to connect them so that they form a loop.
To make things trickier, there are numbers
within the squares that the dots make up.

CHIP’S CHALLENGE
1989
As the puzzle game that came to define
the Atari Lynx to a certain extent, Chip’s
Challenge was originally going to be
teasers The classic puzzle games that we just
can’t stop playing
called Tile World. Chip McCallahan had
to nip around each level collecting chips
while working out which buttons to
press, which doors needed unlocking and
which monsters needed avoiding. Chuck
Sommerville, who created the game, loved
Boulder Dash: “It was the main inspiration
for Chip’s Challenge.”

LEMMINGS 1991
Players of Lemmings had a love/hate
relationship with the little guys while doing
their best to keep them alive, sometimes even
aborting a level to try and save even one more.
Other times, gamers took great delight in
nuking the lot of them. “For its time, the sheer
number of little guys wandering about was
endearing and that again helped spur you on,
literally making you squeal like a pig when you
ran out of skill and all your lemmings started
walking off a cliff to their doom,” says artist
Mike Dailly.

ANGRY BIRDS 2009


It needs little introduction, given its massive popularity, but it showed just how a
touchscreen could be utilised to devastating effect within a game. As time has gone on,
the game has added a few little quirks and new ways for the birds to smash the scenery
and destroy the little pigs but, at its heart, it’s still about pulling back on a catapult and
letting rip.

42 | RETRO GAMER
BRAIN STRAIN: A BLUFFER’S
S GUIDE TO PUZZLE GAMES

extensively ported thereafter. Similar 1990, before ending up on the Mega Drive
to the 1982 action strategy game The Pit, and Game Gear where it went head-to-head
Boulder Dash was a casual brain-puzzler, the with the Game Boy and sparked inevitable
likes of which remain in vogue today. comparisons. The falling-tile genre was well
“Everybody wants to engage their brains and truly established. Columns – in which
in problem solving,” says Peter. “And not groups of three colour blocks needed to be
everybody has the reflexes or the bloodlust arranged into sequences of three or more,
for first-person shooters. Boulder Dash had whether that be horizontally, vertically or
to be addictive enough for me to stick with diagonally – became a classic game. The
it for the six months it took to develop. same could be said of Chip’s Challenge,
The basic mechanics of rocks and dirt are which was a puzzler full of character for the
what drives the game – it’s like playing in a fledgling Atari Lynx in 1989.
sandbox. The other elements – the jewels, Pac-Attack, which was influenced by
enemies, walls and so on – are there to Columns, did not quite have the same impact
PUZZLE BOBBLE 1994 shape your activities and give you goals. but was a good example of the trend to take
Firing bubbles at other bubbles in order to create matches was the premise behind For me, it is an action puzzler that engages existing characters from non-puzzle games
Puzzle Bobble or Bust-A-Move as it was otherwise known. Starring the dragons multiple parts of your brain – and your inner and use them in brain teasers. Wario was
from Bubble Bobble, the game spawned a host of sequels and spin-offs and has been five-year-old knows that rocks and dirt are in Wario’s Woods. Kirby appeared in Kirby’s
much-cloned since then. The latest Bust-A-Move can be found on the 3DS, taking it to tons of fun.” Star Stacker. Pokemon Puzzle League was
a whole new dimension. Boulder Dash was one of the first puzzle pretty much a clone of Tetris Attack and
games to use physics. They were simple, Dr Mario had his own Tetris clone. British
PIPE MANIA 1989 which Peter says led to predictability, but gaming characters were not immune to this
Ported to virtually every platform at the they could be combined in a rich set of videogame synergy either – the Oliver twins
time, Pipe Mania required players to interactions. Such a thing is common today, stuck Dizzy into puzzle games too.
place pieces of pipe on a board in order to so it would be stretch to say that today’s “Fast Food, a game inspired by Pac-Man
prevent flowing flooze from leaking. The developers have a lot to learn from Boulder but starring Dizzy, had only taken a couple of
pipe had to be connected to an exit so that Dash. “All I can say is that it’s fairly difficult weeks to write which was half the time of our
the gloop could work its way out, but you to come up with a novel set of physics that other games, so it felt like a fun challenge,”
had no control over which piece you had to ‘works’, and by that I mean ‘is fun and leads says Fast Food creator Philip Oliver. “We
place – forcing you to try and work ahead. to a rich set of puzzles’,” adds Peter. decided quickly that another single screen
Another puzzle game worth of note is maze game, Kwik Snax, was a good approach.
the excellent The Fool’s Errand, which used We thought a maze game that allowed you to
THE FOOL’S ERRAND meta-puzzles in a strategy fantasy game change the positions of the walls whilst playing
1987 that had a well-crafted narrative. The game was very interesting. We had this vague idea
It lists JJ Abrams as one of its fans and it also contained a huge puzzle that could only that we could push walls to change the maze
is easy to see why this cult puzzle game be solved when other smaller ones were and that Dizzy would push blocks into enemies
by Cliff Johnson is rated so highly. It runs cracked and the gamer had to dig deep to destroy them, much like dropping apples on
as a narrative which requires the solving into the story for clues. It’s was extremely the enemies in Mr Do.”
of puzzles that reveal the way forward to popular at the time and arguably paved the
continue the story. It includes memory way for games like the Professor Layton
puzzles, logic puzzles, jigsaws and more, series, which now feature similar narrative
with the gamer trying to discover the rules puzzles to solve.
as much as the actual end result. Tricky Tetris, however, defined the late Eighties,
and intriguing, it remains popular. and developers were keen to create
something that mimicked its success.
Columns was Sega’s effort to provide an
alternative to Tetris and hit the arcades in

» [Mega Drive] Tetris spawned a


slew of imitators. This is Columns,
Sega’s tribute to Alexey’s game.
» [Mac] The Fool’s Errand blended
puzzles with an engaging story to
great effect.

THE INCREDIBLE MACHINE


1993
A superb physics-based puzzle game from the mid-
Nineties that harked back to old cartoons in some respect,
asking the player to arrange available objects so that they
performed tasks that help reach an end goal. For example,
you may need to get a ball through a hoop so you placed
different pieces on the screen in order to achieve this. It was
recently revamped and released on iOS.

RETRO GAMER | 43

RETRO GAMER | 43
In the early Nineties, puzzle games
continued to be released. Loopz was a critical
hit that involved making loops from shapes
that had lines or angles etched on them.
In Rampart, small blocks made up a castle
wall that you had to defend in a game that
mixed strategy and shoot-’em-up with puzzle
elements that were inspired by Tetris.
But not everything involved tiles.
Lemmings was developed by DMA Design in
1991. The player carefully guided lemmings
across perilous terrain and tried to get as
many of them home safely as possible
while digging, building and blowing things
up. It was the first puzzle game to utilise » [Amiga] Lemmings is another massively
destructible scenery. popular puzzle game, with a lot of sequels.
“It was the first real ‘sandbox’ game
too,” says Lemmings ’ artist Mike Dailly.
“You had lots of skills and a world and
you were let loose with them. This is why
I’ve always said that Tetris is, were beginning to dominate and, while puzzle
games continued to be pumped out, the
levels were complex to design and such a
joy to figure out and complete. You could
fundamentally, a simple game focus appeared to be shifting. The likes of
the Puyo Puyo game, Kirby’s Avalanche, and
do them any way you like – sometimes, in
a totally different manner from the way the
that’s easy to understand its accompanying trash talk was encouraging
for the genre, but there was a slight dip
original level designer thought of. The best
Alexey Pajitnov before things began to pick up again.
levels were ones where there was only one beaters continued. It just seemed to work so Then, the internet became popular and
obscure solution. This is because it was so well and popular games emerged. Puzznic paved the way for titles such as Poppit!
hard to think of exactly the same solution as hit the arcades in 1989 and then ended and Word Whomp. A new audience was
the original author.” up on home computers a couple of years growing fast.
As the Nineties rolled on, so too did the later. It even ended up on the PlayStation in “It was largely women and mostly older
range and scope of puzzle games. Super 2003. Plotting followed the same path and than your traditional gamer was,” says
Puzzle Fighter II Turbo was inspired by a beat- was actually ported to the GX4000, the only Kapalka. “I mean, at the same time the idea
’em-up and was the first of its kind. Puzzle puzzle game ever to end up on Amstrad’s of calling them casual gamers was a bit of
Bobble, which was also known as Bust-A- ill-fated machine. a misnomer because some of these people
Move, was a tile-matching arcade puzzler that Puzzle games were so integral to gaming would spend a great deal of time playing
had a pointer device firing bubbles against life that even Microsoft saw the potential these games online and so you could hardly
other bubbles that has since spawned a vast of them when it placed Minesweeper in say they were not taking them seriously.”
number of clones. Taito knocked out some the Windows Entertainment Pack and then Kapalka started PopCap in 2000. “We
good puzzle games including Puchi Carat and included it as standard from Windows 3.1 were doing more original stuff like Bejeweled
Cleopatra Fortune. The third dimension also onwards. The basic premise had been used and a bunch of other puzzle games, and
became important, whether for the PSone within computer games before – Mined-Out then it was a question of what makes for an
game Intelligent Qube in 1997 or the 3D by Ian Andrew in 1983 is a good example interesting puzzle game.”
» [iOS] Games like Cut The Rope
Tetris-with-a-twist puzzler Wetrix, which was of an early attempt – but its inclusion in prove that physics-based puzzles Bejeweled was derived from a very
developed by Ste and John Pickford. Windows made it one of the most played are well suited to the device. simple web game someone at PopCap had
The Pickfords’ Zed Two development games of all time. seen but was very primitive. The developer
house, which also produced a Tetris game Simplicity was not always took some influence from Tetris Attack too.
in 2003, highlighted the circular motion of a on the agenda, however. “I guess in some ways it was fortunate
lot of puzzle games in harking back to the 1990’s E-Motion collided timing in that it came out in 2000 at the
Russian gem. Whether creating Block Out atoms and molecules. Yet same time a lot of people were getting on
or Boxxie or trying a different perspective in the mid-Nineties, RPGs the internet for the first time. Bejeweled
as with Klax, the splurge of wannabe Tetris and action games became a game that was available on the
web for free that could be accessed by
these casual gamer types.”
But, he is keen to distance Tetris from
Bejeweled. “Tetris has always been a
very skill-based game. You have to
know what you’re doing and it’s fairly
high stress; whereas, Bejeweled
– particularly in its earlier forms
where it was mostly an untimed
game – wasn’t necessarily all that
oriented towards skill. It was, in
some ways, pretty
luck based.”
With Peggle, PopCap was
cementing its reputation as
» [PC] Bejeweled is one of the
earliest examples of the match a puzzle game developer
three genre that is now so and then, as the Noughties
popular with casual gamers.
rolled on, more and more

44 | RETRO GAMER
BRAIN STRAIN: A BLUFFER’S GUIDE TO PUZZLE GAMES

The Saga continues


Puzzle games are as popular now as ever thanks to smartphones and tablets. King.
com’s games guru Tommy Palm talks about its biggest success, Candy Crush Saga
Where did the of the gameplay quite a bit and quickly and a new user
concept for brought something new and fresh to can start having fun within
Candy Crush the genre. seconds from starting
Saga originate? playing. To find concepts
Candy Crush was How long did it take to create? that are really easy to start
first made as a The first version of the game Candy playing but also provide
single level game Crush was made with just three the different challenges
for www.king.com people during a two-month period. to last for hundreds of levels is predict. It is
in mid-2011. The Then a slightly bigger team worked on challenging. Our recipe for that is to extremely fun to see all the
idea was to make a slightly different the Facebook version of the game for keep the teams small and allow them fan art and social interactions around
‘match three’ game with a candy about six months until it was released to innovate and test concepts early the game.
theme. Candy is something most in April 2012. That is when all the on king.com before starting larger
people have a positive association different levels, the map and your projects. That way we can remove Why do you think puzzle games
with and it creates a great base for friends’ progress came into the game some of the risk with the game are currently so popular with social
visuals as it comes in so many colours and we added the Saga ending to it. development process. media users?
and shapes. The mobile version of the game was The fact that some puzzles are so
released in late November last year Have you been surprised by Candy accessible and inclusive for people of
What do you think it brought to and from that point the audience really Crush’s massive success? all ages just makes it well suited to
the table? started to grow. We could see early on that Candy play in a social environment. We see
We had made ‘match three’ games Crush was really popular with the 12 clear differences in the people playing
before and we knew our audience What’s the most difficult thing million players on king.com, so we without connecting to their friends
liked them but this was the first to about creating a puzzle game? had more than a feeling that Candy compared to the ones that do. The
have the extra bonuses and effects The type of casual social games that Crush Saga was going to be big. But non-connected player plays much
for matching together the powered up we focus on require that the core of the global phenomena that it has less. It is natural that it is more fun to
candies. That changed the dynamics the game can be understood really become – I do not think anyone could play with your friends and family.

» [PC] World Of Goo is another fantastic puzzler that proves the » [3DS] The Professor Layton series features all kinds of clever little
genre remains alive and well on modern systems. puzzles and an enchanting narrative to boot. Very addictive.

puzzle games began to emerge once more. a slightly devious story arc,” says World Of
Lumines was an excellent early PSP title, Goo co-creator Ron Carmel.
with Sony no doubt believing in the power Smartphones and then tablets brought
of a puzzler to sell a system. Brain Training with them the likes of Angry Birds and Cut
on the DS tried to take puzzles and make The Rope. Physics puzzles and more grid-
them feel as if you were learning something based games are in vogue. Hidden-object
and becoming smarter as a result. “I games are popular too, while FaceBook and » [iOS] Angry Birds remains
believe books are the best,” says Dr Ryuta casual puzzle games go hand-in-hand. insanely popular. This is the Star tend to be very limited in how you can solve
Kawashima of the reason he tied in to the Professor Layton games consist of lots Wars version and we love it. them,” says Jonathan Blow) although some
game. “But nowadays people do not want to of little puzzles, so it’s no wonder that would not include these in a traditional
read and prefer games to get information.” Professor Layton And The Curious Village definition of puzzle games.
Puzzle Quest: Challenge Of The Warlords is the best selling puzzle game on the Today, Candy Crush Saga is probably the
from 2007 was RPG in nature but on Nintendo DS. Indeed, there have been lots most popular of all. The industry has turned
a puzzle grid where special attacks, for of recent innovations. Crush was a cool full circle. Tommy Palm, King’s games guru,
example, came into play when the gems 2D/3D hybrid puzzle game, while Portal 2 sums up the approach to today’s puzzlers.
were moved. The physics of World Of Goo took multiplayer puzzling to a new level. “The type of casual social games that we
needed you to bond cute blobs together to There has been an episodic puzzle game – focus on requires that the core of the game
get a set number into a pipe at the end. “In Blue Toad Murder Files in 2009 – and one can be understood really quickly,” he says.
World Of Goo, the goal is to create a similar where you can type a word and see the But there is, it has to be said, less confusion
sense of wonderment, where each level is object appear (Super Scribblenauts in 2010). over what makes a puzzle game today. You
visually iconic, each with a new puzzle and Add to that indie gems Limbo and Braid simply find them under that category in an
gameplay surprise, all somehow related to (“The puzzles are not neutral since they app store. Tetris is still there.

RETRO GAMER | 45
Each era has its underrated classics. This
game, from the time of the 8-bits, is one of
them. Graeme Mason speaks to designers
IN THE Chris Palmer and David Bishop on the devious
KNOW
 PUBLISHER: REAKTOR
ARIOLASOFT
robotic bomb-disposal game that slipped under
 DEVELOPER: TIGRESS
MARKETING DESIGN
almost everyone’s radar, and the concept of » [Spectrum] Bombs could be thrown through holes in
& SYSTEM SOFTWARE
PROGRAMMING the marketing company behind it: Tigress the walls and ceilings to a waiting deactivator.

 RELEASED: 1986
 PLATFORM:
How did Tigress Marketing come about? themselves and were more driven by what of blank building templates and then would sit
COMMODORE 64, ZX CP: It was initially started by David Bishop and could be achieved technically rather than down and work out the tasks for each building
SPECTRUM, AMSTRAD Beth Wooding. I knew David from my time at what would make a good gaming experience. and the routes and timings required.
CPC 464 Argus Specialist Publications when we often We decided that what was needed was
 GENRE: PUZZLE/ discussed how games could be improved. We to separate the design process from the How involved did you get in other
ARCADE ADVENTURE
discovered we had a mutual love of gaming programming, so set up a design studio to do aspects, such as the graphics?
in its various forms, along with a shared just that. DB: We came up with the overall look and
frustration in the lack of fundamental game feel for how we wanted the game screen to
principles of the releases of the time. I quit How did the actual process between be displayed and then we would finesse the
Argus and went to join David and Beth. yourselves and the other companies designs with the development teams in terms
involved work? of practicality on each system.
What was the idea behind the company? DB: In a sense we worked like an analogue
DB: At the time, the majority of games of the screenwriter and director. For a lot The three versions look and play very
» [Amstrad] All three versions were being designed by the programmers of games we worked up the concept and similarly though…
were graphically similar.
storyboard and then pitched it to publishers. DB: With Deactivators, the differences are
Once the games were taken up we would find minimal. For instance, we had problems with
a programming team and then liaise between the teleports between the C64 and Spectrum
them and the publishers to make sure the versions. If you compare them you’ll see the
game came out as we envisaged. Sometimes sprite handling was better on the C64 so
it worked the other way round and publishers we could have an animation for the teleport
would approach us with concepts and squares. On the Spectrum version we had
» [Spectrum] Yet more properties they wanted turned into games. to settle for just changing the texture of the
gravitational hi-jinks.
square as the animation wouldn’t work without
Tell us about the genesis of Deactivators. disrupting the other elements.
CP: David and I spent a lot of time
brainstorming game ideas and Deactivators Did you ever get involved with the actual
came out of one of these sessions. At its heart programming process?
it was a puzzle game, in terms of working out CP: We never cut code ourselves as it was
the routes and sequence to remove all the important to the whole idea of Tigress that we
bombs from the building. remained focused on the game and gameplay.

How did you design the game? But you must have kept closely in touch
CP: Everything was done by hand and on paper with the programming team?
– lots and lots of paper! We created a stack CP: Of course, we would regularly spend

46 | RETRO GAMER
THE MAKING OF: DEACTIVATORS

time at their studios, testing CP: Reflecting on the game today, we reviewers recognised that the game was
gameplay elements and do think we hit the players with too challenging and an original concept – which is
sometimes refining the design much too soon. The game would have what we set out to achieve. We always strived
to help work around the benefitted from a more gentle learning to do something different and were never
limitations of the hardware. curve of some of the trickier gameplay interested in doing ‘me too’ games.
elements. In level one the player
How long did it take from already had to cope with robot guards, In what way do you look back on DEVELOPER
design to release? level two you’re thrown a couple of Deactivators today? HIGHLIGHTS
CP: We think the design reverse-gravity rooms and by level DB: We’re very proud of it, and the majority
THINK!
process took around a month three you’re tackling all that and blacked of our games. Seen in the context of a lot of PICTURED
and the development probably out rooms! other games from the time, we felt we were SYSTEM: ZX
four to five months. They always producing titles that were original and SPECTRUM,
COMMODORE 64,
[System Software] did a great job of realising We’re sure it could have been much were in keeping with our original designs. AMSTRAD CPC
the designs and specs we gave them. worse though. YEAR: 1985
CP: Most certainly – one of the initial ideas Tigress disappeared shortly after the THEY STOLE A
As we mentioned earlier, all the versions was that when throwing a bomb between release of Deactivators. What happened? MILLION
look very similar… rooms you had to position the receiving DB: We got into a situation where the majority SYSTEM: ZX
SPECTRUM,
CP: As with most of the games we did, all robot correctly to catch it or the bomb of our output was being published by Ariolasoft, COMMODORE 64,
three versions were developed alongside would explode when it hit the floor or a wall. and its parent company, BMG, decided to AMSTRAD CPC
each other. Thankfully we decided to drop that one… pull out of software publishing. As we didn’t YEAR: 1986
have enough work to keep us going while we
One of the very few criticisms of Deactivators was well reviewed but not developed relationships with other publishers,
Deactivators was its difficulty level. a great seller. Elation and deflation? sadly the games side of Tigress ended there.
Would you agree? CP: From a commercial standpoint it was
disappointment, as we wanted publishers to How would you reflect on your time
see a good return on what was a new concept with Tigress?

WHERE ARE for them. With Deactivators, however, we did


feel there was a disconnect between what
CP: I think we were probably two or three
years ahead of our time in what we were

THEY NOW? the game was actually about and how it was
marketed. At heart it was a puzzle game, but
it looked more like an arcade game and the
trying to do – certainly in the UK there weren’t
any companies that were focusing purely on
game design. It’s nice to see that, as the game
DAVID BISHOP advertising overplayed the arcade elements industry has developed and matured, some
■ David has enjoyed a fruitful career and underplayed the strategic ones. With the of the principles we had at our heart have
in games design and production. reviews, we were glad that, on the whole, become the norm.
After Tigress he worked for Virgin
Interactive, Mindscape and Sky
(as head of its interactive games
division, Sky Games). Following a spell as senior
game designer at Popcap, he now continues to
produce entertaining software at the home of
Moshi Monsters, Mind Candy.

CHRIS PALMER
■ In his post Tigress days, Chris
moved from videogame development
into the IT industry. Today he works
for CM Designs, a web and IT
solutions firm.
» [Spectrum] The first level and three bombs to be » [C64] Is it just us, or does the Commodore 64 version
deactivated. Best get to it. look that little bit drabber?

RETRO GAMER | 47
25
TOP
READERES’
CHOIC

SimCity
■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD
■ YEAR: 1991 ■ GENRE: STRATEGY

25
It may be primarily remembered as a PC franchise
but, with numerous changes and additions to this
console port, it’s little wonder so many of you cited it
as a SNES favourite. Developed by Nintendo EAD rather than
Maxis, this version has a distinct Japanese flavour and several beautiful
Nintendo twists – seeing Bowser stomp through the city is up there with

SNES
the greatest gaming moments. The team did a great job of making it
work with a controller rather than a mouse, too.

ActRaiser
■ DEVELOPER: QUINTET
■ YEAR: 1990 ■ GENRE: STRATEGY/ACTION

24
The beauty of ActRaiser is that it is effectively two
games in one. Half god game – albeit without any
direct religious references, thanks to Nintendo’s hard-

GAMES
line self-censorship of the time – half action game, all awesome.
While it’s true that neither part is a dedicated example of the
genres in question, it’s the unique fusion that makes this so
memorable. Putting town creation and management on hold to
go kick some ass is something that no other game can offer.

The results are in, but did your


favourite SNES games make the cut? Cybernator
Find out in the coming pages… ■ DEVELOPER: NCS CORP
■ YEAR: 1992 ■ GENRE: SHOOT-’EM-UP

23
A surprisingly strong showing in support of this shooter sees
it make the list ahead of bona fide classics like Super Punch-
Out!, but you’ve gotta love the underdog. It’s an inventive mech
shooter that really makes you
feel like you’re in control of a
huge, complex piece of kit and
it still holds up brilliantly today.
The same can’t be said of the
budget PlayStation 2 remake,
sadly – our advice would be to
just stick with the original…

48 | RETRO GAMER
TOP 25 SUPER NINTENDO GAMES

Zombies Ate My “A great


Neighbours shooter with
music to die for”
■ DEVELOPER: LUCASARTS
■ YEAR: 1993 ■ GENRE: RUN-AND-GUN gmintyfresh

22
There’s a lot to be said for this
B-movie shooter, so we’re not
overly surprised to see you come
out in numbers to support it. The recent
sad loss of LucasArts might have done
something to bolster its following, but it’s
certainly not ill-deserved – the humour,
style and tight gameplay are such that many Super Aleste
modern developers would kill to put their ■ DEVELOPER: COMPILE
name to something as polished and refined ■ YEAR: 1992 ■ GENRE: SHOOT-’EM-UP
as this.

20
Perhaps the original great co-op An excellent shooter, as evidenced
game, Zombies Ate My Neighbours lets by the fact that it managed to beat
protagonists Zeke and Julie use anything the likes of Super R-Type, Gradius III
they can find to hold off the zombie and UN Squadron. A rich and varied arsenal
apocalypse and secure the safety of the is what really makes Super Aleste stand
guys and gals that live down the street. out, each of the eight weapons offering six
But it’s not just zombies – variety here is different levels of power. Furthermore, each
exceptional and, over the course of the can be modified at the touch of a button,
game, you’ll find yourself gunning down adding reverse fire (or similar area coverage)
pretty much every B-movie cliché – from or changing properties to give options that can
giant ants to vampires and aliens. But it more or less cover every situation the game
doesn’t stop there, as the level with the throws at you. Like pretty much every shooter,
gigantic rampaging baby perfectly displays. there’s a problem in that death causes you
It keeps you guessing by constantly to respawn with virtually no firepower – but
changing things up – even though gameplay there’s a simple solution to that problem: just
changes little, that each stage can feel be better at the game. Solved.
entirely unique is amazing.
Said variety extends beyond simply

EarthBound
switching enemy sprites out for new ones,
too. It’s the weapons, an improvised arsenal
comprising of everything from water pistols ■ DEVELOPER: APE/HAL LABORATORY
to rocket launchers. It’s the settings, myriad ■ YEAR: 1994 ■ GENRE: RPG
slices of suburbia pulled straight out of every

19
low-budget horror movie ever made. And it’s It may not have had a UK release, but
the characters – even the titular neighbours that seems to have had little impact
come in all shapes and forms, with each of on the popularity of this glorious RPG.
them worth a different amount of points if Perhaps offered a little more exposure thanks to
you can save them in time. Thankfully, you Ness’s appearance in Super Smash Bros, this
don’t need to rescue them all but, the more quirky little title can take pride of place in any
you manage to free, the better your score will collection – mint originals now change hands for
be. And just like most games in this genre, upwards of 500 quid. Why? It’s one of the few
that’s all that really matters. retro classics not to have seen a re-release in
any form, despite constant calls for it to come
to Virtual Console. Still, all that is set to change

Donkey Kong Country 2: now, as the cult RPG has finally been released
on Nintendo’s digital service. Let’s see if that

Diddy’s Kong Quest does anything to the insane price that original
copies currently go for…
■ DEVELOPER: RARE
■ YEAR: 1995 ■ GENRE: PLATFORMER

21
If you could all have just pulled together and decided amongst
yourselves which Donkey Kong Country game was best, it could
quite easily have made the top five. Instead, divided opinion
gives us two Kong games in this list, Rare’s platform sequel just missing
out on the top 20. Quite how DK came to be kidnapped in the first place
is a conversation for another time, though it’s clear that Diddy and Dixie
can handle themselves well enough without him. It was around this point
that Rare’s love affair with collectibles began, so those that have enjoyed
cleaning up and finding everything in the likes of Banjo-Kazooie and Star
Fox Adventures would do well to recognise where it all started.

RETRO GAMER | 49
Super Tennis Donkey Kong Country
■ DEVELOPER: TOKYO SHOSEKI
■ DEVELOPER: RARE
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1991 ■ GENRE: SPORTS
■ YEAR: 1994 ■ GENRE: PLATFORMER

15
17
Poor old Retro. As
Early titles are always going to live much as it tried its best
large in the hearts of fans – they’re the to recapture the magic of the
ones that get the most play while you’re originals, in essence it’s just
waiting for the next big game, after all. We can not the same – the music, the
all but assume that’s why this 1991 title earned a design and the well judged
spot on this list, although we’d struggle to point level of difficulty were all
to an earlier multiplayer sports game that we nailed the first time around. A
got so much enjoyment out of. Making tennis stunning effort by Rare.
quick and fun was a masterstroke, though even
the points that dragged on proved to be hugely
enjoyable – that’s why we saw the same arcade Chrono Trigger
template applied to Smash Court Tennis and, ■ DEVELOPER: SQUARE
later, Virtua Tennis. We’re all for simulation but, ■ YEAR: 1995 ■ GENRE: RPG

14
when it comes to a quick sporting thrill, we’d As if this time-hopping

Super Mario All-Stars struggle to name many better games than this
beauty. It sure as hell beats leaping around the
RPG classic wasn’t
going to make this list. As if.
■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD lounge with a remote in your hand, that’s for sure. Any game that stars a noble
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1993 ■ GENRE: PLATFORMER frog warrior is one that we
fully support, so we’ll take

18
A compilation and console bundle title it may be, but far any excuse we can get to
be it from that to exclude this collection of timeless games celebrate this wonderful action-RPG from
from your list. Sporting enhanced versions of the three NES Square’s archives.
Mario titles as well as super-tough variant The Lost Levels – famously
Super Mario Bros 2 in Japan, while we received a massively modified
version of Doki Doki Panic – this is pretty much platforming heaven.
Star Fox
“I loved this ■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD/ARGONAUT
Any one of the collected games would be worthy of a spot on this
game so much. SOFTWARE ■ YEAR: 1993
list alone, so the combination of all four is pretty much a shoo-in. You
Good single player, ■ GENRE: SHOOT-’EM-UP
could buy a console and get by for months just on the single bundled
game, which is not something that can be said of any console since.
Later versions also included Super Mario World, which you can safely
fantastic multiplayer and
the best sports game 13 This is more than
deserving of recognition
for its introduction of useless
expect to read more about in the coming pages. Just a guess. for me”
gaming baggage Slippy Toad
Nemesis alone. It’s just a shame that
its pioneering 3D visuals will
Super Bomberman forever take a back seat due
to the ‘do a barrel roll’ meme it spawned.
■ DEVELOPER: HUDSON SOFT
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1993 ■ GENRE: ACTION
Final Fantasy VI
16
Again, Bomberman would be
■ DEVELOPER: SQUARE
higher on this list if it weren’t for the
■ YEAR: 1994 ■ GENRE: RPG
fact that gamers had no less than
five different kinds of Super to consider in
this case. Ignoring the fact that the console
12 Picking just one of
Square’s 16-bit Final
Fantasy games is a near-
had just two controller ports, Konami
impossible choice, so well
elected to use an adorable multi-tap to allow
done for settling on this one.
for showdowns on a scale never before
Echoes of FFVI can be felt in
seen on console. Later games introduced
every canon game since, and
more elements tailored to accommodate
its Uematsu soundtrack is enough to secure
multiplayer massacres and, to be frank, we’d
it a place on this rundown alone.
probably rather have seen one of these make
the list than the simple original. However,
there’s a lot to be said for getting there first, F-Zero
and for all of you who voted for any of the ■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD
superb sequels you can at least find solace ■ YEAR: 1990 ■ GENRE: RACING
in the fact that the little bobble-headed
murderer managed to get onto the list at all. 11 Racing games are
boring? Yeah, nice try.
A futuristic setting and
And we’re glad he did – there are few better
tests of pure gaming skill than a Bomberman amazing 3D visuals made
face-off. Quite how this franchise wound up this an unforgettable
entertaining kart racers and sports games experience for everyone
we’ll never know – it remains one of the best who played it, though it’s
and purest multiplayer experiences in the saddening that we haven’t
entirety of gaming. seen a new version since the exceptional
GX on GameCube.

50 | RETRO GAMER
“The only
one in the series
you need to play – best
ever linear version of the
game before it tried
to copy Metroid ”
davyK Secret Of Mana
■ DEVELOPER: SQUARE
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1993 ■ GENRE: ACTION-RPG

Super Castlevania IV
9
The music, the bosses, the sheer variety… There had to be at least one Square RPG in the top ten and, with
this is the stuff of legend and its reverence so many failing to get European releases, it stands to reason that
■ DEVELOPER: KONAMI is far from ill-deserved. Action-platforming this should be the one to make the cut. Three-player co-op was a
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1991 ■ GENRE: PLATFORMER with a gothic slant, you could walk for miles unique selling point but, even without that, Secret Of Mana would still
and not find anyone who has gotten past hold up brilliantly. This action-RPG managed to tick every box, from

10
Ask most people which is their the second level – Dark Souls and its ilk a unique leveling system to a great cast of characters that could be
favourite Castlevania and, more may claim to have created the hardcore tailored to your own whim. Despite several sequels, this remains the
often than not, you’ll hear Symphony sector, but we know better. Castlevania was best game in the series – the PlayStation sequel has its fans, but their
Of The Night. While the PlayStation game there first. And if you can claim to have numbers are feeble compared to those who would back the original.
is a spectacular display of genre-straddling finished this, that’s something that counts To this day, we’ve yet to see a truly great Mana follow-up and, while
RPG action, there’s a hardcore arcade purity for a lot on your gaming CV – arcade coin- it’s unlikely that we’ll see one in this play-safe environment, it’d be a
to Super Castlevania IV that gives it the edge. munchers have nothing on this beast. retro insta-win if Square announced a new Mana game tomorrow.

Contra III: The Alien Wars


■ DEVELOPER: KONAMI
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1992 ■ GENRE: RUN-AND-GUN

7
Anyone that throws their hardcore weight around based on recent
accomplishments like finishing Dark Souls or Super Meat Boy would do well to pop
back in time and give this monster a go. Whatever you choose to call it, this is pretty
much the epitome of hardcore – dudes be coming from everywhere, and all
of them will kill you in a single hit. Contra had lost its way recently until
Hard Corps brought it back – it’s rare that a sequel nails exactly
what was so good about the original but that’s what Arc
managed to do. The original still presents an awesome
challenge and one that anyone can be proud to have
conquered. Pretty much the ultimate run-and-gun game,

Pilotwings
Contra III exists to kick the ass of anyone who tries to
play it. As you probably know. If not, give it a shot today
■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD and don’t even vaguely expect to win.
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1990 ■ GENRE: FLIGHT SIMULATION

8
Tech demos seem to be the order of the day lately, with
the likes of Wii Sports and Kinect Adventures capturing
the imaginations of millions. But this beat all of them to the
punch, a showcase for the unknown power of the SNES and an
early glimpse at the magic of 3D. Few could have imagined that
a flight game would be the one to show off what the SNES was “Absolutely
truly capable of, but that’s precisely what Pilotwings did. Three- stonking side-
dimensional gaming wouldn’t become the norm until years later, scrolling shooter, the
but we can’t forget who planted that seed – few did it better either, game that my staunchly
to be fair. In terms of offering a unique experience, few titles can MD owning mate bought
rub shoulders with Pilotwings. Even the N64 and 3DS updates a SNES for”
never really managed to recapture the magic of the original, fun as
they may be. adippm82

RETRO GAMER | 51
Super Metroid
■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO R&D1/INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1994 ■ GENRE: ACTION/
ADVENTURE

5
Few games have laid out their stalls quite so
well as this. Super Metroid basically doesn’t
say a word, but it doesn’t need to. If anything,
that’s the joy of it – the mystery is what keeps you
playing and, even when you know what you’re
doing, this is not an easy world to explore. Setting
the template for an entire sub-genre, this can
happily claim to be one of the most influential games ever made. The recent Virtual Console Wii U

Super Mario World 2:


re-release has given us such greats as ‘Y can’t Metroid crawl’, cementing it as one of the great work-
it-out-as-you-go-along games out there…

Yoshi’s Island
Super Mario Kart
■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1995 ■ GENRE: PLATFORMER
■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD

6
We have to be honest – we thought this classic platformer ■ YEAR RELEASED: 1992 ■ GENRE: RACER
would come in a little higher. But with Super Mario World

4
stealing the majority of the vote, we guess it Another obvious choice, although it’d take
was a ‘one or the other’ mindset in most cases. a real Blue Shell enthusiast (there’s no such
Either way, this dino-themed sequel performed thing) to claim that Mario Kart was a fair way
admirably and, while we wouldn’t want to have to to settle disputes. Still, few would argue that this
make a pitch as to which was the better game, the wasn’t one of the great multiplayer games of our
egg-tossing love this game has received pretty time, especially in the age before the game-breaking
much does that for us. Platform games don’t Blue Shell came into play. Multiplayer rivalries can
come much better than this, especially when they still be settled with this tried and tested method, although many cite more recent games – Double
don’t involve the bugs or bandicoots that have come to Dash, MK7 and even the Wii version – as the best. There’s no right answer... well, okay, there is. And
define the genre. it’s not Mario Kart 64.

The Legend Of Zelda:


Street Fighter II Turbo
■ DEVELOPER: CAPCOM A Link To The Past
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1992 ■ GENRE: BEAT-’EM-UP ■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD
■ YEAR RELEASED: 1991 ■ GENRE: ACTION-RPG

3
If you owned a SNES and had a second

2
controller, chances are you doubled up for Arguments will rage until the end of time as to which of Link’s adventures is the best
the opportunity to show your mates what a (ironically, it’s definitely not Link’s Adventure) but it’s this seminal title and Ocarina Of Time that
Dragon Punch or a Flash Kick was. Street Fighter most often find themselves tussling for the top spot. While the 3D debut was unquestionably a
was the go-to competitive game at the time and, masterpiece, it likely wouldn’t have existed at all had it not been for this beautiful and surprisingly open
while we’ve since learned to play on stick, that RPG – it might have offered slightly more direction than the NES original but it still managed to feel like
wasn’t really an option back then. Capcom did an you were lost in a strange world with only your wits (well, those and whatever tools you could loot from
incredible job of bringing the arcade experience dungeons) to rely on. The reveal of the Dark World ranks up there with the best gaming surprises of all time.
home – there are few better coin-op conversions Eat your heart out, Kojima…
than this one and it was this kind of perfect
port that made your friends with a Mega Drive
incredibly jealous.

“I remember
staying up all night at
a friend’s house playing it
and taking forever to figure
out that you needed to light
a lamp to open up a door”
Soulstar

52 | RETRO GAMER
TOP 25 SUPER NINTENDO GAMES

Super Mario World


■ DEVELOPER: NINTENDO EAD ■ YEAR RELEASED: 1990 ■ GENRE: PLATFORMER

1
Nintendo’s mascot was always going to be a from having one big map that really makes this feel like
clear favourite to claim the top spot on this list, an epic journey, and one where the route – and even
but the landslide took even those of us expecting the destination – aren’t always clear. Find a hidden exit
a moustachioed number one by surprise. Mario to a stage and you can find yourself branching out into
didn’t just walk this list – he grabbed a Cape areas far more difficult than you’re used to. But, with so
Feather and flew over the top of the whole damn thing. many routes on offer, there’s no shame in returning to
With Super Mario World appearing as a pack-in with the beaten path in order to hurry along your journey to
many console bundles, this would have been the first Bowser’s castle.
experience of 16-bit gaming for many people. And what Then, there’s the way that each of the power-ups
What Makes It a way to start – it’d be like your first taste of meat being
a huge T-bone steak, or your first car after passing your
changes how you approach and traverse each stage.
A cape will let you soar up to hidden cloud platforms
So Super test being a Ferrari. This is seen by many as being as if you can get the speed up to get lift in the first place,
close as we’ve come to platforming perfection and, while a fire flower lets you muscle your way past many
truth be told, we’re in no position to argue. We still play obstacles. There are even a few situational pickups
Hidden Exits Super Mario World regularly to this day and we’re still (such as the one that turns Mario into a balloon) to use
discovering new tricks and secrets hidden away in the and abuse, though it’s definitely the trusty mushroom
If you’ve got the right power-
many, many stages. that will see the most use. You can even keep one of
up and an explorer’s spirit,
There’s so much to talk about in celebration of Super these back in reserve – useful if you know you’ll need
there are loads of secret ways
Mario World that it’s difficult to know where to begin. it later in a tricky level and don’t want to risk losing it
to end levels prematurely.
But, we’ll start as is logical – with pretty much the first along the way.
Doing so can open up new
thing you see when starting up the game. The map Whether or not there’s such a thing as a perfect
paths that let you speed
structure isn’t entirely new, with Super Mario Bros 3 game is an argument that will never be won. Whether
across the world map, as Star
pulling much the same stunt albeit broken down by or not Super Mario World is the closest thing we’ve
Road fans will know
level. But, it’s the improved sense of scale that comes seen to one, though? That’s not even up for debate.

Perfect Design
Dino Might Variety counts for a lot,
though it’s the fact that
Yoshi eggs are hidden away in
there’s no weak link that
many of the blocks scattered
proves the most amazing.
around Mario World, and
Whether swimming,
unleashing the beast is always
soaring, riding or climbing,
a joy. Not only does he offer
Super Mario World never so
you an extra hit, there are also
much as misses a beat
certain areas that you simply
can’t reach without him

Star Power
Soaring above the
world is Star Road, a set
of super-tough stages with
secret exits on every one. If
you know where to find the
lot, you can finish the entire
game in less than
ten minutes Endless
Replayability
So many exits, so many
routes, so many tiny little
secrets to find… there’s just
so much to this game that,
as we said, we’re still finding
“Boundless
new power-ups and hidden
creativity and
areas to this day. As close to
invention, pixel perfect
the perfect platformer as you
level design, fiendish
can get, basically
puzzles and power-ups
that changed the
dynamic of play”
Wools

RETRO GAMER | 53
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54 | RETRO GAMER
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ilure,
it h 8 K
standard,
w
ve ly p rodigious
4
e r T he M ik ro-Plus was ar e co ul d help
ti d w
boasting
a posi
w h e n you consi ay be ad di tional hard . S in clair’s
p but m es
some lea mputers better gam
was quite Z X 8 0 a nd ZX81 co de liver bigger and in trod uc ed as a
air’s system was pe,
that Sincl 1K of RAM
.
Microdrive erable to ta
h a paltry tle time in at was pref est
came wit w as te d lit
storage so lu tio n th
es s to su gg
t ga m e developers ith gr ap hi cs and e of th os e in the pr e of the
Ye ory w m d make us
ailable mem es for the 16
K leading so lopers coul uld
filling the av w as ga m m e de ve rt rid ge co
first casual
ty cupied that ga rodrive ca
code. The o display oc . Each Mic to fill the
e S pe ctrum’s vide m s new format en ough room
model . Th
st 9K fo r pr og ra
store ar ou nd 8 5K –
tw ic e over. As
ug hl y 7K , leaving ju pa ni es su ch as ’s us ea ble memory ditional
ro . Com Spectrum a game, ad
c machine a and Ultim
ate ed through
on the basi Q ui ck silv u pr og re ss dr ag ge d from
Bug-Byte,
Imagine,
es in th e early years yo
ta co ul d be quickly su ch as the
m any 16K ga
m
ns e to game da ty floppy driv
es
uc ed cial se rd -p ar ul d be
al
s erupt! A goy.
prod
y made co
mmer the cart. T
hi CiPLE co
] The terrace Da – it obviousl d be enjoyed by ve ry and the DIS
» [Spectrumin International Match co ul Opus D is co
t their wares came in the sam
e way.
me releases
ne
ensure that when it be
hits the
ru m ow ners. But, ere se lling employed , co mmercial ga
all Spe ct
8K ga m es w
s it ha pp en ed
te ta pe were
dicated 4 ed to a A than casset
clear that de rele as es slow
on anythi ng ot he r
mbers, 16K by around
1984.
in large nu up altogether m ore
d dr ie d sc re en s,
trickle an eant more
ses, 48K m more gam
e.
In most ca alle ng e, d
ore ch golden perio
graphics, m 8 K le d to th at
to 4
The shift hen dozens
of
-Eighties w
in the mid
les were
definitive tit

RETRO GAMER | 55
few and far between. interested in the professional application of
Punters were generally computers. But, the commercial failure of the
happy to stick with their bog- Sinclair QL business machine prompted the
standard Spectrums and patiently load firm to look back at its greatest triumph, the
programs from tape. Something that held Spectrum, and try and rekindle some of that
more sway was a brand new Spectrum, an success. Therefore, the 128 was designed
enhanced model that packed new features purely as an upgrade aimed at gamers. In this
including an extra 80K of lovely RAM. regard, the two chief additions were a three-
The Spectrum 128K was the first computer channel AY audio chip to make games sound
that Sinclair actively positioned as a games better and more memory because, well, you
» [Spectrum] The 128K version
machine. At the machine’s UK launch in can never have enough of that stuff. To ensure of The NeverEnding Story issued a catalogue listing all the new 128K
February 1986, Sinclair’s chief executive Bill compatibility with existing Spectrum software, featured a single load and games in development. It was a healthy
the theme tune over the 48K
Jeffery said: “We have focused the 128 on the idiosyncratic video display was left outing. It’s otherwise the same. selection, with more than 60 titles from
the entertainment sector. Recent market untouched. One odd omission was the lack of most of the main publishers – Ocean, US
research has shown us that entertainment is built-in joystick ports, particularly as the Sinclair Gold, Activision, Domark, Melbourne House,
easily the most common use of computers in joystick standard introduced with the Interface Mirrorsoft, Telecomsoft, Software Projects
the home.” 2 add-on had already been widely adopted by and more. But there was a problem. Nearly
It goes without saying that the 128 wasn’t developers. It seemed that you could always all of the games listed were already available
the machine that the company particularly count on Sinclair to make at least one baffling for the 48K Spectrum. To find out what
wanted to put out. While stories that Sir Clive design decision. was happening you only had to look at the
Sinclair couldn’t abide silly little games are So the platform was in place, but what two titles bundled with the 128 – Daley
nonsense, it’s no secret that he was more about the software? At the launch, Sinclair Thompson’s Super-Test and The NeverEnding
Story, both from Ocean and both updates of
» [Spectrum] Sweevo’s Whirled featured » [Spectrum] Mega dinosaur existing titles.
many more rooms yet was crippled by a sprite ahoy in The Muncher, a
bash-’em-up saddled with the The original 48K Super-Test featured eight
bug that meant it couldn’t be completed.
Chewits sweet license prior separate events that loaded in two blocks,
to release.
while the 128K version added four new events
and the whole game loaded in one go. There

A V I O UR
L B E H RE 64
M O D E SYSTEM S THAT HAVE RE A M IG
COMMOeDtwOo updates of the
A COMMOinD19O85, the Commodore
■ Launch
ed
an ideal
COMPUTER E YEARS sitioned as
POPULAR DED OVER TH
128 was po
ATARI ST
er ring rs, offe
■ There w ECS in 1990 r C64 owne
RA
BEEN UPG rever in flu
x, iga chipset: upgrade fo processor,
RO line was fo original Am re d er
BBC MIC ed. er of fe ory, a fa st
■ The ST larly releas 1992. The fo
rm
more mem
had 32K of s regu AG A in tte r, . It also
TRAD CPC iginal Model B with new m
od el
ta ble
an d
to gamers,
but the la
and other in
novatio ns
with existin
g
AMS ral upgrades ■ The
seve
or
as expand ed in 1985
w 1989’s STE
model w as a no
er colour
little benefit
ered the Am
ig a 40 00 an d
retained co
m pa tibility
ensured
C received these RAM which + (either 64
K
uring a wid w hich po w su al ou gh this
■ The CP ief among ch of the B te, feat the vi e, alth
Ch the laun up da -p rocessor. s, enhanced C64 softwar cated C128
during its lif
et im e. w ith fo llowing a blitter co 1200 model puter. Som
e
ly any dedi
featuring a d agai n th e palette and g, and a few the com hard
28 model, or 128K) an ter (128K od for gam
in
capabilities
of the that
was the 61 d 128K of R
AM. e BBC Mas This was go . velope d fo r e rele ed.
as
an year with th r ere released es were de games wer
built-in disk
dr ive - of the Maste ed games w decent gam
, a lo late
t of Prod uc tion STE-enhanc llowed, are in later ye ars.
e Spectrum minimum). ter Falcon m od el s fo
AGA hardw
Similar to th lo pe d to make til 1993, ye ar s af
The TT and
e was de ve continued un n’s 32-bit rious users.
era softwar y. In 1990, uc tion of Acor aim ed at se
th e ex tra memor the introd
us e of
uc ed upgraded range.
nge intr od Archimedes
the ‘Plus’ ra ware.
d audio hard
graphics an

56 | RETRO GAMER
Tyme, the third in the Magic Knight series
of arcade adventure games, provided
the perfect example of ‘how it should be
done’. Developer David Jones crammed
the 128’s memory full of screens,
characters and puzzles – and only by
severely cutting away at the content was he
able to issue the subsequent 48K version.
» [Spectrum] Spectrum RoboCop fans that wanted to And the cost? Just £2.99, like the other
play Ocean’s sequel required 128K under the hood. It games in Mastertronic’s MAD range.
was the same for nearly all subsequent Ocean releases.
The always excellent Chris Bourne of
Sinclair User concluded his Knight Tyme
was some nice AY music added too, including preview with the following sharp remarks:
J O N ES
a version of the Chariots Of Fire theme playing
over the main menu. The NeverEnding Story,
“Perhaps other companies may learn a lesson
from Mastertronic and follow suit – because
DAVI D HT
AGIC KNIG TO
D THE M
meanwhile, loaded in three parts on the 48K.
The updated game was a single load and
if the new machine succeeds as it deserves
to, it’s going to need a lot more than Spinoff
BEHIN LOPER
THE MAN D THE FIRST DEVE ME WITH
added an AY version of the movie’s theme Raiders Pt IV (128 version) stamped on the SERIES AN EXCLUSIVE 128K GA
song that looped continually as you played.
Ocean claimed that the 128K version featured
cassette inserts to convince people. Well done
Mastertronic. Who’s next?”
CREATE AN KNIGHT TYME
ake
t I could m
‘enhanced gameplay’, but the actual game 128 owners were asking the very same knew tha am e b y
ed 8K g
was the same with no new content added. question and, unfortunately, they’d have to y develop a better 4 128 first.
It
You clearl h th e fo r th e
It was the same story with the ten or so wait a while for an answer. me wit writing ble data
Knight Ty d. re a so n a
128K titles available at launch. All of them The 128 had only been on sale in the UK for 128 in min had some ed
Spectrum is that I add
were back catalogue titles with added AY a few short months when it was announced le d yo u to take th co m pression e g a me
What ? ed to fit th
audio as a minimum (with Odin’s updates of that Amstrad had bought out the Sinclair
m b itio u s approach a as I work o w e n t b ack
a ed I als
Nodes Of Yesod and Robin Of The Wood, computer business. Following the acquisition nic obtain into 48K. secret
Mastertro p e ctrum 128 a d ded some
pre-rele a se S
u a l an d a n d
p ellb o und when
te ch nical man ro oms to S e to
an d a on to m e . d that am that
g
ed them I upgrade
The Spectrum 128 was the first they pass
I don’t re
member
a sk
ust have
in g
128K. It se
e
dding sou
m e d to me
nd would

computer that Sinclair actively e so it m ju st a and that


for on hadn’t f a cheat
idea. As I be a bit o t a 128
been their w h e n b o u g h
ht Tyme ople who
positioned as a games machine h e d K n ig p e o w they
finis rum I nt to kn
new Spect would wa
I got the o f th e g a m e .
make use got more
decided to . I mostly
m e m o ry benefit
extra ce for s the main
se d th e extra spa What wa g a m e s for
u ’t
new sound was all you got). Most of them in April 1986, Amstrad announced that it h ic s so that I didn o f d eveloping ?
grap t how rum 128
did beef up the size of the game: Three would phase out the 128 and replace it with a orry abou the Spect d the
have to w a s g e tting. e st art I enjoye
Weeks In Paradise added six new screens to new ‘Plus 2’ model later in the year. y co de w A t th e w piece
big m had a n
explore while Sweevo’s Whirled (an update In the meantime, enhanced 128K versions n o f fact that I th a t was
io e n t
of Sweevo’s World) added 60. A couple of of existing 48K titles continued to appear. n 48K vers of equipm unced
A cut-dow llowed. D
id ally anno
titles – Technician Ted and Gladiator – actually They included: Rasputin (featuring more t Ty m e fo not offici a launch
Knigh r th is ? I’d h a v e
tweaked the gameplay for the better. But, it screens, in-game music); International Match nic ask fo and that main
Mastertro ber if the
y . But the
was clear that most publishers were happy to Day (new European Cup competition, goal ’t re m e m title for it once it
I can r it, b u t b e n e fit
sked fo ongoing wer
test the water by dipping in a toe. celebration animation); Ghostbusters (new actually a do ed was fe
Thankfully, there was one software house ‘bouncing ball’ intro with AY movie theme); e w th at if I didn’t w as launch n initially
I kn
ion I’d irri
tate ts whe
constrain
which made a decent splash. Mastertronic Fairlight (new monsters, in-game music) a 48K vers ea rn g a titl e and
d I’d also developin reasonab
le
was not averse to taking the odd risk, and Tau Ceti (larger playing area, additional people an it would ta
ke having a
mainly due to its budget price points, and supporting data). All worthwhile purchases b e ca u se fin ally
less nstalled ip.
r the 128-i sound ch
forged ahead with the first game specifically – providing that you didn’t already own the a while fo B u t I a lso
row .
developed for the Spectrum 128. Knight original versions. base to g
yers with a
provided plau’d figured
] Knight Tyme yo
» [Spectrum stem to explore – once ip.
mini solar sytake command of the sh
out how to
Moving forward, the 128K rehashes There were some exceptions. The

Publishers played it safe,


dried up and new games started to appear Spectrum version of Little Computer People
in duel 48/128K format. One of the first such was a 128K-only affair when released in early

ensuring that their games


releases was the Level 9 adventure The Price 1987. This was a smart move by Activision,
Of Magik, which had the basic 48K version as this unique sim would have suffered if

were 48K compatible


on one side of the tape and an enhanced squeezed into 48K. As it was, the only thing
128K version with location graphics and more the player had to suffer was the 13-minute
detailed text descriptions on the other. Other load time. Magnetic Scroll’s classic adventure
titles that did a similar thing included Starglider, The Pawn was also 128K-only – and that was
Renegade, Tai-Pan and Stunt Car Racer. a 128 with a proper keyboard, integrated tape just text without any location graphics.
An alternative approach was to implement a drive and twin joystick ports – all common The most impressive 128K exclusive
loader which detected the amount of available sense additions. And it was a success, with wouldn’t arrive until August 1988. Developed
RAM and then loaded in extra data if 128K more than 300,000 Plus 2s sold in the first six by Denton Designs and published by Ocean,
was found. An early example was CRL’s Glider months. Yet these numbers were still small Where Time Stood Still was the closest thing
Rider, where David Whittaker’s amazing AY compared to the millions of 48K machines still yet to a Spectrum mega-game. Not only was
soundtrack loaded in after the game data on out there. Publishers accordingly played it safe, this sprawling adventure far too big for 48K
the 128. This became the norm in later years. ensuring that their games were 48K compatible but, technically, it couldn’t be done without
The Amstrad-manufactured Spectrum Plus 2 even if it meant poor (or nonexistent) sound and compromising the game’s visual impact. This
launched in September 1986. It was essentially painful multi-loads. was because it used the shadow screen (that
» [Spectrum] The Pawn on was only present in the 128K hardware) as
128. No graphics, but lots a double-buffer to produce a large, smooth-
of witty descriptions and
devious puzzles. scrolling playing area. The result was a game
that truly showcased the bigger-memory
rendition of the Spectrum.
Where Time Stood Still was followed by
two high profile 128K-only titles – Gremlin’s

» [Spectrum] Super-
Test 128 was rushed.
Joffa Smith revealed
that he knocked
together the triple jump
event while on holiday.

AT ER
z 128Ks L
NS
RD 48K VERSIO
THE STANDA 48K
128 COMPARED TO 48K
ER ON THE
BETT
E TRULY 48K
N TITLES THAT WER 8 K
TE 4
48K

RENEPGEA DE
R: IMAGINE
SHADORWDSOR DEVELO
SOFTWARE
STARGLIDER IME GAMES OF MO M SOFTWA
R: BEA
RE
YEAR: 1987 ve
DEVELOPE u might ha
ME PER: REALT a chance yo
KNIGHPETR:TDYAVID JONES DEVELO
YEAR: 1986
YEAR: 1987
bit and The
■ There’s
completely
missed the
de fin itive

N TED DEVELO n was ing The Hob de. That


TECHNICIA Th e Sp ec trum versio ST
■ Follow
s , M el bo ur ne
e ve rs ion of Renega
N Y E A R : 19 86 ry

to th e At ar i
O f Th e Ri ng ho m
th lay w
e in here
R: HEWSO made a moc
ke
risingly clos
e Lord n game was didn’t read
DEVELOPE ni c su rp . Th e lk ie yo u n
■ Mas te rt ro is. t only on th
e 12 8K
House’s th
ird To is, if 128K rsio ve
e-up with th original – bu nture. It ld that the
YEAR: 1986 pe d 48 K of th e 12 8 launch lin er e stri pp ed down ot he r m em orable adve you were to e un la be lled
the revam her publishe
rs w
48K versio
n was an nefit from und on th
■ Of all of 128’s Whereas ot e was no AY st one to be could be fo it up and yo
u’d
ailable at the m es and then, in id erably: ther es was the fir ch included 40 th e tape. Load
ga m es av th e in g ol d ga a co ns co ol fe at ur rsio n w hi side of ga me,
M ix’ of re he at le ex tr ch an d a 12 8K ve the fu ll
‘Mega- s, charging
peop sound or sp
ee reas on d with
launch, this the best some case display and scenes, whe be presente oulder thro
w
former was this original
128K
the rear view illustrated ly affair. Th
e
e with the sh
popular plat ou ld ex pe ct it
fo r th e pr iv ile ge ,
dg et
like
od e w ere m is sing .
K it w as a te xt on
un like co m plet
th ‘s ce ne ’, which
s you w a bu ay m 48 n an d, e four
of the lot. A tra screen
s as sold as action repl ons e well draw move and th In
usic and ex exclusive w game rious missi scenes wer ed K version.
added AY m s ird M agic Knight Cr uc ially, the va ul d do m es , they appear ere cu t from the 48
m be r of ro om title . Th e th
prev io us ov ed so al l yo u co
th e ea rlie r ga
them to be w
Gr ey ’s br illiant AY
e nu bigger than were rem for ed
(doubling th t the was much d shoot no waiting addition, Fr smacks
y to 100), bu ured a nd space an instantly – ere was ny the face
in the factor ne d to y Sp el lb ou nd and feat w as fly arou n, on th e on sc re en . Factoid: th tu ne s accompa
te entr io
ers clearly
lis
acey tune co
urtesy of
stuff. The 12
8K vers drawn was never unches.
programm date fantastic sp etty much game but it and groin cr
an d m ade the up . Th e use of in-gam
e
r ha nd , retained pr a third LOTR ec tr um .
feedba ck ak er ot he the Atar i ST r the Sp
that the David Whitt the Star that made released fo
e forgiving es such as ever ything
much mor n. Ch ie fly, Ted’s ‘S CR EEN$’ imag d to the or ab le.
rnat io ad de m em
original inca numbered mera flash original so
were now Map and ca
various jobs hi ch order llent pr es entation.
exactly in w exce
so you knew
d to ta ckle them.
you ha

128K
128K
128K
58 | RETRO GAMER 128K
128K
POWER-UP: THE SPECTRUM 128

The Muncher and Rainbird’s Carrier Command weren’t a fan of uninspired film licences
– but it wasn’t until 1990 that 128K games and overambitious coin-op conversions then
» [Spectrum] “I am
really became commonplace. Rather fittingly it perhaps you weren’t missing out that much Rasputin, heh heh heh!”
was Ocean, the company that backed the 128 after all. mocked the sinister green
face on the 128K version
from the very beginning, that ushered in the Which brings us back to Sir Clive’s opening of the game.
change with its key Christmas 1990 line-up. speech at the 128’s London launch, where he
RoboCop 2, Chase HQ 2, Pang and NARC boldly predicted the arrival of games “quite
would only run on 128K machines. It was an unlike anything seen before”. That was funny
expected and largely unopposed shift, with then and even funnier now, particularly as early
the presumption being that anyone still buying 128K games were entirely like everything seen
full-price Spectrum software would have likely before, with just a few tweaks and twiddles.
upgraded to a new 128K model at some point. Yet, over the years, the 128K software
It was also good news for the developers, library slowly amassed a decent amount of
which were now working to a 128K spec. accomplished, must-have titles – certainly
US Gold, Domark and several other enough to justify the cost of upgrading the old
publishers then followed suit. In the 48K Speccy.
Spectrum’s twilight years, if you didn’t own
a 128K machine then you’d
certainly miss
out on many
chart-topping
titles. But
then, if you

48K
48K
48K
48K
48K

BARBPAER IAN
RAGONIGNII R: PALACE
DOUBLE D
BINARY DES
R:
DEVELO RE
SOFTWA
DEVELOPE
ESWAPTER: CREATIVE YEAR: 1987 version of
STERS YEAR: 1989 as no 128K
ROAD BLDAJL SOFTWARE
was ■ There w
DEVELO is co in -op conversion ficially at least – but
■ Th of
ATS MATERIALS as a 128K Barbarian – ns of 48K
THUNDERC
E LO P E R : re leas ed do ze
DEV original ly on g
O YL E 19 88 YEAR: 1991 at bl ig hted w as a de cent th e game is am hanced
R: GARG YEAR: e develope
d us thinking
th
exclusive an
d it
have been
en
DEVELOPE clea r ca se of a gam ■ The curio
as al so inflicted – m on oc hrome grap
hics titles which
ov er th e years.
A an d II w pt ps
GAMES ade in mind ble Dragon attem e playable coding grou

e 12 8 up gr D ou nv er si on . si gh t m or by od by
co m
YEAR: 1987 st with th r 48K on US Gold
’s ESWAT but a damn um Double The 128K B
arbarian
rgoyle’s be y adapted fo ing some inal Spectr the best,
■ When it
comes to Ga tw ee n then roughl ct ed be lls and th er th at just show th an the orig rate 48 K un ch ers is one of
e call be Th e ex pe Bu t, ra la y w as , a se pa Bi tm o, brand
it’s a clos mac hi ne s.
from the re th e disp
Dragon. Bu t th en imat intr
ed
128K games d Sw ee vo ar e m issi ng of th e action, he lf of the re le as ed (o r rather feat uring an an hi rating AY
la
n tie-in an whistles eplay to the top ha version was y). ops and ex
this cartoo un derCats io n, but the gam squeezed in looked no ticed by man new backdr r games th
at
fo ol . Th K ve rs e er ythi ng ou t, un ut. Ot he
sequel Hyd
ro
nu mber
48
fe rio r as well. Th sc re en so that ev if slipped ing reason m us ic througho m ods
to th e ea bl y in w as as w ild er nt 128K
just takes it
thanks is notic diminished distorted. It For some be ed excelle
es used of speed is wonky and original e screen w
as have receiv Dan Dare,
of neat digi
tised imag
en es perception of th e ho rizontal eo ne ha d stretched an alm ost half of th e pl ay ing ud e D yn amite Dan, and
sc al m cs lik cl
, both be tw ee n
(due to th e re m ov so m e gr ap hi
blanked ou
t so it w as in ry anatos
, Th
throughout lay w indo w ) an d th e car handlin
g
Ga m e Boy game.
So
co p ca r h a lette rbox. A rk an oid, Mercena
the gamep plane lines the roug
and above rsion mpound ng too, like the game th ve been Head Over
Heels.
the 48K ve gish. To co were missi ls. The e should ha
ese ar e present in is horribly slug to be m ulti- gi nn ing of most leve Thos e responsibl en .
(th them). ages have at the be ill
far fewer of matters, st reen but st illy’s henchm
but there’s difficulty n was full sc thrown to W
ub ba rd’s fantas
tic
ed in an d there’s no t 128K versio av oi d!
b H ad ar to
Throw in Ro d you’ve go
t lo always st pretty awfu
l. One
nel music an en (so you
three-chan th e select scre .
of on e of st stag e)
the definiti
ve version from the fir
titles.
tr um ’s be st licensed
Spec

128K
128K
128K
128K
128K

RETRO GAMER | 59
Rainbow Walker
NothiNg to do with the wizard of oz
» Atari A8 directions as he attempts to restore colour to
» Synapse Software the world below him. Press the fire button and
» retrorevival

» 1983 Cedric increases his jump by an additional space,


Synapse Software is better handy for clearing the rainbow’s many gaps.
known for the likes of Blue To make Cedric’s task more difficult,
Max, Alley Cat and Shamus, numerous enemies will appear, some of which
but it’s the delightful Rainbow Walker by will make coloured tiles grey again once they
Steve Coleman that remains my favourite come into contact with them. Certain enemies
game by the developer. It’s something of an will push Cedric backwards, kill him on contact
oddity, playing like a bizarre cross between or fly off with him before dumping him into the
Trailblazer, Q*bert and Wizball, but the end ether, so they need to be avoided.
result is a highly refreshing game that still Fortunately, certain tiles feature power-ups
packs a tough challenge today. that can aid Cedric’s adventure, with the best
Playing a brave warrior named Cedric, you ones being freeze squares that allow Cedric
start off on a drab colourless rainbow and must to stomp enemies with his magic boots. Fast
restore it to its former beauty by jumping from paced and with slick arcade controls, Rainbow
tile to tile. It’s a concept that works extremely Walker is a complete and utter gem that does
well, with Cedric being able to jump in eight Synapse proud.

60 | RETRO GAMER
RETRO GAMER | 61
IN POLE
POSITION
Racing into the competitive budget market, Zeppelin Games
(now Eutechnyx) has stayed on track for the last 25 years.
Andrew Fisher talks to founder Brian Jobling and the people
who made the games to find out how the company has changed

M
any stories of software houses After working from home for years, the
from the Eighties include a company opened for business at offices on
teenager programmer buying Osborne Road in Newcastle.
a fast car, and this one is no The first wave of software set a high
exception. “At the age of 14 I wrote a standard. Draconus featured excellent
‘complete copier’ programme which graphics and a main character who switched
allowed the user to copy any tape from fire-breathing beast to swimming
game,” recalls Brian Jobling of his start fish. Duncan Scott Kershaw, who would
in the industry. later write games for Zeppelin, recalls, “I
“At the age of 14 I wrote a ‘complete remember buying that game to check out the » [Amstrad] 2088 added some original
copier’ programme which allowed the user competition and was massively impressed. ideas to its Robotron-style gameplay.

to copy any tape game,” recalls Brian Jobling It really was a great game. It doesn’t look
about his start in the industry. “One publisher much today but, at the time, it totally raised take on the same idea – if one studio had
realised the potential and suggested that the quality bar for budget games.” Zybex success with a game, it was inevitable that
I use my cracking knowledge to create a earned a prestigious ZZAP! Silver Medal and soon enough there would be multiple takes
protection system. I started writing protection wowed fans with its horizontally scrolling on the same idea or style of game. It was
systems for the major gaming publishers shoot-’em-up action. Key members of the in- a great time though – with Mastertronic,
at a royalty of two pence per cassette. house team were programmer Kevin Franklin, Ocean, Imagine, Codemasters, Quicksilva,
By the time I was 17, I had made enough graphic artist Michael Owens and musician Hi-Tec, etc – great British innovators leading
money to buy my first Porsche.” Brian left Adam Gilmore. Brian himself continued to the world in game development.”
school and started working for Tynesoft as a program for the Atari 8-bit machine. After co-founders Derek Brewster and
programmer. “During this time I met Derek Brian admits that things were pretty Martin O’Donnell left the company in 1989,
Brewster, a renowned games programmer tough to start with. “I started Zeppelin Brian’s brother Darren would join full-time. The
who was responsible for Codename MAT.” Games with the mindset of giving it two company moved to Houghton-le-Spring near
Derek had left his previous position as years, but 25 years later Eutechnyx is still Durham. Big name licenses including the hit
adventure columnist for CRASH. The pair here! In the early days of the industry it was TV show Neighbours required a bigger budget
decided to form their own development an extremely cut-throat market. Every game and were published on Impulze, a new full-
studio, Zeppelin Games, in November 1987. was piggybacked by a different studio’s price label. There were also games for the 16-

62 | RETRO GAMER
IN POLE POSITION - ZEPPELIN GAMES

» Duncan Scott Kershaw in his


office, negotiating another deal
back in June 1992.
SOFT SOAP
How do you turn a TV soap opera into a computer game? Datasoft
transformed the machinations of the Ewing family into a text
adventure with The Dallas Quest. Macsen’s Spectrum Eastenders
game was a series of terrible mini-games based in locations around
Albert Square. So what did Impulze (Zeppelin’s full price label) do with
the lucrative Neighbours license? They turned it into a racing game set
in Erinsborough.
The player controlled Scott Robinson on his skateboard, with up
to four other characters to compete against. Charlene had a go-kart,
Henry his ride-on lawnmower, Mike was on another skateboard and
Matt had borrowed Mike’s motorbike. It all made as much sense as a
Harold Bishop storyline, with players dodging kangaroos and remote
controlled cars in boring isometric tracks that resembled Paperboy. By
the time it was released, nearly all of the characters depicted had left
the show...

M
bit Amiga and Atari ST. To stay competitive, ichael was studying mathematics
new games were bought in from other at Edinburgh University and only
developers to publish, and Zeppelin would occasionally went to the offices.
often commission teams or programmers “I found Zeppelin’s offices in
to complete a game to a design. One such Houghton relaxed and friendly and enjoyed
programmer was Michael Batty. going there. It was quite small, compared
“I contacted Zeppelin in spring 1990 when with Eutechnyx anyway. Two or three of
I was trying to sell Earth Shaker to a software the staff had their own offices and there
company. It was good to find a Spectrum was a programmer’s room and a big store
software company in the North East,” says room full of tapes which I’m sure led down
Michael. “Unfortunately Zeppelin turned Earth to deep underground caverns full of even
Shaker down. They could see it was a good more tapes. Brian and Darren had bags
piece of work but were wary of publishing of enthusiasm and a professional manner
it because First Star had been threatening about them.” Zeppelin presented Michael
legal action against Boulder Dash ‘clones’ with another game to work on – Tai Chi
at the time. But they asked me if I would Tortoise. “That was a name they came up
like to work on Full Throttle II instead.” This with along with the (somewhat bonkers)
was a planned sequel to a game by Mervyn plot about the future of cheese. Teenage
J Estcourt, as Zeppelin had re-released his Mutant Hero Turtles [was] popular at the » [C64] This hold
Deathchase and Full Throttle games (through time so I assume it was based on that. Like from Tag Team
Wrestling is illegal
Derek Brewster’s contacts with Micromega). Full Throttle II, I was given a half-finished in some countries.
“Estcourt’s gameplay was spot on in both Full piece of code someone else had been » [C64] Guide your
Throttle and Deathchase (which I preferred). working on but I found it easier to start from sleepwalking uncle
back to his bed
I don’t think my gameplay was ever going to scratch myself and use my own library of in Sleepwalker.
match that. I was reasonably pleased with it, routines. I used Zeppelin’s game concepts
as it was only eight or ten weeks’ work.” but did my own graphics and music. I

In the early days of the industry it


was an extremely cut-throat market » Drew Rodgers has
kept some of his old C64
BRIAN JOBLING development disks.

» [C64] Edd The Duck was heavily


inspired by Rainbow Islands.

63
GAMES, WITH AN EMPHASIS ON
INSTANT

DEREK BREWSTER AND BRIAN

DARREN JOBLING JOINS THE


JOBLING FORM ZEPPELIN

HOLDS 100 PER CENT OF


THE COMPANY SHARES,
EXPERT

MANAGING DIRECTOR.
APPOINTING BRIAN AS
THE JOBLING FAMILY
BUDGET SOFTWARE.
TIMELINE

COMPANY.
■ Zeppelin formed in 1987 and remains in
business as Eutechnyx, now specialising in
racing and driving games. The company has » [Atari 8-Bit] The match highlights sequence from the
Kenny Dalglish endorsed football management game.
stayed loyal to the North East of England,
starting in Newcastle and now based
in Gateshead.

■ Brian Jobling was just 17 when he co-founded


1987 1989
Zeppelin with Derek Brewster, Spectrum

A
programmer and former CRASH columnist.
mong the programming teams that
■ There were four different labels under the worked for more than one budget
Zeppelin banner – Cognito, Impulze, Zeppelin publisher was Reflective Designs,
Premier and Zeppelin Platinum. based in Bradford’s Wool Exchange
and headed by programmer Duncan Scott
■ The Zeppelin Air Crew club gave two free Kershaw and musician Gerald Gourley.
8-bit budget games or one free 16-bit game to Duncan first got into programming in 1983,
new members for the £7.99 subscription fee, and talks about his first project for Zeppelin,
along with posters and a magazine. Several completed in 1990. “I was a freelance coder
software companies at the time ran their own » [C64] Pixel versions of Jimmy Hill and Des Lynam and just finished off Cobra Force for Players
clubs, offering discounts and merchandise. introducing the highlights in Match Of The Day. Premier, and wanted a quick project to pay
for a lad’s holiday to Corfu. I called Zeppelin
had lots of spare graphics kicking around and signed up to do Kick Box Vigilante for
from half-finished games.” £750. A month later I sent them the finished
Ninjas were also popular with budget game, received my cheque and went on
companies – Mastertronic had Sculptured holiday. Back in the day, nobody did any
Software’s flick-screen Ninja and Firebird QA on our titles; you coded them, got your
released Ninja Master with its Decathlon- mates to play the game and often sent them
style events. Zeppelin jumped onto the ninja directly to the duplication factory. I could have
bandwagon with two releases of its own. put anything on the tape...”
Ninja Commando stood out with its tiny well- Duncan describers how tough it was
animated sprites, the ninja leaping onto bad to get into the industry. “It was a matter
guys to earn extra weapons. Robert Toone, of sending off dozens of floppy disk
part of the Gremlin team based in Derby that submissions to publishers and hoping they’d
became the core of Core Design, contributed like what you’d made. After eventually getting
his personal project Bionic Ninja. my first game published, it became easier to
“Bionic Ninja was one of the first games I sign up new projects. To get work, you’d just
ever programmed, it was a spare time effort call publishers asking if they had any games
with graphics by my good friend Simon they wanted making or converting. Most
Phipps. I had the design down and used this deals were done on the phone, followed
game to really learn how to program whole by a contract a few days later.” Zeppelin
games with all their complexities,” says approached Duncan with an idea for another
» [C64] Fist Fighter was a budget take on Street Fighter II but reviewed poorly.
Robert. “We found Zeppelin after we finished title. “Zeppelin asked for a ‘Christmassy type
it, as we needed a publisher and they were game’ – I agreed and re-skinned a scrolling
advertising for games to release. They were shoot-’em-up I was working on (later to be
very professional and my dealings with them released as Steel Eagle for Players Premier).
were without incident, which is always a nice A good friend of mine, Mark Wilson, wrote
thing. I do remember very clearly the displays
they had in the computer games shops at the
time, and being very proud to have one of my
own games on their list.”
Looking back at the game for this feature,
Robert found a video playthrough online.
“I have to tell you, it made me a little sad.
People just come along and demean your
game, one that you poured yourself into for
a small portion of your life. I still believe the
basic design to be good, learn each bad guy
who has particular weaknesses and then on
» [C64] Zybex is an ace scrolling
later levels mix and match them to create a shoot-’em-up that you need to play.
» [C64] P…p…play as a penguin in International 5-A-Side’s hidden mode.
more interesting gameplay experience.”

64 | RETRO GAMER
IN POLE POSITION - ZEPPELIN GAMES

ACTIVISION PUBLISHES NASCAR

GAME AUTO CLUB REVOLUTION


EUTECHNYX AFTER EA SPORTS’
PUBLISHING DEAL. EUTECHNYX

NASCAR GAME DEVELOPED BY


WORK TO STUDIOS IN EUROPE

BECOME A PUBLISHER AGAIN.


THE PUBLISHING AGREEMENT

THE JOBLINGS REGAIN TOTAL


MACHINES CONSOLE GAMES.
WITH CODEMASTERS ON THE

THE COMPANY RELEASES ITS

SUBSIDIARY COMPANIES SET

PRIMEVENTURES WORTH $10


SECRET RACING FRANCHISE.
EUTECHNYX GAINS THE TOP
PLAYSTATION. INFOGRAMES
COMPANY AND RENAMES IT

MILLION HELPS EUTECHNYX


THE COMPANY IS RENAMED
PETE SAMPRAS AND MICRO

UP IN THE USA, CHINA AND

2011: THE GAME, THE FIRST


EUTECHNYX OUTSOURCES
CONTROL OF EUTECHNYX.
MERIT STUDIOS BUYS THE

PURCHASES A STAKE AND


AND PUBLISH GAMES FOR

WITH INFOGRAMES ENDS.

BROWSER-BASED RACING
ZEPPELIN COLLABORATES

MERIT STUDIOS EUROPE.

EUTECHNYX AND GAINS

FOCUSES ON DRIVING &


A LICENSE TO DEVELOP

SIGNS AN EXCLUSIVE

INVESTMENT FROM
LAST 8-BIT TITLES.

THE FREE-TO-PLAY
RACING GAMES.

LICENSE ENDS.
AND CANADA.

IS LAUNCHED.
HONG KONG.
» [Atari 8-Bit] Kill it with fire.
1993 1994 1996 2000 2003 2006 2009 2010 2011 2012 Draconus had a neat way of dealing
with the numerous enemies.

License holders trust us with


WHERE ARE THEY NOW? their intellectual property
BRIAN JOBLING
Duncan Scott Kershaw
Duncan worked for the music for the game, which gave it a
Codemasters, where nice cheesy Christmassy vibe. Believe it or
he created music not, that game (Santa’s Christmas Capers)
drivers for the Game
went to number one.” The story has an
Gear and Master
System. As he puts unhappy ending, with Duncan taking legal
it himself, he “turned action to get full payment – something
to the dark side” and that happened with many companies at
became a producer. the time, making such freelance work
He is currently at
Square Enix London,
precarious. He talks fondly about his
where he was proud haunted office, the bizarre moment a gun
Brian and Darren Jobling to be part of the team was pushed through the letterbox one
Brian (pictured, right) has stayed at the company that brought Sleeping lunchtime and how he misses coding.
throughout the last 25 years, now in the role of Dogs to the market.
“The industry has changed massively over
executive chairman and frequently flying around
the world to supervise development. Other family
the years, but I still enjoy making games
members have been involved, with brother Darren Robert Toone and feel privileged to work in such an
(pictured left) the current Chief Operating Officer. Robert was at Core Design until 1994, before exciting business. You knew where you
briefly joining Malibu Games (a subsidiary of were with 64K of RAM, the SID and VIC
THQ). At Mass Media Inc, formed by former
Michael Batty Cinemaware directors, he worked on the Nintendo
chips, and 6502 assembly.”

Z
Michael earned his 64 conversion of StarCraft. When THQ closed the
mathematics degree and studio, Robert was part of the new Mass Media eppelin carried on supporting
became Doctor Batty in Games start-up that rose from the ashes. the 8-bit machines well into the
1998, studying geometric
Nineties, which was applauded by
group theory and the
group-theoretic aspects Drew Rodger the magazines at the time. “It was
of quantum computing. After Zeppelin, Drew’s next job in the games part of the heritage of Zeppelin Games and,
After lecturing at several industry was at Crush! Holdings, run by industry » [PlayStation] Total Drivin’ at that time, there was still a great demand
major universities, Michael veteran Jon Dean. He describes it as a fun place was the game that set a
new direction for the newly-
for the software,” explains Brian. Among
retrained in computer to work with many talented people and late-night
science and went into web design. Currently
renamed Eutechnyx. the last wave of titles was the brilliant Arnie
Quake LAN sessions. Cash flow problems saw
working for web design agency TH_NK in the company close just four months after Drew
Newcastle, among his projects is the www. had joined. Drew switched to IT and is currently
pottermore.com website for Harry Potter fans. telecommuting from his home in Belfast.

» [Spectrum] Michael Batty’s » [C64] Alternative had The Official Father Christmas, so » [C64] An Atari ST version of Zeppelin’s second
Full Throttle II in action. Zeppelin published Santa’s Christmas Capers. logo, after rebranding in the early Nineties.

RETRO GAMER | 65
DEFINING GAMES

ZYBEX STACK UP TITANIC BLINKY ARNIE (C64) AUTO CLUB


One of the best horizontally Taking its cue from Columns, this is This was Blinky’s second outing, Chris Butler delivered a budget REVOLUTION
scrolling shoot-’em-ups on 8-bit a bright and colourful puzzle game the first being Blinky’s Scary blast in the mould of Commando Could free-to-play be the future
and all at a budget price. Great on both 8 and 16-bit formats. The School. The little ghost has to – one man taking on an army in a for the company? This PC game
visuals and sounds on all formats difficulty level soon builds up but thwart eccentric millionaire Arthur twisting maze of isometric scrolling. has single and multiplayer modes
complement the excellent it has that elusive ‘just one more J Hackensack in his base – the Diminutive sprites and powerful on recreated tracks, but it is the
weapon system (collect weapons go’ factor that is typical of the best recently raised SS Titanic. The end extra weapons make this a lot community features (with players
to increase their strength, lose games in the genre. It also proved result is a great mixture of puzzles of fun. The horizontally scrolling racing in Auto Clubs to climb the
strength from the weapon you that there was more to Zeppelin and platform action, with cute and Amiga game is very different, and leaderboards and earn new licensed
are holding when you die) and the Games than just sports and racing colourful graphics that could rival the the C64 sequel that arrived in 1993 cars like this gorgeous Mclaren
choice of route through the game. titles. An enjoyable puzzler. best Dizzy games. has its flaws. MP4) that will appeal the most.

» [Amiga] Carnage was a 16-bit top-down racer.


by veteran C64 coder Chris Butler and the be published in the European market. The
very cute platform game The Bod Squad – move was an invaluable experience – it
featuring an alien who travelled through time taught us everything we know about the
in a blue police box. Zeppelin also re-released Americans and the American market,”
its full price titles at a budget price but Brian remembers. Just two titles would
continued to create original titles for various be published under the Merit Studios
systems. Working on many of those late name – The Machines (a PC port of
releases was musician Drew Rodger, who Amiga game Universal Warrior) and Bud
first got a Commodore 64 in 1984 and started Tucker In Double Trouble.
composing after meeting fellow musician As the company looked to new
Barry Leitch at his local computer club. markets, it worked alongside former rivals
“I’d get a phone call from Gareth Briggs Codemasters on licensed console games.
(development manager) who would give The Pete Sampras tennis games for the converting Micro Machines to the SNES.
me the title of the game – for example, Mega Drive used the innovative J-Cart to However, the new generation of CD-based
‘International 5-A-Side ’ and verbally list provide multiplayer action, including consoles offered a big opportunity, and came
the tunes and sound effects required: Title four human players for a game with a new name.
music, Hi-Score, Game-Over, Whistle, of doubles. Zeppelin also “Darren got the name out of an old English
Crowd Cheer etc. I’d normally have worked on dictionary, just below Eurythmics,” says Brian.
three or four days to turn that around,” “Eutechnyx was originally spelt Eutechnics,
remembers Drew. “Sleepwalker was the which means ‘a well-ordered sequence of
first commercial game I worked on so that events’ – which is exactly what computer
was a real buzz, but at the same time it was game code is. Unfortunately, at the time, the
a bit terrifying to think that I was involved in domain name Eutechnics.com was already
creating something that would actually be
sold in shops! The Sleepwalker title music
Brian and Darren had bags of taken, so we decided to change the spelling
to Eutechnyx. We have regretted it ever since,
was ‘inspired’ by the tune playing over the enthusiasm and a professional having to spell it at least five times every

manner about them


end credits to a children’s wildlife program day!” The newly named company parted with
that just happened to be on TV the afternoon Merit Studios, earned a license to develop and
I got the job!” Sleepwalker (not to be MICHAEL BATTY publish games on the PlayStation and entered
confused with Ocean’s Comic Relief game) into a three-year publishing deal with the
sees a young man trying to protect his » [Atari ST] True to life, rain stops play in a game between French company Infogrames. This is also the
sleepwalking uncle from the many hazards England and Australia (World Class Cricket). time when the emphasis on racing and driving
(loose wires, falling bricks and exposed nails) titles first came to the fore.
around a dilapidated mansion. Drew tried out “In 1996, Eutechnyx had two games in
ideas on a Yamaha keyboard before entering development for the original PlayStation –
all the notes manually in an assembler. one was an RPG called Sato City and the
“Zeppelin were fun to work for and (almost) other a driving game, Total Drivin’. When
always paid me on-time. I think they liked the deal with Infogrames was made the
me because I was cheap!” publisher was keen to produce a racing game
The big change came in 1993. “Zeppelin to add to their catalogue – so, Total Drivin’ it
Games was sold to Merit Studios in 1993 was and the rest is history!” explains Brian,
and was renamed Merit Studios Europe. adding “If we had made Sato City, it all could
This allowed all games produced in the have been so different…”
European offices to be published in the US The company has continued to develop
market and all the US produced games could and publish games with cars – and trucks

66 | RETRO GAMER
IN POLE POSITION - ZEPPELIN GAMES

» [Spectrum] Who says tortoises can’t do Tai Chi?

SPORTY
Sports games were ADAPTABILITY
a big seller for budget Zeppelin has always
companies, quick to develop supported different formats.
and guaranteed to appeal to In 8-bit times it released games
players. Change shirt colour and for Atari 800 and MSX, moved
you have a new character/team/ onto 16-bit and PC and now
country. International Ice Hockey and Eutechnyx covers the major
the football management games consoles as well
featuring Kenny Dalglish and as PC.
Graeme Souness are
prime examples.

– in them. Le Mans 24 Hours (known as


Test Drive Le Mans in the USA) simulated
the famous endurance race and allowed the
player to drive for 24 hours if they wanted to,
while 007 Racing gave the chance to drive
many of the iconic cars from the James
Bond films. Big Mutha Truckers, published by
THQ, sold over 1 million units but drew the
company into controversy. “We’ve worked
on over 350 games, but only one of them
resulted in death threats! When Big Mutha
Truckers was released in the USA some
truckers took real offence to our portrayal of
the average life of a trucker. Ever since, we
give those 18-wheelers a wide berth when
we hit the States!” remarks Brian. Still, there
was demand for a sequel.

W
ith the Infogrames deal coming
to an end, the Jobling brothers
bought out the French company
to regain control. The games and
licenses continued, right up to the current
NASCAR deal. “We attract the best staff
from around the world that want to make
great racing games,” says Brian. “Eutechnyx
has developed a great reputation for driving TRENDY
and racing games, including Formula 1,
NASCAR, 007, Ferrari Challenge, and many
others. Eutechnyx has become the world’s
THE DNA OF… The budget market
was filled with ‘copycat’
releases, so spotting a
trend and getting your game
leading independent driving and racing out quickly was important.
game developer – publishers trust us with Be it wrestling, one-on-one
their biggest projects and license holders combat or ninjas, Zeppelin
trust us with their intellectual property.” The put out its take on
company has expanded overseas thanks them all.
to further investment, opening offices in RACY
three countries. It is now pushing forwards Zeppelin had mixed
with Auto Club Revolution – a free-to-play results in the racing
browser-based racing game with several genre, from the Badlands/
Super Sprint inspired Carnage to
social features.
the poorly received International
In closing, how does Brian see the future? Truck Racing. But, Eutechnyx
“The computer games industry is very much has gone from strength to
BRAND
about change. Over 25 years Eutechnyx has strength, gaining major
FRIENDLY
The company built a good
seen more than its fair share of evolution in licences and building
understanding with the BBC,
a reputation.
the games market. It seems as though now licensing Match Of The Day as an
we have gone full circle – starting with £1.99 icon-driven football management game,
children’s TV star Edd The Duck and soap
tape cassette games, we’ve moved up to full
opera Neighbours (then shown on the
price console £59.99 retail games and now, BBC). ITV’s Round The Bend was another
with the build up of mobile gaming, we are children’s show license. Nowadays,
back to 99 pence! The industry very much Eutechnyx works closely with car
moves in cycles and, although this change manufacturers, racing teams and
famous drivers to recreate
has been the most significant in 25 years, the them in-game.
need for great games has never disappeared.
25 years later, Eutechnyx is still here and is
continuing to build upon its strengths.”

RETRO GAMER | 67
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cann on
fod der an non F odder was com bining
Sensible Soware’s Cg before Command & Conquer
war and strategy long with it. Darran Jones speaks
began experimentin art Campbell and asks them
to Jon Hare and Stu d miniature mayhem
how they create

70 | RETRO GAMER
THE HISTORY OF CANNON FODDER

was put into its


sheer amount of work that

w
e ask Jon Hare about Can
non
men t. “Le vel des ign- wise it’s the
develop
Fodder ’s origins, expecting e on a gam e,” reveals
most I’ve ever don
a technical insight into its ut Can non Fod der ’s meticulous
Jon abo
development. “I think it der the
gs whe re we were planning. “With Cannon Fod
was one of tho se thin
plan was that eve ry level would have
. It started off
playing around with an idea something new in it that you
’d not seen
gro up of blob s pro bab ly wandering e it as our most
as a before. I would describ
in a group.”
around a screen and firing pre-cal cula ted gam e. We wor ked out all
like the most
Okay, so it doesn’t sound the content we wan ted in the game and
ring the
wondrous of starts – conside then reve rse- eng inee red it into level one,
e in question –
brilliance of the actual gam level two, level three, leve
l four, so we
, gam e des ign was
but, as Jon poin ts out
kne w that the gam e was always ramping
Nineties. “A lot
a lot different in the early up. It was deliberately buil
t with this ramp
gam es in thos e day s star ted off as
of the up of content.”
rather than in
things running on a screen, It was a great plan, ensurin
g that you’d
Pre tty mu ch eve ryth ing we what
» [PC] Levels in both Cannon Fodder and
doc um ent. e to see
a
e days.” play through each stag Cannon Fodder 2 will often drop you in
did turned into games in thos was nex t in stor e for you r miniature hot water, requiring you to think fast or die.
at hand he
As Jon warms to the subject honest, they lacked the refi
rs of info rmation nement of the

“we were playing a


begins to reca ll othe r slive original Amiga outing.
esis, and it
about Cannon Fodder ’s gen

c
ome s clea r that its inspiration

lot of lemmings”
soon bec annon Fodder also proved
dist inct games.
came from two very controversial, with certain
mem ber the old gam e Rambo? The
“Re newspapers taking offence
bo, but with JON HARE at its
initial thought was like Ram satirical take on war – althoug
some guy h
a group of people. So we put iit’s
t’s hard to tell if they’d play
and got him to soldiers. And there was a
lot to see in ed the game
in the centre of the screen they were lambasting. “Can
et – noth ing orig inal ssio n through non Fodder is
walk around, fire a bull Cannon Fodder. Progre not a serious war game in
and then we kind of tagg ed people s gav e you acc ess to more the sense that
in that – the rank the weapons are accurate,
ld flock beh ind him s, veh icle s rang ed from the settings
behind him. They wou powerful weapon are accurate,” Jon states, whe
[we re] in a line and that was kind s to heli cop ters and skid oos, while n we ask
if you tank him about the controversy
that time we was superb. it received
of the origination. [Also] at the actual control system at the time. “If I look at Can
a lot of Lem min gs in our der was enti rely mouse non Fodder,
wer e play ing Can non Fod look at the influences and
ost a yea r in our com pan y ked like a dre am. Simply where it comes
office. For alm driven and wor from, to me it’s a cross betw
Lemmings With n with the een a ’Nam
Cannon Fodder was called clicking anywhere onscree film and Blackadder. I think
rnal name. So se your it kind of sits
Weapons – that was its inte left mouse button would cau somewhere between thos
you get the gro up in that dire ction, e two influences.
maybe that’s where little squad to move It’s a very British take on war
thin g – our min dse t at the time was
a quic k pre ss of the sec ond button . There’s a
kind of while certain naivety about war
mings, looking a reticule, (particularly in
probably thinking about Lem would turn your pointer into my generation) because you
gam es and how we cou ld to mo w dow n enemy ’ve not really
at com bat allo win g you grown up with it, you don’t
wn in an hear people talk
combine the two.” soldiers. Grenades were thro about it. Cannon Fodder alm
wor k on thei r le the whole ost plays with
Jon and his team got to equally impressive way, whi war themes. The bit that real
ly began to and easy ly touches into
idea and Cannon Fodder slow interface was extremely slick the war stuff is all the stuff
t of the reas on for ’s con trols about people
form. Jon feels that par to use. Cannon Fodder dying, which came relative
down to the ly near the end
its success at the time was ported surprisingly well to of the game. When we first
e, started making
» [PC] There is a variety of vehic les to use, and consoles like the Mega Driv the game we just wanted to
r you get. uar and Sup er make a
they get more impre ssive the furthe Ata ri Jag game with good levels that
played
Nintendo but, if we’re well and had stuff to do and
was fun,
which you do with any gam
e really.”
Cannon Fodder ’s popularity
and success ensured that a
sequel was inevitable but,
interestingly, Jon wasn’t as
actively involved as he was
on the original. Instead, the
main
thrust of the design fell of
the shoulders
of Stuart Campbell, who bec
ame Cannon
l of Sensible
Fodder 2 ’s main designer. It
» [PC] The map screen is typica was a baptism
Software’s quirky sense of humo
ur. of fire for Stuart, who
joke.
Unfortunately, some didn’t get the found himself

RETRO GAMER | 71
wa l l o f n o
r e tthaut insr
Jon Hare discusses
an
n
in the original CannoneFo
difficulty spike
dder
One of the most infamou
s aspects
of Cannon Fodder is the
difficulty
spike that hits you on Mis
sion
Eight. We were keen to
get Jon’s
thoughts on a stage that
was so
difficult, Stuart Campbe
ll (and we
bet a large number of gam
be found, ers)
» [PC] There’s plenty of variety to never saw past it.
nments.
with a lot of diversity to the enviro
“Personally, with the exc
ple you’re eption
ed of just social life with the same peo of the football games, I’ve
on a small team that consist always be the not
working with all day , ther e’ll gotten that involved with
ls Jam eso n – onc e again on the
himself, Joo odd bus t-up .” difficulty settings of any
and artis t John of our games,” begins Jon
programming duties – Odd bust-ups aside, Stuart
and his broach the subject to him when we
nsib le rang me up one day in aged to . “You get too close to it.
Lillee. “Se
ce and said : ‘Do you tiny team set to work and man get too good at it, so I’m
happy to rely on mathem
You know? And you
the Amiga Power offi king little gam e that , while atical calculations
for us? ’” recalls deliver a crac of difficulty, like little equ
ations on AI strength and
y com ing to wor k non Fod der , still
fanc
ue about the not doing as well as Can change numbers to mak
e things easier. I think rou
stuff. We can just
Stuart. “They were a bit vag accrued very favo urab le sco res upon its Eight it got a bit complex nd about Mission
cifics – to be fair, that was still the issues of the , in retrospect.”
job spe
ally doin g the job – release. One of the biggest “The thing with Mission
Eight is that I just did som
case when I was actu
e was that man y felt it was more of There was this mission ething too clever.
r I cou ldn’t refuse gam and the only way you cou
but they made me an offe an add-on disk rather than
a standalone drive a jeep off the edge ld progress was to
was that . For vari ous reas ons I Stuart and of a cliff, land in some wat
and that
iga Pow er at the sequel – something that both out of the jeep before it
sank and swim away. If
er and then jump
wasn’t very happy on Am – and that it didn ’t feature a you were watching a
hing at an open Jon agree with Bond movie you’d go: ‘Oka
y, I understand what I’m
time, so they wer e pus This was mainly
Cannon Fodder lot of new enhancements. but I guess it was a bit
counterintuitive and that
doing, fair enough’,
door and when I got there due to Can non Fod der 2 usin g the same people got to. It wasn’t was the block that
task .” n on the even so much the difficult
first
my engine, which greatly cut dow
2 was was just the puzzle was y setting of the AI, it
a bit too abstract for som
wer e just stretched

s
’s flexib ility. “We e people.”
the team
tuart soon found himself on a bit, and not putting any new
features in
r side of the joyp ad, des igning of de-risking
othe Can non Fod der 2 was a way
of criti quin g them .
games instead ut the sequel’s
w that side,” explains Jon abo time when we were too bus
y already.”
We were interested to kno direction. “It would have bee n nice to add Despite the inflexibility of the
ment was to core engine,
how different game develop new stuff, but then I’d hav e bee n a lot Stuart still feels happy with
writing abo ut them . “While the go. At least
the final game,
actu ally
of ways – fun, more nervous about letting telling us, “I was pleased with
some of the
two jobs are similar in a lot this way all I knew could go
wrong was new things we made players
it teams of es and stuff. do, like the
creative work with close-kn level design, grap hics and nam ‘speedway’ stage. I liked all
e you get to the cultural
young people – on a magazin The leve l des ign isn’ t an issu e to me; it’s references I got in there – lots
ur eve ry month. of Britpop
see the fruits of your labo only the art really. It just cam
e at a bad stuff and quite a few levels
t is eno rmo usly slow er and paying tribute
Develop men to other games, before that
han ds-o n the who le sort of thing
you’re not quite so was commonplace – and I
,” he exp lain s. “Th ere’ s a lot of sitting » [PC] Some levels have natural think it’s got a
time hazards that will kill you if you far smoother difficulty curv
ple to do stuff e. I also like the
around waiting for other peo stumble into them. approach JL and I took with
re you can get on with your bit. Also, the ‘gangster’
befo levels, where we sacrificed
, which brings a certain
there are a lot fewer of you degree of physics consistenc
there were y to create a
certain pressures. At Future really atmospheric city full
r mag s as wel l as AP, so your of alleys, streets
all the othe and skyscrapers.”
es of hun dreds of
social circle compris One thing he’s less happy
Sen sibl e was stuc k awa y in Saffron about is
people. the dropping of the novella
e isn’t a lot to he wrote,
Walden, where ther which explained Cannon Fod
or ten der 2 ’s plot.
do, and there were only nine The game is set in a number
ious ly has goo d and of time
of us which obv periods, not to mention an
alien planet,
bad sides. I’d say the Sensi which gives Cannon Fodder
2 a distinctly
team was perhaps even different, surreal look com
pared to its
tighter than the AP one predecessor (something Jon
and I enjoyed my time
n
there immensely, but whe
you spe nd a lot of you r

72 | RETRO GAMER
THE HISTORY OF CANNON FODDER

t that game, let’s speak to Jon abo


» [Amiga] Sadly, budget cuts mean ut the Cannon
never » [Amiga] I want my mummy! Fodder 3 that didn’t get mad
the plot of Cannon Fodder 2 was e…
really explained. “I had just come off the bac
k of Sex,
Drugs And Rock And Roll, whi
ch was a
huge disappointment for me,
” begins
Jon when we quiz him abo
ut the Cannon
Fodder that went missing in
action. “I
went straight onto Cannon
Fodder 3 which
ended up also being a disa
ppointment, so
this really pissed me off.” Jon
goes on to
tell us that when Sensible
Software was
sold to Codemasters in 199
9, part of the
agreement of the sale was
erage in the that Jon would
still regrets). The slim cov stay on at Codemasters and
ions left man y gam ers confused as on Cannon Fodder 3. This
begin work
instruct is exactly what
der ’s seq uel looked so
to why Cannon Fod happened to begin with, with
Jon working
eren t. “I thin k its abs enc e diminishes fervently on a design docume
diff nt for three
ause there’s
the game considerably, bec months, one he calls “a real
ly, really good
all of why

“to me it’s a cross


basically no explanation at design.” Before long though,
Cannon
ugh space
you’re zooming about thro Fodder 3 hit a string of pro
blems.
“But Cannon

between a ’nam film


and time,” explains Stuart. “After we did the design, we
e out nea r the end of the started to
Fodder 2 cam put a team together and [Co
nstr eam format, and demasters]
Amiga’s life as a mai

and blackadder” JON HARE


gave me eight or nine real
rest ed in spending ly good
Virg in wer en’t inte programmers,” recalls Jon
absolutely of the game
a single penny more than that would have been release
ary on it. I felt a lot better after I put the brand would
d on
nec ess
site .” to be,” he admits. “Maybe PlayStation, Xbox and PC.
“I was thinking:
the storyline on my web htly stro nge r if Cannon ‘this is great, this is the bes
hav e bee n slig t team I’ve ever
sort of
Fodder 2 had been a different had working on a game, it’s

o
going to be
ne aspect that we did find k at the depth
just game. Looked different… Loo brilliant.’ Unfortunately thes
e guys were
about Cannon Fodder 2 is sible Soccer,
s in SWOS compared to Sen too good and, about two or
three months
how much more brutal it feel e don e and, had later, they moved to the core
the orig inal gam e. that’s what we could hav team at
compare d to
pro perl y focu ssed , that ’s what Codemasters, doing the core
e aggressive we been coding for
The enemy AI is a lot mor e. Don ’t get me wrong, everything.” Annoyed with
deviously placed we would have don the setback,
than we remember, while I’m not ash ame d of Can non Fod der 2 – Jon found himself working
at the Fulham
k of you if you
enemies will make short wor Sensible Golf was a different
kettle of fish, office with a team of 30-odd
ep men talit y. Can non Fodder 2 non Fodder 2 is a
people that
adopt a she I hate Sen sibl e Gol f – Can he co-managed with Dave
Vout, where
k on thei r feet and the art is a
rewards those who thin good game, I just thin k som e of he was involved with Prince
Naseem
s thos e who play poo rly. We were run a company
punishe
was hap py with the bit… naff. Anyone who has Boxing. He refers to the peri
od as the
keen to know if Stu art trol frea k like me is goin g to
e. “Yes, though and is a con » [Amiga] There are a number of
cult y twe aks he mad som etim es and be
diffi
t a bit too far,” make a mistake like this buildings on most levels that must be
with hindsight I think it wen too han ds-o ff.” destroyed before you continue.
rookie error –
he admits. “It’s the classic Cannon Fodder 2 may not
have turned
for weeks and
you’re playing it every day out exactly the way that Jon
d at it and
months, so you get really goo wanted, but there’s no den
ying that
too eas y. It abs olut ely murders me le game,
think it’s
et aud ience was it remains a highly enjoyab
now. Then again, the targ ition to the seri es.
to death and a solid add
who ’d play ed the first one
people The same can’t be said
e in muc h the sam e boat.
and were therefor for the third Cannon
ple wer e finish ing it with in days of
Peo
n that hard.” Fodder, a disastrous
release, so it can’t have bee attempt by Burut
-jumping and
Aside from its baffling time CT to reboot the
llen ge, Can non Fod der 2 ’s gaudy
tough cha franchise for modern
poin t of con tention
visuals also proved a day gamers. Before we
e – par ticu larly Jon , who se
for som recall that sorry
World Of
involvement with Sensible
cer mea nt he was n’t taki ng as
Soc
its visu als and overall
much note of
of.
progress as he felt he should
“From my poin t of view
I’m not quite as happy with
Cannon Fodder 2 as I wanted

RETRO GAMER | 73
the Russian conflict
hard to
» [PC] If you thought things were has now gotten
you
see in Cannon Fodder 2, wait until worse. If you’d
r 3.
play the mess that is Cannon Fodde
gone earlier the
enemies wouldn’t
be so entrenched. Some are
also building up nuclear wea
pons in the
background, so the longer
you leave them
the more dangerous they get.

Sadly, the design for that par
ticular
version of Cannon Fodder
3 stays in Jon’s
head for now, but a string
of cancellations
didn’t mean that Codemaster
t he’s been s was finished
best developer environmen with the series. A PSP outi
ng was planned,
e Sof twa re, but he
in since leaving Sensibl simply titled Cannon Fodder
– without
to be dea lt ano ther crue l blow. Jon’s involvement – which
was abo ut » [PC] Cannon Fodder 3 featured
wer e goin g thro ugh currently has a Metacritic the ability to call in air strik
“Codemasters, who es and use a
ods of gett ing them selv es ready for rating of 49 per cent… variety of weapons, from fl
peri amethrowers
e money

“i felt a lot better


sale at the time, needed som to sniper rifles. Although it
was due for
best assets
and decided that one of the a release early in 2007, it nev
er actually
office,” Jon
they had was their Fulham appeared. Instead we got Can

after i put the


the building non Fodder
glumly recalls. “So they sold 3 – a game neither Jon nor
Stuart have
and the
ebsite”
few million quid played – a distinctly average

storyline on my wSTU
in Fulh am for a follow-up that
whole team disappe ared .” boasted ugly visuals, bland
level design,
ART CAMPBELL outdated stereotypes of ene

c
with mal Cannon my soldiers
annon Fodder 3 disappeared mission. “You fight in the nor and lots and lots of over-th
e-top and rather
it, but Jon doggedly refused
to es Jon , “but the skills
Fodder way,” continu pointless explosions. While
it still looks like
give up on the project and
before peo ple hav e an infl uen ce on what a Cannon Fodder game and
of the plays like one,
ano ther every level
long found him self with you can do better or not, and it’s let down by clunkier con
trols, garish
who wer e at a loos e end got two of thre e diffe rent ways to finish visuals and extremely dull
internal team has level design. It’s
n working on ’ve got a level that’s
after the game they had bee it. For example, if you basically a poor game, con
sidering how
ted up once could simply
was also can ned . Wo rk star a long, long way around, you many years it took to actually
arrive, and is
, meaning it down the other
again, but was again aborted scale a mountain and jump a sorry note for the series
to finish on.
strik e. We begin ntai neer guy to
was Jon ’s third and final side if you have the mou Of course, the real questio
n is whether
trat ed as Jon sou nds on the bit for you . You ’re bala ncing the Jon would ever return to atte
to get as frus do that mpt a Cannon
ts talking about the mis sion.” Jon
phone because, as he star skills of your team with Fodder 4 if Codemasters was
willing.
3, it’s clear min ent aspect
his plans for Cannon Fodder describ es cho ice as a pro “I’d be interested in doing
and belief glob al world it I guess – if
of pas sion wel l, with a someone’s going to pay mon
that he still has a lot of the game as ey…” Our
ject he just cou ldn’ t get off en sho win g you whe re different wars advice for fans is not to hold
in the pro scre your breath…
you to choose
the ground. are breaking out, allowing
to make by t. “The world
“This is a game I’d still like which areas you’ll tackle nex Special thanks to Jon Hare,
Stuart
us, befo re goin g into ngin g all the time , so if you Campbell and www.gog.c
the way,” he tells map is cha om for making
interesting South America,
some of the game’s more [decide] to go and fight in this article possible.
mechanics. Jon goes on to
describe how by the time you come back
for the US
you would be working » [PSP] This reboot of Cannon Fodder
Forc e and wou ld hav e
Peace was due out in 2007 but was cancelled.
rent
access to a number of diffe Jon wasn’t involved with it.
at the beg inni ng of eac h
men
skill
stage, each with their own
sets. Additional men can be
found as you explore levels,
which in turn can be added
y,
to your slowly growing arm
e
effectively giving you mor
each
flexibility as you approach

74 | RETRO GAMER
s
THE HISTORY OF CANNON FODDER
i
wa r
e l l
h f un st
ore videogames set aagrain
M of w
the backdrop

BLUE MAX RED BARON


■ YEAR: 1983 ■ YEAR: 1980
■ DEVELOPER: SYNAPSE SOFTWARE ■ DEVELOPER: ATARI INC
■ GENRE: SHOOT’EMUP ■ GENRE: FLYING
Zaxxon was an extremely popular arcade This is one of the earliest videogames set in a
blaster, so it was only a matter of time before World War and in some respects plays like an
we got a home equivalent. Blue Max is one earlier version of Atari’s smash hit Star Wars.
of the best, replacing the futuristic ship with Playing a bi-plane pilot you must take down
a Sopwith Camel and the Zaxxon theme tune incoming enemy planes, while avoiding their
THE GREAT ESCAPE with Rule Britannia. It’s a fast-paced shooter return fire. It’s effectively Battlezone in the sky
■ YEAR: 1986 ■ DEVELOPER: DENTON DESIGNS ■ GENRE: ADVENTURE that allows you to change altitude as you weave and shares the same vector graphics hardware.
Who cares if it had little in common with the film it was based on? The Great Escape was a superb your way past enemy fighters and take out It’s not aged as well as the aforementioned Star
isometric adventure from Denton Designs that still plays brilliantly today. Unlike many other war strategically placed bomb targets. A highly Wars, but proved to be a lot of fun when it turned
games, you’re actually a prisoner who is trying to escape his German captors. You do this by sneaking satisfying blaster. up in Game Room.
around the grounds, retrieving specific items and following the daily routines of your fellow prisoners.

RETURN FIRE
■ YEAR: 1995 ■ DEVELOPER: SILENT
SOFTWARE INC ■ GENRE: RTS
A thrilling game of capture-the-flag that becomes
amazingly tense when played against a second
player. Single-player was less exciting, as there
was no proper AI in place, but the beautifully
balanced multiplayer mode more than made up
for it. It was later released on PlayStation and PC.

COMPANY OF HEROES CALL OF DUTY


■ YEAR: 2006 ■ YEAR: 2003
■ DEVELOPER: RELIC ENTERTAINMENT ■ DEVELOPER: INFINITY WARD
■ GENRE: RTS ■ GENRE: FIRSTPERSON SHOOTER
Tremendously refreshing upon release, and not Before Black Ops, Ghosts and Modern Warfare
just due to its World War II setting. There’s a there was just Call Of Duty – and it was great.
far bigger focus on micromanagement, a huge Created by many of the team members who had
amount of customisation and brilliantly designed worked on Medal Of Honor: Allied Assault, Call
maps that offer plenty of replay value. It’s been Of Duty was notable for following the exploits
supported by some excellent expansions and of three different soldiers and introducing neat
mods, while Company Of Heroes 2 has just been effects like help from allied soldiers, cover and
released by Sega to critical acclaim. simulating getting tinnitus when hit by shells.

1942
■ YEAR: 1984
■ DEVELOPER: CAPCOM
■ GENRE: CAPCOM
This fantastic shooter is set in the Pacific
Theatre of World War II and focusses on you
shooting down enemy fighters. There’s only
a single power-up on offer, but well designed COMMANDOS: BEHIND ENEMY LINES
attack waves and a variety of aircraft and ■ YEAR: 1998 ■ DEVELOPER: PYRO STUDIOS ■ GENRE: STRATEGY
ships ensures that the action remains fast Commandos plays like a thinking man’s Cannon Fodder. Set across impressively detailed
and furious. It has spawned numerous isometric maps, you must lead your crack team of commandos behind enemy lines and use
sequels over the years, with the most recent their unique skills and weapons to solve the game’s many varied missions. Sneaking takes
being 1942: Joint Strike, released in 2004. priority over gunfights, and the level design is extremely well balanced.

RETRO GAMER | 75
0
s
r
2
a
e
Y

2 0 Y E

It was the first time I


had encountered parallel
processing, which took
some getting used to Wayne SmithSon

76 | RETRO GAMER
JAGUAR: 20 YEARS ON

A R S O N
Atari’s last games console remains one of the biggest missed opportunities
in the history of our industry. Kieren Hawken went out on the prowl to find out
why this much-maligned console is still purring aer all these years

T
he Jaguar story begins back in 1989, become old hat. To Atari’s credit, it listened and,
around the same time Atari was in 1991, the Panther was dropped – just as it was
releasing its Lynx handheld. Richard close to completion – and the Jaguar came alive. It
Miller – a former member of a team of was Jack Tramiel himself, the legendary chairman
ex-Sinclair engineers Flare Technology, who had of Atari, who chose the name based upon the same
previously developed the Konix Multi-System rationale as the Panther naming. With Flare being a
– was now a director over at Atari in Sunnyvale British company, it made perfect sense to name the
where it was working on a new 16/32-bit hybrid new console after his favourite British car company,
console then known as ‘Blossom’. Jaguar. Jack even wrote a letter to the iconic auto
At this point it was just a video chip and Atari manufacturer asking if it minded him using the name.
required assistance in completing the project, so So, the Jaguar was born, and its announcement
Richard called up his old friend from Flare, Martin shocked the industry with the revelation that it would
Brennan, and talked him into helping. Martin be a 64-bit system with multi-processor architecture.
renamed the project ‘Panther’, because his Consumers were still caught up in the excitement of
wife had recently purchased a Panther the 16-bit age, so a machine that skipped a whole
Kallista sports car, but soon realised generation just seemed unfathomable to some. Atari
that this project was not the proudly boasted that its machine would be released
way to go. While Atari in 1993, at under $200, and eat the competition alive.
had been working on However, it was still left unclear just how Atari was
the Panther, Flare had going to compete with Sega and Nintendo. Several
been working on a project delays later the Jaguar was finally ready for release
of its own – the Flare II in late 1993. The console was to be manufactured
(the Konix was the Flare by IBM in the USA, with Atari proudly displaying an
I) – which Martin believed American flag on the box presumably in the attempt to
was far superior to what appeal, on a patriotic level, to the domestic market. The
Atari had. He was convinced test markets in New York, San Francisco and smaller
that 3D graphics were the way scale launch in London went extremely well, with
to go and that the Panther, the machine selling out very quickly. Manufacturing
which was a basically a monster problems at IBM resulted in Atari struggling to maintain
sprite engine, would soon that early momentum and it was forced to cancel

RETRO GAMER | 77
0
s
r
2
a
e
Y

Atari Jaguar CD Best Jaguar Ports


■ On 11 September 1995, the long-promised Jaguar CD STUNNING CONVERSIONS TO SEEK OUT
finally hit the market at a price of $149.99 (£129.99 in the
UK). As an add-on for Atari’s already struggling 64-bit
Jaguar console, Atari hoped it would help turn the tide on
the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation.
Manufactured by Dutch company Philips, it featured
a double speed CD-ROM drive that, by using a unique
system, gave game developers a huge 790 Megabytes
of storage capacity that exceeded the other CD-ROM
systems of the time. While its design DOOM RAIDEN INTERNATIONAL WORMS
helped combat piracy, it also made it YEAR: 1994 YEAR: 1993 SENSIBLE YEAR: 1996
more prone to disc reading errors. ■ The Jaguar version of Doom ■ One of the Jaguar’s launch SOCCER ■ Team 17’s Worms franchise
With mostly standard parts to became the one that many titles, this was also one of YEAR: 1995 is one that endures to this
keep the cost down, the only later console ports were the few arcade conversions ■ Many people regard Sensible day, but many people argue
extra hardware included based upon. John Carmack to appear on the machine. Soccer as the best football that subsequent games
was a chip called Butch programmed it himself and Upon its original release in the game of all time. It sold in the haven’t captured the magic
that interfaced it with described it as his favourite arcades, Raiden was lauded as millions when it was released of the original. One of the
the main unit and version. This superb port being one of the best vertical for the 16-bit home computers best multiplayer games out
added Cinepak for full features over 20 levels of shoot-’em-ups of all time. The and soon saw its way onto there, the Jaguar version is
motion video playback. bloodthirsty action with overall quality of the Jaguar consoles. This version has of particular note. It is similar
It had been rumoured that the full screen visuals, eerie version far surpassed those to rank as the best of the to the PlayStation and Saturn
unit would feature a new chip to improve the sounds and some great found on the 16-bit systems of bunch, mostly due to the versions but benefits from
3D abilities of the Jaguar and also include extra RAM, but lighting effects. It also makes the time and, thankfully, has vastly improved AI that sees richer graphics and is missing
the design had already been finalised in the early years of use of the Jaguar’s keypad for none of the sprite flicker or defenders closing you down bugs that plagued those ports,
the Jaguar and Atari just didn’t want the extra cost. weapon selection and came slowdown that’s associated much quicker and goalkeepers such as the jump bug, and odd
The initial run of 20,000 units sold out within two supplied with a handy overlay. with them. pulling off spectacular saves. graphical glitches.
weeks and a second batch was then ordered. However, it
is unknown if that second batch even went into production
or what the size of it was, as Atari went into the reverse
merger with JTS only months later, liquidating all Jaguar
stock. Many people who worked for the company believe The Jaguar had a European soul
that the original 20,000 units were the only ones ever
made, and this would certainly explain why the system
with a Texan hat DAVID WIGHTMAN
is now so rare, regularly fetching high prices on online
auction sites. launches in both Germany and France, with the UK Jaguar had a European soul with a Texan hat. With a
Only 13 games were officially released for the unit but initially receiving a mere 1,000 units. The full worldwide few exceptions, one of the reasons Euro teams had a
this has been significantly increased by the output from launch of the console was delayed until the summer of better time developing on the Jag was due to it being
the homebrew scene, which now makes the Jaguar CD a 1994. Games were also very slow in coming too, the a brain in a box. Coming from 8-bit assembly coding,
must have item for any dedicated Jaguar owner. machine launched with the pack-in game Cybermorph then onto the Amiga/ST where you ignored the OS,
plus Evolution: Dino Dudes (a conversion of the then onto the Jaguar where you hit the hardware
popular Humans), a near arcade perfect conversion of directly – it was a breeze. It was a just a big fat sprite
Raiden and the visually stunning Trevor McFur In The chip with a pipe to the monitor which, in those days,
Crescent Galaxy. The press and consumers alike were was developer perfection. American coders by route
initially unimpressed with the majority of the Jaguar’s of the Apple II and PC had learned to go through a
launch line-up, as it contained two games bios and an operating system to code, they
already available on the Mega Drive or had a tough time dropping down to binary
SNES and a game that looked great but after the luxury of APIs and libraries which
played poorly. they had become accustomed to. That’s a
The pack-in game Cybermorph did core reason why very few titles came from
show promise though and received American corporations before launch, they
rave reviews. Attention To Detail’s Fred struggled to find people who understood
Gill was the lead programmer on the how to program hardware without a soft
game and remembers, “We received pillow to sit on.”
390 points out of 400 in one of the Throughout 1994 the software for
US magazines, with four reviewers the Jaguar just trickled in, despite over
each having 100 points, and something 100 titles having been announced for the
like a ten page spread which really blew us away.” machine. It soon became apparent that developing for
Homebrew programmer Steve Scavone remembers the Jaguar was problematic for many developers. The
the launch well from a consumer perspective, “I got reportedly buggy chipset and a lack of support from
one of the test market Jaguars in 1993 and, when Atari, not helped by its precarious financial position at
I popped in Cybermorph, I was blown away that a the time, have been cited. Fred Gill reflects, “I think
» Atari cartridges were big and durable, game console could do so much.” Coder of Baldies, Atari were, unfortunately, already in a downward
subtly mimicking the power of the hardware. David Wightman, offers up a really interesting insight spiral. They couldn’t afford to create and launch a new
into what it was like to work with Atari’s console. “The console and so everything was done on a shoestring

78 | RETRO GAMER
» The Jaglink cable plugged into the DSP expansion port on
the back of console allowing you to link up two machines for
multiplayer games such as Doom and Aircars.

T
budget.” Darryl Still, the man behind marketing the hings did improve, albeit briefly, for the Jaguar recalling, “Atari invited me to the first press conference
Jaguar in Europe remembers: “To be honest, it with the emergence of several key titles; Jeff in Germany where I won the Kasumi Ninja contest
soon became obvious that the development team in Minter’s Tempest 2000, Rebellion’s Alien Vs against guys from the German gaming press. This
Sunnyvale were struggling with the Jaguar.” This is Predator and id Software’s port of Doom that was also the first time ever that the Rayman franchise
echoed by Wayne Smithson, the man behind Attack was programmed by John Carmack himself. All three and Iron Soldier were shown off. I was amazed how
Of The Mutant Penguins. “It was initially difficult to of these titles arrived in 1994 and were quickly praised the Rayman character was animated. And, of course,
get anything decent out of it because it had more by the expectant press. These releases actually had everybody was freaking out when they saw the
than one processor,” adding “it was the first time I people suddenly wanting a Jaguar, but the continued explosions in Iron Soldier.” Iron Soldier would go on
had encountered parallel processing which took some supply problems meant that Atari just couldn’t to be one of the best selling titles for the console and
getting used to, interleaving instructions to get the capitalise on this demand. There were also two more spawned sequels for the Jaguar, PlayStation, VM Labs
best performance out of the code was an art form titles announced during 1994 that were set to arrive NUON and PlayStation 2.
in itself.” Steve Scavone was also quick to add to from teams in France and Germany respectively. It was in 1995 that the death knell began to toll
this discussion; “Atari was just not ready to release Ubisoft started to show off the gorgeous Rayman, for the Jaguar, the PlayStation and Saturn had both
the system, and should have found another way to a title that was originally supposed to be a Jaguar been released and Atari’s machine just couldn’t keep
survive to get the bugs out of the system and get the exclusive and started a franchise that still endures to up. Even the release of the Jaguar CD could not
proper tools in the hands of developers. I think a few this day. German team Eclipse, who were well known help things, as it came far too late to really make any
more months would have been enough to do it, but to Amiga and ST owners, announced and promptly difference. This year actually saw a decent amount
everyone claims they did not have the money.” released the superb Iron Soldier, which featured fully of releases for the machine, but many of them were
3D polygon-based worlds to capitalise on a consumer just ports of existing 16-bit console games like Pitfall:
» The Jaguar’s design won several awards demand for mech games. Stefan Kimmlingen was The Mayan Adventure, Flashback, Zoop and the
and, with its sleek lines, you can see why.
one of the team members involved in this title and abysmal Double Dragon V. Although there were some
remembers the launch of both games very well, bright lights like Missile Command 3D, I-War, Super

Best Jaguar Homebrews


THE HOME PROJECTS YOU REALLY NEED TO PLAY

TUBE: SECOND IMPULSE X GORF FALLEN


EDITION YEAR: 2012 YEAR: 2006 ANGELS
YEAR: 2012 ■ The original Impulse was a ■ This arcade perfect YEAR: 2013
■ The original version of Tube little-known Arkanoid clone conversion of the classic coin- ■ This game is a tribute to an
was rightly hailed as one of for the 32-bit Atari Falcon by op had to be withdrawn from early title from LucasArts –
the first Jaguar homebrews Duranik, the team behind the sale after an issue over who Rescue On Fractalus. Fallen
to really make use of the recent Sturmwind for Sega’s owned the rights with Bally/ Angels on the Jaguar breaks
machine. An original game Dreamcast. In 2012 the game Midway. The programmer new ground by being the first
with elements of WipEout was converted to the Jaguar released the game with the full complete game to be released
and STUN Runner, it saw you CD by MD Games and then blessing of the original creator on the machine that uses a
racing down a series of tunnels made available on cartridge Jamie Fenton. If you own a voxel engine. This helps create
trying to achieve the best time. too. The game features 40 Jaguar CD then this is one of the fast 3D landscapes that
» Standard Jaguar cartridges went up to 6 Megabytes What makes this game even levels of block breaking action, the best titles out there, just be your craft flies over as you try
but special hardware compression meant that games better is that it was released along with high score web aware you’ll need a huge wallet to rescue all the stranded pilots
could actually be up to 12 times bigger than that.
for free. codes and a level editor. to own it these days. from their stricken vessels.

RETRO GAMER | 79
0
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2
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Darryl Still FORMER MARKETING


MANAGER OF ATARI UK
Can you explain should have been launched in Can you tell us any other
to us your exact Europe first where the Atari name interesting stories about your
involvement with was stronger? involvement with the machine
the Jaguar as Hell yeah, but then I am back then?
the Marketing somewhat biased. There was The launch in New York was fun.
Manager of a longer disconnect between We took Jeff Minter into ‘The
Atari UK? the gamer and the Atari brand Slaughtered Lamb’ in Washington
I joined Atari as Product Manager stateside than we had in most Square – the pub that was
for the ST. There was quite a of Europe. It seemed we were mocked up to mimic the one in
large and thriving marketing getting shafted badly in favour An American Werewolf in London.
department at that time. When of the US customer stock-wise. Jeff, with his love of sheep, just
the Jaguar came around I was But, it was not too long before it sat there clutching himself
running a very small department became clear that actually there and moaning.
with a, frankly, minuscule budget. were shortages all round. I guess the moment that sticks
The majority of the push was PR in my mind most was when he
based, which was very successful Atari missed out on most of the first trialled the 3D surround
in making it the must-have 16-bit generation, do you think sound unit in the small AV room
machine for that first Christmas. they should have gone ahead with and filled the whole area with
Unfortunately, most people ended the cancelled Panther first? games. I walked out from that
up not being able to get what they I never knew the business reasons just spellbound by what we
must have. behind Panther’s cancellation. If could achieve. The other end of
all things had been equal – we’d the scale was when the parent
You were quoted in the press as had Panther, decent stock, and who we had not been able to
saying that Atari UK could have a good run-up – then I suspect supply for their much-loved son’s
sold 20 times the initial allocation some things like developer and Christmas present emptied the
of machines they were given upon publisher involvement would have contents of their dustbin in our
release. Do you feel the Jaguar been smoother. reception area.

» [Jaguar] The keypad of the Jag’s controller


is major part of the gameplay experience and
selected games came with special overlays to
improve it further.

80 | RETRO GAMER
JAGUAR: 20 YEARS ON

Best Jaguar Exclusives


WHO SAYS ATARI’S CONSOLE HAD NO GOOD GAMES?

HOVER STRIKE: BATTLEMORPH MISSILE ALIEN VS


UNCONQUERED YEAR: 1995 COMMAND 3D PREDATOR
LANDS ■ As you may have already YEAR: 1995 YEAR: 1994
YEAR: 1995 guessed, Battlemorph is the ■ This game might have been ■ Often called the Jaguar’s
■ The cartridge version of sequel to the first Jaguar designed with the Jaguar VR ‘killer app’, Alien Vs Predator
Hover Strike was originally game, Cybermorph. Released Helmet in mind, but it is every was the game that put
known as Battlezone 2000, and for the Jaguar CD as a launch bit as good without it. The VR programmers Rebellion on the
the influence is clear to see in title, it drastically improves mode steals the show, a full map. Featuring three game
this CD version. Unconquered upon the original. The drab, flat 3D tour-de-force that views modes where you can play as
Lands features a number polygons of its older sibling are the game from a first-person the Alien, Predator or Colonial
of improvements, including replaced with vibrant texture- perspective and requires you Marine it combines elements
a superior framerate, more mapped examples and the new to switch between your three of survival with those of a
levels, FMV intros and an worlds are far more complex bases to take out enemy attack traditional FPS to create an
external camera view. This is in their nature. Pointless FMV ships and huge bosses. It also engaging and genuinely scary
the game that proves that the is kept to a minimum and throws power-ups into the mix, experience. It may have been
Jaguar can do texture-mapped the extra space is utilised for adding another new element to improved upon by its sequels,
» [Jaguar] Atari invented thed 9-pin D-plug polygon graphics when in the creating vast planets to battle the tried and tested formula of but the Jaguar original still
design but finally replaced it on the Jaguar right hands. your way across. the original arcade game. holds up very well today.
with a 15-pin variation.

It was the last machine where someone other systems such as GORF, Impulse X and
Another World.

like Minter could be let loose DAVID WIGHTMAN


So why should the Jaguar be remembered? “I
personally, and fondly, remember the Jaguar as the
last machine where programmers were in control of
Burnout and Val D’Isere Skiing And Snowboarding, Engel – successfully persuaded Hasbro (the then the hardware,” offers David Wightman. “It was the
they mostly got lost in the mix with the Sony and owners of the Atari brand) to release the Jaguar and its last machine where someone like Minter could be let
Sega hype machines in full flow. By now the Jaguar encryption keys into the public domain. This essentially loose to create such mad ‘code art’ as VLM. The Jaguar
had a, perhaps somewhat unfair, reputation for having allowed Jaguar fans everywhere to start making never sold in great numbers but I’d like to think of the
ba