Welcome to the third and final instalment of my aquatic retro-gaming pilgrimage to the former Ocean Software headquarters located in the Quaker Friends’ Meeting House on Central Street in Manchester. This time I’ll be going sub-oceanic, delving deep beneath the iconic building into the developer’s dungeons to walk eye to eye with the forlorn spectres who haunt the ominous, ancient Quaker burial ground.
Ocean are most fondly remembered for being the team who accomplished the impossible; they enabled us to actually play as the characters we watched with gob-smacked reverence on the cinema’s big screen. They brought Hollywood into our bedrooms and handed us the clapper-board.
The Manchester division developed in-house some of my all-time favourite Spectrum and Amiga games such as Addams Family, RoboCop and Parasol Stars, yet also published a deluge of classic titles for other developers, the highlights for me being Push-Over, New Zealand Story, Rainbow Islands, Midnight Resistance, Sleepwalker, Wizkid and Worms.
No less venerable, their French counterparts were renowned for creating some of the most polished and competently coded titles ever to grace the Amiga platform; Toki, Pang, Liquid Kids and Snow Bros. to name-drop a few.
[Left: The exit to Bootle Street. You see how it got its name now? Unchanged since 1828… probably.
Right: Outside the ‘Alternatives to Violence Project’ office. Invoking dim and distant memories of some point and click adventure game or other, I picked up a few brochures from the rack to roll up and use as a cosh in the event of security getting physical.]
[Left: I clock the location of the nearest fire escape, and extinguisher. Safety first kids.
Right: It was like that when I found it, honest!]
[Left: The very, actual, gen-u-ine staff refuelling station frequented by Mark R. Jones, Martin Galway, Jonathan Dunn, James Higgins, William Harbison, Matthew Cannon, Dawn Drake, Bill Barna, Mike Lamb, Jon O’Brien, John Palmer, Robert Hemphill, Paul Hughes, Allan Shortt, Simon Butler, Peter Johnson, Jonathan ‘Joffa’ Smith et al. No offence to anyone I left out, it definitely wasn’t intentional.
Right: I know ‘rustic’ has its charm, but are there really no decorators left in Manchester? A Gomez statue and gold plaque wouldn’t go amiss either!]
[The ‘Object A’ art gallery. This is what passes for an exhibition these days. I’m not kidding.]
I’d like to end with a teaser for the follow-up, but I’m not sure what’s left to explore. Is anyone into grave excavation? I also spotted a ladder leading to the roof…