When I was a wee nipper my family were so destitute we had to eat dirt butties and steal clothes from street urchins. Our pet dog was fudged together with sticks, which made ‘fetch’ extremely confusing for the poor mite. We called him ‘Stix’ and that didn’t help. In the end he succumbed to a lethal wound inflicted by Splinter. Rats!
For entertainment I constructed my own makeshift Amiga mags using fragments salvaged from the gooey floor of the local recycling plant. The latest edition of my pulpritudinous (I spelt that wrong deliberately, teehee, hohum) handiwork is subtitled, ‘I aaaaam The One and only’ and is sponsored by Chesney Hawkes for reasons that will become apparent soon enough.
“I used to be with it, but then they changed what it was. Now what I’m with isn’t it, and what’s it seems weird and scary to me. It’ll happen to you…”
[The One issue 79, May 1995.]
I couldn’t find any trace of this game for the Amiga so assuming it’s a Game that Wasn’t, contacted the author, pioneering Speccy legend, Mel Croucher, to get the scoop. It turns out Adware Interactive fooled me by pulling the old name switcheroo manoeuvre, and released it only for DOS.
Falling neatly into the well trodden ‘collect-em-up, blocky FPS starring a canoeing bunny in outer space’ camp, it’s an acquired taste that once nibbled won’t be forgotten in a hurry, and for all the wrong reasons. Although it defies logical elucidation, Phil has a decent run at it so I won’t rabbit on.
It makes absolutely no sense until it dawns on you how many player’s email addresses were harvested in the process for direct marketing purposes. Ka – and indeed – ching!
A quick line on Run The Bunny, which was the release title for The Duracell Challenge back in 1995. I don’t think it falls into your category of “Games That Weren’t”, seeing as it definitely was. The fact that Duracell gave it away probably puts it in the history books as the first freeware mainstream game. Here’s a quote from E-Media, published by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising in 2005. “More than a million (players) spent eight hours each shoving virtual batteries into virtual pink bunnies online in order to win all things battery powered, from laptop computers to the humble torch.”
It’s not the fact that I was the first games designer to reach a million players by giving the game away, it’s the fact that I used a rabbit’s arsehole and mass piracy to achieve it.
All the best, Mel”
Escom’s grand master plan to turn Commodore’s fortunes around is unveiled. “You’ve got me? Who’s got you?”
[The One issue 82, August 1995.]
It’s healthy and commendable to approach life with as much optimism as you can muster, but really? We were expected to get excited about Commodore-badged PCs following the golden era of the A500 and A1200? Someone pass me the puke bag quick.
[The One issue 83, September 1995.]
In between being a scurrilous Bad Influence on’t telly box, Violet Berlin hosted and wrote the scripts for Sky’s ‘Head to Head‘ ten minute challenge TV show. Each episode incorporated a duo of delightful kiddiwinkles gorping into an overblown, fiber-optic brain and pummeling one another into submission via the latest multiplayer releases across a variety of platforms. The victor would get to take home a randomly selected prize and a cerebrum-shaped trophy. Unfortunately it was broadcast on The Children’s Channel at the crack of dawn so only insomniacs, badgers and owls can attest to its dubious existence.
Touching TV games
BSkyB will redefine ‘in-yer-face’ TV when it introduces a 3D version of Head To Head. The original version of the eight minute show, which pits games players against each other, is being repeated at the moment on The Children’s Channel. The producers have just finished making 100 3D showdowns which will be broadcast every day, twice a day starting in July. Viewing will require 3D glasses.
Head To Head is the only games show on telly at the moment. It’s hosted by Violet Berlin from ITV’s Bad Influence.
The One issue 70 (July 1994)
GamesMaster was the king of the grandiose, one on one battle royale, though Head to Head was notable for staging Guru Larry’s first TV appearance. He would later go on to be a ‘winner stays on’ regular guest owing to his repeated success… and in his spare time, make up fairy tales about Dennis. 😉
Straight out of the school of ‘we couldn’t afford the ad agency fees’, Gremlin proudly presents Limp Games Promotion on a Shoestring (Tm). Shadow Fighter may think he’s harder than Adamantium nails. Ha! Just wait ’til he meets “that one guy, Steve”. He won’t know what’s hit him!
[NHS plastic surgery has come on leaps and bounds since the ’90s! The One issue 75, January 1995.]
Earlier gems from the green wrinklies include, “Cars, Lotus II has some of those”, “Harlequin? It’s alright I suppose”, “You’ve heard of games, here’s one”, and eclipsing them all, “Zool 2 – more of the same, or whatever *shrug*”.
One of the better April’s fool jokes (erm… published in the March issue), complete with a mock-up prototype …well an A1200 with the keypad Deluxe Painted out and supplanted with a CD32 dome anyway. Now that’s dedication.
[A great Homer (Simpson or that Iliad guy, I can’t remember which) once said, “it’s funny because it’s true”. The One issue 78, March 1995.]
What’s amusing is that the NASA-strength spec hyperbole seems so pitiful today. It’s almost as if a Delorean load of time has passed and technology has advanced exponentially, as crazy as that sounds!
Ironically, the CD64 games console was something that was in a pipeline far, far away, possibly in another galaxy. The next generation system would have adopted the RISC-based Hombre chipset, which featured the successor to the cancelled AAA graphics architecture, a 16-bit sound processor with 8 voices and a 100+ MHz CPU.
[See, all those bot thumpin’ beats were deep and meaningful after all! The One issue 78, March 1995.]
I’ve heard most people finish it with a single manoeuvre – deftly flip to the final page, read the closing paragraph and play Brutal Paws of Fury (or anything!) instead.
Get this, the only review of Jim Murdoch’s Rise of the Robots novelisation submitted to Amazon was written by the author himself, and he unmercifully ridicules it! That’s priceless.
Fascinating fact ahoy! Jim worked as a ‘localisation manager’ (a translator in other words) for Ocean/Infogrames between 1997 and 2000.
If you think this is a joke make sure you read my ‘If Pinocchio reviewed Amiga games’ article. The words ‘standard’ and ‘practice’ spring to mind… with regards to publishers hawking games they know are shoddy offal from the outset. Anything that’s up to snuff sells itself.
[A good argument for only relaying damning proposals via the spoken word… in the middle of a field miles from anywhere, and preferably when the recipient is butt-naked (so they can’t conceal a recording device – I’m not being kinky!). The One issue 78, March 1995]
Incidentally, The One’s Andy Nuttall did review Akira, despised the wretched thing with a passion and implored his readers not – under any circumstances – to buy it. Awarding it 6% won’t have done much to boost its sales figures either!
[Rotoscoping comes of age. The One issue 77, February 1995.]
The first motion capture game Gremlin developed was Actua Soccer for DOS, the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. Heralded as the only football game to deploy a full 3D engine at the time of release in 1995, it was considered ground-breaking.
To narrow the gap between simulation and reality, the developers collaborated with one of the local, premier league football clubs, Sheffield Wednesday. Three players, Chris Woods, Graham Hyde and Andy Sinton volunteered as motion capture models and also offered advice to the programmers to enhance the game’s level of accuracy. The same techniques were engaged for the subsequent games in their popular Actua sports series.
Like Ocean, Gremlin Interactive were swallowed up by Infogrames in 1999 in a staggering £24m deal, though their historical IP has since been reacquired by Gremlin co-founder, Ian Stewart, where it is registered to his new business venture, Urbanscan.
[Hard evidence that local newspapers are good for more than ‘cat stuck up tree’ exclusives! The One issue 77, February 1995.]
If you baulk at the prices you’re expected to pay on eBay for vintage hardware today this may help to put things in perspective. Despite the unscrupulous price gouging, rarity factor and global competition to drive up the final sale value, we’re still getting a better deal than we would have done back in 1994.
With that justificatastic news in mind, consider it reverse inflation, embrace the confirmation bias and treat yourself!
Personally I think they made the right decision to begin with – a dishevelled, snarly, snorty Shadow on coke looks remarkably similar to his namesake in Gremlin’s beat-em-up!
Pretty boy Hunter on the other hand was squeaky clean, for a year dated the ‘girl next door’ host of the show, Ulrika Jonsson, and went on to follow a successful acting career.
How bland is that? He must have mugged a granny or snatched a baby somewhere along the line surely. Haven’t we all?
[The One issue 79, May 1995.]
Proving that nice guys finish last (post-Jack Tramiel of course, oh and Mehdi Ali too. That didn’t work out so well did it?).
Maybe if Commodore had taken a leaf out of the Japanese console manufacturers’ book they’d still be around today. Nintendo especially treat their fans like dirt (refer to their YouTube/Visual Compendium copyright infringement shenanigans for example), and yet they keep coming back for more.
[The One issue 70, July 1994.]
Despite suffering from a rampant piracy epidemic and the mother ship imploding through the sheer incompetence of its puppet masters, Amiga game sales were approaching Mega Drive levels of proliferation well into 1994.
Take a moment to pause and think about that…
…you’re just not trying, are you?…
…come on, you can do better than that…
…keep it up, that’s more like it…
…nearly there now…
…not much further to go…
…the finishing line is almost in sight…
…one more push, you can do it…
I knew you’d get there in the end.
[The One issue 66, April 1994.]
I’d love to know if software sales experienced a significant boost when full game cover tapes were outlawed in the Speccy days. I’d guess not; plenty of people never completed the demos, let alone the Full Monty, either because they got bored or they were flummoxed by the difficulty level. This group at least would be content with a taster, and anyone with cash to splash would likely buy new releases in addition to whatever is given away on the front of their favourite magazine. Wouldn’t most cash-strapped gamers continue to watch the pennies if only demos were on offer? It was harder to spend money you didn’t have back then so it wouldn’t even have been an option for some.
[Trex Warrior also flounced its way onto an Amiga Fun cover disk in August 1994. Pfft, hussy! The One issue 69, July 1994.]
If you managed an HMV, Virgin, Boots or John Menzies store at the time, please get in touch. Did the prohibition ever tip the balance? Did a games mag ‘speak easy’ sprout up in your home town? The truth must out!
[Used for psychological assessment certainly, but did it make the leap to games? The One issue 77, March 1995.]
I contacted Chris Batty, the boffin behind the Ultramind RelaxPlus software to discern whether or not his brainchild ever left the runway where the entertainment angle is concerned.
He helpfully informed me, “Nope, that isn’t me”.
Hmmf. Revisiting the drawing board I managed to dredge the depths of Google to find a similar device called the MindDrive.
The manufacturer’s claims are equally deceptive in that it works by detecting changes in your physiology using indicators such as galvanic skin response measured via biofeedback sensors. That’s hardly tantamount to mind-control gaming!
Utter garbage! …the hardware I mean. Clint is YouTube royalty of the highest order.
[Personally I would have resolved the spat by leaving them “lying in their uniforms, dying in the sun”. The One issue 74, December 1994.]
Football Glory is a flagrant rip-off of Sensible Soccer with a couple of extra cherries plonked atop its already impeccable chocolate frosting.
Badly implemented gimmicks such as overhead kicks, tackle dodges, one-two passes and back-heelers have been chucked in from the touch line as a token gesture to enhance, or set it apart. It also places a strong emphasis on tickling the funny bone, something which is curiously absent from the original considering it spawned from the deliciously warped grey matter of the (anything but) Sensible crew.
Apparently, when Sensible Software threatened legal action against Croteam, they ceased development of Football Glory …whatever that means – it was already in circulation by that stage! Regardless, they went on to release an indoor version known as Five a Side Soccer in 1998, the same year they made Football Glory available as freeware. Another two years on, presumably when the developers realised there was no money left to be made from commercial Amiga software, they released ‘Sensi Inside’ as freeware too.
Do Croatian brains work differently to the ones found in the rest of the world?
Leaving the Amiga behind, Croteam bestowed upon the Microsoft microcosm their ‘Quake with funnies’ sibilant Serious Sam series, and even this sounds like an alliterative homage to SS (either of them). I’m sure I’ve seen this plot before in a movie. Fatal Attraction isn’t it?
Until next time, don’t go throwing away your hard-earned spondoolies on any of those icky rival Amiga mags …which don’t exist anyway.
Even if they did, the staff would without a Jefferson King of a doubt accept bribes for writing positive reviews, subliminally brainwash you into buying their sponsors’ tat, and eat adorable puppies for breakfast (that’s precisely the sort of thing uncouth savages get up to. What can you do?).
Plus, mine’s 10p cheaper and comes with red and green, transparent cover disks… now containing full commercial games!