If you could distil gaming down to pure, unadulterated fun it wouldn’t matter that the graphics consisted of little more than stick-men set against a primitive grid backdrop. You’d overlook the complete absence of music, rich colour palette, a plot, manual and retail box because you’re too engrossed in the rapid-fire, twitch gameplay to dwell on the shortcomings.
Which explains why fond memories of subjecting friends and family to bouts of unbridled Extreme Violence still holds a special place in my heart. Devised by one man, Kent-based Reading University student Simon Green, using the much-maligned AMOS game development toolkit, the two-player shareware gem comprises an overhead perspective, split-screen configuration and fight to the death objective.
There’s no intro and no backstory. We haven’t got time for any of that nonsense when the scent of blood is in the air and your pistol’s locked and loaded.
You play as, erm… Thingy, whose goal is to assassinate his human opponent, Wotsit. Playing against the computer isn’t an option, at least not with the shareware version.
We begin with a weapon packing all the flamboyance of a pound shop peashooter, yet can soon collect markedly more lavish power-ups such as bouncing, ricocheting bombs, half moon crescent lasers and wall-piercing bullets complete with squidgy sound effects. Other power-ups include go faster boots, a teleport gizmo and radar jammer.
Various combinations of these can be enabled from the outset by typing dune, terminator or lawnmower on the title screen. In the biz we call this a ‘cheat’.
Thingy and Wotsit can each fire only a single shot at once, which continues along its course until it hits their opponent or they shoot again. At which point the first projectile disappears in a puff of smoke. Except without the smoke; I added that for dramatic effect.
This mechanic comes in especially handy once you get your mitts on the magic bullets because they can travel the entire length of the screen uninterrupted, as long as you don’t shoot again before they reach the far wall of the maze. Even with the radar, it’s pretty much impossible to predict where your opponent will be by the time this happens, though it’s still a lark to unleash your bullet, let it do all the work and keep your fingers crossed that it’ll somehow find the target.
Each session lasts as long as it takes for one player or the other to accrue 10 kills. Only, lost in the moment, you don’t call it quits there, letting the surviving player bask in the glory of victory. Without uttering a word or turning to face your now ex-best mate you hit fire to exact your revenge. Savouring the taste of blood, ravenous for more, they don’t argue, steeling themselves for another deathmatch. Yep, Doom was out around the same time, but this is infinitely more fun.
One ‘quick’ go could easily snowball into an entire lost afternoon, the acute ‘v for violence’ spilling out of the screen and into the bedroom. This explains why I can’t show you any two-player footage of the game. All the friends I used to play against are now sleeping with the fishes in their concrete wellies.
Amiga Action were fairly positive about it too when they briefly covered EV for their ‘PD in Profile’ section in April 1993. Here’s the quotey bit…
“Last but by no means least is the provocatively titled Extreme Violence. Not quite the blood ‘n’ guts affair you might expect, but a two-player split-screen game where the aim is to find the other guy and kill him! Complicated stuff obviously, but quite entertaining and quite slickly done.”
That’s a fair few ‘quites’. Don’t go overboard, will you? In the screenshot caption, they go on to question the legitimacy of any claims as to the presence of violence, and call the sprites “a couple of nancy boys”. The rotters.
The One dished up a less than glowing 58% appraisal when they gave EV ‘The Once-over’ via their PD Zone pages in April 1993…
“In true two-player tradition, the object of the game is to kill your opponent before he has the chance to do the same to you. Both players start off with the same weedy weapon but power-up icons appear at random which boost your gun from a feeble single shot to one with realistic bouncing bullets, grenades and the like.
The screen is split down the middle with only a small section of the play area on-screen at any time so the first part of the game usually involves racing around trying to find some of the tastier weapons.
Then the action starts. Trouble is, though, this ‘action’ lasts about as long as a pimple between a pair of tweezers because as soon as both players have located each other the action is usually over in a matter of seconds, meaning that the game soon becomes a stop-start affair. Had the levels been single-screen with both players able to see exactly where the other was then I’m sure there would have been a tenser atmosphere but, unfortunately, Extreme Violence leaves you feeling somewhat short-changed.”
Single screen? Remove all the guesswork, element of surprise and exploration and that would improve it? I’d like to see your game reviewing credentials sir. In the meantime…
I was first introduced to EV via an Amiga Power coverdisk two years after its initial release. The one that came with the April 1993 issue to be precise. If you had a game to promote and happened to be the younger brother of Amiga Power’s production editor, Dave Green, that would certainly help to grease the wheels. Fortuitous then that Simon Green is the younger brother of Amiga Power’s production editor, Dave Green.
That said, I think the game was sufficiently up to snuff to get noticed on its own merit, nepotism or not. According to Simon’s web site he was the only coder who managed to squeeze smooth eight-way scrolling out of a game born of AMOS. That alone deserves a round of applause when you consider the tool’s reputation for spawning shoddy sausage machine output, barely worthy of the moniker ‘game’.
Simon didn’t let the PR bandwagon stop there, however. An updated revision of the PD edition also featured on Amiga Power’s May 1995 (sort of) interactive top 100 cover CD, while the original version was included on Amiga Format’s October 1993 coverdisk and the one that came bundled with the April 1993 issue of Oz Amiga.
This was essentially the full game, though if you sent Simon a fiver in the post you’d receive the registered version which incorporates a few extra bonus incentives. These include weapon upgrades such as multiple bullets, and a one-player option. Ideal for those of us who had already bumped off all our gaming buddies for realzies.
Simon reveals on his web site that he was surprised by the positive reception to his one and only Amiga creation. He estimates the number of donations received to be in the region of 500, which by my reckoning – applying a complicated algorithm known as multiplication – equates to £2500 squids, give or take the odd rusty washer and fuzzy boiled sweet foraged from fan’s pockets.
What’s frustrating for us retro gaming purveyors of unscrupulous slaughter and mayhem today is that the registered edition is nowhere to be found online. Does anyone out there remember buying it, and by some miracle still knows where your copy might be today? I for one would love to find out how the enemy AI shapes up against a human opponent.
Simon himself is no longer in possession of it, yet a glimmer of hope remains. This is where you come in, pretty please with edible Boing balls on top. Simon used to write for the ‘AMOS Action’ column of Amiga Shopper, and in the January 1995 issue – the last he contributed to incidentally – discussed his experience dabbling with the Amiga public domain scene.
Interesting in itself of course, yet more crucial to my rallying plea, he arranged for the source code of Extreme Violence to be included on the magazine’s accompanying subscriber’s floppy disk. It’s number 45 as delivered with issue 45 in case that means anything to you. Judging by the screenshots this would be revision 7.2 of the game, whereas the latest one available online is 6.9. No idea what the differences might be.
I have the magazine and subscriber’s newsletter right here. Here’s a snippet from the latter written by Amiga Shopper editor, Richard Baguley…
“Finally, we have a real bonus for all of you AMOS programmers out there. Our resident AMOS expert Simon Green has agreed to give away the full source code to his excellent shareware game, Extreme Violence. Simon has just got a job with top programming house Silicon Dreams, so this is a unique chance for you to see how a top programmer writes a game. To read and use the source code you’ll need a copy of AMOS (or even AMOS Pro from the Amiga Format coverdisk). Unfortunately, we haven’t got the space on the disk to put the compiled version on, but you can run the program from the source code on this disk.”
One deal-breaking caveat to note. This isn’t the same as the cover disk, it was a separate special gift made available exclusively to subscribers. Unfortunate since this makes it that much harder to track down. My own searches have so far resulted in nothing but shrugs and furrowed brows.
So please check your loft and all those dusty shoeboxes full of disintegrating floppies to see if it’s in your collection. You never know, we may strike it lucky. Then we just need someone who knows their way around AMOS to compile the code, or even tweak it to make improvements.
It would be a crying shame if we never get the opportunity to obliterate our nearest and dearest with a plasma laser, or homing and turning missiles, as well as the tried and tested bouncy bombs and magic bullets. Variety – as they say – is the spice of life. Death too!