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VIDEOGAMES 


ofsSJSw 


THE ULTIMATE RETRO 
COMPANION FROM 


RETRO 
GUIDES TO 

Jurassic Park ■ 
Final Fantasy m 
Resident Evil V 
Blizzard ■ 


BOSSES 

. MGS 2 ■ 

.Super Mario RPG ■ 
Marvel Vs Capcom ■ 
Treasure Hunter G ■ 







.T. j r.i ' 


It's hard to believe that it has been over 40 years since Pong was created. Though 
it was by no means the first ever game, it was the first successful arcade game and 
one that many credit with popularising the medium. The industry is a completely 
different beast now, but we still enjoy looking back at the evolution of our favourite 
games and seeing how we got to this point. In this book, we take a look at some 
of the games that changed the way we play, from Knights OfThe Old Republic 
to GoldenEye 007. Well also take an in-depth look at how some games came to 
be, including God Of War, Donkey Kong Country and Wip3out. You'll also find 
interviews with some of the industry's leading lights, as the likes of Kenji Kanno, 
Jane Jensen and David Darling share their thoughts on their work and its legacy. 
Throw in the likes of Tomb Raider, Gradius, Final Fantasy and Gran Turismo and there's 
something here for every gamer to enjoy. 




Imagine Publishing Ltd 
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Retro Volume 8 © 2015 Imagine Publishing Ltd 
ISBN 978-1785-461224 


Part of the 




IMAGINE 

PUBLISHING 



> CONTENTS 



BEHIND THE 
SCENES 


■ The world's greatest 
developers tell their story 
about the making of your 
favourite games 


008 

GOD OF WAR 

058 

WIP30UT 

102 

RUNESCAPE 

126 

MEDIEVIL 

152 

GHOSTBUSTERS 

168 

DONKEY KONG 
COUNTRY 


THE RETRO 
GUIDE TO... 


■ Ultimate in-depth guides 
to y our r etro favourites 

016 METROID 

050 JURASSIC PARK 


082 FINAL FANTASY 
110 BLIZZARD 

142 RESIDENT EVIL 



FEATURE I 
ARTICLES 


■ Fascinating stories from 
the world of retro gaming 

036 GAMING FIRSTS 

064 UNCOVERING 
ATARI'S SECRET 

120 THE RISE AND FALL 
OF NEVERSOFT 


GAME 

CHANGERS 


■ The titles that changed the 
landscape of gaming forever 

030 MORTAL KOMBAT 

040 KNIGHTS OF THE 
OLD REPUBLIC 

070 THE LEGEND 
OF ZELDA: 
MAJORA'S MASK 

092 GRAN TURISMO 
116 TOMB RAIDER 



6 




138 GOLDENEYE 007 
158 THE SIMS 


WHY I LOVE... 


■ Those in the industry share 
their fav ourite games 


022 

GRADIUS 

044 

THE SECRET OF 
MONKEY ISLAND 

068 

SID MEIER'S PIRATES! 

124 

JETPAC 

150 

MADDEN 

174 

SUPER MARIO 64 


BEST BOSS 


■ Gaming's greatest battles 
blown up to e pic pro p ortions 

034 TREASURE HUNTER G 

056 METAL GEAR SOLID 
2: SONS OF LIBERTY 

074 MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 
2: NEW AGE 

096 SUPER MARIO RPG: 
LEGEND OF THE 
SEVEN STARS 


BEST INTRO 


■ Gaming's ground-breaking 
intros brin g the nostalgia 

028 POKEMON FIRE RED/ 
LEAF GREEN 

080 ODDWORLD: 

ABE'S ODDYSEE 


108 SONIC THE 
HEDGEHOG 

132 CASTLEVANIA: 

RONDO OF BLOOD 

166 MEGA MAN 2 


INTERVIEW 


■ Industry legends talk their 
greatest work 

024 KENJIKANNO 
046 JANE JENSEN 
076 PICKFORD BROTHERS 
098 KINGSLEY BROTHERS 
134 DAVID DARLING 
162 TIM SCHAFER 






retro on our dedicated forum www.gamestm.co.uk/forum 


7 


0<3J 










you 


space car, or a furious half-naked demigod with chains grafted 


to his wrists? God Of War director David Taffe reveals how 


Kratos was a really anarv blessing for PlayStation 2 


BEHIND THE SCENES 


GOD OF WAR 




m m m i 


. « m m 


WM|«T|in 


BEHIND THE SCENES GOD OF WAR 


■ MASCOTS COME IN all shapes and sizes, 
m If there were some perfect creation process, 
chances are the most successful gaming 
heroes of all time wouldn't be an out-of-shape plumber 
and a hedgehog that isn't even the right colour. No, 
there's no science to it all, hence why we probably 
shouldn't be all that surprised that Sony's unexpected 
mascot for the PS2 era came in the form of gaming's 
angriest man. The last great example of a platform 
holder giving one of its studios almost full creative 
control over a project could easily have gone so badly 
wrong, but the history books tell us otherwise - God 
Of War managed to make ancient history exciting for 
a whole new audience, just as Clash Of The Titans 
had done nearly 25 years earlier, with cutting edge 
technology once again at the forefront of bringing 
legends back to life and capturing the imaginations 
of a generation. . 

Strange to think, then, that God Of War might never 
have existed had one of the other options on the table 
at the time been given the green light first. Founding 
father of the franchise, game director and personable 
semi-automatic cuss rifle David Jaffe talks us through 
some of the other options and, with all due respect, it 
isn't hard to see why Kratos came out on top. "I was 
looking at a game - we were calling it Dead Man 
at the time - and it was an open-world first-person 
game," he reveals. "It wasn't exactly survival horror 
- it wasn't so slow-paced - but it was trying to do like 
an action-adventure set in the Louisiana swamps and 
bayou about voodoo and supernatural powers, so 
the character would have these abilities and powers. 
I liked the idea of doing an open-world, first-person 
game and there hadn't been a lot of those at the 
time." Given that Shadow Man never exactly took 
off to the degree Acclaim would have hoped and the 
technical limitations of PS2, we can't say we're entirely 
surprised to hear that a game we only just heard 
about was cancelled a decade ago. 

"Another one that didn't get as far came from us 
talking a lot about trying to create a way for gameplay 
to evoke the same kind of emotions as watching Lupin 


III, the one that Miyazaki did," Jaffe continues. "How 
could we make a game that puts you in that same kind 
of feeling of high adventure?" The spirit of this project 
seemed to make it into the final game, even if the 
original pitch never really got off the ground. Indeed, 
there was always a clear front-runner for some of the 
team, it would appear, and Jaffe confirms as much. 
"Those were competing for the longest time but then I 
think it was ultimately was Ken Feldman, who was the 
art director on all of them, who said that out of all of 
the ideas, it was the God Of War universe that we'd 
best be able to realise in a really spectacular way. 
That was when we finally said 'Fuck it, let's go with 
this one'." 

Hell, it wasn't even God Of War back then. "After 
Twisted Metal Black shipped, we spent probably four 
or five months iterating about four ideas - talking to 
the team, seeing what they would be into, fleshing 
out some of the concepts to see which one had the 
greatest potential. From that, ultimately Dark Odyssey 
- which became God Of War - won out, kicking off 
with the high concept of ’What if Paul Verhoeven had 
directed Clash Of The Titans'?' but we changed that 
to 'What if Ridley Scott had directed Clash Of The 
Titans ?' for the second document because nobody 
knew who Paul Verhoeven was." 

Lack of cinema knowledge on the production 
team's end aside, it seems as though Jaffe and his 
team had prepared concepts for God Of War that 
differed radically from that original seed. "I still have 
a document showing the very adult, edgy and violent 
version of what this game could be, which is obviously 
what it became, but also all the way down to sort of 
Disney's Hercules... maybe we'd do something that 
was a little more Mario," he tells us. "We originally 
started out with the idea of doing first-person melee, 
so God Of War was originally going to be first- 
person. It didn't get very far - we talked to some of 
the programmers about it and did a lot of research. 
Dreamcast had a game out at the time that was kind 
of the best in breed for first-person melee, called 
Maken X. We studied that a lot trying to figure out if we 



■ Unique combat moves while hanging and climbing made Kratos feel all-powerful. 
There's no situation in which you're left without a way in which to ruin someone's day. 


9 



m oay© 


DELETED SCENES 

David Jaffe on the sequences that didn't quite make the cut 


THE LIFT 

r "We built a wonderful level 

which you can see on some 
■ of the behind-the-scenes 

materials - an elevator 
through the desert level. 

' With that elevator level, we 

couldn't figure out how to get the sand to 
trap the elevator, so we had to table that." 

THE WINGS 

"We had the Icarus wings in the first game 
too and even though I think they look 
beautiful in the third game, I liked the way 
we were talking about using them in our 
game. It was more of a Joust mechani 
more about full three-dimensional 


exploring, combat and flying and less 
about that kind of tunnel where you're just 
dodging obstacles. But that's one fucking 
beautiful tunnel in God Of War III." 


THE LABYRINTH 

"Tobin designed a level that I ended up 
ripping off for Twisted Metal [2012]. It was 
a maze that started with Kratos in this big 
open environment, with the walls coming 
up and down in real-time and changing 
the level layout. So it was about being in 
this space that was constantly changing 
and having to adjust. So we ended up 
using that for the arena level in Twisted 
Metal on PS3, but I regret that not going 
because that was such a cool idea." 


Brutal finishing moves were the perfect way to end any 
encounter, especially considering the extra rewards in the 
form of Orbs. Man, that Kratos really loves his Orbs.. 



•S could make it work. And GTA III had just come 
out, so we were kicking around the idea of 
open world. So yeah, it really was a very broad initial 
conceptual phase while we were looking at this idea 
and a couple of others, and it just sort of evolved into 
God Of War through a great deal of combat and 
fighting and yelling at each other." 

Even though Jaffe is clearly talking about the 
design process there, he's done an equally good job 
of describing the game the team ended up making 
- loud, brash and with precious few pulled punches. 
That said, the game's violent streak was all kinds of 
intentional and for a number of reasons. "As a kid I'd 
seen and read family-friendly Greek mythology, but I 
was reading Edith Hamilton to research a lot of this 
stuff before we went into development and the stories 
themselves can be easily read to be very gruesome 
and violent. It was definitely a good fit," explains 
Jaffe. "It wasn't like we were saying we wanted to 
do an ultra-violent Lego game - it was more about 
taking that mythology and playing up the angle that it 
was really violent, which seems to be something our 
audience really responds to. It was just having the 
awareness to spot that match and allow us a better 
shot at retail." 


■■■ HOLD UP A SECOND - did the games 
industry's resident swear grenade just cough up 
some retail jargon? Fear not, the decision to make 
God Of War a bloody rampage wasn't entirely 
written in dollar signs - it was as much a creative 
decision as it was a commercial one. "I like violent 
stuff, " Jaffe reveals, to the surprise of literally nobody 
who has ever played a game the man has worked 
on. "That's why I said Fhul Verhoeven in the original 
pitch - 1 like that fun, over-the-top, acrobatic violence 
in movies and games. But I remember being very 
clear about the fact that we'd have to make sure 
that this was brutal and intense because if we didn't 
add that layer, it would look like you were just a dude 
running around in a helmet and a toga." 

And perhaps that's why this cultural vein hadn't 
really been tapped at all during gaming's difficult 
teenage years - good as the source material may 
have been, nobody could find that angle to make it 
exciting and fresh. That takes passion, which Jaffe 
clearly has in spades. He has a deep-seated love 
for the subject matter and, as evidenced by the best 
historical shooters, wartime RTS games and even 
football management titles, sometimes that's enough 
of a spark to light up a classic. "Greek mythology 



10 





■ There aren't a huge amount of bosses in the original game 
but regular enemies make up for this shortfall by often being huge. 


I WAS HEAVILY 
INFLUENCED - AND I'M 
SURE I'M NOT ALONE - 
BY RAY HARRYHAUSEN 
AND HIS WORK 


like superheroes - it's totally ready to go for 
videogame creation, with all these amazing 
powers, monsters, abilities and locations. And 
very few people had trodden that territory at 
that time." 

Since nobody had done a proper 
mythological adventure in quite some time, 
it stands to reason that another would be 
announced while Sony Santa Monica's baby 
was still in the womb. "I remember once, 
we were waist-deep in development of God 
Of War and we saw a story online about a game. . . 
what the fuck was that game called? It came and 
it went and it got horrible reviews but to see it and 
to see their concept art and to read their PR, we 
just thought we were gonna be so fucking dead," 
recalls Jaffe. "They beat us to the punch, those sons 
of bitches!" Fortunately for Sony, this is the games 
industry, and not every title has the heavyweight 
credentials or the vision to turn a great concept into 
a great game, and Jaffe tells us about the moment 
the competition stopped... well, competing. "We 
saw it at E3 and breathed a sigh of relief - it wasn't 
all that great, not to be disrespectful to the people 


/ to a lesser extent, now that budgets on triple-A 
/ games have gone daft) where lesser publishers 
and developers will sniff out popular themes for 
upcoming hits and try to outrun them. We can count 
on one hand the number of times it has really worked 
out, so maybe the budget hike has actually helped out 
in that regard. But even so, how was it that God Of War 
stumbled upon this content goldmine that every other 
game just strolled past on the way to work each day? 

"I guess it has to do with influences, right?," reasons 
Jaffe. "I was heavily influenced - and I'm sure I'm 
not alone - by Ray Harryhausen and his work. That 
was always something that appealed to me and 


God Of War 
manages 
to keep the 
pace slick, 
the settings 
beautiful, the 
action fresh 
and the body 
count high 

NowGamer, 2005 


THE SCENES GOD OF WAR 


jjjj ,]f WHAT 


THEY 


SAID.. 


has been something that I've loved since I was in like 
fourth grade," he shares. "Clash Of The Titans was 
an extremely flawed, wonderful movie - when you're 
ten years old and watching it, it's just, like... wow. 
That was the summer of '81 when Clash Of The Titans 
came out, Raiders Of The Lost Ark had come out, and 
when you look at God Of War, there's clearly a great 
deal of influence from both of those films. It's 


who made it but clearly they were hampered by 
budget issues." 

■■■ WHETHER HE'S TALKING about Rygar or 
Shadow Of Rome or any number of the nine million 
other PS2 games we've forgotten is kind of irrelevant 
- it's a classic scenario that we see to this day (albeit 



11 



■ S something I wanted to play with. It was around 
■■■■ the time that we were doing God Of War that 
we were starting to see a shift towards budgets 
going up pretty significantly. There was that time 
too when PSone was still out towards the beginning 
of PS2 and development was still inexpensive 
enough that you would see all these different games, 
things like Second Sight and Psi-Ops - there was this 
game on PSone, Tale Of The Sun or something, 
about a fucking caveman! - which are the 
kinds of subjects that are now more the 
world of indies, because they're affordable 
and you can take those kinds of chances. We 
came at the end of that, when most games 
had started having to play safe, whether it was 
military shooters or, at the time, crime sims 
like GTA. But Sony being Sony was always so 
great about letting their developers explore things that 
aren't just marketing-sanctioned safe genres and we 
were still allowed to play in those waters." 

Today's market, of course, is somewhat different. 
Big name studios and publishers have shut up shop 
and others have tightened purse-strings, while 
unrealistic goals have seen successful games be 
judged otherwise. "I think it'd be really hard and 
expensive to compete today purely on spectacle," 
Jaffe nods. "But what's cool is that there are elements 
of God Of War that have nothing to do with the 
spectacle - level design, story, characters - that you 
can do with two or three people with a copy of Unity 
or Game Maker Pro. That's phenomenal and in that 
way, the market is wonderful today. But I think if you're 
talking about building a game where the total reason 
for it to exist is spectacular setpieces. . . it's still doable 
for sure but you have to have a lot of fuckfng money. 


That was the reason I went away after that game and 
moved onto more mechanfcs-based titles. You're only 
as good as your tech on that day. I want our games 
to stand up even after the visuals aren't as hot as they 
once were, where the core mechanics are something 
you could come back to ten years later and say 'Okay, 
it's really rough but fuck, it's still really fun'. I don’t 
think I've achieved that yet but working with that game 


showed me that for me, that was sort of the North 
Star to follow. If you just chase the spectacle, the 
applause you get for it is pretty fucking cheap." 

■■■ SPECTACLE MUST HAVE been fairly high on 
the agenda in creating God Of War, mind. But were 
there any examples of tech not being able to match 
concept? "The game was so scripted that there wasn't 
a lot," Jaffe muses. "When we asked for something 
and they said they couldn't do it, usually that was 
coming from production rather than tech." One issue, 
though, would have given Digital Foundry a collective 
heart attack. "There was the giant crusher at the 
bottom of Pandora's temple and [the guys] just kept 
throwing enemies in until it dropped to like 12fps. But 
we all thought it was fucking awesome - we didn't 
care that it was 1 2fps 'cause the idea was so cool and 
it still worked. But then Tim came over and you'd have 


I WANT OUR GAMES 
TO STAND UP TEN 
YEARS LATER 


I'm 


JHEY 
SAID... 



Difficult to resist 
the urge to 
simply genuflect 
and be 

humbled to be 
in the presence 
of such digital 
divinity 

Game Informer, 

Issue 145 SSSS 3 SS 5 
May 2005 in3|||] 


12 





BEHIND THE SCENES GOD OF WAR 


+ > R GAMING EVOLUTION 


+ 

Legacy Of Kain: Soul Reaver > God Of War > Bayonetta 




Witches, angels, 
swearing and 
a bit of the old 
ultra- violence. . . 
Platinum's 
hardcore action 
game takes it to 
the next level. 


+ 


+ 


thought that his head was about to explode. We fought 
about frame rate. I care about frame rate only when 
it hampers the game. So we fought about that, but 
there was one fight I did lose. I just couldn't convince 
Tim and Mike and even to this day I'm like 'What the 
fuck?' - I think he must have made a deal with the 
devil saying 'I will make you a great programmer 
but you must never use translucency in any game' 
or something. I kept saying that we had to have the 
environment go semi-transparent or we'd have to pull 
the camera too far back, and we wanted to keep the 



camera close so it was more dramatic. Almost every 
other game out there was making the characters and/ 
or the environment go semi-transparent, but you'd 
have thought I was asking him to go assassinate his 
parents or something. It was not going to be done on 
his motherfucking watch. It was fucking bad and even 
to this day, you can tell I'm still a little annoyed by it, 
because we could have had some amazing cinematic 
moments in that game if it weren't for the fact that the 
goddamn engine didn't support translucency." 

For all that it may seem like God Of War might today 
be a case of style over substance - especially with so 
many unlikely usurpers in the likes of Revengeance, 
Bayonetta and DmC strutting their hardcore action 
stuff - that absolutely wasn't the case with the original. 
Jaffe reflects on meetings of minds where gameplay 
had to come first. "The guys at Santa Monica are some 
of the best of the best when it comes to programming. 
And whenever I asked for something or heard a great 
idea from the team, most of the time a month later 
it was in the game. They were a pretty impressive 
group to work with." Have the special effects guys kill 
the rainbows and the twinkly music, though - this is 
Jaffe we're talking to, not Bono. "But they were a pain 
in the ass to work with, and I'm sure they'd say the 



■ Petrified? Worry not - escaping is as 
easy as waggling an analog stick. 




13 






B J same about me," he admits. "Tim and I really 
■SSS didn't get along very well. Me being American 
and him being British, him being a programmer 
and me being more of a high-level designer... just 
one against the other, even just culturally, that can 
sometimes be enough to break the camel's back. But 
when you've got cultural and discipline differences 
and you put those people on a project for three 
years together? I'd work with Tim again, I don't know 
if he’d work with me but I respect him greatly as a 
programmer. We got along fine outside of it. But as 
colleagues, I fucking wanted to blow his head off 
every single day and I think he probably wanted to 
do the same thing to me." 

Internal struggles aside, it all looked rosy just as soon 
as the Hydra demo hit and people got to experience 
the game themselves. But even with that buzz going 
around, there was still enough apprehension to make 
the team second-guess themselves at every turn, as 
Jaffe vividly recalls. "I remember being at the office 
with Todd Ftapy, looking up at this giant poster of 
Kratos that we'd had made for E3 - it still hangs in 
the Sony Santa Monica office, actually - and thinking 
'This is going to be fucking huge. But within a week, 
I was in Gamestop and saw the God Of War 'coming 
soon' box and it was stuck way up high on the shelf 
out of the way. Nothing had changed - if anything, 
the game had only gotten better as we got closer to 
completion - but I remember thinking it was going to 
fucking tank and be a disaster." But, as it happens, 
God Of War was quite a good videogame (hence this 
celebration) and such a success for Sony that it's now 
easily one of the leading PlayStation brands. But there 
wasn't always such confidence, even internally. "On 
the day of release, a friend of mine texted me to say 


■ Magic attacks help out in combat, but are most 
memorable as showpieces for the PS 2 hardware. 


■ Stabbing a cyclops in its one eye felt a bit mean 
at first, but we'd soon come to revel in the carnage. 


OOQO 


ON LETTING GO 


■ CREATING AN ICON 

for a company you don't 
belong to can't exactly 
be easy, but David 
Jaffe is surprisingly 
upfront about how he 
managed to avoid 
forging bonds with 
Kratos as a character. 

"I feel an attachment 
to the first and second 


games," he tells us. 
'The others are titles 
that I have great 
respect for - friends 
of mine have worked 
on them, some that I 
hold in incredibly high 
regard. I love to see 
them succeed, and 
as a company as well 
given the investment. 


But I don't feel an 
attachment. I feel a 
connection to the first 
two titles but post- 
GOWII, I've had zero 
regrets. I've watched 
them and cheered them 
on from the sidelines 
but I don't feel like it's 
my character out there 
or anything like that." 






GOD OF WAR 


BEHIND TH 


■ Combining area attacks and more powerful linear strikes makes for a 
versatile move set - one where mashing is fine but there's depth as well. 







fi£ \ 






It's set in 
Greece with 
the mighty 
Kratos... 
and we 
loved every 
minute 
of it 

Play, issue 129 
May 2005 



there was a line out the door at the game store," Jaffe 
tells us. "I thought he was full of shit but there totally 
was this line out the door. We had days when 
we thought we were onto something and days 
where we sat around figuring out what our 
next careers were going to be 'cause we were 
clearly no good at this." 


was we had focus-tested the shit out of that game and 
it's a linear process so by the time we got to focus- 


■■■ SOME CRITICS WOULD argue that there's 
a case to be made for the latter, especially 
in light of some of the game's end-game 
sequences. "Well, Tobin did the spikes, " smiles 
Jaffe as his new studio explodes with enough 
laughter to level a small village. The accused 
interjects. "You were just supposed to get knocked 
down the spikes a little bit, just so you wouldn't get stuck 
on them," explains level designer Tobin A. Russell. 
"You weren't supposed to get knocked off entirely." 
The problem, it seems, was born of over-confidence. 
"The coders promised they were going to deal with the 
collision on that, " Jaffe confesses. "But what happened 


[HADES] WAS THE LAST 
LEVEL OF THE GAME, 
SO WE DIDN'T FOCUS 
TEST THAT ONE, AND IT 
BIT US IN THE ASS 


testing Hades - which is where that area is, at 
the end of the level - we were just like 'Nah, we 
got it, we're good'. It was literally the last level of the 
game so we didn't focus test that one, and that was the 
one that bit us in the ass. I regret that section, because 
it really was a shelf moment for a number of gamers." 

Issues aside, it's fair to say that God Of War carved 
out a template for a generation of would-be mascots to 
follow. But, as it turns out, some of the biggest names in 
the business can't tell you when they're onto something. 
"It was all just a big fucking blur," Jaffe admits. "There 
were a lot of nights where we were there until three 
in the morning and those nights blend into the other 
nights. There are people that you meet that you'd want 
to work with for the rest of your career, then there are 
people that I have wonderful memories of but won’t 
speak to today. I can't fucking stand some of them 
today and some of them I think are just amazing. 
There are all these little moments that sort of add up 
to give you a recollection of an experience that, in my 
mind, was extremely hard but extremely fulfilling and 
extremely worthwhile. We made something that 
we're really proud of." 



15 




ff THE H«»RO GUIDE TO... 

METROID 

She might not be as well known as Mario or Donkey Kong, but Samus 


Aran has certainly picked up a number of loyal fans over the past 28 


years, games™ looks back at her impressive 11-game career 


16 



THE RETRO GUIDE TO... METROID 


METROID IS ONE 
of Nintendo's least 
publicised franchises. 
While there was a flurry 
of activity in the early to mid 
Noughties, there have been no 
new games in four years. In the 
space of 28 years just 1 1 main 
games have appeared, a paltry 
amount of releases when you 
look at how quickly franchises 
like Assassin's Creed and Call 
Ol Duty are spat out - and yet 
the adventures of Samus Aran 
have shifted over 17 million units. 


It's an impressive number, until 
you realise that even low-tier 
Nintendo franchises such as 
Kirby have shifted over 34 million 
units. These lower numbers and a 
bigger focus on Western gamers 
(Super Metroid was the last game 
in the series to launch in Japan 
first) might be why Nintendo has 
been far more cautious with the 
franchise's direction compared 
to some of its others. And yet, 
despite a lack of games, the 
series has always managed to 
feel fresh and exciting... 




METROID 1986 


SYSTEM: NES 


■ Metroid arrived a few shorts months after The Legend Ol Zelda, 
and like Shigeru Miyamoto's game, it made its debut on the 8-bit 
Famicom. While both titles are adventure games at their core, their 
approach couldn't be more different. Where Zelda opts for a fantasy 
approach, with a sprawling game world to explore, Metroid delivers 
a claustrophobic side-on adventure. Both games are classics, but 
we'd argue that the journey of bounty hunter Samus Arun is far more 
ambitious. The real beauty of Metroid is in the organic structure that 
initially offers only small sections of the huge planet of Zebes to explore, 
but as Samus searches for Metroids, she gains access to new items 
and weapons that not only give the player new gameplay mechanics to 
master, but also unlock previously unavailable parts of the game world. 

Nowadays, backtracking in games can be a painful, laborious 
process, but in Metroid it was encouraged. You didn't mind the endless 
revisiting of past stages, either, because Samus' world just drips with 
atmosphere, thanks to Metroid' s imaginative sprite design and evocative 
soundtrack. Yoshio Sakamoto, who co-directed the game and worked 
as its character designer, revealed the team was heavily influenced by 
Ridley Scott's Alien, and while Metroid rarely scares you, it does make 
for a surprisingly bleak, unsettling experience. 

Metroid is also memorable tor its multiple endings and female 
protagonist, although you were unaware of her gender until you 
completed the game. It went on to shift just short of 3 million units, and 
was re-released in 2002 as part of the GBA's Classic NES series. A 
surprisingly effective 3D version is also currently available on 3DS. 




METROID II: 
RETURN OF 
SAMUS 1991 


SYSTEM: GAME BOY 


■ After the sheer scale of 
Metroid, its sequel had a lot to 
live up to. Metroid II might not 
have reached the same heights 
as its predecessor, but it remains 
a resoundingly solid adventure 
and one of the best examples 
of the genre on Nintendo's 8-bit 
handheld. Where Metroid was 
a more brooding, much slower- 
paced adventure game, Metroid 
II feels a lot more action-packed 
- the Aliens, to Metroid s Alien 
as it were. It still shares many 
elements with Metroid, but the 
need to clear a certain number 
of Metroids before Samus can 
move to the next stage makes 
Return Ol Samus feel more 
arcade-like. 



SUPER METROID 
1994 


SYSTEM: SNES 


■ For many, this remains the best 
game in the Metroid canon. While 
there's certainly an argument 
for it to be placed behind the 
astonishing piece of work that 
is Metroid Prime, it's not hard 
to understand why so many 
consider Super Metroid to be 
a 16-bit masterpiece. Notable 
improvements over previous 
games include the ability to 
enable and disable weapons and 
items via the inventory screen, 
the ability to move backwards 
and shoot (far more useful than it 
sounds) and an extremely useful 
mini-map. Super Metroid almost 
undid the series, as Nintendo let 
the franchise stagnate for eight 
long years, seemingly unsure of 
what direction to take it in. 



METROID FUSION 2002 


SYSTEM: GAME BOY ADVANCE 


■ It's typical - you wait eight years for a new Metroid game to 
appear then two come along at once. While Metroid games were 
quite oppressive to play, due to their atmosphere, Fusion could be 
downright terrifying. This was largely due to the introduction of a 
deadly parasitic organism called SA-X that hunts Samus down at 
certain sections of the game. Metroid games always made you feel 
like an underdog (until you retrieve all your latent powers), but being 
stalked through the dingy corridors by a virtually unstoppable 
fully-armed clone of yourself was incredibly tense and could be just 
as traumatic as the well-choreographed boss encounters. Fusion 
was arguably one of the more challenging games in the series, 
so it's handy that Samus received a number of useful new skills. 
While she could grab onto ledges and climb ladders and railings, 
her most useful new trick was the ability to absorb any nearby X 
Parasites, boosting her health, missile and bomb supplies. 


17 
















METROID: ZERO MISSION 2i 



METROID PRIME 2002 


SYSTEM: GAMECUBE 


■ Metroid Prime could have been a mess. Nintendo had been struggling 
to create a 3D Metroid for years, bypassing the N64 completely and 
eventually setting its sights on the GameCube. Texas-based developer 
Retro Studios was given the unenviable task of creating Samus' first 
3D adventure and began work on a third-person action game. Shigeru 
Miyamoto wasn't happy with the game's direction, insisting on a first- 
person perspective and causing Retro Studios to virtually scrap all 
its existing assets. Many developers would have quit right there, but 
rather than give up, Retro Studios created one of the most astonishing 
adventures to ever appear on Nintendo's diminutive console. 

Metroid Prime is not in any sense a traditional first-person shooter. 
Samus' ability to lock on to enemies and evade incoming attacks 
immediately made it stand apart, while the carefully balanced controls 
made the numerous platform sections incredibly easy to pull off. While 
it's predominantly first-person, Samus' Morph Ball ability utilises a 
third-person perspective, which is typically used for the few puzzle-like 
elements found throughout the game. It features the same organic 


"PRIME'S ENVIRONMENTS STILL 

STAND UP TODAY" 


exploratory approach of previous games, but introduces new gameplay 
mechanics in the form of a number of different visors that Samus must 
switch between. In addition to thermal imaging and X-Ray vision, Samus 
can also scan pretty much anything she encounters, from enemies to 
locations. Scanning not only reveals weak points in bosses, but also 
slowly unlocks Metroid Primes well-crafted story, which is arguably 
one of the best in the series. The constant switching is also found in 
Metroid' s combat, with Samus changing between plasma cannons as 
the game progresses. 

In addition to its absorbing gameplay, Prime is incredible to look at, 
with lush welcoming environments that still stand up today. From the 
icy wastes of the Phendrana Drifts, to the gloomy depths of the Phazon 
Mines, Prime is continually a joy to explore, with little touches like 
explosions momentarily reflecting Samus' face in her visor only adding 
to the atmosphere. A huge success for Nintendo, it also allowed linkage 
to Metroid Fusion, unlocking a number of bonuses, including the 
original Metroid. 



SYSTEM: GAME BOY ADVANCE 


This is easily one of gaming's best remakes, matched only by 
Capcom's astonishing GameCube update of Resident Evil. It's 
effectively a reimagining of the original NES game rather than a 
complete remake, built with the Metroid Fusion engine after director 
Yoshiro Sakamoto decided against porting Super Metroid. While 
many sections will feel instantly familiar, there is enough variance 
to the stage layouts to ensure that even veterans will find the return 
to Zebes feels fresh and different. While some of Samus' later 
moves have been retrofitted into the game, it's the final leg of Zero 
Mission that makes the most impact. The ending of the original 
NES game results in a brand new chapter, where Samus, captured 
and stripped of her power suit, must sneak around with a weedy 
pistol and fend off a swarm of space pirates. It might be short, but it 
remains a fitting example of how to update a classic. 




W r* ..r». 




* iU.V'V 





METROID PRIME 2: ECHOES 2004 


SYSTEM: GAMECUBE 



■ The big draw for Retro Studios' Prime sequel was the addition of a 
much-touted multiplayer mode. While a nice idea, it makes for a clunky 
experience due to the lock-on system used and paltry amount of 
gameplay modes. In fact, it proves that the Metroid Prime 
games aren't EPS games, despite the viewpoint. 

Echoes has Samus switching between two 
parallel dimensions known as Light and Dark 
Aether. Samus' health continually deteriorates 
while she's in contact with Dark Aether, causing 
her to seek out the small safe zones found there. 

It adds a little needed additional layer of difficulty 
to an already tough game. It's a pity that Echoes 
feels so tough in places, as the actual plot (which 
continues directly on from Prime ) is extremely 
strong, focusing on the Dark Samus created in 
the closing credits of Samus' previous adventure. 


18 











. THE RETRO GUIDE TO... METROID 


YOSHIO SAKAMOTO 
INTERVIEW 


The Super Metroid director on his Super Famicom debut 


How did you come 
to work on Super 
Metroid? 

My boss [producer 
Makoto Kanoh] told 
me that Metroid 
was really popular in North 
America, so he encouraged 
me to produce a new Metroid 
game with the high-quality 
graphics that were becoming 
possible thanks to the Super 
Famicom. Of course I said, 'Yes, 
I'd like to try doing that.' The 
game design and concept had 
already been established before 
Metroid II was produced. 

What goals did you have in 
mind for the game? 

When it came to making 
another sequel, this time for 
the Super Famicom, we really 
wanted to see how far we could 
push the SFC. 

Was it an issue that only three 
of the original Metroid team 
worked on the project? 

The rest of the [NCL side] was 
made up of young trainee 
developers. Of course young 
people can be quite impertinent 
- and those on the Super 
Metroid team certainly were - 
but I think that's quite important 
in a way. These young people 
had enough about them to 
help us a lot. There were many 
different personalities in the 
Super Metroid team, which was 
a good thing. It was a harsh 
development environment, 
so I'm sure that some of the 
staff didn't enjoy the work, but 
generally the team was full of 
the 'Let's go for it!' spirit. I think 
that was partly because of the 
timing as well [with the SFC] . 


Super Metroid was your first 
Super Famicom game. What 
hurdles did you face? 

One problem with the shift 
to the Super Famicom was 
that it meant we suddenly 
needed a lot more sprites 
and artwork, so we shared 
the map and enemy design 
responsibilities throughout the 
team, with everyone making 
some input in those areas. But 
then doing that resulted in a 
complete mishmash of styles 
because of each designer's 
individual preference, so in 
the end I had to ask [Tomomi] 
Yamane to retouch everything 
that had been submitted, 
bringing it all together as one 
consistent design. 

How did you find working 
with Gunpei Yokoi? 

Yokoi-san, who at the time 
was my section chief and who 
always had fresh ideas, was 
always angry when he saw 
us all completely absorbed 
and working crazy overtime 
on Super Metroid. He came 
in and said, 'Are you lot trying 
to produce a work of art or 
something?' Although he was 
really unhappy with us, and 
even though he wasn't the type 
to dish out praise, Yokoi-san 
was constantly playing Super 
Metroid once we'd finished it - 
he was hooked. 

When other developers 
brought their action games to 
Nintendo, he'd always compare 
them with Super Metroid 
and invariably ended up 
recommending the third-party 
developer to 'go away and play 
Super Metroid'. That's how fond 
he was of our game. 




V 


"A METROID PINBALL GAME SOUNDS 


RIDICULOUS UNTIL YOU PLAY IT" 


METROID PRIME HUNTERS 2006 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO DS 


■ Metroid Prime Hunters gives you a good indication of what a N64- 
based Metroid might have looked like. While it can't hope to match the 
aesthetic brilliance of Prime, it looked mighty impressive on release, 
showcasing the graphical grunt of Nintendo's new handheld. The plot 
takes place between Prime and Echoes, and sees Samus embroiled 
in a battle with six other bounty hunters. It feels more linear than the 
Prime games, but still manages to pack a strong narrative punch. The 
multiplayer is equally enjoyable, with each bounty hunter having unique 
abilities that make them feel completely different to play. One of the 
early showcases of the DS (a demo was given away at launch) Hunters 
game modes and fast-paced action proved that a Metroid multiplayer 
could work with a little thought. It's a pity then that Hunters is seriously 
hampered by its various control systems, which, while capable, never 
feel comfortable to use for extended amount of times. The excellent Kid 
Icarus: Uprising would suffer from a similar problem six years later. 


METROID PRIME PINBALL 2005 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO DS 


■ A Metroid pinball game sounds ridiculous until you actually play it. 

The included GBA Rumble pack adds little to the fun, but the DS's dual 
screens ensures that you can really appreciate the well-designed tables 
that Fuse Games has created. 

As with Metroid Prime, the aim of Pinball is to require 1 2 artifacts, 
which are spread across four of the six available tables. Each table is 
based on a specific area of the Tallon Overworld, and is filled with clever 
ramps and scoring multipliers. A number of additional mini-games are 
included, while many of Prime's boss encounters are replicated. The 
ball's physics are greatly improved over Mario Pinball Land (another 
Fuse Games effort) while the moody aesthetics of the GameCube 
adventure are perfectly replicated. 


19 








mCGOTjQ 



SYSTEM: WII 


METROID PRIME: TRILOGY 2009 


SYSTEM: WII 


■ This entry seems a little like cheating, as it's effectively a collection 
of all three Prime games. It's so much more though as the Wii's brilliant 
controls for Corruption translate perfectly to Prime and Echoes, greatly 
improving them in the process. Other improvements include shorter 
load times, upgraded textures, bloom lighting and a general graphical 
upgrade to already impressive games. Corruption's award system is also 
retro-fitted into both titles, while the boss encounters from Echoes have 
been made easier. It's a superb collection of games that now fetches a 
relatively high price on auction sites. Interestingly, both Metroid Prime 
and its sequel were released as separate games in Japan as part of the 
Wii's New Play Control! series. 


METROID PRIME 3: CORRUPTION 2007 


■ Corruption was a suitably epic end for Retro Studios' Prime trilogy. 
As its title suggests, gameplay mechanics revolve around Samus 
becoming corrupted by the events that took place in Echoes. This 
corruption comes in the form of the rather nifty 'Hypermode' that 
massively augments Samus' powers at the expense of her health. It's 
a fantastic spin on the risk vs reward mechanics of other games, and 
really spurs you on to finish this excellent adventure. 

It's the sublime use of the Wii's motion controls that really makes 
Corruption stand apart from its peers though. They work amazingly 
well, making you feel like Samus' arm cannon is an extension of your 
own arm; easily silencing anyone who scoffs at Nintendo's choice 
of control method, the motion controls add to the overall experience, 
pulling you deeper into the beautifully constructed world that Retro 
Studios has created. 


SAMUS CAMEOS 

Metroid's star doesn't just collect bounties 


Samus Aran made her first 
cameo in Famicom Wars. Since 
then, she's appeared in a 
variety of games, across several 
Nintendo consoles. She can be 
spied playing an upright bass 
at the end of NES Tetris and 
appears in the background of 
the Game Boy's F-l Race. 

Her ship turns up in Galactic 
Pinball for the ill-fated Virtual 
Console and she can be found 
resting in a bed in Super Mario 


RPG: Legend Of The Seven 
Stars. She's cropped up in 
numerous other games, from 
Kirby to Animal Crossing and 
Dead Or Alive Dimensions, 
but it's the Super Smash Bros 
series that many gamers will 
recognise her from, despite her 
own excellent games. She's 
been in it since the original N64 
game, with her alternate Zero 
Suit incarnation debuting in 
Super Smash Bros Brawl. 


20 







THE RETRO GUIDE TO... METROID 



METROID: OTHER M 2010 


SYSTEM: WII 


■ Samus' last adventure is something of a bittersweet one. While it 
delivers the greatest action to appear in the series to date, it also turns 
Samus into an extremely unlikable protagonist. Nintendo's heroine has 
always been tough, and was typically someone who relied more on 
action than words, but here's she's been reduced to a whiny petulant 
child, unhappy with her lot in life and appears as if she's waltzed out of 
a bad soap opera. 

Still, if you can ignore the overly dramatic cutscenes and personality 
transplant, you'll discover Other M to be a ridiculously rollicking 
adventure that's filled to the brim with some of the best boss fights in 
the series to date. Melee combat features quite heavily in Other M, with 
Samus having access to a surprising range of moves. Turning the Wii 
Remote to face the screen sees the action switching to first-person, giving 
the player the ability to lock-on to targets and fire missiles. It's a neat set 
of mechanics to switch between and makes the franchise feel incredibly 
fresh. Here's hoping that Samus' next adventure continues to take the 
series in new and exciting directions. 


"HERE SHE'S BEEN REDUCED TO A 

WHINY PETULANT CHILD. UNHAPPY 

WITH HER LOT IN LIFE" 



MORE METROID 
CLONES 

Loved Metroid? Try these for size 

WONDER BOY: 

THE DRAGON'S TRAP 1989 

■ This delightful Master 
System game sees Wonder 
Boy getting transformed into 
a dragon during the game's 
opening boss fight. As the 
game progresses he turns into 
a variety of animals, which 
in turn slowly opens up the 
gigantic game world. 



CASTLEVAN1A: SYMPHONY 
OF THE NIGHT 1997 

■ Symphony Oi The Night 
was a huge risk for Konami, 
as it deviated from both the 
familiar Castlevania template 
and was a 2D game in a world 
that was obsessed by 3D. The 
gamble paid off handsomely, 
creating the metroidvania 
sub-genre. 



CAVE STORY 2004 



■ This freeware PC game took 
five years to create, being 
crafted by Daisuke "Pixel" 
Amaya in his spare time. It's 
a delightful game with tight 
controls, beautiful pixel art 
and some very inventive level 
design. Grab the 3DS version 
if you can find it. 


SHADOW COMPLEX 2009 



■ This stunning effort from 
Chair utilises the popular 2.5d 
format to tell the over-the-top 
adventures of Jason Flemming 
as he searches for his missing 
girlfriend. While it maintains 
the exploration elements of the 
Metroid series, there's a far 
bigger emphasis on mayhem. 


GUACAMELEE 2013 



■ Recently released on Xbox 
One and PS4, Guacamelee 
is a superb metroidvania 
that follows the exploits of a 
humble farmer on a mission to 
save El Presidente's daughter. 
Its vibrant visuals and creative 
Mexican theme sets it apart 
from similar games. 


21 





WHY I 

Gradius 


JONATHAN GORDON, EDITOR, GAMES’ 


The arcade shoot- 
em-up had plenty of 
groundbreaking titles in the 
mid-Eighties, but few can top 
Gradius for its impact on the 
genre. It played on expectations 
right from the start and 
began to set the template for 
just about every game in this 
field that would follow. The 
tunnel gameplay design, the 
environment packed with 
threats and, of course, gigantic 
boss ships at the end of a stage 
to battle against. You can see 
the beginnings of future classics 
and many spin-offs in Gradius’ 
early concepts. 

But perhaps the thing I love 
the most about Gradius, that 
actually keeps it as fresh and 
interesting to play now as it did 
on release, is the customisation 
of power-ups. With its levelling 
system at the bottom of the 
screen, you could essentially 
pick how you wanted to play 
through sections of the game 
by grabbing or avoiding a 
pick-up. Do you want a shield 
or a little extra firepower? Do 
you want to equip a laser or 
move a little faster? It’s pretty 
basic really, but it has such an 
impact on gameplay. A 
really stunning piece of 
game design. 













You can see the beginnings of 
future classics and many spin-offs in 
Gradius’ early concepts 

JONATHAN GORDON, EDITOR, GAMES™ 

■ ■■■■■ ■ 



| ■ ■ | 1 ■ ■ | ■ ■ | ■ ■ | ■ ■ | ■ ■ | ■ ■ | ■ ■ 










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HAIL! HE'S 
STILL CRAZY 

Kenji Kanno is the man behind one of arcade gaming's 
true greats: Crazy Taxi. We sat down with the Sega 
stalwart for a good long chat 


While he's worked on one 
other title (1997's arcade- 
only Top Skater), it's fair to 
say Kenji Kanno is seen as 
a one-series man. He's the 
mind behind the original three 
Crazy Taxi games, as well as 
the PSP spin-off Fare Wars 
and the latest in the series 
- a free-to-play smartdevice 
version known as City Rush. 
Other than that, Kanno hasn't 
been directly involved in 
the creation of a game - so 
it's a uniquely interesting 
experience to speak to the 
man. We did just that, trying 
to find out what he thinks of 
the series he has created and 
what he thinks of its lasting 
legacy with gamers. 


Why, after all this time, have 
you suddenly decided to bring 
us a new version of Crazy Taxi ? 
Despite the perpetual popularity of 
racing games (and specifically open- 
world ones), it seems like the revival of 
Crazy Taxi has come out of the blue... 

I had been thinking about it a while and 
wanted to try something new in the Crazy 
Taxi series. At the same time I had a 
chance to have a conversation with Haruki 
Satomi - he's currently the CEO at 
Sega Networks, but I spoke to him 
before he was CEO and he told me 
he wanted to bring Crazy Taxi to 
a smartphone platform. I've been 
working with Hard Light Studio in 
the UK, where City Rush was born. 

Had you had something in mind 
for a long time with the franchise, 
or was it more of a spur of the 
moment thing? 

A couple of years after Crazy Taxi 3 was 
released I tried something different [Fare 
Wars on PSP], but after that I got feedback 
from various people that they really 
enjoyed the original Crazy Taxi games. So 
I started thinking about what I could create 
that would be new, to surprise people and 
bring enjoyment to them. 


Would you agree that smartphone and 
tablet gaming bears a huge similarity to 
arcade gaming, with their focus on quick, 
casual play and so on? 

There is a similarity between smartphone 
titles and arcade games - you can play 
the game for a short time, enjoying it very 
quickly and casually. 

Why do you think the Crazy Taxi series 
is so enduring and popular? What is it 


about the game that people love? 

It's fairly difficult to answer that, 
because I was in the middle of it all on the 
team who created the game. So it's hard 
to answer why it has been loved by fans for 
such a long time. As well as the music on 
the soundtrack, the style of game was very 
new, making it very well accepted - that's 
probably one of the reasons why it has 
been loved for such a long time. 


MY METHOD OF CREATION 
IS TO DECIDE THE MUSIC 
TRACK I'D LIKE TO USE 
IN A GAME BEFORE 
ANYTHING ELSE 


24 


KENJI KANNO ■■■■■ 








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r ELOPER HIGHLIGHT 

- ■■■ITS ODD TO 


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go back to 1999 and 

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been anting quite to & a 

super-iast »“S'““T'TpoW A to ] F<*>< B 


Le up — - rynssible. DUiip^* 

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ft Crazy Taxi lit up the 

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25 




.■■■■ GGOO 





When you first had the idea for Crazy 
Taxi, was it easy to get Sega on board? 

It wasn't that hard, because my boss was 
very cooperative and open to creating 
prototypes at the side of main projects. But I 
think my boss must have had a difficult time 
to present such a new concept to board 
members and management, to get through 
that and get a greenlight. 


on where we should have done something 
differently. When I wanted to have some 
features in each title, they always came 
from very deep in my mind and so I always 
felt I had done the best I could. Having 
said that, there are two things I wanted to 
actually change - one; multiplayer, and 
two; transition between day and night that 
affects gameplay - passenger attitudes, the 
whole atmosphere would change when time 
transitioned. I couldn't put those elements in 
the game for previous titles. 


Is there anything in the first three 
games that you'd want to go back 
and change? 

If you look at Crazy Taxi 1, 2 and 3 
specifically, there isn't that much I reflect 


here's no real thing as road etiquette in crazy laxi, u » 


What was the attitude that you 
brought - the thinking behind the 
original game? 

It's a bit of a philosophical answer, but 
in the end, play is providing or receiving 
the stimulation of fun. If you get the same 
stimulation over and over, you'll get bored, 
so my focus was to think about how I 
could give new stimulation to users who 
play games. So that's why it was sort of 
a collaboration between the music and 
the new game design. . . I was focusing on 
creating new ways to stimulate for fans and 
people who play. 

Of everything you created with the first 
game, what is it about Crazy Taxi that 
makes you the proudest to look back on? 

I get the chance to speak to people like 
journalists who speak different languages 
and come from different cultures, and I get 


the chance to get positive feedback on the 
Crazy Taxi games I created. I feel slightly 
awkward - in a positive way - and at the 
same time I feel happy and glad to receive 
such positive feedback. When I visited the 
United States and had a chance to speak 
with developers in America and hear they 
liked Crazy Taxi - 1 felt the same way: 
awkward, but happy and glad. Hearing it 
from people who don't speak Japanese. . . it 
just makes me feel happy. 

So do you still have the same passion for 
the series as a whole? 

Of course! 

Looking back at the core trilogy, how do 
you feel with the benefit of hindsight? 

When I look back at the series I feel 
creating something is difficult - in both 
a good and bad way. Also if I look back 
now I think, because it's the Crazy Taxi 
series, you have to hold onto something. 

But more than holding onto something 
existing, it's more important to have the 
courage to break something and create 
something new. That's more important 
to me now, looking back. 


Of the titles released - not including City 
Rush - which is your favourite Crazy 
Taxi game? 

If I'm asked that question, of course I'll say 
I love every game equally. But having said 
that it's not to do with me liking or disliking 
certain games, but without a beginning, the 
series doesn't have anything - therefore the 
first one was important to me. 

Have you ever wanted to branch out and 
make different games? 

Of course I'd love to make something 
different. If I have got nothing I would like to 
create, I will stop being a developer. But of 
course I have something! 

Are you happy with how the series is 
seen by gamers? 

As the creator of the game I purely feel glad 
and happy to receive such feedback from 
fans and users. There are some products 
that aren't discussed or received well, but 
Crazy Taxi has many people discussing 
it and it was received very well - this was 
very fortunate and it makes me very happy 
as a creator. 


26 


/VWWWWWWWVWWWtt KENJI KANNO ■Vi 


You're something of an elder statesman 
in the industry - what are your feelings 
on the state of modern gaming from a 
developer's standpoint? 

I have a feeling that something interesting 
will happen - that's the feeling I get from 
the current state of gaming. In the past, 
there were clear lines - this is arcade, this 
is console, this is something else - there 
were clear lines between each section. 
However, now there are fewer boundaries 
and it feels more like something new. Of 
course, there are chances you might 
fail, but at the same time there are 
more chances than ever to succeed. 

Also, creators and consumers 
are more flexible than ever - so 
generally speaking I think something 
interesting is going to happen in the 
future of the gaming business. 


other games are probably the least of 
my inspirations! 

In the UK, the arcade industry is all but 
dead. Being as involved in some of its 
best days as you were, how does this 
make you feel? 

The way people live is so different to how 
it was a while ago - a long time ago there 
were no mobiles, so people had to contact 
each other on landlines, but just like that 
changed, arcades have to change, too. 



British developers. The most interesting 
thing, I thought, was how the British team 
thought up new ideas I didn't think I could 
have come up with. British developers 
think in a similar way to Japanese - it’s 
inspirational. Hard Light is British, but I 
have worked with a US studio before - I 
found it interesting to see the difference 
between how US and UK studios work. 


THERE ISN'T THAT 
MUCH I REFLECT ON 
WHERE WE SHOULD 
H AVE DONE SOMETHING 
DIFFERENTLY 


Did you have to consider this 
flexibility when you were making 
City Rush ? 

I think the most important thing is to have 
a solid idea of what I'd like to deliver, what 
emotional reaction I want from players. 

For example, when you think about giving 
a present to your partner, you think 'how 
can I please them?' Should you send a 
text? An email? A letter? Go see them in 
person? But the essence is the same - the 
most important thing is to have a solid 
idea of how users like to have fun and how 
I'd like them to experience it emotionally. 
From a business point of view, the way the 
company charges is different, it's changing, 
so it could be from a customer, it could be 
from elsewhere. Companies get smarter, 
but the most important thing in a game is 
having a solid idea of what kind of feeling 
you want to deliver to users. 

What have you found to be your main 
inspiration for your games? 

I watch drama a lot and I try to read a lot 
of books - usually Japanese novels - and 
I watch anime, and read manga. They're 
my main inspirations. Out of those things, 

■ Fortunately Crazy Taxi was moving too fast to 
really focus on how similar the passengers looked. ™ 


But the arcade is where people can 
r communicate in person, physically, 
so it's important to think of something 
new that can fit into how people live these 
days, into the environment. I'd like to create 
something new to fit into that new arcade 
environment. 

And what's it like working with a British 
studio (Hard Light Games)? 

It is very interesting working with 

developer highlight 

& ■■■ WE WERE 

STILL in the period 

where something 

"considered 'arcade pertec 

A was a rarity, but Crazy 

everything « that played 

a bit more too. It s the ga ^ parties 

out as the backgr With the 

around the world back 

addition ol a new staget^P 

^ s 9 Slh a olds up brilliantly to 

— — 



Is it easy to keep the core experience 
familiar to gamers when you're working 
with these studios that have difference 
working methods? 

No matter if the development team is based 
in Japan, the UK, wherever, it's always 
difficult to create something. The most 
important thing is to share ideas and why 
each person thinks in a certain way, why a 
certain person thinks a process would work 
in a certain way. Matching up those ideas 
between each party is the most important 
part, so the overall approach has everyone 
on - more or less - the same page. 

One thing everyone wants to know: is 
Crazy Taxi coming back to console? 

I get that question all the time from 
journalists, so now my internal gauge 
is gradually increased. Such feedback 
about bringing Crazy Taxi to console - if 
I get more feedback like it - will fill up 
the internal gauge, and when it reaches 
maximum it'll come! 

And finally, who chose that iconic 
Offspring track for the original game? 

I did. I chose The Offspring and the 
soundtrack to use on the original Crazy 
Taxi. First, I loved that music. Second, 
originally I wanted to create an action 
game. For action games it's important to 
have the right tempo and rhythm to match 
up with gameplay. So for Crazy Taxi it's 
a game about driving around a city in a 
crazy manner. . . My method of creation is 
to decide the music track I'd like to use in a 
game before anything else. With the action 
game, the city, that kind of tempo in mind, 

I went to record shops like Tower Records 
and listened to a lot of music, bought a lot of 
CDs. Out of all those I thought the Offspring 
and Bad Religion tracks suited my 
mental image best. 


27 






POKEMON FIRE RED/LEAF GREEN 

GAME FREAK / THE POKEMON COMPANY, 

[NINTENDO] GAMEBOY ADVANCE 2004 

WE'VE USED THE Fire Red/Leat Green versions of Pokemon here for illustrative 
purposes, but the 'best intro' label can be applied to all the Pokemon games, really - yes, 
they're somewhat formulaic, but therein lies the charm: each new adventure takes your protagonist, 
a professor and a mascot Pokemon for that generation and gives you a quick rundown of Pokemon 
lore, always accompanied by the soaring and inspirational theme, comprised of a constantly evolving 
four-note motif. Your high-resolution Trainer is subsequently shrunk down and plopped into the world - a 
perfect bit of symbolism for how we, as players, are taken by the hand into the new adventure that awaits, 
before we're offered the choice of a 'fire, water or grass' starter. As intros go, it doesn't get much more engaging. 















GAME CHANGERS 


HE3GOGO 

MORTAL KOMBAT 


Released: 8 October 1992 Publisher: Virgin (EU), Midway Games (US) Developer: Midway Games (Arcade), Acclaim Games (Consoles) 

System: Arcade, Amiga, Sega MegaDrive, SNES 



L 


J 


The original video(game) nasty, Mortal Kombat has had a much bigger impact 
on the games industry than is immediately evident - we examine how a 
game built in under a year shaped gaming forever 


■ THERE ARE FEW games franchises as 
q 2 2 notably controversial as Mortal Kombat - it 
■ ■ ■ ■ was one of the first videogames to divide 
gamers and the mainstream press, its bloody 
depiction of one-on-one violence a step too far for 
some of the more conservative commentators when 
it was released in late 1992. Arriving first on arcade 
machines, the game that would go on to spawn nine 
proper sequels and a slew of licensed spin offs (and 
some terrible movies. . .) almost wasn't made at all. 

In 1991, Midway tasked developers Ed Boon and 
John Tobias with creating a fighting game that 
could be put together and ready for release within 
a year - presumably to cash in on the hype that 
Capcom's Street Fighter 7/had initiated a year earlier. 
Ten months later, the game was ready - an initial 
development team of four people taking on the bulk of 
development. Impressive considering the whole game 
is crammed into 8mb of data, with a 64-colour palette 
and 300 animations per each of the seven characters. 


On top of that, Mortal Kombat also introduced 
its unique five-button control scheme that has 
since become a standard in the series. A series of 
incredibly basic light attacks are complimented by 
launchers, low moves and supers - all of which use 
simple left, right, up or down inputs, unlike Street 
Fighter's quarter- and half-circles. This, along with 
the relatively shallow move pools, made it far easier 
for casuals to pick up than its genre rival: another 
reason the game quickly gained mass popularity. 

■■■ AFTER SUCCESS IN the arcades, Mortal 
Kombat 1 s name began to circulate around gaming 
circles and, inevitably, the media - it matched even 
its inspirational peer, Street Fighter II, in terms of 
popularity, by 1993. Of course, the ultra-violence and 
over-the-top executions garnered the most attention; 
with international press claiming the game glorifies 
murder and violence. It's comic book violence, sure 
- something the action movies of the time easily 


30 




GAME-CHANGERS MORTAL KOMBAT 


THE ANATOMY OF MORTAL KOMBAT 

I MORTAL KOMBAT HAS GONE ON TO INSPIRE A GREAT GLUT OF GAMES, BUT 
I WHAT LEAD TO ITS CREATION IN THE FIRST PLACE? 




STREET FIGHTER II 


” 1 ' f t r— ’ rr> — — 



JAPANESE MYTHOLOGY 


★ Street Fighter II, Capcom's seminal 
fighting game, directly caused Mortal 
Kombat's creation. When Midway's 
rival launched, Capcom went as far as 
advertising Street Fighter as the superior 
fighting title in an attempt to stem Mortal 
Kombat's very impressive sales rush. 


★ In the very early stages of the game's 
development, the studio had named Liu 
Kang 'Minamoto no Yoshitsune' - a name 
later dropped by Boon because he "just 
couldn't deal with the name". Goro, too, 
came from a Japanese myth - based on 
Rokurokubi: demons with stretchy heads. 


C0>M!DWAY 


MIDWAY'S SCHEDULE 


★ The reason that Mortal Kombat had 
such a short time in development (only ten 
months) was because Midway only ever 
intended it to be a stop-gap in its other 
arcade plans... this then allowed Ed Boon 
and John Tobias free reign on the project, 
and, as they say, the rest is history! 


outclassed - but being able to enact it yourself didn't 
sit too well with a lot of people, especially the parents 
of children who would wander into arcades and play 
the game without any kind of supervision. 

The press backlash against the game's trademark 
'Fatality' finishers was in full swing by the time the 
game was ready to move into the home console 
market. For publishers, this was a tantalising 
opportunity: all news is good news, and during 
the Nintendo Vs. Sega console wars of the early 
Nineties, Sega executives were licking their lips at 
the opportunity to get one over on their Nintendo 
rivals. Sensing the hunger for the blood and violence 
Mortal Kombat offered in the now-maturing games 
community, Sega cannily released the home version 
on the MegaDrive with the 'Arcade Edition' dub: 
something Nintendo's tame, bloodless, murder-less 
version didn't on the SNES. 

The result? Sega saw their market share climb 
to 55% in 1993, the first time Sega had ever pulled 
ahead of Nintendo in the console war, with thanks to 
some particularly aggressive advertising on Sega's 


MORTAL KOMBAT'S 
BLOODY DEPICTION 
OF ONE-ON-ONE 
VIOLENCE WAS TOO 
MUCH FOR SOME 
COMMENTATORS 



Mortal Kombat 
mainstay Jonny 
Cage was 
supposed to be a 
virtual version ot 
Jean-Claude Van 
Damme (hence 
the 'JC' initials) 
but the actor 
dropped out during 
negotiations. . . 
leaving a parody in 
his place 

The game went 
through the names 
Kumite, Dragon 
Attack, Death Blow 
and Fatality! before 
the developers 
finally settled on 
Mortal Kombat 
after someone 
mysteriously wrote 
a K over the C on a 
drawing board 

Mortal Kombat 
veteran Raiden 
was based on the 
character Lightning 
in Big Trouble In 
Little China 


part ("Genesis does what Nintendon't" was a genuine 
slogan used at the time). Sega had tapped into that 
anarchic, 'screw the man' rebellious nature of the 
Nineties with much aplomb. 

■■■ TRANSIENT PROFITS ARE all well and good, 
but the decision to release the game uncensored 
would return to haunt Sega and Acclaim when 
their game was taken to the Supreme Court under 
accusation of being 'a menace to America's children'. 
Sega executives believed the case was pushed to 
court by Nintendo, though no solid proof of this exists. 

Without Mortal Kombat bringing the 'problem' 
with violent videogames to the attention of the 
general public, we wouldn't have the Entertainment 
Software Association (a body that started out as the 
Independent Digital Software Association). From 
lobbying in Washington to fighting censorship, the 
ESA vowed to self-regulate, setting up the ERSB 
ratings system - which influenced our European PEGI 
(Pan European Game Information) - and even lead to 
the creation of E3. 

Since then, aside from a little in-fighting between 
hardware manufacturers, the games industry has 
been largely united in its drive to present games as 
equal to other media. Without Mortal Kombat setting 
a very graphic precedent in what games could get 
away with, it's likely the industry might have travelled 
a safer path, making smaller ripples before ever 
hitting a level where the American senate had to 
take them seriously as a form of entertainment. It's 
quite ironic for a game built in ten months, really, 
but without Mortal Kombat, this industry would be 
nowhere near as developed as it is today. 


31 






GAME CHANGERS 


* roooo 


MORTAL KOMBAT'S 
BLOODIEST MOMENTS 

THE ORIGINAL MORTAL KOMBAT IS THE REASON OUR INDUSTRY IS 
BOUND BY A SELF-IMPOSED RATINGS SYSTEM... BUT THAT GAME'S 
VIOLENCE AND GORE WAS IUST THE BEGINNING. DON'T SCAN THIS 
PAGE IF YOU DON'T WANT ANY HIGH-OCTANE NIGHTMARE FUEL... 



SUB-ZERO'S SPINE RIP FATALITY 

■ THIS FATALITY WAS actually referenced explicitly in the court 
case brought against Midway and Sega in 1993. It even inspired 
Senator Lieberman (opposing Sega) to quote "I was startled [. . .] 
And at the end, if you really did well, you'd get to decide whether 
to decapitate.. .how to kill the other guy, how to pull his head off. 
There was all sorts of blood flying around." 



KUNG LAO'S HAT SPLIT 

■ WHEN DEVELOPING THE second Mortal Kombat, the 
developers wanted to include everything they planned for the first 
game, but didn't have time due to scheduling. As a result, new 
characters, fatalities and stages were introduced. The best one 
(and one of creator Ed Boon's favourites) was Kung Loa splitting 
an opponent in half with his weirdly sharp hat. 



FALLING INTO THE PIT 

■ THE SECOND ITERATION of The Pit (it was the keystone stage 
of the first game) was much more imposing and terrifying than 
the first. It was the first time the Mortal Kombat series deviated 
from its side-on view, instead opting for an overhead view as your 
opponent plummeted to the ground, before that spine-shattering 
crunch audio effect. . . which we can still hear today. 



REPTILE'S ACID SPEW 

■ AFTER HIS WEIRD cameo in the first game, Reptile graduated 
to legitimate playable character by the time Mortal Kombat //hit 
the shelves. His fatality involved spewing acid onto the opponent, 
melting them to the bones. Because of this, the game was banned 
in Germany and censored in Japan, the first time a Western game 
was censored in the country. 


32 







GAME-CHANGERS MORTAL KOMBAT 



KABAL'S TERRIFYING FACE 

■ KABAL MADE HIS debut in Mortal Kombat III. He was 
supposedly horribly disfigured, leading to his reliance on a 
respirator and a mask that protects his face. One of his first 
fatalities involved the removal of his mask, to reveal a face so 
horrifying that it literally scares the soul out of his opponent. 



EXPLODING YOURSELF, YOUR 
ENEMY... AND THE EARTH 


■ SMOKE HAS ALWAYS been strange, his whole existence 
merged with the Sub-Zero moniker and the ninja brothers that 
go with it. Smoke's even weirder moves culminate in him firing a 
bajillion grenades out of himself and causing the world to explode. 



MEAT'S VERY EXISTENCE 


■ ONE OF MORTAL KOMBAT 4's hidden characters, Meat is 
supposed to be an experimental subject that escaped Shang 
Tsung's custody before whatever cruel intentions of the mad 
sorcerer were fulfilled. Completing all Group Mode challenges 
in 4 would make any character you select become Meat - so you 
couldn't escape him and his rotting flesh and his hanging eye. 



THE REBOOT'S 'X-RAY' MOVES 

■ DURING THE PR campaign for what the media would come 
to call Mortal Kombat 9, Ed Boon promised fans of the AWOL 
franchise that when they finally got the new game, they'd bask in 
its violent glory - promising it would be the most violent yet. Boon 
wasn't lying - fatalities aside, the 'X-Ray' moves alone could 
have satiated our gore-hunger. 



THE LIVING FOREST STAGE DEATH 

■ THE LIVING FOREST is a staple arena in the Mortal Kombat 
series now, after being introduced in the second game. But it took 
until the ninth instalment of the core series - which travelled to 
a very self-aware 'reboot' timeline - for the game to allow you to 
kick an opponent into the trees, getting them crunched to bits by 
splintery wooden teeth. . . 



QUAN CHI'S NEW FATALITY 

■ WE ONLY NEEDED to see mere snippets of Mortal Kombat X 
to get an idea of what to expect. The new graphics make all the 
blood and gore look more real than ever, and the result is some 
tremendously cringe-inducing fatalities. The worst so far? Quan 
Chi summons a dagger and drags his opponent onto it with his 
psychic powers, spins them round and splits their body in half. 


33 












W 4F1l I 
111 \ 

W..-- 

TREASURE HUNTER G 

SNES [SQUARE] 1996 

■ MARKING THE END of a fruitful partnership between Nintendo and Square, Treasure 
Hunter G is a SNES-exclusive turn-based RPG that (like so many of its ilk) never made it 
out of its native Japan. But that doesn't exclude it from celebration, as anyone with a savvy 
head about them will be able to find a translated version online. Among the deluge of memorable 
imagery packed inside the SNES cartridge, it's the final battle that stands out as an artistic (and 
somewhat disturbing) highlight. A fire -breathing reanimated dinosaur skeleton is always going to 
grab a gamer's attention, but it's the smaller details of design that create the biggest impact; from the 
fur wrapped loosely over its bones to the throbbing organs beneath its ribcage, it's one of the most horrific 
creations from the studio in its early years. Make no mistake, the Bone Dino is Square at its darkest. 

f r 

i i 

j* . JT 




m QOTJQ 


GAMING FIRSTS 

WE LOOK BACK AT THE PIONEERING DEVELOPMENTS IN GAMES 

history, left in the shadow of their successful peers 



0X0 

THOUGH THERE HAD been precursors which used computer 
■ technology to play games, 0X0 is the first game to draw 
graphics on an electronic monitor as is fundamentally required of 
videogames - though it still utilised printed output in order to instruct 
the player and provide updates on the status of the current game. 
Written as part of Alexander S Douglas' PhD thesis, 0X0 employed a 
room-sized EDSAC computer at the University of Cambridge to play 
noughts and crosses, with moves entered on the dial of a rotary 
telephone. Impressively, the computer could play a full game without 
human aid. 


1952 




TENNIS FOR TWO 

DEVELOPED BY WILLIAM Higinbotham as a demonstration for 
• visitors to the Brookhaven National Laboratory in the USA, Tennis 
For Two delivered on the promises of its title by allowing two players to 
play a simple simulation of tennis, which ran on a Donner Model 30 
computer using an oscilloscope display. Though it looks similar to Pong 
in simulated screenshots, seeing it in action quickly reveals that the 
game is a surprisingly accurate side-on representation of the real sport. 
Utilising this viewpoint instead of the top-down one seen in Pong and its 
variants allows the game to simulate gravity, and it does so quite well - 
the ball arcs convincingly over the net as it's hit by the unseen players. 

* 




SPACEWAR! 

CONCEIVED AS A way to demonstrate the power of the PDP-1 

computer, Spacewar! was conceived by MIT students Steve 
Russell, Martin Graetz and Wayne Wiitanen. The game features two 
spaceships - each controlled by a single player - that must not only 
destroy each other but also avoid colliding with the star at the centre of 
the screen, which constantly influences movement with its gravitational 
pull. It's a relatively complex design, and was reportedly adopted by 
PDP- 1 manufacturer DEC as a test program due to its extensive use of 
the hardware. 

Aside from introducing the concept of destroying opponents with 
projectiles, the major legacy of Spacewar! lies in its status as the first 
videogame to receive wide distribution. The game was ported to other 
machines during the Sixties and served as an inspiration to other 
coders, who produced a variety of variations upon the game. Two of 
those would go on to be milestone developments in their own right, as 
we'll cover later. 


36 





: FEATURE GAMING FIRSTS 



GALAXY GAME 

A MERE NINE years after Spacewar! had been released, Bill Pitts 

and Hugh Tuck harnessed an incredibly expensive PDP-11/20 
computer to allow Stanford University students the opportunity to play 
the game at their leisure. In doing so, they provided the world's first 
coin-operated game. At a price of 10 cents per game (or 25 cents for 
three), the hardware cost required the game to be played around 
200,000 times to break even. That milestone was probably reached - 
the system was upgraded to handle multiple simultaneous games in 
1972, and would remain a fixture on campus until technical issues 
retired it in 1979. 





COMPUTER SPACE 

WHEN NUTTING ASSOCIATES released Computer Space, it 

became the first company to ever try to sell a videogame. 
Computer Space was an attempt to take the Spacewar! phenomenon 
and transplant it into commercial venues such as bars, where pinball 
tables and other coin-operated amusements had seen success. 

However, general audiences weren't familiar with the concept of 
videogames at all, and failed to grasp the game, which entailed 
controlling a rocket ship and avoiding enemy fire. Failure did not prove 
to be much of a deterrent - the designers of the game, Nolan Bushnell 
and Ted Dabney, went on to found a little company called Atari. You may 
have heard of it. . . 



MAGNAVOX 

ODYSSEY 


"BROWN BOX" MIGHT not be the most enticing codename of all 
time, but Ralph Baer's invention would bring videogames into the 
home for the first time ever. Prior to the release of the Odyssey, 
videogames had been confined exclusively to research facilities and the 
select few public places that bought Computer Space. Unlike later 
consoles which used programmable ROM cartridges, the Odyssey's 
cartridges connected jumpers and logic circuits to enable pre- 
programmed games. With limited graphical capabilities and no sound, 
players had to rely on screen overlays and keep score for themselves. 
Magnavox was acquired by Philips in 1974, and enjoyed enough 
success with the Odyssey to release a successor, known in North 
America as the Odyssey 2 and in Europe as the Philips Videopac G7000. 
The company left the console market during the 1983 market crash. 



MAZE WAR 

WHEN STEVE COLLEY decided that his maze navigation program 

was too dull, his solution would make him an unwitting pioneer of 
videogaming. Maze War took the first-person perspective of the maze 
program, and added the ability to see other users, represented as 
floating eyeballs, and shoot them. Movement was simple and tile-based, 
but it was indisputably a first-person shooter. What is astounding about 
Maze War is the sheer number of features it pioneered. It was the first 
networked game, offering peer-to-peer network gaming across a serial 
cable and later being adapted for play over ARPAnet, the forerunner to 
the internet. Crafty players also realised that their client versions of the 
software could be modified, thus allowing them to cheat. 


1972 


1974 


37 







« GOOD 



HEAVYWEIGHT 

CHAMP 


SOMETIMES, IT'S POSSIBLE to get something right the very first 
time. Such was the case with Sega's Heavyweight Champ - not only 
was it the first game to feature hand to hand combat, it introduced the 
common side-on perspective that has persisted through the genre's 
popularisation and subsequent move to 3D in the Nineties. Less enduring 
was the control system, which gave each player a boxing glove. These 
could be raised and lowered to determine the height of punches, and 
thrust inwards to strike. Confusingly, Sega would reuse the name for a 1 987 
arcade game and 1 99 1 Master System game. 



COLOSSAL CAVE 
ADVENTURE 

BORN OF WILL Crowther's desire to create a game to enjoy with his 
■■■■ daughters, Colossal Cave Adventure reflects his background as a 
caver as well as a professional coder. The game featured some light 
fantasy elements, which would be ramped up when Don Woods discovered 
the game at Stanford University. Woods significantly expanded Crowther's 
original game, with more locations, a greater vocabulary and the inclusion 
of objects. Many games can trace their lineage back to Colossal Cave 
Adventure, thanks to its pioneering text adventure format and the inclusion 
of Tolkien-inspired creatures that tie the game to the emerging RPG genre. 



SPACE INVADERS 

ONE OF ATARI'S key advantages over its rivals in the console 

market of the late Seventies and early Eighties was its ability to 
bring home the arcade games people loved. But when the Space 
Invaders phenomenon swept the world, it was Taito reaping the rewards 
- until Atari decided to break new ground by licensing the hit game. 
Proving the power of brand names, Space Invaders turned out to be the 
first killer app in console gaming. People didn't just buy the game - they 
were buying consoles just to play it, with the Atari 2600's sales reportedly 
quadrupling following the release of Space Invaders. Within a year of 
release, it surpassed two million sales - prior to that point, no stand- 
alone game had managed to even sell a million. 






SPACE PANIC 

HERE'S AN INTERESTING fact for you: in Germany, platform games 

are typically called "jump and run" games. Amusing, as the first 
platform game didn't involve jumping at all. Universal's Space Panic doesn't 
allow the player to jump while they attempt to trap enemy aliens, but it does 
provide ladders to allow players to move between platforms - a common 
means of conveyance in early examples of the genre. Looking back at 
Space Panic, it's easy to be struck by the fact that genres can evolve from 
their early designs very quickly. Just a year after the game's release, Donkey 
Kong revolutionised the genre by allowing the player to jump between both 
static and moving platforms. As the result of Nintendo's monster hit, a 
platform game that doesn't involve jumping seems ridiculous today. 


38 











FEATURE GAMING FIRSTS 


SOFTPORN 

ADVENTURE 




gmXLi 


• r >; 


Wo 


WARFARE AND VIOLENCE 
came to videogames early, but 
sex came a little later. On-line 
Systems' erotic text adventure was 
specifically marketed at adults only, 
but wasn't tremendously sophisticated 
- as you might expect from the game 
that inspired the creation of Leisure 
Suit Larry. The game was predictably 


controversial - it was largely ignored 
by the specialist press but highlighted 
by TIME magazine, causing hate mail 
to arrive at On-Line Systems. However 
the game also sold well, partially as a 
result of the controversy - reportedly, 
retailers would order other On-line 
Systems games to mask the true intent 
of thefr orders. 


1981 


1981 


COMMODORE 

VIC-20 


COMMODORE FOUNDER JACK 
Tramiel has been quoted as 
wanting to sell computers to the masses 
rather than the classes, and the VIC-20 
was a breakthrough in achieving this. 
The machine was aggressively 
positioned at retail, being sold at an 
affordable price through discount 
retailers and toy stores, supported by 
adverts starring William Shatner which 
touted the machine's advantages over 
consoles. This ensured mass market 
success, while enthusiasts were drawn 
to the machine's surprisingly capable 
hardware. The VIC-20's success would 
signal the start of a process which 









saw stronger manufacturers pulling 
ahead, reducing the number of 
competitors in the hotly-contested 
Eighties home computer market. It was 
also the first widespread format that 
allowed users to create their own 
games, a prominent trend in Eighties 
gaming. It was a short-lived success, 
though - the VIC-20 was quietly 
discontinued in 1 985 as it was eclipsed 
by its more popular successor, the 
Commodore 64. 


1983 



THE MUSIC MACHINE 


DEVELOPED BY SPARROW for the 
Atari 2600 and sold exclusively 
through Christian book stores, this 
game accompanied an LP of the same 
title and plays much like Kabooml, an 
Activision hit of the era. Though it is an 
early example of an attempt to promote 
beliefs through a game, the relfgfous 


message is relatively light-handed 
compared to later examples such as 
Bible Adventures - instead of catching 
bombs, you catch representations of 
qualities such as patience, faith and 
love. Due to the unusual distribution 
method, the game is now a rarity which 
fetches prices of up to $5,000 at auction. 


FALSE FIRSTS 




The hardware and software wrongly 
credited with pioneering achievements 


PONG 

False Achievemen 



Pong is very definitely not the first ever 
videogame - Atari's Nolan Bushnell has 
stated on record that he had seen a 
similar game running on the Magnavox 
Odyssey, though he claims not to have 
thought much of it. However, Pong is still very much the 
game that launched an industry - though it wasn't the 
first commercially released videogame, it was the first 
commercially successful one. 


ATARI 5200 

False Achievement: 


First console to use analogue sticks as standard 



While every home console since the 
Nintendo 64 has included an analogue 
control stick as standard, they had 
been used sporadically since the early 
Eighties. The Atari 5200 was the first 
high profile console to use such a device, but an earlier 
example is known: the 1292 Advanced Programmable 
Video System, designed in 1976 by German manufacturer 
Radofin, licensed throughout Europe. 



GAME BOY 


False Achievemeni 



When handheld gaming finally came of 
age in 1989, Nintendo was there leading 
the charge with the Game Boy. But while 
the primitive technology can fool players 
into thinking it was a pioneer, the real beginning came 
in 1979 with Milton Bradley's Microvision, a handheld 
console featuring interchangeable cartridges. The black 
and white LCD screen, the most commonly malfunctioning 
part of the system, had a very low resolution of 16 x 16. 




First console to include four controller ports 


NINTENDO 64 

False Achievement: 

While it was nice to enjoy GoldenEye 
007 and Mario Kart 64 without having to 
dig out a multitap, Nintendo's console 
wasn't the first to allow more than two 
players to compete. The Atari 5200 
had four ports in the early Eighties, and prior to that the 
Bally Astrocade introduced the feature. The long-forgotten 
pioneer was developed in 1976 by Midway then the 
videogames division of Bally Manufacturing. 



CHUCHU ROCKET 

False Achievement: 

While the Dreamcast was the first 
console to support online play out of 
the box, modem peripherals had been 
available for many years prior - even 
the Atari 2600 had such an item, 
though it wasn't used for competitive gaming. The XBAND 
modem, released for the SNES and Mega Drive in 1994, 
was the first such peripheral to offer competitive console 
gaming and did so across a variety of titles. 



39 











GAME CHANGERS 


* roooo 


STAR WARS: KNIGHTS 
OF THE OLD REPUBLIC 



Released: 15 July, 2003 Publisher: LucasArts Developer: BioWare System: PC, Xbox 


Everyone has fantasised about being a Jedi or Sith. In 2003, BioWare and 
LucasArts made that a reality - letting us live out our Star Wars dream 


I STAR WARS: KNIGHTS Of The Old Republic 
■ ■■ was 9 roun d-breaking for two major reasons 
■ ■■■ - firstly, the game proved what a videogame 
could do with the Star Wars property: it wasn't just 
some cynical licensed cash-in (something that was 
expected back in the early Noughties). It was also, 
at the time of release, a cutting edge RPG - back in 
2003, taking up 4GB on a hard-drive was unheard of. 
But it wasn't just a necessity for BioWare to use this 
much memory - it was also a statement of intent. 

Knights Of The Old Republic was one of the deepest 
RPGs ever made at the time of release. It also added 
depth to other genres; there were sections of the game 
that relied on tactical third-person shooting and even 
first-person shooting areas, too. BioWare took the real- 
time combat popularised by MMORPGs and applied 
the mechanics to the single-player RPG, resulting in 


a unique half-turn based, half-real time hybrid that 
BioWare has since perfected across the Mass Effect 
and Dragon Age franchises. 

The idea behind this wholly new approach to 
combat was to channel the inherent cinematography 
that came with the Star Wars franchise and gamify 
it; making encounters fast and action-oriented, 
every encounter similar to something you'd see 
Lucas himself orchestrate. It helped that BioWare 
and LucasArts had a very fluid and understanding 
relationship - considering how precious LucasArts 
could be about its property, BioWare has gone on 
record as saying 'very little' of its initial content was 
changed. High praise indeed for a licensed game. 

The game was noted for its technical achievements 
- BioWare chose the Xbox as the game's leading 
platform because of its compatibility with the PC 


40 


•GAME-CHANGERS STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC: 


THE ANATOMY OF KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC ^ 

' KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC HAS GONE ON TO INSPIRE A WEALTH OF ™ 


OTHER RPGS, BUT WHAT INSPIRED THE GAME IN THE FIRST PLACE? 



★ Wizards of the Coast's d20-based 
roleplaying game was a Dungeons & 
Dragons inspired tabletop game that 
required players to choose a certain class 
at the beginning of a story and then work 
together to progress in the game. ..seem 
slightly familiar? 



K— 

i_l 

| BALDUR'S GATE 




★ BioWare's previous games formed the 
foundations on which Knights Of The Old 
Republic would later be built - the iconic 
combat system actually started out as 
an exact carbon copy of Baldur's Gates 
strategically-centred mechanic before 
adjustments were made. 



★ The development team looked towards 
the revolutionary Deus Ex for inspiration 
to see how a game could make the player 
think about all the multiple paths its 
protagonist could take through a single 
level, and apply a roster's worth of skills to 
solve the puzzle. 


(which BioWare was already well-versed in, thanks 
to Neverwinter Nights) and because the studio 
could achieve its vision of a huge, open world on the 
console. It was a vision that was well achieved; by the 
time the game shipped, it had grass that reacted to 
real-time wind, reactive dust on Tatooine and sand 
that remembers a player's footsteps - all of which 
were ground-breaking on console. 

■■■ THE GAME WAS also the first in the industry 
to weave a proper morality scale into the gameplay 
- the choices offered to us moved beyond the 
end-game 'kill or save everyone options offered in 
action-RPGs before (with, perhaps, the exception 
of Deus Ex). Knights Of The Old Republic took that 
design philosophy to its logical conclusion; BioWare's 
seminal RPG had iterative decisions that affected the 
events in the story at pre-defined beats throughout 
the narrative, beats that were less binary than the 
law, chaos or neutral paths offered in Japanese 
alternatives on the market. 


rr WAS AN RPG ANY- 
ONE COULD ENJOY 
- FROM WEATHERED 
ROLE PLAYERS TO 
FRESH-EYED STAR 
WARS FANS 



Jennifer Hale 

- who voiced the 
female protagonist - 
would go on to have 
a very lucrative 
relationship with 
BioWare, eventually 
voicing the female 
Shepard in the 
Mass Effect trilogy. 

Each selectable 
class in-game is 
based on a leading 
Star Wars character 

- Bounty Hunter 
(Boba Fett), Sorcerer 
(Darth Sidious), 

Jedi Knight (Luke 
Skywalker) and 
Smuggler (Han 
Solo) to name just 

a few. 

The PC version's 
additional location, 
NPCs and weapons 
were ultimately 
added to console 
via Xbox Live. 


But what's the point in making us choose how 
we want the game to play out if we don't feel like 
we have a stake in the world? Enter BioWare's 
biggest strength: character development. It helped 
that Knights Of The Old Republic had the Star 
Wars universe to provide an elaborate backdrop, 
but BioWare was smart - it chose to delve into an 
undeveloped part of Lucas' lore, some 4000 years 
before the events of what would become Episode I. 

This allowed the developers to establish its own 
world, replete with countless opportunities to tamper 
with Star Wars lore for its own ends. This lead to 
characters on both the Dark and Light sides that 
were fully fleshed out and human, something that 
RPGs had rarely managed to do before. It helped that 
each main character was fully voice acted, and acted 
well, too; each reaction and response to the player's 
actions catered and specifically directed to suit your 
alignment. This was a labour of love at LucasArts 
and BioWare - the voice recording took over a month 
of solid work, with actors recording throughout the 
day and night over five weeks to get enough lines to 
account for the game's non-linear structure. 

The result of this ambitious and multi-faceted 
approach was a watershed moment for Western 
development - during the early 2000s, there was a 
rebellion against the stagnating RPG scene that was 
starting to congeal in Japan. BioWare came along 
and proved the RPG didn't have to be hidden behind 
walls of text and inaccessible menus, spikey-haired 
protagonists and battles with God: this was an RPG 
anyone could enjoy - from weathered dice-wielding 
role players to fresh-eyed Star Wars fans. BioWare 
changed the world - it doesn't take a Jedi to see that. 


41 









mm rzctf'M 7\ 



8 OF BIOWARE'S 
MOST MEMORABLE 
COMPANIONS 


BIO WARE MAY HAVE CARVED OUT A NICHE WITH ITS WELL- 
REALISED CHARACTERS IN KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC, 
BUT THEY WEREN'T THE FIRST (OR LAST) GREAT PERSONAS 

THEY WOULD CRAFT 



HK-47 

■ HK-47 IS A Hunter-Killer assassin droid made by the Dark Sith 
Lord, Darth Revan in KOTOR. His memory wiped, he's a nomadic 
sociopath - a misanthropic machine motivated by a desire for 
chaos, and an irrational hatred of organic life. His idea of love, for 
example, is "making a shot to the knees of a target 120 kilometres 
away using an Aratech sniper rifle with a tri-light scope." 


GARRUS VAKARIAN 

■ GARRUS HAS THE outward appearance of a cold, hard killer. 
Like most Turians, he was trained in all aspects of military combat 
by the age of 15. But a love for the order of things lead him to the 
police force, where he meets your character in the first Mass Effect 
Here, you slowly unravel the enigma that is Garrus - the confident, 
loyal and mostly untainted good force in the Mass Effect galaxy. 


42 






GAME-CHANGERS STAR WARS: KNIGHTS OF THE OLD REPUBLIC! 



MINSC 

■ THE HULKING TATTOOED ranger is passable on his own, but 
it's his odd pet - Boo - that makes Minsc endearing. The 'miniature 
giant space hamster' lets Minsc express himself in an unself- 
conscious way by chatting nonsense to his pet. In Baldur's Gate II, 
BioWare gave him motivation, making him even more empathetic. 



MISSION VAO 

■ THE STREET URCHIN turned Ebon Hawk crew mate, Mission 
was a uniquely damaged Twi'lek in KOTOR - she's got a sunny 
disposition despite a history of abandonment. Her relationship 
with Wookie Zaalbar, is reminiscent of Han's relationship with 
Chewbacca - and that's sure of getting into our hearts. 



VARRIC 

■ ONE OF GAMING'S most endearing rascals, Varric is an 
important Dragon Age character due to his unique placement as 
a narrator. Yes, he likes to elaborate, and yes, he likes to lace his 
stories with a little self-aggrandising pomp, but he's a good friend to 
your protagonist and, beneath it all, has a heart of gold. 



THANE KRIOS 

■ THANE IS AN assassin, but makes each assassination intimate, 
memorable. He's got a photographic memory that lets him relive 
each of his kills in detail - not helping his intense guilt complex. Oh, 
and he's terminally ill, giving his whole arc a definitive ending that's 
emotionally crippling by the end of Mass Elfect 3. 



DR. LIARA T'SONI 

■ BIOWARE ONCE AGAIN shows its ability to infuse characters 
with unique personalities with Liara - it would've been so easy to 
reduce her to being Mass Effect's science-toting hippy pacifist, but 
that's just boring. Rather, Liara has serious mummy issues, with a 
wistful naivety and confused feelings towards humanity. She made 
you want to be a better Spectre in the game, and a better human. 



ALISTAIR 

■ IN A WORLD as brutal as Dragon Age's, it's important to have 
someone to provide a little comic relief. Luckily, Alistair has this 
incredible gift for relieving the tension when you most need it. It's 
like he can surgically deliver the most reassuring line on a whim, 
always with a self-aware smile. He's like Dragon Age's big brother 
figure; it's a shame he isn't quite fit to be ruler of the kingdom, isn't it? 


43 








MHV I 

The Secret Of 
Monkey Island 


JAMES GOLDING, LEAD ENGINE 
PROGRAMMER (UNREAL), EPIC 

My favourite game 

ever is The Secret Of 
Monkey Island - it’s such a 
great mix of clever mechanics 
and intelligent design. It’s 
funny, too, which a lot of 
games weren’t back then. It 
wasn’t ever trying to beat you, 
either, just entertain you. I 
think there’s only one way 
to die throughout the whole 
game - it was about playing it, 
rather than it playing you. It 
felt like such a complete world, 
too, and few games have 
made such a compelling and 
complete fantasy world 
as that did. I will still find 
myself humming the music 
to myself, too, years later. 
Everything about it just invited 
you to come and play, and not 
a lot of games have that 
any more. 




Nail 


Give Pick up Use 
Opep Look at Push 
Close Talk to Pull 



It felt like such a complete world, 
and few games have made such a 
compelling and complete fantasy 
world as Monkey Island did 

JAMES GOLDING, LEAD ENGINE PROGRAMMER (UNREAL), EPIC 




«. ' " * v» 4< 

tie HT 
w% 

c 


R etrd 


iTTpi 


JANE JENSEN 

Her Gabriel Knight adventure games stood out in the 
Nineties for their dark, layered stories and mature themes. 
Two decades later, Jane Jensen's Schattenjager re-emerges 

from the shadows 


Jane Jensen was an aspiring 
writer and adventure game 
fan when a short story she 
wrote caught the eye of a 
hiring manager at Sierra 
On-Line. She went on to 
become one of Sierra's 
renowned game designers, 
responsible for a trilogy 
of supernatural mystery 
adventures starring the 
roguish Gabriel Knight — a 
wannabe novelist turned 
Shadow Hunter — and 
his cynical assistant and 
sometimes love interest, 
Grace Nakamura. Though 
she kept making games 
after Sierra's 1999 shutdown, 
Gabriel Knight remains the 
prolific writer/designer's best- 
known work. With the release 
of the Gabriel Knight: Sins Of 
The Fathers 20th Anniversary 
Edition putting her beloved 
Schattenjager back in the 
spotlight, we caught up with 
Jane to talk about her career 
highlights and where she 
hopes to take Gabriel and 
Grace from here. 


J You'd been at Sierra a few 

ggg years when co-founder Roberta 
• • ■ ■ Williams suggested you pitch 
your own game — Gabriel Knight: Sins Of 
The Fathers. How was that development 
different to your work so far? 

When I first started at Sierra, I was hired 
to be part of the writer's block. We were 
told, "You'll never be a designer, don't 
have that ambition, don't get yourself 
stressed about it because that's never 
going to happen." Just sit here and write 
dialogue and shut up, basically. 

[laughs] But that's not the way it J J 

worked out. •>< 

I had a huge sense of ambition “ “ 

and passion [on Gabriel Knight Vi 

JJ. It was my chance and I really, R] 

really wanted to be a game 
designer. We had a passionate 
team and we were just really 
cranking on it. The game I did 
previously was King's Quest VI, 
which I co-designed with Roberta, and 
I was basically the one who was in the 
office every day, cranking out the "look" 
dialogue and stuff like that. So Gabriel 
Knight wasn't vastly different in terms of 
what I actually had to do, but because this 
was my own thing, and it was a darker, 
more mature story, and it was a more 


in-depth story, I cared about it a lot. I was 
very anxious to see it turn out well. 

At what point did you know Sins Of The 
Fathers would be a hit? 

We had taken the first day on floppy disk 
as a demo to E3. We got such a positive 
reaction to that, and by the time we 
shipped we got a magazine cover from 
Computer Gaming World, we'd sent out a 
preview build that had gotten really good 
buzz. So we kind of knew by the time it 


I HAD HUGE AMBITION AND 
PASSION. GABRIEL KNIGHT 
WAS MY CHANCE AND I 
REALLY REALLY WANTED 
TO BE A GAME DESIGNER 

shipped that it was a successful 
title, and I pretty much rolled right on 
to Gabriel Knight 2. 


How did the vibe at Sierra change 
throughout development of the Gabriel 
Knight series? 

At the time that I started at Sierra, [the 
company] was really at its peak. After GK1, 
Sierra as a whole started waning a bit. A 




JANE ON MOEBIUS.- EMPIRE RISING 


vvim MULtilUb, II was nice working with 
a team [Phoenix Online] who were really into 
adventure games and who in general were 
very cooperative, trying to do anything that I wanted to 
do. I really like how cinematic it is, and the voiceover 
production was great, I love the actors. So all of that 
sitive. The difficult part was the stress of managing the 
[ways been the designer and creative director, I've never 


1 , 








■ ■ "Gray Matters second development team was in Paris, and they had 
amazing artists," Jane recalls. "They'd send me concept art and it was just 
S| like, wow. Probably the best art I've ever had on a game." 


ane's casual game series Dr. Lynch: 
am an idea she had at Siena: It was an Agatha Chnstie isn, 
azy British mystery with this hyper-cynical, skeptic guy whowc 
ebunking this supposedly haunted archeology_she_^^ 


involved with a company doing casual 
games [Oberon Media]. This was pretty 
early on — there was Big Fish Games, and 
Bejeweled had just come out, but this was 
before hidden object games. So it was a 
brand new market, and it was clear from 
the statistics that it was a heavily female 
market. Strategically I was thinking if I 
could establish this company, then long- 
term we could do adventure games and 
this would be a good audience for it. 
Because one of the things that was clear 
to me about the industry was that big 
publishers were mainly making games for 
that 18-25 year old male market, and that 
wasn't an adventure game audience. 


The last E3 I went to, it was all 
Stormtroopers and girls in bikinis, 
and it was like, these guys don't care 
about Gabriel Knight. This is really a 
generalisation, but in general if you offer 
an 18-year-old guy a choice between 
Tomb Raider, or King's Quest, or Gabriel 
Knight, he's not going to be choosing the 
adventure game. And even on Gabriel 
Knight I had gotten a lot of feedback from 
people saying, "I played this with my 
girlfriend and she loved it." It seemed like 
I was getting letters like that constantly, 
telling me that it was particularly 
interesting to the female audience. 


MATTER 


lot of that was trying to figure out, 
"What is the next big thing? How do 
we get ahead of the curve?" With the FMV 
[of Gabriel Knight 2], and then the real- 
time 3D [of Gabriel Knight 3\, the company 
itself was trying to figure out, "How do we 
stay on top of the heap?" And eventually 
it was clear that adventure games weren't 
going to accomplish that. 


as a whole it 
felt like dragging a 
boulder up a hill. 

And it was clear to me, the last year 
or so of working on it, that I was the only 
real Sierra designer left. I was kind of 
like the last dinosaur. The other teams 
were doing totally different things, 
shooters or whatever, and GK3 was the 
last adventure game project. It was sort 
of a fizzle, because at the end it was just 
bug-pounding on various platforms and I 
stopped going into the office. I had signed 
off on the content and the producer was 
basically just trying to get the technology 
working correctly and the bugs fixed. It 
seemed to be months of waiting for it to 
ship. And then it did, and that was it. There 
was never a day that was like, "Goodbye 
Jane, here's your gold watch, thanks for 
being with Sierra On-Line." I just never 
went back, and they never called. 


I did a couple of puzzle games and then 
the hidden object genre started. I was 
always trying to get in more story and more 
adventure gameplay, like inventory items 
and dialogue and things like that. 


When did you realise that Gabriel Knight 
would be the last of the series? 

It was a struggle throughout that project. 
We had a lot of turnover on the team. It 
was three years in development, at least, 
and it just didn't feel like the team was 
that excited. I think I had three different 
producers over the course of the project, 
people coming and going. There were 
individual people who were Sierra 
adventure game fans who were into it, but 


It's definitely true, if you look at hidden 
object games now, they have a lot of 
[adventure game] elements. Ours were 
some of the first games to do that, in 
that genre. The problem is it's a really 
tough market... it was mostly price issues, 
because Big Fish Games has the corner 


Did you think there would ever be 

another Gabriel Knight game? 

I thought it was over. After that I worked 
on a couple of novels, Millennium 
Rising and Dante's Equation, so after 
GK3 shipped I figured that was the end 
of the adventure game part of my life 
and I'd be doing writing on other stuff. 


How did you get back into the industry? 

It was probably three years later, I got 


JANE JENSEN 


on that market, they had dropped the 
price to $6.99 or even lower, there's a new 
one coming out every day, and we never 
had enough sales to increase the budget. 
So yes, I think that audience is very 
receptive to more story and more adventure 
gameplay, the difficulty is that the games 
in that market are so disposable. 



It was the first time I'd done 
something completely different to 
Gabriel Knight in an adventure game 
and I was pleased with the design. 

We were working with a German 
publisher [dtp entertainment AG], 
because they were one of the only 
publishers who would even fund an 
adventure game at that point. I was 
happy to have somebody willing 
to fund and produce the project. It was a 
really difficult process — it started out with 
Dreamcatcher, and they cancelled it, and 
it was picked up by this little Czech team, 
and that producer got the dtp producer 
interested, and dtp moved it to one of their 
teams in Paris, and it just went through 
a lot of roadblocks like that. Ultimately, 
because of all that stuff, we didn't have a 
lot of money to finish the project, so that 
was stressful at the end. I was talking to 
those guys remotely and not super-involved 
with that production. 

In 2012 you returned to adventure game 

development by starting your own indie 
studio Pinkerton Road. What prompted 
you to go to Kickstarter? 

I was working for Zynga at the time, and 
on the side we [Jane and her husband, 
Robert Holmes] were doing the Lola & Lucy 
iPad app [a kids' ebook], and thinking 
eventually we'd like to have our own little 
company doing apps and smaller games. 

I was having some frustration at Zynga 
because the game I was working on was 
supposed to have a story, and they'd hired 


me specifically to do a story, but some of 
the people I was working with were like, 
"Why does it need a story? How do you tell 
a story? We can't have people talk" — it was 
really frustrating. The guys I was working 
with were having a hard time visualising 
a story of any kind. I just felt like, "You 
know what, I'm tired of explaining why 
there should be a story. I just want to do an 
adventure game." 

When Tim Schafer did his Kickstarter 
and it was so successful, that sort of 


changed things, because originally 
we'd thought, "We'll do this little 
company, we'll get Lola & Lucy out, 
maybe that'll give us enough money that 
I can quit my job" — thinking about this 
as a longer-term process of building this 
little company. And then we realised that 
if we did a Kickstarter we might be able 
to fund a real adventure game and do it 
all a lot faster. So we took the plunge. At 
the time it felt like if we didn't do it quickly 
then the window would close, because 
there were probably going to be a lot of 
other adventure game projects coming to 
Kickstarter, and it seemed that the interest 
would die off pretty quickly. 

How do you feel about that in hindsight? 

I would change how we went about it. 

When we first went up [on Kickstarter], we 
offered people a choice of games, and we 
didn't have a demo or anything. We got 
a lot of feedback on the campaign that it 
wasn't specific enough, and we ended up 
promising all kinds of crazy stuff. If I were 
to do it again I would do it much differently. 
At the end of the day, it helped us get 


THERE'S A LOVE STORY, 
AND THERE'S THESE 
MURDERS, AND THERE'S 
VOODOO... ALL OF THOSE 
THEMES ARE TIMELESS 




1 


■ Sins Of The Fathers has more than 7,000 lines of dialogue. 
"Even when I'm writing straight fiction, I always take a pass | 
and read it out loud. I think dialogue 's always better if it's J 
speakable and realistic," Jane says. 


Moebius out and it helped us start our 
studio, so I can't say that I regret doing it 
necessarily. But it was way, way, way more 
difficult and stressful — not only during 
the campaign, but also during the product 
development — than I ever anticipated. 

During the Kickstarter, you and Activision 
(the owner of Sierra's old properties) 
reached an agreement for Gabriel Knight: 

Sins Of The Fathers 20th Anniversary 

Edition. How did that happen? 

Activision contacted me. I don't know if 
that would have happened if I hadn't been 
out there on Kickstarter and very visible. 
Basically, the Telltale games and the 
growing casual market, the growing female 
audience, Double Fine's Kickstarter — I 
think all of that made certain people at 
Activision interested in possibly doing 
something with adventure games again. 

Why a remake? Would you have preferred 
to do a new Gabriel Knight game? 

Initially my interest was in doing GK4, but 
I think Activision made a good argument 
that GK1 was always the pilot episode. It 
explained who Gabriel is and how he got 
to be that way, so remaking that for a new 
era was a great idea, and hopefully would 
enable us to kick off a new round of the 
franchise and more new stories. 

What do you like about the Sins Of The 
Fathers remake, compared to the original? 

I love the graphics. It feels so much 
higher resolution — very New Orleans and 
very atmospheric, I think it looks really 
beautiful. It has a nice mood to it. 

Are th ere things about it that make you 
think, "That's so Nineties"? 

Really just the setting. [The characters 
have] huge CRT monitors. In Moebius, the 
character's smartphone was a major part of 
the UI, and we obviously can't have any of 
that in Gabriel Knight. I'm definitely aware 
of the period that we're writing in, but the 
story itself really holds up well. I don't 
think it feels dated, particularly. There's 
a love story, and there's these murders, 
and there's voodoo, and there's this whole 
family thing, and I think all those 
themes are timeless. 


49 




HRiSltn 


eftRQ GUIDE TO 


As the fourth Jurassic Park film roars in cinemas, 
games™ looks back at the many games that comprise 
the digital side of the franchise 





THE RETRO GUIDE TO... JURASSIC PARK 


FILM LICENCES CAN be 
tricky things to master. 
Some developers feel that 
they can release a half-hearted 
product, safe in the knowledge that 
fans will buy the game regardless, 
while others attempt to take 
the licence in new and exciting 
directions, directions fitting for a 
videogame. Needless to say, most 
licences are a mixed bag, mainly 
because the games themselves 
are often handled by multiple 


developers across several different 
time periods. 

In this respect, Jurassic Park is 
no different and it has its fair share 
of great and terrible games. You 
might not realise, however, that 
among its park simulators, quite 
a few genres have been explored 
over the years, from platformers 
to real-time strategy games. Join 
us then as we look back at the 
titles that have spawned from 
Universal's billion-dollar franchise. 



■ ■■■ 



JURASSIC PARK 1993 


NES/GAME BOY 


Ocean Software was the king of movie conversions, so it should come 
as no surprise to learn it secured the coveted licence for Nintendo and 
home computer systems. Cleverly, it tailored the games around each 
system, so the NES and Game Boy outings are enjoyable top-down 
shooters split into standalone levels, while the others are distinctly 
different. Alan Grant must run around the park shooting or collecting 
eggs, which will then turn into access cards (don't ask). He's then able to 
access buildings and interact with the various park terminals. The Game 
Boy version follows the same principles, but is greatly cut down in size. 



JURASSIC PARK 1993 


SNES 


The SNES version utilises the same top-down view as its eight-bit 
cousins but is a slightly slower-paced game with a greater emphasis 
on exploration and a huge open world. It also zooms in on the screen 
a little more, which can occasionally make it hard to avoid enemies. A 
few puzzles have been thrown into the mix, but they're relatively easy, 
requiring little effort to solve. Much harder is avoiding the solid array of 
enemies that range from the ever-dangerous raptors, to giant dragonflies 
and the T-Rex. Perhaps the biggest and best change is found with the 
new mode 7 sections, which switches the action to 3D whenever you 
explore the game's facilities. 




The home computer versions play like a cross between Ocean's 
console games. It has more elaborate puzzles than the SNES game, 
dingier visuals (that suit the oppressive atmosphere quite well) and 
several new dinosaurs. The AGA version is the best Amiga outing thanks 
to smoother visuals in the 3D sections. 


A QUICK 
INTERVIEW 
WITH GARY 
BRACEY 


Ocean's manager 
on going after 
Jurassic Park 


Why were different versions 
made for different systems? 

We wanted to have a Doom- 
style section in the game, but a 
number of the systems weren't 
technically capable, so we tried 
to make appropriate levels for 
the relevant platforms. 

How difficult was the licence 
to secure in comparison 
with other films? 

Not too difficult. Ocean already 
had commercial credibility 
in Hollywood so they were 
happy for us to bid for the 
game rights... and we paid a 
shitload of money for them. I 
think it was the first million- 
dollar (advance) game licence 
but we were so confident of the 
film's potential success it was 
a calculated gamble. We also 
met with Spielberg himself as 
I think he wanted reassurance 
that the company would do 


creative justice to the IP. That 
was a fun meeting! 

Why do some games share 
plot points with the book? 

I don't recall exactly which 
parts you're referring to, but if 
we found something in the book 
that we felt would make a good 
game mechanic, we used it. 

How successful was the 
game in the end? 

Enormously. I don't know how 
entirely happy we all were 
with the game itself but the 
company had made such a 
significant investment in the 
licence that it just had to be 
released to tie in with the movie 
launch, hence we had the usual 
narrow development time and 
inevitable crunch period. If 
we had been given another 
six months it could have been 
amazing. Still, not bad. 


JURASSIC PARK 1993 


AMIGA/PC 


51 










hggogo 


JURASSIC PARK 

1993 


MEGA DRIVE 


Sega won the licence for its 
home systems and again made 
different versions that played to 
the strengths of each console. The 
Mega Drive version is particularly 
intriguing as it's effectively two 
games in one. One half sees you 
playing Alan Grant, the other, 
a hungry raptor. While both use 
plenty of platforming, the raptor 
section has a focus on combat, 
while Grant must rely on some 
underpowered weapons. It looks 
a little dowdy, but it proves 
surprisingly entertaining, if a little 
hard in places. 





JURASSIC PARK 1993 


MASTER SYSTEM/GAME GEAR 


Sega's eight-bit versions allow you to tackle levels however you wish 
and typically comprise of two parts. The first has you in a Jeep, shooting 
down enemies with an on-screen cursor, while the second half is more 
run-and-gun based, with Alan Grant racing through the stages. It's pretty 
tough at times but the solid level design and interesting range of dinos 
ensures you'll fight on until the end. 



JURASSIC PARK 1994 


ARCADE 


Sega's arcade game shares very little in common with its movie 
namesake, but that doesn't really matter. It starts off with a thrilling 
chase that has you pursued by the T-Rex and doesn't let up for the rest 
of its running time. Along the way you'll fend off hordes off rampaging 
dinosaurs, tear through all manner of different environments and even 
race along the back of a brachiosaur. It's an insane, ridiculous treat that 
impresses with beautifully drawn dinosaurs and plenty of variety. The 
lack of weapons is a disappointment, and the choice of a joystick over a 
more traditional lightgun seems odd, but you'll be having so much fun it 
doesn't really matter. 



"EVERYTHING TAKES PLACE 


AGAINST A STRICT 11-HOUR 


TIME LIMIT" 



JURASSIC PARK 1993 


MEGA-CD 


This is arguably Sega's best home conversion of the hit licence. 

It takes the form of an engrossing point-and-click adventure that 
proves you don't need spills and thrills to create an engrossing 
game. As with previous games you're hunting for dinosaur eggs, 
but there are far more puzzle elements to be found. You have 
panoramic views of the island and multiple paths are available, 
meaning it's easy to get lost. Everything takes place against a strict 
1 1-hour time limit, which adds to the general tension and provides 
an interesting change of pace for Sega's quirky adventure. 


JURASSIC PARK 
2: THE CHAOS 
CONTINUES 1994 


SNES 


Ocean's sequel has nothing to do 
with either movie and takes the form 
of a Contra-styled run-and-gun. 
Sadly, while it allows you to tackle 
levels in any order and caters for 
two players (complete with a clever 
health sharing mechanic) it's too 
difficult for its own good. 




JURASSIC PARK 
2: THE CHAOS 
CONTINUES 1994 


GAME BOY 


Ocean's handheld outing is 
far more successful. It's another 
run-and-gun but with far more 
interesting mechanics (you can 
swim for starters) and cute stylised 
visuals. Keys must be collected 
before you can leave a level, and 
as the game progresses the stage 
layouts get ever more complex. 
Highly recommended, although it's 
now hard to find. 


52 


















THE RETRO GUIDE TO... JURASSIC PARK 



THE LOST WORLD: 
JURASSIC PARK 

1997 


PLAYSTATION/SATURN 


MEGA DRIVE 


A QUICK 
INTERVIEW 
WITH BILL 
HARBISON 

Ocean's graphic 
artist revisits 
Jurassic Park 
and the process of 
turning a classic 
movie into a game 




Originally planned as a 3DO launch title, Jurassic Park Interactive is 
a rather simple selection of mini-games that mainly revolve around you 
running away from the T-Rex or taking out dinos with a taser. Ultimately 
you're trying to ensure as many survivors reach an available heliport as 
possible, but the bland gameplay and simple mechanics will most likely 
send you into a state of torpidity. 


Like Sega's earlier Mega Drive 
game, The Lost World switches 
between dinosaur and human 
protagonists. There are a choice 
of five this time, all of which play 
differently to each other. While the 
gameplay is inventive, the stodgy 
controls and high difficulty factor 
are off-putting. We'd recommend 
seeking out the PlayStation's 
Greatest Hits version instead, as 
changes were made, resulting in a 
more enjoyable adventure. 


THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK 1997 


Initially this second game from Appaloosa fails to improve due to 
some extremely bland overhead run-and-gun sections. Stick with it 
however, as there are several technically impressive mini-games to be 
found that range from capturing dinosaurs with tranquillisers and frantic 
motorcycle chases, to fending off attacks while floating downriver on a 
raft. Appaloosa clearly put some thought into its adventure and its late 
release makes for one very technically impressive Mega Drive game. 




m 








How difficult was it to create 
the 3D sections? 

I wasn't involved in the 3D 
section but I did witness the 
dinosaurs being animated for 
this section of the game. Ocean 
had employed some animators 
from Cosgrove Hall who had 
worked on Dangermouse and 
Count Duckula. This was 
another humbling experience 
because Craig Whittle, Helen 
Smith and Mark Povey could 
really do animation and their 
skills were above and beyond 
ours in the games industry. I 
learnt a lot from those guys. 


How did you know what 
dinosaurs to use in the game? 

The sketches we were sent 
were concepts for the dinosaurs 
that would be featured in the 
movie so we could draw them 
as sprites in the game. We 
also got photographs of the 
sick triceratops from the movie, 
which I used to create the 
background element in 
the game. ^ ( 

\ 

V '* 


Why do you think the movie 
was so popular? 

There was a massive hype 
machine behind Jurassic 
Park. The studio knew they 
had something revolutionary 
on their hands and put a 
huge amount of money into 
merchandising. The extent 
of the merchandising wasn't 
clear until we were sent a 
video, which was sent to all the 
companies who were involved. 
It was basically a showreel for 
all the Jurassic Park products 
that were going to be released 
and it was clear you would not 
be able to move without seeing 
something with Jurassic Park 
on it. 


Was there much excitement 
knowing Ocean had secured 
the licence? 

Ocean acquired the licence for 
Jurassic Park when it was still a 
novel before it was announced 
that it was going to be a Steven 
Spielberg movie. This is when 
the anticipation began to grow. 
Soon we started to receive a 
lot of production material to 
help with the game design: 
synopsis, costume design 
photographs, and dinosaur 
concept sketches. 


JURASSIC PARK INTERACTIVE 1994 


3DO 









IIIGGOOO 


THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK 1997 


GAME GEAR 



Many won't have played this 
Game Gear exclusive as it was only 
released in the States. Like several 
of the later Jurassic Park games, it's 
a straightforward run-and-gun, but 
with a more basic set of weapons. 
There are some nice touches, 
like being able to tackle levels in 
different order, which add a nice 
aesthetic, but it's otherwise pretty 
forgettable stuff. 


THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK 1997 


ARCADE 


Interestingly, two versions of this game exist. The first features a 
carnotaurus that was originally due to appear in the film and was quite 
different to the movie. The large cabinet used for it was also relatively 
basic due to time constraints. A later version released in 1998 changed 
the level layouts, replaced the carnotaurus section with a new rampaging 
T-Rex in a city and added upgrades to the cabinet, including blasts of 
air to simulate the roar of a T-Rex. Regardless of which version you play, 
they're both excellent lightgun games that feature simultaneous play and 
some cool limited-use power-ups. 



JURASSIC PARK: 
CHAOS ISLAND 1997 


PC 


Chaos Island marks another first for the 
series, being the first real-time strategy 
game. Most of the actors from The Lost 
World reprise their roles, and are playable 
throughout the game. One particular nice 
touch is that their eyesight stat indicates 
how they're affected by fog of war. The 
1 2 levels are loosely based around the 
events of the films and see you fending 
off attacks from increasingly stronger 
dinosaurs, and later, the film's hunters. 

An excellent game that now commands a 
high price online. 



JURASSIC PARK: TRESPASSER 1998 


PC 


Trespasser was massively hyped on release and promised to be a 
ground-breaking adventure with 15-square kilometres of explorable terrain. 
The end result, however, was so power-hungry that many PC owners at the 
time struggled to run it properly. Those that could found an odd buggy mess 
of a game that had lots of interesting ideas, as well as a needlessly sexist 
health system (you check your vitality by looking at a heart-shaped tattoo on 
your female character's breasts). Like more recent games, it ignores a HUD 
in order to create a more immersive cinematic experience and promised 
an innovative control system who's only real successor has been Surgeon 
Simulator 2013. While it disappointed on release, Trespasser now boasts 
an impressive modding community that continues to shape the game to this 
day making it one of the franchise's most enduring games. 





•• * 

4 

X 


WARPATH: JURASSIC PARK 1999 


PLAYSTATION 


You're probably thinking that a one-on-one fighting game 
featuring dinosaurs would be a terrible idea for a game. You'd 
be right. Clearly inspired by Primal Rage, Warpath tries hard by 
introducing a variety of interesting protagonists, but it's let down by 
unsatisfying combat and some weak animation. Still, at least we all 
now know who will win in a fight between a T-Rex and 
an ankylosaurus... 


JURASSIC PARK III: DINO DEFENDER 

2001 


PC 



This PC game is squarely aimed 
at the younger end of the market. 
Created by Knowledge Adventure, 
it's a bright and breezy puzzle- 
adventure game that revolves 
around you moving crates and 
other items while activating 
switches, avoiding dinosaurs and 
wearing a robotic powersuit. It's not 
very challenging, but that's hardly 
surprising considering its audience. 


54 
















THE RETRO GUIDE TO... JURASSIC PARK 



JURASSIC PARK 
III: DANGER ZONE 

2001 


PC 


Imagine Monopoly crossed with 
Jurassic Park and mini-games and 
you'll have a good representation 
of Knowledge Adventure's second 
game. One of two players take 
it in turn to navigate the game 
board, earning points and taking 
part in various mini-games that 
range from the fun to the banal. 
Like Dino Defender it's squarely 
aimed at the younger market, who 
won't be put off by the irritating 
announcer and the constant 
games of Raging Raptors (which 
is rubbish). 


JURASSIC PARK 
III: ISLAND 
ATTACK 2001 


GAME BOY ADVANCE 


This isometric adventure is 
one of three Konami GBA games 
based on the third film. While 
the viewpoint allows for some 
rather huge dinos, the gameplay 
itself is rather lacking and dull. 

It's nice to see the developers 
focusing on running away from 
the dinos, but the introduction of 
the flare gun does makes for some 
exceedingly clunky combat that 
only gets worse as the adventure 
progresses. Leave it well alone. 




JURASSIC PARK: OPERATION GENESIS 

2003 


PS2, PC. XBOX 


After a disappointing Game Boy Advance effort, Konami made big 
improvements to its next park builder. Tutorials are excellent, taking you 
through every aspect of creation. It's also nice graphically, particularly as 
your park grows in size. Missions ensure that there's always something 
to work to, while the option to allow your dinos to run amok is also a 
welcome addition. The lack of available dinos is disappointing and the 
interface is clunky, but it's still the best park builder for home systems. 


JURASSIC PARK: THE GAME 2011 


VARIOUS 


Sadly, Jurassic Park is proof that not everything TellTale Games 
touches turns to gold. It has all the ropey engine issues found in many of 
the company's early releases, but compounds it by being one of the least 
interactive games in its back catalogue. It also doesn't help that the plot 
itself is terrible, with cliched characters and uninspiring, unexciting set 
pieces. A real waste of the licence. 




JURASSIC PARK 
BUILDER 2012 


FACEBOOK, IQS, ANDROID 


This is quite possibly the most 
successful of the park builders that's 
available. Missions rarely require 
more than a few minutes of your 
time, meaning you can dip in and 
out whenever the need suits you. 

As with many Facebook games, 
it's designed so you can interact 
with your friends, but it never feels 
as intrusive as some titles. While 
it does use microtransactions we 
found that you don't need to spend 
large amounts of money to ensure 
your park flourishes. There's even a 
Pokemon-styled battle arena thrown 
in for good measure. 


J URASSIC PARK 
1RCADE 2015 


ARCADE 


Raw Thrills is one of the 
arcade's biggest players and its 
latest game proves why. Jurassic 
Park Arcade is a stupendously 
good on-rails shooter that boasts 
stunning visuals, five meaty guns 
and a plethora of dinos to take 
down. Like the previous arcade 
Jurassic Park games, there's little 
substance to it, but the anarchic 
action and effects will have you 
constantly pumping coins into it. 



LEGO JURASSIC 
WORLD ’015 


VARIOUS 



Released only a few months 
ago, the latest Lego game allows 
you to play through all four 
movies. You can expect over 100 
characters to unlock, including 
more than 20 dinosaur species, 
unique abilities for each hero and 
a whole host of studs and other 
goodies to collect. 


AND THE REST... 


I JURASSIC PARK: RAMPAGE EDITION (1994) MEGA DRIVE 
I THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997) GAME BOY 
I THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (1997) GAME.COM 
I JURASSIC PARK: DINOSAUR BATTLES (2001) PC 
I JURASSIC PARK III: THE DNA FACTOR (2001) GBA 
I JURASSIC PARK III (2001) ARCADE 


I JURASSIC PARK: INSTITUTE TOUR (2001) GBA 
I JURASSIC PARK III: SCAN COMMAND (2001) PC 


I UNIVERSAL STUDIOS THEME PARK ADVENTURES (2001) 
GAMECUBE 

I JURASSIC PARK III: PARK BUILDER (2001) GBA 
I JURASSIC PARK (2010) MOBILE 

I LEGO DIMENSIONS: JURASSIC WORLD PLAYSET (2015) 
VARIOUS 


I JURASSIC WORLD: THE GAME (2015) IOS, ANDROID 


55 























H E T R □ 


METAL GEAR SOLID 2: SONS OF LIBERTY 

PLAYSTATION 2 [KONAMI] 2001 

IF YOU'VE SEEN Marvel movie Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you might have 

caught yourself suffering a little bit of deja vu when watching the opening sequence - a 

bombastic setpiece that, while not entirely the same, illustrates how cinematic Snake's own 

return was in his sequel over a decade ago. Emerging from the shadows and stowing aboard a 

naval carrier, Snake sets about neutralising its entire crew against the backdrop of night, culminating 

in a rain-lashed knife fight with Olga. Kojima's love of Hollywood tropes created a barnstorming 

sequence of events that the series has yet to better, and while the ultimate twist was that Snake would be 

taking a backseat to a blonde whining protagonist in Raiden, the opening minutes proved he was still a hero to 

be reckoned with, even if we'd have to wait a while longer before he got his chance in the spotlight once again. 












m GOGS© 



58 



BEHIND THE SCENES WIP30UT 


BEHIND THE SCENES 


WIP30UT 

It may not have flown off the shelves 

but Wip3out was the best of the game s 

in the franchise to hit the PlayStation. 

games™ discovers how it was made 



Released : 1999 
Forma Pla yStation 
Publishei Psygnosis 
Key Staff QgyidJeiferias 
(programmer), Wayne Imlach 
(lead design). Nicky Wescott 

(lead graphics). Gary McKill 

(music and sound). Alan 

Raistrick (producer) 

+ + 


I WHAT IS IN A NAME? Quite a lot, if 
that name happens to be WipEout, the fast- 
moving, futuristic racer that had hearts 
pulsating and fingers twitching upon its debut in 
1995. Canny marketing by The Designers Republic 
and its unique in-game styling produced a game that 
transcended a still-young, nerd-labelled industry. In 
doing so, it put WipEout centre stage in bleeding-edge 
nightclubs and the rave-infested underground culture, 
ensuring the game pulled in sackfuls of dollars. 

In 1999, some three years after the sequel WipEout 
2097, developer Psygnosis, which was by now under 
Sony ownership, decided to revisit the game as a 
PlayStation exclusive. It fiddled with the name by 
reversing the letter E to produce a number 3 for the 
European version - thus creating Wip3out - but the 
game wasn't the third in the series. It was the fourth. 
The third had been a Nintendo 64 exclusive put out a 
year earlier called Wipeout 64. "It was seen as more 
of a hybrid of WipEout & WipEout 2097 rather than a 
standalone in its own right, even though it introduced 
a bunch of game features unique to the N64 version, 
which found themselves used in later iterations," says 
Wip3out lead designer Wayne Imlach. 


The success of Wipeout 64 showed how popular the 
franchise had remained among gamers but the team 
working on Wip3out at Psygnosis' Leeds studio was 
afforded very few luxuries. It was hit with both a tight 
schedule and a small budget because Sony needed 
the game to be released before gamers gave up on 
the PlayStation and moved to the PS2. But for many of 
those involved, the opportunity was too good to pass 
and so they threw themselves into the task in hand 
with great focus. 

As if to underline how tight the schedule was, the 
team had just nine months to get the game on to shop 
shelves (it was sold as WipEout 3 in the US). "It was a 
very quick turnaround for a game, even considering 
that we had a solid foundation to start with in the 
previous title, 2097, " says Imlach. "Because of this, we 
had to be careful about features - anything too new 
or untried would be high risk and we couldn't afford 
to slip much. So the innovations were small, and the 
focus was put on refining what already existed. The 
team was also quite small relative to other games." 

The first task for the team was to identify any 
niggles that had emerged with past games in the 
franchise and right them. The main problem with the 
very first game was its difficulty, an issue that saw 
a great many gamer fail to progress further than a 
couple of tracks before throwing their joypad down in 
anger at yet another stalled run. "The first game was 
seminal and groundbreaking, but a little rough round 
the edges particularly with unforgiving ship handling, " 
says programmer David Jefferies. To address this, 
Imlach says the game balance was evened up, giving 
it a "shallower progression" than the previous games, 
"Yet retaining the insane skill requirements at the 
highest levels." 

Rather than write the game from scratch, the team 
took WipEout 2097 as its starting point, pulling out 
a development version of that game so that it had 
something to work on almost immediately. Imlach 
headed up a team of three level designers and his 
job was to redesign the game's basic elements and 
manage the circuit design and optimisation of the 



59 






m oay© 



LISTEN UP 

DJ Sasha seized control of the music on Wip3out 


THE WIPEOUT SERIES had already 
gained a reputation for its musical 
excellence, drawing upon the 
underground rave culture, which gripped 
the UK at that time. 

With Wip3out, DJ Sasha was asked to 
oversee the soundtrack and, so confident 
was the game's developer that people 
would want to listen to the tunes, the 


game's CD could even be played in a 
standard CD player. "The music was 
more cohesive - 1 think getting a single 
individual to mix and direct the various 
compositions gave the game a more 
focused track list, without sacrificing the 
techno/club soundtrack that defined the 
series," says lead designer Wayne Imlach 
on this revolutionary decision. 



THE CHEMICAL 
BROTHERS 


PAUL VAN DYK 


ORBITAL 


UNDERWORLD 


SASHA -Sasha 
was the musical director 
on Wip3out and he 
dominated the game's 
audio, contributing no 
fewer than six of the 13 
tracks including FEISAR, 
Icarus, Auricom, Goteki 
45, Pirhana and Xpander. 
He also headlined a 
club tour of the USA 
sponsored by developer 
Psygnosis. He told music 
paper NME at the time: 
"The series has always 
had a huge underground 
following - I'm certain that 
the crossover between 
the people who listen to 
my music and those who 
enjoy games like WipEout 
is enormous." 

MKL - With two dance 
tunes - Surrender and 
Control - MKL's decision 
to switch from being a 
drummer to the producer 
of electronic music 
certainly paid off. 


UNDERWORLD - 

This British electronic 
group had its origins in 
the Eighties, but it was 
hugely popular in the 
mid-Nineties thanks to the 
success of Bom Slippy, a 
tune made famous thanks 
to the Danny Boyle classic 
movie Trainspotting. 
Underground contributed 
Kittens to Wip3out. 

ORBITAL - Brothers 
Phil and Paul Hartnoll 
made up the dance 
music duo Orbital, which 
recorded Know Where 
To Hun for Wip3out. Paul 
must have been struck by 
the opportunity because, 
following the break-up 
of Orbital, he went on to 
record tracks for the 2005 
game Wipeout Pure on 
the PSP 

PROPELLERHEADS 

- This big-beat musical 
ensemble had already 
included the song Bang 


On! for Wipeout 64, so 
giving Lethal Cut to 
Wip3out was something of 
a natural progression. 

THE CHEMICAL 
BROTHERS - No strangers 
to the WipEout franchise, 
The Chemical Brothers 
had allowed Chemical 
Beats to be used on the 
first game. Wip3out saw 
the inclusion of the tune 
Influence as well. 

PAUL VAN DYK - 

German electronic dance 
music DJ Paul van Dyk is 
no stranger to videogames 
today, having produced 
tunes for FIFA, Need For 
Speed, DJ Hero, Grand 
Slam Tennis, Mirror's 
Edge and more, but his 
first taste of a gaming 
soundtrack came with 
Avenue on Wip3out. 


game. His team was not only able to make 
use of a set of recently released PlayStation 
code optimisation utilities, but they were also able to 
draw on years of experience that had given them a 
strong insight into how far they could potentially take 
the PSOne. 

"We felt we could really push the technical 
envelope of what was possible on the PlayStation, 
adding some features that were missing, giving the 
visuals a complete overhaul from The Designer's 
Republic but keeping to the values of the franchise 
so that fans of the previous games wouldn't feel 
alienated by the new game," says Jefferies. Imlach 
agrees. "One of the advantages of developing for 
a mature system is the refinement that comes from 
knowing the hardware inside out, hence the hi-res 
without a sacrifice of frame rate which is something 
that wasn't possible with the earlier iterations." 


AS WITH THE previous versions of WipEout, 
the game was written first and foremost for PAL 
PlayStations running at 25 frames per second. It 
was then converted for a NTSC audience at 30fps. 
A side effect of this, says Jefferies, was that the 
NTSC versions of the game ran a little quicker at 
the expense of slightly lower resolution, but because 
the game didn't perform any timing conversions, the 
race clock ran faster on the NTSC version. "This 
explains why your race times are 20 per cent faster 
than your American friends," he exclaims. 

But the team was also keen on using aspects 
of the PlayStation that development teams had 
previously avoided. "One of our priorities was using 
the PlayStation's hi-def and widescreen mode which, 
up to that point, had been considered unusable 
by development teams," explains Jefferies. "By 
optimising the Tenderer we were able to increase the 
resolution of the game from the standard 256 x 240 
to 512 x 256, which made for a much crisper image." 

An interesting side effect of running the game 
in a widescreen 512 x 256 was that the technique 
allowed for the rendering of two perfectly square 
split screens side-by-side rather than the usual top 
and bottom. Each split screen was therefore 256 x 
256, "Or to put it another way, they were both the 
same resolution as single screen Wipeout 2097 and 
running on the same hardware. Impressive stuff," 
enthuses Jefferies. 

The split-screen functionality allowed for one-TV 
multiplayer, an advance on the original version that 
required players to connect two PlayStations via 



■ The graphical boundaries of the PlayStation were pushed 
with Wip3out, producing a game that was both high-res and fast. 


6D 




BEHIND THE SCENES 


□ □ 


BUT BRINGING THIS mode to the game 
posed problems of its own. Taking a game 
that wasn't designed for split screen and 
adding it is a major undertaking because the 
console needs to render two views when the 
game is optimised to run at exactly 30fps in 
one view. "With split-screen the game is still 
rasterising the same number of pixels as a 
single screen but it needs to transform twice 
the number of polygons into 3D space before 
doing the rasterising," says Jefferies. 

Yet the Wip3out team managed to crack the issue 
with a few optimisation tricks to improve the speed. 
"Ships in the distance would be rendered at a lower 
polygon resolution than ones nearby," Jefferies adds. 
"Seeing as the polygon count of the ships was fairly 
small anyway, this meant they turned into little wedges 
of cheese in the mid-distance but with all the carnage 
going on you rarely noticed. 

The team was also able to refine the rasteriser to 
eliminate the polygon clipping and seaming issues 
that had plagued PlayStation games. According 
to Jefferies, many of these issues were due to the 
PlayStation having a 2D rasteriser and not a 3D 
rasteriser as was commonly assumed. "It had 
some hardware that would transform the 
polygon vertices into 3D space, but 
when it came to rasterise the 
polygons, it discarded any 


camera. Texturing and clipping problems were 
particularly bad for racing games because having 
a low-down camera travelling down a track at speed 
exacerbated these issues. Our rendering engineer 
Pete Bratcher did a great job in rewriting the Tenderer 
that came with the Sony libraries to clip polygons 
correctly and adjust for the lack of perspective in the 
texture mapper." 

While the programming 
team got to 


WE FELT WE COULD 
REALLY PUSH THE 
TECHNICAL ENVELOPE 
OF WHAT WAS POSSIBLE 
ON THE PLAYSTATION 


disappear when they got too close to the 


a serial cable in order to play against friends. "The 
drawback with the old system was that you needed 
two tellies, two PlayStations and two copies of the 
game - all in one room, which limited the number of 
people who could experience it, especially given the 
weight of old CRT tellies back then - they were not 
easy to carry around your friend's house," Jefferies 
exclaims humorously. 


■ It was possible to view the game from a first-person perspective, I 
which actually made getting around the tracks much easier for many. 


notion of depth and perspective and rasterised the 
triangles as 2D textures," he says. 

"It was this that caused the textures to 'swim' 
unconvincingly as they approached the camera. 
These artefacts were compounded by the hardware's 
inability to clip polygons as they approach the camera 
clip plane. This caused polygons to flick off and 


jP *r WHAT 
ILIL THEY 
SAID . 

■ ■MHM Ml*HM A, I.AJL/ • • • 


WipEout 3 is the 
most difficult 
and intense 
racing game 
I've played. A 
powerful effort 
from Psygnosis' 
Leeds studio 

Gamers' Republic, 


1999 




RU I 




i 




61 



m GQftO 



STAYING ON TRACK 


From 20 to 8: how the Wip3out designers chose the best courses 




■ TRACK DESIGN is one of 
the key elements to absolutely 
any racing game, so it comes 
as no surprise to learn that 
the Wip3out team took it very 
seriously. The artists produced 
around 20 tracks in total, but 
just eight of those were chosen 
for the main game, a process 


which entailed much play- 
testing by the team to ensure 
that the tracks were as perfect 
as reasonably possible. 

According to lead designer 
Wayne Imlach, the criteria for 
selection was not only down 
to overall skill requirements, 
"But to provide advantages 


and disadvantages to the 
different craft manufacturers 
with tighter tracks favouring 
the slower yet nimbler ships." 
Once the tracks were chosen, 
"They were worked up into the 
final tracks with environment 
and buildings and spot effects 
and so on," continues Jefferies. 



WHAT 
THEY 
li! SAID.. 



From the 
tastefully 
minimalist front- 
end graphics 
(laden with 
Designer's 
Republic 
intervention 
as in the rest 
of the game) 
to the flawless 
injection- 
moulded 
smoothness 
of the tracks, 
supremacy of 
construction 
is in evidence 
everywhere 

j PLAY, 1999 


team got to grips with the engine, the audio 
crew began amassing the tunes. Wip3out took 
a slightly different approach to the music and it 
enlisted the superstar trance DJ Sasha to be the music 
director. Why? "Well, 1999 was the year of trance after 
all," says Jefferies. "He produced a selection of great 
tracks for us to use in the game, including Xpander, 
which did pretty well in the charts at the time. It was 
great working with him and he came to Leeds and met 
the team and got very involved. He went on a Global 
Underground tour where he projected videos of the 
game playing behind him as he DJed and there were 
some great times going to see Sasha play his Wip3out 
gig at Creamfields. Some of us even made it over to 
see him play Space in Ibiza." 

MEANWHILE, THE ART and design crew worked 
on a new set of tracks. Nicky Wescott was the head 
artist and she had been team leader on the first two 
titles. Her boyfriend, who later became her husband, 
was Mike Place who worked at The Desfgners 
Republic and carried out the graphfc design of the 
game. "So right from the beginning it was like 
DR was on the team, which was massively 
important," adds Jefferies. 

The levels were initially built with no dressing 
whatsoever - just basic polygon tracks floating 
in space. The artists started "by lofting a racing 
line in Softimage and exporting it into the game 
engine," says Jefferies, of a draftfng technique 
that allows for the generation of curved lines. 

"You could race the tracks at this point but, visually, 
they looked like a ribbon of track going through space 
with no background." 

Thfs was done because the team felt it was 
important to get the racing aspect feeling right before 
spending any time on set dressing, as changes to the 
layout would be expensive once scenery was built. 
"We spent quite a bit of time analysing the tracks 
from the earlier games and we derived a short ’track 



■ The visual style was similar to the previous WipEout games, 
producing a cool, underground, almost Japanese feel to the tracks. 


design bible' that highlfghted the pros and cons of all 
the various track features you could include, including 
items, such as the width of the track, angle of corners, 
altitude changes, everything," recalls Imlach. "If you 
put something into the track design, there was an 
expectation of knowing to some degree how it might 


THE TEAM HAD JUST 
NINE MONTHS TO GET 
THE GAME INTO SHOPS 



affect the game before you tested it. We didn't 
have time for random design. You needed to know 
what you were doing and have a reason for every 
corner, curve and crossover." 

The artists dfstinguished the game from WipEout 
2097 by using a different palette and cleaner lines, 
helped by the hi-res mode, but the game still conveyed 
the futuristic cityscapes and environments that defined 
the look of the game. "I think it felt a little more mature 
in terms of art style, which was appropriate as it was 
the last of the series to come out on the generation of 
consoles it was originally created on," says Imlach. 
As a bonus, four more unlockable test tracks were 
produced late in development "using the vector art 
style as a cheap way to introduce more tracks 
without the art overhead," Imlach adds. 
Wip3out was also given a replay function 
because the team believed that the high-speed 
races deserved to be viewed from different camera 
angles. Jefferies says the technical concept behind 


62 





BEHIND THE SCENES WIP30UT 


> A GAMING EVOLUTION WipEout > Wip3out > G-Surfers 


+ 





G-Surfers had 
undisputed 
parallels 
with Wip3out 
including a 
two-player split 
screen mode and 
modern craft. 


With its styling, 
club music 
and fast-paced 
action, WipEout’s 
futuristic 

spacecrafts - and 
insane difficulty - 
became iconic. 


+ 


+ 



■ The overall look and feel of Wip3out 
was of a PlayStation 2 game. This was 
important, however, in order to sell copies 
at the end of the PSOne's life. 




were sluggish. Not even a special edition released in 
Europe in 2000 could make it into an overwhelming 
success despite bringing different craft physics, older 
courses and four-person multiplayer to the table. The 
problem, says Jefferies, was the European-centric 
nature of the franchise and also because attention 
was switching to other, more advanced machines. 

"WipEout was always a very European and UK 
series and so the relatively low sales compared to 
titles that sold across the world wasn't that surprising, " 
Jefferies says. It didn't help, he continues passionately, 
that Wip3out was the first PlayStation title to ship 
with a new form of copy protection that meant even 
legitimate copies of the game would not play on a 
modded Playstation. "People who had modded their 
console had no choice but to acquire a pirated version 
of the game, which had the copy protection stripped 
from it, " he says. "I don't know if this meant that we lost 
lots of potential sales but later titles no longer used 
that form of copy protection." 

Of course, Wip3out wasn't the end of the franchise. 
It became Sony's baby, spawning more sequels 
including WipEout Fusion, WipEout Pure, WipEout 
Pulse, WipEout HD and WipEout 2048. WipEout games 
have since appeared on the PS2, the PSP the PS3 
and the PS Vita and it will, we are sure, come to 
the PS4 in due course, even taking into account the 
closure of developer Sony Studio Liverpool before 
the console launched. "Everyone loved WipEout," 
says Jefferies. "The slickness, the visuals, the graphic 
design, the music and the club culture had 
perfectly captured the PlayStation generation." 


replays on the PlayStation was simple - "you recorded 
each button that the user pressed on each frame and 
then, for the replay you simply played back each 
button press and the race would unfold exactly the 
same as it did the first time round" - but, in practise, 
retro-fitting replays to a game that didn't support them 
proved to be an immensely fiddly and frustrating task. 

"All of the physics, artificial intelligence and random 
number generation had to be exactly deterministic, 
which is never the case," he recalls. "If you feed 
the same values into an AI system twice then you 
might expect it to give you the same result each 
time but, in practise, AI and physics systems have a 
degree of randomness built into them to make them 
unpredictable, so when you try and replay a race 
it looks different to first time around. When you add 
to this the fact that extensive randomness is used 
throughout the particle systems - which are different 
depending on camera angle (and of course camera 
angle is different in a replay) - then it becomes a huge 
spaghetti mess that you have to untangle to achieve 
this feature." 


■■■ NOT THAT THE end result suffered. Indeed, 
replays looked great and the process was so efficient 
that the team was able to use some of the spare 
processing time to put some flare and trail effects on 
the ships. The look and feel of the game was stunning 
with the futuristic graphic design championed by The 
Designers Republic and a render engine displayed 
to its full potential. "The whole package ended up 
working very well together and consequently the 
game came away with the Best Design award at 
BAFTA for 1999," says Jefferies proudly. 

The game coincided with the advent of the analogue 
controller and so, for the first time, the series was 
able to benefit from added support for these sticks. 
It had proven to be a popular control method and, 
given Sony's influence on Wip3out, ft was something 
the coding team could not afford to dismiss. Even 
so, it was a controversial inclusion. "The nature 
of analogue Input is very different to digital input 
and it ended up making the racing easier because 
analogue controls afforded the player more control 
over the input," admits Jefferies. "This upset some 
traditionalists who didn’t like us releasing a version 
of the game where better times could be gained by 
using the DualShock." 

But it wasn't as if the game was easy. It did have 
a difficult learning curve and this went down well 
with reviewers who raved over the game in both the 
specialist and national press which also praised the 
title for Its graphics, split screen, new weapons 
and soundtrack. And yet sales of the game 


63 






UNCOVERING 
ATARI'S SECRET 

IN A SPECIAL EDITORIAL FROM E.T. CODER HOWARD 
SCOTT WAR SHAW, THE ATARI VETERAN UNCOVERS THE 
URBAN LEGEND BURIED BENEATH A MEXICAN LANDFILL 
AND CONFRONTS HIS MOST INFAMOUS CREATION 


64 


FEATURE UNCOVERING ATARI'S SECRET 




IT IS AN interesting thing to witness 
your past being dug up. . . literally! 
There I stood amongst tractors and 
backhoes, pelted repeatedly by the raging sand 
storm. Waiting. . . watching. . . wondering what the 
next scoop might reveal. Had I actually created 
a game so devastatingly bad, so horrifically 
shameful that Atari had no alternative but to truck 
it ninety miles into the desert and bury it? 

Whenever I make a game, my primary design 
goal is innovation. I seek to create something 
brand new or boldly expand the concept of some 
existing design. Yars' Revenge introduced many 
features which became industry standards. 
Raiders Oi The Lost Ark was by far the most 
diverse adventure on the platform at the time 
and it was the first movie conversion ever. And on 
April 26, 2014 in Alamogordo, New Mexico, I saw 
E.T. (my third game) become groundbreaking in 
a whole new way. A way I had never imagined 
while coding it some 32 years earlier. 

The day started with a twenty-minute drive 
(during which we dropped 4,500 feet in elevation) 
before arriving at the entrance to the area 
containing the excavation site. Hundreds of 
people were already queued up there, waiting to 
be admitted to a garbage dump. Extraordinary. 
As we approached the dig proper there were 
camera crews and lights and food trucks 
and lots of equipment. People were scurrying 
around in every direction with facemasks and 
bandanas to keep sand and dust out of their 
lungs. When they opened the gates a human 
wave descended upon the site. People came from 
all over the country, apparently for two reasons. 
One was to get autographs on any piece of E.T. 


paraphernalia they could carry (or manufacture 
in some cases). I signed cartridges, boxes, 
posters, consoles, manuals, comics, E.T. dolls, 
wooden E.T. cutouts and one automobile (Ernie 
Cline's DeLorean)! The other reason they came 
was to settle the truth of a long-standing urban 
legend, to see if the desert would yield a few 
copies (or a few million) of my infamous creation, 
the E.T. videogame. 

It was a wild day in the desert. The excitement, 
the energy, the sand storm, the mayor, the 
anticipation, the sound of heavy machinery, 
cameras and boom mics everywhere you turn. It 
was pandemonium. . . and it was awesomel And 
all of this was happening because 27 July 1982 1 
answered "Yes". 

The question (posed by Ray Kassar, Atari 
CEO) was this: "Howard, can you deliver a 
game for E.T. by September 1st?" There was no 
hesitation. It was a crazy notion but I knew I had 
to do it. And three decades later, here I stand in 
the middle of all this chaos, feeling incredibly 
honoured to have created the basis of this whole 
adventure. I'm so grateful I said "Yes" that day. 


"PEOPLE WERE 
SCURRYING AROUND 
IN EVERY DIRECTION 
WITH FACEMASKS TO 
KEEP SAND AND DUST 
OUT OF THEIR LUNGS" 




65 





G BGSO 


MYTHBUSTERS' 


I 


Delving into the murky fog 
between fact and fiction, 
games™ takes a look at 
four other game legends 


1. The Mystery of Polybius 



A mysterious cabinet titled Polybius 
apparently appeared around 
^ Portland, Oregon in 1981, said to be 
part of a government experiment. 


2. Dog Hunt 



It might have started due to the fact 
that it existed in the arcade iteration, 
but NES gamers rumoured th at yqw 
could shoot the dog in Duck Hunt. 

I 

3. Blowing Game Cartridges 



The fact is that in blowing on the 
cartridge, you'd release tiny traces 
of saliva that, in the long run, would 
corrode away the pin connectors. 



Buried inside your Excel 95 
spreadsheet lurks a secret 
videocjame titled The Hall Of 

Tortured Souls'. 

/ 


And that was no trivial "Yes." I had accepted 
the shortest schedule ever contemplated for a 
videogame, by more than 75%! By the time Atari 
and Steven Spielberg finished negotiations for 
the E.T. licence there were only five weeks left to 
create the game and still make the Christmas 
market (there's no point in doing a game if it 
misses that market). No one had ever done a 
game in less than five or six months and I had 
five weeks! From Tuesday, 27 July to Wednesday, 

1 September. Okay, technically I had 36 days, but 
it was already dinner time on the first day. 

So I started working and I kept working. I 
even had a development system moved into my 
home. The only time I was more than two minutes 
away from coding was driving between work 
and home. It was the most gruelling five weeks 
of my life, but I did it. What I did was produce 
the videogame many consider to be the all time 
worst. A game so bad it allegedly toppled the 
entire videogame industry in the mid Eighties. 
Well. . . you can't say my work hasn't had impact. 

At one point I caught a moment between 
interviews. I'm standing at the centre of a hoard 
of fans and onlookers in this raging sand storm. 
Everyone is fixated on the groaning backhoe, 
relentlessly reaching deeper into the earth and 
returning with the next bucketful of antiquity. . . 
and that's when it hit me. I realized what I had 
actually accomplished in that five weeks. A 
game? Certainly. The worst of all time? Possibly. 
A Herculean task achieved? Absolutely. 

But the most significant thing I did by making 
E.T. in five weeks was to create a piece of 
videogame history. Undeniably, inextricably, for 
better or worse till death do us part; E.T. and I 
were forever joined as a legend in the annals of 
gaming lore. I never really got it before. I certainly 
never considered this possibility while I was 
doing the game, and why would I? When I was 
doing E.T., there was no videogame history. E.T. 
was just "my next game." You have to remember, 
videogames were considered by many to be 
a fad in the early Eighties, and the big market 
crash of 1983-84 seemed to prove that. 

Now, with the benefit of hindsight and three 
decades, we know there is a history. Now there 
are "oldies" to revisit and explore. Back then they 
were all newies. We weren't making history or 
future nostalgia, so what were we doing? For my 
own part, the goal was clear. My mission was 



IXIISB2 HTH f: I 


M E.T. may well be the worst game of all time, by the 
creator's admission. 


to relieve boredom, like the kind I experienced 
as a teen. I was a member of the last generation 
to grow up without videogames. Boredom was 
the bane of my adolescence and I understood 
the massive power of videogames to alleviate 
that problem. I wanted to spare others what I 
had endured. I wanted to prevent history from 
repeating itself. 


"AS A PSYCHOTHERAPIST 
I KNOW ALL TOO WELL 
THAT NOTHING GETS 
RESOLVED IN THE PAST, 
ONLY THE PRESENT" 


History. That's what this is all about. 

Reaching back to the past to answer questions, 
verify legends and settle disputes. As a 
psychotherapist I know all too well that nothing 
ever gets resolved in the past, only the present 
can provide that opportunity. And at present the 
dirt and the garbage and the stench kept coming 
up. . . but no games. 

I t's a well documented fact I have always 
doubted the truth of the myth. I never 
believed it because it couldn't possibly 
make sense. Why would a financially failing 
company spend a lot of time, effort and money to 
dispose of something presumably worthless? Of 
course, when I say this I'm forgetting one of the 
fundamental truths of that beautiful bygone era: 
Whenever you expect things to make sense, you 
are losing touch with Atari. 

I was waiting for my order at a food truck 
(my blood sugar was starting to crash after six 
hours of all this) when suddenly a roar went up 
from the throng. A huge crush of people were 
pressing closer and closer to the fence around 
the excavation site. One of the production 
people ran over to me and said, "Come on, we 
gotta go!" Then they literally got behind me 
and started pushing very convincingly. Upon 
wedging through the crowd and reaching the 
fence, I saw Zak Penn (Hollywood luminary and 
director of the documentary driving this entire 
extravaganza) standing there with a microphone 
in one hand and what looked like a somewhat 
crushed but very discernible E.T. game box. 

"We found it!" he proclaimed with great 
triumph in his voice. There was a visible 
relief in his demeanour as well, since his 
film is much better off with a strike than 
a miss. The games were there; I never 
thought they would be. I have never 
been so happy to be wrong! 

It was a sign, an affirmation of 
just how crazy Atari was. But by the 
same token, that craziness made 
Atari an incredible place to work and 
an amazing place to be. Atari was 
a hotbed of abject excess that could 
never last and could never be replaced. 




66 




FEATURE UNCOVERING ATARI'S SECRET 




Atari (as I knew and loved it) 
evaporated in mid 1984 and soon 
thereafter I left. But where do 
you go after an experience like 
Atari? Apparently you wind up 
in a sand storm in the desert. 

Everyone is cheering 
and shouting and the air is 
filled with excitement and 
wonder (and dust)! And 
here come the cameras and 
microphones in my face, 
"Hey Howard, what are you feeling now?" 

And suddenly everything goes eerily quiet. 

I feel things welling up inside me. I realise the 
whole reason I made games was to entertain 
and amuse people. To give them a break from 
day-to-day life and to create wonderful moments. 
And on this day, in the middle of the New Mexico 
desert, my game is doing exactly that! A piece of 
work I did 32 years ago is still creating a special 
moment for hundreds of people. My heart swells 
and I am overwhelmed with gratitude. And I cry 
tears of joy. 

I was seeing remnants of an old life, right at 
the time as starting a new one. Atari was by far 
the greatest job I had ever had, until now. As a 
psychotherapist, this is the first time in 30 years 
that my work is more rewarding and satisfying 
than what I experienced at Atari. I always 
believed I would get here someday, because I'm 
an optimist, but this was a long time coming. 

How interesting that this Atari news resurfaces 
precisely now, just as I'm hitting my stride in a 
bonus round of right time, right place in my life. 

My musings continued as the heavy 
machinery droned on, delivering scoop after 
scoop of historic relics scattered amongst the 
useless waste. Fortunately there were several 


anthropologists on hand to clarify which was 
which. Life has a funny way of coming full circle. 
After 30 years the gaming industry is back to 
making simple games for smaller screens. 

I've come full circle too. Back then I catered to 
hungry technophiles by entertaining them. Now 
as The Silicon Valley Therapist I'm once again 
meeting their needs, but this time in a deeper, 
more meaningful way. My current life plan is 
aggressive, just like the development of E.T. But I 
do hope I get better reviews this time. 

And speaking of reviews, I was asked about 
NeoCompufers project to "fix the bugs" in E.T. 

The reporter seemed a tad sheepish when asking 
the question, but truthfully I am not uncomfortable 
acknowledging playability problems with my 
E.T. game. In other words, I am well grounded in 
reality. I have played the updated version and 
I believe it improves the game substantially. It 
eliminates the biggest problem with the game 
in my opinion: player disorientation. If I'd had 
another day or two perhaps I would have made 
those changes. . . but then again, if I had, we 
might not be talking about it right now. 

In the end, the burial was real but it really 
wasn't about burying E.T. In fact, the majority of 
the salvaged bounty was composed of hit carts, 
top sellers like Defender, Centipede and Yars' 
Revenge. There were consoles and peripherals 
too. This was clearly a warehouse dump, not an 
E.T. graveyard. So maybe it didn't make sense 
to bury millions of E.T. games just to hide their 
corporate shame, after all. But then again, what 
sense does it make to create a legend around it? 

After all the years of speculation, this much is 
true: I've got one game in the New York Museum 
of Modern Art and another in a hole in the New 
Mexico desert. I faced the unearthing of my 
past. . . and I totally dug it! 



■ Even by 8-bit standards, the game comes across as 
incredibly basic, with parts of it even unfinished. 



■ Player disorientation is blamed as E.T .' s worst flaw, 
and it's easy to see why. . . 


"SUDDENLY, 
EVERYTHING GOES 
EERILY QUIET" 


67 





IAIN WILLOWS, 2K GAMES 


Sid Meier’s Pirates! is 
the one. If I had to go 
back to something... I played it 
again recently and it brought 
back so many memories. 

I’m not necessarily into the 
pirate thing but it was the 
immersion. You really got 
into having your fleet of 
ships, sword fighting was 
excellent and I had a real bug 
for treasure maps - you’d get 
a snippet of a treasure map 
and try and find the cross. It 
was one of those games where 
you could get hours and hours 
of fun. All that time ago they 
built this game that had so 
much to it that you could 
literally spend hours upon 




FORCE 

MORALE 


COMMA* 
2 65 ME 

STRONG 








IAIN WILLOWS, 2K C 


lt>ER VE ARMAN 
N 12 MEN 

r SHAKEN 






GAME CHANGERS 


* roooo 


THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: 
MAJORA'S MASK 


Released: 2000 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Nintendo EAD System: N64 



Succeeding one of the most critically acclaimed titles ever made, this more 
nuanced Zelda entry is an example of a game that was way ahead of its time 


■ DESPITE ITS BRILLIANCE, it almost seems 
g J 2 anarchic to claim that Majora's Mask is a 
■ ■ ■ ■ more forward-thinking and influential title 
than its older sibling, Ocarina Of Time. Although 
Ocarina revolutionised 3D gaming, tearing up the 
adventure game rulebook in the process, Majora's 
Mask was a work of experimentation and, ultimately, 
innovation. Through building upon the wonderful 
framework pioneered by the previous game, Nintendo 
managed to push its 64-bit console to the limit and 
in the process created a franchise entry with an 
unprecedented amount of depth. 

This depth arises from multiple junctures. Although 
the basics of the game are the same as that of 
Ocarina, Majora's Mask is more a manifestation of 
creativity than a tour de force of mechanical design. 
Seen in the game are various concepts that weren't 
present in Ocarina Of Time, and so at its root it feels 
more like a work of heart - a risky yet confident segue 
into uncharted territory for the series. 


Of course the exemplary gameplay and graphics 
inherent in Ocarina Of Time had been brought 
forward for Link's second N64 outing. The game 
was built in the same engine as its predecessor 
and utilised the same graphics package, therefore 
enabling the development team to turn the game 
around in only a year, compared to the four-year 
development cycle enjoyed by Ocarina. The same 
combat returned - complete with strange camera 
mechanics - as did a focus on dungeon crawling and 
elements of open-world exploration. However, this is 
where the comparisons to Ocarina end. 

In narrative terms Majora's Mask strikes a more 
adult chord. Opening with Link riding through a misty 
forest to search for a friend, the game introduces 
the Skull Kid, sporting the game's eponymous facial 
attire. This mask was stolen from the Happy Mask 
Shop salesman, found in Hyrule market in Ocarina 
Of Time, and he hints at an ancient apocalyptic 
power that resides within it. Link enters Clock Town in 


70 


GAME CHANGERS: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: MAJORA'S MASK 


ADVENTURE TIME I 


MAJORA'S MASK PROVED ITSELF TO BE A MORE THOUGHTFUL 
EXAMPLE OF THE ADVENTURE GENRE WITH THESE SPECIAL ELEMENTS 



FAST TRAVEL 


★ Unlike in earlier Zelda titles, Link is 
able to fast travel in Majora's Mask, which 
goes some way to mitigating the effects 
of the real-time cycle. Although we are 
used to seeing far bigger game worlds 
nowadays, the land of Termina was pretty 
large for its time and trekking across it 
with only six in-game hours left is not 
exactly a formula for fun. 



★ The Zelda series has always done 
a sterling job of providing moments 
of emotional heft. These are littered 
throughout Majora's Mask - from seeing 
the Skull Kid embracing two fairies and 
crying because he's lonely to the moment 
when Link experiences a flashback to 
talking to Princess Zelda, everything here 
carries a certain weight. 


• • 


Ma«k«d Jungte W»rrtar 

OOOLWA 

BOSSES 


★ The franchise has never been short of 
excellent boss fights, but a couple of the 
mayors in Majora's Mask really stand 
out. Pictured here is the boss at the end 
of Woodfall Temple, one of the four giants 
that Link has to face to prevent the moon 
from falling. The main event against 
Majora's Mask on the moon is one of the 
best in the whole franchise. 


the land of Termina to find the moon will fall from the 
sky after three days and destroy the world. 

Link sets about conquering four dungeons and the 
giants within in order to force them out of hiding to 
stop the moon from falling, enabling him to go up to 
the moon and face the Skull Kid and Majora's Mask 
once and for all. This threat carries weight where 
the likes of Ganondorf never could, as the moon is 
visibly sinking lower in the sky with every second that 
passes, and conversations with NPCs reveal their 
thoughts on the imminent apocalypse. 

Masks play far more of a role in the game than 
they did in Ocarina, with a select few proving 
necessary to progress in the game and allowing 
Link to shape-shift. These few masks are simple to 
obtain, however the larger proportion of the 24 masks 
available in the game require very specific criteria 
to be met, often at very specific times throughout the 
game's three-day cycle. This feature still hasn't seen 
a rival outside of the RPG space to this day. That 
an action-adventure would display such intricacies 
is still impressive 14 years later, and highlights the 
astute nature of the game's design. 


THE MOST 
INTERESTING 
CONCEPTS ARE THE 
GAME S REAL-TIME 
ASPECT AND TIME 
TRAVEL MECHANICS 


h. 


Majora's Mask 
necessitated the 
use of the N64's 
Expansion Pak, 
so rumours were 
abound at the time 
that it was originally 
a project intended 
for the 64DD. 

At the beginning 
of the game Link 
is seen travelling 
through a forest, 
in search for a 
friend that isn't 
named. However, 
it is considered in 
all circles to most 
likely be Navi from 
Ocarina Of Time. 

Many character 
designs from 
Ocarina appear 
in Majora's Mask, 
although not one 
recurring character 
recognises Link 
and no explanation 
is offered why they 
now inhabit Termina 
instead of Hyrule. 


■■■IN TYPICAL NINTENDO fashion the art 
direction is incredible and the series' ability to neatly 
theme dungeons and areas around elemental factors 
are no more apparent than in Majora's Mask. Most 
surprising is the depiction of the moon's surface, as 
when Link arrives it is revealed to be a vast, colourful 
field with a lone tree at its centre - further proof of the 
game's unwillingness to resort to the familiar. 

However, the most interesting concepts at work in 
Majora's Mask are the game's real-time aspect and, 
in turn, its time travel mechanics as well. Due to the 
game's aforementioned three-day cycle, it becomes 
necessary for Link to use the Ocarina of Time to 
travel backwards and forwards as he requires. The 
entire three-day cycle in-game equates to around an 
hour in real time and is one of the earliest examples 
of an accomplished real-time system. 

A ranch in the south-west of the game world is 
obstructed by a large boulder, being hacked at 
by a builder. Return on the third and final day and 
the boulder has been removed in a tangible way 
- it takes the builder two days to destroy it, and so 
the ranch and its associated side-quests are only 
available when his task is complete. In turn, heading 
back into Clock Town towards the end of the last day, 
the player will find it near empty, as most residents 
have fled in advance of the impending apocalypse. 

By introducing the three-day cycle Nintendo 
incorporated a wonderful narrative framework and 
a means to cram a vast experience into a cartridge, 
as the predetermined environmental occurrences 
are allowed to repeat themselves infinitely when Link 
travels back to the dawn of the first day, requiring 
less memory. Through all of these elements Majora's 
Mask rivalled the acclaim of its predecessor and 
remains a challenging and curious experience. 


71 









GAME CHANGERS 


m roooo 



MAJORA'S MASK BROUGHT UNORTHODOX TIME MECHANICS 
TO THE TABLE, BUT SEVERAL OTHER TITLES OVER THE YEARS 
HAVE BENT THE RULES OF TIME AND SPACE 

BLINX: THE 
TIME SWEEPER 

■ A GAME THAT was 
billed as an essential early 
exclusive for the original 
Xbox, Blinx allowed players 
to slow down, speed up and 
stop time altogether using the 
titular character's vacuum 
cleaner. What was interesting 
here was the time limit of 
ten minutes for each stage, 
nudging the player into the 
position where the game's 
time mechanics weren't just 
a gimmick, but essential 
to progression. Outside of 
these mechanics, however, 
Blinx: The Time Sweeper 
didn't particularly inspire, 
amounting to a slightly above 
average platformer with 
action elements. 




FI 2013 

■ AN INTERESTING ADDITION to this list, yet FI 2013 uses time 
mechanics to fix your problems. Having hurtled off the track after a 
frantic manoeuvre through a corner, players can rewind the action 
to correct their mistakes. Although the amount of times this function 
is available is limited, it feels like a strange addition. The FI games 
are known for being hardcore, and by adding this mechanic 
Codemasters may be guilty of acquiescing to accessibility. 



THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: 

OCARINA OF TIME 

■ THE PREDECESSOR TO Majora's Mask, Ocarina Of Time 
allowed players to manipulate time. By heading to the Temple of 
Time in Hyrule Market Link can remove the Master Sword from its 
pedestal to travel forward in time. This pushes the narrative forward: 
by replacing the sword you can return to being a child, affecting 
what happens in the future, and completing specific side-quests. 


72 





GAME CHANGERS: THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: MAJORA'S MASK 







i 


& 


y 

J 


4 * 

f 

•V 

> 


CHRONO TRIGGER 

■ ANOTHER INNOVATIVE TITLE, and an even earlier example 
ol time travel as a gameplay element. Square's RPG was highly 
experimental; its time travel component allowed players to travel 
to dilferent locations and eras, with past events alfecting the 
future. Despite achieving huge success in Japan, a European 
release for the SNES never happened. 



PRINCE OF PERSIA: THE SANDS OF TIME 

■ UBISOFT'S ACTION-PLATFORMER was a success upon its 
release in 2003. Controlling the titular prince, players were faced 
with dungeons rife with chasms to traverse and enemies to defeat 
- but the player can rewind time to avoid death. The prince can 
also use the Dagger of Time to slow time down when attacking 
enemies, placing the outcome of the fight in the player's hands. 



LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL 
FANTASY XIII 

■ THE FINALE OF the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy features a real- 
time aspect. NPCs are found in different areas at different times, 
necessitating the need to learn their patterns to maximise their 
respective side-quests. At 6am on each game day, Lightning can 
extend the game clock by a day if prerequisites are met, buying 
the player precious time before the game clock winds down. 



BRAID 

■ JONATHAN BLOW'S PASSION project became one of the first 
'indie darlings' upon its release back in 2008, and played with 
time in a way that had never been seen before in a side-scrolling 
2D platform game. Players guide Tim through screens solving 
platform puzzles and have the ability to reverse time, even after 
dying. The effects vary across chapters, resulting in a deep game 
that became the highest-rated game on Xbox Live for some time. 



BIOSHOCK INFINITE 

■ ELIZABETH COMSTOCK'S ABILITY to open tears between 
dimensions and time periods not only serves as a narrative 
device but also adds a new dynamic to the gameplay. The 
stunning FPS deals with particle physics, religious fervour 
and crippling guilt, but towards the end of the story Elizabeth's 
mind-bending abilities come to the fore, resulting in the game 
wandering off down several separate timelines. 



TIMESHIFT 

■ PUBLISHED BY SIERRA Entertainment after the project was 
passed on from Atari, TimeShift charted the actions of Dr Krone, 
a scientist who travels back to the Thirties and assumes control 
of society. The player travels back to 1939 to confront Krone and 
restore natural order, eventually defeating him. The player- 
character has a time-altering arsenal built-in to the suit the 
protagonist is wearing, allowing him to slow time, stop it or rewind it. 


73 








MARVEL VS. CAPCOM 2: NEW AGE 
OF HEROES DREAMCAST 2000 

■ Fighting game bosses are infamously difficult to get right, and Marvel Fs. Capcom Zs 
Abyss trod the line between well thought-out monstrosity and cheap, shape-shifting irritant. 

Hellbent on sending the Earth back into a primordial stew, Abyss was more than just a boss, 
he forced you to learn how to execute all of Marvel Fs. Capcom s different mechanics. His first 
form required you to master hopping and jumping to avoid his armour suit's slow, sweeping attacks, 
while his second form (a green humanoid thing) requires ranged attacks to counteract his paralyzing 
projectiles. The third and final demon Abyss (pictured) relies on brute strength and spamming energy 
beam attacks - twitch guarding and taking advantage of recovery frame-rates is the only way to dominate 
here. Abyss can be a horrible experience, but if you know how to pick him apart, he can be taken down hard. 












O GO 

INTERVIEW 


THE PICKFORD 
BROTHERS 

With more than 25 years of experience in the industry 
Ste and John Pickford have seen it all. Having worked for 
themselves and for others, they discuss their careers so far 


It was a partnership that 
started almost by accident. 
Ste had ambitions to pursue 
a career as a comic book 
designer while older brother 
John had been taken by 8-bit 
computers and was becoming 
an accomplished coder. 
But with Ste finding himself 
working at the same games 
development company as 
John and with both becoming 
disillusioned, they decided to 
collaborate in October 1986. So 
one of gaming's most enduring 
sibling pairings formed. 
The duo have been credited on 
dozens of games including Zub, 
Rasterscan, Plok and Magnetic 
Billiards. They've worked for 
Rare, Software Creations and 
Binary Design and set up three 
of their own studios: Zippo, Zed- 
Two and Zee-3. Having been 
part of the thought process 
behind industry body TIGA, the 
Pickford Bros are coming up 
with great ideas to this day. 


J Ste, you started 'life' as a 
■ ■■ comic book designer. Why did 
® ® ® ® illustration interest you? 

Ste Pickford: I just wanted to be a comic 
artist as I was a kid. I loved comics. It 
started with the standard British humour 
weeklies and DC Comics like Superman 
that our local newsagent stocked, then I 
was captivated by the Marvel UK black 
and white reprints of Spider-Man, Hulk, 
and Star Wars. In my early teens I 
was much more interested in comics 
like Warrior and Swamp Thing than I 
was in computer games. 

How was it that you first got 
involved with computers? 

SP: I always wanted to get on John's 
computer and I did a bit of programming 
when he'd let me on his Spectrum or 
Amstrad. I drew some pictures using a 
drawing package' he wrote but I had no 
career ambitions to work with computers. 

When did you get your first computer, John, 
and what fascinated you about them? 

John Pickford: I got a ZX81 for Christmas. 
Back then, just having control over the 


image on a TV was an amazing thing 
(I'm thinking, the original Pong style 
videogames) so to actually type and 
program was like something out of science 
fiction to me. I don't recall ever wanting to 
do anything other than make games. 

John, you went to went to Binary Design 
first and Ste followed later. What was it 
like in those early days? 


I DONT RECALL EVER 
WANTING TO DO ANYTHING 
OTHER THAN MAKE GAMES 




SP: John was hired to be one of the 
programmers forming the very first 
team. I went there for work experience 
about a year later. 

JP: It was a lot of fun, hard work and a 
great learning experience. On the first day 
I had to pluck up the courage to ask my 
boss, Mike Webb, a question which would 
have revealed I didn't know Z80 assembly 
language all that well. Thankfully, Mike is 




THE PICKFORD BROTHERS 


and it was 


^ediorMa^ 


together. 




both Ste 


developer 


-BASED OCEAN SOFTWARE 


■ Magnetic Billiards is the Pickford Brothers' most 
recent acclaimed game. It was nominated at the 
gaming BAFTAs in the Mobile & Handheld category. 


GRIND: 71 


G3GO 


Produced in 1992 at Software Creations, 
the game reworked the Pickfords' 
abandoned Fleapit coin-op title. 



■ The brothers have a penchant for cute character design. 
■ Their style defined much of their output during their heyday. 


B J a really cool bloke and an amazing 
■SSS coder and he didn't bat an eyelid. 

He just helped me out and everything went 
pretty well after that. I was proud of the fact 
that my version of the game, DeathWake 
on Spectrum, was the first to be completed. 
1 think it took about 12 weeks. Might have 
been a bit longer. 1 don't recall ever not 
being a bit late. 

SP: I loved it at Binary Design. I was 
messing about with pixels all day, 
drawing pictures on the screen or daft 
little animations. I found the work really 
interesting as there was lots of problem 
solving and inventing of systems and 
processes. If tools and platforms and 
pipelines ever become stable, and there's 
no need to invent anything in order to 
make a game, that's the point when I'll lose 
interest in making videogames. 


What sort of games did you enjoy playing? 

SP: There weren't strict genres of games 
back then, so games were much more 
interesting in many ways. Each new game 
- or each good one - was practically 
inventing a new genre, or at least inventing 
elements of a genre. I just enjoyed anything 
that was good. Standout games for me were 
probably Lords Of Midnight, all the Ultimate 
Games, the Hewson Spectrum games, 



the Costa Panayi Spectrum 
Games, Elite, Tir Na Nog... Well, the list 
could be endless. 

JP: r ve never been good at twitch games 
so I think the ones I enjoyed most had an 
RPG element. Elite is an obvious choice 
but I think my favourite was Avalon (and 
Dragontorc ) by Steve Turner. Amazing 
atmosphere in that game. I remember 
being fascinated by Tir Na Nog, which also 
had a quite magical feel, but I don't think 
got anywhere or solved a single puzzle. 

Did you find that gaming was a lucrative 
industry to get into? 

SP: While I was still at school I worked on 
Ghosts'n Goblins as a freelance project 
for the programmer of the game, Nigel 
Alderton. I think he paid me £50, which 
made me feel rich. But I was paid £5,500 a 
year when I started work in 1986. That was 
brilliant for a 16-year-old school leaver. I 
originally planned to work in games for 
a year, then go to art college 
and head off in the direction of 
comics, but after a few months of 
being loaded, and being able to 
buy whatever I fancied and go to 
the pub whenever I wanted, there 
was no way I was going to go 
back and be a skint student, so I 
just carried on with the games. 


Software were just round the corner, and 
my manager, David Whittaker, took me 
round to meet the owner, Phil 'English' as 
we used to call him, one lunch time. Phil 
used to give me little graphics jobs for 
his games that I'd do in the evenings or 
weekends for an extra £100 here and there, 
so yeah, it felt lucrative to me as a teenager. 

The first game you both collaborated 
on was Zub. How did you find working 
together? Were there any sibling rows? 

SP: I don't recall any rows, but it was odd 
that we hadn't worked on a game together 
before that. I think by that time we'd both, 
separately, had experiences where things 
hadn't gone quite as we’d hoped with the 
artist or programmer we'd been working 
with so with Zub it felt like we were both 
good at what we were doing and we could 
make something really good together. 

And then Zippo Games. Was it a big leap 
from designer to company owners? 

SP: Yeah, we started to understand that 
just making a good game wasn't enough. 
We got direct experience of the snide 
ways that publishers would rip you off and 
dick you about, and what a weak position 
game developers were in the business 
environment of the time. And today, really. 

That was the way, then, wasn't it? 

Talented programmers and designers 
going their own way. 

SP: We were probably later than most. I 
think a lot of the big name 8-bit game devs 
were freelance or worked for themselves 
or ran little studios. John and I were just 
employees at a work-for-hire studio, which 
was actually more unusual than working for 
yourself or running your own business. So 
I think by going our own way after Binary 
Design, we were doing things backwards. 

Which consoles did you enjoy playing on 
and developing for? 

SP: We formed Zippo Games partly 
because we wanted to work on the fancy 
new 16-bit machines - the Atari ST and the 


I If it wasn't weird, it wasn't the Eighties. 


Did you do work 'on the side' too? 

SP: There were loads of 
opportunities for 'foreigners' 
once I'd started at Binary. English 



John Pickford did not actually program t 
Created after Zub, John's role was to design the 
game for others to code. 


78 







THE PICKFORD BROTHERS 


Amiga - so that's where our interest lay 
initially. It was when we went to see Rare 
that we were introduced to the NES, and at 
first we weren't impressed. It seemed like 
an underpowered Commodore 64 in some 
ways and felt like a backwards step. 

It was Tim and Chris Stamper who 
converted us into console fans - and 
Nintendo fans - by impressing upon us 
how much more polished, well designed, 
playable, bug-free, and just plain more 
fun the games were than anything on the 
Amiga or ST. We were sceptical, but after 
sitting down with Mario and Zelda and RC 
Pro-AM and Excitebike and a few 
others, we had to agree that these 
games were head and shoulders 
above what we were making. 


state of the industry and we all got on 
great. The moment we were employees 
the meetings stopped, and we'd be sent 
'directives' from Twycross telling us things 
like 'no Walkmans are allowed on desks' 
and other bizarre rules that were related 
to how their internal office politics were 
working. It instantly became miserable. 

You worked for Software Creations. By 
now you were very well respected and 
people watched out for your games. 

SP: I think John and I were well known within 
the Manchester game dev scene but I'm 


I STILL LOVE THE 
PROCESS OF MAKING 


You worked for Rare too. Which of 
your games did you feel stood out? 

SP: I think Solar Jetman is probably 
our best from that period. I was very 
hopeful that Wizards And Warriors 
3 would be something special, and I did a 
ton of design work that I was very proud of, 
but I left the studio before it was complete. I 
think it was a bit rushed towards the end, so 
I'm not sure the end result was what I was 
aiming for. 

JP: We got to work on Rare’s prototype coin- 
op hardware, the Razz Board. That was a lot 
of fun and the game we made - Fleapit - was 
the basis of what became Plok on SNES. 

Why did you sell to Rare? 

SP: We were skint and completely reliant 
on them. We didn't so much sell to them, it 
was more that we couldn't keep the studio 
running on what they were paying us, so 
they took us over and took on our financial 
obligations in order for us to keep making 
the games they wanted. 

Did you feel you lost some control? 

SP: Their attitude to us changed overnight, 
it was really funny. When we were a 
separate studio we'd go down for meetings 
with Chris and Tim, talk about our projects 
then discuss games in general and the 


VIDEOGAMES, BUT IT S 
BECOME TOUGH TO 
MAKE A LIVING 


F ' not sure our fame went anywhere 

beyond that little world. We were hired 
by Creations to work on their new SNES 
devkit and make their first SNES game, 
Equinox. It's a real shame what happened 
with that project, as it was a massive missed 
opportunity. 

What happened? 

SP: We designed a full RPG, halfway 
between a Zelda game and a proper RPG 
like Dragon Warrior. We had towns and 
NCPs, loads of dialogue and quests and 
funny running jokes. Game development 
was tracking about two or three months 
late which was hardly surprising as we 
were learning a new platform, so the brutal 
decision was made to chop out all of the 
RPG layer of the game, even though it had 
all been designed, scripted, translated 
and was ready to implement. Each town 
entrance on the world map became just 
a dungeon entrance, skipping the NPCs 
and puzzles in the town that would have 
eventually revealed that entrance, and we 
had to bodge these 'ghosts' on the world 




■ Puzzle title Wetrix was the first game 
by the Pickfords for their Zed Two studio. 


map bridges to box off areas of the world 
map that would have been controlled by 
more interesting puzzles and NPCs. It was a 
real hatchet job, just to stop the game being 
about three months late. 

This new RPG game was delayed further, 
wasn't it? 

SP: A problem with Nintendo approval, 
related to the isometric 3D, sprite priorities, 
and a bug in the SNES hardware meant 
the game was delayed by Nintendo for 
over a year in submission hell before it was 
released. So we could easily have got the 
full RPG in there without actually impacting 
the release date. What makes it such a 
shame is that if the game as designed had 
come out, it would have been Sony's own 
RPG franchise. This was before PlayStation. 
So, when PlayStation launched, we would be 
the guys making Sony's main first-party RPG 
games. That's typical of the luck we've had. 

Why did you leave SC to form Zed 2? 

SP: We wanted to form a small team to 
focus on making good games, which was 
very different to the direction Creations 
was going in. They were doing big FIFA 
conversions for EA and that kind of thing. 
We tried to form a group within Creations to 
do that, but they wouldn't go with it, so we 
left to do it anyway as our own studio. It was 
pretty much the exact same reason why we 
left Binary Design to form Zippo. 

At Zippo, you worked on 8/16-bit games. 
How did you find creating for consoles? 

SP: It was still just about possible for little 
studios to make console games when we 
did Wetrix, before the doors were closed 
to the little guys for a long time. Only in 
the last few years, with online stores and 
downloadable games is it possible for tiny 
studios to get their games on consoles. 

You've had some amazing successes 
recently. Why has Magnetic Billiards been 
so acclaimed, do you think? 

SP: Haha, we haven't had any success at 
all! Magnetic Billiards has been critically 
acclaimed, and a lot of people like it, but 
it's not been anything like a commercial 
success. Just the opposite so far. . . 

JP: This time next year, Rodders! 



Andrew 


79 






WM«T|in 



ODDWORLD: ABE'S ODDYSEE 

PLAYSTATION 1997 

"THIS IS RUPTURE FARMS," says a nasal voice, resigned and forlorn. A mournful and 
haunting soundtrack plays in the background as industrial machines rumble, bloody cuts 
of meat are torn apart, bonesaws cut at splintered ribs. Lines of Mudokons - the enslaved race 
of the protagonist, Abe - stand like automata, performing their tasks with resignation, some with 
mouths or eyes sewn shut. Abe explains the entrapment of his people under the capitalist Glukkon. 

Abe reflects on the delicious snacks Rupture Farms have created, before stumbling upon a secret that 
would turn his world upside-down forever - that the Glukkon intend to make Mudokons into a new line of 
savoury treat. . . The industrial and modern-gothic themes enacted by the striking intro to the Oddworld series 
set up the themes for what would become one of the PlayStation's most iconic (and hard as nails) series. 






FINAL 

FANTASY 


The leading name in Japanese RPGs, Final Fantasy has enjoyed 
a rich and varied run, spanning nearly three decades, and 
serving up some genuine all-time classics along the way 


THE RETRO GUIDE TO... FINAL FANTASY 


IT'S AMAZING TO think 
that one final act of 
desperation on behalf 
of a developer losing faith in 
gaming as a medium managed to 
spawn one of the longest-running 
franchises, but that's exactly what 
happened. Today, Final Fantasy is 
the biggest franchise in the JRPG 
arena and one of Japan's most 


successful ever gaming exports, 
enjoying a level of success that 
few other series can boast. The 
upcoming Final Fantasy XV might 
suggest that only 14 games have 
come before it, but the actual 
number - as you're about to 
discover - is significantly greater. 
Hop on your chocobo and let's get 
this epic quest underway. . . 


FINAL FANTASY 1987 


SYSTEM: NES 


Squaresoft's Hironobu Sakaguchi had long been petitioning his bosses to 
let him make an RPG, but it wasn't until Enix saw success with Dragon Quest 
in 1986 that Squaresoft finally saw that there was indeed a market for console 
RPGs and green-lit the project. While it shared a lot tonally and in terms of 
setting with Dragon Quest, Western influences from the likes of Dungeons & 
Dragons and Wizardry offered deeper character progression and combat 
elements that would go on to become staples of the franchise, as well as 
introducing many to the outstanding scoring of Nobuo Uematsu. The game's 
title reflected not only Squaresoft's financial instability at the time but also 
Sakaguchi's own sentiments - had the game flopped, he reportedly planned to 
leave gaming altogether. While its failure could have taken its parent company 
down with it, the game's initial print run of 200,000 copies had to be doubled to 
meet demand. It has since been re-released no less than 17 times across various 
platforms, finally arriving in Europe for the first time in 2003 on PSone. 



FINAL FANTASY II 1988 


SYSTEM: NES 


After the unexpected success of the 
original game, Sakaguchi and his team 
were tasked with turning around a 
speedy sequel in order to fully capitalise 
on its popularity. Despite arriving within 
a year of the first game's release, FFII 
still managed to take some bold strides 
forward - battle scenes were no longer so 
heavily windowed and felt more dynamic 
as a result, while franchise staples 
such as chocobo mounts and recurring 
character Cid also made their debut 
here. Since the US release of the original 
was something of a flop commercially, 
this sequel would not be localised for 
the first time until 2003, for PlayStation 
compilation Final Fantasy Origins. 




FINAL FANTASY III 1990 


SYSTEM: NES 


Clearly onto a winner in Japan, Square continued to churn out 
sequels but again, this was far more than a simple cash grab. 

FFIII further refined the series' battle system, doing away with 
damage details as captions and instead working them into the 
visual representation of the fight, in turn allowing more space for 
the improved combat graphics to shine. The original's job system 
was greatly improved by allowing all playable characters to switch 
between multiple roles unlocked as the game progressed, lending 
players a degree of customisation and personalisation they had 
not enjoyed up to this point. It was also the first game to feature 
summons. Once again, though, no localisation was available until 
long after release - in this case, it took until the 2006 DS remake for 
an official non-Japanese version to be launched. 



FINAL FANTASY IV 1991 


SYSTEM: SNES 


Here's where it starts to get a little 
complicated. With only the original 
game having been available in 
the US, this SNES debut instead 
released as Final Fantasy II so as to 
avoid confusion. Working with new 
hardware proved to be a double- 
edged sword for the team - the 
overly ambitious script came in at 
around four times too long for what 
the capacity of the cartridge would 
allow, although the improved fidelity 
would allow character emotions to 
be conveyed visually to a degree 
and it was largely cut without 


omitting any intended story beats. 
FFIV marks the shift from simple 
turn-based combat to the series' 
trademark Active Time Battle system, 
although its implementation is 
basic in comparison to subsequent 
titles. The job system was simplified 
once again to lock characters into 
a single role, but these roles were 
better defined thanks to the addition 
of class-specific abilities and 
commands. Mode-7 effects were 
employed for the first time to make 
airship travel and spell effects even 
more impressive. 


83 
























FINAL FANTASY VI 1994 


tSSOGGGO 



FINAL FANTASY V 1992 


SYSTEM: SNES 


The job system flip-flop continues as fixed classes are done 
away with once again to make room for the most complex and 
intricate version of the system seen to date. That's largely why the 
game didn't get to leave Japan too, mind - it was seen as being 
far too hardcore for the Western market and at least three known 
attempts to localise it under different names all fell through. It's 
such a shame, since the awesome job system and refined ATB 
mechanics (progress bars were added to show who would be 
acting next) have since led to this being a series favourite for many 
the world over. 


FFV WAS SEEN AS BEING TOO 

HARDCORE FOR THE WESTERN 
MARKET - THREE KNOWN ATTEMPTS 

TO LOCALISE IT FELL THROUGH 


FINAL FANTASY MYSTIC QUEST 1993 


SYSTEM: SNES 


SYSTEM: SNES 


Vastly improved visuals and a simpler character development system 
meant that this would not be denied a US visa as its forerunner so 
rudely was, but that only caused more confusion - VI was actually 
released in the US as Final Fantasy III to maintain numbering 
traditions. It's here that we first see a lot of the complexities that later 
become commonplace in the series, such as events where several 
parties must be formed and used separately, and choice as to the order 
in which certain scenarios play out. Widely regarded as the best game 
in the series, FFVI is unquestionably as good as 16-bit RPGs get so if 
you haven't played it, get on that - mechanically, it holds up brilliantly 
even by today's genre standards, the sprite-based visuals are timeless 
and Uematsu's score is simply god-tier. 





SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 


The first spin-offs came a few years previous on Game Boy, but this was 
the earliest one released on a home console. Almost the antithesis of FFV, 
it's a hybrid of Zelda-esque action RPG elements and a simple turn-based 
combat system where you never have control of more than two characters. 
In fact, you only actually have one by default 
- the game takes control of partner 
characters unless you switch 
to manual override. An entry- 
level JRPG and not a true 
Final Fantasy title, but still 
fairly entertaining. 


FINAL FANTASY VII 1997 


The leap from 16-bit to 32-bit 
hardware was one of the greatest 
the industry had ever seen and 
few franchises had a greater 
degree of ambition and potential to 
truly come of age here than Final 
Fantasy - sprawling epics like 
V and VI came in at under 4MB 
a pop, whereas VII would span 
three 700MB CDs. Characters 
made the jump from sprites to full 
3D models, while backdrops were 
pre-rendered CG as was popular 
in games at the time to help them 
punch above their weight visually. 
The first FF to reach Europe is 
respected for other reasons, too; 


its setting, characters, themes, 
narrative and score are all 
benchmarks that modern RPGs 
have struggled to match for years 
and the ingenious Materia system 
offered all the depth of FFV s job 
system and more for those who 
wanted it, while at the same time 
being simple enough on a base 
level to allow anyone to bluff their 
way through with enough old- 
school grinding. FMV sequences 
gave us a truly cinematic way to 
understand and engage with these 
characters, which is a huge part 
of what makes this the FFmany 
swear by to this day. 


84 











THE RETRO GUIDE TO... FINAL FANTASY 




FINAL FANTASY IX 2000 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 


Sakaguchi's final entry as producer couldn't carry his unique style 
and approach any more proudly - it's little wonder he has been known to 
cite this as his favourite FF. A return to classic fantasy, this also saw the 
series go back to designated roles for each character rather than having 
a Materia or Junction-style system that opened up options for players. 

It's a little simpler as a result and while we'd suggest that this makes it 
the weakest of the PlayStation trio, there are plenty of fans who would 
like to Ultima us right in the face for suggesting such. So yeah, try it for 
yourself - the stylised looks help it hold up better today than FFVIII from 
a graphical standpoint, at least. 


FINAL FANTASY TACTICS 1997 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 


Trading the traditional RPG action for another 16-bit staple, Tactics 
laid on 3D grid-based arenas in which to do battle in line with strategy 
RPGs such as Tactics Ogre, Fire Emblem and Super Robot Wars that 
had proven popular in Japan. In fact, a large chunk of the Tactics Ogre 
team actually worked on FFT, making it easy to see where similarities 
came from. Still, the in-depth job system and interesting twist on the 
main series' ATB mechanic lent this its own personality, leading to a 
number of indirect sequels. The game's world, Ivalice, would also go on 
to be the setting for FFXII. 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 


FFVII was the series first step towards realistic visuals but VIII took 
that a step further. The result is a game that feels less stylised and as a 
result arguably doesn't hold up as well today, but it's still a popular pick 
in 'Best FF' polls. It's perhaps the first truly divisive game in the series, 
however - many couldn't get on with the unique Draw/Junction system for 
earning spells and upgrading characters, nor with the diversion from more 
traditional fantasy themes seen in older games. Whatever your take on the 
game itself, though, the Triple Triad card game still remains the best mini- 
game to ever have featured in the franchise. The infectious music (and 
impending threat of the Random rule spreading) still haunt us to this day. 


SAGA OF MANA 


The unexpected success of the NES 
original in Japan and the sudden uptake 
of the Game Boy led Square to quickly 
turn its attention to the system and while 
the original plan was to create an RPG 
for the handheld (it didn't have any at the 
time), this would lead to the first handheld 
Final Fantasy game thanks to a name 
change for the Western market. Makai 
Toushi Sa-Ga, despite its localised name, 
would kickstart the SaGa RPG series, while 
Final Fantasy Adventure ( Mystic Quest in 


Europe), arriving once again on 
Game Boy only a year later, planted I 
the seeds for the Mana series. With 
only one overseas success in RPGs <<_ 
at the time, Square elected to slap 
Final Fantasy labels on everything. Legend 
got two sequels, again carrying the FF 
brand ( SaGa as a franchise never really 
took off outside of Japan), while the more 
action-based combat of Adventure would 
find a new home on SNES via follow-up 
and all-time favourite Secret OF Mana. 


FINAL FANTASY VIII 1999 






FINAL FANTASY 
CRYSTAL 
CHRONICLES 2003 


HOODOO 



FINAL FANTASY X 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 2 


Another generation leap 
brought with it huge potential 
for change and, once again, 
Square embraced the 
challenge. Results, it must be 
said, were somewhat mixed, 
though the game itself is strong 
enough to carry it regardless. 
Full 3D environments replaced 
the rendered backgrounds 
of old, while characters were 
far more detailed on the new 
console than ever before. Both 
FMV sequences and audio 
quality also saw improvements, 


although the switch to fully 
voiced dialogue was both 
too much for many that 
loved imagining classic RPG 
character voices as they would 
the faces of characters in books 
and also a weak link in general 
- one scene in particular is 
laughably bad (pun very much 
intended), but the general 
budget anime dub feel of the 
rest still jars somewhat with the 
otherwise stellar production 
values. Also, Blitzball. So 
much Blitzball... 



FINAL FANTASY XI ONLINE 2002 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Having seen the popularity of Western MMOs at the time. Square 
was keen to deliver its own alternative and had just the brand with 
which to do it. While having a main series title deviate so radically 
from the solo JRPG template upon which its storied legacy was built, 
one of the main things fans came to love about the game was how 
much lore from and love for previous FF titles was evident. XI boasts 
many firsts - first 'proper' console MMO, first cross-play MMO, first 
Xbox 360 MMO and first online Final Fantasy, to name but a few - but 
the one Square will be most interested in wasn't announced until 2012, 
when it was revealed that FFXI is the most profitable game in the entire 
series. Yeah, a decade of recurring subscriptions and an addictive 
gameplay model will do that... 


SYSTEM: GAMECUBE 


Given that Nintendo's pint-sized 
console didn't have the online 
clout for an MMO or the storage 
capacity for a full-on epic RPG, 
Square had to get a little creative. 
This four-player spin-off relies on 
far more action-heavy combat 
than main series games had 
previously, while also offering 
some ingenious new features to 
make multiplayer the best way 
to play - by charging attacks or 
spells with the right timing, you 
could combine multiple attacks 
into a single far more powerful 
blow, making coordination among 
players crucial to success. 




FINAL FANTASY 

X-2 2003 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 2 


The game that started a 
dangerous trend for Square. We 
can't say that we particularly 
wanted a direct sequel to FAX’ but 
even if we had, we're not sure this 
strange playable Charlie's Angels 
anime would have been entirely 
what we were after. Odd though it 
may be, the Dress Sphere system 
(for switching jobs by changing 
outfits, naturally) works well 
enough and the monster training/ 
battling mechanics, while hardly 
Pokemon, are also fit for purpose. 
It's just a shame that intro put so 
many people off what is actually 
a decent, if unremarkable, Final 
Fantasy spin-off. 


FINAL FANTASY TACTICS ADVANCE 

2003 


SYSTEM: GAME BOY ADVANCE 


What a smart play this was. Spotting 
that the GBA was the first handheld 
powerful enough to run and display a 
modern SRPG and that the Tactics formula 
was a perfect fit for handhelds, Square 
served up a near-endless strategic delight. 
Judges invoke Laws, which change the 
way each battle must be played, making 
it impossible to rely on the same handful 
of overpowered characters or abilities in 
all circumstances - it's all about thinking 
on the fly, which is precisely what you want 
from a tactics game. 





86 












THE RETRO GUIDE TO... FINAL FANTASY 


FINAL FANTASY XII 2006 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 2 


You can tell just from playing it that XII is a game created by a team 
with MMO experience - to all intents and purposes, this is a single- 
player MMO in much of its approach, design and combat. The Gambit 
system grows in strength as the game goes on, starting out as a way 
to have struggling characters quaff Potions in a pinch but ultimately 
developing into a system of such complexity that you can pretty much 
code your party to act independently and rarely even require your 
input. Many design decisions showcase a time where developers were 
trying their best to prevent trade-ins while retailers looked to upsell 
with guides and such - in one of the rudest RPG missables of all time, 
Vaan's ultimate weapon can only be obtained if you leave a handful 
of select chests around the world unopened, something that probably 
wouldn't have been discovered to this day if it weren't for the official 
strategy guide. Japan got a greatly enhanced version of the game in 
the form of the International Zodiac Job System version, which we'd 
love to see localised in HD form as the team has done recently with the 
updated versions of X-2 and the Kingdom Hearts games. 


DIRGE OF CERBERUS: FINAL FANTASY 

VII 2006 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 2 



CRISIS CORE: FINAL FANTASY VII 2006 


SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION PORTABLE 


A far more fitting tribute to the FFVII legacy than Dirge Oi Cerberus, 
this PSP action-RPG does a great job of fleshing out the back-story of 
the PSone classic. With Zack stepping into the starring role, you're able 
to experience first hand what it's like to actually be a SOLDIER badass, 
which proved to be enough of a hook to keep us playing. It certainly 
didn't hurt that it was one of the best-looking games on PSP, and strong 
sales reflected both that and its core quality. 




SYSTEM: NINTENDO DS 


It worked well enough on GBA, 
so why not do it all over again 
on DS? While still solid, A2 was 
faced with stiff competition on 
the immensely popular Nintendo 
handheld, the likes of Disgaea, 
Front Mission and Advance Wars 
already staking their claim on 
the system around the time the 
FF sequel rocked onto the scene. 
Iteration rather than innovation is 
core here - it's basically the same 
great strategy game, only with a 
few tweaks. 


FINAL FANTASY 
XII: REVENANT 
WINGS 2007 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO DS 


In a world where sequels to 
mainline Final Fantasy games 
were considered okay, a follow- 
up to hugely successful PS2 
swansong XII was always on the 
cards. Few could have predicted 
the form it would take, though - 
this curious RTS neither looks nor 
feels like the game it supposedly 
follows on from, although 
summoning armies of Espers 
proved pretty neat even when 
taken in isolation. 


ANOTHER GENERATION LEAP 
BROUGHT WITH IT HUGE POTENTIAL 

AND. ONCE AGAIN. SQUARE 

EMBRACED THE CHALLENGE 


The less said about this the better, so we'll keep this brief. Missing the 
point of both newly appointed lead character Vincent Valentine and VII 
itself, this turgid shooter made it abundantly clear that the old adage 
is indeed true - you can't please all the people all the time. Series fans 
were let down by janky gameplay with only loose ties to FF canon while 
shooter fans were left raising their eyebrows at the wildly convoluted 
narrative and bizarre structure. Nobody had a nice time, basically. 




FINAL FANTASY 
TACTICS A2: 
GRIMOIRE OF THE 
RIFT 2007 


87 










BSgSflGGGO 


KWEH AS 

It didn't take long after their 
introduction for chocobos 
to go front supporting 
characters to starring roles, 
with the global success of 
Final Fantasy VII kicking 
off a wave of bird-based 
spin-offs. The Fushigi no 
Dungeon series started off 
as a Dragon Quest spin-off, 
so it's somewhat fitting that 
Square should send its own 
RPG brand to copy Enix's 
once more. But Chocobo's 
Mysterious Dungeon was 

■ CHOCOBO'S MYSTERIOUS DUNGEON 
YEAR: 1997 SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 

■ CHOCOBO'S DUNGEON 2 
YEAR: 1999 SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 


■ CHOCOBO RACING 

YEAR: 1999 SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 

■ CHOCOBO COLLECTION 
YEAR: 1999 SYSTEM: PLAYSTATION 

■ CHOCOBO ON THE JOB 

YEAR: 2000 SYSTEM: WONDERSWAN 

■ CHOCOBO ANYWHERE 
YEAR: 2002 SYSTEM: MOBILE 

■ CHOCOBO LAND: A GAME OF DICE 
YEAR: 2002 SYSTEM: GAME BOY ADVANCE 

■ CHOCOBO ANYWHERE 2: ESCAPE! GHOST SHIP 
YEAR: 2003 SYSTEM: MOBILE 

■ CHOCO-MATE 

YEAR: 2003 SYSTEM: MOBILE 

■ CHOCOBO ANYWHERE 2.5: INFILTRATE! ANCIENT RUINS 
YEAR: 2004 SYSTEM: MOBILE 


■ CHOCOBO ANYWHERE 3: 

DEFEAT! THE GREAT RAINBOW-COLORED DEMON 
YEAR: 2004 SYSTEM: MOBILE 

■ CHOCOBO DE MOBILE 
YEAR: 2006 SYSTEM: MOBILE 

■ FINAL FANTASY FABLES: CHOCOBO TALES 
YEAR: 2006 SYSTEM: DS 

■ FINAL FANTASY FABLES: CHOCOBO'S DUNGEON 
YEAR: 2007 SYSTEM: WII 

■ CID AND CHOCOBO'S MYSTERIOUS DUNGEON 
YEAR: 2008 SYSTEM: DS 

■ CHOCOBO AND THE MAGIC PICTURE BOOK 
YEAR: 2008 SYSTEM: DS 


■ CHOCOBO PANIC 
YEAR: 2010 SYSTEM: IOS 

■ CHOCOBO'S CRYSTAL TOWER 
YEAR: 2010 SYSTEM: MOBILE 

■ CHOCOBO'S CHOCOTTO FARM 
YEAR: 2012 SYSTEM: IOS 



FOLK 


» H 

just the start - PlayStation 
owners had dungeoneering 
sequels, bizarre kart racers 
and even PocketStation 
mini-games before the 
chocobos went off to graze 
in new pastures like the 
WonderSwan, mobiles and 
later the DS and Wii. There 
have now been almost 20 
Chocobo games spanning 
all number of genres - 
here's how it all played 
out for the unlikely critter 
heroes. Kweh! 


FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL 
CHRONICLES: RING OF FATES 2007 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO DS 


A handheld prequel to the GameCube title, Ring Of Fates shares 
much with the game it so clearly emulates. Played alone, it lacks a lot 
of the depth of the original but it won some respect back by extending 
the multiplayer component across oceans via Wi-Fi play. Sadly, with 
Nintendo shutting down online support for original DS games, you'll 
need to find a group of other owners to play locally to enjoy that side of 
the game today. 



FINAL FANTASY IV: THE AFTER YEARS 

2008 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


The sequels keep on coming, although it's 
clear that less effort went into this strange 
episodic effort than into many of the others. 
Assets are largely reused from the various 
remakes of the SNES game and despite 
a few interesting new mechanics (such as 
a lunar cycle that affects combat), it's still 
an extra chapter to a book many would be 
happy to simply leave closed or read fresh. 



DISSIDIA FINAL 
FANTASY 2008 


SYSTEM: PSP 


What if all of the most famous 
characters in Final Fantasy 
history were to get together for 
some arbitrary reason and have 
a big fight? That's the question 
posed and, to a lesser degree, 
answered by Dissidia, a curious 
mix of arcade brawling and RPG 
mechanics. It looks great and 
plays well enough, but it's best 
seen as entertaining fan service 
- it's basically Final Fantasy's 
answer to Smash Bros., and you 
likely already know if you'd enjoy 
that or not. 




FINAL FANTASY 
CRYSTAL 
CHRONICLES: MY 
LIFE AS A KING 

2008 


SYSTEM: WII 


A download-only title that does 
away with the idea of being a hero 
in favour of placing players on the 
throne and getting others to do the 
dirty work for them. It's slow-paced 
but it sort of works, if only as a way 
of seeing quests from a different 
point of view. Interestingly, it 
wasn't planned as an FF game at 
all - Crystal Chronicles' engine 
was apparently used to prototype 
the game and it eventually picked 
up the title as well. 


88 

















THE RETRO GUIDE TO... FINAL FANTASY 



FINAL FANTASY XIII 2009 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Or, 'The moment it became cool to hate Final Fantasy. There's a 
lot wrong with XIII, make no mistake about it - the cast is among the 
weakest in core series history, the pacing is poor and complaints about 
its linearity are not misplaced. But where many other JRPGs attempt 
to disguise their linear structure, you have to sort of respect Square's 
decision to have XIII wear it on its sleeve. If anything, it makes the big 
third act reveal of the huge Gran Pulse area all the more impressive, 
plus the Paradigm battle system (a strange hybrid of custom job 
systems and fixed character roles, with line-ups that can be changed 
on the fly) is certainly more involved then many similar menu-driven 
efforts. We'd have a far easier job trying to defend it if it didn't end with 
a Leona Lewis song, though... 


FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL 
CHRONICLES: ECHOES OF TIME 2009 



SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


It wasn't broken, and it didn't get fixed. 
Echoes Of Time offered more of the 
same for Crystal Chronicles fans, this 
time allowing cross-platform play locally 
between the Wii and DS versions. Still not 
really worth the effort for solo players to 
pour hours into, but multiplayer proved 
once again to be an amusing distraction 
and another great proof of the ways in 
which the Final Fantasy series could break 
into new realms of gameplay without losing 
its core values and charm. 


FINAL FANTASY: 
THE 4 HEROES OF 
LIGHT 2009 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO DS 


While XIII showed a Square 
desperately trying new things 
to keep the JRPG afloat, this DS 
release instead saw the company 
fall back on what it knows so 
very well. As traditional a JRPG 
as you're likely to find in the 21st 
Century, this is perhaps most 
notable as the game that spawned 
the excellent Bravely Default as a 
non-branded follow-up. 





FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL 
CHRONICLES: MY LIFE AS A 
DARKLORD 2009 


SYSTEM: WII 


If My Life As A King was a stretch for fans with its city management 
gameplay, this tower defence title is some full-on Plastic Man 
nonsense. A simple yet effective rock/paper/scissors system 
determines the effectiveness of each trap or monster on a given 
unit and the side-on viewpoint and vertical structure are welcome 
changes to the usual standards, but we're not sure to this day why 
this even has 'Final Fantasy' in its title. 

r * 


Mira 

Say your prayers, puty 

•vfi /ftn t i i r A r r I TKn fA* p ^ 


SYSTEM: WII 


FINAL FANTASY CRYSTAL 
CHRONICLES: THE CRYSTAL BEARERS 

2009 


The nail in the Crystal 
Chronicles coffin, this 
multiplayer-only action title 
did away with not only the 
co-op gameplay that made its 
forerunners enjoyable but also 
with the levelling system and 


character progression you might 
expect from a decent RPG. If you 
thought My Life As A Darklord 
completely missed the point of the 
Final Fantasy series, you should 
check this title out. Only don't, 
because it isn't very good. 


89 









BSgSflGGGO 


FINAL FANTASY XIV: ONLINE 2010 


SYSTEM: PC 


Another MMO was always on the cards 
after the insane success of FFXI, but the 
initial launch of XIV wasn't the second 
success story Square likely had in mind. No 
MMO ever has a particularly good launch 
but this was poor - console-style menu 
interfaces, patchy visuals and server issues 
led many to stick with XI instead. Square 
would need something drastic to fix this 
mess; its imminent updates did just that. 




FINAL FANTASY XIII-2 2011 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Given the backlash to FFXIII, you have to wonder what Square was 
thinking in announcing a direct sequel to arguably the most hated 
game in the entire series. Still, XIII-2 made almost too much progress 
from its linear progenitor - its entirely open-ended structure spanned 
both space and time to deliver the most confusing map screen and 
some of the most ludicrous time-hopping quests yet seen in the series. 
Monster recruiting and training, seeing the same locations in various 
time periods and the bizarre paradox endings rate among the highs, 
with characters once again disappointing. 


FINAL FANTASY 
TYPE-0 2011 


SYSTEM: PSP 


Monster Hunter and its myriad 
clones cemented the PSP as the 
hardcore handheld of choice, so 
this action-leaning title proved to 
be right at home there. Despite 
being widely regarded as one of 
the best-looking PSP games and 
the best non-mainline FF titles 
in its native territory, the game 
would not be granted permission 
to leave Japan. Well, until very 
recently, anyway... 




DISSIDIA 012 
FINAL FANTASY 

2011 


SYSTEM: PSP 


Both Dissidia and the PSP 
enjoyed wild success in Japan, 
so this oddly-named sequel 
(that second word is 'Duodecim', 
apparently) was to be expected. 
More playable characters, more 
stages and more content all 
presented fans with a reason 
to upgrade and if you're new to 
Dissidia, you can just jump in 
right here for the best experience. 



THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY 2012 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO 3DS 


If you adore the music of the Final Fantasy series, then congratulations 
on having ears that work. Uematsu's compositions and indeed some 
of his understudies' works are among the most recognisable in all of 
gaming, making a rhythm action game that uses them an exceptional 
idea. Dividing tunes into Field, Battle and Event stages, each with 
different mechanics, Theatrhythm was a superb title that has since been 
rendered basically redundant by Curtain Call. 


UEMATSU'S COMPOSITIONS AND 
INDEED SOME OF HIS UNDERSTUDIES' 

WORKS ARE AMONG THE MOST 

RECOGNISABLE IN ALL OF GAMING 


FINAL FANTASY XIV: A REALM REBORN 

2013 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Developers, take note - this is how you fix a broken game. Changes 
across the board from GUI to basic gameplay made this reboot 
effectively a brand new game, and just in time for its PS3 launch too. 
Square would go on to refine it further still in time for a PS4 release that 
enjoys near parity with the PC version, with cross play supported across 
all three formats. With new content added almost every month, A Realm 
Reborn is destined to evolve yet more as the years roll on. We'd be 
surprised if this doesn't outgross XI in the next couple of years... 



90 









THE RETRO GUIDE TO... FINAL FANTASY 



LIGHTNING RETURNS: FINAL 
FANTASY XIII 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 

If you didn't want one sequel to Final Fantasy XIII then it seems 
unlikely that you'd have wanted two. An odd marriage of the 
Paradigm system from the core game and X-2's Dress Sphere 
mechanic, this action-heavy twist on the usual combat made 
switching outfits at the right time the key to victory. With a goal of 
saving as many people as possible within a restrictive time limit, 
it's all about making the best possible use of your time and the 
combat is actually pretty damn tech - just watch some YouTube 
exhibition mode stuff and try to claim otherwise. 


THEATRHYTHM FINAL FANTASY: 
CURTAIN CALL 2014 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO 3DS 


Yet another update, but yet 
another welcome one. Curtain 
Call brings the total song count to 
over 200 (with yet more available 
as DLC, if that's still not enough), 


adds a host of new characters 
and refines the Chaos Note 
system of the original into the 
much tighter Quest Medley mode. 
Pretty much essential for fans. 




FINAL FANTASY 
EXPLORERS 2014 


SYSTEM: NINTENDO 3DS 


Stop us if you've heard this one before... 
this is an action-RPG where four players 
can team up to slay monsters, earn loot, 
craft better gear and repeat that cycle 
until they have stumps for hands. Yes, 
it's a Monster Hunter clone, but we're not 
going to say no to a slice of FF-flavoured 
hunting. Out now in Japan, it's expected 
to arrive over here some time this year. 
Maybe. You never can tell with MH clones. 



FINAL FANTASY TYPE-0 HD 2015 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 



We've omitted most remakes and reissues on account of how little 
they changed, but this makes the cut purely due to its interesting 
circumstances. Despite no localisation of the PSP original (or indeed 
a Vita upgrade, as was rumoured for a time), a HD version of Type-0 
is coming to PS4 and Xbox One. Cynics may see it as a vessel for the 
FFXV demo and nothing more, but we welcome the chance to enjoy the 
unreleased game in English. 


FINAL FANTASY XV TBC 2016 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Originally announced as Versus XIII back in 2006, this incredible 
looking FF title only recently got bumped up to main series standing. It 
looks deserving of such a promotion, to be fair - redone for current gen 
consoles (it was initially planned for PS3), it's one of the best showcases 
we've seen so far for the new hardware. The car, the questionable 
English dub, and the dudebro vacation theme are all doing their bit to 
quash excitement, but it wouldn't be a forthcoming Final Fantasy game 
these days if people weren't hating on it. We can't wait. 



91 








m 0000 


GAME CHANGERS 


GRAN TURISMO 

Released: 1998 Publisher: Sony Developer: Polyphony System: PlayStation 



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Gran Turismo 5 
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Fastest Lap^ 
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In an era where arcade racers were king, Sony went down a 
different route and ushered in the dawn of true simulation racing games 


■ EXITING THE PITLANE late in 1997, nobody 
■ ■■ cou ld have predicted the impact that 
■ ■■■ Polyphony Digital's Gran Turismo was going 
to have on the racing genre, not just on the then 
contemporary PSOne but also on Sony's follow-up 
consoles. A labour of love by Polyphony's visionary, 
Kazunori Yamauchi, Gran Turismo introduced virtual 
racers to a whole host of features rarely seen on 
console games before, producing an experience that 
still lingers long in the memory, thanks to both the 
original game's success and its pivotal role in creating 
the formula for later games in the series. 

Beaten to the European market by Codemaster's 
exemplary TOCA Touring Car Championship, Gran 
Turismo was up against stiff competition on the 
starting grid, yet where TOCA s graphics, fully- 
licenced championship, damage, and handling had 
wowed us in November 1997, GT suddenly changed 
the boundaries when it was released to European 
gamers in May 1998. 


On first startup, the menu design seemed 
confusing and mildly uninspiring, yet these 
underwhelming emotions were quickly washed away 
when you realised the breadth of automotive exotica 
on offer to drive. Over 140 cars sat waiting for their 
turn with you behind the wheel, all officially licensed 
versions of their real-world counterparts. By today's 
standards it may sound rather lacking in variety, but 
before the turn of the millennium, never before had 
such choice been offered to motorsport enthusiasts. 

If that ample selection of chariots wasn't enough 
though, Gran Turismo also introduced us to a 
range of performance upgrades. Exhausts, engine 
components, and tyres could all be modified to boost 
your cars' performance. What's more, aftermarket 
wheels from a range of real-life brands could be 
fitted, along with a small selection of Japanese 
tuner-style rear wings to help customise the look of 
your fleet, long before the Need For Speed franchise 
offered such extensive in-game services. 


92 


GAME CHANGERS: GRAN TURISMO 


OFF FOR A SPIN I 


GRAN TURISMO SPAWNED ONE OF SONY'S BEST EXCLUSIVE FRANCHISES, 
WITH SUCCESS FROM THE SCREEN TO THE TRACK OVER THE LAST 17 YEARS. 



★ Every generation of Sony 
console has seen two Gran 
Turismo releases, with GT 
through to GT5 selling a 
combined 57,500,000 units. 
GT3 has been the series' most 
successful title, with sales of 
14,890,000 units on its way to 
becoming the PS2's second 
biggest selling game. 


★ The franchise has transcended 
the world of virtual racing with 
its GT Academy programme. 
Choosing the fastest racers 
from an online time trial, 
drivers are then pitted against 
one another in knockout rounds 
until a victor is picked. Winners 
have gone on to race at events 
like the 24 Hours of Le Mans. 


★ As well as polished racing 
games, Polyphony Digital is 
notorious for making us wait to 
get behind the latest set of new 
wheels. From Gran Turismo 
2's delay of a few weeks due to 
coding issues, to the infuriating 
eight-month holdup before 
Gran Turismo 5's launch, GT 
fans are a patient bunch. 


★ Porsche? Not to be found 
in any GT games due to EA's 
recently ended monopoly on 
the 911 makers. However, the 
inclusion of German Porsche 
tuners, RUF, helped to cement 
the latter into the consciousness 
of the public. If you want official 
Stuttgart metal you'll have to 
head to Forza though. . . 


Of course, all this cost money, and starting the 
game's main Simulation mode with just 10,000 credits 
meant that your first car was likely to be more suited 
to a Sunday run to the shops than a flat-out blast 
around one of the game's 11 fictional race tracks. 
Inevitably this meant that to find anything mildly 
impressive, we were sent searching the Used Car 
Lot. The cars on offer were regularly refreshed after 
a few races, but to progress, money was the name of 
the game and to earn it you had to grind. 

Early races in Gran Turismo brought little reward, 
but to rise up through the ranks you needed to 
complete the sometimes infuriatingly difficult and 
long-winded licence tests. From simple accelerating 
and stopping tests to full-lap time trials, these 
challenges often had us screaming at the screen in 
frustration, such was their penchant for challenging 
even mildly imprecise driving. 

Yet, while the hardcore nature of the career 
progression turned off some, it was hard not to play 
Gran Turismo just for its sheer beauty. The on-screen 
displays, such as speed and gear selection, may 
have seemed, even in the late-Nineties, straight out 


THE AGE OF TRUE 
SIMULATION WAS 
DAWNING AND 
GRAN TURISMO HAD 
ALREADY MARKED 
ITS PLACE ON TOP 


With 10.85 million 
units shipped 
worldwide to date, 
Gran Turismo is the 
original PlayStation 
greatest hit. This 
cemented racing as 
one of the console's 
key game genres. 

It is claimed that 
during the five-year 
development period 
of Gran Turismo, 
Yamauchi only went 
home for four days. 

Yamauchi 
believed that, 
despite the depth 
and breadth of GT, 
the original game 
only forced the 
PlayStation to work 
at 75 per cent of its 
maximum capacity. 

The game's 
soundtrack set a 
precedent for future 
sequels with a heady 
mix of Japanese 
lounge music and 
contemporary 
pop songs. 


of an arcade booth, but the cars were pixel perfect 
at the time. The polygon count of the original may be 
orders-of-magnitude less than the current offerings, 
but at the time this was a game with stunning clarity 

■■■ YAMAUCHI AND HIS five-strong team ensured 
that each car was true to its real-life counterpart. The 
handling physics were groundbreaking, setting a 
new benchmark for a whole generation of games. 
Each vehicle possessed a weight and momentum that 
other titles had, until that point, failed to match. The 
effect was the first console game to truly deserve the 
genre of a driving simulator. 

The 1 1 markedly different circuits all required 
finesse and real skill to navigate quickly; you couldn't 
just pick up Gran Turismo and drive like a world 
champion, and it took time to learn your craft. Yes, 
handling could be fine-tuned in a myriad of ways, 
but ultimately this was a game about perfecting your 
driving style. 

Perhaps, it was this that led the AI to be slightly 
disappointing. Each computer-controlled rival 
was tricky enough to prove a challenge - although 
difficulty was non-adjustable - but each grid was 
composed of just five fellow virtual racers. Along 
with this, the sound of each car could have done with 
some extra development time, proving that while it 
was the best of the bunch, Gran Turismo still had 
room for improvement in the coming generations. 

Despite this, it's challenging, expansive gameplay 
provided plenty of hours in front of a screen for racing 
enthusiasts, topped off with an excellent in-game 
soundtrack of contemporary pop songs. The age of 
true simulation was dawning and Gran Turismo had 
already marked its place on top of the podium on its 
the way to becoming an international phenomenon. 


93 








GAME CHANGERS 


* roooo 


THE EVOLUTION OF 
THE DRIVING SIMULATOR 

GRAN TURISMO WAS BY NO MEANS THE FIRST CAR 
SIMULATOR, BUT IT HAS BEEN ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL 
GAMES OF THE GENRE, WITH MANY OTHER CONTENDERS 
LOOKING TO GT FOR INSPIRATION 



TOCA TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 2 

■ CODEMASTER'S FIRST TOCA release since Gran Turismo saw 
the number of cars available was noticeably expanded, and a 
few fictional circuits joined the excellent real-world examples. The 
focus was still on racing rather than purely driving, but the game 
was all the better for it. The AI was excellent, while the damage 
simulation was top notch. Handling wasn't up to Gran Turismo's 
level, but this is one of the greatest racing titles ever. 



BURNOUT 

■ CRITERION GAMES' OVER-the-top crashfest for PS2, Xbox, 
and GameCube grabbed people's imagination and made quite 
a few fall in love with driving games again. Burnout was about 
as far from a driving simulation game as you could get without 
discarding the driving element altogether, but, in an age of ever- 
improving realism, it showed that simulation wasn't the only path 
you had to take to get your automotive fix. 



FORZA MOTORSPORT 

■ AFTER RELEASING THE Xbox to rival PS2, Microsoft needed 
a killer driving game. Coming after two GTlaunches, Turn 10 
Studios had some ground to make up, but its opening effort was 
admirable, already showing hints of what was to come. Sound 
was a step above the achievements of Polyphony, while the 
inclusion of mild damage simulation made some fans of the genre 
overlook the slightly less realistic handling physics. 



GRAN TURISMO 4 

■ FEATURING OVER 700 cars from 80 car manufacturers, GT4 
was possibly the zenith for the franchise. It's stunning graphics 
showed what the PS2 was capable of, while the breadth and 
depth of the game kept racers' hands busy for literally days. The 
introduction of the Nurburgring Nordschleife and the Circuit de 
la Sarthe were excellent real-world additions, ensuring that GT4 
would go down as one of the greatest simulators of all time. 


94 








GAME CHANGERS: GRAN TURISMO 



RFACTOR 

■ EVER SINCE GEOFF Crammond's series of Grand Prix titles, 
PC has been the medium 'true simulation enthusiasts' gravitate 
to, thanks to its greater graphical clarity and processing speed. 
rFactor popularised this conception mainly because it still is a 
really great example of the genre, due to its GT-rivaling dynamics 
and the huge choice of community-developed car packs. 



IRACING 

■ THIS SUBSCRIPTION-BASED racing simulator is the current 
benchmark for the genre. PC-only, the large monthly payments 
ensure that a host of real-world tracks are constantly being laser- 
scanned, producing mind-blowingly accurate environments. 
Handling physics were taken above and beyond what the Gran 
Turismo series had ever achieved and the graded online racing 
ensures that races are always challenging. 



GRAN TURISMO 6 

■ NOT RELEASED OUT the blue, but certainly without as much 
hype as previous games from Yamauchi's studio, Gran Turismo 
6 saw one last Polyphony release for the PS3. Graphics were 
polished, though the premium/standard car divide still remained. 
The handling gave much better feedback whether using a wheel 
or a pad, while the menu was improved, making this the best GT 
game yet, but ultimately too similar to previous releases. 



FORZA MOTORSPORT 4 

RELEASED IN 2011, Forza 4 marked the moment where Xbox's GT 
rival finally made the overtaking move after years of flashing its 
headlights. The gameplay was more enjoyable, and while there 
were fewer cars on the disc, each was re-created beautifully. Car 
sounds in Forza 4 were incredible, while the constant stream of new 
car and circuit packs meant the game was constantly evolving. 



NEED FOR SPEED: SHIFT 2 

■ THE NEED FOR Speed franchise's general focus on the 
modifying scene and street racing had never given it the realism 
or handling dynamics to truly take the fight to Polyphony. That 
was until the SHIFT sub-brand was unveiled. Shift came close as 
a legitimate rival to GT5 on PS3, but it wasn't until Shift 2 that EA 
could truly lay claim to GT's title. Car sounds were beautiful and 
the range of cars was excellent. 



PROJECT CARS 

■ FORGET DRIVECLUB, PROJECT CARS looks like it is going to 
be the must-have driving simulator on next-gen consoles. Making 
use of the PS4 and Xbox One's PC-like architecture, the current 
in-game screens are easily mistakable for real-life. It looks 
like there will be plenty of exotic real-life metal to test on a host of 
accurately modelled tracks. This could be a seminal moment where 
console simulation finally becomes a true rival to the PC. 


95 








SUPER MARIO RPG: LEGEND OF 
THE SEVEN STARS SNES [SQUARE] 1996 


■ Let's address the glaring inaccuracy first: Bundt isn't even a Bundt cake. While we're at 
it, he also appears to be alive, has a face and can fire a series of razor-like snowflakes. But 
more importantly, Bundt personifies the tone of Square's brief dalliance in the Mario canon: 
an idiosyncratic creation rich in humour that bridges the Nintendo's licensed characters with 
Square's design sensibilities. The boss battle itself is rather elementary. You fight against a pair of 
French chef stereotypes who slowly begin to realise that the cake they're protecting is moving, running 
away when it springs to life. Then you fight the three-tiered wedding cake until all that's left is its base 
sponge. While it's not the most challenging or technical encounter, the unusual, charismatic nature of the 
boss battle and Bundt's unique design make it one of the most memorable in the history of Mario adversaries. 









oorjD 



INTERVIEW 


JASON & CHRIS 
KINGSLEY 

There are many famous gaming siblings, but Jason and 
Chris Kingsley are two of the most successful. Still running 
Rebellion 22 years on, we look back at their finest moments 


Although they had their roots 
in the Eighties, the Nineties 
were far kinder to Jason 
and Chris Kingsley. Years 
of freelancing made for a 
precarious early career but, in 
deciding to found Rebellion in 
1992, the pair have achieved 
much stability and prosperity 
since. With Alien Vs Predator 
catching the eye of gamers 
following its release on the 
Atari Jaguar and having 
bagged franchises as varied 
as The Simpsons, Asterix 
and Star Wars, Rebellion has 
gained a reputation as a 
strong developer-for-hire. But, 
with the creation of Sniper 
Elite, which launched in 2005, 
it has also been shown to 
see the value in its own IP, 
with this game in particular 
becoming a popular, well- 
received franchise. Not that 
they are likely to rest on their 
laurels. The brothers have 
snapped up many smaller 
developers and they have 
grown their company into one 
of the UK's largest... 


J What got you interested in 
■ ■ ■ computing and gaming? 

® ® B ® Jason: I've always been interested 
in games and making up rules in games 
for others to play. My first memory of 
gaming is with traditional board games 
and making variants of them like Nuclear 
Monopoly. Writing adventure game books 
came next along with Tunnels and Trolls, a 
paper-based role-playing game. 

Chris: I was always into programming and 
I built my first computer myself from 
a kit - it had a whopping 16 bytes of 
memory and for graphics it had a 
two-digit hexadecimal display. 


was a clear favourite. But we both spent a 
lot of time coding in BASIC, and I coded 
in machine code and learnt about how 
the graphics system worked and how to 
make action games using Player-Missile 
Graphics - Atari's terminology for sprites. 
Then there was an Atari ST and this had a 
fantastic monochrome screen - sharp and 
high resolution and was much better for 
long programming sessions. 


Which platforms were of most 
importance to you when you 
were younger? 

Chris: At home we had an Atari 
VCS and played a lot of multiplayer 
games like Combat and Air-Sea 
Battle, as well as Adventure. We probably 
played Space Invaders the most on 
the VCS though. After that we got a 16k 
Commodore PET, and I learned 6502 
machine code as I found that BASIC was 
too slow for arcade-style games - it was all 
hand-coded though and relative branches 
had to be worked out on paper. Next 
came a 48k Atari 800 and Star Raiders 


AS A CONSOLE THE 
ATARI JAGUAR WAS 
VERY POWERFUL, BUT 
COMPLICATED AND 
TRICKY TO PROGRAM 


F What prompted you both to create 
Rebellion in 1992? 

Jason: We wanted to make our own 
games and be able to at least in part 
influence their direction. 

Your first release was Eye Of The Storm in 
1993 for the Amiga and DOS... 

Jason: It was. The team on Eye Of The 
Storm consisted of three people: two 




DEVELOPER COMMENTS 


£ S ■■■ JASON AND CHRIS 

kk a pair of talented, 

™ brothers who set 1 
—• the late Eighties after 
Through their p~ — ■ — 
were able to grow Rebellion into o 
game development studios. It's not always been 
c ever guys and have found ingenious ways of m 
and tribulations of an ever-changing industry. 

We met them in the late Nineties and became 
we realised we shared so many experiences anc 
challenges. One of our first joint projects, with so 
too, was to set up the trade industry Vw-j,, a 


are great examples of 
1, creative and very ambitious 
up a UK games company in 
graduating from Oxford University, 
passion, creativity and leadership they 
of the leading UK 



iiiiiiiiiii: JASON & CHRIS KINGSLEY::::::! 




99 


OOTDO 



SBE-E-0 


22§M 


BuSliTilQM 


M3 
[LfiP 2, GMD^3 


offices in 
Slough to meet with 
Alastair Bodin and showed him a new 
demo for a 3D dragon flight game we were 
working on. Alastair had the biggest office 
I've ever seen, and he thought the demo 
was so good that he got Bob Gleadow, the 
CEO of Atari Europe, to come straight down 
to see it. Bob then said: "That would be 
great for our new Jaguar console!" To which 
Alastair replied: "What new console?" It 
was the first that Alastair had heard of the 
Jaguar too. We were quickly invited to visit 
the Flare guys in Cambridge and got hold 
of a machine to play with - the Jaguar was 
designed in the UK so that made it a bit 
easier for us to get started. We eventually 
got a two-game contract with Atari for Alien 
Vs Predator and Checkered Flag. That was 
the catalyst for us to move out of our 
basement office into a proper office, 
set up Rebellion and to hire some staff 
to work for us - we couldn't fit enough 
people in our basement. 

Why did it take four years before your 
next release, Klustar? 

Jason: We were working on some 
other games for Atari on the Jaguar - 
Skyhammer and Legions Of The Undead 
- but they were eventually cancelled by 
Atari, though Skyhammer did see the 
light of day in the end. We also worked 
on a mad-as-a-brush PC game called Mr 


■ Licences have been a big part of Rebellions fib . it -appedj 
up 2000 AD, making Dredd its own in a senes of games. 


■■ programmers, Chris Humphreys and 
■■■■ A1 Perrott, and one artist-designer- 
producer - me. I designed the whole game 
and created all the 3D graphics myself. The 
only 3D tools I had at the start were graph 
paper and a text editor and of course the 
maximum number of polygons for each 
object was in the low 10s, so it was a big 
challenge but it was a great discipline. The 
one tool I did have was Deluxe Paint which 
I used for the 2D art and the texture map. 

To my knowledge Eye Of The Storm was the 
first 3D game on PC with texture mapping 
and curves in it. 


Checkered Flag and Alien Vs Predator 
came next for the Jaguar. How did you get 
involved with Atari? 

Jason: When Atari announced its new 
Falcon home computer - basically a more 
powerful ST - Chris and I went to Atari's 


Tank. Oh, and there were some other titles 
beside, and then of course we were very 
busy on Aliens Vs Predator with Fox. 

1999 was a busy year - were you rapidly 
growing at this stage? 

Jason: Sometimes game development 
is like buses - no matter how hard you 
plan to have a sensible overlap of games 
with a decent gap between launches they 
often seem to concertina up and come out 
around the same time. That was the case 
with 1999 - it was, perhaps, a defining year 
for us. We were growing, and learning, and 
we both had to spend less time making 
games and more time on making the 
business work. Our growth at that time was 
entirely organic and based on our ability to 
pitch games to publishers; having titles of 
the quality of AvP helped a lot, of course. 
We were very much in the work-for-hire 
mindset which, at the time, was great for 
cashflow but didn't provide much upside. 

One of the things we were seeing were a 
lot of licenses. How did you attract them? 
Chris: We had always been big fans of 
the Game Boy and had worked on various 
iterations of the hardware over the years. 

I had put together my own hardware and 
software tools for the Game Boy from 
off-the-shelf tools: Dataman's S3 and S4 
EPROM programmers and Crash Barrier's 
METAi assembler development system. 
Infogrames asked us to work on Asterix 
after we did Mission: impossible on the 
Game Boy Color for them - that was 
really fun because we also created some 
special spy-tools in the game: a message 
transmitter, a calculator, an address book 
and an infrared TV remote controller. I 
think we were the only game to ever use the 
infrared port on the Game Boy Color. Tiger 
Woods was part of a multi-project work-for- 
hire deal with Destination Software. 

The Noughties was a busy decade too: 
Rebellion set about snapping up many 
gaming developers such as Core Design, 
Strangelite and Awesome Developments... 



100 




JASON & CHRIS KINGSLEY 


lason: Publishers were resistant to 
outsourcing so to be successful you had to 
be big and the only way to do this was to 
acquire other developers. To a large extent 
our acquisitions were opportunistic, as 
some publishers were looking to close them 
and we didn't want to see them close. 

Did it lead to any tension - did any group 
feel a little put out by the takeovers? 
lason: Most of the takeovers went well 
but in some cases things just didn't work 
out. I'd say that for some people 
a takeover by Rebellion was seen 
as a good thing but for a few 
others it wasn't seen in the same 
light. There's always some level of 
tension, and in fact that's healthy for 
development, because you need a 
range of differing opinions to cover 
all angles. Ultimately, as a work-for- 
hire developer, it comes down to the 
relationships between your development 
teams and your publishers - it is the 
publishers that call the shots. 

But you were also buying IP. Rebellion 
owned a fair few publishing companies, 
acquiring the rights to 2000 AD in 2000, 
giving it the rights to Judge Dredd, Halo 
Jones and Strontium Dog... 

Jason: We've always believed in the 
importance of IP even during the times we 
were a work-for-hire developer. Buying 2000 
AD got us a lot of notice as more than just 
a developer and I guess you could say it 
propelled us into the elite super-developer 
category - I think it really surprised a lot 
of people in the games industry. MCV said 
it was 'undoubtedly one of the boldest and 
most imaginative moves made by anyone 
in the games business in living memory.' I 
couldn't have put it better myself! 

Did it help you make better games? 

Jason: It allowed us to quickly create and 
test new IPs, learn about alternative ways to 
tell stories, and develop worlds with detail 
and depth. 


Were you big 2000 AD fans anyway? 
Jason: Yes! We have both been reading 
2000 AD from the day it was launched 
in 1977. We still remember the Biotronic 
stickers and the space spinner. . . 

What was your main direction in the 
Noughties? 

Jason: It was a time of significant growth 
for us, and the industry as a whole. Game 
budgets were going up but so were the 
expectations of the players. We were 


focused on the work-for-hire model 
' and we worked on a lot of licensed 
titles, but we still managed to create 
some of our own new IPs like Sniper Elite. 

Sniper Elite is big for you right now. Where 
did the idea come from and were you at all 
surprised by the success? 

Jason: We're very grateful for the success of 
the Sniper Elite series. The idea has grown 
from the earliest ideas that were thrown 
around by the team and others. As we 
owned the brand, it has meant that we're 
able to make a new game with similar 
themes and to build on what we made in 
earlier versions. Sniper Elite is not only 
big for us as a development studio, but it is 
becoming a pretty big contemporary games 
franchise across the world. 

How does Sniper Elite III compare with the 
other versions? 

Chris: It has a higher number at the end! 
Seriously it's building and expanding on 
the positives and addressing negatives of 
feedback we've received. We've worked 
hard on the openness of the gameplay 


I HAVE TO REPEATEDLY 
EXPLAIN TO MY US 
COLLEAGUES THAT THEY 
DO NOT HAVE TO CALL 
ME SIR 




and the AI in particular but pretty much 
everything is bigger and better then before. 


Have you found yourself becoming 
removed from the company in any way? 
Jason: As the company grew even larger, 
our roles did change over time, and we 
constantly had to learn new things. In fact, 
we are still learning to this day. But that's 
the nature of the games industry; it is 
dynamic and fluid, constantly changing and 
innovating, never standing still. 

In 2012, you were awarded an OBE - how 
did it feel? 

Jason: Very pleased indeed and slightly 
nervous about the ceremony. I also have 
to repeatedly explain to my US colleagues 
that they do not have to call me Sir, even 
though I have my own real and well-used 
suit of armour. 

The gaming industry in Britain is so 
important to you both that Jason is the 
chairman of TIGA. How did you get into 
that role? 

Jason: Many years ago, we met with a 
group of other developers, including the 
lads from Blitz and Kuju, for dinner at E3. As 
usual at these sorts of things the talk got to 
publishers and the industry in general and 
the way that developers were treated. We 
all agreed that something had to be done 
to improve our lot and make the games 
industry a better place for all. What was 
different this time was that Chris and I 
decided to actually do something about it! 
When we got back to the UK we met with 
various people in the government, I found 
Fred Hasson and persuaded him to become 
CEO of this new organisation, and together 
with the other founding developers we 
helped get TIGA going. 

What do you feel the UK is bringing 
to gaming? 

Jason: What it has always done: creativity, 
innovation, technology and vision, along 
with an appreciation of both the mainland 
European aesthetic and the North American 
one. We always seem to have constraints of 
one sort or another on the titles we create 
and constraints allow for, and often 
force, creative solutions. 



101 





BEHIND THE SCENES 


BEHIND THE SCENES RUNESCAPEi 


RuneScape is one of the biggest names 

in MMOs and helped shape the way the 

genre evolved over the years, games™ 

looks at how the legacy began 


+ 


+ 




Released _2001 
Forma PC 

Jagex 

Developei In-h ouse 
Key Sta Andrew Gower. 
Paul Gower. Mark Oailvie 


+ 


+ 



I CONSIDERING THE HISTORY of the MMO 

genre, you'd expect to have seen far more 

innovation over the years. It's a fairly stagnant 
genre, but there's always been one game - spanning a 
huge player base, even to this day - that remained constant 
in its own core design tenets. RuneScape, in fact, set a 
precedent for a lot of what would become staples of the 
genre, namely an emphasis on accessibility to open up as 
wide a group of players as possible. 

In actuality RuneScape began long before the term 
'MMO' was even conceived, back when 'MUD' was the 
go-to definition. Multi-User Dungeons had been around 
since as early as the late Eighties and continued in 
various forms of popularity into the late Nineties where - 
with technology pacing forward - it became increasingly 
apparent that the future was in graphical MUDs. It was 
inevitable, and at the beginning of the millennium it became 
a race to dominate this otherwise fairly limited market. The 
technical issues involved were vast, but whoever managed 
to crack it had almost guaranteed success. 

"The first requirement for the game was that it needed to 
be quickly accessible from computers with pretty lightweight 
hardware and internet speeds," says Mark Ogilvie, design 
director on RuneScape. "The founders were frustrated that 
at university they would use different computers in libraries 
all over campus and have to install their current favourite 
game from a physical disk. That process would cut into 
precious gaming time, so they decided to make something 
themselves based around their early RPG and tabletop 
experiences, which they could play with other people at 
the same time. One of the founders loved making systems 
and engines, the other loved making quests and designing 
worlds, so it all fell together rather nicely." 


This mobile boot file would later become one of 
RuneScape s key innovations. Though it wasn't the first 
to the GMUD market, it provided an accessibility that 
would later entice millions. Preceded by Ultima Online and 
EverQuest, the Gower brothers wanted to create their own 
equivalent, with Andrew handling the systems powering 
it and Fbul designing its world. Most of all Andrew had 
wanted a game that was at once easy to access and to 
get into, but offered the same kind of depth and interaction 
that came from popular tabletop FlPGs. But there were 
unexpected positive side-effects to Andrew's streamlined 
design - despite being graphics-focused, RuneScape 
managed to remain svelte enough that changes could be 
made quickly and efficiently. 

This was a small operation, however, and Jagex was still 
being run out of the Gower's parents' home in Nottingham 
while they studied at university and so the early days 
required everyone to pitch in. "Everybody turned their 
hand to art," explains Ogilvie. "They got a few sketches 
from a friend for some ideas of what a goblin or a dragon 
might look like; the whole family got involved - [the Gower 
brothers'] mum created bears, their little brother made 
a bat. . . all sorts. Only much later did they even consider 
actually hiring people to create assets! In the beginning it 
was still very much a bedroom project for fun and for them, 
not for an audience with expectations on quality.'' 

RUNESCAPEWAS NOT set out to become a success, 
but instead a means for the Gower brothers to make 
the games they wanted to play and little else, a facet 
that still remains true at Jagex to this day. Ogilvie even 
adds that the original sketches created for the early 
incarnation of RuneScape are the very same ones that "act 
as a foundation for every dragon, goblin or bear rework 
we consider". It's a humbling story for such an important 
MMO, and it all began with that focus on speed to make 
better use of limited time at library computers. 

RuneScape originally released in beta form in January 
2001 and, later that year, Jagex would be formed. 
Within that year RuneScape s popularity began to rise, 
particularly among students and schoolchildren who, 



103 




m oay© 



A TIMELINE 
OF RUNE SCAPE 




The journey of one of the first MMOs to find 
mainstream and widespread success 


JANUARY 7 

2001 
RuneScape is 
released from 
development and into 
beta phase, acting as 
a soft launch for the 
new graphical MUD. 


SEPTEMBER ? 

2002 

More than a year after the 
launch of the beta, Tutorial 
Island is added to the game, 
giving newcomers a place 
to learn the mechanics in a 
relatively safe environment. 


OCTOBER 

2002 
After a string of new 
quests, a new update 
tweaked gameplay, 
added in a new 
town and spells, and 
improved monster AI. 


2001 


2002 


2002 


7 DECEMBER ^ 

AUGUST 

2003 

2003 

RuneScape 2 enters 

RuneScape s 50th 

beta, with new RS2 

quest update is 

servers being added 

added to the game, 

to those willing to test 

celebrated by being 

the newest version of 

the longest new 

the game. 

quest yet. 


JANUARY 

2003 

A brand new mini-game 
is added, 'gnomeball'. 
This is a variant of 
American football, but 
with a focus on melee 
combat too. 


2003: 


12003: 


2003: 


MARCH 2004 

RuneScape 2 is 
officially launched, 
with players being 
given the option to 
switch their account to 
the new game. 


7 JUNE 2004 

JULY 2005 

In-game player 

Farming is added to 

moderators are 

the game to allow 

added, allowing 

players to grow 

respected members 

their own goods, 

of the community to 

and assist in their 

ensure the game is 
played fairly by all. 

crafting professions. 


2004 


2005? 


7 NOVEMBER 

? MAY 2007 9 

2007 

In-game 

The Grand Exchange 

Achievements are 

is added to the game, 

added to the game, 

giving players a 

initially restricted 

place to buy and sell 

to a particular zone 

their most valuable 

and later expanded 

items. 

upon. 


MAY 2006 

Player-owned 
houses are added 
to the game, giving 
everyone who can 
afford it a place to 
call home. 


2007: 


2007! 


2006: 


OCTOBER 

2008 

PvP worlds are added 
to RuneScape, special 
servers that have PvP 
enabled - and if you 
die you'll lose all your 
items. 


JULY 2011 1 

? FEBRUARY 7 

Clan Citadels are 

2013 

added to the game, 

Old School 

the oft-requested 

RuneScape is 

feature allowing 

live, with players 

clans to meet up in a 

taking to it in their 

location they can call 

thousands to relive 

their own. 

the nostalgia. 


: 2008 : 


2011 


2013 


4 


bereft of their own computers, needed a game 
that was quick to install yet compelling to play over 
multiple sessions. By making a game that appealed to 
themselves and their own needs, the Gower brothers had 
indirectly made something that would, as a result, draw in 
thousands more like them. It was the engine that powered 
it all that was RuneScape ' s secret to success. 

"It was homemade," says Ogilvie of RuneScape s 
engine. "It we needed to change things, we could. All of 
our systems were bespoke and if we needed more, we 
just made more! Because the game client was so thin, any 
additions we did make could be done very quickly and 
with an almost unnoticeable effect to the download. Our 
server downtime would be minutes, at most, every week." 
This was another boon that appealed to the masses: 
there were no long, drawn out server maintenance and 
any problems that were discovered could be quickly 
resolved. It helped build a fanbase that became reliant 
on this consistency and - as a result - the fanbase grew. 

The demand for new content continued to grow, but 
RuneScape s streamlined engine meant this wasn't such 
a grand undertaking like so many early MMOs. "We have 
always been about creating new content," claims Ogilvie 
of RuneScape s approach to gameplay. "Our big selling 
point aside from the accessibility was (and still is) the 
rate of content updates to the game. We always looked 
forward to the new rather than reflecting on the old, which 
eventually caused us a few problems, having to dedicate 
lots of time on reworking older content." The type of 
content that was added was vast, too, not just a handful 
of new quests. Items, skill updates and many more were 
developed quickly and implemented even quicker to 
sustain the increasing demand from fans. "The rate of 
updates was full on, and the appetite from the players 
was immense, as they were expecting new content every 
single week." To Jagex's credit, that was a demand it more 
than crimed to meet. 



■ The steady stream of updates meant there was always something new. 


■ New professions, skills and areas are opened up all the time. 




BEHIND THE SCENES ESCAPE 


■ Though new art is created all the time, the original design sketches for 
the various beasts of RuneScape are still used as reference for this day. I 



WHAT 

THEY 

SAID... 



Unlike most 
MMORPGs, 
Runescape 
doesn't give 
the illusion of 
listening to 
the players - 
Jagex actually 
does take user 
opinions into 
account 


MMORPG.com 



Because of this demand RuneScape became a varied 
game. Jagex was free to explore different ideas with each 
new update to see what would stick and what would fail. 
This led to a very freeform approach to development - at 
least in the early days - with design documents that were 
more "brief concepts" than traditional planning. For the 
early days of RuneScape and Jagex, it was more about 
working dynamically and fluidly to produce the content 
needed to satiate fans. It helped keep RuneScape fresh, 
but moreover it kept the problems to a minimum. "The 
limitations were pretty light too," explains Ogilvie, 
"creating the rich tapestry of themes and ideas 
that we see now." RuneScape has since touched 
on a wide range of design directions and themes, 
expanding on the medieval fantasy setting that 
remains core to the game even now. 

RUNESCAPE ENJOYED A year of 
phenomenal success and with the player count 
rising, newly formed Jagex needed to look for 
funds. Initially it had been done so through 
in-game advertising, paid-for banners that helped 
pay for the servers to keep RuneScape. It soon became 
increasingly apparent that everyone involved was going to 
need to work on the game full-time to ensure the stream of 
content could be created. But advertising on the internet was 
becoming scarcer by the day; the online craze was waning 
and soon Jagex was not getting enough from advertising. In 
February of 2002, the model was changed, and RuneScape 
implemented a monthly fee: "the dotcom bubble burst and 
advertising revenue reduced considerably" says Ogilvie, 
"so the only alternative to closing the game was coming up 
with a subscription service with 'premium' content." 

Though there were concerns that it would be widely 
despised, the team at Jagex knew that without the extra 
income it could provide the game could not continue 
otherwise. "Any risks were far smaller than the possible 
threat of the game closing completely. Nobody was sure 
how popular it would be, but over the first week there were 
enough subscribers to cover the costs, and to actually hire 
a full-time member of staff." 


The march of content continued unabated and with it 
the numbers of subscribers. The addition of the monthly 
fee was a success, with fans turning up to enjoy the 
new locations, quests and items on a regular basis. I 
RuneScape has proven anything to the MMO world it's that 
if you can sustain your players with new content, then they'll 
continue to play, to subscribe and to stick around for more 
in the future. It's a hard challenge to face, and one that 
Jagex managed to handle ably with RuneScape. It didn't 
need to change anything or release huge expansion packs 


/ to draw in the crowds; it simply had to maintain the 
' ones that were already playing. "Whilst I don't think 
we ever played it safe," Ogilvie tells us, "most of our 
updates focused around adding new content, rather than 
changing anything existing. Some of our largest increases 
in community size over the years have followed significant 
additions to the game. When we have made changes to 
existing content, small or large, it has the potential to cause 
friction with the community." 

In later years it's this very approach that has seen many 
other MMOs fail. Even World Of Warcraft fails to appease 
its most regular and veteran players courtesy of the vast 
shifts in design that occurs with each expansion pack. 
RuneScape did not - and does not - need to change 
anything, simply provide more. Which made approaching 
RuneScape 2 all the more daunting. In 2003, Jagex was 
considering an upgrade to the RuneScape engine; its early 
graphics were the game's weakest elements, and many 
knew it. Jagex intended to create a sequel - but rather than 


OVER THE FIRST WEEK 
THERE WERE ENOUGH 
SUBSCRIBERS TO HIRE 
A FULL-TIME MEMBER 
OF STAFF 


105 



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■ HuneScape has gone through several iterations and updates, 
being one of the few long-running games to keep up with its audience. 


£ WHAT 
_ THEY 

5! n it TT"\ 



Despite the 
presence of 
some history 
and a fairly 
thorough 
mythology the 
world is pretty 
damn generic 
and somewhat 
'dorky' in its 
approach to the 
fantasy genre 

; jeuxvideo.com 



cast aside all the work already done, it was decided 
this new version would be designed to simply replace 
the one that was already there. In essence is was a swap 
for improved visuals. It was a risk; the fans might not want to 
upgrade, or see this as an unnecessary change of direction: 
"We didn't want to split our community, but equally we didn't 
want to force migration over to RuneScape 2. The main 
challenge was getting players to understand that it was still 
the same game, it just looked and played a lot better, and 
gave us greater scope for content in the future." 

The solution to the problem was elegant; provide players 
the opportunity to move everything aver, and if there were 
those who didn't want to they could stay right 
where they were. "We had a grace period that 
allowed player to move their 'bank' from Classic 
to RuneScape 2," says Ogilvie, "but eventually they 
had to choose where it would stay. Getting players 
to decide which version they wanted to play was 
difficult - the promise of a better future versus the 
comfort of what they knew. It's the same challenge 
with any significant engine development or rework 
to a system. In addition, we didn't want to slow down our 
update rate too much, so it was a busy time for us." 

On its release, RuneScape 2 was named simply 
RuneScape, while its older version became RuneScape 
Classic. The uptake in this grace period was impressive, and 
hardly a surprise - the game was now better looking than 
ever, and it was futureproofed for fans. "We made it clear 
that new content would only be added to RuneScape 2," 
adds Ogilvie. "I found it fascinating to learn about features 
the players had grown to lave and rely on versus those things 
in game we knew were - to us - badly designed and in need 
of improvement." The development of the two was symbiotic, 
with any new content also going into the new RuneScape. 
With its success and the large number of players moving to 
the upgraded version, all future content endeavours were 
moved onto the enhanced version of RuneScape, with "staff 
only maintaining and bug fixing Classic". 


The new engine rolled out in March 2004, with only 
a month later Blizzard's own MMO World Of Warcraft 
being released. Though the viewpoints and art design 
differed, the visuals were comparable and it was clear 
WoW was going to shake the foundation of the MMO world. 
But RuneScape remained stoic in the face of Blizzard's 
behemoth. Its approach - to focus on accessibility over 
everything else - meant its fanbase had no interest in 
departing. Were there any concerned at Jagex about 
WoW's release? "Surprisingly not," says Ogilvie. "Update 
frequency and accessibility were still our trump cards and 
actually our audience weren't that interested in Wo W. I think 


/ it did affect the rate of new customers, but frankly we 
were struggling to hire staff and build new servers fast 
enough to deal with the rate we did have, which was still 
tens of thousands of new accounts every single day." 

JAGEX HAD FOUND success in the simplest of things; 
despite having a team of only 50 people it was still producing 
content faster than any other MMO on the market, and even 
the might of Blizzard wasn't able to compete. Its fanbase was 
loyal and RuneScape, it was clear, wasn't going anywhere. 
By this point there were millions of players, and as Jagex 
set about expanding into France and Germany it was 
only going to become tougher to maintain such a huge 
community of players. "Incredibly rewarding, challenging, 
exhausting and satisfying, all at the same time," explains 
Ogilvie when asked how the team handled such a large 
playerbase. "So many people with so many opinions might 


MUCH OF THE CONTENT 
WAS INSPIRED BY 
FORUM POSTS 


106 


BEHIND THE SCENES RUNESCAPE 


+ 


> GAMING EVOLUTION EverQuest > RuneScape > World Of Warcraft 


+ 




Blizzard's success 
with WfoWwas 
making it a world 
players wanted 
to explore with 
no boundaries, 
but making it 
accessible too 


One of the earliest 
examples of 
MMOs, EverQuest 
set the foundation 
for a lot of the core 
elements we'd 
come to expect 
from the genre 


+ 

sound daunting, but with each opinion came an idea. So 
much of the content in the game was inspired by a forum 
post or an in-game conversation. Football managers often 
refer to the crowd as their 'twelfth man on the pitch' - our 
community is no different." 

RuneScape is still going strong today but controversy 
struck as recently as 2012 when it was announced that the 
game would be updated to feature microtransactions. It 
might be every gamer's most despised word - second only 
to 'season pass DLC’, perhaps - but RuneScape fans felt 
particularly embittered by the news. Microtransactions had 
previously been described by Jagex CEO Mark Gerhard 
as a 'stealth tax' - so the news that the MMO would soon 
implement them became a point of contention for the 
outspoken community. "It was a new - and additional 
- business model for RuneScape, so we naturally 
had lots of reservations," says Ogilvie. "However, the 
introduction of microtransactions was a way for us to 
increase our investment in RuneScape s development, 
raise its production values, and explore new technology. 
It certainly wasn't a reaction to the rest of the industry's 
move towards microtransactions, more a way of ensuring 
that RuneScape would continue to grow and evolve as it 
always has. It was a big change for us but actually it didn't 
result in a drop in subscribers. Of course, there were some 
in the community at the time who were reticent about the 
introduction of microtransactions, but over time they've 


CALL OF 
THE WILD 


■ THE WILDERNESS 
has had something 
of a chequered past. 
This was the collective 
name for the PvP 
zones implemented 
into every RuneScape 
server (outside of 
the later-added PvP 
worlds), and was a 
high-risk location 
where other players 
could fight one 
another. The winner 
of a PvP bout would 
be able to claim their 
opponent's items 
as reward, which 
meant it was a very 


difficult place to visit. 
As problems with 
bots and real-world 
trading began to 
rise, however, the 
Wilderness became 
a headache for 
Jagex, who didn't 
want to remove the 
PvP functionality but 
understood that its 
inclusion was giving 
the problems a place 
to fester. It's had a 
lot of development 
attention over the 
years, and had even 
been removed entirely 
at one point. 


seen that they don't fundamentally change 
the game they've always loved." 

From its very inception, RuneScape has 
had a very core ideology running through 
it; to make it accessible to everyone and 
to produce content quickly and efficiently. 

It takes a lot to remain relevant in the MMO 
genre, but RuneScape does even after all these 
years. More than that, however, Jagex released 
Old School RuneScape in 2013, proving the worth 
of its original creation even with the announcement 
of an enhanced, modem equivalent in RuneScape 3 
(released in June 2013). Combined with RuneScape 3 
the player count across the franchise each month 
rests in the millions, but alone the original RuneScape 
- now known as a separate entity named Old School 
RuneScape - tallies up thousands upon thousands of 
players, with a daily average of between 10,000-20,000 
simultaneous players. The industry's focus on technology 
often means posterity is rare, but Jagex has proven the worth 
of maintaining older servers. 

Few games - least of all MMOs - can boast an active 
community more than a decade after its original release, but 
then this is a testament to the value it has kept on to all these 
years. But has the release of Old School RuneScape and its 
success informed Jagex of anything? "ft's taught us that while 
as designers we might want to fix everything that appears 
broken in a game, " explains Ogilvie, "people love that game 
and love its quirks and complexities. If anything, they want 
more like that, not less. Never underestimate the 
power of a comfort blanket." 


107 





SONIC THE HEDGEHOG 

SONIC TEAM [SEGA] 

SEGA GENESIS/MASTER SYSTEM 1991 


ALONG WITH A funky, attention-grabbing soundtrack (something that would go on to be a 
steady Sonic trope), the opening screen of the very first Sonic The Hedgehog perfectly summed up 
what Sega was gunning for with the Sonic franchise; Sonic's furrowed brow, cheeky smirk and gentle 
finger wag showed attitude and captured his personality straight away, while the scrolling background 
showed the parallax 16 -bit graphics in all their tropical splendour - evoking feelings of escaping, holidaying. 
The clear Sega logo, amongst the stars and stripes (and wings) of the splash screen, was designed to appeal to 
a distinctly American audience - and if the success of the first four Sonic games is anything to go by, it worked. 



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THE H e T R □ GUIDE TO 


As World Of Warcraft prepares to celebrate its tenth 
anniversary, games™ decided it was the perfect time to look 
back at Blizzard's impressive back catalogue 









prA 





THE RETRO GUIDE TO... BLIZZARD 


NOWADAYS IT'S HARD 
to imagine PC gaming 
without thinking of 
Blizzard. It's responsible for three 
of the most important franchises 
on the platform - World Oi 
Warcralt, Diablo and Starcralt - 
and has had phenomenal success 
with its WoW spinoff Hearthstone. 

Once upon a time though, 
things were very different for the 
fledgling developer. Originally 
formed in 1991 by Frank Pearce, 
Allen Adham and Michael 
Morhaime, Blizzard was originally 
known as Silicon & Synapse 
and started off creating Amiga, 

PC and Mac ports for a range of 
games, including Battle Chess 
and Castles. That all changed 
with the release of RPM Racing, 


its first standalone game for the 
Super Nintendo. Other console 
releases quickly followed, 
including Rock n Roll Racing, 

The Lost Vikings and The Death 
And Return Ot Superman, but it 
was the release of the real-time 
strategy hit Warcralt: Ores & 
Humans that saw the Irvine-based 
developer turn its focus to the PC 
market. The move was a shrewd 
one, with Blizzard Entertainment 
now being one of the biggest 
players in the market thanks in no 
small part to its groundbreaking 
success with the likes of Diablo III 
and World OI Warcralt. 

Join us as we celebrate this 
gaming giant and look at its key 
releases from the past 23 years. 
How many have you played? 


RPM RACING 1991 


| SYSTEM: SNES 



Competent is the best way 
to describe Blizzard's first 
original entry in the world of 
videogames. It's essentially a 
remake of Electronic Arts' popular 
Commodore 64 game Racing 
Destruction Set, and allows you 
to race around your own courses, 
or compete in premade ones with 
a variety of different vehicles. 
While the racing itself is rather 
average, it's worth visiting as it's 


one of the first SNES games to 
utilise the console's distinctive 
High Resolution Graphics Mode. 
While the aesthetics give a good 
indication of the technical success 
that would mark many of Blizzard's 
later games, the uninspired 
gameplay and tiny playing window 
made RPM Racing needlessly 
difficult. Oh and that's an acronym 
for Radical Psycho Machine but 
you already knew that. Right? 



THE LOST VIKINGS 1992 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Now this is more like it. The Lost Vikings is clunky and a little 
awkward to control at times, but also a great example of the 
imagination and creativity that would form the hallmark of many 
later Blizzard games. A bizarre mishmash that incorporates puzzling, 
platforming and strategy, The Lost Vikings sees you managing your 
time between the titular Nords: Erik, Baleog and Olaf. Each has his 
own unique abilities - Erik runs faster and can jump, Baleog utilises 
close and long range weapons, while Olaf can use his shield to block 
enemies and projectiles. The Vikings themselves are full of character, 
while its success on the SNES saw it moving to numerous other 
platforms, from the Amiga CD32, to the Game Boy Advance. 




ROCK N' ROLL RACING 1993 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Blizzard learnt quickly from the mistakes of RPM Racing, delivering 
a better sequel that is immense fun to play. Out came the high-res 
visuals, more weapons were introduced, the plinky-plonky soundtrack 
was replaced with a selection of heavy rock riffs, while the handling 
and track design was greatly improved. The end result is an 
entertaining racer that offers convincing physics, fierce competition 
and a great sense of progression. It's the superb renditions of rock 
tunes that many will (rightly) remember Rock n Roll Racing for. 


BLACKTHORNE 

1994 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Although The Lost Vikings hinted 
at Blizzard's interest in exploring 
game worlds, it was this effort that 
proved the developer was able to 
create interesting game worlds. 
Blackthorne is an epic, brooding 
adventure that calls to mind the 
likes of Flashback and Prince OI 
Persia. Protagonist Kyle is able in 
the platform stakes but packs a 
mean punch thanks to the meaty 
shotgun he carries. Gameplay 
is similar to the aforementioned 
Flashback, with shadows of the 
SNES port of Alien 3. 



Ill 










JUSTICE LEAGUE TASK FORCE 1995 


HIGGOGO 



WARCRAFT: ORCS 


SYSTEM: DOS. MAC 


Warcralt certainly wasn't the 
first RTS game, but it was one 
of the first to really realise the 
possibilities of the still fledgling 
genre and help take it in new 
and exciting directions. The most 
notable difference to its peers is 
the distinctive fantasy setting. 

The sci-fi elements found in the 
likes of Command & Conquer 
and Dune 2 are entirely missing, 
instead focusing on an age-old 
battle between humans and ores. 
It features similar resource 
management to its peers; the 


& 


HUMANS 1994 


ability to group together small 
parties and has a surprisingly 
slick interface for its age. 

There's no denying that it feels 
rather clunky to play now, but ■ 
the ability to host matches 
between Mac and DOS players, 
compete in different scenarios 
and use spawn installations 
felt incredibly fresh at the time. 
This was a genuinely excellent 
strategy game and in fact was 
the title that's largely responsible 
for making Blizzard the success 
it is today. 


Blizzard's sequel to its first strategy hit was another big success 
eventually shifting over 2 million units. That's a lot of Ore slaying. 

Like the original game, Tides Ol Darkness consists of two separate 
single player campaigns, one for Ores, the other for humans. It also 
boasts the same brilliant resource gathering and controls that made 
the original so popular to play. Simply replicating a past classic isn't 
enough for Blizzard though, so it introduced an insane amount of extras 
that further enhanced its fantastic original. 

The landlocked gameplay of the original is expanded with the 
introduction of flying and seafaring craft; new races can be aligned 
with; it is possible to build a huge number of new structures, while 
the base resources of gold and lumber have been swollen with the 
introduction of oil. The Fog Of War mechanic has also been 
tweaked, making for a far better balanced game. In fact 

everything about Tides Ol Darkness screams 
improvement, from its fantastic 

cartoony looking visuals to its slick 
and versatile interface. The 
console versions have new 
control systems and include 
the expansion Beyond The 
Dark Portal. 


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THE DEATH AND RETURN 
OF SUPERMAN 1994 


SYSTEM: MEGA DRIVE, SNES 


Well this is an achievement. Against all odds, Blizzard made a 
Superman game that wasn't terrible. Based on the popular comic 
strip, Death And Return is worth playing because it allows you 
to control five different characters: Superman, The Cyborg, The 
Eradicator, Superboy and Steel. 

They all feel fairly different to each other, but there's no denying 
that this is nothing more than a game about hitting things and 
hitting them hard. Now we're normally fine with this, but the 
combat of Death And Return is fairly run-of-the-mill and the lack of 
a multiplayer means that anyone other than a Superman fan will 
soon get bored. Still, being able to fly - albeit for limited periods - 
is a rather nice touch. 


SYSTEM: MEGA DRIVE, SNES 


There's a reason everyone forgot Blizzard's Street Fighter //-inspired 
one-on-one fighter. It's rubbish. Okay, rubbish might be a little harsh, 
but there's no denying this is a very forgettable brawler with few 
redeeming features. The sprites look decent but hitting your opponent 
rarely feels satisfying, while the difficulty is all over the shop. Kudos to 
Blizzard for making Aquaman as capable as every other hero here, but 
this is pretty dire stuff. In fact, we were right the first time. It's rubbish. 



"WARCRAFT II BOASTS THE SAME 

BRILLIANT RESOURCE GATHERING 

AND CONTROLS THAT MADE THE 

ORIGINAL SO POPULAR TO PLAY" 


WARCRAFT II: TIDES OF DARKNESS 

1995 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 



112 











THE RETRO GUIDE TO... BLIZZARD 


DIABLO 1996 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 




Diablo is another example of 
a Blizzard game that takes a 
well worn genre and turns it into 
something far more exciting. 

At its most basic Diablo owes 
fealty to the likes of Dandy and 
Gauntlet, early dungeon crawlers 
that allowed you to descend 
into the underworld and duff up 
a seemingly endless supply of 
monsters, but it feels far more 
epic. This in part is due to the 
three fleshed out characters: 
Warrior, Rogue and Sorcerer 
that all play differently to each 
other and in turn offer plenty of 
replay value once the game has 
been completed. It's the story that 
really sets it apart from other 
games of the time, that and the 
sheer amount of loot you can pick 
up as you play. 

While Diablo has a fresh take 
on the war between heaven and 
hell, it also allows you to find 
a huge selection of insanely 
powerful items. While you'll fear 
exploring the deeper sections 
of Tristram (the village where 
Diablo is set) the sheer power 
be found there will spur you on 
- often to your inevitable doom. 

It clearly plays best with four 
players, but Diablo still works 
extremely well when playing solo. 



THE LOST VIKINGS 2 1997 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Blizzard's sequel is a rather unsatisfying one. It was released five 
years after the original game and straddles generations (the Saturn, 
PlayStation and PC versions were handled by Beam Software). 

The structure of The Lost Vikings 2 is the same as the first game: use your 
Viking's unique skills to traverse the puzzle-like levels. Unfortunately, the 
addition of two new characters, Fang the wolf and Scorch the dragon, 
make the game feel a little messier. While you still only ever control three 
Vikings at a time, the new abilities - Fang can climb walls and Scorch 
can fly and throw fireballs - don't gel as well together and it feels like 
Blizzard's game is trying to do too much. It works far better on the 32-bit 
systems, due to a lack of competition on those platforms at the time, but 
age has not been kind to it. 


AN INTERVIEW 
WITH DAVE BREVIK 

Diablo's co-creator on how it came to be 


What inspired Diablo ? 

There were many, many 
games that influenced 
Diablo's design, but if I had to 
narrow it down to a handful, 

I would say that Moria - a 
Unix-based text game - and 
Waiciaft were the biggest. 

Diablo isn't like many 
traditional RPGs. Why 
is that? 

I was never a big fan of elves, 
unicorns and dragons. I 
thought that a zombie-infested j 
game with demons was a 
far more attractive prospect 
than the Tolkien-esque stuff. : 
We wanted a far grittier 
atmosphere to the game. I 
never really set out to make 
it strictly for a more mature 
audience, but we made it the 
way we found most interesting ! 
and different. 

Why create an action RPG? 

Because of the mechanics 
of Diablo's real-time 
environment, we had to 
change how the numbers 
worked for this sort of game. 
Diablo had to be balanced in 
such a way that it was action 
packed and involving tor 
players. With pen and paper 
RPGs, fights can take a very 
long time, because each round 
can last ten to fifteen minutes 
in a normal-sized group. As 
a result, the numbers are 
different. You don't want 
there to be 25 rounds, but 
you might want that out of a : 
Diablo boss monster. 


t 



Is it true you wanted to 
make Diablo as accessible 
as possible? 

We joked that Diablo needed 
to pass the 'mom test', so 
we asked ourselves: is it 
simple enough that my mom 
could play it, or will she not 
understand it? If it was too 
complicated then we either 
changed it so that it wasn't, 
or introduced it over time in a 
step-by-step fashion so that 
complex concepts were broken 
down over time. We made 
the game extremely easy to 
use and accessible to a wide 
range of gamers. This was 
done to widen the audience 
and make it more of a mass- 
market kind of game. 

Why did you create random 
dungeons? 

I love random content, 
because you never know 
what's going to happen. With 
planned-out levels, you can 
balance the game easier and 
create certain situations you 
want the player to go through. 
But once the player goes 
through that content once, 
it's far less interesting to go 
through it again. 

Why did you implement the 
multiplayer mode? 

Blizzard's president 
proposed Battle.net. This was 
clearly a good idea and we 
agreed to it even though it 
meant extra work. We had to 
go back into the code to retro- 
fit much of multiplayer into it. 


•V, 



113 








St*»( 


♦ 


3900 



STARCRAFT 1998 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


The beauty of Blizzard's hit RTS lies in the sheer diversity of 
its three races: the Protoss, Terrans and Zerg. Unlike many real- 
time strategy games of the time, each race has its own distinct 
abilities, making them stand apart from each other and lead to 
different styles of play. Despite these differences, the game itself is 
beautifully balanced, ensuring that no one faction has the upper 
hand. While the single player campaign mode is huge, consisting 
of 30 stages, it's the finely tuned multiplayer and level editor that 
helped Blizzard's game build a huge fanbase. The controls are 
great, with Blizzard taking everything it learned from Warcraft and 
creating a system that's fast and flexible. 


DIABLO II 2000 


SYSTEM: WINDOWS, MAC 


Everything about Blizzard's sequel 
was bigger and better than the first. 
Graphically it was sensational, with dark 
gloomy locations that contrasted greatly 
with the limited environments of Diablo. 
The character roster has also been 
revisited with five new heroes: Amazon, 
Necromancer, Barbarian, Sorceress and 
Paladin. As with Diablo, each plays 
completely differently to each other, while 
their skill trees allow for an impressive 
amount of customisation. 



v> 


WARCRAFT III: 
REIGN OF CHAOS 

2002 


SYSTEM: WINDOWS, MAC 


Another smash hit for Blizzard. 
The most obvious change is that 
there are two new races, Night 
Elves and Undead, with their own 
distinct skill sets. Creeps - hostile 
AI units that will attack anyone 
- are also a big addition to the 
game, adding an additional fear 
factor and making the mining 
of gold and other resources 
particularly dangerous. A day 
and night cycle has also been 
included, which changes the 
gameplay as creeps fall asleep 
at night, making scouting all the 
more effective. By far the biggest 
change is the introduction of 
heroes, powerful units that level up 
and unlock a range of useful skills 
and spells. Add in an expansive 
world editor and it becomes hard 
to see how Blizzard could possibly 
improve its classic in the future. 

In a similar vein, no new Warcraft 
games have been released since 
The Frozen Throne in 2003. 



WORLD OF 
WARCRAFT 2004 


SYSTEM: WINDOWS, MAC 



We won't focus too much on 
Blizzard's game changer as it's 
pretty obvious to all why it's so 
important, but let's just say it 
changed MMORPGs 
One of the most 
noticeable aspects of WoW 
was that it wasn't massively 
original. Instead it 
simply took many of the 
elements from other 
similar games and 
added a level of polish 
that immediately 
made it stand out 
from its peers. Talent 
trees, quest systems, 
immersive lore and a 
near bug free launch all 
helped Blizzard's game 
on release, while its 
general easiness and 
accessibility ensured 
it picked up a huge 
number of new players 
who typically didn't 
play MMORPGs. 


EXPANDING The many Blizzard expansions 

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The first expansion 

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fifth act, two new 

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including new items 

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(Barbarian and Bard). 

AI when playing alone. 

and weapons. 

Warcraft II. 

Paladin classes. 













THE RETRO GUIDE TO... BLIZZARD 



STARCRAFT II: WINGS OF LIBERTY 


SYSTEM: WINDOWS, MAC 

Excitement for Blizzard's sequel was so great that it sold over 
three million copies in its first month on sale. The excitement was 
well placed, as Starcralt II is arguably one of the best examples 
of the genre to date. Unlike the original game, the campaign of 
Wings OI Liberty focuses largely on the Terrans and is largely 
non-linear. It's also packed with variety, constantly challenging 
what you'd expect from a typical example of the genre and 
making it fresh and exciting. Wings OI Liberty delights in throwing 
curveballs at you, but also makes you think on your feet thanks to 
many of the returning units having new skills to master. 



HEARTHSTONE: HEROES OF 
WARCRAFT 2014 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Blizzard's latest game has been a resounding success. Like Magic: 
The Gathering it's a collectible card game, but unlike its digital peer, 
Hearthstone is not trying to gouge you at every possible opportunity. 
Granted you'll have to start spending a bit of dosh if you want to 
compete in the big leagues, but it's possible to build up respectable 
decks without spending. Based on the Warcralt universe, Hearthstone 
features 10 characters, each with their own unique spells and abilities, 
from Warriors to Priests. The addition of these heroes works far better 
than the similar Planeswalkers of Magic, while their large number of 
unlockable cards ensures you'll be dipping in for more. As well as one- 
on-one duelling, Hearthstone also offers a drafting option called The 
Arena. You draft a deck of 30 cards by selecting from a choice of three 
each turn, then take on human opponents until you lose three times. 



DIABLO III 2012 


SYSTEM: VARIOUS 


Despite setting a new record on release 
for selling 3.5 million units on its first 
day of sale, things haven't been easy for 
Diablo III. It was beset by internet issues 
on release due to Blizzard's insistence on 
it being always online, while its Auction 
Houses proved so controversial they were 
eventually shut down earlier this year. 
Early issues aside, Diablo III is quite 
simply the best game about hitting 
monsters you're ever likely to play. 


HEROES OF THE 
STORM 2014 


SYSTEM: WINDOWS. MAC 


Still in Beta, Blizzard's first 
MOBA already looks like it's going 
to solve one of the genre's biggest 
problems: accessibility. It eases 
you in, with easy-to-understand 
rules and great presentation. It's 
a free to play game, supported 
by micropayments, delivering a 
product full of Blizzard's usual 
deft touches. 



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FROM: WOW 

FROM: WOW 

FROM: WOW 

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FROM: DIABLO III 

YEAR: 

YEAR: 

YEAR: 

YEAR: 

YEAR: 

Ooh, your characters 

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This expansion 

The first expansion 

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can now hit level 80. 

as it helped usher in 

raises the level cap 

for Starcralt II focuses 

stuff on offer here. 

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a complete overhaul of 

to 90, introduces 

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a new continent. 

ruthless Zerg faction. 

Crusader is available, 

to explore the icy 

from major class 

Pandaria. It also adds 

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there's a fifth chapter, 

continent of Northrend 

changes to a complete 

Pandaren (a group 

from Wings OI Liberty 

the level cap is now 70 

and a new hero class 

overhaul of the talent 

of anthropomorphic 

and features a number 

and Adventure Mode 

in the form of the 

system. The level cap 

Pandas) and the 

of new units for each of 

lets you explore every 

Death Knight. 

here hit 85. 

Monk class. 

the races. 

region in the game. 


115 











GAME CHANGERS 


* roooo 


TOMB RAIDER 


Released: 25 October 1996 Publisher: Eidos Interactive Developer: Core Design 



L J 

Released back in 1996, Tomb Raider unleashed Lara Croft on the world - 
who would become more than just a protagonist, but a legitimate celebrity 


■ CAST YOUR MIND back to 1996 - in the world 
J of gaming, 3D was new. It was unknown 
■ ■ ■ ■ ground and a lot of console developers were 
still testing the waters. Moving away from the pre- 
rendered backgrounds and the isometric views of the 
early PSOne games, Tomb Raider was arguably the 
first action-adventure game to do 3D properly. The 
original instalment of Tomb Raider hit a laser-focused 
sweet spot in the blooming Nineties games industry 
- it presented a good, well-made, innovative game, 
while simultaneously appealing directly to the teen 
and young adult market. Tomb Raider observed what 
Super Mario 64 was doing with 3D platforming, and 
took the genre to PlayStation's gamers - a move, it 
would turn out - that would cement Tomb Raider and 
Lara Croft's place in gaming history forever. 

Tomb Raider's release came six months after Super 
Mario 64: a game that was, for a lot of people, perfect. 
It introduced watertight 3D mechanics and presented 
them in a familiar and accessible way. Tomb Raider 
went the exact opposite direction, appealing to 
the PlayStation's more hardcore audience. Rather 
than applying to the cutesy, family-friendly template 
Mario had set out, Tomb Raider focused on violence 


and exploration - taking its cues from the myriad 
action-adventure films that popularised Hollywood 
during the early Nineties. Tomb Raider was an 
archaeological fantasy - a benchmark game in the 
evolution of action platforming and woven deeply into 
the DNA of the likes of Uncharted, the recent Prince 
Of Persia games and even more action-orientated 
affairs like InFamous. Lara moved incredibly well for 
a character designed in 1996; her acrobatics were 
expertly designed and everything always felt natural 
- flipping, jumping, side-stepping, scaling walls: it 
was all a pleasure to do. Supported by clear visual 
language - you always knew where to climb, what 
to grab on to or how far to jump - Tomb Raider truly 
brought platforming into a safe 3D realm. 

The structure of the game was simple - explore 
this, solve this puzzle, fight these enemies. Rinse, 
repeat. But therein lay the game's success - it 
didn't overcomplicate things, it didn't push its core 
mechanics too far. The game introduced you to a 
few abilities and created puzzles in which every 
ability was fully explored. Tomb Raider had a sense 
of skill progression that made the player feel smart 
for manipulating, even though it was mostly scripted 


116 


GAME CHANGERS: TOMB RAIDER 


THE ANATOMY OF TOMB RAIDER I ^E^T^LAMINTHEFIR^P^ACE? 



THE CITY OF DERBY 


★ Core Design's offices in 
the Midlands city of Derby 
actually played a big part 
in forming the basis for the 
design of Croft Manor - one of 
the most iconic places players 
come across in any Tomb 
Raider game. The city of Derby 
honoured Lara's legacy by 
renaming one of their main 
roads 'Lara Croft Way'. 



★ Surprising exactly no-one, 
Lara was originally developed 
to be similar to a female Indy - 
even her name bore the 
same roots, starting out as 
Laura Cruz. As Core Design 
began fleshing Laura's 
character out more, they 
decided she needed to be 
more English - specifically 'a 
proper English lady'. 



★ Lara's (in)famous bosom 
was the result of a modelling 
accident: when playing with 
Lara's model, designer Toby 
Gard accidentally moved the 
bosom measurements up to 
150 per cent of the placeholder 
size. The other designers saw 
the alteration and encouraged 
Gard to keep it - the entire six- 
man team 'loved it'. 



INTERNATIONAL 

MYTHOLOGY 


★ By having Lara spelunk her 
way through caves and tombs 
around the world, Core had the 
licence to include all manner of 
legendary beasts, from Greek to 
Egyptian. By tapping into more 
questionable parts of ancient 
history (re: Atlantis), Core could 
also handily invent mythologies 
to throw into the mix. 


- the illusion of this much control made everyone 
playing the game feel brilliant for solving this 
fiendish puzzle or taking out this ridiculous enemy. 

Tomb Raider's other strength laid in its ambitious 
environments - looking back now, the textures and 
blocky objects seem amateurish, but at the time, 
the visuals were breaking new ground. From the 
claustrophobic confines of stone corridors and 
cave routes to grand, expansive halls forgotten for 
millennia, each location seemed relevant and logical 

- the world building in the game was masterful. 

■■■ THE CONSIDERED ARCHITECTURAL approach 
to building the game sat alongside smooth animations, 
impressive loading speeds and movement, advanced 
lighting and application of colour - all these elements 
combined to produce a game that was not just pleasant 
to look at, but was technically sophisticated. Compared 
to the low resolutions and primary colours of Mario, 
Tomb Raider was a visual masterpiece. 

The game's treatment of Lara as its protagonist 
was both groundbreaking and controversial - Lara 
was the first female action hero the games industry 


THE GAME'S 
TREATMENT OF 
LARA AS ITS 
PROTAGONIST WAS 
GROUNDBREAKING 
AND CONTROVERSIAL 


h. 


Tomb Raider 
turned the fortunes 
of Eidos around - 
the year before the 
game's release, Eidos 
suffered a $2.6 million 
loss. After Tomb 
Raider, profits soared 
to $14.5 million. 

There was never 
a cheat code on 
console games to 
unlock 'nude Lara' - 
but there was a patch 
for PC that applied 
the naked skin to 
Lara's model. Eidos 
sent out a cease and 
desist to all sites 
hosting the patch. 

The game was 
originally developed 
on Sega Saturn 
development kits, 
but Tomb Raider 
would eventually 
find success on 
PlayStation, and 
the first instalment 
was the only Saturn 
game in the series. 


had seen and, while the original itself took care to 
treat her job as a protagonist seriously, her sexualised 
appearance and infamous proportions were also 
clearly marketing tools (albeit ridiculously successful 
ones). Lara straddled an uncanny middle ground: 
she was daring, inspirational and ferocious, but she 
also ran around the jungle in hotpants and a low-cut 
top. Lara's physical presence caught the attention of 
Timberland and Lucozade - whether she liked it or 
not, she was pushing gaming into mainstream media 
in ways the previous gaming mascots never could. 
Lara wasn't for children; she was an advert for adult 
gaming, something the console market hadn't had the 
luxury of showing off before. 

Lara's character was always admirably set up, 
though; where Eidos could have thrown Lara at 
you and said 'Look: sexy action lady!' it didn't, for 
the most part, opting instead to humanise Lara in a 
realistic and emphatic way. Lara was an upper-class 
millionaire, living in the lap of luxury and knowing 
little of struggle. When her plane crashes on her 
return from a skiing trip, Lara becomes a survivalist 
- her return to civilisation bores her, so she sets out to 
globetrot, seeking treasure and excitement. 

Chances are, back in 1996, you'd never been 
plonked in the middle of a jungle and been given 
the simple 'Survive!' goal before. You and Lara were 
going through these learning curves at the same 
time - and that narrative conceit made you associate 
more with her situation, bringing you into the game 
more. Lara was a determined lady, out for herself, out 
for plunder and glory. She was Nathan Drake before 
Nathan Drake - the Indiana Jones of videogames, 
both in terms of legacy and iconic status. And that, 
more than anything, is why Lara remains so strongly 
rooted in gaming's collective consciousness. 


117 










GAME CHANGERS 


m roooo 


THE 10 SPELUNKING LESSONS 
TOMB RAIDER TAUGHT US 

■S LARA'S SHEER DISREGARD FOR ANY HEALTH AND SAFETY 
■■■■ RULES REMAIN INSPIRATIONAL TO THIS DAY HERE ARE THE 10 
BEST LESSONS LARA TAUGHT US ABOUT THE ART OF SURVIVALISM 



A T-REX IS NO MATCH FOR A 
HANDGUN (TOMB RAIDER [1996]) 

■ LARA TAUGHT US that if you come across an enormous T-Rex 
in the middle of a clearing in a thick, tropical jungle - don't panic. 
Merely pull out your handguns, sink a couple of magazines into its 
flank whiles strafing about, and you'll be just fine. Just make sure 
you don't get too close - those teeth are sharp. 



GARDEN ASSAULT COURSES ARE THE 
WAY TO GREATNESS (TOMB RAIDER II) 

■ THE FIRST TOMB RAIDER only let you explore the interior 
of Lara's not-so-humble-abode, but once the sequel came out, 
you realised the sassy spelunker had a whole training ground 
in her back yard. That made us think: if we had those resources 
available to us, we'd be an invincible tomb raider too, surely? 



NEEDY BUTLERS CAN BE DEALT WITH 
(TOMB RAIDER II) 

■ WINSTON - LARA'S LOYAL butler that would follow you 
around, wherever you went - could be seen as a little needy. If 
you felt that he needed to 'cool off' a little, you could just lead him 
to the freezer and lock him in. Sounds cruel, but Winston always 
turned out okay in the end, right? Right? 



EXPLODING YOURSELF IS BAD 
(TOMB RAIDER II) 

■ WALK ONE STEP forward, one step back, turn around three 
times and jump forward. BANG: Lara is exploded into a blocky 
spatter of body parts and flies around the screen. We tried re- 
creating this bizarre sequence in real life and it just looked like a 
weird interpretive dance. Don't try this at home, kids. 


118 







GAME CHANGERS: TOMB RAIDER 


■jt 


v 


f 


SOMETIMES IT'S BETTER TOJUST 
STAY AT HOME (TOMB RAIDER [2013]) 

■ AFTER YOUR STUDIES, do you fancy blowing off responsibility 
and travelling the globe? Maybe you want to find yourself, or 
visit that country you've loved all your life? 2013's Tomb Raider 
taught us that a gap year isn't always what it's cracked up to be 
especially if you end up heading to the Dragon's Triangle. 



LONDON'S UNDERGROUND IS FULL 
OF FREAKS (TOMB RAIDER III) 

■ A LOT OF DIFFERENT narratives take a guess as to what really 
dwells beneath London's cobbled streets, but Tomb Raider III 
saw a catsuited Lara delve into the depths of our capital to find 
a group of narcissistic troglodytes that burnt away their flesh in 
search of eternal youth. 



YOUNG EXPLORERS LOVE BUNCHES 
(TOMB RAIDER: THE LAST REVELATION) 

■ WHEN WE GET a flashback to young Lara in The Last 
Revelation, we see that she's got her hair tied up in bunches in 
place of her trademark ponytail. Maybe she was being extra- 
cautious - or maybe it was just Crystal Dynamics saying, "How 
do we make Lara look younger? . . .Bunches!" 



WHEN UNDERWATER, DON'T ALWAYS 
HEAD UP (TOMB RAIDER II) 

■ AFTER STRIPPING DOWN and changing into a wetsuit in front 
of a po-faced Tibetan Monk, Lara dives down into a cave pool 
to chase a submarine. After the pilot of the vessel is chewed up 
by a shark, you're given 30 seconds to find air. You have to fight 
against instinct, though: going up will only lead to a watery grave. 



MIDAS' TOUCH IS A REAL THING 
(TOMB RAIDER ANNIVERSARY) 

■ DEMONSTRATING SOME OF Tomb Raiders most original 
puzzling and interesting level design, the hand of Midas is a 
death trap waiting to happen. Anyone who is familiar with the old 
Greek myth will know that Midas turns anything he touches into 
gold. Apparently, this also includes Lara. 


THE GRAPPLE HOOK IS YOUR BEST 
FRIEND (TOMB RAIDER: LEGEND) 

■ AS OF TOMB RAIDER: Legend, the technology had advanced 
enough to allow Lara a lot more animation freedom. As a result, 
she handily came across the grapple hook, which allowed her to 
wall run, create pulley systems and play with the game's physics 
to get her to new destinations and secret passages. 


119 









The studio that 
brought the 
Birdman into 
our homes. 

slapped 
Bruce Willis 
on a PSOne 
and kept the 
Guitar Hero 
dream alive is 
no more. We 
look back at 
the ups - and 
downs - of 
Neversoft 


AFTER TENS OF millions of sales, some 
of the highest-rated releases of all time (at 
least according to Metacritic) and handling 
some of the biggest licences in gaming, Neversoft 
was simply folded up and incorporated into Infinity 
Ward. True to form, the studio didn't go out quietly, 
as a cathartic burning of the Neversoft logo-cum- 
mascot - a skewered eyeball - was hosted outside the 
studio's office. And that was that. It was a sad end for 
a studio that, at one point, was involved in titles that 
pretty much everyone who has touched a videogame 
had played at some point. In the late-'90s there was 
hardly a party that went by without someone breaking 
out a version of Tony Hawk's Pro Skater - and some 
years later the same was true, this time with one of the 
numerous Guitar Hero titles Neversoft developed. 

But a studio doesn't close for no reason. Its people 
aren't deemed more of a fit integrated into another, 
different studio unless there's something wrong. If 
Neversoft of 2014 was the same Neversoft of 15 years 
prior, this wouldn't have happened. Because, as with 
most stories of this ilk, Neversoft was a developer that 



■ After 20 years of making games, Neversoft was merged with Infinity 
Ward. Former staff marked the event by burning the studio logo. 


flew way too close to the sun - and while its ambition 
and quality of output was rarely in question, it wasn't 
enough to avoid that plummet. 

It was different in 1994, when Neversoft came into 
being. Malibu Interactive was a shrinking studio and 
Mick West, a programmer at Malibu, was asked by 
coworker Joel Jewett if he wanted to create a new 
studio: "It was Joel's idea", West told gamesTM, "We 
were all at Malibu Interactive, and lots of people were 
leaving to start their own companies, and it seemed 
like an obvious step. Joel approached me, and I 
suggested Chris [Ward]." 

■■■ SO IT WAS that the three came together and 
formed Neversoft - one American (Jewett) and two 
native Yorkshiremen. "It helped with communication", 
West laughed, "although Joel couldn't understand 
what Chris was saying half the time at first." These 
communication issues didn't stop the new team from 
grabbing its first contract - a licensed game in 1995, 
based on the Skeleton Warriors cartoon. There's a 
reason you don't remember the game. Or the cartoon. 

It took two years for Neversoft's next project to hit the 
shelves, and this wasn't even an original creation - just 
a port of the PC version of Shiny's MDK, bringing the 
shooter to PSOne. Then... nothing. Until fate smiled at 
the faltering studio, in the shape of Bruce Willis and 
his guming mug. 

Apocalypse released in 1998 to some fanfare - the 
star power of Willis and the fact it was a decent game 
meant it sold in the range of half a million copies. Not 
bad for a game Neversoft had turned around in a mere 
nine months. "It was originally an internal Activision 
project with one of its studios", West explained. "They 
had tried to do something very ambitious with an AI 
character following you around, [with] big levels and 
they had this complicated way of building everything. 


120 


1 

iC FEATURE WERSOFTi 



RIDING 

SUCCESS 

Neversoft's fortunes 
rode the wave, but 
was it all smooth 
sailing? 


■ SKELETON WARRIORS - 
80.000 

■ APOCALYPSE - 450,000 

■ TONY HAWK'S 
SKATEBOARDING - 

8.460.000 

■ SPIDER-MAN - 3,660,000 

■ TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 

2 - 7.250.000 

■ TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 

3 - 8,050.000 

■ TONY HAWK'S PRO SKATER 

4 - 5.750.000 

■ TONY HAWK'S 
UNDERGROUND - 6,470,000 

■ TONY HAWK'S 
UNDERGROUND 2 - 

4.920.000 

■ TONY HAWK'S AMERICAN 
WASTELAND - 4,420,000 

■ GUN -2.190.000 

■ TONY HAWK'S PROJECT 8 - 

2.500.000 

■ TONY HAWK'S PROVING 
GROUND - 2.100.000 

■ GUITAR HERO III: LEGENDS 
OF ROCK - 16,200,000 

■ GUITAR HERO: AEROSMITH 

- 4.170.000 

■ GUITAR HERO WORLD TOUR 

- 9,870,000 

■ GUITAR HERO: METALLICA 

- 2.620.000 

■ GUITAR HERO 5 - 4.770,000 

■ BAND HERO - 3,200.000 

■ GUITAR HERO: WARRIORS 
OF ROCK - 2,460,000 

■ CALL OF DUTY GHOSTS 

- 22.040.000 [Neversofl developed 

Extinction Mode only] 


*A11 sales figures are approximate, 
from VGChartz.com 


■■H "IT WASN'T REALLY working out so Activision 
asked us if we could repurpose some of our stuff that 
we were, basically, shopping around because we 
didn't have any work. We took on Apocalypse and got it 
done in about nine months. . . It was a simple, fun, solid 
game that made money, and was the first solid step on 
the road to Neversoft's success." 

After that came the game Neversoft is known for to 
this day, Tony Hawk's Skateboarding (or Pro Skater 
outside of PAL territories). While it would be a push to 
say what happened to Neversoft next was luck, there 
is the admission from West and numerous coworkers 
that, going into work on Tony Hawk's Skateboarding, 
there wasn't actually much idea as to what the studio 

was doing. "When we were doing Apocalypse j 

we knew we were doing a running-around 
shooting game", West said. 

"We knew how to make people run around, 
jump and shoot. But skating was very new. 

It was having an open-ended, a more open- 
world, a trick system where you could score 
points. The concepts were alien to people 
working on the game." But by bringing in 
the Birdman Tony Hawk himself and with the 
full support of Activision - whose initial idea 
the game was - Neversoft ended up creating 
a cultural phenomenon. It's the worst-kept secret in 
the history of gaming, but the formula to the original 
bunch of Tony Hawk's games was their simplicity. "You 
hold down the X button to crouch and you release to 
jump. It's very tight, you feel like you're controlling it," 
West explained. "It's not like you're pressing it and 
something happens a tenth of a second later. . . It was 
fun to simply skate around and jump off things without 
really doing anything because it felt so responsive." 

It was the perfect storm. Skateboarding was the new 
cool; the game had accessible and fun multiplayer 
(and compulsive single-player) action and a fantastic 
soundtrack. The first game sold just under 10 million 
copies worldwide and topped the charts pretty much 
everywhere. "It felt very good, because two years 
earlier the company very nearly closed", West said. 

But before Neversoft got to releasing the second 
Tony Hawk game, it had to go about doing another 


seemingly impossible thing: bringing out a licensed 
superhero game that wasn't absolute tosh. Spider- 
Man on the PSOne was that very game, and using the 
power of the Tony Hawk engine (and judicious use of 
fogging) gamers were presented with a genuine great. 
Neversoft could do no wrong. 

■■■ THIS STORY REPEATED itself for the next few 
years, with 2000 to 2002 seeing the Tony Hawk series 
expanded and improved upon in countless ways. The 
games kept getting better and better, but the increased 
complexity - along with the general jadedness of an 
audience seeing the same name on a game every 
year without fail and skating's fall in popularity - saw 


/ the series' sales take a downturn. Neversoft 
' dropped the number and the series was reborn 
as Tony Hawk's Underground - a skateboarding 
adventure game that allowed players to dismount 
their board, speak with other characters, take part in 
an overarching plotline and even drive cars. Oddly, it 
wasn't terrible. But this generation, even though it was 
hopped up on skate culture offshoots Jackass and Dirty 
Sanchez, didn't buy into Underground. It didn't even 
really buy it, and sales continued to fall. 

A brief segue into a decent, but forgettable western 
adventure in the form of Gun was all the original, 
non-licensed output seen from Neversoft in this period. 
The game was appreciated at the time for offering a 
pr e-Fted Dead Redemption 'GTA in the Wild West', but 
it wasn't a sign of things to come and Neversoft didn't 
create any more original IP So the studio went back to 
Tony Hawk, and for the second time there was a rebirth 


"I STILL MEET 
PEOPLE THAT TELL ME 
THAT TONY HAWK'S 
WAS A HUGE PART OF 
THEIR YOUTH'' 



121 







NEVERSOFT'S FIVE BEST 

Even though consistency was the studio's 
hallmark, there are still a few standout titles... 


1999 [PSOne, N64, Dreamcast, 
Game Boy Color, N-Gage] 

Skateboarding was already 
popular, people already knew 
who Lagwagon and Dead 
Kennedys were and skating 
games had been released 
before. But somehow, Tony 
Hawk's Skateboarding - Pro 
Skater outside of PAL regions - 
felt like something completely 
new. A total game-changer. 


TONY HAWK'S 
SKATEBOARDING 




SPIDER-MAN 2000 [PSOne, 

N64, Dreamcast, PC, Game Boy Color] 

You have the Tony Hawk engine, you 
want to make something else. What 
do you do? Make a Spider-Man tie-in, 
obviously. Better than that, you make a 
brilliant Spider-Man tie-in. It wasn't as 
open as later games - and oh god, the 
fog - but Spidey's Neversoft adventure 
was undoubtedly great. 



GUITAR HERO 5 

2009 [PS2, PS3, Wii, Xbox 360] 

It took Neversoft a few tries to get to 
grips with what was originally Harmonix's 
baby - but when it did, it did it hard 
(rock). Guitar Hero 5 was a brilliant mix 
of the fantastic, established mechanics 
with refined and improved elements 
everywhere else. Just don't mention the 
whole Kurt Cobain thing. 



TONY HAWK'S PRO 
SKATER 3 

2001 [PSOne, PS2, Gamecube, Xbox, 
GBC, GBA, PC, N64, Mac] 

Every game based on the Birdman 
brought something new, but the revert in 
Pro Skater 3 changed the combo system 
forever - and the Hawk series with it. Now 
combos could be ridiculous. And that 
increased the fun quota by 900 per cent. 



TONY HAWK'S 
PROJECT 8 

2006 [PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360, PS3, PSP] 

Tony went off the rail for a few years, 
but Project 8 brought back balance to 
the grind. The magic of the originals was 
long gone, but there was a back-to-basics 
approach that resonated with players 
old and new. And it was a lot better than 
sequel Proving Ground. 


of sorts. Tony Hawk's Project 8 - the eighth in 
the series, natch - came out in 2006 to criticial 
acclaim and an enthusiastic response from all 
those who bought it. But, again, the number of those 
picking it up had dropped once more. It was clear 
for all to see that the series needed a huge boost 
to stay relevant - a true redesign that went beyond 
a bit of spit and polish. As West admitted: "I don't 
think things went wrong, but it's hard to innovate 
indefinitely within a franchise. All great things come 
to an end, it's just a matter of when." 

2007 saw the release of Tony Hawk's Proving 
Ground, which proved to be Neversoft's final shot 
with the Birdman. But while the series had wavered 
in quality - and was nowhere near as popular as in 
its heyday - this wasn't a decision to strip the studio 
of the licence. No, it was a necessary move to free up 
resources so Neversoft could focus on its new main 
project: the Guitar Hero franchise, which the studio 
had been working on since 2006. 

It was a peculiar coming together that foisted 
the peripheral-based shredding simulator into the 
hands of Neversoft, with the story going that Jewett 
met RedOctane's founders at E3 in 2006 and told 
them of how the first Guitar Hero game had got the 
team through some stressful times while creating 
Tony Hawk's Project 8. That was all the founders 
needed to hear - Neversoft was a studio with a 
proven record of quick turnaround and high-quality 
games. It wasn't actually as strange a decision to 




III hii Wuc. 

MIC 

SO*n 

jSKtoi 

R.1M fUin .t 
! to llilllir 
.MWiI M*t!> 


■ Hidden characters galore in the Tony Hawk games 
of old - and not a microtransaction in sight. 


■ The licensed Guitar Hero (and Rock Band) tie-ins haven't 
been bad, on the whole. Metallica was a particularly good one. 


■ Well before Red Dead Redemption, Gun moseyed into town around 


the launch of Xbox 360. It was decent but unspectacular. 


122 



Image: Mick West 


FEATURE NEVERSOFTI 



RoboModo, where it became another peripheral- 
based game and absolutely tanked before being 
euthanised with extreme prejudice. Neversoft instead 
became the custodian of a different yearly franchise 
- but this time around, things didn't get better and 
better as they went along. 

Sales for Guitar Hero dropped for the fourth main 
game, World Tour, to around 10 million - and they 
never got that high again. While public opinion had 
warmed to Neversoft's approach for 2009's Guitar 
Hero 5, the sales didn't reflect this - and when 
Warriors Ot Rock released in 2010, shifting around 
2.5 million copies, Activision wound up its Guitar 
Hero wing and shut down the one-time world-leading 
franchise. Neversoft was, through no fault of its own, 
without anything to make. 

There hasn't been a full game released with 
Neversoft's badge on it since that last-ever Guitar 
Hero, and the studio was pretty much forgotten 
by gamers across the globe - no longer a name 



"APOCALYPSE WAS A 
SIMPLE, FUN, SOLID 
GAME THAT MADE 
MONEY, AND WAS THE 
FIRST SOLID STEP 
ON THE ROAD TO 
NEVERSOFT'S SUCCESS" 


hand Guitar Hero to the studio as it might 
have seemed at the time. 

■■■ BUT WHILE THE team at Neversoft hit the 
ground running as they often did, managing 
to get Guitar Hero III: Legends Ot Rock out 
in the same year as Proving Ground, there 
was stiff competition from the get-go: Guitar 
Hero's original developer Harmonix brought 
the much-more technically accomplished 
Rock Band to market less than a month after 
Guitar Hero III hit. Immediately Neversoft's 
game looked - and felt - outdated. 

Over the next few years it was hard to shift this 
perception, with reviewers and online commenters 
alike voicing the opinion that Neversoft's games just 
weren't up to the standard the Harmonix team was 
putting out. But none of Neversoft's initial Guitar 
Hero titles received a bad score and sales were, 
well, phenomenal. Guitar Hero III was, according 
to Activision, the first game to bring in over a billion 
dollars - and it racked up sales figures of around the 
16.2-million mark. 

So it was that Neversoft stopped being the Tony 
Hawk studio - that franchise was passed on to 


/ synonymous with joyful parties, now just a 
name only ever said after the words 'whatever 
happened to...' It surprised a number of people to 
see Neversoft's involvement in Call Ot Duty: Ghosts, 
but its contribution - in the form of the alien-blasting, 
Left 4 Dead-aping Extinction mode - was excellent 
and a highlight of an otherwise formulaic game. 

■■■ EIGHT MONTHS AFTER Ghosts' release, 
Activision announced it was bringing Neversoft into 
the Infinity Ward fold as a result of its stellar work 
on the COD title. It wasn't as swift a death as studios 
have experienced before under the big publishers, 
but it still saw a bittersweet ending to one of gaming's 
fallen kings. 

With all that came to pass - and West leaving the 
company in 2003, before the Gun and Guitar Hero 
years - it was still good to hear he was proud of what 
Neversoft had done. "[I am proud] that we created 
a new genre of games and set new standards for 
gameplay. I still meet people all the time that tell me 
that Tony Hawk's Skateboarding was a huge part of 
their youth. That makes me feel proud." 

Bottled lightning. We're unlikely to ever see another 
studio like Neversoft, seemingly making it up as 
it went along and striking very big indeed, being 
handed the keys to one of the biggest publishers' 
biggest licences and ending up an atrophied shadow 
of its former self. But it's not a sad story - it's pure 
punk rock: just the way Neversoft would have 
wanted it to be. 



123 



1UP 2* 
004-995 


WHY I 



Jetpac 


MICK WEST, NEVERSOFT ENTERTAINMENT 
CO-FOUNDER 


a I look back to when I 
played games on the ZX 
Spectrum and one game in 
particular I remember is Jetpac. 
It was a little guy with a jetpack 
and you flew around the screen 
shooting aliens, then you’d fly 
onto the next screen and repeat. 
I was 14 or 15 years old and that 
seemed like the best game in the 
world. Then, when I discovered 
programming, I realised I could 
make games like that - one of 
the first games I tried to make 
was a clone of Jetpac. When I 
think back to that time in my 
life Jetpac is the game 
that springs to mind. 


99 


FUEL 


V' 




One of the first games I tried to 
make was a clone of Jetpac 

MICK WEST, NEVERSOFT ENTERTAINMENT CO-FOUNDER 




HO 


05 


2UP 

000000 





BEHIND THE SCENES 


MEDIEVIL 

Conceived by Millennium Interactive in 

1995. the MediEvil concept proved so 

popular with Sony that the Tapanese 

giant bought the Cambridgeshire studio 

after claiming exclusive rights to the 3D 

hack-n-slash adventure. Two decades 

on. games™ returns to the pioneering 

world of Gallowmere 

■ LISTENING TO MEDIEVIL creators 
Chris Sorrell and Jason Wilson chat about 
videogame development in the Nineties is 
like listening to two friends reminiscing about the good 
old days. Although now miles apart, they still share 
fond memorfes of the tfme they spent working together 
at Sony Cambridge Studio, which is well-reflected in 
some of the storfes they have to tell. 

"I remember one night we'd all had our curry, 
which we often did working late," explains Sorrell 
of the laid-back attitude within the team at the time. 
"We were just sitting around talking about ants for 
some reason, about how they were such fascinating 
creatures. The next day we decided we were going 
to have an ant cave level in [MediEviH . We then came 
up with some crazy fiction about how you'd get shrunk 
down, and we made it. That was something you'd 
never be able to do in a big-budget game these days." 



Wilson chuckles in the background - as if recalling 
the punchline before Sorrell finishes speaking. "Better 
still, we ended up populating the ant cave with 
Cockney fairies, because, well, you know." 

Although unorthodox, understanding this working 
ethos isn't difficult. Listening to Sorrell and Wilson 
affectionately recall an era of wonder and possibility 
conjures imagery of a development team very much 
enjoying its work while on top of its game. Storfes like 
this seem to be rather fitting. Sony Cambridge Studio, 
as it was then, now exists as Guerilla Cambridge - a 
branch of Guerilla Games, responsible for 2013's PS 
Vita shooter Killzone: Mercenary, as well as an as-yet 
unannounced PlayStation 4 project. Prior to this, SCE 
Cambridge was known as Millennium Interactive - 
where Sorrell and Wilson first joined forces. 

"I JOINED MILLENNIUM after finishing James 
Pond 3," explains Sorrell. "I'd been working with them 
for a few years when the opportunity came up to work 
on something new. They asked me what I wanted to 
make and said I’d need to be working with someone 
on the visual side. Jason happened to be freeing up on 
whatever projects he was working on at the time. So 
we met up and started working on MediEvil." 

Like Sorrell, Wilson had worked elsewhere - 
"another child of Eighties development," as he puts ft - 
before a conversation with Millennium's development 
director, Ian Saunter, led him to taking a full-time post 
there. "In early 1995, Ian convinced me to help Chris 
start MediEvil," he says. "I'd met Chris before when I 
was a freelancer and we both loved horror movies and 
zombies and stuff like that - way before it was popular. 
It was a very good match." In those days, says Sorrell, 
developers who were already actively making games, 
were often offered the chance to champion their own 
projects further down the line. With the esteemed 
James Pond series and its spin-offs under his belt, 
Sorrell more than met this prerequisite and begun 
laying the foundations for MediEvil in late-1995. 

While pulling together a demo to showcase to 
publishers, the team operated in the smallest possible 
configuration: a programmer for each platform, as 


Entertainment 
SCE Cambridge 

Studio 

Chris Sorrell (Producer 
Director). Jason Wilson (Game 

Designer, Writer), Martin Pond 

(Writer), Andrew Barnabas 
( Composer) , Paul Arnold 
(Composer. Sound Effects) 


+ 


+ 



■ Jason Wilson continued to work on the 
MediEvil series right up to Resurrection. 









126 






127 




MediEvil Revieiu 


■ Given that he's dead, missing an eye, and missing his 
entire jaw, can you blame Sir Dan lor being so angry? ■ 


The real stars of 
MediEvil though 
are its variety, 
story, and 
difficulty level. 
As mentioned 
before, the 
diversity found 
from level to 
level adds 
a lot to the 
game, as does 
the wide and 
varied arsenal 
of weapons. 

The storyline is 
also strangely 
engrossing 

i Gamespot (October 

! 23 , 1998 ) 



well as two or three artists with Wilson on the 
art and design side of things. Although having 
worked on several titles up to this point, Millennium 
was not in great health financially, and sought to 
secure a publisher for MediEvil as soon as possible. 

■■■ SEGA AND MICROSOFT showed initial 
interest and demo versions for the Saturn and 
Windows 95 were rolled out in the first year 
of production. After delivering what Sorrell 
declares the team's "best pitch ever", though, 

Sony got behind the MediEvil IP with one 
caveat: that it be a PSOne exclusive. 

The team obliged and within six months 
of working together, Sony bought over 
Millenium Interactive - SCE Cambridge 
Studio becoming Sony's only other UK studio 
besides its London office in July 1997. With 
Sony's input came more manpower, more 
structure, and crucially, more funding. Yet as a 
group of keen and ambitious twenty-something-year- 
olds, cash was never at the forefront of any of their 
minds. Instead, it was the complexities of designing 
games in 3D - a style that the industry was only just 
getting to grips with. 

"I guess we were all young and naive in terms of 
budget stuff, " says Sorrell. "We just wanted to make 
the games that we wanted to make, and I was 
always focused on making as big and as cool 
a game as I could. For me it was always that 
mix of Ghouls 'N‘ Ghosts, combined with a 
Tim Burton art style, and also doing all of 
this in 3D, which at the time was a relatively 
new thing. It was no foregone conclusion 
that each game would be 3D, so really it was 
the fusion of all of those things that was the 
starting point for MediEvil. 

"It was a huge learning project for all of us 
as it was our first 3D project. It was very much 


us finding our feet and deciding on all the things we 
wanted to do that we didn't really know if we could. 
We were just trying things out and learning a lot from 
other games at the time, like Mario 64." 

"Yeah, we didn't really have much going in," adds 
Wilson. "When we started out with MediEvil, it felt like 
really pioneering days of 3D technology and polygons 
and so on. I remember Chris and I in our little skeleton 


/ crew - no pun intended - working all manner 
/ of crazy hours and getting an actual 3D model on 
screen at, say, three o'clock in the morning, and it 
being this really momentous moment. 

"You couldn't really get that nowadays because 
everything is possible, and everything has been done 
in a strange technical sort of way. Every little step we 



WE WERE JUST TRYING 
THINGS OUT AND 
LEARNING A LOT FROM 
OTHER GAMES AT THE 
TIME, LIKE MARIO 64 


128 





BEHIND THE SCENES 


made was like, 'Wow, that's so cool!' The good thing 
about Chris is that he allowed me to design some 
of the technology that we'd need to drive the art, so 
it was a really good relationship between the tech 
guys and Chris and myself. 1 look back at some of the 
documents of the things 1 wrote, or I drew - actual 
crayon drawings, little polygons of an environment, 
things like that - and it felt like pre-Photoshop, pre- 
Maya, and all these amazing packages we have 
nowadays. Instead, it was gluing things together 
and bits of string and literally bits of paper, and 
then trying, struggling desperately to get something 
that looks half-decent on screen. It was really small 
beginnings, but it was great!" 

From the outset, it was clear Sorrell and Wilson 
were on the same wavelength. An affinity for all 
things horror, particularly that of Tim Burton's kooky 
gothic range, drove much of MediEvil's aesthetics; 
and The Crow's tale of undead avenger seeking 
revenge for murder loosely mirrored the game's 
narrative. At prototype stage, MediEvil went by the 
name of Dead Man Dan, a nod to the game's one- 
eyed protagonist Sir Daniel Fortesque, but it wasn't 
until much later that Dan's story was fully realised. 




PRIOR TO TF!E Sony takeover, MediEvil posed 
a simple tale about a skeletal knight who'd hack 
and slash his way through hordes of zombie armies 
with little purpose or meaning, so when external 
scriptwriter Martin Pond suggested redemption as a 
core theme Sorrell and Wilson happily went with it. In 
turn, flesh was added to the bones of the concept and 
Wilson was able to craft more cohesive environments 
around what was now a more intuitive story. The rest 
of the character ensemble was born from necessity, 
designed to revolve around Sir Dan's central role. 

Although Wilson admits games like Mario 64 and 
Zelda influenced MediEvil's makeup, he is proud 
of the unique worlds he and his team were able to 
create within the Kingdom of Gallowmere. Like much 
of Burton's work, MediEvil's Gothic landscapes make 
it instantly recognisable - the distinguished settings 
often playing as big a part as Sir Dan himself. 

"One thing I really liked about MediEvil, which I 
don't think was ever captured again in any other 
Sony Cambridge game, was the sense of the 
environments," he explains. "[They] were based 
heavily on German Expressionism, which is what Tim 
Burton based a lot of his early stuff on - that means 
lots of wonky, weird angles to the environments. We'd 
build villages and towns on domes, so that all the 
buildings were all coming off the central axes. The 
camera would be orchestrated to move over this dome, 
creating rolling environments, and adding some really 
strange otherworldly cameras and perspectives to the 
world. We could orchestrate enemy attacks and what 
we wanted to show at various points, while giving the 
player a degree of control over the camera. We were 
very ambitious when I think back to it." 

This ambition, coupled with a unique sense of 
humour, is what drove Sony Cambridge Studio forward 
with MediEvil in its formative years. Videogames to this 
day have largely struggled to convey humour with 
any level of finesse, yet MediEvil captured charming 
slapstick comedy like none other before it. Better still, 
each joke was a natural reflection of how the team 
worked behind the scenes, as opposed to a vetted 
process at the commanding hand of a publisher. 
Sorrell labels the comedy as a "happy accident" and 


LIGHTS. H 

ACTIOtf. 

CAMERAS! 


Creator Chris 
Sorrell explains 
the importance of 
finding the right 
camera angle 


ON GETTING 
IT WRONG: 


■ "I never thought about 
how difficult the idea of 
following a character 
around was until we 
actually came to do it. 
Initially we went for a spline 
camera - where the view 
is very much in the artist's 
control. I was becoming 
increasingly irritated by 
how this style gave you 
no freedom to feel like you 
were exploring the world. I 
was fighting to get rid of it 
as soon as we had it." 


ON GETTING 
IT RIGHT: 


■ "That's one of the cool 
things you get in 3D that 
you just don't have in 2D: a 
sense of exploring. What's 
behind that, or in that box, 
or on top of that cliff? That, 
for me, was part of the 
experience that I wanted 
to make in the game. We 
changed it to a more 
free-form camera and it 
just worked." 



129 


« GGGO 


RATS THAT GO SPLAT 

The twisted humour of the MediEvil team 

■ WHEN MEDIEVIL RELEASED 


to the masses in 1998, the 
majority of reviews at the time 
remarked on the game's unique 
sense of humour. Creator Chris 
Sorrell admits he injected 
comedy only where it felt 
appropriate, and that it wasn't 
necessarily a conscious thing. 

"We had a programmer 
working with us who was the 
lead on the project," tells Sorrell. 


"He came from a business 
background... I guess he always 
struggled a bit to match the way 
that the rest of us were making 
the game and our perspective 
on things with his slightly stuffy 
business background. 

"He was a big fan of rats. He 
loved his pet rat, he was always 
going on about them. This is a 
bit of sad story in a way, but 
towards the end of the project 


we'd drifted apart in terms of 
how much he enjoyed working 
on a project that wasn't quite 
being made the way he was 
used to making them. He 
ended up leaving us about 
two months before the end. 

We [made] it so that you could 
squash the rats. I guess that 
comes from a slight feeling of 
betrayal. We did have a lot of 
good times with him, though!" 





0/0 1 



IH 3 WHAT 
LTHEY 
§ SAID... 





As you might 
have guessed, 
the designers 
obviously had 
a distinct sense 
of humour that 
permeates the 
game, and, at 
times, has you 
laughing out 
loud. In the end, 
what we have 
here is one of 
the cleverest 
platform games 
ever made 

GameRevolution 
(October 1, 1998) 


that no one set out to make the game funny, per 
se. Instead, if the opportunity to inject humour 
fnto the scrfpt presented itself they simply took it, and 
MediEvil became all the better for it. "The humour 
within the team itself was natural because we were 
such a coercive little tight group," says Wilson. "We 
were all youthful and silly, who liked bizarro horror 
movies and slapstick comedy - it was just a 
natural extension of our personalities, I think. 

We certainly didn't overthink it." 

The determined but laid-back attitude of 
the MediEvil masterminds is perhaps best 
outlined by the Sony takeover itself. In the 
close-knit, personable days of Millennium 
there was no such concept as a staff 
conference, so the formal, business-like 
approach of Sony became quite intimidating 
for Sorrell and Wilson. Although they both 
considered themselves professionals, the boardroom 
ethos of the Sony execs they were dealing with had 
them occasionally second-guessing themselves. 

Although Sony's acquisition of Millennium had 
essentially come from the Japanese tech giant's 
interest in MediEvil, the takeover also brought about 
a distinct level of expectation on the MediEvil team. 
If Sony was devoting quite so much interest and 
resources to this game, it naturally expected a return 
on its investment. 

"It sort of came home to me when we first had 
a big staff conference, which was a totally alien 
concept," recalls Sorrell. "Sony would actually get 
everyone together from all the studios and fly you off 


somewhere - I think we went to Tenerife for the first 
one - and they'd expect you to stand up and talk in 
front of everybody about what you were doing and 
things. That was like, 'woah, we’re not in Kansas 
anymore!' It was a strange thing. 

"I also got to go to a few meetings early on where 
all the Sony producers got together and it all felt 


THE END RESULT WAS 
SOMETHING THAT WE 
WERE PROUD OF AND 
WE HAD A LOT OF FUN 


vfc. 

/I 

/ 


Life’s 


A BITCH AND 
THEN VOU DIE. 

and then 

YOU WAKE UP 
g- 100 YEARS LATER 
AND life’s snu. 

A BITCH. 



Sony Cambridge Studio's unique sense of humour I 
even bled mto MediEvils marketing campaigns. 


suddenly like we were part of a big project by 
that stage and the stakes were so much higher. 

I'd never worked as part of a big studio before, so 
it was a bit of a wake up to realise there were all 
these people who were actually really experienced 
in all these positions and really knew what they were 
talking about - it made me question 'do I know what 
I'm talking about? Do I know what I'm doing? Should 
I be here?' But yeah, we got through it." 

AT THE TIME, Sony was relatively unproven on 
the world stage as far as videogames were concerned, 
and Wilson points out that it was very much learning 
at the same time then Sony Cambridge was. Granted, 
expectations were high, but the Cambridge team 
suddenly had so many state-of-the-art facilities at its 
fingertips. As the new kids on the block, both Wilson 
and Sorrell commend the proportionately stand-offish 
approach Sony took with them at the time. 

"MediEvil definitely benefitted from not being 
a designed product," continues Sorrell. "It wasn't 
designed to start a franchise or any of the pretension 
that is there with any big modern development 
nowadays. I actually caught the end of someone 
doing a playthrough of [ MediEvil] recently at the end 
part where Zarok has been defeated and he's doing 
his final spell curse. Suddenly a rock falls from the 
ceiling. It's still ridiculous and stupid, but I don't think 
anyone would do that kind of thing now - they'd be 
thinking of keeping Zarok around for the sequel." 


130 


BEHIND THE SCENES 


> GAMING EVOLUTION 


Mario 64 > MediEvil > MediEvil 2 


+ 



In the mid-90s, 
3D games were 
still finding their 
feet but Mario 64 
showed just how 
the transition 
from 2D should 
be done. 



fn 2000, MediEvil did receive a sequel, but when 
the original released in 1998, Sorrell was admittedly 
" MediEvil' d out". He went on to work on PlayStation 
2's Primal, although the intervening period made 
him regret leaving Gallowmere behind quite so soon. 
Wilson continued with number two and recalls seeing 
the same underlying ideas from different perspectives 
as strange but interesting in equal measure. 

In 2005 an entirely new team took on a PSP remake 
named Resurrection, and while Sorrell and Wilson 
offered advice and consultation, it was done so at 
arm's length and without any sense of ownership - 
something that didn't sit well with Sorrell. Although 
able to accept some of the changes the new team 
had made, he felt that he and his team's MediEvil 
vision was what made the series - a fact accentuated 
by the glowing reviews the original received seven 
years prior. 

Which is why, ten years on, speaking of MediEvil' s 
legacy with Sorrell seems a touch bittersweet. He 
appears glad it was left behind before it had the 
chance to evolve into something too unfamiliar, yet 
he'd also love to revive the series in some way or 
form given how much fun he had while developing 
it - a process that began two decades ago. The IP is 
now very much under Sony's control though, so the 
chances of this ever happening are most unlikely. 

In the meantime, Sorrell and Wilson have long 
since left MediEvil behind. Sorrell lives in Canada 
and is working on his own indie title, while Wilson has 



Seeing what 
worked in other 
games, MediEvil 
introduced us 
to Gallowmere 
- a brilliant Tim 
Burton-inspired 
nightmarescape. 



+ 


returned to his first love: illustrating comic books. Yet 
MediEvil marked some of the most exciting years of 
their careers to date. 

"I think you feel nostalgia for the development 
ethos more than the actual game itself, even though I 
really like the game," says Wilson. "It's just that time 
of possibility and naivety. I think sometimes the more 
companies can inflict process and knowledge on you, 
the less you know; the more you know the less you 
know, in a way. You become more fearful of creativity 
and question yourself. When I look at MediEvil, I see 
naivety and joy and the enthusiasm of making games. 

"Also, it's really strange - I remember when I used 
to love sci-fi movies and TV shows and you think 
about all the little things in the stories and the trivial 
information you dwell upon. There are forums about 
MediEvil on the internet where the users debate every 
detail of the game. Half the things we just made up on 
the spot! It just proves to me that lots of things are just 
made up in TV and movies, but other people end up 
taking them really seriously." 

Both Sorrell and Wilson speak so fondly of their 
time at Sony Cambridge Studio that working on 
MediEvil truly seems like the highlight of their games 
development careers. "Yeah, I'd say it was," agrees 
Sorrell. "That sort of feeling of team that we had then, 
we all got on really well, we'd all had highs and lows 
together working long hours. Overall, though, the end 
result was something that we were all proud of and we 
had a lot of fun making it. You can't get much 
better than that." 



■ Sir Daniel Fortesque is a cocky 
protagonist for a dead guy with no jaw and 
one functioning eye. 




■ Tim Burton's influence can be seen unashamedly 
throughout MediEvil s crooked and wonky architecture. 


131 










CASTLEVANIA: RONDO OF BLOOD 

PC ENGINE CD 1993 

RONDO OF BLOOD never saw a Western release on the PC Engine CD - the 
earliest we saw it was on a Virtual Console release in 2010. And that's a damn 
shame, because the game was one of the better Castlevania games released in 
the early Nineties. The intro we've printed here is actually three stages of animated 
opening showing the 19-year-old protagonist, Richter Belmont, hurl his chained Vampire 
Killer whip at a skeleton under Dracula's control. It's a great way of showing you that Rondo 
Of Blood is abiding to some key Castlevania tropes - mainly that the main character is a 
Belmont, that he has a whip, and that you'll be battling the undead in a side-scrolling adventure. 
It's also a showcase of the gorgeous colours and sharp edges the CD was capable of rendering. 



QOTjQ 



INTERVIEW 


CODING BACK 
THE YEARS 

Best known for co-founding Codemasters, David Darling 
has had a hand in some of gaming's best-known games, 
in a career spanning over three decades 


Dubbed "whiz-kids" in 
the Eighties by a national 
press still coming to terms 
with a home-computing 
revolution, the Darling 
brothers, Richard and David, 
made their name - and 
money - producing simple 
but easily marketable budget 
games. Having originally 
sold their ever-growing 
number of titles direct to 
the public via mail order, 
they went on to work for 
developer Mastertronic 
before leaving, with the 
backing and help of dad Jim, 
to found Codemasters. David 
became the corporate face 
of the company, his business 
acumen helping to steer 
the publisher from budget 
to full-price, delivering 
iconic brands from Dizzy 
to Micro Machines to Colin 
McRae Rally in the process. 
Now heading up iOS game 
developer Kwalee - as well 
as having been awarded a 
CBE - he is ready do it all 
over again. 


J Since you were born in 1966, 

■ ■■ you were still at school when 
• ■ ■ • the videogame industry as we 
know it was in its infancy. What is your 
earliest gaming memory? 

My family lived for a while in Vancouver 
in Canada and we used to go from the 
city to Vancouver Island on the ferry. 

They would have arcade games on board, 
such as Pac-Man, Galaxian and Asteroids, 
and my brother Richard and I loved to 
play them. My dad had also 
bought us both an Atari VCS 
and we loved to play games like 
Adventure on it. 


Did it lead to you wanting a computer of 
your own? 

It did, but my dad had a Commodore 
PET. He was designing contact lenses 
in a laboratory and the engineers were 
working out the curvature of the lenses 
and other things using pencils and paper. 
My dad thought it would be better to do 
it on a computer so he bought one. The 
engineers didn't know how to program it so 
they asked me and my brother if we could 


Did playing these games make 
you want to create your own 
games at the time, or did that 
come later for you? 

I was learning to program because 
our maths teacher had got a 
computer, the name of which escapes 
me, and we had to program it using 
punched cards. It was laborious but it got 
me into programming. I'd stay behind 
at school to program it to use the only 
keyboard available - it was the only 
chance I got because there were around 
40 children in the day all wanting to have 
a go on it. 


WE WEREN'T TRYING 
TO PICK A FIGHT WITH 
THE BIGGEST GAMES 
COMPANY IN THE WORLD 




help with the equations. We said we 
would if we could borrow the PET at 
the weekends. 

What did you do with the PET? 

We were really into D&D and we wanted to 
make a D&D game so that's what we used 
it for. We only programmed in a form of 
BASIC and it was a text adventure just for 
us to enjoy. We didn't sell the game. 



DAVID DARLING 




ij 


""•-■'■■■''-.v' l^x ' 0 


5««E!£2 


^ i h u Lr.+jLi ! 


ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT 






days, Codemasters 
games would carry 
glowing endorsements. 
"WE'RE HOOKED" said The 
Oliver twins about their own 
game, Kwik Snax. David Darling provided 
many of these self-congratulating quotes: 

BRILLIANT!", he wrote for Mig-29 Soviet 
Fighter, while "absolutely brilliant" 
became a catchphrase. "I believed 
our games were good and I didn't care 
telling people", he says. "It may have 
been unusual but that's never stopped us 
doing something." 

DAVID DARLING, CODEMASTERS CO-FOUNDER^ Jl 


RICHARD 
DHRLIFIG - r 5 


E V THE 
DLIUER 

mins 


135 


VN 






IQOTDO 





Why did you leave Mastertronic? 

Richard, my dad and I had set up a 
development house in a joint venture 
with Mastertronic called Artificial 
Intelligence Products, but we wanted 
to control our own destiny. We sold our 
shares, exited the firm and used the 
money to start Codemasters. 


■ Chiller was one of David and Richard Darling's first • 
games. It was produced for Mastertronic and sold for £1.99. 


What were Codemasters' early years like? 

It was like a family, or at least a little 
community and it grew fast. There was 
Philip and Andrew Oliver, or the Oliver 
Twins, and the Falcus Brothers, Darren 
and Jason, as well as an artist called Andy 
Graham and a programmer called Peter 
Williamson. As things got bigger, we started 
to run out of room in the Codemasters 
office and so we had a small village made 
up of portable cabins in the grounds with 
different people in each one. It was like 
a community of developers - not a hippy 
community 
but people 
passionate about 
computer games. 


young Darling brothers, David and Richard, began coding 
they were just 1 1 and started their first company at age 16. 


■ ■ Did it whet your appetite for games? 

■■■■ We had a friend called Michael 
Hiebert who had a similar passion for 
gaming and so we'd program together. 
Then in 1981, I think, his family bought 
a Commodore VIC-20 which we used to 
create versions of Galaxian, Defender 
and Pac-Man. But then my brother and I 
got sent back to England to go to school 
and we lived with our grandparents in 
Somerset while the rest of the family lived 
in Vancouver. We bought another VIC-20 
but we kept in contact with Michael. We'd 
have a competition with him over who could 
make the best games. Over a few months 
we'd managed to produce quite a few VIC- 
20 games between us. 

What led you to working for Mastertronic? 

We'd saved up our pocket money to place 
an advert in a magazine called Popular 


Computing Weekly, 
calling ourselves 
Galactic Software. A 

few days later we got tons of letters through 
the post with cheques from people wanting 
to buy our games. We stayed up all night 
duplicating them and sending them out, 
before getting a company involved to do 
this for us when it all got too much. We 
started to sell more and more eventually 
Mastertronic saw one of our adverts and 
asked if we would write games for them. 

Did you enjoy your time at Mastertronic? 

It was good fun. They were entrepreneurial 
and their background was selling video 
tapes, movies and short films. But they 
wanted to get into the computer games 
market. Back then, it was all full price 
but Mastertronic saw an opportunity for 
budget games. We made lots of games 
for them. Chiller was a big game [it 
sold around 280,000 copies] and BMX 
Racers did very well too. I also wrote a 
car game called The Last V8. 


DEVELOPER COMMENTS 

warn bmx 

SIMULATOR WASN'T 
the only game with 
the S-word in its title. There 
was Grand Prix Simulator, Pro 
Boxing Simulator, Super Tank Simulator 
Pro Powerboat Simulator and Fruit 
Machine Simulator to name but a few. 

Your Sinclair even created an Advanced 
Lawnmower Simulator. "We'd noticed that 
Mastertronic s best sellers were games 
based on football or BMXs, where there 
was a pre-existing popularity. We weren't 
trying to create real simulators, just games 
that reflected real life." 

DAVID DARLING, CODEMASTERS CO-FOUNDER 1 


w 


BMX Simulator 
was the Codies' 
first game, right? 

Yes. Richard 
had written 
BMX Racers at 
Mastertronic, 
which was 
probably like 
an endless 
runner before 
Temple Run - a 
vertical-scrolling 
BMX game. So 
when we started 
Codemasters, we 
decided to do another, but this time with a 
top-down view. We also wanted the game to 
be more realistic and have laps. We used to 
do some BMXing ourselves and a big part 
of the fun was the bent corners, so we put 
those in too. Then we added two players on 
the keyboard and two on the joystick. It was 
actually the first four-player game on the 
Commodore 64. 

That wasn't the only first for Codemasters. 

No, it wasn't. When we came up with the 
J-Cart for the Sega Mega Drive, we were 
able to add to extra gamepad ports so we 
were the first to introduce four players to 
one console and eight with joypad sharing. 


136 






DAVID DARLINGi 


You were certainly successful with your 
games. Dizzy was huge. How did that 
come about? 

We were at a computer-game exhibition 
in London and wanted to find some more 
programmers to work with us. The Oliver 
twins stopped by our stand and showed 
us Super Robin Hood, which we agreed 
to publish. We went on to publish Ghost 
Hunters and we asked them to create 
Grand Prix Simulator for us. A few 
weeks later, they said they had been 
working on an egg-shaped character 
and I wasn't very enthusiastic. I 
couldn't see what was interesting 
about it, but we didn't want to stifle 
their creativity so we said we'd go 
with it. Dizzy was a much bigger 
success than we were expecting. 

Every time we published another one, 
it seemed to build the audience. 


And what about Micro Machines ? 

Micro Machines on NES is still my favourite 
game. It's good fun and you can get a 
group of people together and laugh your 
head off with them for hours. It worked 
great when it was first released in 1991 and 
Micro Machines V3 was brilliant on the 
PlayStation too. 

Not all of your innovations were readily 
accepted by the industry though. 

When you launched the Game 
Genie, Nintendo objected and 
Codemasters ended up in a legal 
battle. Was it a difficult period? 

Well, it wasn't a David and Goliath 
battle - we weren't trying to pick 
a fight with the biggest games 
company in the world. We were 
having a brainstorming session, 
thinking of the best Nintendo things 
we could do, wanting to explore 
the electronics side. We didn't 


have a licence to create Nintendo games 
so we found a way of bypassing Nintendo's 
lock-out chip and released games that way. 
We had an idea of placing a switch on the 
cartridge to add extra lives, weapons and 
things like that. Then we made the mental 
leap of saying that if we could do this with 
our own games, then maybe we could build 
an interface for other people's games too. It 
was a game that morphed into an industry. 


IT WAS LIKE A COMMUNITY 
OF DEVELOPERS - NOT A 
HIPPY COMMUNITY BUT 
PEOPLE PASSIONATE 
ABOUT GAMES 




i nc*2o 

GAMES 

r::-:- £1.14 



And Nintendo hated it. 

t did. But we'd tested the Game Genie 
l schools, patented it and put two years 
of our lives into it. We went to Taiwan to 
organise chip and cartridge manufacturing. 
So when Nintendo said it didn't like it, we 
had to carry on. 

Could Codemasters have gone bust if 
Nintendo had won and stopped you selling 
the Game Genie? 

I expect so, yes. It would have been a 

massive setback and a 
missed opportunity. 
But the judge said it 
was legal and that 
Nintendo couldn't 
stop it from being 
sold. I don't think 
we ever thought 
we'd lose, though. 

Was Codemasters 
expanding quickly 
during the Nineties? 

We'd got off to a 
flying start with 
Codemasters and 
our games were 
going to number 
one in the charts 
straightaway. I 
think in the first year we had 27 per cent 
of the market share according to the 
Gallup charts. Our biggest challenge in 
the industry was more about transitioning 
between platforms; movfng from the VIC- 
20 to the Commodore 16 and Commodore 
64, the Dragon 32, the Spectrum, the Atari 
ST and the Amiga. Then later we had the 
consoles - 3D with the PlayStation and 
Dreamcast in particular. There was always 
a danger that if you supported the wrong 
format like the Atari Jaguar, that you would 
risk a lot of development resources. 



■ As was popular in the early Eighties, the 
Darlings sold their games via mail order, 
placing an ad - lor Galactic Software 


- in Popular Computing Weekly. 



How did you avoid that? 

With a lot of attention to detail. We were so 
close to the industry and so involved. We 
weren't only creating games but playing 
them so we had an intuition and a feeling 
of the best technology. We'd work out what 
would be too expensive, what would work 
and what wouldn't. We had a strong feeling 
the PlayStation would work in the mid-1990s. 
It was a brilliant console and we had some 
great successes like Colin McRae Rally, 
which did well on the PS2 as well. 

The 2000s were good for you personally 
- you won the UK National Entrepreneur 
of the Year Award in 2000 and you were 
awarded a CBE in 2008... 

It was good. It's always good to have 
achievements. 

But why call time on the Codies in 2007? 

It was the right time, really. We'd grown the 
company from the beginning of the industry 
and it had become the largest developer 
in Europe and one of only two big ones in 
the UK - us and Eidos. We'd involved lots of 
other people in the business and it was time 
to move on. 

What did you do? 

I renovated my house, reflected on the 
changes in the [gaming] industry and 
explored getting into the design of robots, 
but then I became excfted by the iPhone 
and saw the potential in people's pockets, 
[and] the way you could download games 
and play them without discs, CDs or tapes. 

I wanted to make games on the iPhone so I 
set up Kwalee. 

And how is Kwalee doing? 

We have 20 people working at Kwalee 
and we're investing in the company and 
growing it. We're looking for more artists 
and programmers and we want to make 
games with bigger teams. The possibility 
for growth is bigger now than it was in the 
Eighties when it was basically a British 
market. It's global now and a hit can go 
massive. Gaming is as exciting now as it 
was when making Spectrum games, and I 
think it's in my blood because I got 
involved at such an early age. 



137 




GAME CHANGERS 


MM3GGGO 

GOLDENEYE 007 


Released: 1997 Publisher: Nintendo Developer: Rare System: Nintendo 64 



L J 

More than just a movie tie-in, Rare's seminal first-person shooter rewrote the 
genre playbook and provided Nintendo's console with a multiplayer classic 


■ ARRIVING DURING THE golden age of first- 
■ ■ ■ P erson shooters, Rare's GoldenEye 007 stood 
■ ■ ■ ■ out from the overcrowded PC scene, landing 
on Nintendo's doorstep in 1997 on a wave of critical 
hype and acclaim. Until this point, many dismissed 
console platforms as unsuited to first-person shooters, 
instead sitting behind their PCs engrossed in Doom, 
Quake and Wolfenstein. GoldenEye arrived with 
an appropriate bang, highlighting consoles as a 
viable FPS platform for the first time and contributing 
significantly to the Nintendo 64's appeal. 

With Martin Hollis in the director's chair, the game 
was moulded by the same prolific collective that 
would be responsible for Perfect Dark, Banjo-Kazooie 
and Conker's Bad Fur Day further down the line. Rare 
was hitting heights that many developers would only 
dream of, and generated some of the best output 
of the Nineties. Members of the same team would 
later form Free Radical, responsible for the equally 
excellent TimeSplitters series. 

From the more sedate beginnings of the Dam level 
right through to the dramatic conclusion atop a large 
satellite array, GoldenEye took you on a monumental 
journey, fighting your way through Soviet control 


centres, the streets of St Petersburg, the jungles of 
Cuba and what looks strangely like a reclamation 
site. The world that Rare built was a potent 
influence on first-person shooters that followed, and 
represented the first mainstream FPS with a truly 
international feel. 

■■■ THE FILM, RELEASED two years earlier, 
obviously influenced the game's design. Hollis and 
his team - thanks to the 64-bit power of Nintendo's 
machine - managed to achieve high levels of fidelity 
compared to the bog-standard output of the big movie 
licensing boom of the Eighties. Never before had 
there been a licensed game based on a movie that 
looked so much like its counterpart, and there haven't 
been many since then that have been as successful 
creatively or mechanically. Rare had access to set 
plans while developing, and due to this you can enjoy 
direct parallels with the film. It is still a joy to this day 
to jump from the dam at the end of the first level, for 
example - If you know the film, you'll be aware that 
it begins with Bond running and then performing the 
iconic bungie jump. In the game, however, there is 
an entire Russian compound that must be infiltrated 


138 


GAME CHANGERS: GOLDENEYE 007 


FOR ENGLAND, JAMES 


GOLDENEYE OFFERED A DEEPER EXPERIENCE THAN MANY 
OF ITS PC COMPETITORS WITH THESE ELEMENTS 



IMAGINATION 


★ Martin Hollis and his team used the 
movie as a strong basis for the action in 
the game, but were unafraid to extend 
and adapt certain sections to enhance the 
experience. From being able to drop down 
into the bathroom in Facility to fighting 
Jaws in an Aztec temple, GoldenEye offers 
a refreshing take on movie adaptations. 


y - 





LEVEL DESIGN 


★ Ask anyone who played GoldenEye 
back in 1997 where the hidden body 
armour is in Cradle or where the RC-P90 
is in Train, and they'll be able to tell you 
in a heartbeat. Rare's levels are diverse 
and memorable, borrowing directly 
from the film and expanding neatly on 
locations that the film brushed over. 



WEAPONRY 


★ Even now in the midst of the largest 
FPS movement in history thanks to Call Of 
Duty and Battlefield, GoldenEye s array of 
weapons still stands out. This is no more 
apparent than when the All Guns 1 cheat 
is enabled, which not only provides you 
with every variety of firearm available 
naturally, but extras like a nifty taser. 


before then. It almost gives the sense that the film 
begins in medias res - that by playing the game 
you're actually seeing the whole picture. 

This is true with later levels too, thrusting Bond 
(impressively rendered to resemble Pierce Brosnan) 
into scenarios that were either only touched upon 
in the movie or entirely built for purpose. There are 
encounters in the Severnaya computer complex that 
Bond never visits in the movie, instead watching 
the facility be destroyed by an EMP blast from the 
GoldenEye satellite. And after protecting Natalya 
in Trevelyan's control centre towards the end of 
the game, you pursue the former 006 through 
some labyrinthine water caverns before eventually 
encountering him on top of the satellite array, in 
contrast to the film's simple jaunt in an elevator. 

This willingness to adapt culminates in two secret 
levels that can be accessed after you've completed 
the game on Secret Agent and 00 Agent difficulties 
respectively. These levels - Aztec and Temple - 
showed a wider knowledge of James Bond, pitting 
Bond against two old nemeses in the form of Jaws 
and Baron Samedi. The Golden Gun makes an 


NEVER BEFORE 
HAD THERE BEEN 
A LICENSED GAME 
THAT LOOKED SO 
MUCH LIKE ITS 
COUNTERPART 


GoldenEye was 
intitially intended 
to be an on-rails 
shooter in the same 
vein as Virtua Cop 
and Time Crisis, but 
thankfully this was 
reconsidered. 

Several levels 
were designed 
with the film sets 
in mind. The best 
examples of these 
can be found at 
the end of the Dam 
level, the bathroom 
and bottling room 
in Facility, the 
interrogation and 
library areas of 
Archives, and the 
Cradle level where 
you fight Trevelyan. 

It is actually 
possible to control 
the game using 
two controllers at 
once, allowing for 
first-person control 
similar to that 
which you would 
find nowadays. 


appearance. The temple is based on The Spy Who 
Loved Me. Aztec is actually Hugo Drax's jungle base 
from Moonraker. It shows a true love for Bond that 
few games have ever managed, allowing the more 
fantastical and tongue-in-cheek elements of the 
franchise to creep in from time to time. 

■■■ BY ADDING NON-linear objectives, Rare 
further broke the first-person shooter mould, tasking 
you with approaching levels in a more considered 
manner on higher difficulties. On Agent difficulty 
these objectives are fairly basic, but on Secret 
Agent and 00 Agent it became quite testing. What's 
interesting is the lack of hand holding - certain 
objectives are either hidden away or more technical 
in nature, requiring a higher level of care than 
GoldenEye s FPS forbears. 

It all purveys production values that weren't 
really found in first-person shooters at this time, 
and that's where you can easily connect the dots 
between GoldenEye and modern shooters like Call 
Of Duty and Battlefield. Protecting Natalya in the 
control room, pursuing Trevelyan in the Cradle 
level, rescuing hostages on board the frigate - these 
elements were unexpected from a licensed game in 
1997, and are common tropes of the genre today. 

But GoldenEye s legacy isn't just found in 
contemporary first-person shooters; it represents 
an industry shift. Would we have such a huge FPS 
player base today if it wasn't for Rare's masterpiece? 
Probably, yes, but it's likely that it would have taken 
longer to catch on. It also represents the pinnacle of 
movie licensing. GoldenEye is still prevalent in the 
hearts and minds of many players today, and for that 
it is worthy of respect, reassessment and, of course, a 
playthrough if you get the chance. 


139 









m roooo 



GAME CHANGERS 




GET AHEAD 
IN MULTIPLAYER 

WE MAY BE AROUND 17 YEARS TOO 
LATE TO THE PARTY BUT REGARDLESS, 
GAMES™ IS ON HAND TO GUIDE YOU 
TO CERTAIN VICTORY IN GOLDENEYE 
MULTIPLAYER MODE 




CHARACTER SELECT 

■ THE FIRST STEP on the path to multiplayer success is carefully 
picking your character. It is worth noting that in some circles, 
selecting Oddjob is considered to be foul play, Auric Goldfinger's 
deadly yet diminutive henchman standing considerably shorter 
than other selectable characters. It's highly recommended that you 
avoid Jaws - as the tallest, and wearing a highly visible white shirt, 
he is easy to spot and hit. Try and pick a character that's a little 
more nondescript, such as Trevelyan, who stands at an average 
height and whose black clothing blends in nicely with the darker 
backdrops of some of the maps such as Temple and Caves. 


LEARN YOUR MAPS 

■ MUCH LIKE ANY modern first-person shooter, learning 
GoldenEye s map layouts is essential if you want to embarrass 
your friends at multiplayer. As well as getting to grips with the basic 
layouts, it's also worth noting where secret passages and hidey- 
holes are. Several of these secret pathways are key to success, 
such as the vents that can be walked through in Complex and 
the sliding walls that appear in Temple, Library, Basement and 
Archives. These are all useful for the stealthier player, but if you 
fancy being offensive-minded and fighting from a cover-based 
position, then get yourself up on the raised platforms in Complex. 


140 



GAME CHANGERS: GOLDENEYE 007 



ARMOUR UP 

■ IT'S WORTH NOTING that body armour can be found on each 
of the maps, and finding it and occupying areas near it are 
surefire ways to get ahead. Refer to step two - body armour is 
usually located in hidden areas, and so try to be experimental 
as you traverse the maps. Body armour essentially doubles your 
health, and in a one-on-one firefight it can be the decider. 


THE GOLDENEYE STRAFE 

■ NEVER UNDERESTIMATE THE power of the strafe. As far as 
techniques go this is imperative by holding the C-Left and C-Right 
buttons you can strafe with ease, making it much harder for your 
opponents to hit you. Try and be unpredictable; walking in a 
straight line is a very modern concept - get crazy with strafing and 
watch the bullets whizz harmlessly past you. 


BE DISHONEST 

■ WHEN ALL ELSE fails, just cheat. You're playing with friends 
after all - it's quite likely that they'll forgive you. To do this 
effectively, select Oddjob quickly and start the game before your 
opponents know what's happening. Alternatively, beat the game 
to unlock extra characters in advance, allowing you to select the 
Moonraker Elite - she is as short as Oddjob, and with a non- 
specific name, is easier to get away with. 

The key technique for robbing a win with any character, though, 
can be easily achieved once in the game. Hold down R to aim 
and then rock back with C-Down to crouch. From this position, it 
is near impossible for other players to hit you without using the 
cumbersome aim button or crouching themselves. Get down low, 
find the best weapon you can and then unleash Hell. 

Caught out doing both of the above? Don't worry; your greatest 
weapon is sight. Why waste your time looking at your own portion 
of the screen? Instead, you should be looking at every screen 
other than your own. No radar? No problem. If you've learned the 
maps well enough, a quick glance at an opponent's screen will 
enable you to ascertain their position and move in for the kill. 




■ Above: Shorter characters always had the upper hands in a game of GoldenEye. With 
vertical aiming a concept that was relatively uncommon at the time, characters like Oddjob or 
Moonraker Elite were a fast track to success. Below: By much the same standard, crouching with 
a standard character was also a great way of frustrating your opponent. 



i;i 










THE RE* RQ GUIDE TO 


Resident Evil is arguably one of Capcom's biggest franchises, 
establishing survival horror as a legitimate genre by 
combining thrilling scares with tense action 


THE RETRO GUIDE TO... RESIDENT EVIL 


WHILE CAPCOM'S 
SUPERB game didn't 
really create the survival 
horror genre, despite arguments 
made by those who love the 
series, it's arguably responsible 
for creating many of the tropes 
that gamers associate with it. The 
franchise itself has gone through 
some interesting twists and turns 


since it was first created in 1996 
and has gone on to become one 
of Capcom's most successful 
franchises, selling over 60 million 
units. With the recent release of 
Resident Evil HD and the incoming 
episodic release of Revelations 2 
we felt it was the perfect time to 
revisit the popular series. Prepare 
to enter survival horror. . . 



RESIDENT EVIL 96 


VARIOUS 


Capcom's Resident Evil not only introduced some of the franchise's 
most memorable characters - Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine and Albert 
Wesker - but also cemented many of the mechanics that would become 
integral to the series for years to come. Tank-like controls, hilariously silly 
dialogue, careful item management, limited resources, A-to-B puzzles 
and tense pacing all combined to deliver a satisfyingly mature game 
that really helped Sony's console stand apart from the crowd. 

The pre-rendered visuals created a creepily atmospheric vibe that 
made exploring the Spencer mansion a terrifying experience. It's an 
expertly crafted game from Shinji Mikami, who had previously cut his 
teeth on various child friendly fare including Aladdin and Goof Troop. 
Resident Evil (or Biohazard as it was known in Japan) arguably saw the 
up-and-coming director grow up and the genre grew up right beside him. 



RESIDENT EVIL: 
DIRECTOR'S CUT 

1997 


PLAYSTATION 


There are actually two versions 
of Director's Cut - one that 
supports DualShock and one 
that doesn't. The game itself is 
a solid update of the original 
featuring a new Beginner's mode, 
as well as an Arranged version, 
which featured a new location 
for key items, new clothes for 
each character and a much more 
powerful gun. 



RESIDENT EVIL 2 


VARIOUS 


It's telling that the two best Resident Evil games both feature 
Leon S Kennedy. Set two months after the events of the first game, 
Capcom's sequel further establishes the convoluted plot that the 
series would become famous for, but greatly ramps up virtually 
every aspect of the game. The locations are larger, with the vast 
majority of the game taking place in Raccoon City's police station, 
while the visuals are greatly improved, matched by a simply 
stunning soundtrack. 

Resident Evil 2 focuses on two characters, Leon S Kennedy and 
Claire Redfield and is spread across two discs. Interestingly, while 
both scenarios are often set in the same locations, their puzzles 
and storylines change dramatically, greatly adding to the filmic 
atmosphere that director Hideki Kamiya wanted to create. Resident 
Evil 2 also introduced support characters, including the infamous 
Ada Wong, who appear at certain points of the adventure and 
are occasionally playable. It's also memorable for being the first 
game in the series to give you visual clues to your character's 
current health status: handy, as it's not an easy game. Interestingly, 
Capcom's sequel started off as a completely different game, which 
was scrapped a good way into its development when producer 
Shinji Mikami decided it was too boring. 


RESIDENT EVIL 3: 
NEMESIS 


VARIOUS 


Some consider Nemesis to be 
something of a back step for the 
series, but it introduced many 
key mechanics, most notably the 
incredibly useful 180-degree turn 
and a handy dodge attack. Both 
new moves are particularly useful 
as you'll need as much agility 
as you can muster in order to 
deflect the continual assaults of 
the Nemesis of the title, a huge 
bio-mechanically created creature 
that comes equipped with a rocket 
launcher, absorbs bullets like a 
cheap sponge and continually 
chases Jill Valentine (the only 
selectable character) during key 
points of the game. 

Yes it's more linear than the 
previous games, but the assaults 
of Nemesis, the ability to craft 
ammunition and being able to 
use oil drums to create explosive 
damage to nearby enemies makes 
the game far more action-packed 
as a result. Oh, and it introduces 
the mini-game 'The Mercenaries - 
Operation: Mad Jackal'. 



143 














m oiqo 


RESIDENT EVIL SURVIVOR 2000 


PLAYSTATION 


Survivor was Capcom's first spin-off from the main games and it's 
not a good one. Unlike previous titles it's essentially a lightgun game, 
but one where you have free movement. Things get slightly easier when 
using a lightgun, but it remains a fiddly experience due to the clunky 
controls. It's a pity the gameplay is so laborious, as Survivor actually 
makes a good attempt at transferring the Resi universe into a first-person 
world. Interestingly, the US version of the game lacks lightgun support, 
meaning you'll have to rely on the piggish joypad controls. 



because it was the first Resi game to not originally appear on a Sony 
console. It's the first game in the series to use 3D backgrounds and a 
movable camera and occasionally switches to first-person when using 
certain weapons. While mechanically it's very much business as usual, 
the ability to pick up and use herbs when your inventory is full does 
make a huge difference, particularly as Code: Veronica is quite a tough 
Resident Evil game. Like Resident Evil 2 it takes place across numerous 
locations and features extras once the game is completed. In this case 
it's the rather enjoyable Battle Game, which feels like an early precursor 
to the excellent Mercenaries mode of Resident Evil 4. 




RESIDENT EVIL: 
CODE: VERONICA 
X 


VARIOUS 


Despite the controversy of Code: 
Veronica's Dreamcast release, it 
wasn't long before the PS2 got its 
own version. It's largely the same 
game, with slightly improved 
visuals and additional cutscenes 
that focus on the increasing 
popularity of Albert Wesker. It also 
features an additional DVD called 
Wesker's Report 1 , which delves 
deeper into the shady character. It 
received a HD re-release in 20 1 1 . 


RESIDENT EVIL 
GAIDEN 


GAME BOY COLOR 


Gaiden was predominantly 
created by British developer M2, 
making it the first title in the series 
to be created outside Japan. It's also 
nowhere near as bad as reports 
suggest, thanks to a huge tanker 
to explore, Barry Burton getting 
some much needed limelight as 
one of the main characters, and a 
slick combat system that switches 
to first-person whenever the player 
engages zombies. Yes it was never 
going to capture the atmosphere of 
the PlayStation original, but Gaiden 
remains a resoundingly solid 
adventure game. 


v V * 

V » 


RESIDENT EVIL SURVIVOR 2 CODE: 
VERONICA 


VARIOUS 


The second Survivor game is a notable improvement, but still lacks 
the sheer visceral thrills of Sega's House Of The Dead series. Based 
on Code: Veronica, players control Claire Redfield or Steve Burnside 
and can use both lightguns and joypads. In addition to featuring two 
unique modes: Dungeon and Arcade, Survivor 2 also introduces partner 
assistance, in the form of a computer-controlled player that will lay down 
cover fire for you. There's also a timer that introduces the Nemesis from 
Resident Evil 3 if players dawdle for too long. 



RESIDENT EVIL REMAKE 2002 



GAMECUBE 

' » yjf 


■ When Capcom revealed that its next brace of Resident Evil games, including Resident Evil 

4, would be exclusive to the GameCube there was uproar. Capcom saved face, however, 
with this astonishing update of the original game that remains one of the best remakes of 
recent times. In addition to astonishing visuals, Resident Evil on GameCube is retrofitted 
with many of the later Resi mechanics, including the 180-degree turn and the ability to judge 
a character's health based on its onscreen actions. 

It includes several new areas that were cut from the original game, equips Jill and Chris 
with handy defensive weapons and introduces the dreaded Crimson Head Zombies - 

^ Jiff Jr v 


extremely fast and dangerous foes that replace those zombies that weren't fully destroyed 
by the player on their first encounter. It was re-released on Wii in 2009, but adds very little 

1 1 /C'm ,1 

* » •] 

1 * 5 ’ 


over the original GameCube release. 

\ £ 


144 




















THE RETRO GUIDE TO... RESIDENT EVIL 





RESIDENT EVIL 
OUTBREAK FILE 2 

2004 


PLAYSTATION 2 


Outbreak ' s sequel is awesome 
because it features zombie 
elephants. Okay, so it's not 
incredible, but it's a far better 
structured game than Outbreak 
thanks to better balance, more 
interesting scenarios and 
numerous little tweaks to the 
gameplay. The original eight 
characters return and this time 
PAL users got to experience full 
online play. Despite both games 
having their servers pulled by 
Capcom, fans have kept the 
Japanese versions going on 
private servers. 


PLAYSTATION 2 


RESIDENT EVIL: DEAD AIM 2003 


RESIDENT EVIL ZERO 2002 

Many don't like Zero, possibly because it has a far more 
insectoid theme than previous games, with zombies taking 
a noticeable backseat to giant scorpions, giant centipedes 
and other creepy crawlies. By far the best feature of Zero is its 
excellent Partner Zapping mechanic that lets the player switch 
between both characters at will. Rebecca Chambers is versatile but 
weak, while prisoner Billy Coen is built like a tank and can use a 
lighter and push heavy objects. Both characters' abilities must be 
combined together to complete the many puzzles thrown at you, 
making it a unique addition to the series. Originally planned for the 
N64's ill-fated 64DD, it was switched to the N64, before eventually 
resurfacing on the Cube. A lazy Wii port showed up in 2008. 


RESIDENT EVIL 
OUTBREAK 


PLAYSTATION 2 


Plans for Outbreak had circled 
around the Capcom offices for a 
good five years before the game 
became a reality. It's an interesting 
addition to the series, featuring 
online play, a large number of 
characters (eight, in fact) and five 
unique scenarios to fight through. 
Sadly, the ability to play with three 
other players was completely 
stripped from the PAL version of the 
game, making for a horrendously 
frustrating experience, as you 
often find yourself ill-equipped 
to deal with the large number of 
zombies the game throws at you. 
Mechanically it's exactly what you'd 
expect from a Resident Evil game, 
but the pacing, carefully placed 
scares and strong boss encounters 
are nowhere to be seen. 


The last game in the Survivor series is easily the best, but it still falls 
massively short of the quality found in the main series. It's the first game 
in the series to combine both first-person and third-person views, but 
is still hampered by the same grid-based control system that made 
the earlier games such a pain to control. It certainly looks pretty, with 
impressive visuals and the ability to move and shoot makes it stand 
apart from many of the other games in the series, but it's still a bland 
mishmash of genres. 


"WHEN CAPCOM REVEALED THAT 

ITS NEXT BRACE OF RESIDENT EVIL 

GAMES WOULD BE EXCLUSIVE TO THE 

GAMECUBE. THERE WAS UPROAR" 


,5 











RESIDENT EVIL 4 2005 

VARIOUS 


■ Shinji Mikami's sequel is 
quite possibly one of the most 
important games of the last ten 
years. In addition to breathing 
fresh life into the series, it 
reinvented action games 
and the third-person shooter, 
influencing the likes of Gears Of 
War and Dead Space. 

Mikami essentially 
redesigned Resident Evil 4 
several times before he settled 
on the cocktail of action and 
horror that appears in the final 
game. Moving the camera 
closer to Leon pulls you into 
the on-screen action, while the 
ability to specifically shot out 
body parts makes managing 
the large crowd of enemies you 
face far tenser. Context-sensitive 
buttons allow Leon to pull off an 
impressive number of moves, 
from roundhousing enemies 
to kicking down ladders and 
stabbing the necks of giants, 


while the new inventory 
system kept the tedious item 
management of earlier games 
to a bare minimum. 

Resident Evil 4's set pieces 
are still some of the best 
around, while its dynamic 
pacing, sheer variety and tense 
shepherding of Ashley (who 
Leon has been sent to rescue) 
make it stand apart from its 
many peers. It's arguably 
more action than horror, but it 
was just what the series and 
the genre needed. And it still 
managed to pull off a series of 
incredibly gruesome scenes, 
proving that while Mikami 
was content to take the series 
in an exciting new direction, 
he hadn't forgotten what had 
made it so popular in the first 
place. While HD versions of the 
game do exist, we'd argue that 
the enhanced Wii port is the 
definitive version to own. 



RESIDENT EVIL: DEADLY SILENCE 2006 


NINTENDO DS 


Capcom celebrated Resident Evil's 10th anniversary by remaking the 
game tor Nintendo's dual-screened portable. In addition to including the 
original game it also features Rebirth mode, which introduces plenty of 
clever touch-based additions that greatly adds to the overall gameplay. 
Zombie slashing, CPR (by blowing into the mic) and shaking off enemies 
all adds to the atmosphere, while the smaller screen also enhances the 
creepy vibes of the classic game. Rebirth also includes a couple of mini- 
games for up to four players that adds further meat to what is essentially 
yet another remake of the PlayStation original. 


RESIDENT EVIL: 
THE UMBRELLA 
CHRONICLES 


WII 


This was the logical evolution of the Gun 
Survivor series and it works incredibly 
well. The Umbrella Chronicles is a rather 
enjoyable on-rails shooter that focuses on 
the events found in the first three games 
and Resident Evil Zero. It's possible to look 
around the playing area with the Nunchuk, 
but you're effectively mowing down classic 
enemies as they continually assault you. 
There are a large number of levels to 
unlock and plenty of alternate routes, 
ensuring that The Umbrella Chronicles 
has plenty of replay value. A HD version 
for the PlayStation 3 was released in 2012. 


RESIDENT EVIL 5 201 


VARIOUS 


The first Resident Evil game for the then next-gen consoles was a 
long time coming and quite controversial, due to all the racism claims 
that surrounded it upon release. What's interesting about Resident Evil 
5 is that it's essentially two different games depending on how you play 
through it. Play on your own and Capcom's game becomes amazingly 
frustrating because newcomer Sheva is utterly useless as a supporting 
character. She constantly stumbles into trouble, easily gets herself 
surrounded by enemies and rarely gives you help when it's needed. 

Play with a second player, however, and the game transforms 
dramatically. It lacks the well-structured pace of 4 of course, and the less 
said about the lousy cover system the better, but it otherwise becomes a 
lot of fun. There's something immensely satisfying about exploring the 
African setting with a friend, while the online version of Mercenaries is 
arguably the best version of the mini-game yet. There's a definite move 
towards all-out action compared to 4 - it's as action-packed as Chris's 
biceps are huge - and the final boss is a disappointment, but it's a solid 
addition to the series. 


RESIDENT EVIL: THE DARKSIDE 
CHRONICLES 


WII 


Capcom's second Wii shooter is business as usual, although it offers 
an improved story and enhanced visuals. It chooses to focus on Resident 
Evil 2 and Code: Veronica, but it's more character-orientated than Tire 
Umbrella Chronicles. A HD version was released on PS3 in 2012. 






146 












THE RETRO GUIDE TO... RESIDENT EVIL 


RESIDENT EVIL 5: GOLD EDITION 2010 


VARIOUS 


Capcom released several pieces of DLC 
for Resident Evil 5, including Versus, an 
online multiplayer mode, various costumes 
for Mercenaries and two standalone story- 
based adventures, Lost In Nightmares and 
Desperate Escape. Gold Edition combined 
all this together, while also including 
Mercenaries Reunion and PlayStation Move 
support for the PS3 version. 



RESIDENT EVIL: THE MERCENARIES 3D 

2011 


NINTENDO 3DS 


Don't buy a second-hand version as it's impossible to wipe saves. 
While the 3D isn't the best, Mercenaries proves to be a solid score attack 
game, even if it brings little new to previous Mercenaries games. Despite 
this it's a fun score attack game with plenty of memorable locations, a 
host of recognisable characters (although Leon S Kennedy is nowhere to 
be seen) and a small selection of brutally tough bosses. The maps are 
well designed while the graphics really show off the power of Nintendo's 
handheld system. 




RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS 2011 


NINTENDO 3DS 


Revelations was one of the first 3DS games to utilise the Circle Pad Pro 
add-on. While it makes a good attempt at recapturing the early horror of 
the PlayStation games, it feels quite budget in places, particularly when 
the player is continually facing the same few enemy skins. 

Like the later Resident Evil 6, Revelations' main campaign is split 
between several groups of characters and takes in various locations, 
from a deserted ship in the Mediterranean to an airstrip in the 
mountains. It allows the player to move and shoot, but also introduces 
Metroid Prime-style scanning and the ability to switch between three 
weapons. The dodge move of earlier games returns, while StreetPass 
support is also included. Revelations also introduces "Raid Mode", an 
excellent new game mode that sees you battling through arranged 
versions of earlier scenarios. 

A HD version was released in 2013 for PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U and PC. 
While it added various bits of new content, it also highlighted the budget- 
like roots of the 3DS original. 


AN INTERVIEW 
WITH YOSHIAKI 
HIRABAYASHI 

Capcom's producer looks back at the 
Resident Evil series 

How many Resident Evil 
games have you been 
involved in now? 

I think that the games remain 
popular because they are 
enjoyable - not just as survival 

I've worked on five titles - 
Resident Evil 4-6, Resident 

Evil Zero, and the GameCube 
version of Resident Evil. 

horror games, but also through 
the story, characters and 
other aspects. 


What do you feel Resident 

What is it that drew you to 
the series? 

Evil HD will bring to the 
series now? 

I studied computer graphics 
at college, and was invited by 
Capcom to try interviewing 
for a job there, so it was really 
something that I got into 
initially due to the situation at 
Capcom when I joined. That 

I think it's a great chance 
for players to experience the 
original Resident Evil title, 
which is acclaimed by many 
as a masterpiece, in amazing 
HD quality. 

was the team I entered and 

I've been involved with the 

series ever since. 

Which of the Resident Evil 
series is your favourite 
game and why? 

The GameCube version 

What do you find most 
satisfying about creating 
Resident Evil games? 

of Resident Evil - not just 
because it was my first project, 
but also because I think it was 

Creating the games is such 
a long process. With that in 
mind, seeing players enjoy 

a very well-rounded game and 
a great survival horror title. 

the games after they come 
out is the most satisfying and 

Who is your favourite 
Resident Evil character? 

rewarding part of the job, and 
that goes for any game, not 
just Resident Evil. 

It's difficult to choose just 
one, but I would say Ada. Her 
mysterious presence in the 
stories adds a certain extra 

Why do you think Resident 

Evil remains so popular? 

something to the Resident 

Evil series. 


147 










mcoorjo 



RESI ON THE SILVER SCREEN 


Capcom s Resident Evil series is easily 
the most successful videogame licence 
to appear on the big screen. While the 
quality of the films ranges from okay 
to "god, my eyes, my eyes" they're all 
performed well at the box office. Paul W 
S Anderson has been involved in all five 
live-action films and is currently working 
on Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. 

Anderson's wife, Milla Jovovich is the 
star of all six films and plays Alice, a 
character created specifically for the 


films. Despite their critical disdain, the 
series has generated over $915 million. 
Capcom has also released three anime- 
based movies. The short film Biohazard 
4D-Executer was released in 2000, 
Resident Evil: Degeneration focused on 
Leon S Kennedy and Claire Redfield and 
was released in 2008, while Resident 
Evil Damnation was released in 20 1 2 
and follows Leon and Ada Wong. The 
animated films are set in the same 
universe as the actual games. 


RESIDENT EVIL: OPERATION 
RACCOON CITY 


VARIOUS 


Conceptually, Operation Raccoon City is a great idea, expanding on 
the online mechanics first hinted at in Outbreak. Unfortunately, the game 
itself is something of a mess due to atrociously bad AI, glitch visuals and 
boring set pieces. Despite its overall shoddiness, gamers loved the idea 
of a SOCOM-styled squad-based shooter and it went on to sell over 
2 million units. 


VOU MACTYDI 


RESIDENT EVIL 


2012 


VARIOUS 


Spread across four large scenarios and featuring an extremely lengthy campaign 
mode, Resident Evil 6 is a bizarre, bloated triple-A game that tries far too hard. There 
are plenty of great action sequences to be found and the combat is arguably the best 
in the series, but there's way too much filler, which massively cuts down its enjoyment. 
Like Resident Evil 5, it works far better with a second player, as the computer AI is prone 
to hinder you as much as it helps. Each scenario is based around a specific character: 
Leon S Kennedy, Chris Redfield, Jake Muller and Ada Wong and varies greatly in its 
style and pacing, with Leon's being the most accurate to previous games. While the 
main game divided critics, it still managed to sell over 5 million copies, meaning 
it's only a matter of time before Resident Evil 7 is officially announced. 









MOBILE RESIDENT EVIL 


ill Capcom's franchise has 
appeared on various mobiles 
with varying degrees of success. 
First up was Resident Evil: The 
Missions, which was released 
in 2003. Confidential Report 
followed in 2005 and was a 
turn-based strategy game - a 
first for the series. Genesis was 
a puzzle game that appeared 
in 2008 and received a sequel, 
Uprising, a couple of years later. 


There have been social games 
in the form of 201 l's Outbreak 
Survive, and shooters in the 
form of Assault The Nightmare 
and Zombie Buster. The most 
successful offerings have been 
on iOS however, and include 
cut-down versions of Resident 
Evil 4 and Mercenaries. There's 
also Degeneration and Afterlife, 
which are based on their 
respective movies. 


"THERE ARE PLENTY OF GREAT 


:THE Ejy^TRO GUIDE TO. RESIDENT EVIL i 


RESIDENT EVIL HD 


While it's essentially a HD update of the GameCube game, a 
number of new features make it worthy of inclusion here. The new 
widescreen mode does a great job of showing off the original's 
spectacular graphics, while the free movement, makes the game far 
more enjoyable to play (and quite a bit easier as a result). 


VARIOUS 


ACTION SEQUENCES TO BE FOUND 


AND THE COMBAT IS ARGUABLY 


THE BEST IN THE SERIES" 


i 




♦ 


V 




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022 

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02 ' 53 ' 78 . 


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1C Chris 


RESIDENT EVIL: REVELATIONS 2 2015 


VARIOUS 


While Revelations 2 is still under wraps we do know a few things 
about it. Barry Burton returns as a playable character, it will support 
co-operative gameplay and will be in episodic form, spread across 
four parts and introduces Barry's daughter, Moira. Here's hoping it 
can capture the atmosphere of the earlier games and not repeat the 
overblown pyrotechnics of Resident Evil 6. 



149 








HHVI 

The Madden 
series 


STEVE PAPOUTSIS, GENERAL MANAGER. 
VISCERAL GAMES 


One of the games I used 
to get really excited 
about when I was younger was 
Madden. Before I worked at 
EA, I used to drive up here to 
the EA campus (I’ve lived in the 
Bay area my whole life) and 
call the shipping room and talk 
to this guy, a day or two before 
the general release of a Madden 
game, and he’d come and meet 
me at the reception and let me 
buy the game. It’s quite different 
then than it is today, but that’s 
how much I love Madden, 
y’knowl It was so influential to 
me that I would drive, like, 25 
miles from my house, go to this 
cool videogames studio and pick 
up a game. It was that moment 
I thought, like, 'Wow, maybe I 
can make videogames 
at some point...’ 










— It was so influential to me that I — 

■ would drive 25 miles from my house, - 
. go to this cool videogames studio, and . 
_ pick up the game 

I STEVE PAPOUTSIS, GENERAL MANAGER, VISCERAL GAMES 





BEHIND THE SCENES 


This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most 
enduring films from the Eighties, but with the title on the 
cover pgge regding games™ rgther than films™, we look 
back gt the ggme that gccompgnied it 






BEHIND THE SCENES GHOSTBUSTERS 


+ + 



1984 

Forma C omm odor e 64 
Publishe r Activision 

In-house 

Key Staff: 
D e-S i gn^. D gyid_C_rg n e 
Additional Programming - 

Adam Beilin 
Graphics Design - Hilary Mills 

SoundJ^esigiL^ 

Russell Lieblich 

+ + 




crippling production deadlines. 


I WHEN IT COMES to iconic family films, few 
decades have delivered more entertainment 
13 value than the Eighties. Everything from the 
perilous escapades of Indiana Jones in Raiders Of 
The Lost Ark and the DeLorean delights of Back to 
the Future to Spielberg's timeless E.T. The Extra- 
Terrestrial and that dance from The Goonies. All of 
these films received videogame adaptations - one of 
them to the detriment of the whole industry - but even 
though most of these games amounted to little more 
than interesting curios at best and landfill fodder at 
worst, there was still the odd glimmer of light in a sea 
of mediocrity. 

Released on 7 June 1984, the original Ghostbusters 
film is as much a part of Eighties culture as The 
A-Team, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and The 
Smiths. Its refreshing mix of comedy and supernatural 
shenanigans set it apart from the other summer 
blockbusters that debuted around the same time 
and it soon spawned everything from comic books 
to theme park attractions. But before Bill Murray's 
quips and Ray Parker Jr's theme made it 
on to the silver screen, a deal was struck 
between Columbia Pictures and Activision to 
make a Ghostbusters game that would launch 
alongside the film. 

The man who would make this Ghostbusters 
game a reality was none other than David 
Crane, the creator of Pitfall! and one of the 
co-founders of Activision alongside Alan Miller, 

Bob Whitehead, Larry Kaplan and Jim Levy. Crane 
worked at Atari for two years from 1977 to 1979 and 
was first credited on Outlaw for the Atari 2600, but far 
from entering the industry as a programming novice, 
he already had experience in games development. 
" Outlaw was the first videogame I published, " Crane 
reflects. "But I had designed games for years before 
that - including an unbeatable Tic-Tac-Toe game 
computer. I was also a pinball wizard and mastered 
all the early arcade games." 

Despite a love for pinball tables and arcade sticks, 
Crane's primary hobby was tennis. "When I graduated 


and took a job at National Semiconductor in one of 
their Silicon Valley chip design divisions, I moved into 
an apartment complex in Sunnyvale, California that 
had tennis courts," Crane continues. "One of the other 
tennis players at that complex was Alan Miller, who 
was working at Atari. One night after an evening of 
tennis, Alan showed us an ad he was working on that 
was to be placed in the newspaper. He asked me and 
the others to critique the language." 

What began as a post-tennis proofread quickly 
became an opportunity to break into the games 
industry. "Atari was hiring game designers for the 
2600 and the job looked interesting," Crane recalls. 
"That night I typed up a resume on a computer that 
I had built from scratch. I interviewed at 10am the 
next morning and got a job offer by 2pm. Over the 
next two years the four game designers who ended 
up founding Activision grew into a close working 
unit. When Atari failed to appreciate that the four of 
us accounted for 60 per cent of their game cartridge 
sales we left to form Activision." 


I INTERVIEWED AT 
10AM AND GOT A JOB 
OFFER BY 2PM 


■■■ THE RISE AND fall of Atari is something that 
has been discussed at length in these very pages - 
particularly by former Retro columnist, Howard Scott 
Warshaw. But when Crane and company severed 
ties with Atari to become the industry's first third- 
party developer, they made sure that designers and 
programmers got credit for the games they created. 
This led to the Activision instruction manuals having 
tip sections where the creator could offer the player 
advice. Pitfall II: Lost Caverns, for example, featured 
some helpful quotes from Crane. These included: 



153 


m ooc© 



TOOLS OF 
THE TRADE 




Everything a rookie Ghostbuster needs to 
trap those pesky ghouls. 


COMPACT ($2000) 

Considering you start the game with $10,000, this VW Beetle is 
reasonably priced. But with a top speed of 75mph and only room for 
five items, it may be a case of false economy. 




1963 HEARSE ($4800) 

What better way to deal with the undead than with this classic coffin 
courier? It's slightly faster than the Compact, has room for nine 
items and has the authentic look of the film's iconic vehicle. 


STATION WAGON ($6000) 

With a top speed of 1 lOmph and the highest loading capacity in 
the game, Ghostbusters Station Wagon is arguably more practical 
than the flashier High-Performance for nearly half the price. 




HIGH-PERFORMANCE ($15,000) 

If you want to afford this pimp-mobile you'll probably have to play 
through the game more than once. It can only carry seven items but 
it's no slouch at 160mph and zips through the streets of NYC. 


PK ENERGY DETECTOR ($400) 

This inexpensive device will keep you informed of the city's PK 
Energy level. It basically lets you know how much time is left before 
the Keymaster and Gatekeeper get it on in the centre of the map. 




IMAGE 1NTENS1F1ER($800) 


Makes the Slimers appear less distorted when they appear. Not 
essential to getting through the game, but certainly a useful device 
when it comes to the trade of ghost busting. 


MARSHMALLOW SENSOR ($800) 

This gadget gives you some warning of when a Marshmallow Man 
disaster is about to happen. That's something you need to know 
about as he'll crumple half the city before you can say 'tea cake'. 




GHOST BAIT ($400) 

This is the only item that can stop the Marshmallow Man from 
destroying a city block. It has multiple uses and you get $2000 for 
every successful defence. A nice little earner for the business savvy. 


TRAPS ($600) 


Without Traps you can't catch ghosts. Simple as that. Ideally, you 
need to be equipped with at least three so you can stay on the road 
for longer without having to go back to HQ and restock. 





GHOST VACUUM ($500) 


As you drive between buildings you can suck up a wandering ghost 
with this Poltergust 3000 precursor. This slows down the build-up of 
PK Energy and makes for a fun mini-game in of itself. 


PORTABLE LASER CONFINEMENT 
SYSTEM ($8000) 


Better keep a lid on this one! As the second most expensive item 
available in the game, the PLCS is clearly a luxury. It handily 
empties all your traps automatically but isn't a necessity. 



! "don't get discouraged if a bat gets you 
■ 0 whenever you go from a ladder to a gold bar." 

The 1984 Pitfall sequel was the last game that 
Crane worked on before setting his sights on the 
Commodore 64 and Ghostbusters. "There had 
been some spectacularly failed attempts by other 
companies to make a videogame with a movie 
tie-in," Crane confirms with a knowing look. "But 
the categories were such a good fit that Activision 
had people reading scripts, hoping to find the right 
combination. Tom Lopez [former Vice-President of 
Editorial Development] brought the Ghostbusters 
script into the lab because he thought it was going to 
be popular. We all read it and agreed." 

Seeing merit in the script was no guarantee that the 
film would be a hit, but regardless of whether it was 
a flop or not, the pressing concern was the looming 
release. "A game with a movie-theme has to be on 
the market while the movie is still hot, which means 
while it is in theatres," Crane stresses. "That meant 
making a game with a terribly short development 
window, which has always been the kiss of death 
in games. I saw that I could make it happen if I 
re-tasked game code I had been working on for six 
months or so, and I accepted the challenge." 

That game was an automobile action title that 
was originally envisaged without proton packs in 
mind. " Ghostbusters would never have happened if 
not for Car Wars," Crane reflects. "In a sense, Car 
Wars gave its life to make Ghostbusters possible. It 
was a game where players equipped their cars with 
various weapons and then battled head-to-head on 
the highways. It would’ve been one of the first action 
games with an in-game economy. Car Wars gave 
Ghostbusters the economy, the car customisation 
and the driving scene where the player could 
vacuum up ghosts. New screens included the city 
map and the ghost capturing screens." 

Playing Ghostbusters on the Commodore 64 
today, it's impressive just how much content Crane 
managed to piece together in such a short space 
of time. You begin the game by taking out a loan for 
your new ghost-busting business, and after stocking 
up on necessary equipment and one of five vehicles 
- including the Beetle-like Compact and a 1963 
Hearse - you have to keep an eye on the city map 
for paranormal activity. When one of the city blocks 
starts flashing, you have to capture the offending 
ghost by carefully manoeuvring two Ghostbusters 
armed with proton packs before releasing a trap. 

If you succeed, you'll earn money that can be 
spent on better vehicles and improved ghost-busting 
equipment, but if you activate the trap at the wrong 



■ The longer it takes you to capture a ghost the 
more backpack power you'll lose in the process. 


154 












■ The window for dashing between the Marshmallow Man's 
legs is incredibly tight. Thank God for modem save states! 



WHAT 

THEY 

SAID... 



All you have 
to do is stop 
the 100ft 
Marshmallow 
Man from 
getting in the 
fridge. 

Your 64, Issue Six 
February 1985 




time or make the mistake of crossing the streams, 
you'll get slimed and lose a Ghostbuster for your 
trouble. You also have to make periodic trips back to 
Ghostbusters HQ to empty your traps, recharge your 
batteries and recruit more Ghostbusters. The aim of 
the game is to earn as much money as you can before 
the city's PK Energy rating (which rises automatically) 
reaches its peak of 9999, at which point you have to 
close Gozer's portal. 

One thing that's interesting to note about this 
tie-in is that it didn't get caught up in the plot. It 
was more about turning an interesting premise into 
compelling gameplay. "We had the script, we had 
some storyboards and we had camera-ready art for 
logos and such," Crane shares when asked about 
Columbia Pictures contribution to the Ghostbusters 
game. "We didn't have a licence to the characters' 
likenesses, so the actors had no stake in what we were 
doing. The studio left us alone. At the time, Activision 
was the gold standard in videogames, and we 
were trusted to make the best game possible." 

That being said, no amount of trust between 
Columbia Pictures and Activision made the 
limited development time (allegedly six weeks) 
any less frantic. "I don't remember how many 
weeks were available, but it was insane," 

Crane ponders. "In the game business, when 
you have to work 16-hour days you simply do 
so. It was worse because I was about to get 
married and run off on a honeymoon, and the 
game had to be finished the night before my 
wedding. If you believe that is it bad luck to 
bride before the wedding, schedule a game deadline 
at that time and it won't be a problem." 


I checked out, it was all on him to fix bugs, etc. He 
must've done a good job." 

Concrete sales figures for Commodore 64 games 
are hard to come by, but considering the Atari 2600 port 
of Ghostbusters sold approximately 450,000 copies, 
it’s fair to say that it was successful both critically 
and commercially. Even so, Crane still wonders what 
might've been. "Car Wars would've been ahead of its 
time with many innovative features," Crane muses. 
"Making Ghostbusters was fun, but I've always felt 
some regret when I think about all the things I could’ve 
done with Car Wars given a reasonable schedule. 
There is little doubt in my mind that Car Wars would've 
been the better game." 

One thing that wouldn't have made it into Car Wars 
was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. This iconic 
creature started showing up once the city's PK Energy 
rating exceeded 5000, and the only way to stop him 
from destroying a city block was with a well-timed 


ACTIVISION WAS THE 
GOLD STANDARD IN 
VIDEOGAMES, AND 
WE WERE TRUSTED TO 
MAKE THE BEST GAME 


the 


HISTORY HAS IT that Crane made it to his own 
wedding without incident, and although we have no 
idea who qualified as best man, Adam Beilin deserves 
credit for keeping Crane sane. "In the last few weeks 
of the project, a young programmer named Adam 
Beilin was brought on board to help," Crane explains. 
"His role was primarily to back me up once I left. He 
took a crash course on how my code worked and 
stepped in to write some modules. As of the night 


Ghost Bait. "The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man 
was cool so he had to make it into the game," 
Crane enthuses. "He took up valuable resources 
but making him a boss and using him as the basis for 
a little bit of new gameplay helped justify the effort." 

The Michelin Man’s less traction-conscious cousin 
also functioned as the game's final boss, although 
the challenge was no greater than timing a run 
between his legs as he hopped back and forth. 
"Victory scenes have always been a problem with 
limited game systems," Crane contemplates. "All 
resources, including disk space, RAM, schedule and 
staffing were constantly shuffled around. We were 


















m GGOO 


BANK ROLLING 


■ Curiously, the aim of the 
game is less about rescuing the 
city from paranormal invasion 
and more about paying back the 
$10,000 you have to borrow to 
start up your own ghost-busting 
business - hardly the journey 
of heroism Venkman, Stantz, 
Spengler and Zeddemore 
endure during the movie. If you 
make it to the finale without 
being at least $10,000 in profit, 
the game will end and you won't 


get an opportunity to close the 
portal. The trick is to capture 
as many ghosts as you can 
while paying close attention 
to the Marshmallow Man's 
whereabouts on the map, and 
if you finish the game in profit, 
you'll receive a code that can be 
used to start again with more 
money. Entering no name and 
an account number of 458, for 
instance, will start you off with a 
whopping $1,000,000. 




WHAT 

THEY 

SAID... 



There are few 
programs more 
pure fun to play 
than this one. 

It substitutes 
the excitement 
of living the 
movie for the 
ego boost of 
surmounting 
a truly 
demanding 
challenge. 

i Electronic Games 

! March 1985 



■ always reluctant to put too many resources into 
■SS! something only seen once, opting instead to 
dedicate resources to the gameplay. A similar issue 
would be a big explosion when you crash your ship. 
Why dedicate a lot of resources to something that you 
only see when you do something bad?" 

It's a question that feels out of time when applied 
to modern development studios, the kind that invest 
untold funds and hours into a single set-piece that 
might only be experienced once per play-through, but 
looking back at the era when Ghostbusters was made, 
this uncompromising attitude towards gameplay first 
and foremost is what made sure that Activision's first 
film tie-in didn't become the next E. T. disaster. But now 
that three full decades have passed since the game's 
release, are there any secrets that Crane has kept 
close to his chest after all these years? 

"The only thing that comes to mind is how the 
Gatekeeper and Key Master perform a random turn 
at each intersection," Crane reveals. "Theoretically, if 
the random numbers line up they could both reach the 
temple block shortly into the game and trigger the end 
game. I locked them out of doing so for some 
minimum amount of time, after which they 
could go in. So the length of the game varied 
randomly beyond that minimum. It was not 
common for a game to have a defined ending 
point." But to also have that ending point occur 
at a random time was pretty much unheard of. 

No retrospective on the original 
Ghostbusters would be complete without 
some mention of the karaoke feature. It busted out 


the titular song through the Commodore 64 's humble 
SID chip while scrolling through all the lyrics. "Once I 
had the idea, I felt it had to be implemented," Crane 
reflects. "I'd developed speech for the Commodore 
64, Russell lieblich [musician and former Activision 
designer] made a great arrangement of the theme 
music and Hilary Mills [former Activision senior artist] 
did a great logo. Those were all so good that I felt they 
needed to be accompanied by a follow-the-bouncing- 
ball sing-along." 

Most developers would've called it a day at this 
point but Crane found the time to expand this bonus 
feature into a makeshift mini-game. "I enlisted the 
aid of Garry Kitchen and his group at Activision's 
Eastern Design Centre to program the bouncing ball 
and scrolling lyrics," Crane explains. "I stole a bit of 
time away from the game programming to implement 
the 'Ghostbusters!' yell. That's how the title screen 
became a playable feature in the game. And before 
you ask, no, I don't remember who did the yelling." 

The spoken speech was limited to just a couple 
of phrases, the most memorable of which was "He 


ONCE I HAD THE IDEA, 
I FEET IT HAD TO BE 
IMPLEMENTED 






slimed me!" whenever a bust went bad. 
Crane would push the speech capabilities of 
the Commodore 64 even further with Transformers: 
The Battle To Save The Earth in 1986, but not before 
Ghostbusters was ported to other home computing 
platforms. "I was almost never involved in ports," 
Crane confesses. "I was off making the next original 
game concept. When porting, a programmer can use 
the original game as a perfect specification, and they 
can find the answer to any gameplay question by 
simply playing the game." 

■■■ LOOKING AT THE ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, 
MSX and Atari 2600 versions of Ghostbusters - all of 
which were released between 1984 and 1985 - it's 
clear that the ports were handled with a reasonable 
degree of care. They contained most of the original 


156 














BEHIND THE SCENES GHOSTBUSTERS 


+ 


> A GAMING EVOLUTION Pac-Man > Ghostbusters > Project Zero 


+ 



As far as ghosts 
go, they don't 
get much more 
old-school than 
Blinky Pinky, 
Inky and Clyde 
in the original 
Pac-Man. 



The 

Marshmallow 
Man may be a 
tad creepy, but 
he's got nothing 
on the ethereal 
nightmares in 
Project Zero. 



+ 


» 


+ 


game's features and did a solid job of recreating 
its presentation. But when Ghostbusters was ported 
to the Master System and NES in 1987 and 1988 
respectively, little effort was made to enhance the 
game beyond some ill-conceived shooting sections. 
This is especially true of the woeful NES version that 
received a well-deserved grilling at the hands of The 
Angry Video Game Nerd back in 2007. 

The fact that the NES version was handled so 
poorly is further testament to what Crane achieved 
on the Commodore 64. "The Commodore 64 was 
certainly more capable than the Atari 2600, but it still 
had limited capabilities," Crane stresses. "The best 
games were designed to work with the limitations. 
Enter the movie. It pre-exists with certain expectations. 
It has characters and storylines that make it what it is. 
The tendency is to design a game that follows the 
movie without considering the console's limitations. 
That's a failure waiting to happen." 

Hardware limitations became much less of a 
problem once the industry pushed past the 8-bit 
generation and delivered everything from Dune on the 
Amiga and Blade Runner on the PC to The Warriors 
and Ghostbusters: The Video Game on more modern 
systems. And yet, film adaptations and tie-ins still 
account for some of the worst games. "It's far better 
to step back and design an original game that takes 


place in the same universe as the movie," Crane 
states. "You can sprinkle in iconic imagery or props 
from the movie, but you're designing a game that 
should be fun to play whether it's a movie tie-in or not." 

As far as design methodologies go, it almost sounds 
like Crane is stating the obvious. But when you look 
back to the other tie-ins that were released around the 
same time, there are few instances where the developer 
put the game before the licence. Ghostbusters may've 
been cannibalised from a vehicular combat game 
with a novel yet seemingly ill-suited economy system, 
but by focusing on the concept of the film rather than 
trying to turn the game into an interactive script, it 
succeed in doing what so few tie-ins accomplish. It 
complemented the film and it held up as a game when 
you looked past the iconic logo. 

Following his time at Activision, Crane went on to 
work at Hasbro Entertainment and co-founded both 
Absolute Entertainment and Skyworks Technologies. 
Today he works as an independent game developer, 
and if he had the opportunity to work on another 
Ghostbusters game, he'd still stick to his principles. 
"The approach wouldn't change," Crane confirms. 
"I'd design a game that was fun to play that just 
happened to involve some aspects of the movie." In 
the end, that was the secret to a compelling > 
Ghostbusters game. 



■ The only time you can buy upgrades is at 
the start ol the game. 



■ Without the aid of the Image Intensifies 
the wandering Slimers are harder to spot. 



■ Faster vehicles shorten the time it takes 
to travel on the road. 



157 











GAME CHANGERS 


* roooo 


THE SIMS 


Released: 31 March, 2000 Publisher: EA Developer: Maxis System: PC 



Who'd have thought that a simulation based on your mundane duties in real 
life could be so fun? Well, EA and Maxis, it turns out. The Sims became one of 

the biggest PC games ever made. . . 


a ■ WHAT WOULD YOU do if your house burnt 
■ ■ ■ down - if all your possessions were taken away 
® ® ® ® and you had to rebuild your life? For designer 
Will Wright, the answer to that question was simple: 
make a game out of it. 

After the Oakland firestorm of 1991 destroyed all 
of Wright's possessions, the designer was inspired 
to create a virtual dollhouse to try and share his 
experience with the world. 


A year later, Wright - who had previously worked on 
SimCity, SimEarth and SimAnt- pitched the idea of an 
architectural design game (then called Home Tactics) 
to Maxis, a company he co-founded, but the board of 
directors wasn't wholly enthused by the idea. Yet when 
EA bought out the studio in 1997, Wright's daydream got 
a second chance. E A wanted to rebrand the game to fit 
in with Wright's already-successful brand and work on 
the product could start. 


158 




iGAME-CHANGERS: THE SIMS 


THE ANATOMY OF THE SIMS 


YOU MIGHT BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT THE RIDICULOUSLY IN-DEPTH LITERATURE 
AND THEORY THAT WENT INTO MAKING THE SYSTEMS THE SIMS RUNS ON... 




A Pattern Language 

Towns Buildings Construction 



A PATTERN LANGUAGE 




★ Written in 1977, this book outlines the 
importance of people's own designs on the 
spaces they inhabit: houses, communities 
and so on. Wright included many of the 
principles in The Sims' world-building tools. 


★ The American psychologist is famous 
for thinking up the 'hierarchy of needs'; a 
pyramid-based system that leads to self- 
actualisation. Wright applied this model to 
his Sims' morale and happiness systems. 


★ Charles Hampden-Turner's Maps Of The 
Mind charts and conceptualises the mind 
and its processes in a flowchart-like way, 
and was the foundation for the artificial 
intelligence that powers the Sims. 


From such personal and humble beginnings grew 
a giant - one of the first truly mainstream games of 
the new millennium. The Sims was massive - it would 
run on most families' home computers, it had universal 
appeal, and nothing quite like it had ever existed at 
the time. It was peculiar - when Wright first pitched 
the game, the Maxis board claimed 'no-one wanted 
to play with a virtual doll's house [. . .] because that 
was for girls, and girls don't play games'. EA had 
more foresight than that, though, and it's thanks to The 
Sims that a lot of younger players in the Noughties, 
both male and female, had their first experience 
with videogames. 

According to EA's figures, female players make up 
approximately 60 per cent of The Sims' playerbase. 
While its immediate impact wasn't necessarily felt, 
we'd like to hope it woke up many in the industry to the 
fact that women were actually playing their games, as 
much as they may have ignored them. 

■ ■ ■ THE REASON THE Sims became so popular 
- and got so very quickly - comes down to three core 


THE GAME IS 

PRACTICALLY 

UNWINNABLE... 

AS SUCH, THE SIMS 
ENJOYS INFINITE 
REPLAY VALUE 



Two years after 
its original release, 
The Sims had sold 
over 11.3 million 
copies worldwide, 
easily surpassing 
the best-selling PC 
game ever at that 
point, Myst. 

The Sims licence 
was picked up by 
Hollywood in 2007, 
but script issues 
have prevented any 
actual progress 
on a cinematic 
adaptation of it. 

Lead designer 
of The Sims, 

Will Wright, was 
a Robot Wars 
champion and is 
an active space- 
flight enthusiast. 

Prior to 

approval, some at 
Maxis apparently 
referred to it as 
'The Toilet Game'. 


design tenets; first, the game is practically unwinnable 
- there are no conditions for victory, no goal can really 
be achieved. As such, The Sims enjoys practically 
infinite replay value - it's a game about keeping your 
Sims on the right track, interfering with lite-AI elements 
and, basically, playing God. 

Second, the game includes an advanced 
architecture system - thanks to its original shape as 
Home Tactics - and can be used as an educational 
tool. There are people on the games™ team that 
actually went on to read architecture at University 
thanks to initial exposure to architectural theory in 
its simplest form in The Sims. The game managed to 
make learning fun for kids - something that you can't 
really put a price on. 

Third, the game became a psychological 
phenomenon; various sects of players began to evolve 
from the initial playerbase. A hardcore audience grew 
almost instantly, forming a very strong community that's 
still alive and well today, while other players discovered 
darker sides to themselves and ended up enacting 
sadistic and violent acts upon their own creations. 

Because of how simply the diametrically presented 
in-game assets looked and handled and interacted 
with the 3D models of The Sims themselves, people 
began to project their own lives into their avatars. At 
its core, whether you torture the little guys or not, The 
Sims is wish fulfilment, and it's presented in such an 
interactive way that we can create entire narratives - 
establish entire universes - within the toolbox Maxis 
gives us. Combined with a gentle visual experience 
and the soft 'Simlish' muzak that played constantly, The 
Sims was seen as a therapeutic tool as much as it was 
a videogame. 


159 









8 MORE GAMES 
TO INSPIRE YOUR 
INNER SADIST 


THE SIMS MAY HAVE BEEN MADE WITH DOLLHOUSE RELAXATION 



IN MIND, BUT BURNING, DROWNING AND MURDERING SIMS WAS A 
COMMON PASTIME. IT MADE US THINK ABOUT ALL THOSE OTHER 
TIMES WE'VE BEEN TRULY AWFUL TO OUR CHARACTER 


SHOOTING NATALYA IN GOLDENEYE 

■ NATALYA IS AN infuriating nuisance in Rare's game-changing 
shooter. She gets in the way of your rather dangerous gunfire, or 
finds it hilarious to stand in doorways and block you off. On the 
upside, she's a true bullet sponge. How many times can you shoot 
her before it's game over? For us, testing her durability became a 
large part of the game. 


SLAPPING WOLVERINE 

■ DEADPOOL IS ALL about chaos, and it's the most realised 
when you crash the X-Men's airship, rendering the rest of the cast 
unconscious. There's an achievement for slapping Wolverine 50 
times, but we must have continued for a good half hour, laughing 
at the nonsense Deadpool spouted on each hit. "That's for being 
so ugly. That's for being so beautiful. That's because I felt like it." 


160 




GAME-CHANGERS: THE SIMS 



MISLEADING MUDOKONS 


FEEDING LARA TO THE WOLVES 


■ IN THE ORIGINAL Oddworld: Abe's Oddysee, we were appalled 
to find ourselves directing fellow Mudokons into meat grinders, into 
mines, or into bottomless pits. Once we 'accidentally' electrocuted 
one of the meat puppets to death, we knew we couldn't get the good 
ending, so we had fun using the fools as meat shields. . . the usual. 


■ THE POINT OF the 2013 Tomb Raider reboot, we're sure, was for 
us to empathise with Lara. The intention wouldn't have been for us 
to find everything that can kill Lara, just to see what it does. 'Will I 
die if I leap off this cliff?' Yes. 'Will this suspicious trip-wire cause 
something to crush me?' Yes. 'Will this wolf tear off my face?' Oh yes. 



SACRIFICING YOUR SPOUSE 

■ THE CENTRE POINT of this Fable II temple is a giant device titled 
The Wheel Of Unholy Misfortune - a torture machine you could use 
to sacrifice civilians in order to curry favour with the dark lord. Kill 
enough people and you can collect the most powerful weapon in 
the game. . . but only if you offer up our husband or wife first. 



PUTTING DOWN THE SURVIVORS 

■ DEAD RISING 2 had two primary objectives - find a cure for your 
daughter and rescue a slew of abandoned survivors. Thing is, those 
survivors are whiny idiots - some don't get on, some wander off, and 
they're universally dumb. We enjoying feeding them to the zombies, 
using them as bait so we could get further into the city complex. 



HARVESTING LITTLE GIRLS FOR DRUGS 

■ WE NEVER THOUGHT we'd write that headline. But thanks to 
Ken Levine and BioShock, here we are. We assume Levine wanted 
players to avoid harvesting the kids for precious Adam, but we're 
pragmatists - we knew harvesting would provide us with more of 
the magical juice, and what's one girl's life when compared to, let's 
say, having bees living in your arms? 


PLAYING TURRETS OFF 

■ WE NEVER THOUGHT it was possible to have an emotional 
attachment to a turret, but Valve humanised the automated killing 
machines and made them adorable. That didn't stop us setting the 
things to attack each other, though, laughing at their cutesy death 
cries and empty threats. When we dropped one on top of another, 
destroying them both. . . that's when we were thinking with portals. 


161 







OOQO 



TIM 

SCHAFER 

Double Fine's attention is focused on its new 
point-and-click adventure Broken Age, but ten years ago 
it was Psychonauts that was blowing minds. . . 


Tim Schafer has one of 
gaming's most enviable CVs. 
Most developers would be 
happy having created the 
The Secret of Monkey Island 
but Tim can also note Full 
Throttle, Day Of The Tentacle 
and Grim Fandango among 
his incredible successes. In 
2005, he added Psychonauts 
to the list, cramming new 
concepts into a finely honed 
and polished platform game 
collect-em-up that used 
psychic abilities to enter the 
minds of enemies in order 
to battle against their inner 
demons and fears. Dumped 
by Microsoft before it was 
released, it nevertheless 
remains one of Tim's most 
overlooked gems. Here, on the 
10th anniversary of its release 
- and in the same month as 
Double Fine's new point-and- 
click adventure Broken Age 
is released - Tim tells us 
more about this sterling piece 
of work. 


■ So you left LucasArts in 2000 to 
in create Double Fine Productions. 

■ ■ ■ ■ I almost can't take credit for the idea 
of leaving LucasArts. Friends of mine there did 
a napkin map and said we should leave and 
make PS2 games because we could make a 
lot of money. I was kind of wary. I didn't want 
to leave because I had a sweet gig there. A 
lot of things were taken care of and I 
only had to worry about the games and 
making them as good as possible. 


Were you excited about going it alone? 

We started with three people figuring out 
how the fax machine worked and fixed the 
plumbing; the basic stuff that seems romantic 
when you are starting out a company and 
you're in a warehouse and there's no heat and 
it's awesome. It doesn't seem that romantic 
when you are at crunch, though. 


How did Psychonauts come about? 

Psychonauts was a mutation of ideas. 

Some of the themes and the concepts 
had been in early game pitches I made 
at LucasArts. The idea of dreams went 
as far back as Full Throttle. I always wanted to 
work with interactive dreams and visions and I 
was interested in the idea that there are things 
in your head that you do not consciously know. 
But it's funny because someone walked into 
the office and said, "Tell me about that thing 
when you go into other people's heads", and I 
was like, "No, no, it is going deep into your own 
head". And I thought 'Wait, that's better; that's 
totally better'. Someone's misunderstanding 
of an early pitch helped me come up with this 
idea of Psychonauts. 


AT FIRST I WAS TRYING 
TOGO WITH A CHARLIE 
BROWN KIND OF THING 
WITH REAL KIDS 


Did you prefer being in control? 

LucasArts was a great place to work, with 
' tons of super talented people. It was a unique 
company with an amazing ranch and we got 
so much attention so it was a safe place to be. 
But it had to make Star Wars games and make 
money for George. I wanted to work on original 
projects and control how the team was treated. 

Why did Psychonauts take five years? 

You know the saying that bumblebees 
shouldn't technically be able to fly if you look at 



TIM SCHAFER 


*41 


QJM | 








J ? WtSSs&S* .1 


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las 

rap 


S' 


£ 




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& 


$ 


■ 

# ( lr» 


b.t 


REMAKING THE ORIGINAL 

a MM I WOULD LIKE to remake 

Psvchonauts in HD but most o ® 

ofgi»alffl-» el “'- P r£S« 

ta» =» a* ,£ t ta d 

to. We've tad people reantaa te a ' 

drives have crashe , d it wou ld be really - 

“r*"»o* n f ar ia 

wTre going to do that, we think we ■■ 
Ihould just make another game. JJ 


* 43 *+ 


KS&V5S 




of barbed wire fence that you couldn't get over 
and there was a cabin down there. We'd say it 
was where Hatchet Mary lived - someone who 
hacked your parents apart - and we'd dare 
each other to go down there. It's an excitement 
about going where you are not supposed to go 
and crossing a line. It was something we tried 
to capture in the summer camp of Psychonauts. 


A stand-out part of the game was the 
excellent voice acting by Richard Horowitz, 
who played Raz. Why choose him? 

At first I was trying to go with a Charlie Brown 
kind of thing with real kids. We had some come 
in and read out some lines but they didn't have 
the right acting experience. With Richard we 
could say, "Okay, can you do it again but a bit 
faster because you don’t know the bad guys is 
bad yet?" and he would say "Gotcha", and do it 
about eight different ways. Some little kids can't 
change their performance and often just read 
it the same way again. Yet Richard had this 
hilarious audition tape. He's one of those guys 
who is always changing his voice, like Robin 
Williams. It was great to have him. 


The locations were truly mind-bending, with Raz expected to 
ttle against some bizarre enemies such as the brain-powered 
1 Blueprint Brain Tank in the Brain Tumbler Experiment. 


B J the aerodynamics or the weight of them? 
■■■! If you told that to bumblebees, they'd 
drop to the ground simultaneously. The same 
was true of us. If we knew of the obstacles in 
the way of making Psychonauts, we probably 
wouldn't have summoned the gusto to do it. 

It was the first time we had made a platform 
game and we had junior people working 
on their first game. We were working with a 
publisher - Microsoft - that had just launched 
the Xbox. We were feeling this thing out. 

Why make a platform game; wouldn't it have 
been easier to stick with what you knew? 

I was inspired by 3D platform games. I liked 
the 3D environments of them, exploring and 
swimming and having fun. But I felt they were 
missing the depth of adventure games so I 
wanted to do something that felt submersive 
but had unusual settings and non-typical 
characters and a deep storyline. 


How did you 
develop the 
characters? 

I was trying to 
write a document 
about the various 
kids you see at 
Summer Camp, 
looking at their personalities, what they 
believed in, what their parents were like and 
that kind of thing. I was spending a lot of time 
on the social network Friendster - on which 
I actually met my wife - and I was like, wait 
a second, I'm going to make fake Friendster 
profiles for all of these camp kids. It helped 
me decide who was friends with who, what 
they might post on each other's walls and 
what pictures they may put up to represent 
themselves. It was really helpful. 

Are back stories important? 

I am a big believer in them and that's the secret 
I think to making characters that really stand 
out. But I believe in not sharing those back 
stories by laying them around a world in the 
form of books. I wanted the characters to reveal 
little bits and pieces of a back story as they talk. 


THE LONG GAME 

// ■■■ IT WAS ALWAYS a bummer 
| to see Psychonauts in the list 
of the top five games that you 
didn t play. It was seen as a flop but in the 
early days it sold 400,000 and on digital 
distribution it kept selling. When we got 
the rights back, we put it on Steam and 
included achievements. It started to sell 
again. It's not a game that nobody played 
but it's one that needed the 
longevity that digital distribution 
could provide. 


Psychonauts drew on your past adventure 
games as well, though, didn't it? 

We had dialogue trees, an inventory and 
straight-up puzzles. It was how I knew how to 
make a game. But I also drew on life, so we 
had paranoid milkmen and bacon and stuff 
like that. The idea for 
bacon came from a story 
someone told me about 
getting rid of tapeworm. 

If there is a worm in your 
stomach or your intestines 
and - sorry, this is gross - 
you hold a piece a bacon 
in front of your open mouth 
and the smell of the bacon 
will get to the worm. You'll 
see its head popping up at 
the back of your throat so 
you grab it and pull it out. I 
thought it was so funny that 
bacon is so delicious that 
even a tape worm can't 
resist it. Ford Cruller couldn't resist it either. 





Why have Psychonauts lead character 
Raz run away from the circus to sneak 
into a summer camp packed with 
youngsters with psychic abilities? 

I wanted to make a game about childhood 
where players could explore secret areas 
and I think wandering around the woods is 
something a lot of kids have fond memories 
of. It’s timeless and doesn't age. 

Was that a hallmark of your own childhood? 

I remember being ten years old and 
exploring areas where I knew I shouldn't 
be. At our camp there was a bordering edge 


i 


I One of Psychonauts major strengths was its vrhrant character^rtiom hfere 
Jesee Jasper RoEs, the inner critic of insane actress Glona Von Gouton. 


164 


it# 



TIM SCHAFER 



IF WE KNEW OF THE 


And the soundtrack was the fine work of 
Peter McConnell, who you had worked with 
for years... 

He worked on Money 2 and Day Of The Tentacle 
- he wrote the theme for that. We called him in 
for Psychonauts and he did an amazing job. He 
has also been involved with Broken Age. 


one point that we were shutting down and 
that Wednesday's pay check would be the 
last one. Then two weeks of money came in 
from a random source and we signed with 
Majesco so it worked out. When you are really 
dependent on a publisher for your future, it can 
be very dicey. 


character didn't feel right because we hadn't 
emphasised Raz enough. At some point we 
got a task force together of people from every 
discipline to look at Raz and how he felt and 
played. We looked at how Raz grabbed 
ladders and tightropes and how he walked 
and how he stopped walking, how he turned 
and stuff like that. I think the big lesson was to 
do that first before you do the rest of the game. 


You have said before that Psychonauts came 
out at the wrong time, when the market had 
changed. Do you stick with that? 

Yes, it was very near the end of the Xbox life 
cycle. The reason it got cancelled at Microsoft 
was because they were not going to fund 
any more Xbox games from the start of 2005 
because they were bringing out the Xbox 360. 
We came out in February that year. I was like, 
"Were two months, just two months over that 
year" but it was just a little too late. 


Was that a stressful time? 

We had the company riding on it. It was our 
only game and to think it could all come 
crashing down would have been a waste. 
Nobody would have seen it. It would have 
just disappeared and I would have 
retired from games. It would have 
been devastating. 


Did you really think of quitting? 

No. [laughs] When I get on track with 
something, I see it through. I made that 
game and I put so much into it that I 
would not have accepted any possibility 
of not finishing it. It's like with Broken Age. 
Three years in the making and I'm sure some 
people thought that we had stopped working 
on it but no, we're just about done. 

Was it touch and go? 

We were so close to the end of our money. I 
made an announcement to the company at 


OBSTACLES IN THE WAY, 
WE PROBABLY WOULDN'T 
HAVE DONE IT 


F T Looking back on it all, would you 

have done things differently? 

Yeah. We didn't know what we were 
doing at the time. The fact it was good 
was because we kept plugging away and 
learning. The levels took a lot of designing 
and redesigning and for a long time it wasn't 
fun to play. It had crazy backgrounds but the 


Some dismissed Psychonauts as a children's 
game, didn't they? 

Day Of The Tentacle had the same problem. 
We got a call once from Steven Spielberg 
who wanted a hint for his son Max. The first 
thing he said was it was great that we made 
games for kids. I wanted to say, "Ahh, it's a fun 
game for kids to play in that it doesn't have 
bad content in it - except for microwaving your 
hamster and stuff - but it's not just tor kids". 

I've just always been drawn to cartoon-like 
humour, and stylised artistic visuals. I grew up 
with Ren & Stimpyand Warner Bros cartoons. 
They always had adult content. I just assumed 
everyone loved that kind of thing too. 



Will you ever make a sequel? 

Yes. I think the time has to be right and we 
have to have access to the right kind of money. 
It has to live up to the first game. 

In 2012, Minecraft creator Markus Persson 
tweeted that he would fund a sequel. What 
happened there? 

It was a nice offer but I think the actual price 
tag of what it would cost was not what he was 
expecting. The first game cost $13m, so not 
exactly cheap. It was an exciting moment and 
I would still like to do it. But he's probably got 
plenty of people asking for money. 

Are you surprised at the cult following? 

Of course not, it's awesome [laughs]. 

Do you feel vindicated for having made the 
move, then? 

[laughs] Yes. Vindicated. I win. [laughs] 



165 




MttKtRa 



MEGA MAN 2 

NES [CAPCOM] 1988 

OFTEN THE MOST memorable openings in videogames are the ones that display the most 

elaborate visuals, which is why contemporary games are often celebrated loudest - case in 

point: BioShock ' s maiden descent into Rapture. But even within the limited capabilities of basic 

console hardware (in this case the NES) developers found increasingly distinctive ways to create 

dynamic visual moments for players to marvel at. Mega Man 2 does just that with only a few lines 

of text, flawlessly setting the scene for the ensuing experience; the camera sweeps up a skyscraper as 

the music swells, revealing Mega Man standing proudly atop. It's one of the most rousing moments in the 

history of gaming, one that can't fail to make gamers ridiculously pumped-up about what lies ahead. As far as 

heroic entrances go, all other videogame icons should take note. 







BO NG 
COUNTRY 

It's been 20 years since British studio Rare rebooted one 


of Nintendo's first mascots, giving us the ideal excuse to 

uncover the history of this smashing SNES title 








NES 


:ONG COUNTR 


Released: JJS94 
Format: SNES 
Publisher: Nintendo 

(Designer). Tim Stamper 
(Producer). Chris Sutherland 


(Lead Programmer). Brendan 

Gunn (Programmer). David 

Wi s e ( Mus i c ) 

+ + 


■ PRETTY MUCH EVERY game development 
studio of note has a title in its back catalogue 
that can be seen as a pivotal point in its 
evolution and growth. Valve has Half Life, id Software 
has Doom, and Square has Final Fantasy, these 
games provided the momentum that has propelled 
such esteemed companies to global stardom, 
and without these significant successes, it's highly 
plausible that such famous code houses might 
not even exist today. UK-based Rare is no 
exception to this rule. While the firm wasn't in 
any danger of falling into obscurity during the 
early Nineties, it's hard to imagine that it would 
have become quite as big as it is today without 
the propulsion provided by the 1994 SNES 
smash-hit Donkey Kong Country. 

Today, Rare is a wholly owned subsidiary 
of Microsoft Game Studios and operates out 
of a purpose-built, high-tech HQ in the idyllic 
Leicestershire countryside, but prior to reviving 

the Donkey Kong brand, it was based in the rather 
less-modern surroundings of a Grade if listed 
farmhouse, just a few miles up the road from its 
current residence. Despite the lack of swanky 
offices, it was just as fascinating a place to 
work as legend might have you believe. 
"Rare was an amazing place back then," 
recalls Brendan Gunn, who was employed 
as a technical programmer on Donkey Kong 
Country and had previously worked on the 
NES classic Captain Skyhawk. "ft was quite 
a small company with a real family feel. 
Games were created in a very organic way, 
not planned out in detail in advance. We were 
always free to just try out ideas. Whatever 
worked would stay, and if it didn't feel good, we 
just ripped it back out again. In those days, it was 
not uncommon for entire games to be shelved if 
they didn't show enough promise. I think this was 
key to keeping the quality high." 


Following a string of commercial successes ^ 
during the late Eighties and early Nineties, the 
Stampers faced an uncertain future - as did the 
industry in general. The next generation of systems 
had started to arrive in the form of the 3DO, Amiga 
CD32 and Philips CD-i, but owners of existing 16-bit 
consoles seemed curiously reticent to upgrade, 
thanks largely to the unproven nature of CD-ROM 
systems and the high cost of new hardware. Sensing 
that the current generation still had some life in it 
but simultaneously mindful of an exciting new era 
just around the corner, the Stampers began to invest 
heavily in new graphics tech with the ultimate aim of 
creating one of the most advanced code houses in the 
British Isles. 

It was a risky strategy, which involved great 
expense and temporarily limited the development 
output of the studio, but it was one that ultimately 
paid off; encouraged by the work being undertaken in 
Twycross, publishing partner Nintendo decided it was 
time to invest in the firm and promptly purchased 49 per 
cent of the company. "Rare began experimenting with 
creating 3D-rendered characters with our expensive 
new Silicon Graphics computers," Gunn explains, 
likening the situation to a perfect storm of events. 
"Visitors from Nintendo were suitably impressed by 
what we were working on, and Rare became a 
second-party developer. Rare had already impressed 
Nintendo with some excellent games, several of which 
Nintendo had actually published themselves. The 
obvious potential of pre-rendered 3D graphics would 
have sealed the deal, especially as the SNES was 
nearing the end of its life, and Nintendo was a little 


WHATEVER WORKED 
WOULD STAY, AND IF IT 
DIDN'T FEEL GOOD, WE 
JUST RIPPED IT BACK 
OUT AGAIN 


behind the competition in developing the next 
generation of 3D-capable consoles." 


■■■ NINTENDO'S EXECS WERE so taken with what 
Rare had achieved with its shiny-new Silicon Graphics 
workstations that it effectively opened up its vault of 
properties and allowed the British company to take its 
pick - within reason, of course. "At this point, the door 
was open for the Stampers to push for the use of some 
existing Nintendo II?" Gunn says. "Obviously, they 
wouldn't give us a treasured character like Mario, but 
Donkey Kong had been largely abandoned for some 
time, and this was a chance to give him a new burst 
of life." Indeed, save for a few cameo roles, the mighty 
Kong had been largely dormant for the best part of 
a decade; his last outing was 1983's Donkey Kong 
3. Ironically, during 1994 another Kong game would 
hit the market in shape of the Game Boy title Donkey 
Kong '94 (see "1994's Other Kong"), but it was more 
of a retooling of the 1981 original than an entirely new 


169 





1994'S OTHER KONG 

With two Kongs around, 1994 marked the battle of the apes 



WHILE RARE MANAGED to kick-start 
Kong's career with Donkey Kong Country 
and turn the massive, bumbling primate 
into a household name once again, 
it wasn't the only title he starred in 
during the bumper year of 1994. June 
(September in Europe) saw the launch 
of an all-new Donkey Kong adventure 
on the monochrome Game Boy system 
that is often referred to as Donkey Kong 
94. Based loosely on the original 1981 
arcade machine that started it all, it 
begins with the coin-op's first four levels, 
but quickly changes pace with 97 all- 
new stages that take the core gameplay 
seen in Kong's debut and turn it on its 
head with all manner of enhancements 
and improvements. Our hero Mario (who 
reverts back to his not-so-Super guise 
for this release) can swim, climb ropes 
and even catch incoming barrels, and 
there are boss fights to contend with 
as well. While the arcade game was a 


score-based venture, this portable outing 
is blessed with a battery back-up facility 
so that players can retain their progress. 
All things considered, Donkey Kong 94 
is a fantastic update to the coin-guzzling 
original and rightly received critical 
acclaim on its release; however, hitting 
the market in the same year as Rare's 
legendary title perhaps dented its chances 
of long-lasting fame, and it has been 
rather overshadowed in the years that 
have followed. Thankfully, it hasn't been 
totally forgotten and is currently available 
on the 3DS Virtual Console, where it is 
well-worth investigating. One final point 
of interest is that Kong is wearing a red tie 
in this title, an item of clothing that Rare 
would factor into its own interpretation of 
the famous character - an interpretation 
that, it should be pointed out, has become 
the accepted norm on this infamous 
character since the launch of Donkey 
Kong Country. 



adventure, and its release did little to detract 
■■■■ from Rare's grand vision. 

Gunn's role on Donkey Kong Country was a 
technical one, and he had to come up with the code 
that would make everything sing. His contribution 
was an incredibly important one, but even so, he 
was unprepared for the first time that he laid eyes 
on Rare's fresh interpretation of gaming's most 
famous ape. "I was really amazed the first time I saw 
a 3D-rendered Donkey Kong model on screen," he 
recalls more than twenty years later. "It looked so 
different from traditional hand-drawn graphics, and 
far ahead of what consoles would be able to render 
in real-time for many years to come. It was very 
exciting and inspiring to work with these graphics. 
All my previous games had been solo projects in 
terms of programming, so Donkey Kong Country 
was different in that I could spend all of my time 
focused on the visuals, leaving the gameplay to Chris 
Sutherland. For me, that was a bigger difference 
than the pre-rendering. I was able to put a lot of 
time into really optimising the use of video RAM to 
get a lot of variation in the graphics. We didn't want 
it to look like there was a lot of repeated images on 
screen. I also spent a lot of time adding lots of layers 
of parallax in the backgrounds, and adding the day- 
to-night transitions and weather effects." 

Those familiar with the geography of the English 
Midlands will be aware that Rare's HQ isn't the 
only thing that the small and rather sleepy village 
of Twycross is famous for - it also boasts an 
internationally renowned zoo, which houses the 
largest selection of monkeys and apes in the western 
hemisphere, making it the ideal research target for 
a game studio creating a title showcasing plenty of 
hairy primates. That's what you'd assume at least, 
but sadly the trip that occurred during the creation 
of Donkey Kong Country would prove to be a waste 
of effort. "I was not involved in the zoo visit, but I 
understand it was ultimately fruitless," Gunn smiles. 
"The animators tried making Donkey Kong move like 
a real ape, but it just didn't look right in the game and 
he finished up moving more like a galloping horse." 

■■■ DONKEY KONG COUNTRY was designed 
from the ground up to be a ground-breaking visual 
spectacle, but like so many titles of the period, 
it took inspiration from one of the oldest SNES 
games: Super Mario World. Kong is able to jump 
onto the heads of enemies - just like Mario - and 
collects bananas instead of coins; he also traverses 
a massive overworld map and is able to move 
freely between stages using connected pathways - 
something that was popularised by the Super Mario 
series. To call this slavish cloning might be a little 
overzealous, but few would deny the fact that Rare's 
prestigious Nineties output benefited greatly from 
ideas generated by the Japanese company with 
which it shared a very intimate relationship. "Rare 
has made a lot of original games," starts Gunn, 
"But when it comes to working on familiar genres, 
we always looked to Nintendo for inspiration. Why 
not learn from the best? We always tried to put our 
own spin on things - not simply copying Nintendo's 
games - but they often found brilliant solutions to 





\ 

BEHIND THE SCENES 





With such a 
strong replay 
value, Donkey 
Kong Country 
is sure to be a 
colossal hit this 
holiday. If you 
want to hit an 
ape ball in the 
side pocket, 
you'll recognise 
DKC for what it 
is: the gorilla of 
your dreams 


on making the games to the best of our abilities. 

I understand that in the early stages of development, 
Miyamoto was very keen to exert some control over 
the look of the Donkey Kong character, as Tim had 
pushed his design a long way from the original. The 
final look was a great compromise - and I'm pleased 
to see that Nintendo hasn't deviated very much since 
then." Indeed, Donkey Kong today sports a look that 
is based more on the SNES titles than his previous 
adventures - an admission by Nintendo that Rare 
created the most aesthetically pleasing iteration of 
the great ape. 


ie map screens hold a hidden regret for Gunn, 
who wishes he'd spent more time on pathways. 


common problems, so it would be foolish not to copy 
a few ideas." 

That's not to say that the team designing the 
game didn't come up with a few unique notions 
of their own - one of these being the use of Post It 
notes to plan out level designs, which resulted in 
some particularly memorable stages. "We wanted a 
process that allowed us to visually build up the level 
plans and also allow fast iteration at the initial design 
stage," Gregg Mayles tells us. Mayles worked 
as the main designer on the game and is still 
employed at Rare today, making him one of 
the studio's longest-serving staffers. While 
creating level layouts on paper certainly isn't 
anything innovative in the games industry, Post 
Its permitted the designer to switch scenes 
and change the plan quickly and effortlessly, 
rather than having to redraw entire portions of 
the level. "Drawing things on bits of paper that 
could be shuffled around, reworked or replaced 
was ideal," continues Mayles - who, like Gunn, is a 
local lad and was born just a few miles from Rare's 
Twycross HQ. "Someone suggested these bits of 
paper could be Post It notes and it all went from there. 
It was a real revelation at the time and I still use Post 
Its at the heart of my design process today." 

Given that Nintendo was bankrolling the 
creation of this new title - and that it used one 
of the company's most famous faces - you might 
assume that the Japanese veteran was quite hands- 
on with development. Gunn explains that even if such 
meetings took place - and only the Stampers really 
know the truth on the score - the team was kept well 
away from any distractions that could possibly impact 
the final product. "We had a great deal of creative 


■■■ THE STAMPERS HAVE since left Rare to pursue 
other projects - it was recently revealed that Tim has 
founded a smartphone game studio in Nottingham 
called FortuneFish with his son, Joe - but their impact 
on Donkey Kong Country cannot be understated. 
"They were a huge influence," says Gunn. "In 
particular I remember Tim was a great motivator as 
well as a very talented artist. He would spend a lot 
of time with me, always pushing me to take things to 
the next level. For example, just having it rain wasn't 
enough. It should rain way in the distance first, and 
then gradually bring it forwards until it's raining in 
all the layers of the screen." This graphical flourish 
is one aspect of the game that Gunn is particularly 
proud of. "My favourite bit is the combination of the 
weather effects and multi-layered parallaxing. I really 
enjoyed hearing other engineers trying to figure out 
how we crammed so much graphical variation in each 
level. Look at Super Mario World for comparison; its a 
lovely game, but I see so much obvious repetition in 


DRAWING THINGS ON 
BITS OF PAPER THAT 
COULD BE SHUFFLED 
AROUND WAS IDEAL 


the graphics." 

Speaking of Mario, 
it was reported at the 
time of development that 
Shigeru Miyamoto was 
less than impressed with 
Rare's efforts, allegedly 
bemoaning the fact that 
gamers of the time were 
dazzled by visuals and 
not gameplay. Miyamoto 
himself has publicly refuted 

this stance in recent years - stating quite correctly 
that as Kong's daddy, he was intimately involved with 
the production of the title - but could the graphically 
stunning Donkey Kong Country have caused the 


WHAT 

THEY 

SAID... 



freedom," Gunn enthuses. "As an individual, I felt free 
to try anything that could make the game look better, 
and as a company, I think Rare was allowed to make 
Donkey Kong Country very much our own product. 
Tim and Chris would always shield the team as much 
as possible from outside influences so we could focus 


famous designer to feel a little jealous, given that he 
was working on the more visually simplistic Super 
Mario World 2: Yoshi's Island at the time? "I only 
really know what's been reported on the internet, 
and we all know that's the best place in the world for 
finding opinion rather than fact," laughs Gunn when 



'1 


1835 




Microsoft, Rare would port Donkey 
Kong Country- and its sequeb 

to the Game Boy Advance. 


of producing such 
amazing visuals. 


Wen after being sold to 

Two SNES-based 
sequels would follow, 
and Gunn worked on 
both - yet he freely admits that he doesn't hold the 
same level of affection for them as the trailblazing 
original. "I worked on both of the SNES sequels, as 
well as Donkey Kong 64," he recounts. "Again for the 
SNES sequels, I was focused on the graphics, and I 
continued to refine some of the techniques I'd used 


■ Barrels were put to good use in the game, offering 
everything from a friendly ape to rocket propulsion. I 


kK *\ * ' 

> 

* 

' J L 


■ Rideable allies was another aspe ct that was | 
borrowed from Super Mario World. 


WHAT 

THEY 

SAID... 


Who needs 32 
or even 64-bit 
when Nintendo 
can keep 
pulling marvels 
out of the 16-bit 
hat? Donkey 
Kong Country 
is simply 
mind-blowing 
EGM, 1994 


I KNOW MIYAMOTO 
WAS PASSIONATE 
ABOUT THE GAME 
DURING DEVELOPMENT 


so often dictated by the purchasing habits 
of players, and Rare was working to a strict 
schedule with Donkey Kong Country - the 
game had to hit store shelves during the 
lucrative holiday season in North America. 

Gunn admits that the team was able to fulfil 
its objectives in time for launch, but even so, 
there are things he would like to have spent 
more time on. "No project ever really feels 
complete," he says. "I could always go back 
and keep improving things, but at some point you just 
have to draw a line under it and let it out into the world. 
Having said that, the only thing I'm really unhappy 
about in Donkey Kong Country is in the map pages. 
We have these beautifully rendered map screens with 
winding paths linking each area of the game, and I 
just did a lazy straight line path for Donkey Kong to 
walk along instead of accurately following the path. 
I'm a little embarrassed by that." 

■■■ THANKFULLY THE GENERAL public didn't seem 
to pay any notice to the lack of winding pathways, and 
Donkey Kong Country became a runaway hit, shifting 
almost 10 million copies worldwide and effectively 
delaying the onset of the next-generation revolution; 
the game assured SNES owners that there was little 
sense in dropping an insane amount of cash on a 3DO 
or Jaguar when their current console was capable 


S in the original. I was particularly pleased with 

I the 3D effect inside the flooded ship - I can't even 
remember whether that was Donkey Kong Country 
2 or Donkey Kong Country 3. The dripping honey 
effect in Donkey Kong Country 2 was quite satisfying, 
too. Although the sequels were more polished in a 
number of ways, I don't look back on them with the 
same fondness as the original. I just don't really like 
retreading old ground." 

Nevertheless, Gunn's involvement with the Donkey 
Kong Country series would have a dramatic impact 
on his life thanks to the bonus scheme that Rare 
operated during his tenure with the company, which 
ensured that staff benefited from their hard work 
should their games turn out to be big sellers. Is it fair 
to say that these releases changed his life? "Donkey 
Kong Country and its sequels were pretty lucrative, but 
'life-changing' is perhaps a little strong," he replies 


.J asked about Miyamoto's comments. "I know 
.... Miyamoto was passionate about the game 
during development, and so were all the people 
at Rare, but that doesn't mean we all wanted the 
same things. Japanese games have some very 
distinct differences from games in the west, and the 
brilliant Shigeru Miyamoto has been a big part of 
the Japanese style. I'm sure he would have made the 
game very differently, but I'm confident that he must 
also appreciate some of the qualities that made it 
stand out from his own games." 

Deadlines in videogame development are 


172 






+ > A GAMING EVOLUTION 


Super Mario World > DK Country > Clockwork Knight 



•X 99 \ 



Shigeru 
Miyamoto's 
seminal 16-bit 
smash hit was 
a massive 
influence on 
practically every 
2D platformer. 



Sega's Saturn- 
based 2D 
platform epic 
took the 3D 
rendered visuals 
of Donkey Kong 
Country to the 
next level. 



with a chuckle. "I'd definitely say 'life-enhancing'!" 
Gunn now works outside of the games industry with a 
design firm in Ashby-de-la-Zouch - a small town just 
minutes away from Rare's Twycross HQ and the place 
where Tim and Chris Stamper originally founded the 
company back in Eighties, under the moniker Ashby 
Computers & Graphics - and remains very proud of 
the things he achieved during his time with the studio. 
"It was great working with so many talented people 
over so many years, but for me Donkey Kong Country 
was the pinnacle. The best part was working 
with such an amazing team." 



CONTINUATION ' 
OF KONG 

The line of Nintendo's infamous ape didn't end with Rare 


When Microsoft purchased Rare it drew 
a line under the studio's involvement 
with the Donkey Kong character it had 
done so much to revitalise. However, it 
thankfully didn't mean the end of the 
Donkey Kong Country series, as in 2010 
Nintendo enlisted Texas-based Retro 
Studios to create Donkey Kong Country 
Returns for the Wii. It was a critical and 
commercial success and managed 
to capture much of the magic of the 
originals - a remarkable achievement 
when you consider that Rare wasn't 
involved in its production. The game 
would be ported to the Nintendo 3DS 
in 2012 by Monster Games, and Retro 
would return to the series in 2014 with 
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze 
on the Wii U. 





I ■ During the game's memorable 
intro, Kong performs his own dance 
re being caught in a CGI explosion. 








HHY 


SUPER 
MARIO 64 

TIM WILEMAN, ASSISTANT PRODUCER, 

TT GAMES 

a I’ve been playing games 
for a number of years 
now, but one of the games that’s 
inspired me the most... well, 

I was a young man looking 
to get a job in the industry, 
working in a videogames shop 
and the Nintendo 64 had just 
come out, and Super Mario 64 
was released. Well, that just 
changed the world for me to be 
honest - the graphical style, 
the colour and vibrance of the 
game... it blew my socks off. 

I’ll never forget it, you know? 
Nintendo managed to create 
this fantastic world and it 
had so much cool gameplay, 
so much excitement... it was 
the transition from 2D to 3D, 
it was a really special time for 
games. I know that’s kind of 
cliched to say now, but there’s a 
reason people say it, you know? 
Nintendo, at the time, they 
just really did tap into 
something magical. 



A 




4r 





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THE ULTIMATE GUIDE 
TO CLASSIC GAMING 

180 pages crammed full of essential retro gaming guides and interviews with the industry's 
greatest minds, plus behind-the-scenes stories on your favourite games 



ICONIC FRANCHISES 

• Final Fantasy 

• Super Mario 

• Tomb Raider 



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DAVID DARLING j 

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INTERVIEW 

CODING BACK 

THE YEARS 

PUsP 

9 J 

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BISS 

I- M -J 


INDUSTRY LEGENDS 

• Kenji Kanno 
• David Darling 
• Kingsley brothers 



CLASSIC GAMES 

• Resident Evil 

• Donkey Kong 
• GoldenEye 007 



AND MUCH, MUCH MORE 

• GranTurismo 

• Monkey Island 

• Metal Gear Solid 


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IMACINI 

PUBLISHING 

Digital Edition 

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