Pegasus (GTW64 highlight)

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A highlighted review from the http://www.gtw64.co.uk archives

1983-85 Palace Software

  • Code – Chris Neary, Stuart Brown
  • Graphics – Duncan Rigden
  • Sound – Unknown

Pegasus had its beginnings in the basement of a kebab shop in Gravesend in Kent, where Chris Neary, who had done the graphics for The Evil Dead in 1983, along with Duncan Rigden and Stuart Brown, got together to make the best game ever.

The concept centred on a Wizard who transformed into a Pegasus to fly across a landscape, while being grounded when in Wizard form. When you were in your Wizard form you could enter houses and descend into an Underworld.

Sadly Stuart didnt have the same enthusiasm for the project as Chris and Duncan and when he left the project faltered, until it was shelved and the programmers went on to other things.

The most interesting thing to come out of the project is the fact that a very similar concept was released by Palace Software, who Chris had worked for before starting Pegasus, that went on to become a huge seller and a classic of the 80s 8-bit home computer scene. Its name? Cauldron.

Cauldron features a witch, who flies on a broom or is grounded in a similar way to the Wizard in Pegasus. The fact that some of the graphics Chris made for Halloween, another Game That Wasnt, were reworked for Cauldron without his knowing adds to the mystery.

That said however, if Chris had already left Palace by the time Pegasus was conceived its hard to see how they could have stolen his idea, but the similarities are thought provoking.

Sadly for us though, it seems nothing remains of Pegasus for us to judge for ourselves the similarities, unless Stuart Brown has some code or Duncan Rigden, the artist for the project, has some archived concept art

Thoughts from Chris Neary:

“More interestingly, after leaving Palace, I started to write my own game based on a conversation with Pete Stone about writing the best game ever. This I called Pegasus and began writing it in the basement of a Kebab shop in Gravesend in Kent with Duncan Rigden (Artist) and Stuart Brown (Programmer). Unfortunately Stuart seemed less than enthusiastic and since we were paying rent for the room, he dropped out and we couldnt continue. After that I was a bit demoralised and took up a job in a local video arcade as an engineer.

I often wonder how Pegasus would have sold, since the concept of it was nearly identical to Cauldron which palace made after I left. The concept of the game was you were a wizard who could at will transform into a Pegasus. In this mode you would be able to fly across a landscape and be attacked by objects. When you transformed into the wizard again, you were ground bound and could enter houses that appeared in the map and descend into the underworld which transported you into a platform game. Its too long ago to say that they pinched my ideas but it seems strange that we both developed almost identical games at the same time. The only difference was I needed to make money to live and it got shelved. Cauldron went on to be a top seller for Palace. Like Halloween Pegasus went to the great bitmap in the sky. I have often wondered how things would have turned out if I had completed those programs.”

It sounds like “Halloween” has sadly gone forever (unless someone else turns up a random disk or some code)… can the same be said about Pegasus, or is there any remote possibility that anything of the game has survived?

Richards program The Evil Dead is available online as a download for an emulator and I think a flash game, but Im afraid that Halloween & Pegasus is probably gone forever.

From the Halloween entry on GTW 64:

Chris points out, “Interestingly a couple of the sprite graphics that I created for Halloween were reworked and appeared in Cauldron, which Im sure youre familiar with. Richard Leinfellner went on to greater things (he’s VP of EA now), but I eventually gave up programming in about 1988.”

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