Fuzzball

System 3

Status: Preview, Findability: 2/5

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Fuzzball is another classic GTW case. A great platform game, in which a two level preview (Featuring level one and level 16) was released to the readers of Commodore Format on issue 24. Unfortunately it was to be the Amiga version that was only to see the light of day.

Fuzzball had you controlling a blue fuzzball which had to kill all of the other fuzzballs in the 50 big levels for you to be turned back into a human. The game looks great, and plays the same with effective squiging sfx and music by Jeroen Tel..

Its very addictive and would have been something to keep gamers happy. Unfortunately it was never to be.

The game was completed but System 3 pulled out of the C64 market at the same time it was completed. They decided not to take a final risk by releasing Fuzzball.

Another version of events originally depicted that Miles Barry (the programmer) was not paid for his efforts and was dragged onto coding the SNES version of “Putty Squad” as compensation for lost wages. This has been clarified as being incorrect and what happened infact was that Miles had to go back to Prism to write Football Manager 3 and was threatened with legal action if he didn’t. It is possible that this may have just been before the game’s completion and pushed System 3’s decision to let the game go.

According to sources, Miles doesn’t have a complete version of the game, as it was on the PDS system at System 3. Either this has been possibly wiped or hoarded (though rumours are that System 3 have kept everything). Possibilities of a full version in existence still, is quite remote, but not unproven. There were some developments where there was a final hope of the game being uncovered, with a system being found… but it was found not to have anything of Fuzzball, and to this day its believed that it only ever remained on System 3’s PC based SNASM system.

We found out in recent times that actually Jed Adams took over the graphical development of the game in the later stages. It started out as a title that both Miles Barry and Robin Levy worked on. When Robin lost interest in the project, Miles brought Jed in to continue the work. Jed redid all of the graphics, all of which you can find in the CF preview (Robin’s graphics were not used as far as we know). Jed completed all his graphic work on the game, but its not 100% known if the game was fully finished by Miles before it was scrapped. It’s believed that there is no reason to say otherwise.

Recently added are two rare screenshots from Commodore Format, of another level which was not present in the preview on the covermount. We did think that maybe System 3 locked this level away and it could still be in memory, but sadly not it seems… we couldn’t find any trace of this other level in this form…

However… we found these sprites tucked away!….

After chatting again to Jed Adams, he suggested there might be more of the game’s assets hidden away in the demo that was hidden. So we posted a question on Lemon64 to anyone technical enough to have a look. Forum member ‘Loflo’ found that at location $0B23, you could change it to LDA #$XX, with XX being any value from 00 to 10 in Hex, and starting the game with G0400 in monitor. This would start you on a level from 1-17.

Before you get too excited, sadly there are not another 15 levels waiting to be explored, but there are remains of them!… Level 5 features the above creature running around, Level 6 features the same sprite patterns as those in the CF screenshot. The enemy data is there, but the graphic/map data seems to be missing (Until we get further confirmation). However, its a slightly larger glimpse of the game, some screens we’ve added to the shots page. Additionally poking around the game’s sprites, we found a flying bird that was unused, a bouncing bubble and a creature very similar to the above one we found, which we found running around on level 5! (LDA #$04).

We heard rumours that Jeroen Tel had composed more music for the game than what was in the preview.  After getting in touch in late 2012, Jeroen confirmed that he did and passed GTW64 on the source files to Level 2, Title and High Score tunes he had composed and which were not used!   You can now hear these for yourself for the very first time!  And they are pretty neat too!  (Thanks to Mikael Backlund for helping compile them!)

But what of the full game itself?… Well, the only chance it seems of ever getting hold of a full version will be to confront and ask Mark Cale himself, but will he allow a release?…

Well, we may not need to rely on this – as Mikael asked GTW64 to hold back on the music initially as they wanted to surprise you a little more with a little more than just extra tunes found.

Literally at the death, Mikael Backlund caught wind that we had located the tunes, asked us to hold back as there was opportunity to share something a little bigger with you.  Mikael and his team have spent the last 10 years taking the Fuzzball preview apart and reconstructing it.  They have reconstructed and built a new unseen Level 2 with Jeroen’s unreleased level 2 music in place!

It is a huge surprise, and it is a significant development – as it shows the potential that this game could some day be actually finished! Jeroen’s musical gift has helped also establish how the music/sfx plugged into the game properly.   We really hope that eventually we see more!  Watch this space!

Contributions: Jazzcat, Jed Adams, Mikael Backlund, Jason Kelk, Mort, Loflo, Jeroen Tel

Supporting content

Robin Levy speaks about work on Fuzzball…

“Fuzzball was another odd one… Miles Barry was the coder on this for a while and I remember making a start on the graphics, however my heart wasn’t really in it so Jed was called in and redid my graphics as well as finishing the rest of the game’s visuals, a duty I was all too happy to relinquish and he did a top job.

After this I recall things got a little messy, Miles disappeared for a couple of weeks so Jed took over the coding. The whole bit around the game not being released because of the fading 64 market sounds about right.”

Robin Levy.

6 Responses to Fuzzball

  1. andy says:

    This article was created back in 2012.

    But now, closely approaching 2016, we have found and preserved the FULL Putty Squad for the Amiga. And yes, it was from System 3 too. And they even publish the Amiga version on the *official* System 3 page!
    And this means, that GTW has now a much closer connection to System 3 than ever. Based on that, there might be a much higher chance now to convince one of the System 3 guys to dig in their archives.

    Quoting Frank again:
    “(though rumours are that System 3 have kept everything).”

  2. Ross Sillifant says:

    🙂 I’ll add Fuzzball to list of questions IF this System 3 interview ever comes off….

  3. Matt says:

    How about packing all the existing levels into one game?
    So how many levels are exactly complete now?

    • fgasking says:

      At the moment in existence are levels 1 and 16 from the original Commodore Format demo, then the Triad guys have reconstructed level 2 from scratch for the new preview to show what can be done, and do have level 3 as well running (but couldn’t get it ready in time for the new preview). There may well be more, but not much is being given away at the moment – there is a sense of excitement though from the developers, which suggests something big may be round the corner. We’ll just have to wait and see! 🙂

  4. If there was ever a C64 game I wanted completed, it’s definitely Fuzzball. Good work so far 🙂

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