The Bitmap Brothers were one of the first companies to explore the potential of 16-bit systems such as the Amiga, and many regard Xenon II: Megablast is the peak of this.
This vertically-scrolling shoot ’em up featured advanced graphics and a soundtrack by dance act Bomb the Bass. The Game Boy and Master System did get conversions, but the 8-bit computers did not.
However, issue 50 of Zzap! (June 1989) mentions the game as forthcoming, although it states that the Amiga version was due before a C64 one.
By the time they reviewed the Amiga version, a C64 edition was merely possible, but not definitely decided yet’. What we need to find out is whether any work was done on this, and who was involved.
Was Mark Wilson’s tune an official conversion tune? – It certainly was submitted!
Well, Richard Hewison confirms that there were no plans for an official C64 conversion, though Imageworks were submitted a C64 demo of a conversion which was pitched and rejected. It tried to be Xenon 2, but was only a demo and wasn’t too good. It was possibly sent to Bitmap Bros for evaluation, but ties had been severed by that point.
However, Robert Whitaker got in touch with GTW and had the following to say:
“I have a short story to tell you regarding Xenon II: Megablast.
Around that time I had been sending disks of my work to various game companies. One day I recieved a call from Mike Montgomery of The Bitmap Brothers.
He knew that I worked with Ian & Mic and was looking for a team to convert Megablast to the C64. There was a computer show about to happen in Basildon, where we lived, and he suggested a meeting there. These guys were the rock stars of the industry back then so we were very excited about all this. When the day came we met with Mike and his ‘brothers’ Eric Matthews and Steve Kelly. We talked for a while and then went our separate ways, never to hear from them again regarding this.
That’s all I have for you. Just the fact that the game was planned at one point even though it eventually never happened with us nor anybody else. It would have been a tough conversion which is why it probably never happened. Xenon hadn’t gone too well on the 64.”
This all but confirms that a c64 version was being planned, but the idea could have been scrapped before code was officially written. And Ian and Mic the likely developers had it been signed up.
But it still leaves us with something to find – although not an Ian and Mic coded effort, there is a submitted effort which Imageworks received and is lost. Who did this effort, and can it be found? There is a rumour that it could have been David Spicer behind this game, but David has confirmed that he actually worked on a ZX Spectrum edition of the game, and not the C64.
It was unknown whether Mark Wilson was a part of this conversion with his music – as tunes existed, but Mark confirmed that these tunes were done just to test a new music player and were not submitted for use in a conversion.
Can you help us?…
Contributions: Andrew Fisher, Richard Hewison, Robert Whitaker, Michael Jones, Mark Wilson, Gary Pearson