Mayhem in Monsterland

1998 – 2000 Thalamus Interactive

Platforms: PC & Colour Gameboy

As part of the launch and release of The Games That Weren’t book, we are  adding assets and content that were shared with us during our research as bonus DLC content, and which didn’t make it to the book. Thanks to Thalamus Digital (Facebook + Twitter) for permission to include this title on the site.

1993 signed tough times for the Commodore 64, as the market finally began to crumble around the once mighty 8-bit. With only a trickle of games coming out each month, and mainly budget releases, the C64 really needed a good send off before its inevitable commercial death. With Mayhem in Monsterland (and also Lemmings, Alien 3 around the same time) we were not let down by any means.

MayhemDemoV0.2

Perhaps 100% from one magazine was a little too over the top, but Mayhem was certainly that little bit special compared to other games around on the C64 at the time, featuring a whole range of effects and graphics only thought possible of in demos and in console games. It was the perfect way to end the C64’s life on a high.

Although it didn’t quite achieve the sales that were wished for, Andy Roberts saw the potential in converting the game and updating it for the PC platform and began work on a conversion for DOS based platforms. This would be no straight conversion of the C64 game, and many more features were to be added to make it a valid conversion and to enhance faults of the original game.

A small demo was created by Andy himself with a title screen and the C64 graphics ported over to the PC temporarily. Mayhem moved perfectly around the landscape, and things seemed to be shaping up fairly well. Though as progress was being made, DOS was becoming obsolete, and the release of Windows XP signalled doom for the conversion. Andy would have to learn C or similar to do a conversion which would run on most machines – something there was no time for. The game as a result was canned.

However, back with Thalamus Interactive a year or so later, Andy saw Mayhem as the perfect game to convert for the Nintendo Color Game Boy. Andy dug up his conversion idea and Jon Wells was assigned to producing some initial demos to see how it would all work. Again, as with the DOS version that failed, a run around demo was created with the graphics ported down from the C64 for test purposes. Looking rather good, Mayhem could run around a limited and looped landscape with ease.

MayhemDemoV0.22

Bad luck was to strike yet again. With the mobile games market beginning to open up, the Rowland Bros (creators of the original game) decided to get into the business and turned to their farewell C64 effort to get started on the platform. Before Andy could pitch the potential CGB conversion, it was cancelled when the Rowlands’ plans came to light.

All that exists are two demos, one PC and one CGB. Thalamus Interactive would eventually cease to be, but are now back as an independent game developer and publisher, releasing games on the Nintendo Switch, and even the Commodore 64 with Hunters Moon deluxe in recent years. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/thalamusdigital

Whilst working on Putty Squad for the book, Thalamus Digital very kindly gave Games That Weren’t permission to share the Color Gameboy prototype demo with you, so here it is, along with some video footage.

Download

Video

Gallery

7 Responses to Mayhem in Monsterland

  1. Do you mean Windows 2000? That was the one that scrapped the dos back-end in favour of the NT platform. XP came out late 2001, with most of us seeing it in 2002

  2. I’d love it if the Rowlands or Thalamus would publish the source code for these old games. They seem more or less abandoned now. It’s been so long though, maybe it’s all lost.

  3. The scale is too zoomed in to be playable at that size. Everything looks like it needed to be shrunk to half size or something. But it does have very smooth scrolling!

    • Yeah, I agree – it worked for SML2, but that was a slower paced game. I’m sure Thalamus would have re-addressed it at a later stage and had the same feeling during this early concept stage. The scrolling is lovely 🙂

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