1994-2013 System 3
Platforms: Apple iOS, Commodore Amiga 1200, Nintendo Game Boy Color, Nintendo DS, Nintendo Wii U, PC (DOS + Windows), SEGA Mega Drive, Sony PlayStation 2 and Sony PlayStation Portable
Within the book is an in-depth and detailed 14 page story about various conversions of Putty Squad across almost 20 years that never quite made it, including of course the famous Amiga 1200 edition. We discuss the various developments with Phil Thornton (Putty Squad designer), Andy Roberts (PS2, CGB project leader), Jon Wells (CGB developer), Galahad (A1200 version saviour), John Twiddy (A1200 developer + other various conversions), Michael Smith (CGB artist) and Nick Lee (A1200, Mega Drive and PS2 artist).
Whilst producing the book, we were kindly provided with a number of PS2 and CGB assets from both Andy Roberts and Nick Lee. Not everything could be printed in the book, so here are the assets below. Andy Roberts has also very kindly allowed us to release the CGB demo for you to check out too.
Additionally we did a long interview with Galahad who preserved and put the A1200 edition together, where we only had space for a small segment in the book. The full interview can be found below.
Along with the the CGB version, we’ve included the PC demo and Mega Drive prototype that surfaced in recent years. Enjoy!
Short interview with Galahad (Phill B-B)
So were you one of those frustrated fans at the time who saw Putty Squad reviewed and never surface at the time?
To be honest, I wasn’t all that fussed, and in all honesty, at that time I would only have been interested in cracking it for Fairlight had it been released back when it should have been, it was just another game that was completed and should have been released, but then again, gave me something to do nearly 20 years later! ;)
I have to say, the letter to Mark Cale was fantastic. It seemed to cover all the bases to convince System 3 that you were serious about preserving the Amiga development. Did you honestly feel at the time that your letter would have the desired effect – considering all the previous failed attempts from others?
Actually no, I didn’t think the letter would have any effect whatsoever. It was written to actually confirm the game no longer existed!!!
The reason it was written the way it was, was to remove ANY and ALL reasons for not releasing it, that way, if all I got in reply was a load of nonsense and excuses, then people could finally put the ghost of Putty Squad to bed and just assume that the game no longer existed.
The message Mark Cale put out with Eurogamer kind of backed him into a corner. Here he was saying it existed, but couldn’t be released for X reasons (i.e. disks and creating a master), so I was fully expecting some other kind of excuse from him after I made it clear that wouldn’t be an issue, and lo and behold, I got the positive response I got directly from him and we all know the rest! :)
And you didn’t tell anyone at all what was going on? That must have been difficult, especially with all the shit flinging that was going on at the time because of their decision to pull out from releasing the game as a bonus release back in 2013?
I actually told a couple of people, but one in particular, with the threat that if they told anyone else, then I would simply not finish the mastering process off. No-one wants to be blamed for that, so everyone that I told kept quiet about it so that the things in the background I wanted to do (i.e. have total control over the quality of the WHDLoad version for instance and HOL pictures) would all come together well and compliment the release. What I wanted was for maximum exposure not only for the work I did (what can I say? I like to be known for what I do!), but also for System 3 and the game itself. I didn’t want one of these slow build ups with little tiny streams of interests, I wanted a fully fledged swollen river that was ready to burst its banks, and help make the release that bit more special.
The people who knew were restricted to EAB, and they were:
- Codetapper was in on things about 5 days before release for WHDLoad duties
- Cody Jarret was involved similarly for Hall of Light maps, screenshots and credits
- BippyM for creating a fake account that couldn’t be linked to me so I could post something kind of “where are you going to be at 6pm this evening?” kind of message, with a username called ‘System3’.
- Photon/Scoopex knew because at one point he was going to provide the secret intro on the game which sadly didn’t happen so my lame shit appeared instead
- and Akira knew first for the simple reason he lives literally minutes from System3 HQ and until I spoke to John Twiddy, it was all about me actually going there and getting the information and transferring it from an Amiga to Akiras system and then taking it from there, but that didn’t need to happen in the end as John had long since saved it all on a PC.
Yes it was annoying not being able to engage in threads telling them that it was actually happening, but that turned out for the best in the end, as I played along with the misery of it not being released, so that people were even more surprised I was involved.
And it worked out brilliantly too! How was it working with John Twiddy and Phil Thornton to get everything up and running again?
I worked with John but didn’t get to speak to Phil Thornton as there was nothing really he could contribute. John was the main programmer for the game, so his insight was very helpful, poor bloke having to try and recall what he programmed over 20 years ago, he was surprisingly quick with the answers even with that handicap! All of the work was done over phone in the initial stages, but once I got all of the relevant files, it was all done by email.
No hassles from John, I was left to get on with it and see what I could do with it. I think he was largely happy as I was able to send email reports on what I was doing off my own back just to keep him up to date, and he was happy with the progress being made and that I understood what needed to be done.
So in the end, how did it feel to see professionally produced copies of the game (as originally intended) recently, knowing it was thanks to the rescue work that you had done?
It was good to see the final finished version in a box, it was great of Mark Cale to allow Sam and Matt to do it. I got a random email from Sam (I think it was months and months ago) mentioning that he was doing this Amiga book and one of the Kickstarter gifts was going to be a limited 100 copy run of Putty Squad as it would have been released back in 1994/95 had it not been cancelled. I didn’t think much about it at the time as I get quite a few emails from people to do with my Amiga days, so I honestly didn’t take much notice of it. Sam asked me for permission to release the game, and I pointed out that it wasn’t mine to give permission to and that he would need to contact Mark Cale directly for the answer to that question, but that even though it wasn’t mine to release, I had no objections to it in any case.
Sam was having problems nailing Mark down after him agreeing to let him go ahead, so I put him in touch with John Twiddy and once that was done, Sam went away with Matt and started creating the boxed version.
I also programmed a disk verify utility for them to use so that they could verify that both disks were 100% accurately copied before they sent it off to people, one slight bug meant I had to redo it, but it made their job quicker, and as far as i’m aware, unless Sam kept a copy for himself, I had the very first boxed copy of Putty Squad Amiga in the world, which came about as Sam knew that I dealt with cars (as well as forlorn old Amiga games!), and I ended up buying his old Ford Focus and picking up the game at the same time.
Do you get much contact from people showing their appreciation at the work that you did and preserving arguably what was the holy grail of unreleased Amiga games?
Surprisingly little contact about it. Sure there was lots of ‘thanks’ at the time on EAB, and a few thanks for an interview I did for Codetapper’s site, but not much direct contact no. Not really that fussed to be honest, people generally appear to be happy the game is released, and I take from that they are happy for my involvement and probably laugh a bit about the irony of it all that a cracker stepped in to save the blushes of a software company!
I was originally going to sneak a Fairlight intro, the classic Angel Dawn/Gaston one, but I thought that might be taking the piss a bit, so I opted to change it to just a ‘Galahad’ intro, which in hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bothered with. I thought it would be a nice little touch, but there’s virtually no mention of it at all when it comes to Putty Squad on the Amiga, so I think I wasted my time with that one! :/
I don’t need lots of emails saying ‘thanks’, wherever you look and see mention of its release, most people are pretty happy about it, and that’s good enough for me. I didn’t do it for money, possibly a little bit of fame, but the PS4 System 3 gave me is finally getting some proper use from my son, so everyone won I think :)