Platform: Commodore Amiga and Super Nintendo
Our next entry is a very early title that was flagged up to us by team member Karl Kuras, who spotted this interesting early Smash TV-looking title that was due for release from Strangeways.
It hadn’t been long at all since Ocean’s official Smash TV conversion, so it was potentially a ballsy move by Strangeways to try and do something similar. The game was also apparently based around a futuristic TV game show and followed almost the exact same style of story line.
According to the ACE magazine preview, there was a lot more to the game, with players given a variety of military-style missions to complete and multi-directional scrolling. Overall, a lot more strategy was required with around 40 scenarios and four different graphic styles.
Within maze-like kill zones, contestants must seek out objectives whilst avoiding many different types of enemy patrols and alarm systems. Ironically it may have been closer to Smash TV’s sequel Total Carnage.
There was apparently a huge array of weapons available, and entire buildings within the game could be blown up, and booby traps set up for the enemies to fall into. If successful, the game would later have data disk releases to expand with further missions and new graphics.
Back in early 1992, ACE reported that the game was still in early stages, but a publisher was on the brink of signing up the game. Of course, it never quite happened. As soon as October 1992, Amiga Power were reporting the game in a “Where are they now?” feature.
After initially posting about the game, Robin Levy got in touch via Twitter to confirm that he worked on the title with Gary Liddon, and gave a detailed account of what happened:
“This game did not progress much beyond doing some graphics on the Amiga (it was intended for the SNES). Game design-wise it was all over the place. I wanted to do something like “The Mean Arena” from 2000AD with advanced behaviour and morale on the enemies.
Gary Liddon envisaged something more basic. The name came from the name we used to give BBC’s Casualty, as we used to do a sweep on the body/injury count in each episode. Sick I know. The animation that those [magazine] shots come from was put together by Dokk using pieces of my art, as well as the explosions from Apocalypse.
The “blimey” is pure Liddon. I still have the graphics as well as some paper concepts for the contestant and robots somewhere on a hard drive.
Bodycount was the last thing I worked on at Strangeways before I sneaked off back to system3 due to “reasons”. There is every chance a prototype and fully detailed design document may have been created after I left.
After thinking about it, the aforementioned video animated by Dokk, had sound. The player goes into building, it’s filled with robots, plays a sample of Liddon saying “blimey”, runs out, pulls out big bazooka and blows up building. I am sure Sid James’ laugh featured too.
I also never saw it as a Smash TV clone. It’s inspirations came from elsewhere (Mean Arena, Rollerball and the WH40k Necromunda/Confrontation rule set).
Apocalypse was Jason Perkins and Dokk. Bodycount was to be me and Gary Liddon after Force10 stalled when Doug Hare left Strangeways. I drifted back to System 3 as I lost faith in the entire enterprise. It’s a shame as the whole thing was really exciting in the early days.”
Although a complete design had been created and a prototype/animation produced to pitch to publishers, the split up of the Strangeways team would mean that the game never got any further as far as Robin knows. It is likely that no playable prototype existed or anything further was created after Robin moved on.
Thankfully, Robin had still kept hold a fair chunk of the artwork from the game, including character sketches which you can see below.
With thanks to Karl Kuras for flagging up and highlighting the title, Robin Levy for details about the game and artwork assets, and to Stephen (Mort) Stuttard for the hi-res scans.