Platform: Atari ST and PC (DOS)
Amberstar was a great RPG title released on the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST and PC back in 1992 by Thalion, and was to be part of a trilogy that was never to be. However, a sequel was created at least in the shape of Ambermoon, and released for the Commodore Amiga in 1993, but not two other platforms that we are about to explore.
Just as an aside, there was an unofficial third game in the form of Albion, which was being developed as a sequel to Ambermoon at Thalion, before it closed its doors and the work was transferred over to Blue Byte.
Though back to Ambermoon for our next entry, where there was planned to be not only an Amiga version, but PC DOS and Atari ST editions at one stage. Interestingly, in the December 1991 issue of Power Play magazine in Germany, they talk about the new Amberstar game due to be released that Christmas.
However, whilst at Thalion, the journalist gets to test DOS and ST versions of the 3D dungeons that will be in the sequel – known simply at this stage as Amberstar 2. Here are the screens, including one which was not part of the engine and didn’t seem to make the final game (at least in this incarnation – see further below for corrections):
This was a 3D engine routine that was developed by Michael Bittner on the Atari ST, and then converted to PC by Jürgen Friedrich (who had done the ST port of Hard Drivin’). Power Play were very impressed with the engine and felt it could be the future for 3D dungeon exploring games.
We had originally made the mistake of suggesting the released Amiga version (from 1993) had no sign of a 3D engine and no credit to Michael. It is partly true, that this particular incarnation of the engine didn’t feature, but a newly reworked version did (and with Michael credited). According to HOL, the game couldn’t be converted over from the ST and had to be re-written from scratch. Thanks to @khajrankin for the correction.
Thanks to a Google Groups conversation back in 2001, Alex Holland (webmaster of the Thalion Webshrine – http://thalion.exotica.org.uk/) had been talking with those involved in the game. He revealed that the Atari ST 3D engine was a technology demo, but not a game. No more was mentioned as to why it was dropped, but it seems there were issues with turning into a game perhaps?
Alex also revealed that the PC version (developed by Gino Fehr and Frank Ussner) only got as far as the 2D segments, before work was stopped. Apparently it was coded in a combination of ASM and Pascal.
According to Alex’s page on Ambermoon, the ST version was apparently started before any other format, though due to the demise of Atari, the ST version was put on hold and just the Amiga version completed after the PC version was scrapped.
Thanks to contributor Phil Graham, we learn that at least the music from the ST version managed to make it out. https://www.pouet.net/prod.php?which=81770
Atari ST User magazine in November 1993 had an article on the game, which seems to show Atari ST screens, showing it was quite advanced:
At present, nothing of the PC or ST versions has surfaced, though Alex was close at one stage to getting hold of remains of the PC edition.
Thanks to contributor Gerry, we learn that the PC version of Ambermoon was supposed to be published by the Bertelsmann label “The Red Balloon”, according to http://thethalionsource.w4f.eu/Artikel/ES_PCJ.htm
It is hoped something can be found in the near future. We also hope to learn more about the earlier development as well. In the meantime though, there is a fantastic open source remake that you can check out for PC/Linux and Mac at https://github.com/Pyrdacor/Ambermoon.net
With thanks to Karl Kuras for the heads up about the title, LiqMatrix for the heads up about the open source remake, Phil Graham for the heads up about the ST music, Gerry for the publisher details for the PC edition and @khajrankin for the Amiga correction.
The music from the Atari ST version did surface (Gunnar Gaubatz converted Matthias Steinwachs tunes)
You can here then in the Ambermoon music demo
Thanks Phil, i’ll update the page and will add a link and credit to yourself!
Brilliant article! Thanks!
According to press coverage, the PC version of Ambermoon was supposed to be published by the Bertelsmann label “The Red Balloon”. => http://thethalionsource.w4f.eu/Artikel/ES_PCJ.htm (at the bottom of the website)
Thanks Gerry! Have just updated the page with the details and a credit to yourself.
And of course the amazing open source remake currently being developed for:
Thanks LiqMatrix – that definitely needs to be mentioned, so will include that in the page too.