Rookies

1992 Virgin

Platforms: Commodore Amiga, PC and Atari ST

Our next entry looks very much like an isometric version of Cannon Fodder, also released by Virgin, but this was around 1-2 years before that game. This particular title was in development by Perfect Set, and was to have plenty of missions (around 50) to play, where you can do whatever you want.

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You would control a group of soldiers, where you could upgrade their firearms from pistols to flame throwers and go against heavily armoured vehicles and other soldiers. Amiga Power described the game as being a “Paintball simulation”, which doesn’t seem to add up compared to the other previews of the game, who called it “Lemmings with missions”

Controls were reported to be similar to Lemmings, point and click and where you control soldiers in groups or individually. You could also use the keyboard or joystick to move soldiers too. Throughout the map, there were thoughts about being able to construct buildings to help defend or attack the enemy, adding a lot of strategic elements to the game (though this was still to be decided). The map itself would scroll in eight directions as you moved around.

The missions would gradually introduce you to elements of the game, starting off with teaching you about how to move around the map, then the next mission allowing you to control your soldiers individually for the first time.

There was plenty of humour too – if you left a solder without orders for some time, you’d see them nip behind trees for a piss, or even get out a Game Boy for a quick game of Tetris. There was plenty of digitized speech planned too, with some famous movie phrases dropped in.

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Graphically the game looked pretty decent, though we notice pretty much the same screenshots were shown throughout different magazines. Amiga Power magazine reported that the programmer Andy Green was keeping everything top secret, so this could well be why. It was reported in Amiga Power (August 1992) that all of the graphics by Andy Jones were complete.

What is interesting is that the game was reportedly in existence two years before, in a nearly finished state. The new development in 1992 aimed to tone things down, as the original game was trying to do too much, and more of a focus on combat was felt to be needed.

Andy Green explained to One Magazine that he was working on the game on and off, whilst working full time at Virgin Games in-house. The game was very much a labour of love – and perhaps this was why it never saw a release, and perhaps Andy just got caught up on other projects? It was due out in September 1992, but was never to be and disappeared without a trace.

Contributor @JamesPond47 recalls seeing a letter answered in The One magazine about a year later, where it was informed that the programmer had left to join SEGA and that was why the game had stalled.

As the focus was on the Amiga development, we doubt very much that PC and ST versions were started and would have been ported later on. Perhaps some graphic tests were started, but we’d be surprised if much more was done.

The question is how far the game got, and was it anywhere near a complete state? Could anything of it be found some day to show the world? Hopefully Andy Green (Programmer), Andy Jones (Artist) or Andrew Wright (Producer) will help shed some light some day soon. If you know anything more, please do get in touch!

With thanks to Karl Kuras for the heads up about the game, @JamesPond47 for the SEGA move info, Amiga Magazine Rack for one of the scans and Stephen Stuttard for the rest of the scans.

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