1991 Electronic Arts / Maverick Developments
Platforms: Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, PC
Tantalus was to be a complex 3D space simulation for a variety of platforms back in 1991, where you could play solo or in a multiplayer mode. The team behind the development was Maverick Developments who wanted to push things to the limit with their game that was heavily inspired by classics such as Elite.
Within the game you would control a young pilot without any money or a ship, where you must work for others to try and get money to trade and eventually travel from planet to planet doing trade. Profits generated from the activity will allow you to improve your ship and increase chances of survival.
The multiplayer mode was very ambitious and aimed to allow for up to 16 people to play simultaneously (connected up via serial and midi ports) with any combination of computer out of the target platforms.
It seems that some players could be assigned to the same ship and have different roles, such as controlling combat turrets during battle – of which there would be plenty, against pirates and other bad people that you meet who try to get your goods.
However, as well as making enemies, you can make alliances too, which can come in handy if you get caught up in battle and need a helping hand.
Throughout the game would be a number of character/object scenes and stat scenes, with some wonderful graphics throughout. Accompanying this would be a series of digitized sound effects and a large vocabulary of digitized words.
The lead programmer was Andrew Walrond (a new programmer on the scene at the time), with Tony Smith on graphics (who had previously designed Menace and Blood Money at the time). Magazines such as Joystick got pretty excited about the title and felt that it was about to set a new standard, with some complex solid 3D throughout
The game was due for release in Spring 1992 on the likes of the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and PC (VGA) from Electronic Arts, but for reasons currently unknown – it never happened and the game disappeared without a trace.
Andrew would go on to do a number of other games including B-17 Flying Fortress for MicroProse, and even a space shuttle game. It seems at somepoint Andrew joined up with Vektor Grafix and with Ian Martin to do a number of games.
So what happened to this game and why did it just disappear? How far did it get and can anything of it be saved and preserved?