To follow Arsenal winning the English Premier league, Thalamus gained the rights to produce a game based on the big club.
The guy behind the game was none other than creator of past Thalamus hits, Summer Camp and Winter Camp, John D Ferrari. Not only that, the Rowland brothers were also lending a helping hand on the conversion. This was found out from an interview with John and the Rowlands in 1992 (See Entry Gallery) in Commodore Power magazine.
Thalamus unfortunately folded about a year after Zzap’s publisher’s Newsfield fell through, and any projects left over were left in limbo, including their “Arsenal” licence. This was confirmed after Commodore Force ran a quick obituary to “Arsenal” and Thalamus in a later issue, supplied with a screenshot of the Amiga version of Emlyn Hughes (Strange eh?). That was it, nothing was ever seen of the game.
However, it seems that an Amiga preview did actually make its way out. Of course, we’d rather see the C64 version! :)
Commodore Power’s interview with John never really mentioned much about the game, apart from John’s enthusiasm for working on the conversion.
According to sources, the Amiga game was not shaping up that well, though it seems the C64 version may have been a different case altogether. In a Thalamus newsletter recovered by contributor David Jorge, Thalamus seemed very enthusiastic by the progress being made by John.
They felt that the game looked great, and John was apparently confident (having seen the competition) that Arsenal FC was going to be the best footie game seen on the C64. With John’s coding credentials, then it was certainly a possibility. It mentioned that the C64 edition was due for release in September/Mid-October 1992.
However, we may never find out how it played, as sadly as John passed away in 1996 due to a heart condition. A huge shame as John produced many titles that many of us grew up with. Chances are now becoming more and more remote for it to be found.
For now, check out some tunes by Warren Pilkington, which were produced and pitched to Thalamus for the game, but either rejected or not used because of the game being cancelled. Some extra tunes and sfx were recovered in 2015 and added as well, as well as some notes from Warren himself about the tunes.
Contributions: Jason Kelk, Brendan Phoenix, Warren Pilkington, HVSC, David Jorge
Warren Pilkington talks about creating music for the Arsenal FC licence:
“I was writing the Football Tunes demo and had pretty much finished the demo. It got a release on 29th February 1992, and originally had references to Manchester City.
However, I soon realised that Thalamus were going to do an Arsenal licence, and so to showcase what I could do, I amended the demo to mention the names of Arsenal players where needed instead of Manchester City players, and sent that particular version off
to Dave Birch of Thalamus. Both versions are available via the same disk I submitted to CSDB here:
A week or two later I had a phone conversation with him, and he effectively asked if I wanted to do the music for the game. It was verbally agreed on that phone call, and basically I’d be put in touch with the programmer at some point to discuss where the music needed to fit in memory etc.
As far as I can recall, that sadly didn’t happen. I went on with producing the music in the meantime anyway, and got as far as I did before finding out that it wasn’t going to happen due to the declining C64 market.”
Notes on how to run the new tunes from Warren Pilkington:
ARSENAL1 – The sequences for the Arsenal SFX
ARSENALV – The voices for the Arsenal SFX
TOGGER1 – The sequences for the Arsenal title theme (work in progress)
TOGGERV – The voices for the title theme
FOOTY END – The sequences for what would become the Football Tunes demo
FOOTYV – The voices
To listen to them in Ubik’s Musik, load up the editor, press RUN/STOP for the disk menu and select to load file. Select 8 for disk and then load the voices file. Do the same again for the sequences.
Now return to the editor and a press of F8 should play the tune. For the sfx, you can go to the menu and select Edit New Tune and select 0-4 for the different effects.
- 30/04/23 – Added a Thalamus newsletter and details that have come to light.
- 14/11/19 – Fixed a rather shocking write up with loads of errors fixed. Must have been 12 when I wrote it …
- 15/08/15 – Added previously unheard tunes and SFX from Warren Pilkington, composed in Ubik’s Music. Also updated credits, added notes on how to run the tunes and also Creator Speaks with Warren talking about the music.
- 21/07/14 – Added snippet from Commodore Format and Commodore Force confirming its cancellation.
First Division Manager seems to have been a very late release on the C64 (1993, compared to 1991 on the Spec / Ams and early 1992 (long before Arsenal was being previewed) on Amiga / ST, so this is plausible for the C64 version, though not for Amiga.
I’ll check with Duncan, though if code was re-used from Arsenal FC, I’m sure he would have credited Jon too. But you never know!
Hey Frank – I have had a thought. Whilst I was reading an old Amiga Power, I happened across a preview and found that Cirrus were working on the Amiga version, with coding by Nik Sen. Nik Sen (along with Chris Chapman) went on to create the absolutely God awful 1st Division Manager for Codemasters.
The C64 version of 1st Division Manager has an entirely different development team but it does make me wonder if some/all of the work became 1st Division Manager and if so, if anything had come down to Ferrari/Rowlands from them. Trying to connect some dots back to the C64 version if there are indeed any.
As an Arsenal fan I’ve tried to find out a lot about this game over the years (both Amiga and C64 versions) and not gotten very far but this is a potential new lead for me (and if indeed 1st Division Manager is the eventual outcome of the Arsenal game then I am indeed very thankful that such dreck did not come out with my clubs name on it!)
Hi Hank, that’s a great suggestion – and certainly something like that may have happened, especially with John Ferrari’s connections with Codemasters. I’d have imagined though that John would have done the game himself, rather than pass anything onto Duncan.
I understand John Ferrari’s Daughter is still around – She actually did a Review of one of her Dad’s Games on Lemon 64 – maybe it would be possible to contact her through Lemon 64 ?
Yeah, there have been a few attempts to preserve John’s disks, unfortunately I think both his daughter and son had a lot of badgering by people and quite rightly it put them off. A friend has been touch over the years and is hopeful they might change their mind some day.
Thanks Frank :->