Bank Panic was a planned arcade conversion being done for Elite Software by Richard Gibbs, who previously wrote Knockout for Alligata software a year earlier.
Elite were keen to do arcade conversions, so Richard pitched this idea and started work on the game. He asked his old friend Steven Day if he could draw up a loading picture for him, and this he did. We only see this today due to Steve’s preservation of his past work.
As for the game itself, it only reached the stage of animated bitmaps, which looked the part for the game. All bitmaps were actually done by Richard himself, and was to be a first example of animated bitmaps in a C64 game.
One thing of note is that the game never actually got a mention in any of the magazines about being worked on, so it is possible that Elite decided against the idea. Maybe they couldn’t get the licence?
Ironically, Gremlin released a game very similiar around the same time called "West Bank"… Interesting developments occured recently when Zeldin/Cascade provided me with a bizzare version of West Bank, which has "Copyright Elite Software" written into the code. Other versions have it as Gremlin, so it seems some versions kept this copyright in by accident.
This therefore means that we are most likely looking at West Bank being the eventual Bank Panic game which was released. Elite rejected the conversion, so Richard Gibbs must have gone to Gremlin with the game and they accepted it (but as a clone, not as an official arcade conversion).
If you check Knockout by Richard Gibbs, you’ll notice a few similarities with regards to charsets, so we are pretty confident now that we have found our game, and it was already released! :-) You can check out the download which sadly is corrupted, but search the code in a machine code monitor and you’ll find the Elite credit. We’ll get a working version soon we hope!
The story is not 100% clear yet, and it will require tracking down Richard Gibbs to find out more. Information about possible location is given out by Steve Day in his Creator Speaks segment, so hopefully someone can help.
A sad arcade conversion loss here, but seemingly released anyway…
Contributions: Steven Day, http://www.C64HQ.com, Zeldin/Cascade
Steven Day speaks to GTW about 'Bank Panic'...
"The screen was done for an old acquaintance of mine who used to frequent the same club as me. The title screen was all I did.
I have, to be honest, forgotten his last name but his first name was Richard and he used to work freelance for Alligata. He wrote the 64 version of Knockout boxing for them, so u could track his name down that way. He used to live near Cannock, Staffordshire. an area that was heavily based on the Coal industry. hence he worked as a programmer for the then Coal Board.
That's about all i can remember about him. except he was the one who leaked the original "Who Dares Wins" game onto the scene circuit. (u know the one elite got banned for being too close to Commando)
Possibly an ex alligata programmer can shed some more light on him. if u have one amongst your contacts.
As to the game, he was trying to sell the idea to Elite, who were specializing in arcade conversions at this time, and this was never converted officially.
All that existed of the game were some basic animated screens which did look the part and were done by himself on Koala painter. so this game, had it gone ahead would have been notable for its use of animated bitmaps in 1986.
I don't really have any concrete reasons for why it didn't go ahead but probably enthusiasm waned on both sides. I know he was a professional business programmer for the coal board at this time too.
West Bank was also released on a compilation too just after, and obviously would have had an impact on sales, particularly as it was deemed not to be worth releasing at full price, and was itself a close copy of Bank Panic.
I can tell u for certain that there were basic animations and screen layouts done in koala bitmap form, but that is all.
Whether they still exist i can't tell u tho."
I believe West Bank orginated in Spain, published by Dinamic for Spectrum and other computers. The credits suggest the Spectrum version was developed by Spanish programmers. I’m guessing Gremlin licensed it for release in the UK very shortly after that. I haven’t seen any credits for the C64 version, so maybe they just took the Richard Gibbs version for the C64.
I think you’re right Trypticon – it seems though that they got someone else to do the C64 edition, like they did with many of the Dinamic games at the start. Game Over, Army Moves etc were all done by other programmers representing the Dinamic name in the earlier days.