A game which readers of Commodore Format will no doubt remember only too well. The C64 was dying, the games were drying up and EBES (Electric Boys Entertainment Software) were attempting to keep it all going. A big spread was put in a late issue of Commodore Format, dedicated to the launch of EBES, where the big poster release promised was Defensive.
The game was pretty much a clone of Defender with knobs on – with some impressive parallax scrolling (similar to Sanxion in some respects), a neat ship and cool end of level guardians. A preview managed to sneak out many moons ago, which consists of 3 levels, with no attack waves, just a few crafts and end baddies. There is also no sound present.
The preview though was much older than you might think, and was developed in the mid-late 1980s. The original developers were Ian and Martin (Known more as ‘God and Hake’) and were good friends of Russ. They had ditched the game before moving onto fully fledged commercial projects such as ‘Galdregons Domain’ and ‘Volfield’. When EBES became a company back in 1994, EBES’ Russ Michaels dug it out and planned to enhance the game with his team of programmers.
However, it was planned to be a release that required a CMD RAMLINK, allowing instant loading, video cutscenes and large animated sequences. The graphics were to be more colourful and defined, more animation and ultra smooth scrolling. These were the features mentioned in Commodore Format at least. It is likely that a cutdown version would have been done for those without a RAMLINK.
The support for the C64 was decaying badly, and no-one was buying the hardware that Russ was importing. Things also became difficult at EBES, with most of the development team leaving Russ by himself.
Russ took the game on briefly, messed around briefly, but that was it. As Commodore World was being imported into in the UK by EBES as part of its many ventures (this to save the magazine readership in the UK), Russ asked readers to let him know if they wanted to support Defensive. No response was given at all, so the game was axed for good.
Just how impressive the title could have been is a mystery. Certainly from what remains, there was much promise in the title, but quite simply people had moved on.
Russ informs us that he had approached Jon Woods, creator of Colony, with the suggestion of changing the name of Colony to ‘Defensive’ and selling it through EBES. However, this never really materialised and that title never saw release either.
He later informed us in March 2022 that additional work was done on the game, which progressed past the demo shown in Commodore Format. He is pretty usre music and alien attack waves were added. Remains of this will be on a set of disks that were sold on when EBES went bankrupt. Unfortunately attempts to arrange for the disks to be preserved have hit a few brick walls over the years.
We hope to soon get more information about the original development from God and Hake themselves. Some notes from Charles Deenen signifies that Defensive was to have music composed by Jeroen Tel for the Thalamus release.
In an interesting twist – when the late Jukka Tapanimäki’s disks were digitally preserved, it was found that one of the disks included music demos by Maniacs of Noise. One of the demos featured music for Defensive. These were tunes that eventually ended up being used in Players’ Tomcat game (also by God and Hake). It seems Martin Godbeer and Ian Denny must have ordered the tunes for Defensive originally, but when the game fell through – they just re-used the tunes in Tomcat.
The music demo credited Thalamus as being the publisher. So the question now remains as to what happened. Did Thalamus reject the game? Or did Ian and Martin simply lose interest in the title?
Contributions: Russ Michaels, Jason Kelk
Russ Michaels speak about work on Defensive…
“As merman said, this was a game originally designed by a friend of mine Martin Godbeer, from the old Compunet team God+Hake, they started a company called Digital Light and Magic and this was one of the unfinished games.
I basically took what they had done, tarted about with it, got it working and put a playable demo together. It didn’t have a huge amount of workleft to be done.
The alien attack patterns and sprites, plus some general lextra evel design and playability was all that was needed.
I can’t remember what else there was?.”
- 10/03/22 – Additional details about the game having some additional work done.
- 25/05/15 – Music demo added and details about the music and also Thalamus link