Status: Preview, Findability: 3/5

Updates made

25/05/15 – Music demo added and details about the music and also Thalamus link

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A quite impressive game which readers of Commodore Format will remember only too well. The C64 was dying, the games were drying up. EBES were one of those unfortunate companies who put much into the UK games scene, but never really got anything back.

A big spread was put in a late issue of Commodore Format, dedicated to the launch of EBES, where the big exciting release promised was this little game right here.

Defensive is pretty much a clone of Defender with knobs on. That is, some impressive parallax scrolling (Similar to Sanxion in some respects), a neat ship and cool end guardians. The preview consists of 3 levels, with no attackwaves, just a few crafts and end baddies. There is also no sound present.

This preview is actually quite old from the late 80’s, and Russ Michaels planned to enhance the game with his team of programmers. Ian and Martin (Known more as ‘God and Hake’) were good friends of Russ, and ditched the game before they moved onto fully fledged commercial projects such as ‘Galdregons Domain’ and ‘Volfield’. When EBES became a company back in 1994, Russ dug the game out which was pretty much there in terms of a game and decided to finish it as a first big release for EBES.

Those with RAMLINK’s would have been able to experience instant gaming, with added video cutscenes and sequences. The graphics were to be more colourful and defined, more going on in the animation department and ultra smooth scrolling. And don’t forget some awesome music! These were the features mentioned in Commodore Format. Of course, people without a Ramlink would probably have had to put up with a cut down version.

Russ took the game, messed around and got it to a playable demo state. All that was needed was a series of graphics and tweaks, plus some added gameplay and attack waves. A job which was quite achievable.

However, things became slightly difficult at EBES headquarters, with most of the development team leaving Russ by himself to man the whole ship. One can only assume that this caused delays to development on Defensive and led to its second death.

As Commodore World was being 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 made for the game, and so it was axed.

Just how impressive this game would have been is now a mystery which we will never know. Certainly from what remains, there is a lot of promise and hope for what could have been a game that gave C64 supporters a last gasp of software in its dying commercial days. Quite simply people moved on, C-Format’s readership dwindled and the people left would have had to all supported Russ for EBES to have been a success as it should have been for all its efforts.

Certainly something which may interest is the fact that Russ actually approached Jon Woods, creator of Colony, in the view of changing the name of Colony to ‘Defensive’ and selling it through EBES. However, this never really materialised and didn’t get released either. However, it’s rumoured that some transformation was made by Jon Woods, which is currently being examined.

Coming soon I hope will be an insight into the game from its first incarnation from God and Hake themselves. There has been a brief appearance from Martin Godbeer on PPOT’s site, so soon we hope to bring you information about plans in its first life.   From some notes from Charles Deenan, it came to light that Defensive was to have music done by Jeroen Tel.

In recent years, the late Jukka Tapanimäki’s disks were digitally preserved.  On one of the disks was a series of music demos by Maniacs of Noise. One of the demos was music for Defensive.  The tunes which eventually end up being used in Players’ Tomcat game (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 on Tomcat.

The music demo credits Thalamus as being the publisher which Defensive was originally aimed at.  So did Thalamus reject the game?  Or did Ian and Martin just lose interest in the title?

Possibly a very big loss for the C64, but was never mean’t to be…

Contributions: Russ Michaels, Jason Kelk

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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?.”

Russ Michaels.

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