Another title which was the casulty of the Zzap Megatape article , “How to become a Megastar”.
This was not a SEUCK game, but a two player Bi-plane game in similiar style to Combat from a side on view. There was not too much talked about regarding this game, but a lot was infact talked about regarding the bugs in the game. Sadly according to Ian Osborne who wrote the original feature, it was unplayable due to some bugs in the programming, so we never got a true description or details about the developers.
Dying High is a simple two player combat simulation, focusing on the bi-plane action from Combat. Not a top down view like most Combat clones have been. The game was a result of around a single days worth of work just for fun, and was produced because the developers had a passion for this kind of game.
How did we find out about this mysterious game once printed in Zzap?… Well, it’s thanks to Craig Grannell that GTW found a credit, when pointed to the letter pages of issue 90 of Zzap, where a developer of the game wrote in to fight back against Zzap’s “bugged” comments. Here is a quick snippet of what a certain Martijn Althuizen had to say…
“The article says that the game Dying High has a bug in it, which simply isn’t true. You probably figured out by now that i’m part of the team that made the game and to prove it isn’t bugged, I only have to quote some of Ian Osborne’s words: “We once got a two-player only aerial dogfighter (Dying High), where the second-joystick option didn’t work, making the game unplayable!”
First of all, if its a two player only game, why in the world would there be a second joystick option? Secondly the game doesn’t even have a second Joystick option, so how can it not work? Therefore I suggest Mr Osborne tries inserting joysticks in both the ports and then enjoy the game which is really fun to play (and hopefully put it on the Megatape after all).”
Zzap responded by saying it definitely didn’t work, and they may have had a bugged copy sent (corrupted on the disk). They offered Martijn the chance to send again with other games, but I guess it never happened.
We had a quick attempt to see if we could track down Martijn (Martin in the letter), and by pure chance found an old email which still was being used. Martijn has since helped us to document this game fully, but even more excitingly is that we were sent the full version of Dying High (Why oh why do I keep trying to call this game Dying Hard!! ;-) )!
And so at last, after 14 years gathering dust after Zzap’s rejection (what bug?), here it is for you to check out!
It is a 2 player only game, and although simplistic, it is an enjoyable bi-plane game with some nice touches (Speed variation and splatting into skyscrapers). All it needs really is a computer drone, but there is plenty here to keep people happy. Plus many people have contacted GTW over the years to ask about the Megatape games mentioned in the Zzap article, including Dying High.
One quick note to make is that there are two versions of the game which we have now put in the archive. The Zzap version contains a credit for Zzap 64 magazine, and also a Red Player 2 plane, like in the scan shot we have online. The second version seems to have been made before passing it onto Zzap, when it may have been pitched to another company first. The Player 2 plane is grey in this version. Apart from that they are the same game.
An additional bonus with uncovering the game seems to also be with the music, which contains what seems to be previously unheard tunes by Jeroen Tel, and what don’t seem to be in HVSC at present. Overall making this GTW a nice finding.
A big thanks has to go to the efforts of Craig and Martijn. We hope to hear from Harold (The game’s programmer) too about his game and hear his own story.
Found at last, and case closed on this long lost Zzap game…
Contributions: Craig Grannell, Martijn Althuizen
Martijn Althuizen speaks about work on Dying High…
“I am not the actual programmer of the game, I just had the idea and did the graphics (if you can call them that much, haha).
It’s a shame that the copy Zzap had didn’t work because it really was fun to play. As simple as it was, it offered just that little bit more over other dogfight games because it wasn’t a ‘top-down’ game. I took
this approach because it meant you (or your opponent for that matter) could crash into the ‘skyline’ buildings, and it allowed for a differentiation in flying speed; horizontal speed is ‘1’, upward
vertical speed was ‘0,5’ and downward vertical speed was ‘2’. There were 8 angles of flight (45 degree steps) and pushing left would rotate the plane left, pushing right would rotate the game right. Pressing fire released a bullet. As far as I can remember each plane could have up to three bullets on screen simultaneously. This due to the native 8 sprite limit and us not using more ‘advanced’ techniques to increase that number… ;-)
We didn’t pitch Dying High to any other company. The game was made in a day or two. Just for fun and because I loved to play ‘head to head’ games (Archon, Bounces, Rally Speedway) a lot at the time and we wanted something similar of our own.
Although I didn’t go on into computer game development, I do work as a systems management engineer nowadays. But I still have a passion for games. I’ve just finished ‘concept’ work for an abstract strategic boardgame which I’m very excited about. I’m hoping to get it published by working together with a consortium of independent Dutch game developers…”