Status: Preview, Findability: 5/5

Our next GTW entry comes in the form of a Slapfight style vertical scrolling shoot-em-up which was being produced by Paul Hughes.

It was originally assumed to have been produced for Ocean, but we find that in fact the game was meant for Rainbird Software back in 1988. You’ll find out how in a bit.

The game name was criticised by Paul himself, and feels it was quite crap. Not sure if the game name would have been changed somewhere down the line. Epsilon has stuck ever since though.

The game never got fully completed, and it seems that Paul and Dawn got dragged onto other projects – meaning that this was shelved.

Paul gavs hope by stating that the game is most likely on a few ST disks in his parents attic, and once he gets a chance, he will be having a dig through and converting the remains for us to put out and show the world.

Recently we had confirmation from Paul that Dawn Drake did all the graphics, but sadly these were assumed lost when Dawn sold Paul’s C128 setup to Martin Holland who sadly passed away in 2003. Martin was thought to have had all of Dawn’s disks, but it seems there was a mis-communication. It was found in 2012 that Martin had borrowed some of Dawn’s disks to just test out until he found his own.

The disks were returned to Dawn, who when questioned about another game in the archives, mentioned she had a bundle of disks which GTW64 could take a look at. That we did, and we were very surprised to find some early builds of Epsilon.

One preview unfortunately would not start correctly – but Martin Pugh very kindly fixed things up, and the preview shows a slightly different build with Terra Cresta sprites. There is also a high score mode tucked away which they unlocked. You can check things out for yourself by downloading the previews here. We also added Paul’s source code that he added to his own site in 2018.

It is hoped that maybe some day we can find more of the game – especially as it is such a promising looking game. Graphically it feels superb in places, especially the hi-res ship version. Sonically it is strong, but just features test music by Jon Dunn at the moment, ripped from another Ocean game – seems to suit it well though!

More soon we very much hope for this one!

Contributions: Paul Hughes, Martin Pugh, Jazzcat, Dawn Drake

Supporting content

Available downloads

Creator speaks

Paul Hughes speaks about Epsilon:

“Looking through the code for a version of Epsilon – heavens knows which version I randomly grabbed (!), but bits of it got the synapses sparking – it has various pick ups and a few different types of laser – a few defender like bolts, some bullets, chase pickups a la nemesis and a big “banana” ray a la Terra Cresta.

I used to have a batch of disks called the Wimpy Disks (the name came from Nick Pelling of Frak! fame) – which were “construction” disks – disks of common routines – scrollers, multiplexors, music drivers, sprite movement sequencers etc – so I was always throwing bits and bobs of demos together to see which one sort of clicked. I’m guessing I didn’t do much more as the around that time the 68000 was just appearing, and I was getting heavily into 3D.

The Scorpion was Rocky the Lobster from Vindicator (one of Simon Butlers I believe – the label looks like his hand writing) – as Dawn was predominantly a Spectrum/Amstrad artist I think she got some sprites from Simon to show some of the overlay techniques he used to use.

I think “dawny’s map editor” was something I knocked together for editing 4×4 block maps. Shortty’s editor was something that Allan wrote whilst he was over at Origin for 2100 AD – there were Visa problems so he came back to the UK and started at Ocean again – his sprite and map editors were nicely developed so he let me use them – around this time Ocean switched to using an ST based sprite and map editor for all the platforms.”

Update history

10/05/24 – Added source code from Paul Hughes.

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