Marco (Exile) and Peter Weighill had both been helping GTW with various scans, when they came across a rather interesting finding inside a game cover, and in a magazine respectively.
Fungus 2 was indeed in production on the C64, and was stated as “Coming Soon” by one of the Players released games in the inlay. A screenshot was also given of the loading screen, which can be seen here. Computer and Video Games mentioned the game back in issue 80, and showed also the same loading screen. There were no in game screenshots. Not sure if these ever existed, often loading screens were done first in certain cases.
Thanks to contact with Karl Hörnell, we found out a lot more about the game, confirmed as unreleased. The game was a hugely souped-up version of the original game with many gameplay and graphical improvements. Essentially this was to be one heck of a sequel. There is too much to mention, but you can check out exactly what the game was about by reading Karl’s own account about the game in the Creator Speaks section.
Essentially Karl’s C64 broke down just as the game was nearing completion, and Karl found it too expensive to get another machine. So he sent Interceptor a 99.5% complete version of the game with some bugs that needed fixing. Karl had hoped someone from Players would have sat down at fixed it, then released the game. But strangely no-one did, and to this day the game remains unreleased.
BUT… Karl sent us a disk which read “Fungus 2 – Work Disk”. Upon this disk was indeed the last remaining copy of the game! We were finally able to present you with the full game to enjoy for the first time many years ago.
In the download is the original game, as well as an alternate version which I loaded with a different Charset… and it gives a different set of levels by the looks of things. We need to ask Karl more about this!
In 2009, Andrew Fisher resurrected the inlay advert and scanned it in for us. Here it is here… Inlay scan.
Then in 2021, Bitmap Soft have worked with Karl to produce a physical release of the game for the first time over at https://www.bitmapsoft.co.uk/product/fungus-ii/ (At the time of writing, August 2021, it is pre-order).
Saved, and almost case closed!…
Contributions: Marco (Exile, Peter Weighill, Karl Hornell, Andrew Fisher
Karl Hornell speaks about work on Fungus 2…
“OK, well, after I had finished the game “Clean Up Service”, which was a sequel to my older game “Clean Up Time”, I figured it was time to give the “Fungus” concept another go. That game had received a lot of attention when it was released.
Richard Paul Jones, who at the time was the head of Interceptor Software (with its budget label “Players”) and through whom most of my communication with the company went, had previously complained about the lack of a decent control panel at the bottom of the screen in “Clean Up Service”. Just plain text on a black background felt a little primitive even in those days. So I decided to give “Fungus II” the Mother of All Control Panels.
A couple of years earlier in “Fungus” I had cheated quite a bit with the 3D stuff. Most of the effect was achieved using the standard system transparency for sprites. The sky and ground colors would always be behind the player (or enemies), whereas the obstacle colors could be either in front of or behind the player depending on what type of background tiles were right underneath his legs. This technique worked well enough that the occasional small errors weren’t noticeable when the game was in motion. But this didn’t feel sufficient anymore. I wanted _real_ 3D.
“Fungus II” would have a variable ground level. You would be able to climb up on or walk below things. I achieved this by using a height map plus a set of “masking” maps that complemented the background tiles and told the program, for each depth position, what pixels of the sprite graphics to remove, to make it look like they were hidden behind pieces of the background. This was extremely complicated, but I did get it to work.
The bottom 25% of the screen was used for the control panel. In the top 25% I put some decorations in the form of clouds, a moon and some monsters that flew back and forth horizontally across a black sky with twinkling stars. The rest was the game area.
Much like the logo and control panel, the playing field of “Fungus II” was very graphically elaborate. It looked nothing like “Fungus”, even though the perspective was identical. Here the object of the game was to collect all mushrooms in the area within a given amount of time (hence the hourglass symbol in the control panel) and then return to the starting point. The screen now scrolled to follow the player around, instead of just right to left. And this time you had a gun. Pressing a certain key toggled between shoot and jump mode (illustrated by radio buttons next to a spring and a gun symbol in the control panel).
You had a choice of six types of opponents:
– Something that looked like a frog with a severe underbite
– Mad bomber goblins (which came up through a trapdoor, walked around,
dropped a bomb and then disappeared down another trapdoor)
– Floating eyeballs with laser beams
– Some weird creatures with long legs (can’t remember what they did)
The game took nearly a year to build. By the time I was almost done, the C-64 I’d used since early 1983 was showing symptoms of old age. Some of the keys barely worked and there were random freezes. In the end I wasn’t sure which bugs were the result of hardware problems and which were my own fault, and I eventually lost interest in the whole thing. It was impossible to work under those circumstances and buying a whole new computer would have cost me more than I’d get paid for the game. The last copy I mailed to Interceptor Software was maybe 99.5% finished. I had hoped someone at that company would be able to track down the remaining bugs, but I guess nobody wanted to do that, so the game never got published.
I don’t think there is any chance of “Fungus II” reappearing. The last remaining copy I’ve got has probably de-magnetized by now. 5.25-inch floppies don’t last forever.
But I did re-use some of the game elements later on. My Java game “3D-Blox” from 1996 has a somewhat similar sprite masking technique, as well as floating eyeballs that shoot laser beams, and the game objective to collect all items within a certain time limt. Same thing with my Mophun game “Cubed”.
UPON JUST RECENTLY SEEING THE GAME AGAIN AFTER OVER 15 YEARS…
“It felt strange to see the game again after all these years. Acouple of things I had forgotten about the gameplay were the bonus bricks and the teleportation devices. Scrolling the screen only when
you reach the end of it (and keeping all the sprites motionless in the meantime) was a necessary trade-off. The C64 just wasn’t fast enough to scroll the screen and 3D-mask all the sprites at the same time.
On level 1 the third character line from the bottom appears to be messed up — possibly due to a bad disk sector. On level 2 the player falls from the sky instead of appearing at the start position, which
was most likely a bug I never got around to fixing. Another remaining bug is the way the bullets don’t explode exactly where they hit an obstacle, but a little to the side of it.
The controls work perfectly on my computer (I use a Macintosh and the Power64 emulator). CTRL toggles between shoot and jump functionality for the fire button. ”
12/08/21 – Added link to Bitmap Soft sale page where physical copy now on sale.
Yup. I got my copy yesterday on a nice green cassette.
Wow, very convincing and impressive 3D-effect. There’s even a shadow for the bullet. Very well done graphically in all areas. Big improvement on the original Fungus.