Among ZZAP!s best-known features is issue 16’s “The Musician’s Other Ball”. This was an interview with Ben Daglish, Tony Crowther, David Whittaker and Rob Hubbard, talking about composing music for games and how they got into it.
At the end of the article was a box listing musical credits for all the composers. Within Rob Hubbard’s list is a credit for the forthcoming “Gremlins”, an arcade-style game and not the Adventure International text adventure, even though Adventure International is referenced. Is it possible that Rob’s music was intended to go into the adventure game, but was dropped?
There was a Gremlins arcade game, based on the Atari 5200/7800 game and released in 1984. However, it wasn’t known if Rob’s music was intended for this game or a separate release. However, Mat Allen confirmed that the game was indeed released by Atari for the C64, disk only and therefore was not the same game.
Chris Abbott in 2015 got in touch and confirmed further that Rob’s music was not for the Atarisoft game, but another Gremlins title contracted and invoiced by an “R. Gibson”. This was the very same Roy Gibson who went on to found Canvas with Ian Weatherburn. The work was commissioned in 1985 for Rob to do, and was one of his earliest commissions.
Rob remembered producing a set of tunes using banjo style instrument sounds and there were a number of western tunes… “I remember doing some tunes with a small town america theme. I went out and bought a book on how to play blue grass banjo! I was dedicated back then! They must have been from the Gremlins game.”
So therefore the tunes from Final Synth Sample 1 were from the game which is currently unreleased and have been there all along! It’s believed all the tunes were intended for the game, and the SFX could well have been too! (Tunes were later used in Shoot Out by Martech).
With the game itself, Roy tells us that it started as a side scroller game prototype (most likely side on platformer) for Adventure International UK. Nothing particularly innovative was attempted. Roy recalls that there was some confusion over the licence, and all that he can remember is being disappointed that they didn’t go on to completion. The initial prototype is all that is thought to have been created.
It might be possible that Adventure International UK decided not to do a non-adventure game, and rejected the idea – but its hard to confirm these days.
Sadly Roy feels that there are no copies of the demo still existing, as he jettisoned a great deal of stuff when he moved to the US in 1987. He may still find something, but it is looking unlikely.
At the very least, Rob’s music is preserved and we now know a lot more about this once mysterious Gremlins game. We hope some day to present something more!
Contributions: Jan Harries, Ross Sillifant, Gamebase 64, Mat Allen, Chris Abbott, Roy Gibson, Lee Bolton
- 09/03/22 – Tidy up of page and correction, where 2600 version was mentioned instead of 5200/7800 (thanks to Lee Bolton for heads up).
- 16/04/15 – Confirmed author and more details about the game
- 06/04/15 – Final Synth Sample 1 tunes added, as these confirmed as Gremlins tunes, plus more details about game and credit confirmations.
- 03/04/15 – Chris Abbott confirms who the real game was by and not Atarisoft.
- 01/05/14 – Mat Allen confirms ownership of Atari Gremlins game on the C64. Download and screenshot removed as a result and review updated.