Yet another game from Beyond Belief which didn’t make it very far….
This neat looking game was actually previewed in Zzap!64 and Commodore Format, with them looking forward to the finished result….
It did look good, apart from some large sized cars in small sized grids…. it did look good, and possibly could have been BB’s best release for the C64.
According to a interview with Jim Scott, the game was going to feature eight single screen tracks and three cars (2 player with one drone). It was a Super Sprint type of game which would have money prizes to allow for upgrades to the car and various weapons such as missiles. It is rumoured that Commodore Force saw a mock-up cover for the game, which had Nigel Mansell on the front.
After eight months in development (Between 1992 and 1993), it had the hefty task of being reprogrammed to include greater degree of turning (32 rather than 16 angles) and better collision (Less bounce, so more like F1 than bumper cars). But this was the last that was heard about the game.
Interestingly there was also a Spectrum version in development from none other than Jonathan Cauldwell. Jonathan was asked to produce the conversion based on a spec given over the phone. He was told it was a top-down racer in the style of Grand Prix Simulator with 8 tracks, 3 cars and a shop to buy power-ups. Jonathan never saw the C64 game until recently coming across the shots on GTW64, hence the Spectrum version looks very different in terms of design. Jim Scott was generally happy with the progress, but things went quiet according to Jonathan. The only reference to Jonathan working for Beyond was in YS83.
Jonathan recently found a letter from Beyond Belief which detailed the game as follows for Jonathan to work from:
“You do not need to see the C64 version as it is fairly straight forward. It has 8 tracks, 3 cars (possible 2 players and 1 computer). You get a certain amount of money for finishing first or second, and after every 2 tracks you can go to a shop which will allow you to buy a turbo to increase speed, tyres to increase grip and steering traction to allow faster turning, and of course fuel. You start with 2 credits and when you finish third you lose a credit.”
The Spectrum version was actually finished, but never released by Beyond, though it did manage to sneak out… In the summer of 1993, Jonathan put together a compilation of mostly ex-covertape games with a few unpublished games, which YS in its infinite wisdom named the “Bumper Boogie Pack”, and Jimmy’s Grand Prix appeared on that, under the name of Grand Prix Drivers. Jonathan mentioned that It’s probably no coincidence that the title uses the same number of characters as “Jimmy’s Grand Prix” did. There’s even a tell-tale graphic on the status screen, where the racing car has a “Beyond Belief” logo on the side.
Unfortunately the C64 game seems to have been caught up in Beyond Belief’s demise…. a shame….. but maybe Jimmy could shed some light on this game and maybe let us have something of it, if we ever find the guy. We did recently find some more shots from the Beyond Interview which gave us the developer name – known only as “The Ghost” and part of a company called “Fantasy 2000 Software”. Their only link has been with Snare which Beyond Belief did release and was pretty much a straight Spectrum port job by The Ghost. Was “The Ghost” in fact Craig Wight? Craig confirms it was not sadly!
We are fairly convinced that the developer and artist was none other than David Jolliff. The graphical style matches the Jimmy’s Soccer games and Devastating Blow titles that he did. Both Soccer games are credited to “The Ghost”, and player names include J Smart, D Jolliff, B Pape – who were of course the R-Type group.
It is possible the alias was used by multiple people, though it seems a bit odd overall that just a selection of C64 titles used it and none of the ZX Spectrum/Amstrad editions had the alias.
This game is unlikely to have been fully finished, as Beyond Belief would have probably tried to sell it to Commodore Format, as they did with Shellshock to make some money back. But we believe that after many months in development, it would have got very far!
Another oddity is that there is a game called GTI Simulator from 1988, which is a similar game style, and oddly has a coder who called himself “The Silhouette”. Co-incidence?
Sadly it seems it got caught up in the collapse of Beyond Belief…
Contributions: Jonathan Cauldwell, Craig Wight