Odin and Thor released a whole range of cool games, and this could have potentially been another. Lustiania had the working title of “Sunken Ship Game” and was being coded by Robbie Tinman, with music by his brother Keith Tinman, and graphics by Paul Salmon. The game was being developed for Firebird software back in 1987, and kind of sank without trace like the boat based in the game.
Details of the game itselfwere very sketchy, but we found out a little more about the game thanks to Paul Salmon who had the following to say:
“Lusitania – was really the first game idea we had at the nascent Odin; as I recall, Robbie Tinman, Keith, and Fred Grey had just finished the Jack series for what was then Thor (The House that Jack built, Jack and the Beanstalk or some thing like that) and Paul McKenna (the boss) wanted a change of direction with the products.
To this end he employed a Speccy programmer called Dave Thorpe. Dave happened to bring with him a fairly good frogman sprite and a ‘shimmering’ routine, so we decided to design a game around these. I think it was Paul who suggested the story of the Lusitania. I spent a few hours in the library, looking at photos of ships from that era, to start on the graphics.
It was started on the Speccy and the C64 version would have been an adaptation of it, making use of the C64s technical advantages (the speccy would have been flip screen and the C64 scrolling, etc. the sprite would have been copied in ‘hi-res’ (lol)). It was a ‘dodge-the-typical-deep-sea -baddies-while-you-find-the -collectibles’ kind of game and looked to be shaping up.
The game was abandoned when Colin Grunes and Stuart Fotheringham joined the company, and, based on a sprite of Colin’s, we designed ‘Nodes of Yesod’. That project seemed like a better bet, so that’s what we put our effort into. I still think the story of the Lusitania would make a good game – obviously it could be done much, much better nowadays!”
So there is the game, but where can the remains of it be found? Sadly Paul no longer has anything of the game, so our attention turns towards Keith and Robbie Tinman to see if they by chance have anything left of the game.
It will be great to find something, but it could be a very slim chance as time shifts on.
Interestingly thanks to a recent Retro Gamer article on unreleased Amstrad CPC games, Lusitania came up, and it was interestingly briefly featured on Amstrad Action’s cover tape on issue 16. Just a screenshot, but something none the less to show the game was roughly looking like.
The magazine gave a little more information which disclosed that the aim of the game was to rescue millions of dollars worth of gold bullion from a liner that had sank from World War One. You’d have to avoid underwater hazards such as mines and sea monsters. You would travel underwater in a diving bell to try and get all of it without your oxygen not running out.
From the screenshots, it looks similar to Mermaid Madness in some ways, but it would be great to find this particular version. Can Robbie Tinman help us?
It seems the deal with Odin by Firebird had soured (which was to produce 10 games in total). Cited to be due to creative differences between publisher and developer, payment problems and all manner of other issues. By the end of the contract, the company Odin had closed and the various management, coders, musicians, artists all went their own separate ways.
Hopefully this game can be saved from the wreckage which was Odin…
Contributions: Paul Salmon, Ross Sillifant