Another day, another first version of a game discovered. This time we discover that Mag Max had an earlier version in production by Sean Townsend and Martin Calvert (from Canvas – the guys who did Highlander for Ocean).
According to Paul Hughes, who coded the eventually released version of Mag Max, Ocean were let down by Canvas for some reason and so Paul had to step up and do a very quick conversion.
It seems possible that the conversion shaping up was not quite up to scratch, and after the failures with Highlander – Ocean decided to bring it in house and salvage things. Although Paul Hughes suggested that Canvas did the Z80 versions, in fact they were done out house by Gary Knight (who is believed to have done the Amstrad versions as well). Mark Jones helped tart up the graphics in house before those versions were released.
It is unknown how the C64 version looked, as Paul never saw the game. Martin unfortunately didn’t recall anything of the conversion and no longer sadly has any of his disks.
Sean Townsend stepped forward in 2015 and confirmed that he was the developer of the game. The game was practically finished, and Sean believes that it was actually a pretty faithful conversion of the arcade. He is unsure why the game was canned, but mentions that the version released was not quite as good as the original version. This is very interesting indeed, and it would be good to see it as a result (and maybe some day work out why Ocean didn’t let Canvas finish it).
Sean has offered hope that he still has something of the game, so we hope to some day bring you it. We assume that Fred Grey’s music was actually intended for the Canvas edition of the game.
Watch this space!
Contributions: Paul Hughes, Martin Calvert, Mark R. Jones, Sean Townsend
Paul Hughes talks about what he knew about Mag Max V1:
“I do remember being told that the developer “had let them down” but never saw any other work – I just assumed they hadn’t managed to get a version together. Christ, it must’ve been bad if the pile of plop that I did was better! I think Canvas did the Z80 versions (which were pretty poor, but a damn hard conversion for a Speccy and Amstrad back then)
That game will haunt me :o) Shudder!”
- 01/09/16 – Pete Graylish confirmed as loading screen artist, with a very rare photo of the loading screen that is probably sadly gone for good.
- 05/02/15 – Sean Townsend confirms himself as developer of the game, with interesting details about the game.
The tune of this game by Fred Gray is a forgotten masterpiece. Japanese Sci-Fi music made in the UK in 1986.