I’m surprised that we hadn’t had an entry for this title a lot sooner, but there you go!
Many may not know that New Zealand Story was originally being developed out of house by Choice Software, a Northern Ireland based company who did a number of titles for Ocean. Fresh from coding Beach Volley Simulator, both Colin Gordon (head of Choice Software) and Dave Clarke were assigned the task of converting the game to the C64.
Dave had some excellent code running, with level scrolls and multiplexing sprites and all was going well, until Ocean decided all of a sudden to bring the game in-house to be completed. It was still early days, but some significant base work had gone to waste.
Other conversions were finished by Choice. But the reasons for the C64 version being brought in are still unclear. Ashley Hogg recalls that Ocean were short on work for their internal developers at the time, and so the C64 version was reeled in (as it was the furthest from completion) to be done by Richard Palmer (who never knew of another version being in production). Other theories could be that Ocean were concerned after the poor reception of Beach Volleyball, and decided to get their own C64 team on that conversion (to make sure all conversions were fully up to standard).
Shortly afterwards, Dave and Jon Smyth (now Temples) were made redundant from Choice and decided to venture with Ashley Hogg with their own development label called Genesis. Their first title was the abandoned Spellcast, but next up was to be a title which would make use of the groundwork set for New Zealand Story.
If you hadn’t guessed by now, what started out as New Zealand Story, ended up being transformed into CJ’s Elephant Antics. Now with just a set of levels in a single load. Codemasters snapped up the title, and the rest was history.
So there we have it. What of the original version of New Zealand Story? Well, unfortunately we’ve never managed to hear a peep out of David. However, in 2017 GTW64 made a wonderful small discovery.
On some disks sent into Clockwize Productions (and passed onto GTW by Dean Hickingbottom) included one with a pre-Zzap preview of Spellcast from Genesis Software (no doubt sent for evaluation). On the label, it had Newzealand Story crossed out. With the disk not too full with the Spellcast preview, we tried to do an undelete on the disk – and lo and behold, a very early preview build was recovered.
So here it is! It is very much a sprite and scroll test at this stage, with no real playability at all and a basic map. It’s a small indication of how it was looking, but no doubt later builds will be a lot more polished. You can see that the main sprite wouldn’t have featured a hi-res overlay. It is hoped in the future that David may release some more of the game, as its been suggested that he still has all his C64 disks.
Contributions: Ashley Hogg, Jonathan Temples, Neil Grayson, Dean Hickingbottom