Now then, our next entry is a title which was never advertised in the press or mentioned. It was highlighted to us when Andrew Morris (Magnetic Fields graphic artist, who did graphics for Kikstart 2, Lotus 2 and many others) got in touch with a few titles that he had worked on.
Otherworld was one of those titles, but the big difference was that the game was actually coded by Andrew – who dabbled in coding as well as graphic work in the early days. Otherworld was a project being done for Mr Chip Software and was started way back in 1985 by Andrew as a concept. It was worked on, on and off right up until around 1989 and was pretty much completed. However, by that time Andrew was already moving fully onto design work (and ditching coding completely) and Magnetic Fields started to move onto the 16-bit platforms. The game was forgotten about, and Magnetic Fields were firmly in 16-bit mode from that point on. Their last C64 game being Super Scramble in 1989. Had Andrew had polished things off and pushed it out, it would have likely gone on the Mastertronic label as a budget title.
The game itself is a flick screen platformer, which has a very similar look and feel to Thing on a Spring, but with a bouncing Amiga red/white ball as the main character. Things are split across 6 levels in total, including themes such as Kitchen, Toys and Plants. You essentially have to switch off a load of switches on each level, to open a door at the end of the map to escape. In your way are a number of platforms, conveyor belts and creatures trying to stop you. You get one life and large block of energy to play with, which means the game is pretty tough.
A huge shame that we never got to purchase the game – but did it survive? Andrew gave the news that we were desperate to know, which was that he still had all his disks – which should have the last version of the game. So Andrew posted a few boxes down, which GTW64 got to work on. After finding an executable with no sound, but playable – we thought that this was it – but then found a disk which was labelled as a back up of everything related to the game, a loader file reference and a SYS jump code. Following the instructions brought a few loading issues, but eventually a rather corrupted title screen appeared with some music. There was a seemingly complete version here. The irony was the disk was one of the only ones which had bit rot and corruption throughout.
After consulting with both Jazzcat and Jani Tahvanainen, they suggested some tips to get the data off the disk. The first tool used suggested did the trick, and after several backups – Jani confirmed that we had managed to get everything off the disk. The game now loaded with the title screen in-tact from believed to be the last remaining copy in existence. Phew!
Graphically the game is of a very good standard, which was to be expected of Andrew. The main ball is well animated and looks very nice in its hi-res mode. The enemy sprites are cute and well defined, and the backgrounds are crisp and very cartoony. Sonically we are treated to a previously unheard Shaun Southern tune on the title screen, and some simple SFX throughout. The title screen is nice and colourful overall, with bold text and some witty text from Andrew. Basically you will see early on just how much of a shame this didn’t even get a budget release – especially seeing how complete and polished it is.
Recently in 2013, we also recovered an unused loading screen for the game, as well as some graphical assets which we have added to the pack.
But it is saved now, and finally as intended – you can check out the game for yourself. A fun budget platformer which was almost lost in the midst’s of time (or bit rot as we know it!)
Contributions: Andrew Morris, Jazzcat, Jani Tahvanainen
Andrew Morris talks about Otherworld:
“Otherworld was the only game programmed by Andrew Morris – artist and designer at Mr Chip Software and Magnetic Fields. The game was a simple platformer, using the Amiga red and white ball as the main character. The game featured a variety of scenarios, each with three levels. Although the game was never released, many of the graphical ideas later appeared in Magnetic Fields’ Amiga game Kid Chaos.
This game would probably have gone out under Mastertronic. It was pretty average. I developed it from around 1985 to 1987, while doing other things. I should still have a copy somewhere but I don’t know if it works.
It was a game I started in 1985, when you were expected to program the game too. I never liked programming, and as the industry changed, I moved into design and never went back. Otherworldwas something I did while I was doing other things, so I think it took almost two years to finish, by which time, the C64 was running out of steam – we’d already started working on early Amiga projects – and it never got released.”