Advertised a lot in the magazines and created by Thalion/Grandslam, The Seven Gates Of Jambala is best described as a clone of Son Son II on the PC Engine, and not Super Mario :).
The game was released on the Amiga and ST, with news in one magazine saying that “C64 version should be arriving in two shakes of a camel’s hump…”. Sadly the C64 version never appeared. The game was advertised in the press, and the adverts clearly stated the C64 disk and cassette versions.
You essentially controlled a witch like character who roamed around solving little puzzles and jumping around in platformer style.
Recently GTW caught up with Mario Knezovic, who shed some light on this interesting title. He tells GTW that the C64 version never got very far. Mario programmed all the scrolling and sprite routines and a few other minor things like fade-ine and fade out effects for when levels started and ended.
Nine months in total were spent on fine tuning low level functions, scrolling and sprite stuff. There was not much game logic however, besides the main character walking and jumping around and a little bit of very basic enemy interaction. Most of the routines and functions were used in Rolling Ronny. So as you play RR, you may be seeing many elements of this game in action already!… Just imagine it with different graphics ;)
Mario tells GTW that the conversion was simply cancelled due to the management not being able to get him a graphic artist to work on the game. All graphics in the work done were mock ups.
Music wasn’t really done properly… as far as we know, only mock music was put in. There might be something to hear one day, but we’ll see.
Would this have been a better title from Grandslam?… well, with the possibility of Mario digging out the remains of this game, we will maybe see something of it!…
A lot more information, and possibly a demo someday?…
Contributions: Ross Sillifant
Mario Knezovic talks about work on TSGOJ..
“I worked at Thalion in 1989, mainly on the C64 conversions of Seven Gates of Jambala and Leaving Teramis and a little bit of assistance on Chambers of Shaolin. Unfortunately my two projects never got finished as the back-then management was not able to provide a graphics artist for the projects. After nine months of sitting around and enjoying nightlife in and around Gütersloh and Bielefeld, I got my full pay for the two projects and headed toward new adventures. Lucky enough I did a little project for Thalion later: The C64 version of Neuronics and thus became a legend of being an immortal ex Thalion coder ;-)
1989 was one of the greatest times in my life. Not only was the coding very funny (when it did not become frustrating because of lack of graphics) and the collegues some of the best I ever had, but also I
enjoyed my private life to a maximum extent possible. Probably the best of all was that I had a wonderful girlfriend back then. Thanks to lack of graphics, I was able to spend tons of time with her.
Probably the best and easiest to get the full picture <of TSGOJ – Frank> is if you try to get hold of a copy of the Amiga or Atari ST versions, as they both have been finished and released. Personally, my favorite about the game was the terrific music by Jochen Hippel. The end level bosses were technically great as well.
The game itself was a jump and run, mostly influenced by Son Son II on the PC Engine. Not by Super Mario as you <originally> wrote, even though Super Mario was the coder of the C64 version ;-) (Just joking… a few of my friends can not stop calling me by that nick name…)
The C64 version never got very far. I programmed the scrolling and sprites routines and a few other minor things like fade-in/out when levels started/ended. As you could read in the above post from the Thalion Yahoo group, the management of Thalion was never able to find a graphics artist, which was the main reason why this game never got finished. Back then I was a rookie, I only have programmed one game before that (“Wall Street” by Magic Bytes) and did not know other graphics artists on the C64 yet (like Oliver Lindau or the other ones I also worked with later: Michael Detert, Thomas Heinrich), so I could not bring in my own guy.
I spent all my nine months there on fine tuning low level functions, like scrolling and sprite-stuff. There never has been much of game logic, besides the main character walking and jumping around and a little bit of very basic enemies.
The work was not lost, though. Nearly all low level functions I wrote back then were used in the game “Rolling Ronny” later. A bit improved of course…
Actually I did a lot more work than was necessary for Rolling Ronny. The most terrific stuff should end up being used in “Lethal X-Cess”, like 48 sprites at once with 3 character sets at the same time on screen, with color changes each character row and much more… But this is another story of it’s own :-)
At least there is not much useful stuff I could provide you with. The best of it went into Rolling Ronny anyway and since there was no graphics guy, there is nothing you could see but dummy graphics… Not to mention music…
The best source for Thalion related games, both Seven Gates of Jambala, Leavin’ Teramis and all others, probably is the Thalion Web Shrine, run by Alex Holland. Here is the direct link to the games page: http://umcus.org/~alexh/games/games.html
And in case you are interested, there is another (small) game I did for Thalion called Neuronics: http://umcus.org/~alexh/games/neuronics/neuronics.html
What was most important to me about Neuronics is that I met Thomas Detert for that game for the first time. From day 1 on we became very close friends and met each other for a few years at least every second weekend or so… That time was really amazing. He is one of the greatest persons I ever met! I did a lot of projects with him later and also wrote the DOS music editor he has used for his DOS projects like Stone Age … which also was the first DOS game I have ever done…
Okay, all this is off-topic for your website as Neuronics and Stone Age indeed were both finished and published ;-)
I quit the gaming industry in 1997. Just in case you wonder what games I did lately. After a very long break I indeed started to work on two new (Windows) games with Oliver in our spare time. They will be rather classic games than full-sized today’s games, a puzzle game and a turn-based strategy game. Mainly we do this for fun so far. Maybe we’ll release them as shareware one day. The main purpose is to have fun and to create a new pile of general game related libraries, mainly in the area of AI. There is one really big project I would want to do one day… Not very likely to happen in the next few years though :-)”
Then in 2013…
“Leaving Teramis has been abandoned in such an early phase that it was
not worth keeping anything. Actually everything there existed was the
scrolling and an early version of a sprite multiplexer. The hero and
dummy enemies moving around in very basic ways. (Teramis should have
been developed after Jambala.)
Actually this was exactly the same stuff I used for Jambala, just here
it was horizontal instead of vertical scrolling. But unfortunately
Jambala C64 also was abandoned by the company because they were not able
to find a good-enough C64 graphics artist. (I was a rookie back then,
Jambala was my 2nd game project and I had no contacts yet by myself.)
I doubt there is much useful left of any of these two projects. And if
so, in the same dusty basement where the Lethal X-Cess leftovers are and
where I have not been in years (complicated story).
What happened actually was that while I was preparing for Lethal X-Cess,
I used all my previous experience to rebuild a few things, finish
optimizing the good parts and adding some real awesomeness. To finance
all this, I have worked on other projects. The interesting part here is
that one game I did called Rolling Ronny (for Starbyte Software) uses some of the technology that was originally Jambala and was on the way to become Lethal X-Cess.
Unfortunately it is the only game which got finished in that phase.”
- 02/04/14 – Added Thalion scan from ACE magazine thanks to Ross Sillifant
- 13/05/14 – Added ACE ST review scan, thanks to Ross Sillifant