The Soul Gem of Martek was yet another mysterious title that went astray since some initial mentions in various magazines and adverts. This was a title that was to be released back in 1985 by Anirog, and was to be a text adventure – mixed with around 6 arcade element parts.
Thanks to Andrew Nicklin, we found that Zzap 64 had published some rare shots in issue 1, which you can find in the scans section. However, the game itself was nowhere to be found – not even on the Amstrad platform, which the game was also advertised for. As a result, the game had been missing for over 30 years.
At some point, there was a rumour that due to delays with the game, the name was changed before possibly being released. But there seems to be no evidence of this at all. However, as we later learn – there may have been a name change of sorts on the cards.
In Zzap’s brief write up – the game was depicted as being a 150k, 6 part blockbuster coming soon from Anirog for £9.95, and a very ambitious game by the sounds of things. Considering that the partners of Anirog have sadly passed away, it was looking tricky to see who was behind the game or have any chance of saving it.
Contributor Lee Heise however came forward in 2014 and declared that he had what was believed to be the last remaining copy of the game – unfortunately with corruptions on the loader. Lee is good friends with Dave Gamon, who was revealed as the developer of the game.
Dave was clearing out his mum’s attic completely when he found a box of Anirog materials and gave everything to Lee for safe keeping. In the box were two mastered copies of Soul Gem – but no recollection of the game actually being released. The game was seemingly cancelled when Anirog closed its doors after the death of Roger Gamon (Dave’s father). Hopefully Dave will shed some more light soon about the title and what happened overall to it.
In October 2015 – Lee very kindly sent both copies of the game to GTW to try and preserve, along with a rare catalogue from Anirog, which we believe was never published.
The first tape unfortunately was heavily corrupted, but the second tape brought joy – and we managed to save everything. However, both sides of the tape (even on the corrupted version) had the same 3 parts copied. There was no 6 parts or files to match the original descriptions.
Interestingly as well – the file names were something very different too. All 3 parts were labelled “Slave of Shards” – which may have been a new name the title was going to hold, or a WIP name. Very odd that it is called this on the Soul Gem mastered tape.
Each of the 3 parts came with an arcade action segment, which then led onto a text adventure segment. The inlay suggests that they were not fully tied to the adventure at all (in terms of points/items) – and were just there as light relief from the text adventure segments.
The inlay also talked of six screens of arcade action, with the program being over 100k long and turbo loaded in twelve sections. We were not sure how it could be that amount, as the arcade segments were bolted onto each part of the adventure in the same load. However, the desert scene shown in adverts was seemingly missing, or so we thought.
Upon further investigation in 2022 and digging around in the parts, it seems there are indeed 6 action parts overall, and around (but not quite) 12 segments in total.
At the start of each part, you can either start the first action part of the game, or press space to drop into the text adventure segment that follows (you can also press space when you die on the action part to exit into the adventure). Breaking into the code, in part one you can RUN 4500 to decompress/prepare and start the next interactive part, which again can drop you into another text adventure segment. So part one has about 4 segments in total.
Part two has a similar thing – with the action segment first, and a text adventure part. Breaking the text adventure, you can RUN 1300 to see yet another action part. Exiting this, you get yet another text adventure part. 8 segments so far.
Part three is then an interesting conclusion. You can run the action part, or press space to exit into a final action part (the desert scene which we believed was not present). Once you get past the desert part, there is one final adventure part to finish the game.
That only gives us 11 segments, unless I have missed something. Perhaps after the first segment, it should first go to a text adventure, but accidently goes straight to the final action part? May need more investigation in the code to see if anything else is tucked away.
Overall though, it seems that all the content is actually there, it just needs polishing up and linking up properly to make into a fully cohesive experience.
Thanks to the kindness and generosity of Lee Heise though, we have been able to present what existed of Soul Gem overall. Importantly too, there are various tunes which were composed by David Dunn, and which have not been heard publicly until now. So these are worth checking out!
As soon as we learn more about the game, we’ll add it here – but for now, check remains of a game that has been missing for over 30 years!
Contributions: Lee Heise, Andrew Nicklin, Martin Pugh, Dave Gamon, Jazzcat