The Soul Gem of Martek was yet another mysterious title which went astray since some initial mentions in 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 arcade elements.
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. But the game was nowhere to be found – not even on the Amstrad platform, which the game was also advertised for. As a result, the game has 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 – though a name change maybe? See later.
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 overall 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 came forward in 2014 and declared that he had what was believed to be the last copy of the game – unfortunately with some corruptions on the loader. Lee is good friends with Dave Gamon, the developer of the game, and 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 was two mastered copies of Soul Gem – but no recollection of the game actually being released.
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. Scans were made, but the main work was carried out on trying to save Soul Gem.
The first tape unfortunately was heavily corrupted, but the second tape brought joy – and we managed to save everything that was on the tape. However, both sides of the tape (even on the corrupted version) had the same 3 parts copied. There was no 6 parts unfortunately. Each of the 3 parts comes with an odd arcade part which seems to bear no relevance to the main game, which is a text adventure. We originally believed that this meant the parts were incomplete, but the inlay suggests that they were not tied to the adventure at all – and were just there as light relief from the text adventure. Therefore, their inclusion is very bizarre indeed!
You could argue that 3 arcade parts and 3 adventure parts could make 150K and 6 parts in total – but if you look at the advert, you’ll see that there is a desert scene with a large worm/snake character – which is completely missing from what we have preserved. Also, the inlay talks of six screens of arcade action, but also of the program being over 100k long and turbo loaded in twelve sections!! Not sure how it could even be twelve, as the arcade segments are bolted onto each part of the adventure in the same load – maybe this was something done later on before the inlay was changed?
The inlay itself has a date of 1984 on it – so its possible that when Zzap previewed the game, it may have progressed from the point of this master copy. That is another possibility which we are hoping to confirm.
Interestingly as well (and as alluded to earlier) – the file names have something very different too. All 3 parts are labelled “Slave of Shards” – which may have been the new name that was suggested from rumours. Very odd though that it is called this on the Soul Gem mastered tape!
This is all that seems to be present of the game – so anything more is very likely to be completely lost now unfortunately, unless some kind of miracle happens. We believe at the moment that the game was never actually completed properly, and was 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.
But thanks to the kindness and generosity of Lee Heise, we are now able to present most of what existed of Soul Gem. We are not fully sure how playable the adventure parts are, but they are separated out for you (thanks to Martin Pugh) to check out properly (the TAP files show the undisturbed and encrypted parts as is). 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 Gammon, Jazzcat