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Force of the Vulcan (GTW64 highlight)

Force of the Vulcan GTW64 review

Alex Ross

Kele Line Games


Kele Line games were a Danish games company, who now are probably most famous for their excellent title, The Vikings. They only released two other games, Tiger Mission and Zyrons Escape, before disappearing into the forgotten mists of C64 nostalgia.

However, they did have another four games slated for release, one of which was Force of the Vulcan. Nothing is known about this game other than its brief mention in issue 2 of Computer Action. It was due to be released in late 1987, the same year as The Vikings and Tiger Mission, but the company went bankrupt towards the end of the year.

Whether this game was due to be a licensed Star Trek game is unknown, though if that was the case then it is likely that there would be more information about the game available. As it is we can presume it would be a sci-fi game, as the reference to Vulcan would suggest (unless its a game about vulcanised rubber).

Its a shame Kele Line didnt manage to make it in the games industry, The Vikings, Kele Lines best received game, was written by Soren Gronbech, who would later go on to program for the Amiga with Sword of Soden possibly being his most famous game.

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The history of Berserker Works Ltd

The was originally posted on the central GTW site a couple of years back, luckily for Frank I archive things obsessively and thus still had all the files and details on my computer. Enjoy!

The story of Berserker Works is similar to many software houses in the 1980s. Set up as a small company with only one or two people at the helm, it released several games over the years before running out of steam in the late 1980s, having never managed to secure the major distribution needed to gain a profitable foothold in the industry.

The difference with Berserker Works is that it was created and run by best-selling science fiction and fantasy author, Fred Saberhagen, who by the 1980s had been writing books for over twenty years. He had seen the rising interest in computer games and believed that it would only grow, and felt it would be a good idea to create a story that would make a great computer game. What he came up with, the Book of Swords, was too complex for the technology of the time, but Berserker Works (named after his science fiction series based around a race of death machines known as the Berserkers) was created and he pressed ahead with getting programmers involved to help him realise various concepts he and his wife, Joan, came up with.

Continue reading

Posted in: Commodore 64, Features, PC | Tagged: , | 3 Comments

Flood 2

1992 Bullfrog

Platforms: Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and PC

  • Code – Paul Hughes
  • Graphics – Mark R. Cobley-Jones
  • Music – N/A

Ah ‘Flood’… The memories had with this awesome Amiga game back in the day. With its groundbreaking speech effects throughout, Flood proved to be a big hit on the ST/Amiga back in 1990, and so it was inevitable that a sequel would follow. This time the main character, Quiffy, would also look to make an appearance on 16-bit consoles which were starting to take a hold on the gaming public alongside home computers.

The game was being developed by non other than ex-Ocean coder Paul Hughes with graphics by Mark R Jones (Who also worked at Ocean).

Flood 2 promised more of the same of the first game, with a multitude of additional features and bits to improve further on the original (Which sadly and undeservedly never had the full spotlight treatment on its original release).

Paul and Mark wanted to recreate the feel and playability of classic games they loved as teenagers. Their idea was to mix “great graphics” with “old school” playability. Games such as Starquake, Dynamite Dan and Wizards Lair were just some more their many inspirations for the sequel.

One of many map designs by Mark, see the full gallery of items below!

Designs emerged featuring various pick-ups and intriguing ideas such as The Vacuum Cleaner of Ole Ole Kumquat, brought on by two cherubs who would then suck you up and deposit you on a higher level. There was also a pumpkin mask that Quiffy would pick up and use as a smart bomb, shouting “Boo!” at baddies and scaring them to death. Even a bar of soap was to act as an invincibility pick-up covering Quiffy in soap bubbles to make him unrecognisable to enemies. These were just a few of the many crazy ideas that were planned.

Flood 2 originally started life on the ST, showing off a decent pre-shift scroll and loads of sprites running around. However, due to “wondering wisdom of marketing”, it was decided that the ST marked was dying, so the game was moved to the Amiga and PC platforms and scrapped for the poor ST.

Development had been ongoing for a full six months and yet the plug was pulled just days before the contract was to be signed. Development of all versions basically ceased when Paul and Mark were told they had to move in-house to continue the project. They refused and so the game was canned as a result with no-one else taking over.

Before this tragic end, Paul created a few early test demos which showed lots of promise, and described the game by saying: “It was as playable as any collect-em-up scrolling platform game of the early 90s!”. ST and Amiga versions were fully playable, PC almost playable and console versions were only in the planning stages. So a huge shame that things fell a little sour. Could this have been another Superfrog or better? We may never know

Fortunately, all of Marks design sketches survived, and can be found here with the review (Thanks Mark!). Mark and Paul also found a few screenshots and sprite shots of the game, but the hunt is still on for a running version of the game, which continues to elude us after quite a few years now of the search beginning.

Paul Hughes still has disks of the game, but sadly the disks (typically the case with 3 1/2″ disks) have gone to the disk heavens in the sky. Mark had similar issues with a few of his disks, which may just have something playable on them but Mark refuses to give up and at present there is a possibility of someone else taking a look at trying to salvage/scrape what they can of the game for preservation.

And so the hunt goes on for playable remains of this intriguing game. Can anything be found, or has the quality of 3 1/2″ disks let us down yet again?

Also in April 2010, Jim Bagley rescued all of Mark Jones Flood 2 materials, and produced the YouTube video of things below (Sadly no demos, but animations at the very least! )

Then a bunch of source materials were recovered for the actual animation and map files and the in-house Ocean sprite and map editor (written by John Brandwood and used for all of the in-house animations and maps on the ST and Amiga). The editor is known as Fudd-Ed (Fudd as in Elmer Fudd with was Brandwoods nickname at Ocean!) It can be run on an St Emulator. EdSpr is for sprites and EdMap for maps. Its pretty easy to use according to Mark. You load WORKSPACES in EdSpr for animations. For maps you load the BLOCKS then the MAP in EdMap.

Then around 2014, Atari Mania helped to recover an early development version of Flood 2, with graphics from the original version. Although its very early, it demonstrates part of the new engine. The game doesn’t feature any of Mark’s new graphics, and contains some placeholder Ocean music. There is a much later version though to be found with Mark’s graphics in place, which hopefully Paul Hughes will some day recover from his old ST hard-drives.

Enjoy for now though all the materials currently here, with thanks to Mark and Jim for digging all of this material out and also Atari Mania for the recovery of the early demos.


Gallery of designs and mockups

Creator speaks

Mark Jones spoke to Retro Gamer’s David Crookes about Flood 2

“In 1992 I got together with Paul Hughes, who I knew from my Ocean days where he was a Commodore 64 coder, to concoct what we had planned to be the platform game to out do all other platform games.

Planned originally for the Amiga and Atari ST machines we put together a design that, for reasons lost is the mists of time, turned into a follow up to Bullfrog’s successful ‘Flood’ game. We did a lot of work on the design, most of it being “let’s nick all the best ideas from all the old platform games we played on the Speccy and Commodore and put them all in to our game while also thinking up all sorts of silly but do-able ideas”. A handful of characters were animated, a rough Level 1 map produced, and a semi-playable demo was up and running before we submitted our ideas to ‘Bullfrog’.

When we did we didn’t have to wait long for a reply. Dated 12th May 1992, from Les Edgar, the managing director of ‘Bullfrog’, confirming that “Bullfrog is very interested in the above project and would consider publishing the game”. Les asked for the principal designer (me!) to visit the ‘Bullfrog’ offices to discuss the design aspects of the project. So a few days later I went down to Surrey and met everyone at ‘Bullfrog’. I spent my time there with Les, who introduced me to his ‘Bullfrog’ partner Pete Molyneux ,who then disappeared to deal with more pressing matters. I don’t actually remember that much now about my visit there other than I met Sean Cooper and sitting out on a lawn with the sun beating down. It was here Les told me that everyone had loved the games design and it had actually made some of the staff team laugh with our silly ideas and speech bubbles. He also told me that people from ‘Nintendo’ had recently visited and he had shown them some of the animations I had already produced and they had loved it. I was so chuffed! I’d loved ‘Populous’ and ‘Powermonger’ and here I was about to work one of the most respected 16-bit companies in the business. The meeting went well and things progressed.

Schedules were drawn up, a contract was drafted then re-drafted and we were just about to sign on the dotted line and actually get some money and go full-time on the project when it all fell through. About 6 months planning had been done and that was it. Game over.

The reasons for the game not coming to fruition seems to have wiped from my mind. I just can’t recall the exact circumstances of why the game didn’t progress any further. But it was enough to make me decide to throw in the towel after a few years of struggling to get by doing bits of freelance work. Not long after it all went kaput I went to Israel for an adventure. I got a normal job in a record shop upon my return and I didn’t work on any games until 19 years later when I participated in the making of the lost ‘Ultimate’ game ‘Dingo, for the ZX Spectrum. All the design elements and the graphics made still exist, for what is, as it was accepted by the company, an unrealized ‘Bullfrog’ game. Who knows, one day we might get it finished!”

Posted in: Amiga, Atari ST, PC, Reviews | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments

Long lost ZX Popeye clone found!

Popie ingame shotThanks to Peter Weighill for the heads up, but some exciting developments over at the World of Spectrum as Mark R Jones has uncovered a rather rare and previously unpreserved clone of the arcade game Popeye cheekily called “Popie“.

Popie looks to be a rather nifty little conversion and certainly the best which the machine has seen. Currently the game has been preserved and we are now awaiting a release on the World Of Spectrum which should be very iminant. Keep an eye out on the new WOS entry which has just popped up.

Another great finding for the ZX Spectrum!


Posted in: News, ZX Spectrum | Leave a comment

Simon Cooke and the Sam Coupe

A short post about Simon Cooke’s SAM Coupe contributions. His unreleased contributions include Populous(incomplete), Bubble Bobble (unattainable license, 1991), Zub (link to download from there – unfinished, but screenshots exist).

Unrelated to Sam Coupe but of great importance is that he worked on a finished cool-looking (at least judging from shots) Prince of Persia conversion to Spectrum that got scrapped due to licence issues, this is a different one from the Russian adaptation made later by another team.

Posted in: Features, SAM Coupe | 4 Comments

The Bubbler (C64) released!

The bubbler on the C64After a long rescue mission, at long last the lost C64 conversion of The Bubbler has been found and released. The added bonus is that the game is fully complete, containing the loading picture, music and sfx.

Developer Matt Young, Sailor/Triad and Jazzcat have been busy at work and reconstructing things into its final state, whilst compressing and bug fixing. The download contains two versions, a trained version and the standard version. All instructions are included.

Although the frame rate suffers due to Ultimates demands on how the display worked, it is a massive finding and still as playable as the Spectrum original. Its yet another one for the archives! Go check it out!

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S.T.U.N Runner, better on Speccy?

Released S.T.U.N Runner gameInteresting find on our travels, but as some may well know – the Spectrum version of S.T.U.N Runner wasnt particularly great (Well, the C64 version was only marginally better, but thats not saying much).

However, things could have been a whole lot better it seems, and the postage stamp sized play area could well have been extended. Check out the preview shots here:

Then compare to the released game shots here:

A rather different game from the looks of things. Was it merely a set of mockups (Like with what happened to Nemesis on the Spectrum), or was it an earlier version that was canned? One for a bit more research I think

Posted in: Features, ZX Spectrum | Tagged: | 1 Comment

Starfox 2 – The full story

Evan Gowan over at the excellent Snes Central website has produced a fantastic and heavily researched/documented article on Starfox 2, giving the most complete story about the game that has so far been seen. Id highly recommend checking it out!

This includes many items from various magazines, interviews with internal people and picking apart the sources which were recovered and documenting little findings in there, plus a lot more about the game that sadly never was (And one of the best to never hit the SNES).

Go grab a coffee and have a good read

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CVGs Lost PC game feature

Thanks to Andrew Fisher for the heads up, but CVG have recently published an article called The Biggest Games Well Never See, focusing on some of the PC games that are sadly never going to make it.

Including titles such as Fallout 3, The Crossing and Necessary Force.

Check out the feature here.

and now the second part has also been added

Second part.

Posted in: News | 2 Comments


1994 Trimark Interactive / Software Creations

Platform: Super Nintendo

As you’ll soon begin to discover, there are many times where games are fully completed, but strangely never allowed out of the doors. Moto-X was one such casualty that was completed and then trashed. Often you’d expect this to happen when a game is particularly poor (well, sometimes!), but there doesn’t seem to be too much wrong here.

Moto-X was developed for Nintendo by Software Creations’ Ste Ruddy (Bubble Bobble C64 fame) with a hand from the Pickford brothers over a period of 8 months. This was one of the first titles being developed by Ste Ruddy, after setting up the new Software Creations studio in America.

The game is best described as an update of Nintendo’s Excite-bike on the NES and was actually the second incarnation of the game. An earlier version was canned back in 1992/93 which was to be a mix of Excite-bike and Powerdrift (An interesting combination). Ste used some of the older games routines to create a much-improved title, and with the game play more focused.

The game, although playable, lacked depth according to Ste Ruddy. The game had three skill levels, each of which had five different tracks and a bonus level to get through. The lack of depth was down to the distinct lack variety between the levels. For a machine kicking out titles such as Mario Kart and Donkey Kong Country, Moto-X was distinctively lacking. However things were improved with some superb accompanying heavy metal tunes by audio master Geoff Follin.

So with a fully complete game and full approval by Nintendo, the game was ready to go; but the publishers weren’t so keen. Trimark Interactive suddenly caught cold feet in the console games market, deciding that Interactive Movie games were the future. Their interest wandered away from consoles and the games release was cancelled as a result. Software Creations were fully paid , so the developers didn’t miss out; but sadly gamers did.

Ste Ruddy still has the game on a prototype cartridge, but cannot release it due to legal ties with Nintendo. However you can check out video of the game to see what you are all missing. There were rumblings though that a physical release of the game could be on its way in the near future though. This was confirmed when Piko Interactive obtained the rights to the game and have now got the game available as a physical release. It is great to finally see the game out in the wild!

Case closed!

With thanks to Roberth Martinez for the heads up about the release.


Posted in: Nintendo, Reviews, SNES | Tagged: , | 6 Comments