1997 and earlier
note that links on this page are no longer guaranteed to work due to the redesign of the site
TBA Software's Brutal Horse
Power has been on sale since Acorn
World 1997 - check out the TBA stand at Acorn World 1997 report - but a version playable on ARM710 machines is apparently under development, since it is likely to be released for NetStation use. An upgrade to version 1.02 of BHP can be downloaded for those who bought an early release of the game. A much better improvement has been promised for free download "soon" for the past half year...
Sheep Racing Deluxe
Werewolf Software's forthcoming game, the bizarre Sheep Racing Deluxe, was originally due for release
at Acorn World 1997, with the screenshot
available on Werewolf's web site (and shown here) make it appear rather basic, to say the least. It
appears to be a game where you place "bets" on the result of races involving
sheep. At £25.95 plus £1.50 carriage this would have to be something pretty
special to be worth buying! However, at the show I discovered that the game is in fact
nowhere near completion. The screenshot seems to be pretty much all that exists at the
moment! See the Acorn World 1997 show report for
more details. It doesn't seem unlikely that the game has now been abandoned.
The Chaos Engine
The big name 16-bit game The Chaos Engine from a good few years back exists in a version playable on 32-bit Acorn machines, but it now seems possible that licensing problems will prevent a full release ever taking place - it's such a fun game that I really hope the difficulties can be overcome!
£500,000 game from Insomnia Studios
Insomnia Studios, a part of the Oregan group, are currently developing a game
with a total budget that is well in excess of £500,000. This may not be a
large budget on most other
platforms, but for an Acorn game it is exceptionally high. The game is being
developed under contract for use on large installations of StrongARM Network Computers within a corporate environment.
The game is a fully 3D racing game vaguely similar to WipeOut in style, but more freeform, and features stunning artwork and many 3D special effects. The company version of the game will have a networked multiplayer option. The head of the development team, Andrew
Docking (author of The Fourth Dimension's Drifter), says that the game combines
elements of Tomb Raider 2, MDK, Metal Gear Solid, G-Police, and "a number of other unique touches". So they're obviously not aiming high, then...
A PlayStation release of the game now looks likely, but Oregan have stated categorically
that they will not be publishing a native RISC OS Acorn version
themselves. They are very happy for it to be published by another company, however - Acorn are aware of the situation and perhaps they might even publish the game themself under their newly resurrected AcornSoft guise, or alternatively help find someone else who is willing
to publish the game.
Such a version, however, would certainly come on a CD and would probably require a
StrongARM. If no native RISC OS version appears then you'll just have to
go and stay in various hotels with suitable
intranets to play the game - or buy a PlayStation and wait a bit...
Destiny (Now released)
After all the promises, Robert Templeman's Destiny didn't make even make the Wakefield show. Previous promised release dates have included Christmas 1997 and Acorn World 97. Two demos were released last year, so clearly a lot of the work is already done, but a lot is claimed to have been improved since these were release. Just how long will pass before
the game actually sees a full release is being constantly revised - it was supposed to be available at Wakefield, but the booked stand was empty!
Destiny is an
original Acorn Doom clone that has been under intensive development
for two years. The first release will require a reasonably high-end machine,
but a version suitable for lower-specification computers may become available soon
after - see the Destiny web pages for more details. Early impressions based on the two demo versions released
to date (one on an Acorn Clan CD and another with the December 1997 issue of Acorn User magazine) have been mixed, however.
Iron Dignity holds out the hope of an Acorn game
with a genuinely stunning 3D graphics engine, with a development demo in the middle of
impressing many observers with the high quality of its visuals, although some
concerns were raised over the speed of its graphic engine. The stated lack of optimisation
in thiat demo may explain this away, however. This same demo was on the cover CD of the December 1997 issue of Acorn User. Recent unconfirmed reports suggest that work is progressing well on
Paradise continue to work hard on their budget games, although they will have a hard
act to follow their first release, a very impressive game called Inferno. All their games cost £10. Their new shoot'em'up, Overload is looking good, with the usual superb Paradise graphics and sound being in evidence, so this should be a really
great game! More details of this and another forthcoming Paradise game are available.
That makes two new horizontally-scrolling shoot'em'ups due out, with
Oblivion being the other promised game.
There is even a possibility of Karma, the massive space adventure first announced
almost ten years ago,
finally being finished. The surviving author, Ian David Robinson, is working
on it in his spare time along with help from at least one other competent Acorn games
programmer. However, the web site hasn't been updated for absolutely ages, so this doesn't
bode too well.
King and Country
King and Country, a strategy game announced in mid 1996,
is apparently still in progress, although at this rate it will be the new millenium
before it is anywhere near being finished! Fantasia have put MetalFighters 4000, a side-on beat-em-up also in development,
on hold, and disappointing sales of Wizard Apprentice mean any further titles now
look less likely.
To Be or Not To Be?
Martin Piper (a partner in TBA Software) has made various comments about 3D graphic cards in the
Acorn newsgroup comp.sys.acorn.games - in particular a 3Dfx one, but there has been no announcement of official 3Dfx support. Martin says he will write a driver if necessary, however. See the
Acorn World 97 show report for full details. However,
and completely separately, I have heard that an American company called Tritech will be
releasing a set of PCI
drivers for the Acorn for their Pyramid 3D graphics accelerator card. Such a card would
connect to the PCI bus on the forthcoming Risc PC 2 (see the Acorn Stand part of the Acorn World 97 report for details on Risc PC 2, and also see the TBA Stand report for 3D graphics card discussion). This is one of the latest, potentially best 3D graphics cards - the timescale of the possible Acorn release is not yet known. No official announcement has yet been made about an Acorn release, however.
Acorn have been encouraging the porting of various big name games to the platform, and it
now looks likely that things will actually start to become of this. I am told that it is
quite possible that Acorn might be willing to invest money in such a venture, although
how much this financial aid might come to I don't know, and would probably depend upon
the precise project in question. There is a precedent for this,
of course - Acorn invested in the original Lander game which later became Zarch, and they were also the driving force behind the superb port of Flashback -
involvement in other products has also been rumoured. It does seem that Acorn are putting
a reasonable amount of effort into the production of some games for RISC OS, and their
support seems to be the best it has been for many a long year. They are also interested in
the development of emulators which can run games from other platforms, so providing a ready
catalogue of back-issue games. Some (or all?) of this attention is inevitably directed
at the Network Computer primarily, with RISC OS tagging along in second place. That said,
emulators for the two best-selling 16-bit games machines, the Megadrive and SNES, are in development for Acorn and should be available for RISC OS fairly soon.
Acorn has been developing hardware and software for a new children's games/education
machine to be sold by Samsung. See the Acorn World 1997
show report for more details.
From the Acorn Cybervillage comes
a story about Acorn's investment of a "substantial" amount of money in a number
of new games programmers in order to encourage the development of original games for the
Risc PC. I haven't verified the truth of this story for myself, but it is known from
several sources that Acorn are keen to encourage the development of entertainment software
that could be used on the NetStation platform. Whether this has any relevance to this
story remains to be seen. Acorn have in the past lent development hardware to certain
Acorn games developers, such as TBA (allegedly), so perhaps they have simply
decided to step up this campaign. They are also involved with Artex Software's (of Exodus fame) next game, TEK!.
Recent Releases from The Datafile
The Datafile recently published
Fantasia's Wizard Apprentice (review on these pages),
retailing at the rather excessive price of £34.95. However, they ran
a special offer through until the end of January 1998
whereby they were selling the game for £24.95 plus £1
postage and packaging. (If you order now at £24.95 maybe they'd pretend the
special offer was still on!)
Another recent Acorn games release by The Datafile was GEK's two game pack,
Flying High, consisting of the games Euro Blaster and
Joust, the latter being a 32-bit version of the classic arcade game of
the same name. More details are on The
Datafile's web pages. A
review will follow on these web pages soon. Priced at £13.95 plus
£1 P&P if the compilation was of the same quality as
Emotions then this would be a bargain buy,
but I wasn't too impressed with Euro Blaster,
a demo of which can be downloaded from
The Datafile's web pages. Joust also seems to have some severe problems, so I don't
think I can really recommend this package. It is far too slow on my pre-StrongARM ARM710
machine, which seems to contribute to some of the problems.
Preceding these releases, also from GEK and The Datafile, came the superbly funny and
platform game Emotions, which must surely rank as one of the best original Acorn
games ever - and not over-priced at £20, either. At the moment there is a special offer whereby if you buy Emotions you get Flying High free - well worth taking advantage of!
Acorn Gamers in the Industry
Certain well known ex-Acorn-games-programmers, such as Tom Cooper and David Jefferies, work at Psygnosis, publisher of top Playstation and PC games. Last year it looked likely that David Jefferies was going to be involved in porting a few Psygnosis games to Acorns, but sadly the brakes were put on the project when Psygnosis realised exactly how much time the conversion work would take. It isn't known whether this has any connection with the
unconfirmed-but-not-denied story about R-Comp being involved in an Acorn port of WipeOut (see above).
Acorn users can be found throughout the gaming industry. Famously, Eidos has
in the past developed video compression software for Acorns, and they now own
and publish Core Design's work - including the world-famous Tomb
Raider, but, in the balance of probability, it seems a pretty safe bet that no Acorn
release will ever be made. The
majority of Acorn users who would have bought the game probably own
PlayStations by now, anyway, so any release would pretty much need to be
targeted at the Network Computer. Krisalis, now no longer publishing but
doing development work for others, also have one or two Risc PCs
which are sometimes used for prototyping work due to their ease of use.
Werewolf Software Recruiting
Werewolf Software are also on the lookout for new products to publish - of any type, not
just games. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested. They'll accept just about anything, by the look of it.
For those who fancy something a little more cerebral, a demo version of Tiles, a desktop word game, is available from Brain Games's web pages. The game is now StrongARM compatible and
includes eleven boards in five languages with four sprite sets.
Those interested in
writing their own Acorn games but who aren't confident of their programming
ability might consider checking out Grasshopper Software's Games
Suite 2, a regularly updated development suite which claims to let you write fast
arcade games with ease. The sprite plotters which come with it run up to 19 times
faster than those built into the OS, and the core engine is 100% hand-written
ARM code. The suite is regularly improved - reports on the current
releases suggest that it may have some annoying limitations, however. The addition of 3D
graphics capabilities is intended for future versions.
...this page last updated: 6/2/99...
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