[Acorn Gaming]


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
[Sheep Racing Deluxe (half size)]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 particularly 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
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 last year 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 the project.

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's Involvement
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 well designed 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 programs@werewlf.demon.co.uk if you're interested. They'll accept just about anything, by the look of it.

Other Things
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...
...back to the top...


July June April February January

December November October September July June May March January

December September August July June May April March February January

December November October September August July June May April March February January

1997 and earlier
Got some hot gaming news? Let me know!
Full Tek review now online - finally!
Any comments on Acorn Gaming? Send me an email!
Latest updates
Email Acorn Gaming
©Gareth Moore 1993-2003

Acorn Gaming is a completely independent publication and has no official connection with any company