I’ve been working on something quietly while waiting for more musical inspiration to hit me and it’s probably time to mention it now since I’ve been working on it for about a month now. It’s probably best that I give you some quick back story first so you can see what brought me to write this.
I’ve been struggling to keep pace with my ambition to make “Paula, 6581” much grander than the “8Bit Spindle” and sometimes the creative notion temporarily goes on hiatus. Don’t concern yourself, I expect to finish the new album some time around winter.
In the meantime, an old C64 buddy of mine has embarked on a project of remaking and perhaps elaborating on an old C64 game. I don’t want to divulge too much about what he is doing, so let’s say it involves balls. Nose balls, ear balls, whatever.
This got me thinking that there is other types of remixing I can do and I immediately got to thinking about an old favourite game of mine from the C64. Now I started writing a game about 18 months ago but I abandoned it as for a first game, I think I was being just too ambitious. It has been years and years since I last programmed anything with any complexity so this time around, I’m picking another game to remake.
Mutants by Denton Designs fascinated me although I found the game terribly hard. The mutants were this character based cellular (semi)automata that gave you the feeling of being swarmed. Their swarming was mesmerising and the use of colour was excellent.
It was at that stage where games started to give you a choice of weapons and in Mutants, the choice had to suit the type of mutant you were combating. You’re next taken to the zone selection screen where you choose which mutant strain you’re going face and which piece of the detonator you’re going collect.
All of the action take place within a 16 zone (4×4 grid) area with each zone being a holding-pen for a particular strain of mutant. The player has to enter 15 of the 16 zones to collect pieces of a self-destruct device and then take it back to the 1st zone.
The 1st is not like the other 15 holding-pens, the player has to navigate a maze through to the self-destruct device platform. Once all the pieces have constructed the the device, KERBLAM!, the end of the mutants and their terrible ways.
Here’s a blurb from the original manual.
The game is set in a distant future, when man has colonised the remote star systems and matter can be manipulated with ease. Unfortunately mans political and moral development has remained stagnant since the second millenium and Inter-stellar War has raged for the last 600 years.
You are a member of a thinly spread group of dissenters who are opposed to the weapons research carried out by the Survivor Zero
Corporation ; you have discovered that the weapons used by all sides in the war are supplied by the Corporation, and that they are
currently experimenting with a new generation of weapons called Macro-Genetic Mutoids.
MGMs are the first large scale biological weapons capable of mutating into ever more virulent and robust species, hence the name “Mutants” – your task is to eliminate the deadly system…it will not be easy.
BTW, the game isn’t too hard once you get the hang of it. Many didn’t persist with it long enough to learn its nuances. This time, it will be different.
Not only did this game make clever use of character cell based graphics, it also had an awesome Fred Gray soundtrack and effects. His music in Mutants ranks up real high for me. The game also got a pretty good review in Zzap!64 magazine.
I’ve been thinking about having a crack at doing a remake of this game so I’ve started a new section on my blog to tell you about my machinations of being a solo game developer with at least twenty years of rust on my programming/coding skills.