(Mis)Adventures In Game Development – Revenge of the Fifth

In the summer of 1994, a bright, young (and incredibly naïve) child, set out on an epic voyage of discovery – a quest to unleash the greatest character in Mega Drive gaming since Sonic the Hedgehog, since Alex Kidd, since that kinky centurion was first commanded to ‘wise fwom his gwave’.

What follows is the fifth and final installment of the Megabites Blog’s (Mis)Adventures In Game development. We rejoin our tale in March 1996, as an unlikely contender attempts to steer our adventurer off course.

A keen eye on his older sibling’s efforts, it soon transpired that my ten year old little brother had been secretly making considerable progress, schmoozing with the great developers of the 16 bit era. His Bumble concept, although not making it past Virgin Interactive’s publishing assistants, spawned a freebie in the form of a badge. Although memories of this particular badge have been lost in the mists of time, I vividly remember what later transpired.

Leading me up to his bedroom wardrobe, my brother unearthed further letters and priceless gifts, secretly hidden away, each a response from some of the Mega Drive’s developing/publishing powerhouses:

Letter #1: A game concept sent to Sega. The response – an Eternal Champions poster.

WorldCupUSA94-SMS-EU-Poster-FrontLetter #2: The same concept, sent to US Gold. No game produced, but free World Cup USA’94 and Under A Killing Moon posters.

Letter #3: A new idea sent to Konami and a response received. No result, no free gift, but it was Konami!!

Much like Virgin Interactive’s badge, these letters and posters succumbed to a childhood phenomenon, scientifically known as the ‘mysterious black hole under the bed’. Along with countless other childhood objects, these letters and posters fell prey to its clutches, sadly never to be seen again.

Stunned, dejected, I couldn’t believe the secret double life my brother had been leading. I had to do something!

May 1996, and the Mega Drive was entering the end of its natural life. My opportunities in realising my dream were fast slipping away. If my ideas were ever going to be committed to cartridge I’d have to act fast. Luckily, partly due to the master of secrets (my brother), I swiftly rediscovered my enthusiasm.

As it was a school holiday, my dad set up his Amstrad PC1640 DD in the kitchen. Sat at the kitchen table, my feet barely touching the ground, wearing my favourite Sonic Chaos slippers, I fired up the word processor.

What followed came to be a lost masterpiece, for a number of reasons. The first was primarily due to the fact that Virgin Interactive kept my game concept. The second reason is that I have completely forgotten what my concept entailed, apart from the fact it was called Spiedo and its main character was a blatant rip off of Chaotix’s Espio the Chameleon (nothing but the best, of course).

Nevertheless, sat at that table, I was away, lost in my imagination. The ideas were flowing, I was inspired, unstoppable, a game designing machine. At this rate, I’d easily have a new concept completed by the end of the weekend.

11th April 1997 (things took longer than anticipated).

As was a prerequisite with all my game concepts to that point, if it were ever to be produced, the enclosure of a copy of my game was a must.

You can imagine my sheer joy as this wafer-thin envelope floated down, through the front door that morning:

Virgin Envelope 1But wait, there was still hope!!

Virgin Letter 1“‘Internal development department’, hey? They must be taking this one seriously,” I thought.

Days later, the subsequent arrival of this beast fired my excitement into overdrive:Virgin Envelope 2A large brown envelope! A form of packaging more than capable of housing a Mega Drive cartridge, accompanied with a plastic case, artwork and a crisp new manual.

You’d certainly think so…

Virgin Letter 2Leila Bokaie had returned.

mr-stick1My journey, having begun in 1994, it was now 1997. In the months that followed, my dad purchased our first family PC, a clumbersome behemoth of a creature, with a memory comparable to that of a senile goldfish, it was this PC that opened my eyes to greats such as Sim City, Theme Park and Quake. Yet, for all the gaming highlights this computer supplied, nothing could compare to my good old Mega Drive and the days when I dreamed of a certain Stick Man gracing its screen.

I leave you with Virgin Interactive’s guide, as sent to me following my Spiedo game submission. I think you’ll agree it provides a rare glimpse into the world of mid-90s gaming development (and Disney’s Lion King). Thank you retrogamers!

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