A Quintasensible Conversation

Screen Shot 2013-11-05 at 18.29.44Earlier this year, MegaBites posted an article on the legendary British developer Sensible Software. The piece concluded by outlining the imminent release of Sensible Software 1986–1999 – a Kickstarter-funded publication that gives a pixel-by-pixel account of the sights, the sounds and the software of this quintasensibly British gaming software house. Hot on the heels of the book’s release, MegaBites speaks to Darren Wall – the owner and Editor of Read-Only Memories publishing.

As a company etched in video gaming folklore, Sensible Software was headed by long-term school friends Jon ‘Jops’ Hare and Chris Yates, who went on to realise some of the late 80s and early 90s greatest gaming successes. Sensible Software provided gamers with unforgettable memories of incredible gameplay, quirky comedy and some of the catchiest theme tunes this side of the Bitmap Brothers. From the creation of Commodore 64 classics, to iconic Amiga adventures, Sensible also went on to create some of the Mega Drive’s most beloved ports, including Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder and Mega Lo Mania.

Dust off your disk drives and blow out your cartridges as we uncover the making of a book that gives an account of a software house so vibrant and so revolutionary, it was anything but sensible. 

MegaBites: Let’s start with the book itself. What is Sensible Soccer 1986 – 1999 and what were your main motivations in seeing it realised?

Darren Wall: It all started around six or seven years ago, when I made a few trips to Japan. Out there, they publish a lot of magazine-book hybrids called ‘Mooks’. There’s a large number of Capcom publications in particular, with incredible production art and paintings. I bought stacks of these books while I was out there, on Mega Man, Street Fighter II, R-Type and various RPGs.

The concept for the Sensible Book sprung from a conversation with a friend, who was in Japan with me at the time. I had a strong desire to see books containing similar production artwork for the games that I grew up playing as a kid – games by Psygnosis and titles such as Another World came to mind. I wanted to see books that documented the ‘feel’ of what it was like to actually play these games. Continue reading

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Rise of the Underdog – The Mega Drive’s Top Five Unsung Heroes

GalsiaAlex Kidd, Sonic the Hedgehog, Joe Musashi and Jelly Boy – four characters with one thing in common – legendary retrogaming status. Each a hero in their own right, punching, speeding and slashing their way through their respective gaming worlds. Their mission? To save the day again and again. Their purpose? Just being damn cool (or a foodstuff, in the case of Jelly Boy. Let’s forget we mentioned him/it). 

I was playing Streets of Rage 2 the other day, when something incredibly rare happened – I was killed. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been graced by Streets of Rage’s ‘game over’ screen on countless occasions, but this time it was different. This time, I was slayed by Galsia. GALSIA!!

I hate to put a guy down, but Galsia was pathetic. How he came under the employment of Mr X, I will never know. Yet, as the screen faded to black and the Sega logo reappeared, I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of respect for the little guy. “Good on you, you limp-wristed little urchin,” I thought to myself “Good on you.” Although I’d been defeated by an underdog, I’d been defeated by one of the Mega Drive’s prime cuts, the filet mignon of gaming’s unsung heroes.

Let us continue as we delve deeper, uncovering my personal top five of the Mega Drive’s seemingly insignificant minions, who deserve just that little bit more attention. Continue reading

Sense and Sensibility

Welcome to the first in a series of company profiles, covering some of the Mega Drive’s greatest gaming developers.

First up… Sensible Software.

Sensible_software_logoEstablished in 1986, Chelmsford based Sensible Software went on to establish itself as a dominant force in the British software developer scene of the early, to mid 1990s. Following its demise at the end of the decade, the company has gone on to gain a cult following amongst gamers today.

Founded by Essex school friends Jon Hare and Chris Yates, Sensible Software was unique in its philosophy as an independent software house. A typically British sense of humor at its core, Sensible Software with its tongue-in-cheek gaming titles, and distinctive graphical style meant for a company who became synonymous amongst the video game industry.

Continue reading