Tuesday, 28 February 2017

What Next?

What interesting things happen when you turn your back for a while.

For almost 13 years of my life, from February 2002 through to December 2014, I was a published writer for a long running, and now sadly defunct, computing magazine called Micro Mart. At some point in that time I occasionally penned pieces for other magazines (hint: one rhymes with Hetro Gamer, the other with samesTM). And now, the thing that I spent a lot of time and money to achieve seems to be happening. Here is just one example: my friend and head honcho at at Cronosoft, Simon Ullyatt, set up a independent software company to publish new (and perhaps unreleased) games for 8-bit machines, primarily the Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Back in the post-commercial and pre-hipster days, he used to sell - at best - maybe 60 games of any particular title in a year. These weren't like Atlantis Software style releases where you really did get what you paid for (I'm thinking more Commodore 64 releases here). These were and are high quality 8 bit games, many of which would have earned top marks from the likes of Crash and Your Sinclair had they been released back in the 1980s.

So a few years after necessarily stopping writing and leaving the whole 8-bit thing to other more capable people, things seem to be in a bit of a boom. For instance, Mr Ullyatt recently re-issued the very excellent Higgledy Piggledy, a 2005 game by Jonathan Cauldwell which I gave a 9/10 for when I reviewed it. He sold out of the reissues within the same evening as announcing it. So not even one day, but a single evening, is accounting for likely at least six months of sales just five or so years ago.

I only hope that this boom isn't followed by an almighty bust, as happened around 1983 to the fledgling video games industry back then. I mean as people realised that vinyl is much better (like much much better) than digital CDs or MP3s, I hope those people with seemingly deep pockets realise that you just can't beat a good, well thought out and produced 8-bit game. Who cares about how real the modern digital world can be when there's a whole world of pixels and imagination to explore from an old and familiar friend.