Tag Archives: Psygnosis

Formula 1 97: Racing, Refined

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A year after the well-received Formula 1 hit the PlayStation, Bizarre Creations proved that their apparent skill in creating great racing games wasn’t just a fluke — because they made another Formula One game, and it was even better.

Formula 1 97 hit store shelves in September of 1997, a month before the 1997 racing season came to a close. While development ran fairly smoothly — and apparently legendary commentator Murray Walker was so impressed with the game that he signed an exclusive agreement with Sony to provide commentary for another two years — Psygnosis and Sony ran into legal issues with the sport’s various governing bodies after the game launched, and ended up having to repackage, rename and rerelease the game.

Thankfully none of that matters now, and Formula 1 97 still provides an enjoyable racing experience for both arcade racer fans and more dedicated petrolheads. So let’s take a closer look!

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Formula 1: Bizarre Creations’ True Beginning

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So far here on Fatal Rewind: A Bizarre Creations Retrospective, we’ve seen how Martyn Chudley and, subsequently, a team of able assistants, commanded a solid technical mastery over the hardware they were working on, producing beautiful looking games that played well.

Today, we reach a significant milestone in the history of the company and their games, because it marks the point at which Chudley and his team became Bizarre Creations, the name under which they worked up until their untimely demise in 2011.

It also marks the first time they worked on a type of game that would come to be seen as their particular specialism: the accessible but realistic racing game, straddling the line between arcade game and simulation. Let’s look at Formula 1, released for PlayStation in 1996.

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Wiz ‘n’ Liz: Hunting Wabbits for Fun and Profit

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Three years after the well-received The Killing Game Show first hit home computer screens, Martyn Chudley and friends were back with a new title, this time for both Amiga and Mega Drive. I give you Wiz ‘n’ Liz: The Frantic Wabbit Wescue.

Having gone by “Raising Hell Software” for their previous game, some alleged behind-the-scenes trouble with Sega forced the team that would eventually become Bizarre Creations to go nameless for a period; the introductory screens for Wiz ‘n’ Liz credit Chudley and his co-designer Mike Waterworth directly by name rather than attributing the game to a company. The actual name Bizarre Creations would appear for the first time with their next game — but more on that next time!

For now, let’s take a look at Wiz ‘n’ Liz which is, by all accounts, a thoroughly strange game, but another beautiful example of how Chudley and his team were consistently capable of creating exceedingly attractive, highly addictive games that would constantly keep you coming back for more.

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The Killing Game Show: The Only Way is Up

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A couple of years after his first commercial video game Combat Crazy had failed to set the sales charts alight — despite being an enjoyable side-scrolling platform shooter — Bizarre Creations founder Martyn Chudley was back with another game, this time for 16-bit platforms.

The new title was known as The Killing Game Show, and was published on 16-bit home computers by a company called Psygnosis, which had been establishing a very solid reputation for itself since its inception in 1986. Not only was Psygnosis a spiritual successor to the legendary 8-bit developer-publisher Imagine Software, but it had also demonstrated right from the start that it was a company dedicated to high-quality, well-produced games that oozed class and style — on both the computer screen and on players’ shelves, too.

The Killing Game Show, developed by Chudley and a team working under the name Raising Hell Software, was an ideal fit for Psygnosis’ portfolio, featuring impressive visuals and solid but challenging gameplay to back them up. So let’s take a closer look.

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Atari ST A to Z: Infestation

The early days of polygonal 3D gaming were gleefully experimental, even though the technology of the time wasn’t quite up to realising the grand vision of many creators.

Infestation from Psygnosis is a particularly interesting example, as it provides a level of interactivity that we don’t tend to see even in a lot of modern games. It was certainly ambitious — though perhaps a little too obtuse for its own good at times.

Get an idea of what it’s all about from my own attempts to stumble about (and get lost in a ventilation system) in the video below, and don’t forget to subscribe on YouTube for more.

Atari A to Z

Atari ST A to Z: Oh No! More Lemmings

How do you follow up a success story like Lemmings? Well, you give the people more, of course!

Oh No! More Lemmings was an expansion pack for the popular puzzler that provided a hundred new levels for skilled Lemmings pros. And I really mean that; this game is hard.

Interestingly, the expansion was released as both an add-on disk for the original game and a standalone game that could be played by itself. If you’re a Lemmings newcomer, I strongly recommend cutting your teeth on the original first!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari ST A to Z: Lemmings

“Let’s go!” That’s a phrase you won’t be hearing in the Atari ST port of Lemmings, sadly, since the iconic digitised speech the series was so well known for in its early days was completely absent from this version.

Despite lacking one of its most well-known features, however, Lemmings for Atari ST remains just as enjoyable and interesting as it was back in the day, gradually building in intensity until it reaches absolutely brain-melting frustration.

You’ve never played a puzzle game quite like this… and there haven’t been many since, for that matter. Unless you count the million and one ports there have been over the years, of course…!

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari ST A to Z: Never Mind

How’s your spatial awareness? Reckon you could put together a picture puzzle from an isometric perspective? Easy, right?

Okay, now you have to do so by controlling a little dude who can walk on walls. Oh, and the pictures are sometimes (often) moving. And malevolent chess pieces want nothing more than to mess up all your hard work for no other reason than “because they feel like it”.

Doesn’t sound quite so easy now, does it? Oh well. Never Mind.

Find a full archive of all the Atari A to Z videos on the official site.

Atari ST A to Z: Atomino

First released in 1985, Atari’s ST range of 16-bit computers were the official follow-ups to the 8-Bit range.

Over their eight years on the market, they saw a variety of weird and wonderful games, as developers were provided with greater graphical fidelity and faster processing speeds… even if the ST’s Yamaha YM2149 PSG sound chip was technically inferior to the POKEY chip of the 8-bit range!

Let’s kick off our exploration of the ST’s extensive and varied library with Atomino, a 1990 release developed by Blue Byte and published by Psygnosis. This is a science-themed puzzle game in which you build molecules from atoms in increasingly complicated circumstances!

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From the Archives: On Two Working Designs Classics

If you’ve been gaming as long as I have, you probably remember an outfit called Working Designs.

Working Designs was an American publisher from the PS1 era that specialized in the localization of Japanese games — particularly RPGs, strategy games and shmups — and quickly gained a reputation at the time for being one of the best in the business.

The primary reason for this reputation was the fact that Working Designs’ Western releases of Japanese hits weren’t just straight word-for-word literal translations — rather, they were genuine localisations that made appropriate use of Western slang, turns of phrase and even popular culture references to give them a unique feel all of their own.

While opinions on this approach to localisation vary today, the effort the team made to make these games as approachable as possible was very much appreciated by the audience of the time.

This article was originally published on Games Are Evil in 2013 as part of the site’s regular Swords and Zippers column on JRPGs. It has been edited and republished here due to Games Are Evil no longer existing in its original form.

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