Movies in 4,096 Colors
February 19, 2009 8:24 PM   Subscribe

Cinemaware produced games with one goal: a "strong commitment to movie-like quality." A laudable goal, and their tools were measured in bytes rather than megabytes. They made these games in the 80s. This one intro used an entire 880KB floppy disk! A number of Cinemaware's games are available for download as ROMs, and there's even a flash version of Defender of the Crown. Some of the original artists behind the games are still creating art and music.

There's other game intros available: Defender of the Crown, err, Defender of the Crown; Rocket Ranger (C64!) There's a a new company formed from the ashes with a snazzy logo that floats and stuff and most likely uses more bytes than their entire library of released games.
posted by sleslie (17 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Don't bother trying to sign up to play Defender of the Crown.
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posted by BrotherCaine at 8:57 PM on February 19, 2009

I used to be friends with the creator/main dev on Rocket Ranger, or at least the ST version.

I also finished the PC version.


And I condemned his soul to hell.

(P.S. I still want a radium pistol.)

I played my way through the majority of Cinemaware's stable, FWIW. At least I also knew, with Cinemaware's usual difficulty levels, that, when I beat one, I would feel a sense of true achievement as well as inventing new and exciting obscenities,
posted by Samizdata at 9:07 PM on February 19, 2009

Wow. Great nostalgia post. I have fond memories of "It Came From the Desert", "The Three Stooges" and "Rocket Ranger" on my Amiga. I have to say, it's amazing how well those graphics have held up, even seen through today's eyes.
posted by veggieboy at 9:08 PM on February 19, 2009

I registered back in 2001 and my 'default, I don't care' login worked... So you can play Defender of the Crown here.
posted by sleslie at 9:23 PM on February 19, 2009 [2 favorites]

posted by blasdelf at 9:44 PM on February 19, 2009

Had "Sinbad" and "S.D.I." (that's right, based on Ronnie's Star Wars). Sinbad was very playable, and satisfying to play through to its conclusion. But that insipid music lives with me to this day.
posted by evilcolonel at 10:16 PM on February 19, 2009

Wow, honestly, those are pretty impressive graphics for the time. I was happy to get that quality of graphics for DOS games back in '94, let alone 6 years earlier.

Excellent post, by the way.
posted by spiderskull at 11:26 PM on February 19, 2009

Loved It Came From the Desert, it was basically Them!: the game. Cinemaware was stunning on Amigas, but on PCs I think everything was horribly EGA.
posted by blueberry at 12:13 AM on February 20, 2009

Also, my friend loved their TV Sports Basketball. I think it let you play a whole season and after every game it would write the results to a data disk. Unfortunately, my friends Amiga 500 had a problem where every once in a while it would get a Guru meditation error essentially wiping out the whole season.

You know the line where Kenobi says "You will never see a more wretched hive of scum and villainy"... imagine the same cadence and delivery with "You have never seen violence and frustration visited upon a joystick". My friend had one of these joysticks and man, it held up like an anvil. If they had made the Titanic entirely out of Epyx joysticks, that ship would've gone right through that iceberg.

posted by blueberry at 12:37 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cinemaware made some amazing games, and I say that as someone who didn't discover their work until about 2002 or so.
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:09 AM on February 20, 2009

I used to get some Commodore magazine way back when. I only had a C64 and I lusted after the Amiga Cinemaware games.

When I look back at these old games, what always stands out to me is the low resolution. 320x200? How could that ever have looked good?
posted by smackfu at 5:36 AM on February 20, 2009

No love for TV Sports Football? That's the game that convinced me buy an Amiga. Cinemaware and Psygnosis were the developers that made the Amiga worth owning for me.
posted by MikeMc at 6:33 AM on February 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Cinemaware had a game that put you in the role of a World War I combat pilot. The name escapes me, but it was grim and bleak and had a wonderful narrative. I played that thing to death on my Amiga.

posted by DWRoelands at 6:58 AM on February 20, 2009

DWRoelands: Wings. You can get it for the Gameboy (I have a copy right next to me here, and it's a pretty faithful recreation, opening with the animation of the Wrights' first flight) and the whole diary structure of the original.

Those games oozed atmosphere. At the time, I preferred faster, more technically proficient games; Cinemaware titles all ran at 12 or so frames per second, while my juvenile mind needed 25fps or better for satisfaction. I loved the graphics and style though; they were pioneers, one of the first gaming companies to research and adopt styles and genres; It Came From the Desert and Rocket Ranger being superb examples of this.

Ahead of their time; their work reminded me a lot of early Epyx titles, that combination of craftsmanship, vision, and defining their own direction regardless of the rest of the industry. Defender of the Crown made more money for Commodore than it ever did for Cinemaware.
posted by davemee at 7:36 AM on February 20, 2009

But... but... I was going to get things done today...

I'm suddenly having massive flashbacks to my old A500 and rainy Saturday afternoons.

Excellent links.
posted by 1f2frfbf at 8:07 AM on February 20, 2009

Hold-And-Modify - primitive clunkiness or clever little hack?
posted by kersplunk at 2:49 PM on February 20, 2009

I thought I remembered It Came From the Desert having nifty almost collectible stuff in the box, and a comic book style game manual. However, I can find no references to such online.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:25 PM on February 20, 2009

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