Games That Weren't
Several software houses announced titles for the Sam, which never appeared. The earliest of these earned a particular notoriety.
David Darling, February 1990, Crash Issue 73 review, courtesy of spectrumcomputing.co.uk
“Y’know, we’ll be starting our first SAM game soon? Oh yes, we’re doing Treasure Island Dizzy. We’re taking the original Oliver Twins speccy code and slamming in graphics from the Atari ST version. It should look excellent, and play a lot faster due to the increased running speed of the Sam.”
Your Sinclair Soft on Sam (Recovered) courtesy of the YS Rock 'n' Roll Years YS51 March 1990
SAM Special 4 - Soft on SAM?
It's a bit of a tricky business, this launching a new computer lark. You can have the best piece of hardware in the world, but if you ain't got support from the software manufacturers you ain't got diddly. Take the Sinclair PC 200 for instance, attractively priced but insufficiently complex for business use and lumbered with a relatively rare 3.5" disk drive. When it first came out most of the software houses told us they were planning to support it, but look at it now. As a games machine, it's nowwhere.
So what about the SAM? It's compatible with the 'majority' of existing 48K Speccy software which runs with the help of an enclosed 'utility tape'. This gives it a sizeable software base to start with. As for SAM-dedicated software, most of the major UK software houses now have an example of the machine in their hands and are at least thinking about working on it. They include Ocean, US Gold, Domark, Activision, System 3, Virgin, MicroProse, Goliath, Thalamus, Audiogenic, Alternative, Zeppelin, Atlantis and Tasman (which is trying to convert its popular word processing parkage, TasWord). In addition, hardware add-on manufacturers Datel and Trojan are planning products, Trojan's being versions of its existing light pen/light gun range. Anyway, let's see what they all have to say about it.
Paul Hibbard is Development Director at MicroProse. Have you got a SAM yet?
"Yes. We've had a quick look at it, but we're in total chaos here at the moment I'm afraid. (They've just moved offices, fact fans.Ed) Our initial idea is to look at the potential of it and the compatibility of some of our games, and see what we can do from there. Obviously it needs support from the software houses to succeed, but equally it needs good distribution. We'll want to see how it does in the marketplace before we fully commit ourselves" If and when MicroProse does decide to produce SAM dedicated product, it's likely to be conversions of recent 8-bit successes like Stunt Car Racer or Rick Dangerous rather than its latest products."
David Baxter is Development Manager at US Gold.
"We're getting a very experienced programmer at Tiertex called Chris Brunning to produce a SAM version of Strider for us. Supposedly it'll only take two weeks using our existing Speccy code and ST graphics, but we'll have to see. In my mind I picture it looking a bit like a Konix console game - lots of colours, but without the resolution of the ST, so it'll all look a bit duller and flatter. It's a bit of a try-out for us - if it does really well we'll be happy to continue to support it, but we could still come across any number of problems"
At System 3 Adrian Cale had this to say
"We're obviously looking at the machine and its potential in the marketplace, but we're sitting tight and seeing how it does for a bit before we commit ourselves. If the machine takes off well enough, there are obviously certain recent products we could convert to it which we've got in the back of our minds"
At Domark it's a similar story. Clare Edgeley said that,
"We've tested Hard Drivin', it works on the SAM and we're currently trying out all our other existing products to see if they do. As for original SAM products we'll definitely be supporting the Coupe, the only problem being that our present contracts for licenced product don't mention SAM versions, just Spectrum, C64, ST et al. Basically we will be producing specific SAM versions of games if it looks reasonably easy to do, but will reassess the situation when we know a bit more"
Virgin Mastertronic's Bryn Gilmore is also initially more concerned with making sure existing products are SAM compatible.
"We don't see any problem with that, but whether we'll physically sit down and write specific new stuff for it I don't know yet. It all depends on how the test-out of it goes and what the outside reaction to it is as well. Let's just say we're keeping open minds."
And finally, Ocean. It's in another of those 'Let's just wait and see's situations.' Says PR person Pam Griffiths,
"We've no plans at the moment for SAM specific software, since all our current Speccy stuff should be compatible. We're not ruling out doing SAM specific stuff in the future, but we'll wait and see how many they sell initially before we make any real commitment.' And there you have it.
Here is a list of games mentioned to be starting development:
- Treasure Island Dizzy - Codemasters
- Strider - US Gold
- Xybots - Domark
- Trivial Pursuit - Domark
Games that were started but never finished: