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Laiiiiiiiidddddiiiiiieeees and gentlemen, we are gathered here today to pay homage to the games that people would rather forget. So please take your seats, place your tongues firmly in your cheeks, and prepare to witness...

The Toady Awards

In terms of game quality, the Amiga has progressed in leaps and bounds in the last three years, and developers and programmers are being given more and more credit for their work. However; for every Populous and Speedball II there is a Screaming Wings or Bob Winner; and someone somewhere was responsible for writing such toadies for the Amiga. Our commentator; Steve Merrett, spoke to several of the country's leading development houses and coders and dug out a few cringe-worthy skeletons...

Toady Award We've all got a few skeletons in our closets. Whether its those ridiculous, bottle-green crushed velvet flares that you swore you'd never throw away, or that round-collared shirt with the brown dogs on it, we've all got certain things that we'd rather keep quiet. One thing's for sure, though, there's no way that we would admit to such attire, or the assorted and bedraggled cuddly toys in the loft. The same can be said for programmers, too. Over the years since the effective demise of the 8-bits, we've lost more than a fair share of well-known programmers to other fields, including Miner Willy's creator Matthew Smith, Matt Forrest (who programmed the definitive BBC shoot' em up, Fortress), and famed Speccy coder, Christian Urquart. However, whilst these stars were fading - taking with them Valhalla, The Great Space Race, and Master Of The Lamps - a new breed were starting to get to grips with the fledgling Amiga.

As with any machine, the early days were full of titles which rapidly faded into obscurity. For the people behind them this is probably a god-send, but it's amazing what you can find out when you press people. Before we start the awards, though, here's a quick guide to how the scoring works.

- Bah! Call that a bad reputation!
- Hmm, bad but not unforgivable...
- What, YOU wrote THAT?
- Reduced to apoplectic laughing.
- Bring forth the guillotine.
 

Nick Vincent (Creative Materials)
Creative's Nick has a seedier past than practically anyone I care to recall. 'My first game was a really dire budget title for Alligata called Alkahara. It started as an Elite clone, but eventually evolved into an awful shoot em up.' Even worse, though, and after a dull single-screen blaster called Saucer Raid 2000, are the atrocities that followed when he moved on to Binary Design. 'I hate to admit it,' he says, 'but I was also drafted in for Grange Hill.' Yeurch! If ever a licence was still-born, this was the one. The player had to guide Gonch around in numerous, and supposedly humorous, situations. 'And if you think that was bad,' the shameless so-and-so continues, 'when I was at Alligata they put in to program a game based on the Milky Bar Kid. Luckily, Nestlé refused.' Thank heavens for small mercies...
Toady Rating: (with honours for Grange Hill)

Kevin Bulmer's unpublished game 'Ramrod'
Kev Bulmer's finest hour - pity it never arrived.
 
Kevin Bulmer
The man behind Corporation and Gauntlet II hides a murky past, which is liberally scattered with toady licensed games. During the C64's hey-day, Mr. Bulmer, along with a few of the chaps who went on to become Core wrote an abysmal shoot 'em up based on the Mask cartoon for Gremlin. And crap cartoon licences seem to be Kev's major let-down as he was also (albeit loosely) involved in Gremlin's Basil The Great Mouse Defective (sorry, Detective!). 'Whenever possible,' Bulmer cowers, 'try to forget those two.' No need to ask why...
Toady rating:

Picture of a very young Bulfrog team
Those poor chaps at Bulfrog - the worst they could do was Fusion.

Picture of the Graftgold team?

Afterburner (European Version)
After the delights of Jez San's Star Glider 2, who can forget Afterburner? We have.

Softwarecompany CRL gets demolished

Jeff Minter
Jeff Minter shows the spoils of such top quality releases as Mamallama.

The Special FX Team

WHERE ARE THEY NOW...

1. Gargoyle Games (Sweevo 's World, Hydrofool).
2. Taskset (Jammin', Super Pipeline).
3. Matthew Smith (Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy).
4. Automata (creators of the infamous Pi-Man and his assorted games).
5. Beyond (Shadowfire, Spy V Spy).
6. Nexus (Quake Minus One, Nexus).
7. New Generation (Trashman, Cliff Hanger).
8. Creative Sparks (Java Jim, Bird Mother).
9. Alligata (Kettle, Blagger).
10. Bubble Bus (Star Quake, Wizard's Lair).

With thanks to Gary Liddon for the additional dirt...

Steve Bak's 'Yolanda'
Steve Bak's Yolanda - stop laughing at the back.
Toad face
Steve Bak
Famed for his recent success with James Pond and busy on the forthcoming Robocod, Steve started his programming career on the humble Dragon 32 with a series of games based on a guy called Cuthbert. Each of the games were blatant rip-offs of a popular style of game at the time, such as Space Panic. Eventually, though, one particular game, Cuthbert In The Jungle, got pulled from the shelves when Activision couldn't help but notice that it was identical to their Pitfall title. Naughty, naughty! Likewise, Steve also wrote two platform games based on Hercules and the ancient gods, but he has redeemed himself slightly as they were fairly playable…
Toady Rating:

Mev Dinc?
Mev Dinc fights off someone who bought Gerry the Germ.
Toad face
Mev Dinc (Vivid Image)
Mev's a fairly quiet guy at the best of times and, when you consider his chequered past, it's hardly surprising. Mev's list of flops spans back to the awful days of Electric Dreams' dreadful licences, and Mev concedes that he was responsible for the adaptation of Anglia TV's Knightmare, and - he paused for a while here before blurting it out - Big Trouble In Little China. Of them all, the last entry was particularly abhorrent, but not as bad as another Dinc Stink - Firebird's Gerry The Germ. 'Sorry,' offers Mev apologetically. But the damage is done.
Toady Rating:

Special FX's Red Heat
Oh well, at least Special FX don't pretend Red Heat was any good.
Paul Finnegan (Special FX)
'I think our worst ever game was Red Heat. We had the basic idea, but the short time which we had to write it meant that, by the time we realised it, it wasn't much cop and it was too late to start again,' says Paul. Also, long-term FX programmer Johnathan Smith has a rather odd and reclusive little cupboard-bound skeleton by the name of Pud Pud. This odd little number never made it to a commercial release, but still managed to appear on telly, alongside a very younq Gary Bracey and a certain Mr. Finnegan. Oh well, at least they've made up for it with The Untouchables and Batman: The Caped Crusader.
Toady Rating:

Tony Crowther
Before teaming up with Captain Planet, our Tony became reknowned for knocking out games in a matter of weeks - the trouble was it was always the same game! Starting with Loco for Alligata, Tony consequently rewrote the game and changed the graphics for both Quicksilva and Gremlin in the forms of Black Thunder and Suicide Express. To tell the truth, these three were quite good, but on the dire front (not the dire rear) a special mention goes to another Alligata 'classic'. Trap was a rather neat shoot 'em up which was marred by its repetitive gameplay. However, it was hoped that the 'hidden' demo within the game would make up for its lack of gameplay. Fat Chance.
Toady Rating:

Ian Oliver (Real Time)
Real Time Games created the first ever filled 3D shoot 'em up, 3D Star Strike II (a sequel to their brilliant Star Wars clone) before writing the essential programmers' tool, Snasm. Toad face
But this impressive past is clouded by a rather nasty shoot 'em up. 'After Star Strike II, we were contracted by Ariolasoft to write Starfox for the 8-bits,' says the Real Time supremo. And the story that follows makes MacBeth seem like an episode of The Good Life. 'Their basic design was lacking to say the least,' he continues. 'They wanted a massive game crammed into the Spectrum and Amstrad, and by the time we were nearing completion we had so little memory we were using every available character for graphics!' Even worse, by the time they finally completed the work, Ariolasoft went bust.
Toady Rating:

Jon Hare (Sensible Software)
Jovial Jops was one of the men behind System 3's Twister- Mother Of Harlots, a game which was attacked for its sexist content and title. When System 3 announced it at the PC Show, they promoted the game with a bevy of scantily-clad bimbettes who left nothing to the imagination. A crowd soon appeared to survey their charms (although the game was mostly ignored!), and mothers at the back were urging their kids to go and have a look at whatever was at the front, only to wonder why they came back with their eyes popping out of their tiny heads. The game was promptly re-titled Mother Of Charlotte(!) to appease the protestors, but still failed dismally. In addition, Jon, along with Sensi partner Chris Yates, also own up to such atrocities as Bug Byte's imaginatively-named Sodov The Sorcerer, Firebird's Oh No (an apt name if ever I've heard one), and ODE's RMS Titanic and the original TP sprite for Domark's Trivial Pursuit (which was scrapped because its nose was too big! ).
Toady Rating:

Shaun Southern (Magnetic Fields)
With a quartet of successful race games behind him and the impressive-looking Turbo Challenge II under development, Shaun's past is littered with C16 and C64 games - none of which, to be honest, are particularly bad. Toad face
'I wrote a game called Super Snake Simulator for Alternative, and the only reason we added "Simulator" was so that it sold more copies!' he admits. Following that, Shaun then beavered away on a series of obscure arcade games such as Hero Of The Golden Talisman (which nicked Impossible Mission's main sprite) and a James Bond-style epic, called Operation Fireball, which was far from epic. However, if you go way, way back, Shaun's name can be linked with a bog-awful shoot-'em up called Ad Infinitum, which boasted thousands of levels. The trouble was that only the sprites changed from screen to screen.
Toady Rating:

Well, that's the ceremony over with. Runners-up include Jez San for his ancient Skyline Attack, the guys at Walking Circles for their yonks old Design Design games (which were brilliant for the most part, with the exception of It's The Wooluf - a sheep herding game, based on the Hanna Barbera cartoon of the same name!). Also, Archer 'IK+' Maclean once wrote a program displaying how an oil rig works, whilst Bitmap Brother, Steve Kelly, started his illustrious career with a karate game for Eidersoft. Winners every one of them...

CU Amiga July 1991, pp.66-68