Wednesday, 21 December 2011

That was the year that was ... 2011!

Greetings Programs!

Well, now that 2011 has been stuffed into the bin with all the Chrissy wrapping paper and turkey leftovers and I'd like to start this blog entry by sending a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has helped and supported Psytronik Software in 2011. I'm hugely grateful to everyone who has written or helped out with a Psytronik release, and of course, to everyone who bought a Psytronik game this year ... It takes a whopping amount of my (very limited!) spare time to run Psytronik Software but I don't mind as it's just so darned satisfying to see a release come together and appear in the BZ store in all it's lovingly packaged glory. It's also great fun putting together packages for eager retro fans as I know how cool it is to receive a shiny new game for your fave computer, rip off the shrink-wrapping and load it for some retro gaming fun!

Anyway, that's quite enough back-slapping and hugging for now. Now lets take a look at the Psytronik releases from 2011 complete with thoughts and musings about each one plucked directly from my addled brain type device:-

1,000 Kung-Fu Maniacs (C64) (12th Feb)

The first Psytronik release to bolt out of the starting gate for 2011 was the amusing Alf Yngve beat 'em up romp 1,000 Kung-Fu Maniacs. Once again Alf managed to push SEUCK in all sorts of directions that it wasn't designed to go and using cunning design and some ingenius tricks he actually managed to coax a scrolling beat 'em up out of an editor designed for shoot 'em ups! The combination of wacky storyline, tongue in cheek humour and cartoony graphics resulted in a pretty darned nifty release. Richard Bayliss also assisted by bolting on a new front-end and plumbing in some in-game power-ups and the cream on this particularly yummy cake were the oriental soundtracks that were specially composed for the game by Jon Wells. My only teeny niggly regret with this release is I didn't have the chance at the time to do a loading bitmap for the game - but I made up for this when the sequel to this game came along, but more about that later in this blog entry!

Sub Hunter (Amstrad CPC) (13th Feb)

The incredible Amstrad CPC conversion of Sub Hunter was one of my favourite Psytronik releases in 2011. I've always had a soft spot for the Amstrad CPC computer so I was really pleased to be able to release some Amstrad games thanks to the awesome skills of CPC programmer Paul Kooistra. I had a great time working with Paul during the development of Sub Hunter and was absolutely blown away by the quality of the completed game. Paul had managed to squeeze almost every single feature from the C64 game into the Amstrad version (including that stunning parallax scrolling) - and in some places he even managed to IMPROVE on the original C64 game! Herve Monchatre also did a superb job in converting the music from the C64 version onto the Amstrad. And the amazing thing about the CPC version of Sub Hunter? It was all crammed into just 64K!

AutoCross Racing (PC) (13th Feb)

AutoCross Racing is a fun PC release for Psytronik that came together REALLY quickly! I'm a huge fan of top-down racing games (I used to play loads of them on the Amiga) and as soon as I saw footage of the game in action I knew it would make a great Psytronik release - and I wasn't wrong, the actual game itself is a total hoot to play and is jam-packed with neat options. The game was produced for the PC by Kevin Murphy who I already knew from the C64 game Flubble & Squij - that very nearly got a Psytronik release back in the 1990s. Anyway, it took just over a week from seeing a video of the game to having a fully packaged Psytronik version of the game ready to go! Mat 'Preferred Image' Recardo also helped out with this release by rendering some action-packed artwork that was used for the packaging.

Sheepoid (C64) (1st June)

Sheepoid is a psychedelic shooter from Richard Bayliss in which you control two Sheepoid units defending the universe from a variety of weird and wonderful attackers from the beyond the Neon Vortex ... Or something! The game was inspired by Lazer Zone - by the hairy hero Jeff Minter and I thought it would be good fun to release the game in some rather colourful Psytronik packaging at the RetroVision event ... And it was at RV that I finally got to meet Richard in person for the first time ever - and a jolly nice chap he is too. STE'86 (Steve Day) delivered a gorgeous loading bitmap and Mat Recardo produced the superb cover design. This was based on artwork by Alf Yngve that was originally produced for a Jeff Minter themed edition of my old Commodore Zone mag that was never produced in the end. It was just a shame Jeff himself didn't turn up to the event to see the game ... Baaa!

Hyper Viper (C64) (24th June)

This was the debut release from programmer Jamie Howard. The game is a nice conversion of the original MSX version and not only featured everything from the original game but also included additional features as well. This was an interesting release for Psytronik as it was the first game to feature properly licensed music (the title tune is a cover of AM180 - as featured in the movie 28 Days Later). STE'86 produced a jolly loading screen for the game and Smila produced the eye-catching box art. All in all, a fun retro-style release and a great debut title from Jamie. I just hope he gets around to completing his C64 conversion of the MSX game Polar Star as that looked absolutely belting!

Shoot 'Em Up Destruction Set 2 (C64) (9th November)

Here's another of my fave Psytronik releases from 2011. As Alf Yngve is so darned prolific it can be tricky keeping up with all the cool C64 titles he keeps producing so I came up with the idea of releasing another compilation of his games - which is a great way to quickly get a bevy of his titles into the Psytronik range (and to offer extra value for money for all you lovely retro fiends!) I then thought it would be cool to make the compilation a sequel to the first SEUDS compilation - and to present the games with similar artwork to the original. For SEUDS 2 I chose two unreleased games from the Psytronik back-catalogue (Bloodwheels & Trojahn), a recent side-ways scrolling shooter (Super Tau-Zeta) and the brand new game 2,000 Kung-Fu Maniacs. Richard Bayliss did an absolutely superb job enhancing the games with power-ups, special effects, new front-end presentation and music etc., I worked with STE'86 on the loading screens (we produced two bitmaps each) and I also produced logos for 2,000 KFM, Bloodwheels & Trojahn. Interestingly, Alf was so impressed with the bitmap that Steve produced for Trojahn that he revamped the game completely to bring it up to a similar standard. I'm also very pleased that I got to make up for my lack of input on 1,000 Kung-Fu Maniacs by producing the loading screen and front-end logo for its sequel. As well as handling all the tape masters for SEUDS 2, Richard also worked wonders with the disk menu - which was done in the same style as the original SEUDS menu but with a re-worked bitmap screen ... And if all that wasn't enough, SEUDS 2 also featured a complete extra game as well - the excellent Forbidden Forest inspired game Forgotten Forest ... Bonus!

Oracle III (C64) (18th December)

The final Psytronik release for 2011 which just managed to get into the BZ store before the end of the year (albeit on a pre-order basis) was ORACLE III. This was one of those releases that started off simply enough with the idea to release a previously unreleased - but completed - puzzle game on the Psytronik label. It then got totally more elaborate with brand new ambient soundtracks being composed for the game, a soundtrack CD being bundled in with it (featuring recordings done from the composers own SID chip) and the whole thing being re-compressed to use less disk-space (oh, and the Psytronik logo was bolted onto the loading screen as well). Mat Recardo once again came up trumps (chortle!) with some excellent rendered cover-art that nicely depicted the in-game action. Oracle III was a great way to round off 2011 and it was great to add a different style of game to the Psytronik catalogue.


In last blog entry I mentioned that Psytronik was going to be exhibiting at the REPLAY EXPO in Blackpool ... I bet you are all BUSTING to know how I got on at the show aren't you? Well, here's how it all went ... I was initially unsure as to whether I would attend the 2011 show as it would involve a 300 mile round-trip and it was all a bit of an unknown for me as I missed the first REPLAY show in 2010. I received a nice call from Dave Moore (one of the show organisers) that convinced me I should come along and everything else seemed to click into place at just the right time. On the Friday before the event I loaded up my mighty silver Mondeo and set a course for Blackpool. The Journey to the event was actually easy-peasy. I'm not usually a fan of the M6 but once you get past Birmingham it's plain-sailing all the way to Blackpool. 157 miles later (I know it was that far as I reset my mileometer just as I set off) I was standing outside the Norbreck Castle - the venue for REPLAY! I had a quick recce of the place to get my bearings and chatted to a few familar faces before I checked in at my hotel - the lovely Poldhu - which is literally 100 yards away from the venue. I then headed back to the Norbreck and bumped into Vintage Matt from RetroVision and somehow accidentally (heh!) ended up in a pub type environment with lots of the RV peeps - and a very nice evening of stout imbibing and pub japes ensued followed by a tasty CURRY. I had arrived!

The Specadore 64 got a lot of attention at REPLAY!

Saturday!! After nomming a tasty cooked brekkie at the Poldhu Hotel (served up by the Yoda-esque lady there) I headed to the Norbreck to set up my Psytronik table. I was situated next to my good chum Jason 'TMR' Kelk (he of the Retro Gamer Homebrew section fame) so it was great to be able to have a natter with him. I took a slightly scaled-down setup to REPLAY as I wasn't sure how much room I would have - so I only had two systems to set up. The first of which was the crowd-pleasing SPECADORE 64 - which is always popular at these events - and the second system was my shiny new COMMODORE 64x - which is the new PC-in-a-C64-style-case ... I planned to run emulators and Psytronik promo videos on the C64x, as well as the PC remake of Armalyte - which is awesome being played with a retro style joystick (a USB Competition Pro) running on a C64 style PC! The Specadore 64 featured the recently-released conversion of Prince of Persia running from an EasyFlash cart that I had literally received a few days before the event. This gave people the chance to play the stunning C64 conversion of the game on REAL hardware. I also demonstrated some new Psytronik releases including SEUDS 2 - with 2,000 Kung-Fu Maniacs being a highlight as it caused much mirth with its amusing power-ups (poodle attack!) The Psytronik stand was in the entrance area of the event (not in the main hall) so everyone attending REPLAY would have to pass me at some point! This meant there were plenty of people throughout the day going past so I had lots of interest in the Psytronik goodies that were on display. I ventured into the main hall at various times throughout the day and was blown away by the size of the event. It ... was ... HUGE! I've attended a LOT of retro events in the past but this was easily the biggest I've ever seen - a mindscrambling array of arcade cabs, retro & modern systems and pinball machines were available to be played on (if you could figure out how to get the freeplay arcade cabs to start!), there were impressive stands set up by various sponsors and retro selling peeps, HUGE screens showing what was going on, lots of Cosplayers, boothbabes and various heroes from the retro scene (Jeff Minter!! Oli Frey!!), it really was an incredible sight - it wasn't like any other retro event I'd been to, it was a proper EXPO! In the evening I headed along to an aftershow gig at another hotel that featured SID 80's (minus MadFiddler, sadly). Unfortunately, this was hampered by a massively overlong quiz, hugely expensive drinks and awful acoustics. The day was rounded off with a bazillion mile walk into town with various peeps to a restaurant that didn't exist. So an emergency kebab was duly purchased while we were amused at the shouty drunken antics of the skimpily dressed girls in the middle of Blackpool on a freezing Saturday night in November. And a classy bunch they certainly were! ;)

Me 'n' Yak!

Sunday!! Hangover part 2, and a room smelling of cold kebab (it was cold when I ate the bloody thing!) Another lovely cooked brekkie was served up by Mrs Yoda - I loved the way I came down to brekkie and she shuffled next door to bring it to me, already prepared! And as it was beautifully sunny outside I had a nice walk along the sea-front to clear my head and enjoyed some moments of zen-like calm before heading over to the Norbreck for REPLAY DAY 2! My second day at REPLAY started out pretty much the same as the first - but I was determined to PLAY MORE GAMES so did spend a lot more time in the main hall on Sunday. I also recruited Vintage Matt to be my camera co-pilot at one point and we went on a most excellent mission to get photographed with as many cosplayers and girls on the stands as possible. Our mission was very successful I'm pleased to say! All in all, I really enjoyed my time at REPLAY. As well as being a cracking event I knew loads of people there so there was always someone I could chat to and everyone else I met was friendly and seemed to be having a good time. One thing that amused me about the Psytronik stand was that a lot of people didn't actually notice the C64x as at a glance it looks just like and old breadbin style C64 - the Specadore 64 got a LOT more attention than the latest addition to the Commodore range ... ! There wasn't really much about REPLAY that I *didn't* like. I did notice an odd musty pong in one of the side-rooms near to where the talks were being held (a few people noticed this, apparently), the after-show gig on Saturday was a bit naff - although we did our best to liven that up with some incredible "free-form darncing" - Ben Daglish was most impressed with our efforts! I couldn't get a look-in on the Pinball machines - they were in constant use each time I went past them - and quite a few of the arcade machines seem to require some magical trickery to get them going, but these are minor niggles only and didn't spoil my enjoyment of the event one iota.

Me - In my natural environment. :)

And that pretty much sums it up for REPLAY. Would I go again? Definitely! I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and it was definitely worth the 300 mile round-trip. A massive YO! to all the people I met and spoke to at the event (far too many to list here), I look forward to seeing you all again in 2012! You can view a selection of photos I took at the event by clicking the link below:-

Thanks for reading!

Kenz /

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Psytronik to exhibit at the REPLAY EXPO 2011!

Greetings Programs!

I'm pleased to announce that Psytronik Software will attending the REPLAY EXPO 2011 and will be exhibiting at the show. The REPLAY EXPO is the largest retro event to be held in the UK and takes place on November 5th & 6th at the Norbreck Castle in Blackpool.

Hopefully there will be some of THIS happening at the event!

I will be releasing TWO new Psytronik Commodore 64 titles at REPLAY - Firstly there's the sliding block puzzle game ORACLE III and secondly there's the fab SHOOT 'EM UP DESTRUCTION SET 2 compilation - both of which have been featured in previous blog entries. To celebrate Psytronik being at REPLAY I've updated the artwork on both releases to feature the REPLAY logo on the front!

Two new Psytronik titles to be released exclusively at the REPLAY 2011!

As well as showing off the latest Psytronik releases I will also be demonstrating the new Commodore 64x system - which is basically a full PC system crammed into a gorgeous Commodore 64 style keyboard. There has been a bit of a mixed reception to this system from die-hard C64 fans, but trust me, when you play the PC remake of Armalyte running on a PC remake of the Commodore 64 with a USB remake of the Competition Pro joystick you're gonna love it, it really is a beautiful thang!

The super-sexy Commodore 64x - see it in action at REPLAY 2011!

Of course the mighty Specadore 64 will also be accompanying me to the event which will be used to demonstrate the latest Psytronik releases. I will also be running the stunning new C64 conversion of Prince of Persia which you will be able to play on REAL C64 hardware at Replay.

I never thought I would get to play THIS on the C64!

I will also be running some hi-score competitions during the Replay weekend with bundles of Binary Zone and Psytronik goodies up for grabs for the winner. So if you plan on attending the event come and visit the homebrew section and we'll have a natter about all things RETRO - you will also be able to pick up some Binary Zone BARGAINS from my stand while you are there!

See you there!

Kenz /

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Psytronik gets all puzzled!

Greetings Psytronikoids!

An interesting release has recently been added to the Psytronik Software C64 line-up which came to us literally as a bolt from the blue ... Well, kinda! The game is called Oracle III - The Final Chapter and was originally produced in 1995 by Art Project Studios. Unfortunately, the game was never commercially released on the C64 due to problems with the publisher at the time. Our chum Jazzcat suggested Psytronik as a possible publisher and after seeing the game in action I decided it would make a nice addition to the Psytronik range.

Psytronik has not actually released a puzzle game before and I was immediately impressed with the quality of the graphics and overall presentation of the game. I got in touch with the author in order to start the ball rolling on making this an official Psytronik release. The actual game itself was complete and the version I received to test already had been updated to include messages to say it was a Psytronik release so it was literally ready to be released straight away on the Psytronik label - but then things started to get even more interesting!

In of the message exchanges between myself and the game author Tufan 'SoNiC' Uysal, he sent along an example of one his SID tunes - a superb ambient track. He mentioned that back in 1996 he was thinking of changing the game music to his own compositions and would be interested in making new music for the game. I was so impressed with the music he sent me we decided to delay the Psytronik release of Oracle III slightly so that the game could include brand new soundtracks for the 2011 Psytronik release.

But then things got even better! Tufan had been sending me mp3 recordings of the soundtracks for the game recorded from his very own SID chip. This gave me the idea of bundling a free soundtrack CD in with the game that features all the music from the game. Tufan had also been thinking along the same lines and so we decided to run with that idea and include a CD with the Premium version of the game - that way people will hear the music with the filters as intended (the music was produced on the 8510 SID chip and so may sound different on the older 6581 chip).

Another problem that had to be solved was what to do for artwork for the game. Oracle III is a puzzle game that features blocks that are moved around the screen by your character that looks like a frog (or F.REE R.OAMING O.BJECT G.RAPPLER - as I decided to call it). The object of the game is to move two or more matching blocks next to each other in order to remove them. Once all the matching blocks are cleared you move onto the next screen. Anyway, for the artwork I called on the assistance of my chum Mat 'CGI' Recardo (he of fame) and sent him details about the game. Mat designed an excellent cover picture featuring a cool robotic-frog moving blocks around on a spacey backdrop. Perfect! I dropped in elements from the game as a border around the artwork to complete the cover design - you can see the completed artwork below.

Oracle III - The Final Chapter will be available for the C64 as a Premium & Budget disk release and as a digital download in October 2011. You will be able to pick up your copy exclusively from the Binary Zone Interactive Retro Store.

Thanks for reading!

Kenz /

Friday, 29 July 2011


Greetings Psytronikeers!

For a while now I've had the idea of doing another SEUDS (Shoot 'Em Up Destruction Set) compilation for Psytronik and now at long last SEUDS 2 is fast becoming a reality! This is thanks to the ever productive Alf Yngve who not only still has some great unreleased SEUCK games tucked away but is also still churning them out to this day, ably assisted by Richard 'TND' Bayliss, who is doing sterling work adding new front-end presentation to each game along with power-ups, extra graphical effects and fantastic music etc. Lets take a closer look at the four games I have chosen for SEUDS 2.

Super Tau Zeta

"By Your Command!"

This is a recent Alf Yngve production that was originally produced for the Sideways SEUCK competition organised by Richard Bayliss. In this game you control a mini-fleet of ships doing battle in space and on alien planets. Alf has incorporated some very clever effects into this game including a cool space-warp effect, a black hole encounter, asteroid field, parallax scrolling when you are on the alien planets and much more!

Flying over a lovely alien vista in Super Tau-Zeta

Super Tau Zeta has been specially enhanced and now features a snazzy new front-end, superb soundtracks (the in-game tune is a real belter!) and weapon power-ups that have been added by Richard Bayliss and a stunning bitmap loading screen has been produced for the game by Steve 'STE'86' Day (inspired by a certain popular 80s sci-fi show).


How much action can I cram into one loading screen? Answer: All of it!

This game was part of the original 1994 Psytronik release line-up but is now being dusted off after 17 years for release as part of the SEUDS 2 compilation. The game is an exciting driving-shooter where you (and an optional player 2) battle your way through various locations in an army vehicle blasting enemy tanks, planes, helicopters and soldiers etc. The game features some very nicely detailed tiny sprites (the enemy soldiers are particularly ee-wee!) destructible background objects (you can level houses!) and there's blasting action aplenty to be had.

Once again Richard Bayliss has coded an eye-catching front-end the game and has added new effects to the game itself including multi-sprite explosions for when you blast those pesky bosses and animated water effects. Richard has also delivered some suitably thumping tunes for you to blast along to (the in-game tune has a nice Matt Gray flavour to it). For the loading screen I decided to transfer the original artwork for this game (drawn by Alf) onto the C64 and have drawn the screen in a similar style to the one I did for the SEUDS 1 game Silverfish (I.E. Lots of explodey action!)

2,000 Kung Fu Maniacs:
The Way Of The Exploding Fish

The other 1,995 Kung-Fu Maniacs are right behind you!

The sequel to 1,000 Kung-Fu Maniacs continues after your epic battle in Blapsville in the first game and once again features the ongoing adventures of the Master of Awesome! This time our hero is tasked with a dangerous quest to find the sacred scrolls that have been stolen by some nefarious Ninjas - and, also, to buy some pickled herring (as you do).

In the game you must battle assorted adversaries in various unusual locations - like on-stage at the "Lord of the Bland" concert (featuring a familiar-looking river-dancing baddie!), at the International Arms Fair, a corrupt art gallery and even at the "Happy Moose Megamart!" Various weapon power-ups can be collected during the game including shuriken, nunchucks, a deadly knife, a garden gnome (?!) and, best of all, the way of the exploding fish!

Once again Richard Bayliss has added extra enhancements to this game including a new front-end, funky Oriental soundtracks, the weapon power-ups I mentioned above and he has even coded a special end-sequence for the game! For the loading screen I decided to make up for the fact that I didn't have the time to contribute any pixels to the first game - so for the sequel I pixelled an eye-catching loader pic featuring Ninjas - cos Ninjas are COOL!


The fourth game in the SEUDS 2 pack is another Alf Yngve classic that has been stomping around for approximately the last 5,000 years (well, since the early 1990s!) The game features the titular Trojahn hero on a mission to rescue his beloved Elena who has been kidnapped by an evil Minotaur. The game uses an interesting arcade style vertical screen with all the action being viewed on the left half of the screen. The right half of the screen is used for occasional interlude screens showing the plight of Elena and her cries for help in comic-book style.

Ste'86 has provided the stunning loading screen for the game, Richard Bayliss will be producing the music and coding the front-end - which will feature additional graphics by little old me!

The Shoot 'Em Up Destruction Set 2 will be released for the C64 on tape, disk and as a digital download by Psytronik Software later this year (exact release date to be confirmed). For more details head on over to ...

Thanks for reading!

Kenz / (29/07/11)

Monday, 6 June 2011

To boldy go ... Sub Hunting!

Greetings, Programs!

Here's an interesting little Psytronik related tidbit for ya ... I recently discovered that an "Enterprising" individual (pun intended) had ported Sub Hunter onto the somewhat obscure Elan Enterprise computer! This rather unexpected conversion is based on the amazing Amstrad CPC conversion by Paul Kooistra but has been tweaked for the Enterprise to include elements from the C64 version. So lets fire it up and have a looksee, shall we?

In order to get the Enterprise version of Sub Hunter running on my PC I downloaded a copy of the ep32 emulator. Once the disk image containing the game had been dropped into the emulator I was ready for some Enterprise Sub Hunting ACTION!

As you can see from the picture above the colours on the loading screen are based on the Commodore 64 version. The intro begins with the hi-res Psytronik logo from the CPC version and features an identical intro to the CPC - although the colours of the intro pics have been changed from the CPC sepia shades back to the monochrome C64 style. The nice parallaxed section of the intro is also present and correct and the marvellous intro theme from the CPC version can also be heard in all its glory.

Once the main game has loaded you will see the front-page once again contains elements from the C64 version (the animated bubbles) and the rippling logo reflection is also present. Unfortunately, although the credits for the original Sub Hunter authors (Frank Gasking & Richard Bayliss) are visible there is no mention of the author of the CPC version (Paul Kooistra) on the title page of the game. This is a very annoying oversight as the Enterprise conversion is based on the CPC code! Tut-tut.

Anyhoo, hitting fire launches your Sub into action and you will see straight away that the actual game is almost identical to the Amstrad CPC version of the game. The colours seem to have been toned down slightly which makes seeing the swimmers you have to rescue a bit easier but everything else is pretty much the same as the CPC version (although this version of the game does suffer from slow-down at times).

Aside from a few technical issues and the annoying lack of credit for all the hard work Paul Kooistra put into his CPC version of the game this is a pleasing conversion of Sub Hunter and it's nice to see the game running on another system. It would have been nice if the person responsible for the Enterprise port had contacted Psytronik first as at least I could have ensured that the game contained the correct credits - but apart from that, the Enterprise conversion of Sub Hunter is well worth a look. It's also worth noting that Hervé Monchatre has been helping out with this version of the game and produced specially modified versions of his amazing CPC tunes for the Enterprise version. These sound much better than the glitchy tunes that were present in earlier versions of this port. He also requested that Paul Kooistra was reinstated into the credits scroll in this game - which was duly done. Nice work Hervé!

If you would like to play Sub Hunter on the Enterprise you can get the ep32 emulator HERE and here's a link to a .zip file that contains the disk image of the game:- Sub Hunter Enterprise Version. The .zip file also includes a ReadMe.txt file that contains instructions for loading the game into the ep32 Enterprise Emulator.

Thanks for reading!

Kenz /

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Sheepoid - The making of the artwork

I've been following the progress of the latest Richard Bayliss C64 production Sheepoid since it began and as the project took shape my Psytronik senses started tingling. The game is an homage to the classic Jeff Minter game Laser Zone which was released on the VIC-20 and C64 in 1983 and later on the C16 and Plus/4 in 1986.

Laser Zone on the Commodore Plus/4

For Sheepoid, Richard has taken the basic concept of Laser Zone (control a horizontal and vertical gun turret, blast weirdy meanies, avoid blasting goodies) and has improved the graphics, presentation and music for his C64 remake / tribute "Sheepoid".

Sheepoid on the C64

As Richard was planning on releasing Sheepoid at the 2011 Retrovision event I asked him if he would be interested in doing a Psytronik release so we could present the game at the event as a fully packaged Psytronik release. Richard gave this idea the thumbs-up so my next thoughts turned to the game artwork. Seeing as the game featured a level called The Mutant Camels Are Back this suddenly reminded me of a picture that Alf Yngve drew many years ago for a Jeff Minter issue of my Commodore Zone mag that never materialised:-

Llamas Attack! Previously unseen artwork for an
issue of Commodore Zone that was never made.

I always liked this image of Llamas attacking from space and thought this would make a cool cover for Sheepoid. I sent Alfs pic to my chum Mat 'Preferred Image' Recardo to see if a 3D rendered version was possible - and as luck would have it, Mat had a Llama object that he could use! So some swift rendering work later and Mat sent over the splendid design you see below:-

Llamas attack - in 3D rendered-o-vision!

The next thing needed was a logo for the game. I initially dabbled with a B-Movie style logo (similar to the "LLamas Attack!") logo in the Alf pic but in the end decided to use the Sheepoid logo from the front-end of the actual game - which I recreated in hi-res, tilted at a jaunty angle and then coloured in retro-arcade logo stylee.

The nice colours in the logo made me decide to go one step further and give the artwork more Yak-appeal by continuing the colours around the edges. After the the addition of game screenshots and extra text blurb the official Sheepoid Retrovision poster was born!

The yaktastic Sheepoid promo poster!

Now that all the artwork elements had been produced the next step was to the adapt the design for the Psytronik packaging. Using the premium disk edition artwork template I tweaked the artwork to fit on the packaging and you can see the end result below:-

Ta-daaa! The finished Sheepoid disk packaging.

And there you have it! That's how you go about creating the box artwork for a Psytronik release (for techno-buffs who are listening). The game was officially released at Retrovision in May 2011 and is now available on tape and disk for the Commodore 64 exclusively from the Binary Zone Interactive Retro Store.

Thanks for reading!

Kenz /

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Some good news, some sad news

Firstly, the good news ...

In February last year I recorded a special Psytronik Software episode of my retro game music podcast One Man & His Mic. The 1 hour show featured music from almost all of the Psytronik releases available at the time from Sceptre of Baghdad right up to the PC version of Armalyte. The show was included as a bonus extra on the Armalyte CD-ROM and you can read all about the making of the show in this Psytronik blog entry HERE.

As over a year has now passed I've now made the show freely available to listen to and download on the One Man & His Mic webpage. And that's not all! Rather than just plonk the existing 1 hour show online I've completely remastered and extended the show by an additional 20 minutes. It now features FIVE extra tracks including the superb in-game theme from the C16 / Plus/4 title Adventures in Time, a remix of the theme from the C64 game City Bomber (which will hopefully be released on the Psytronik label at some point!), the sublime intro theme from the Amstrad CPC version of Sub Hunter and MORE! To listen to the show scoot on over to the OMAHM Series 2 webpage and fill your boots ... er, or your ears.

One Man & His Mic - Psytronik Software Special

01. Sceptre of Baghdad Intro (DJ Skitz)
02. The Sceptre of Nu Baghdad (Kate Z)
03. Archetype - FZ vs JMJ Remix (FeekZoid)
04. Nukenin & The Ronin Title (TMR) [C64]
05. PsykoZone Intro (FeekZoid) [C64]
06. Sub Hunter Title (Maniacs of Noise) [C64]
07. Escape from Arth Title (FeekZoid) [C64]
08. Mayhem in Monsterland Title (Tonka) [PC]
09. Creatures Remix (Infamous)
10. Creatures 2 Redux (Infamous)
11. Joe Gunn in-game (Laxity) [C64]
12. Armalyte Loader (Martin Walker) [C64]
13. The Path Of Destiny - Knight 'n' Grail Subtune #2 (Project N.A.)
14. Knight 'n' Grail - Good Ending Orchestral Mix (Hans Axelsson)
15. The Last Amazon Title Tune (Richard Bayliss) [C64]
16. The Wild Bunch (Jon Wells) [C64]
17. Star Sabre In-Game Tune (Targhan) [Amstrad CPC]
18. Armalyte PC Title Tune (Infamous) [PC]
19. Adventures in Time (Luca / Fire) [Plus/4]
20. City Bomber - KateZoid Fusion Mix (Kate Z)
21. Sub Hunter CPC (Herve Monchatre) [Amstrad CPC]
22. HyperViper (Jamie Howard) [C64]
23. Sceptre of Baghdad Outro (DJ Skitz)

And now the sad news ...

I'm very sorry to have to report that my good friend Paul Hadrill (aka DJ Skitz) passed away peacefully on February 16th 2011 after an incredibly brave five year battle with a brain tumour. Paul was a very popular member of the C64 remix community and as well as producing many fine C64 remixes he also regularly hosted live radio shows on SLAYRadio and attended many retro computer events and gatherings. He also contributed the opening and ending tracks for the OMAHM Psytronik Special mentioned above. Paul was a close personal friend of mine and will be missed by myself and many people who got to know Paul through his radio show and contributions to the C64 scene. He may be no longer with us but his memory and excellent remixes will live on. Farewell to my most excellent friend, DJ Skitz.

Thanks for reading,

Kenz / (09/03/2011)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Gentlemen, start your engines ... !

At the end of last month I received details about a PC game that the author asked me to evaluate for possible inclusion in the Psytronik Software range. The game was a top-down racing game called AutoCross Racing, programmed by Kevin Murphy. Kevin had included some screenshots of the game with his initial email and as soon as I saw the screens I just knew I would like this game!

Vrooom, whizz - now, this looks like FUN!

I'm a big fan of retro style top-down racing games and used to spend hours playing games like Super Cars 2, Roadkill & Micro Machines on the Amiga. So as soon as I saw the screenshots of the game and the video of the game in action I was already won over - and this was before I had even PLAYED it! I just had a good feeling about it.

It came from the desert!

A few days later the game arrived at the Psytronik HQ on CD-ROM and after a quick and easy installation I was ready to roll. And the good news is the game played just as well as I had hoped! I was instantly hooked on AutoCross Racing - it has a really cool retro racing vibe to it. It's really quick and easy to get into, it plays like a DREAM and, most importantly of all, it's FUN!

Some serious peddle being put to the metal!

Everything about this game just seems to WORK. You can adjust the camera height to view your car from a comfortable distance, you can even switch the camera to the other cars in the race if you wish. The music by Dafunk is great - and as another nice touch you can also add your own music to the game by simply adding mp3 files to the Music folder! So I was soon whizzing around the tracks with remixes of classic C64 tunes like Formula 1 Simulator and Miami Vice playing. Fab!

Beep! Beep! Coming through! *CRASH* Sorry Mister!

As the game would be getting a release on CD-ROM as well as a digital download the next thing I would need is some ARTWORK. The game didn't actually have any cover art at this time so I contacted my good chum Mat 'Preferred Image' Recardo to see if he wanted to help out with this release (as I know he is a bit of a fan of driving games). I sent the game to Mat and he very quickly delivered a beautiful 3D rendered image that very nicely captured the feel of the game (in fact, it looked just like the game - but in 3D!

Mats rendered cover image for AutoCross Racing

I then took Mats cover image and, using the Armalyte CD-ROM box as a template, created the final box artwork for the game which you can see below. I was very pleased with how the artwork turned out as it matches Armalyte very nicely - especially when you put them side by side on your games shelf! I think this has got to be one of the fastest Psytronik releases ever - it went from the initial email from Kevin to being a pretty much ready for release in approx two weeks!
The full game will be released by Psytronik Software later on this month - but you can try it out RIGHT NOW by downloading the excellent playable demo which is now available on the Psytronik Software DOWNLOADS page. And you can also find more information about the game on the main Psytronik site (click HERE).

And finally, a bit of techno-trivia for you. Kevin Murphy was a name already familiar to me as he co-wrote the C64 title Flubble & Squij that was ALMOST released by Psytronik Software back in the 1990s! So with AutoCross Racing it's nice to see a game by Kevin getting a proper Psytronik release at long last. :)

Thanks for reading!

Kenz / (06/02/2011)