Remember Uridium? I certainly do – the original game on the C64 and version 2 on the Commodore Amiga gave me hours of side-scrolling shoot-em-up fun back in the days when my thumbs were much more limber for joystick bashing! I still love those Graftgold-designed games for Hewson Consultants, combining Andrew Braybrook’s nifty programming and Steve Turner’s always catchy music.
Now the original 1980’s-90’s publishers are back in the game with a bang as Huey Games, offering a Kickstarter-funded equivalent for the 21st century, Hyper Sentinel, combining bright, console-style colour and power-chord arcade sound with a pixelated look and enhanced retro gameplay which is basically a modern retro Uridium on steroids, with a few other influences thrown in for good measure!
I’ve had a good thrash at the demo using the keyboard on the RCN Mac Pro with a 27″ HP monitor, and absolutely love it as far as I’ve been able to play it up to now. It’s one of those games that is sheer, mindless, blasting fun and great for blowing the cobwebs away.
What could be better than jumping into your Sentinel Fighter and giving hordes of evil Alienoids and Level Guardians a darned good thrashing with the help of a timely boost from your previously-planted Powerdroids? What’s more, it should look epic on your mobile or at 60fps on that massive 4K monitor you’ve been promising yourself.
The game, created by ‘new bedroom coder talent’ Jonathan Port, is set to be available on PC, Mac, Console & Mobile at launch. All these versions will be confirmed if successfully funded:
The Steam version will include Windows, Linux & Mac.
Are we nearly there yet?
At the moment, the Kickstarter is a little short of the £15,000 goal at £13, 465, with 359 backers and 22 days to go. There are loads of pledges starting from four pounds for the mobile version and a range of rewards deals are on offer at various prices, right up to a top collector’s bundle at £75.
A demo paints a thousand words, so here’s the link to download the FREE demo game for PC or Mac, or one of a limited number of iOS demos on request (subject to availability): http://www.hueygames.com/hs_demo
If you loved those heady pew-pew-pew days way back when, now is the time to go check out Hyper Sentinel – and if you enjoy it as much as I did, give the project a leg-up!
A real fun game, easy to get into and a great chance to support the reboot of one of the classic names in old-skool British games publishing.
Veteran retro gaming/arcade show organisers Revival Retro Events returned to take the retro scene by storm once again last weekend, after a break from major events since 2014.
Breaking new ground with a brand-new venue for the show, the event took place for the first time in the spacious Stadium Suite at the Banks’s Stadium (previously known as Bescot Stadium) – the home of Walsall Football Club in the West Midlands!
After a smaller comeback event last November in Wolverhampton, this year REVIVAL executed a mighty return to the scene with the aptly titled REVIVAL Solstice 2016 on 30-31 July.
Bringing back all the attractions of their previous fun-packed summer exhibitions, the latest show included:
Over 100 playable retro consoles and computers
Over 50 classic video arcade machines and pinball machines
On-stage competitions run by the Retro Lords, and prizes (including a Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3 donated by sponsors Retro Computing News!)
A selection of traders offering various retro collectables
The return of the guest talks panels and new gamer’s theatre
Reasonably priced, fully licensed bar and gamer’s snack bar
serving hot and cold food
The venue had the advantage of not being far from the M6 and right on the doorstep of Bescot Stadium Railway Station, although it’s fair to say the location caused a little confusion with some drivers finding it not so easy to locate as they thought.
But with hundreds attending on each day of the weekend, it’s clear that retro fans had more than enough to encourage them to beat a path to Bescot for more REVIVAL retro fun!
And our editor and publisher Stuart Williams, who spent the Saturday there in retro heaven, couldn’t agree more – and he came on the bus from Bloxwich!
We’re delighted to confirm that Retro Computing News is sponsoring the upcoming REVIVAL Solstice 2016 retro gaming, retro computing and arcade show in Walsall, England! Taking place over 30-31 July 2016, the event sees REVIVAL back at its big event best, with a huge range of gaming and computing plus dealers, competitions and special guest talks. Moreover this year, the big show, previously held at Wolverhampton Racecourse, is moving to Bescot Stadium, aka Banks’s Stadium, the home of Walsall Football Club, which is easily accessible by road and by railway, with its own station nearby!
We’ll also be covering the event, and taking a table there so our editor and publisher Stuart Williams can chat to anyone who’d like to know more about our online magazine and maybe give us their own news for possible publication!
More good news for anyone attending is that we’re sponsoring this fantastic event by providing a classic Sinclair ZX Spectrum +3 home games computer as a prize for one of the many retrogaming competitions that will be taking place over the weekend!
REVIVAL is the largest and best true dedicated retrogaming event in the UK, and their return to large scale is definitely the one you won’t want to miss!
The show is now filling to the rafters, says organiser Craig Turner of Turnarcades fame, with all the best retro gaming exhibits you love, and plenty more besides! Solstice 2016 will have:
35+ arcade machines
15+ pinball machines
100+ playable consoles and computers
Retro Asylum’s talks arena and gamer’s theatre
Special guest appearances with live Q+A sessions
The Retro Lords’ stage show and competition area
A great selection of retro related traders and exhibitors
Retro Gaming Roundup’s retro gaming lounge
The Dreamcast Junkyard’s Sega zone
The ‘Cutting Room Floor’ zone, filled with playable rare/unreleased/prototype systems and games
Large screen, multiplayer gaming setups
Portable gaming zone, featuring handhelds to tabletop curiosities
Homebrew retrogaming development showcases
Fully licenced bar and pinball cafe
Early admission and discounted traders for REVIVAL membership card holders
Late opening for exhibitors and membership card holders
REVIVAL are about to start full public advertising and will also be announcing their confirmed guests in the coming weeks, so be sure to grab your tickets and book the best hotels NOW before they all go! It’s going to be an amazing weekend with the much-loved REVIVAL atmosphere, so make sure you get along to this one!
Download the poster in jpeg format by clicking on this image:
Buy your tickets and membership cards here while you still can:
An award-winning West Midlands game developer, today best known for the Formula One series, but with a rich retro gaming heritage stretching right back to the heady days of the British home computer revolution, has revealed plans to move its Birmingham studio to the Custard Factory.
Famous Warwickshire-headquartered Codemasters, founded in 1986 as Code Masters by Richard Darling and David Darling (who worked previously for Mastertronic), currently has an operation at Tricorn House on Hagley Road in the city, where it employs a 120-strong team.
Codemasters is one of the oldest surviving British game studios, and in 2005 was named the top independent games developer by Develop magazine.
It has now taken a lease on a 9,000 sq ft unit at the creative quarter in Digbeth and will begin work on a three-month renovation programme to modernise the 100-year-old building
Nick Craig, Codemasters’ studio manager in Birmingham, said:
“We’re looking forward to becoming part of the vibrant community that the Custard Factory has created.
“This will move the studio to an area of the city much more suited to our unique business and company personality. From our new home we will continue to create some of the most successful racing games in the world and expand our successful portfolio of products onto mobile later this year.”
Lucan Gray, owner of the Custard Factory and Fazeley Studios, added:
“Each time a business joins our working community the whole gets stronger, giving more employment opportunities and expanding the talent pool.
“Codemasters is a particularly exciting company, combining cutting edge art, design, programming and much more to achieve international commercial success.”
The Custard Factory quarterof Birmingham is currently home to more than 500 creative and digital businesses.
Today’s announcement of the winners of the first round of the UK government’s Games Fund has given a major boost to one of the fastest-growing sector of the nation’s industry.
And retro gamers and retro computing fans across the nation have been particularly delighted to hear that one of the original founders and pioneers of that industry, Hewson Consultants, has sprung into action once more, as one of the first to benefit from the scheme!
Paul Durrant, Managing Director, UK Games Talent and Finance CIC said following today’s announcement of the winners by Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture and the Digital Economy:
“The level of creative activity in the UK’s games development sector is running at record levels. The 100 plus applications we received to the first round of the UK Games Fund has surpassed any of the rounds in our previous fund. Our new portfolio of supported companies represent the first members of our talent-led movement to build on the UK’s creative strengths in video games development.”
Now worth £84 billion to the economy, the creative industries are one of the UK’s greatest success stories. Government support through things like tax credit and the UK Games Fund is helping to drive that growth.
Twenty-four companies across the UK have been selected in this first round of the UK Games Fund and will now receive grants to develop their projects. The Fund will run until 2019 and will provide grants of up to £50,000 to support video games projects, create jobs and help develop new talent.
Hewson Consultants rides again
Created in the early 80s by Andrew Hewson, and now represented by his son Rob, who for the past few years has been busily flying the flag for the next generation with one careful eye on their heritage, the much-loved company Hewson Consultants started out by publishing a hints and tips book for one of the first affordable and now most collectable British home computers – the Sinclair ZX80. The enthusiastic response to this book encouraged them to move into games production, at a time when the UK was a hotbed of cottage industry coding in the midst of the home computer revolution.
As a result, for a heady decade from 1980, Hewson Consultants wrote their name in brightly-coloured pixels as a highly-regarded publisher of what are now classic games for a wide range of popular micros .
Popular eight and sixteen-bit games such as Uridium, Paradroid, Exolon, Ranarama, Zarathustra, 3D Seiddab Attack and Dragontoc were amongst many games published by Hewson between 1980 – 1990; the list goes on and on. During that period they also set up a label for re-releasing other publisher’s games under the Rebound label.
Computers such as the Sinclair ZX81 and ZX Spectrum, Dragon 32, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and PCW, BBC Micro, MSX, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and even early Nintendo and Sega consoles all benefited from the expertise of Hewson’s coders, leaving a legacy of collectable games that are still sought after by present day retro computing enthusiasts, decades later.
Into the 21st Century
The company closed in 1991, but the management didn’t rest on their laurels. Andrew Hewson founded the European Leisure Software Publishers Association (ELSPA), and the power that was Hewson morphed into 21st Century Entertainment, which was to become popular in the field of high quality pinball games for 16-bit machines. But winding forward into the 21st century itself, the old Hewson was gone but not forgotten, and remained popular as a result of the fond memories of past players and the rapidly-growing hobby of retrogaming
Back to the future
More recently, however, the elder Hewson returned to books, and for some time now has been in the process of writing and publishing a title which is a nostalgic echo of his first: Hints and Tips for Videogame Pioneers rapidly became a popular success even before publication, through the modern medium of crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Mr Hewson’s official biography of Hewson Consultants and 21st Century Entertainment is available for pre-order now, and we hope to review it in due course.
Today, thanks to the creative energy of the Hewsons (with Rob working hard behind the scenes for the past 4 years towards this goal) and a kick-start of a different kind from the UK government, Hewson Consultants is about to rise from the ashes and be born-again from its 1980s incarnation. The regenerated company will be headed up by Andrew Hewson (chairman and finance director), Rob Hewson (chief executive and creative director) and John Ogden (technical director). Other staff and future projects have yet to be revealed.
Rob Hewson told Retro Computing News today:
“I’m delighted to be joining the company I grew up with. Our aim is simple – to develop and publish original, innovative games once again. We are extremely fortunate to have a small but hugely passionate community of retro gamers behind us, and we are excited to take them along on this journey.”
The ultimate beneficiaries of this exciting news are of course those gamers themselves, who now have much to look forward to, and will who will already be wondering, with bated breath, what will come out of the reincarnation of one of the best-known companies of the classic era. First to come, though, is Andrew Hewson’s new book. Game on!
Funding the games we’ll play
Hewson Consultants are not, of course the only beneficiaries of this round of the UK Games Fund.
Announced today by Ed Vaizey, and also to be congratulated, the list of first round winners also includes: Atomicom, Cardboard Sword, Clever Beans, Coatsink Software, Fallen Tree Games, Futurlab, Noble Games, Nosebleed Interactive, Paw Print Games, Plug-in Media, Roll 7, Ruffian Games, Rumpus Animation, Semaeopus, Sensible Object, Six to Start, Slug Disco Studios, Spilt Milk Studios, Tag Games, The Secret Police, Two Way Media, White Paper Games and Yakuto.
The UK Games Fund is managed by UK Games Talent and Finance and will explore joint initiatives with organisations such as Digital Catapult, BAFTA, Ukie, Tiga, Creative England, Creative Scotland and BFI.
Businesses can now apply for the second round of funding of grants up to £25,000, see: http://ukgamesfund.com/. Applications are open until Monday 18th April 2016, 12pm noon.
Some images courtesy Hewson Consultants and the UK Games Fund.
Retro and modern gamers are expected to beat a path to Walsall next April when the organisers of a popular Comic-Con bring a new gaming and collecting event to the West Midlands town.
Walsall’s first ever ‘Halloween Comic Con’ took place in the Town Hall in Leicester Street on Saturday 31st October this year, and was a popular success by all accounts, hosting celebrity sci-fi guests from TV and films and attracting enthusiastic crowds of fans, collectors and cosplayers. The new gaming event will also be at the same venue, and has just been announced.
Walsall Games Mart, on Saturday 9th April 2016, will not just be about video games, both retro and modern, there will also be Collectable Card Games, war gaming and lots of traders selling related products from favourite franchises.
There will also be toys, models, collectables and gifts on sale as well as a cosplay competition.
Admission is set at £3 each, with age 5’s and under free.
Popular British retro gaming and computing event REVIVAL looks set to return in the New Year with all guns blazing, according to chief organiser Craig Turner – not surprising, judging by positive comments coming from the crowds attending their latest show.
After the success of last weekend’s smaller, but still beautifully marked, REVIVAL Winter Warmer event held at a leisure centre near Wolverhampton, the volunteer-supported exhibition and gaming extravaganza is heading onward and upward into 2016!
The popular combination of vast numbers of arcade machines, pinball games and legendary home consoles and computers made available for use at events by the organisers, exhibitors and supporters, combined with retro traders, plus talks and star guests at their bigger events, means REVIVAL has never had much difficulty getting gamers and geeks through the doors.
Putting on a major event of this kind on a small budget is never a simple affair, however, and it’s a lot of hard work as well as fun, as Craig Turner, of Turnarcades fame, said recently:
“After a tough first few events that went beyond our expectations and became a little harder to handle, future plans for REVIVAL were uncertain last year. After a major change early this year though and thanks to our dedicated team of die-hard enthusiasts, REVIVAL Winter Warmer has been solidly organised and was well-prepared well in advance this time. It was never certain though that we would again be in a position to return to full form. The primary decider was always you, the gamers, that buy the tickets and share in the hobby with us…
“After crunching the figures, I am pleased to announce that despite initial reservations about moving venue and trying a mid-sized event, ticket sales have been strong since day one and I can officially confirm that REVIVAL WILL RETURN IN 2016 not only with a full-scale event in Wolverhampton, but plans are underway for two additional events with a different focus that will be going outside the Midlands to reach gamers around the country!”
Mr Turner, speaking after the well-supported Winter Warmer weekend, said:
“Our first show in over a year REVIVAL Winter Warmer 2015 is now over and based on feedback so far, was an overwhelming success! With a sellout crowd on Saturday and an unusually large Sunday crowd too, we doubled our expected turnout with a head count just short of 700 people over the weekend. A huge thanks to all who attended; visitors, staff and guests who all contributed to an unrivalled atmosphere that our events have always been renowned for!
“Such an event wouldn’t be possible without a well-balanced team of true retro gaming enthusiasts that make up our organisers, floor staff, setup volunteers, exhibit contributors and entertainment. I would like to say a huge thanks to all of my family and crew who helped make Winter Warmer what it was and committed their efforts to bring every attendee a great time – it couldn’t be done without them. Allow me to introduce our main team [pictured above, Ed.] for last weekend, and thanks to the miracle of powerful high-resolution image editing, been able to seamlessly blend in one of our main team members who was unfortunately on a logistical errand while this shot was taken.
“Be sure to give props to these guys if you see them again or have any stories to share from the event!”
Well, we can’t say fairer than that, and despite the illness that sadly kept our editor Stuart Williams away from this year‘s Winter Warmer, Retro Computing News is already looking forward to covering next year’s REVIVAL event in person, so watch this space!