Gremlin Graphics
Gremlin Graphics were another great UK software house of the 1980s and early 1990s, and sadly they, like Ocean, were bought out by the Infogrames empire in 1998. Typical isn't it? However, they were one of the first major UK houses to release a series of games based on a single character, along with making various other original games that really set the scene for the C64. Also on this page are exclusive pics of their offices in Sheffield, England so you can see where they worked over the years.

Gremlin Graphics were founded around 1984. At first they concentrated on games for the Spectrum, but soon realised that the C64 had a games market potential. All their early games had the orignal and 'classic' GG logo: a green gremlin looking slightly angry, along with the text of Gremlin Graphics in green. This is shown above. Indeed in 1984, came the first of what would be a series of games based on one character: Monty Mole. Wanted: Monty Mole hit the C64 in 1984, and it was programmed by no less than Anthony Crowther. Why the music covered the Colonel Bogey theme, I don't know. Nevertheless sales of this on both C64 and Spectrum were promising, and there soon became many fans of the little mole. Early on was also the game Percy the Potty Pigeon, which was also one of the very first C64 tunes by Ben Daglish. Ben would later on work a lot for Gremlin Graphics on their music.

1985 was a very good year for Gremlin Graphics in fact. First off was the game Thing on a Spring, which involved a little character much like Zebedee from the hit TV show "The Magic Roundabout". Thing and his Spring would bounce around many levels of a toy factory, avoiding evil toys as he went along with collecting jigsaw pieces to defeat an evil goblin, oil to keep his springs healthy, and overall was solid platform fun. It also was one of the earliest C64 music compositions by no less than Rob Hubbard, and its very cute bouncy style suited the game brilliantly. Thing on a Spring was indeed a popular game, so popular in fact that the Thing character became one of the two 'margin' characters who would frequent the pages of Zzap! 64 magazine (the other one was of course Rockford from the game Boulderdash). And later in the year, we then had Monty on the Run. MOTR had received critical acclaim on the Spectrum, and the C64 version was very well done. Not only that, but it had another classic Rob Hubbard tune which really got you induced into a slight panic as you tried to get Monty escaping. The high score tune was also very well known and many C64 musicians have covered it. Those of you who love the Monty on the Run music should definitely check out the Back In Time CD: Rob himself had input into the reworking!

1986, and more nice original concepts abound. We had Bounder, in which you controlled a tennis ball bouncing. Now what made it interesting was that you viewed the action head on, and could only of course bounce around so that you had to ensure that you timed your movements across platforms etc in time with when the ball bounced on the surface. Even in 1986 computer games needed a breath of fresh air and this was definitiely it. Also there was Trailblazer programmed by Shaun Southern (my fave C64 programmer ever), where you controlled a ball and had to get to the end of levels by either jumping over holes in the ground or using coloured blocks to your advantage (although the reversing direction cyan ones were the curse of many a gamer). The 3D like effect of the board coming towards you was adopted by many (and I do mean many!) demo groups as a 'trailblazer' effect. So if you ever wondered, you know now. Way of the Tiger was also a big hit, combining many Oriental fighting disciplines in one game. And there was Footballer of the Year, which had you playing a striker aiming to be the top footballer. The novel goal shooting along with the idea of buying cards to enhance your players' chances pre-dates EA's Premier League Stars idea by ooh, at least 12 years. And who can forget Jack The Nipper, in which you had to be as naughty as possible? Completely barmy idea, of course, yet it worked!

Late 1986 also saw Gremlin Graphics change their logo: they just had "Gremlin" in green lettering at a slight 3D angle. Nevertheless, they were always known as Gremlin Graphics and indeed their trading name was still that and they owned the copyright. Just in case of any disputes, you know.

1987 then saw a clutch of sequels: Auf Wiedersehen Monty, in which Rob Hubbard and Ben Daglish famously worked together, Re-Bounder, and Thing Bounces Back. Sadly to say, none of them were anywhere near as good as their prequels. And there was Krakout, a bat and ball game with clashed with Imagine's far superior arcade conversion of Arkanoid. GG also went into licensing, with three games between 1987-88 based on the TV series MASK, and one on the movie of Masters of the Universe. We also had Avenger, a kind of sequel to Way of the Tiger, set with Oriental fighting mixed with Gauntlet. Almost worked wonders, that one. And another sequel, Jack The Nipper II: Coconut Capers. This time the little brat set about the whole of the jungle with just a lovely bunch of coconuts to create much hassle with, and sure he did. The coup de grace though was Alternative World Games. Released a year after Epyx' classic World Games, this spoof was lovingly done, and an original idea to carry off the spoof so well. It really made you laugh hard as well as play hard. I mean who would want to compete in events such as boot throwing, pole climbing, running up walls, jumping rivers and pillow fighting and not giggle?

1988 saw GG's output slow a bit, but there was still plenty of ideas. Technocop, a futuristic driving game mixed with shooting was let down by some poor execution and a bad multiload, a multi screen platform version of Mickey Mouse with a nice version of the Sorcerer's Apprentice music (as used in the film Fantasia) to guide Mickey along. What was good was Skate Crazy. This involved much skating around on roller skates around various obstacle courses and the likes, and that hadn't been seen on a C64 to that date. The novel control system took some getting used to of course, but it was well worth it.

By this time Gremlin Graphics' output was slowing as other formats were taking over the market. However, in their later years there were many memorable games, even if most of them were conversions from other machines: 1989 saw Butcher Hill, a war based game that was actually quite good fun to play, along with Gary Lineker's Hot Shot, the third licenced game based on the famous English footballer. In 1991, Super Cars, an overhead racer a la Super Sprint really was good, you had options to buy equipment, but also unlike Super Sprint wasn't full of bugs. There was also Switchblade, a flick screen platformer with a hint of Manga attached to it. The slightly unusual look and feel definitely made things different, and indeed it was also pretty tough to get through. The music on both original Amiga and C64 versions was mde by Ben Daglish, still producing many tunes for most of Gremlin's games and is well worth a listen. By 1992 things were very slow, and a version of Space Crusade was one of the last games they ever produced for the C64.

In 1994 or so Gremlin Graphics changed everything and became Gremlin Interactive. Despite making the Actua Soccer series of games and selling quite a few copies of the PC and Playstation versions, it was sad to see them bought out by Infogrames to be part of their empire. However where they worked still remains..

Gremlin Graphics World


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