The Mak­ing Of: Oh Mummy

The first game you played on your new com­puter as a kid of­ten leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion and never was that truer than with Oh Mummy, so we sent Kieren Hawken into the tomb to plun­der its story

Retro Gamer - - CONTENTS -

It’s not an Ami­dar clone, as pro­gram­mer, Daren White re­veals

When Am­strad en­tered the home com­puter mar­ket in 1984, Alan Sugar al­ready knew that no mat­ter how it pro­moted its new com­puter range games would play a big part of its suc­cess. So, with this in mind, he hastily cre­ated the Am­soft la­bel, to both pro­duce new games for the CPC range and li­cence older games, too. One of the first com­pa­nies he turned to for help was the lit­tle­known Gem Soft­ware, as it had al­ready re­leased a num­ber of games for the CPC’S big­gest ri­val

– the ZX Spec­trum. One of those games was Oh Mummy, an in­ter­est­ing take on the Kon­ami ar­cade game Ami­dar that fea­tured an in­trigu­ing Egyp­tian theme. This game was ported over to the CPC fairly quickly and would end up be­ing one of the ti­tles that was bun­dled with the tape-based Am­strad

CPC 464. Some two years later Alan Sugar was com­plet­ing the pur­chase of the Sin­clair brand and, more specif­i­cally, the ZX Spec­trum com­puter, from his great ri­val Sir Clive Sin­clair. Once again, he knew the im­por­tance of bundling games with a com­puter and for the de­but of the Sin­clair ZX Spec­trum

+2, with its Cpc-style built-in tape deck, he once again turned to Gem Soft­ware to do the hon­ours. Be­cause of this, the Am­soft rere­lease of Oh

Mummy for the ZX Spec­trum and the new Am­strad CPC ver­sion would be the very first game many peo­ple played when they un­wrapped their shiny new com­put­ers on Christ­mas or their birth­day, and the en­joy­able ar­cade-style game­play meant that it re­mained a favourite there­after.

Oh Mummy was the cre­ation of John Line and Daren White, who would end up pur­chas­ing Gem Soft­ware them­selves af­ter the com­pany hit fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties. The ini­tial ver­sion of the game was re­leased for the ZX Spec­trum in April 1984 with ver­sions for other Z80-based ma­chines fol­low­ing later that year. While many recog­nise the game as an Ami­dar clone Daren him­self cites a dif­fer­ent in­spi­ra­tion. “It was ac­tu­ally a de­riv­a­tive that we based Oh Mummy on, a game called Painter,” he re­veals. “There was also, a touch of Pac-man in there too!” For those that might not have played Ami­dar or Painter we’ll fill you in. In the game you con­trol a char­ac­ter who must run around a maze, which is set up in a grid pat­tern, and ‘colour in’ all the squares by mov­ing around the en­tire perime­ter. Once you light up ev­ery square you move onto the next level. This might sound easy but there are also en­e­mies run­ning around try­ing to stop you do­ing this, so you have work the best way to avoid them. As well as util­is­ing an Egyp­tian theme, Oh

Mummy also adds some ex­tra game­play el­e­ments such as cursed tombs that re­veal ex­tra mon­sters, magic scrolls, valuable sar­coph­a­gus arte­facts and, cru­cially, keys, which must be found in or­der to re­veal the level’s exit. “Egypt was an in­ter­est of mine, as I was re­ally into magic at the time and it’s dif­fi­cult not to re­search Egypt when look­ing into that sub­ject,” says Daren. “Also, we just needed a ra­tio­nal for the game, and we de­cided that the player was be­ing chased by mum­mies! Once the mummy idea was there, we just brain­stormed for ex­tra game­play ideas and these just hap­pened to pop into our heads.”

The Am­strad deal played out well for Gem Soft­ware, and Daren re­mem­bers how it all came about well. “When I first joined Gem Soft­ware it was a lim­ited com­pany and I was just an em­ployee,” he says. “How­ever, they went bust a year or so later af­ter it started hav­ing prob­lems with some of the larger dis­trib­u­tors not pay­ing up. Af­ter this, John, Sandy (John’s wife) and my­self formed a new part­ner­ship, keep­ing the name Gem Soft­ware. We didn’t be­come the own­ers of the com­pany un­til af­ter Oh Mummy, so the Am­soft deal came about af­ter the orig­i­nal Gem Soft­ware part­ner­ship had been dis­solved. Am­strad ap­proached a few de­vel­op­ers to see if they had any games that could be bun­dled with their ma­chines. We of­fered them Disco Dan, Roland In Time, Roland Goes Dig­ging and, of course, Oh Mummy. I don’t know much more than this as the deal was mostly han­dled by John and Sandy.”

Now, we can’t let Daren go without ask­ing him a few ques­tions about Oh Mummy’s legacy. The pop­u­lar­ity of the game among retro fans has seen more re­cent ports to the Mat­tel In­tel­livi­sion, PC,

IOS, the Vec­tor-06c com­puter and an en­hanced up­date for the Mega Drive. We won­der if Daren him­self had seen or played any these trib­ute ver­sions. “I did see the Mega Drive ver­sion and the iphone ver­sions,” he says, “but not un­til a cou­ple of years ago when I looked into do­ing a re­make of Oh Mummy for mod­ern ma­chines.” He adds, “Both ver­sions were very good in­deed and a plea­sure to see. It’s al­ways nice to see homage to your work.” To this very day Daren is also still ex­tremely sur­prised at just how fondly the Oh Mummy is re­mem­bered. “I still run into peo­ple who are de­lighted when they find out I made Oh Mummy. The last one was when I was work­ing at Sam­sung R&D, one of the pro­gram­mers there told me his mum was a mas­sive fan. So I gave them a signed copy of one of my re­main­ing Oh Mummy tapes and she was over the moon!”

Spe­cial thanks to Daren White.

a few » [ZX Spec­trum] You only have tomb. sec­onds to es­cape a cursed

» [ZX Spec­trum] The in­tro in the Spec­trum ver­sion ex­plains all the items you’ll come across in the game.

» [Am­strad CPC] You’ve got the scroll, you’ve got the key, now head to the exit be­fore that mummy es­capes the tomb!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.