Clive Townsend on re­mas­ter­ing Sabo­teur for a new au­di­ence

Retro Gamer - - LOADING - Sabo­teur will be re­leased au­tumn this year on the Nin­tendo es­hop.

Do you like Sabo­teur? Do you have a Switch? Well, we’ve got good news.

Sabo­teur proved to be a huge hit for Clive Townsend when it was re­leased in 1985, lead­ing to a se­quel, Aveng­ing An­gel in 1987 and a longges­tat­ing third game that Clive is still ea­ger to make. First, though he’s ramp­ing up for a Switch up­date of his PC re­make that ap­peared in 2015. Here he tells us a lit­tle more about it.

What changes have you made over the orig­i­nal Sabo­teur? Where to start! The new game is about seven times big­ger and tells the story lead­ing up to Sabo­teur II. And both games to­gether re­veal plot el­e­ments, which con­verge in Sabo­teur III and Sabo­teur IV. Peo­ple have been ask­ing ques­tions about Sabo­teur II for 30 years, so hope­fully now they’ll have all the answers they need. The orig­i­nal 8-bit games were just the tip of the ice­berg.

Are you in­tro­duc­ing any new game me­chan­ics?

Plenty! The first bit of the game uses the ex­act same logic as the 1985 ver­sion, so any tricks you re­mem­ber can still be used. Af­ter the first level there’s a lot more plot, lead­ing you to new maps with var­ied game­play. Most of the chal­lenges are phys­i­cal, but logic will be needed, too – es­pe­cially on the harder dif­fi­culty lev­els.

And if you com­plete the game on dif­fi­culty level nine you’ll find a clue to my favourite 8-bit graph­ics and my favourite 8-bit mu­sic.

Hope­fully peo­ple will ap­pre­ci­ate games can have depth and don’t need to rely on fancy graph­ics Clive Townsend

Why are you choos­ing to work with Adam Sko­rupa for the game’s sound­track?

I was lucky enough to meet Adam at Pixel Heaven in Poland re­cently. We talked about Sabo­teur over a few beers and it turned out he was a big fan. He’s also good friends with Emil Leszczyn­ski at Sim­fab­ric (re­spon­si­ble for port­ing and pub­lish­ing Sabo­teur for Nin­tendo Switch), who sug­gested that we col­lab­o­rate on the project. I jumped at the chance to work with such a high-pro­file mu­si­cian!

How will this ver­sion im­prove on the 2015 PC ver­sion?

Emil from Sim­fab­ric plans to make nine lan­guage ver­sions for all NS re­gions, for ex­am­ple: Rus­sian, Ja­panese, Pol­ish, Ger­man, Span­ish, Por­tuguese, Ital­ian, French and maybe more. As well as the new dy­namic mu­sic, Adam Sko­rupa is pre­par­ing new sound ef­fects and says we’re go­ing to love them. On top of that, part of the Sim­fab­ric team are pre­par­ing spe­cial graph­ics and art­work for the Switch ver­sion, and a brand-new trailer.

Sabo­teur will be em­u­lated to look like eight dif­fer­ent clas­sic sys­tems. How dif­fi­cult has then been to achieve and which is your favourite?

The game has been writ­ten us­ing Unity, which doesn’t sup­port 2D games very well. So even cre­at­ing a game with sprites has been quite dif­fi­cult. But the hard­est – and most fun – bit of code was the rou­tine to mimic the Spec­trum/c64 dis­play. I could have just done a Speccy-style game but I re­ally wanted an au­then­tic at­tribute sys­tem. It’s much more of a chal­lenge cre­at­ing graph­ics when you have to avoid colour clash. The Amiga sprites (cre­ated by Ri­cardo Oyón Ro­dríguez) are ex­cep­tional but it’s also amus­ing to watch the dogs chase you in ZX81 mode! Why do you think there’s still so much in­ter­est in the game?

There’s def­i­nitely a lot of love for Sabo­teur in the retro com­mu­nity. The orig­i­nal games came out at the height of the ninja craze so that helped its pop­u­lar­ity. And many mod­ern games seem to be style over sub­stance, so hope­fully peo­ple will ap­pre­ci­ate that games can have depth and don’t need to rely on fancy graph­ics. As well as nos­tal­gia, there’s ac­tu­ally a lot more in th­ese ver­sions, rang­ing from sci­ence fic­tion to psy­chol­ogy and meta­physics. And you get to fly­ing kick peo­ple.

[Switch] Clive prom­ises an au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence along­side some new tweaks and ex­tras.

[Switch]the rain­bow stripe at the bot­tom of the screen is a nice touch.

[Switch] The re­mas­ter em­u­lates the look of many sys­tems in­clud­ing the ZX81, Spec­trum and Amiga.

Clive is cur­rently hard at work on Sabo­teur SIO (the chem­i­cal for­mula for quartz) which is cur­rently planned for early 2019.

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