EXCLUSIVE: Armalyte up my life!

Commodore 64 “shmup” fans rejoice!

An official PC remake of the Commodore 64 classic, Armalyte is in development. This release has been sanctioned by the original rights holders AND it’ll come out in a proper CDROM box.

Yes, I know you’re bursting with questions, and HERE at J-OMG, we’ve got all the answers…

Armalyte is being remade by S-A-S Designs.

Stuart Collier has coded a string of great remakes, including Total Eclipse, Nemesis, Paradroid & Jet Set Willy Online.
Trevor ‘Smila’ Storey has provided graphics for many remakes, including Driller, Hunter’s Moon, Myth & Wizball.
Chris ‘Infamous’ Bailey has remixed dozens of classic game soundtracks for the C64 & Amiga, and is in-demand for scoring game remakes.

How did you get involved with Psytronik Software…?

Trev: We were remaking the Delta mix-e-load with the people from Remix64. I did the loading screen for it and Kenz (of Psytronik) saw the loading piccy and asked if I’d be interested in re-doing the creatures box art for his re-release. I did the art, and the Apex boys (programmers of Creatures1/2, Retrograde) liked what i’d done. So I was asked to do art for Creatures 2 and Joe Gunn.

And how has “Armalyte” come about…?

Trev: After finishing those box art projects, Kenz asked if we’d like to remake one of the games released through Psytronik for the PC? I mentioned Stu & I would love to do a remake of Armalyte – if he could get the rights. We made a little demo showing we could do it… Dan Phillips said “yes” and we began!

Did any of you already know Andy Roberts/Dan Phillips before you started this?

Trev: I worked with Andy Roberts at Acclaim for about 5 years, but I didnt even know he owned the IP (rights to the game) till a month into development!

Stu – No – I have no claim to such fame. Unlike smila, I’ve never been in the industry – so I know nobody!

Chris, how did your involvement with “PC Armalyte” come about?

Chris: An ongoing friendship with members of Ovine by Design. I’ve been working quite closely with them for a while now on things like Driller, Dan Dare, Quantasm etc. I’ve enjoyed being a part of the set up – quite an honour.

Stu, Armalyte was a title that really squeezed every bit of performance out of the C64. These days, that sort of “hardware challenge” isn’t there for you, but what’s it been like… as a game to re-program?

Stu: The sprite multiplexing on the original was truly a mean feat, as you say – no such complexities needed these days. Programming these days gives you more time to concentrate on gameplay. I’ve opted for opengl which could lead to a mac version (if there’s enough interest).

We have a solid 2D engine already done so we’re not having to reinvent for this project. Saying that – I’ve had to extend editors etc but thats all good for future releases.

(Original LEFT – Remake RIGHT. Click to ZOOM IN!)

I suspect all the enemy formations must have been a headache…

Stu: I’ve done a whizzy editor for Smila to create and place the formations, which he got to grips with quickly. Its basically a mixture of beizer and straight line waypoints – which is very typical of this genre.

How do capture the “feel” of the original – in terms of the controls?

Stu: We’re allowing the player to choose what type of configuration to use. In the original you had to hold down to activate the special weapons. This will be an option in our version, vs. having a button for specials. Little changes like this are needed in this day and age.

Chris, what sort of process do you undertake when remaking music for a project like this?

I tend to sit down and play the original game for a while or a game similar – just to get a feel of it. If there’s an original musical file to listen to, I’ll do that several times too. (In the case of Hunters Moon I recorded the sids to mp3 and listened to them for several days before redoing the soundtrack.) It helps to familarise yourself with the source material before going in. With Armalyte we’re pretty much going for the 2.0 feel as so many people are (and rightly so) big fans of the original games look and feel. Right now I’m listening to the theme tune on a – loop trying to work out the arpeggio’s and whatnot.. its a bit of a nightmare but I’m enjoying it in a masochistic kind of way.

Can you give us a bit of an insight into making sound effects?

Chris: I’ve done sound effects for a few remakes, like Ruff ‘n’ Tumble and Space Shooter. (You’d be amazed at just how hard it is to get a good sounding flame thrower – without causing public unrest!)

It’s a very interesting experience creating your own sounds; picking up a tape recorder and just throwing stuff at walls at various different velocities! I’ve had a lot of fun messing about with the sounds for Armalyte – still doing a few of them now and enjoying the process.

(Original LEFT – Remake RIGHT. Click to ZOOM IN!)

How would you describe the original Armalyte’s place in C64 history?

Trev: Armalyte is THE top shooter for the c64, clever attack patterns, lush gfx and punchy sfx – combine that with cracking gameplay and you’ve got a winner.

Chris: If you’re going to be remaking any shoot em up from the c64 era the greatest of all was Armalyte. I have a funny feeling that Stu and Trev had always had it in mind. Maybe IO was just a run up, to see if they could do it? I think they pulled it off. With IO, they managed to make an unplayable game playable and that’s never easy.

Stu: Armalyte has to rate as one of the best shumps on the 64. the attention to detail and playability is excellent. After reading the “making of Armalyte” in an RetroGamer magazine article (RG36 pp78-82 -Ed) – I never realised how much effort actually went into it.

PC Armalyte is a bit unique in the remakes field, being an “officially blessed” remake, and even more interestingly, a commercial release. Has this changed how it’s “felt” to do the project? Do you think other IP owners in the future may consider using “remakes teams” for their remakes, rather than traditional software studios?

Trev – It still feels the same for me, not having a timescale gives you that “I’ll do it when i get time” state of mind. If the artist/programmer are competent enough, then it’s a great idea to get remake teams involved in “official” remakes, it’s their love after all and they’d work damn hard to do a good job.

Stu – There’s no real difference as we always put 200% into every
release, free or retail games should have the same attention to detail and playtesting. Saying that – we are spending a bit more time making sure it will work on a “minimum” system.

There’ve been a few authors that have have said no to a few free
remakes, saying that they have new versions coming out. Years on and
still no release (which is a crying shame). Us part time groups and
individuals have no budget and no outlays, so we get the job done (although slower). I would love to imagine what we could accomplish if we were full time.

What’s the timeframe for this project? (Note how I have charmingly rephrased that most annoying game dev question…)

Trev – We don’t have one. We’re just doing a one-level demo first, then we’ll plod along till its completed.

Stu – Tactfully, I will say – when its finished. It will depend greatly on playtesting. We’re conscious that people will be paying for this – so we’ll spend even more time making sure it works well.

(Original LEFT – Remake RIGHT. Click to ZOOM IN!)

Bruce Lee is a fairly short game, and your remake added quite a few unlockables to give it a lot more replay value. Armalyte is a much “longer” game. Are you planning to put any extras in?

Stu – We loved every minute of Bruce, it was a very fulfilling remake for us. Players love to unlock extras in games (us included). We have a fair few ideas of extras so far but we have to careful to keep loyal to the original so as not to loose its charm and originality. The level bosses for one have had a makeover and will require a different set of skills to the original.

Finally… in a recent Retro Gamer interview, Stu mentioned Druid as a game he’d like to see remade. Where do I send the envelope stuffed with cash? Trev – surely I can ‘encourage’ you to do some Druid graphics?

Stu – Hehehe I love gauntlet style games, on the C64… Druid and Druid 2 were two of my favourites.

The way we’ve been choosing remakes is that we both have submitted our top 10/15 games we would like to remake. The games that appear on both lists get priority. When Druid appears on Smila’s list we’ll do it :)

Trev – In the world of remakes, you never know.

Thanks guys – best of luck! (Cough, DRUID, cough ;))

Armalyte PC will be released initially as a single level demo, followed by a full commercial release. Find out more, at Psytronik Software. Release date? “When it’s done”.

13 Responses to EXCLUSIVE: Armalyte up my life!

  1. gimley says:

    i cant believe my favourite shooter is getting a lick of paint, if they do a good a job as they did on hunters moon we are in for a treat.

  2. gnome says:

    Excellent interview on what might actually turn out to be the best shmup on the PC. Ever. And -of course- a reminder of what a great job Psytronic is doing. Got to get myself a copy of Creatures 2 Deluxe it seems.

  3. Nreive says:

    Stu and Trev remaking Armalyte – how can it possible be anything less than excellent? Excellent interview, also.

  4. [...] piece and not only that, appears to have stabbed Smila and Stu in the eye to get word on their no longer top secret project that I’ve been sitting on screenshots of for a while now drooling myself senseless. [...]

  5. [...] You can read about it on the official Psytronik blog. And if you want much more detail, here’s my interview about Armalyte PC with the 3 devs. It won’t be ready for quite a while, but I’m hoping when it [...]

  6. [...] can read the full interview and see comparison screenshots of the Commodore 64 and PC versions at Just One More [...]

  7. arnie666 says:

    very good interview and a great read.
    the the game looks class, any idea when it’ll be released and how much it will be ?

    • justonemoregame says:

      Thanks Arnie.. to answer your questions in order…
      (1) No. As they indicate in the article, they’re nearing completion of the first level. My guess would be “late this year” but it’s only a guess.
      (2) Psytronik’s C64 products range from £5.99 to £12.99. Armalyte (remake) is their first PC product, so again I could only guess what their pricepoint might be.

  8. Wiebo says:

    I really am looking forward to this. The game looks great (if not a bit too clean for my taste) Finish it already!

  9. gimley says:

    the demo can be got – plays just like c=64 .
    they got the game perfect i think.

  10. Armalyte says:

    Nice interview and nice Armalyte Remake for the Pc. The Sounds and some of the effects are realy cool! Didnt know that there is also a Bruce Lee C64 Remake available.

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