This was genuinely exciting news to wake up to; the latest Evercade compilation is a collection of games from Gremlin, a sadly defunct publisher. Beginning in 1984 as Gremlin Graphics […]
This was genuinely exciting news to wake up to; the latest Evercade compilation is a collection of games from Gremlin, a sadly defunct publisher. Beginning in 1984 as Gremlin Graphics and releasing games on home micros at the time, the company was renamed to the more modern sounding Gremlin Interactive in 1994.
Gremlin had huge, early hits on the Spectrum and Commodore 64 with the Monty Mole games and Thing on a Spring, but their phenomenal Lotus Challenge racing game series saw them go on to massive acclaim on 16-bit computers such as the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST too.
Zool was an absolute smash hit for Gremlin, a brilliantly colourful, fast-paced, Sonic-esque mascot platformer (with prominent Chupa Chups branding too, thanks to an early example of in-game advertising) in 1992 – and was ported to a huge variety of consoles and computers, even including Atari’s ill-fated 64-bit Jaguar console.
Arguably Gremlin’s most consistently prominent era was the mid-90s, with a range of excellent titles for 32-bit consoles being released. Their Actua sports titles – with Soccer, Golf, Tennis, Ice Hockey and Pool titles all emerging with the Actua branding – were groundbreaking in their day, being the first fully 3D-engine powered sports titles, with great motion capture and commentary that felt genuine at the time (if becoming somewhat repetitive – it was still a neat trick!).
The Pop Will Eat Itself soundtrack on blackly comedic, top down shooter Loaded was a stunner and the Crystal Method music on tunnel shoot ’em up N2O was another classic.
Perhaps their most renowned title in the 2000s – of the few they released – was the 3D, Worms-esque strategy game Hogs of War, featuring the late – and much missed – Rik Mayall on voiceover duties.
The Evercade collection – being released in March 2022 – is a compilation of six titles from Gremlin, with the usual eclectic approach that’s expected from the Evercade guys and gals. That is to say that there’s a great mix of genres represented and the games aren’t all the most obvious titles that come to mind when you think of Gremlin’s impressive software history.
Zool is first up and is pretty much a no-brainer for the collection. Though it’s perhaps less positively remembered these days than its initial reception and popularity would have you believe, in my opinion it’s still a solid platformer and well worth your time. Actua Soccer is here too; though it’s not aged well, it’s a game that holds a lot of nostalgia for me – despite my lack of interest in real football, I always enjoyed football video games and Actua Soccer was a firm favourite of mine in the early 32-bit era.
Fondly remembered sci-fi city builder Utopia is an excellent addition to the collection, as is the addictive football strategy title Premier Manager 97. Both of these give the collection some great longevity and depth too.
Though I’m unfamiliar with off road racing title Hardcore 4×4 and Game Boy puzzler Brain Bender – which looks like a renamed, remixed version of 1987 Gremlin title Deflektor – it’s going to be fun getting to know them when the Evercade Gremlin Collection 1 cartridge is released.
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