Page contents: Description, Screenshots, Downloads.
Welcome to Reanimation's 2004 Retro Remakes competition entry, a remake of Electralyte's 1992 Atari ST puzzle game, Balls. It was essentially written in about two weeks, one at either end of the three month competition period (July 1st - September 30th, 2004), although I did occasionally think about it during the intervening two and a half months.
The original is another fairly obscure game that I remember enjoying at the time. So obscure, in fact, that I had to fire up my own ST and copy it over to the PC myself. (It is on one of the Automation disks, I believe, but presumably compressed, which would have prevented me using the level data.) The original was a shareware game distributed on the cover disk of issue 86 of ST Format magazine. It was written in STOS, and the source was provided to registered users, which would have been a huge help had I registered.
I did attempt to contact the Carters to get permission for the remake, but since they now work at Big Blue Box, I guess they were busy with Fable. I hope they don't mind. (I'm quite happy to register, if you still have the STOS source.)
As with last year's entry, I used Game Maker 5 to create the game, and will probably make the source available in the near future. This was the first time I had attempted to build levels dynamically from a data file in GM, and it worked out quite well.
The game includes 31 (I think) playable levels, read from the original ST data file, with passwords allowing you to skip ahead. The default control system is actually the opposite of the ST original, but can be changed on the options screen. I could never remember which way round it was, even in the heat of play, and when I came to add it to the game I guessed wrong. (I also added the red blobs and the control display to help.)
At one stage I was quite worried that, even with double the resolution and millions more colours, I might not be able to improve on the original art. I decided to play to my strengths as a programmer-artist (also known as a non-artist), and replace the fancy shading and 3D effects with simpler, smoother coloured tiles. In one or two cases I simply blurred the original tiles, to smooth out the colours, but in most cases I redrew them or smoothed and recoloured them, and I also added my own touches to the rest of the screen. You can see a direct comparison with the screenshots on this page. (Click on them for larger versions.)
I did manage to incorporate most of the features I wanted to, but there are a few things I'd like to sort out for a future revision:
STOP PRESS: The results are in, and Balls Too was placed 18th of the 73 entries. I'm quite pleased with that, and it shows a nice improvement over last year's 29th place.
(Click for larger images.)
balls.zip (1.6Mb) - The game executable (zipped).
v1.1 - 2004-11-30 - The sponsor screen can now be skipped, and the settings are saved between runs.
v1.0 - 2004-09-28 - As entered into the Retro Remakes competition.