Unreleased Amiga game Superhero gets a second chance


Back in 1993 there was a "The One" coverdisk demo and several previews for a Psygnosis platform come beat 'em up fusion called Superhero. There was a fair amount of anticipation for the game, it was 99% complete, posters and other promo materials were produced, then nothing. It simply vanished. Everyone assumed it was simply a case of the game being canned as is so typical in the games industry, despite its near completion. In fact the truth was far more complex...

actual magazine ad
Fast forward 10 years and this thread on the EAB forum took place. A simple request for one of the original coverdisks, leading to Galahad remarking that he was in talks with the original developer to get the game finally released, but the conversation went cold. Over a year later, the original programmer in question joined the forum and filled in the blanks as to what actually happened to the project.

Far from being canned, the game was a mere weeks away from being released and at the last minute, the team's development office 'Kage' was raided by police and all computer equipment confiscated for investigation into an alleged computer fraud charge. The charges were later dropped but no access to the computers could be made until they were returned in 1998, but by then the Amiga games market was dead and Psygnosis was now fully in the hands of Sony and pushing the playstation, with no one at Sony responding to requests for who owned what IP around the title, however the source code, and assets were still on Anthony Ball's A4000. It just hadn't been powered up for a few years.

Posters and Boxart were signed off and produced
To add insult to injury, in the process of the police's investigations (and subsequent loss of the case) the internals of the A4000 were vandalised and some computers returned with different hard drives. What was left from incremental backups (which were not the absolute latest) were incomplete and out of sync. The graphics and music didn't match up with what the code expected and some animation frames were missing. Anthony was able to piece together a somewhat working version with some broken graphics and only playable through a remote debugger in a very specific hardware configuration.

The only captured footage of the "final" game prior to the fire

The final nail in the coffin though was when Anthony's home was involved in a house fire whilst away from the country. Anything that wasn't destroyed, was either water damaged from the fire service, and if that didn't seal the deal, the remnants were left outside to the elements in the north of the UK in October! Crucially though, also lost was the last vestige of any contract which may have indicated defaulting conditions allowing release of a finished game in a similar manner to Putty Squad in 2013. Since SCEE are not forthcoming with any info which might shed some light, any likelihood of an amiga release will be in a perpetual state of limbo.

All is not lost however. Anthony is currently hard at work on a 2D game (dungeons) which would serve as a perfect basis for creating an all new multiplatform (mobile/desktop) version, and as long as the other content producers (Ray Norrish & Douglas Borai for the music/SFX, and David Bland for the artwork) agree to allow the project to happen, which they now have given with their blessing.

One of the remaining spritesheets
So what of the new game? Will it be exactly like the original was intended to be?
Well probably not exactly. Anthony currently estimates about a 75% chance of it happening as his next project after Dungeons, and even then it won't be an exact code-copy since the amiga version was written in 68000 assembly and the new game will be done in Gideros-LUA, so essentially a ground up re-write, along with 20 more years of programming experience, and a few differences including:
Anthony: "I intend that you can have up to 8 players [much like Dungeons] when starting the game. Then if anyone uses a joypad after the game has started then they can take over an enemy, allowing more than 8 players overall.
The initial 8 players each being a hero. Kind of like Bruce Lee on the Atari 8 bit or c64."
While it is a sad state of affairs that there's unlikely to ever be a Putty Squad style full amiga release of the original game, there is at least a good chance that there will be some good to come out of the work that went into the missing Psygnosis game.

Follow Anthony on twitter @Sinistersoft
Images Source

-Alistair
@ABrugsch

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