Shoot-em-up Construction Kit - 30th Anniversary Special and Spanish Competition Roundup!


30 years ago, Sensible Software unleashed SEUCK (Shoot-em-up Construction Kit) onto the world. Nothing so ambitious had ever been attempted.  Previously computer game creation was restricted to those able to grasp the complicated nuances of registry pushing in assembly language, or willing to cope with the massive restrictions of a cumbersome C64 BASIC, or much simpler text adventures using GAC (Graphic Adventure Creator) released a little over a year earlier.

Sensible produced a rock solid framework capable of running Shootemups with any graphics, sounds, fonts, backgrounds and enemy patterns users might want to throw at it, and largely succeeded. Earning high praise in the press at the time, including a Gold Medal Award in December's Zzap magazine.  It opened up game creation to everyone with a C64 (or Amiga), and because the kit included a compiler capable of creating self contained SEUCK games, without the need for the kit itself to run, games were made, saved, given away on covertapes and even sold.

It is quite common for those wanting to take game creation a little further, to list the limitations of such a framework: games would usually play in a similar fashion with either push or auto vertical scrolling, no weapon powerups, similar UIs, title screens, ropy level transitions, and very few colours per sprite tile.. later on, however, most of these limitations would be overcome by custom builds of SEUCK, and from editing the compiled code in assembly in post production. With a little effort and a lot of imagination many fantastic shootemups were - and still are - produced all over the world.

For the last few months the Spanish SEUCK Compo has been running, to celebrate SEUCK's 30th anniversary.  And I've taken a look at all of the C64 entries, which you can also download for yourself in the download links on the compo page.

Mercenary Warriors


Mercenary Warriors is a vanilla SEUCK game created in 1989 by Eduardo Sanchez Cubel. It has simplistic animations and sprites, and a rather unfair enemy movement speed compared to your own character, which is made more frustrating by the fact that collisions between yourself and them will result in you dying. It's clearly inspired by Ikari Warriors or Commando, so fans of these games might like to check it out, if just for a giggle.  

3/10

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Valkyrie 2, The Templar


Not only is the background story to this game a fantastic tale of Nazis, Vampires, and jailed Nuns.. but the team behind Valkyrie: Eleanor Burns, Richard Bayliss and Jon Wells, have bundled a very well presented prologue and a password protected ending which you will gain by winning the game. You play as the jailed Nun: Mother Pasztor, imprisoned by the Nazis for sheltering Jewish children.. but whilst in prison, she's turned by a vampire. Some extra features have been added to the game, requiring extra coding from a vanilla seuck game. Including weapon pickups, starting with a Luger pistol, then later a Kar 98k, MP40 and StG 44. You'll also need to blast containers of holy water, which can destroy the Germans' heavy vehicles. Gameplay, graphics, and animations are superb, there are some really nice touches, such as how enemies emerge from darkened doorways to ambush you on your way.  This is a very well presented game, and an excellent example of what can be achieved with some extra modifications to a SEUCK game.

9/10

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Delta Run


Here's a Shoot em up very heavily influenced by the Andrew Braybrook classic: Uridium.  Code has been modified to allow for horizontal scrolling, and you fly from right to left, but otherwise, sprites, enemies, the player and sound are very reminiscent.  Gameplay wise, a SEUCK game is never going to compete with a dedicated professional shootemup like Uridium, R-Type or Gradius... but this is a decent effort with the tools available.  Although it's let down by some poorly worked boss scenes, and level transitions.

5/10

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Attack of the Lycergic Aliens


Who knows what these lycergic Aliens are, or what they're doing on Earth.. But we'll send you out in a fighter and attempt to take them all out anyway.  Lycergic Aliens is a simple vertical scroller, with pretty nice graphics, and a game anyone would've been proud to have made themselves.  It's no frills, but certainly not the worst SEUCK game.  Especially like the illuminati sprites.

6/10

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Black Hole 3D


Remember those Red/Blue 3D glasses you got free in your cereal packs when you were a kid?  Well it looks like this game was designed to look 3D with those.  Other than that, it's a fairly standard push scrolling shooter with some quite nice sprites which look like those baddies out of Tron. 

6/10

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Star Wars Wings:


When I first tried out the sprite editor in SEUCK, the first thing I made was an Xwing.  Paco Herrera took it to a whole new level and made a whole star wars game, with one of the best rendered Death Stars you're likely to see on an 8 bit machine.   Fantastic visuals and a fun game show off just what is possible in the 30 year old Shmup engine.

8/10

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Cats Can Fly: 


Another interesting entry... Here's a Shootemup, with no shooting! Each level is a static screen laid out with walls and enemies, who after a short period will proceed to move in a fixed pattern, while you attempt to collect the bonus points before the level shifts horizontally and a new set of enemies and bonuses appear.  You're essentially just trying to pick up points against the clock, while memorising enemy patterns.  It's fun, but a little too short.   

7/10

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Polygon Battles


This looks just like Geometry Wars! In many ways it highlights how poor SEUCK games are compared to games like that, but it must've been fun to recreate the sprites of the classic twin stick shooter in the ageing SEU framework.  It's not bad in its own right, and pretty tough too.

6/10

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Chakram


Chakram is proof that a really playable, challenging and fun game can be created in vanilla SEUCK.  It has brilliantly drawn enemies and background, multiple paths to completion, and very well thought out enemy attack patterns.  Like when you're ambushed by skeleton warriors while you're negotiating a choke point.  I did find a bug where I found myself trapped in inescapable part of the terrain, but otherwise, it plays great.  Definitely a serious contender for the prize.

9/10

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Overall I was impressed with the variety and skill shown in the design of all of these games, considering they were all built in the same 30 year old game engine.  Judging should be almost finished, and we'll update this page when the winners are announced.  In the meantime, I'd recommend having a play through of each of the entries.. and then digging out your copy of SEUCK and having a go at making a game on C64.


Posted by Hayesmaker

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