Super Foul Egg iOS Retires

Good news, everyone! Super Foul Egg for iOS is now unavailable. I’ve been considering pulling it down for a while, mainly because I have no time to maintain it or fix any of the bugs in the game. They are only minor - the app icons are wrong and one of the menu screen bitmaps is the wrong size on retina iPads - but they irk me every time I pick up my iPad. That this is only my eighth post this year should be a good indicator of how much free time I have. In the 18 months that the iOS version was available, at the wallet-busting price of “free”, it managed to attract a grand total of 370 punters. Clearly very few people will be inconvenienced by the game’s retirement.

What finally prompted me to retire the game was a very friendly email from the original game’s author asking me to pull my version from the store to make way for an upcoming release of his own. This is fantastic, partly because I no longer have to feel guilty for not releasing updates, but mostly because I am terribly excited to play an official remake. I’ll post a link up here as soon as it appears in the app store.

The 370 folks who enjoyed Super Foul Egg can still find the OSX version at superfoulegg.com, and the source code for the OSX and iOS versions is hosted on GitHub:


Super Foul Egg News

Super Foul Egg is now complete! I just need to put an icon together for the app. I’m thinking of using the original Amiga icon as the basic design and redrawing it for the higher-resolution Mac.

Source code is here:

You’ll need Xcode 4.4 to compile it as I’m using the new array literals I mentioned in the last post.

Binary release will come later. I’m thinking of paying for the Mac developer licence so that I can stick it on the Mac App Store as a free game, but I’m a bit dubious as I have failed to track down the original authors in order to request permission to use their game assets. I know that they previously released the game as open source (it was ported to the Acorn Archimedes, where it was released as an Acorn User coverdisk, and it had a Java remake too) but I can’t track that down now either.

I’ve found the Archimedes port in a few places, but the zips are either corrupt or in some weird Acorn-specific format that modern software can’t open. The current holders of the RISC OS rights are rabidly protective of their software and firmware so there’s very little chance of getting an emulator up and running in order to extract the archives to find out if there’s a licence file contained within. I don’t really want to stump up £49 for a ROM that might not actually work, especially as that would nearly double the cost for getting SFE into the App Store.

Remakes are tricky things and I’ve had mixed success with mine so far. IK++ drew a nastygram (but a very complimentary nastygram), Mario Bros MX prompted a suggestion to apply for a job (but the closest Nintendo office was about 3,000 miles away), and EarthShakerDS was received very well by the original game’s author (but was ultimately killed by some guy who bought a videogame back in 1984 and hasn’t done anything of note since). Quirky recently had his Lords of Midnight and Doomdark’s Revenge remakes killed by the original author, which is a shame. And rather pointless, as the Spectrum TAP files are still on the World of Spectrum. And I’ve still got the Crash covertapes with the games on somewhere.

All of this is very discouraging.


Earth Shaker No More

Unfortunately, my Earth Shaker remakes for the Nintendo DS and Mac are no longer available. I received a nastygram from the [“balding hash”-ed] company who demanded that I take it down because it will cause them “financial damages”.

Quite why it took them 22 years to find Earth Shaker objectionable, I’m not sure. Possibly because it’s more fun to threaten indie developers now than it was to try and take on Future Publishing back in 1990 when they were still at the top of their game. If I tried to be more understanding I’d admit that the audience for retro games is vanishingly small, but then I’d have to point out to myself that, given that the audience is so small, one would expect the company to try to ingratiate itself with it rather than alienate it.


EarthShakerDS Release #4

EarthShakerDS has had two releases since the last post. Here’s the latest:

At this point, the game is complete. All levels are in place, a host of bugs have been squashed, everything seems to work as expected, the code is commented and there’s not much left that could be refactored.

I’m quite pleased with the outcome. One of my homebrew heroes is Richard Quirk, who has written about half a dozen fantastic remakes of Spectrum games for the GBA and NDS (and, most recently, Android). I’ve tried to achieve the same level of polish and communicate the same level of affection for the source material that Quirky gets across with his remakes. I don’t know if I succeeded, but I certainly enjoyed the attempt.

All that remains to do is a level editor.

EDIT: Although I commit to source control a lot - Mercurial has changed the way I code more than anything else I can think of - I tend to only commit working code. That means it’s easy to get a working build from just about any revision of the EarthShakerDS repository. I went through a dozen or so revisions at random, built them, and stuck them in the zip below. It’s interesting to see how the game grew and developed over time.


Earth Shaker DS Released

One of my favourite ZX Spectrum games from back in the mists of time was Earth Shaker. It’s a fantastic Boulderdash clone that featured, relatively speaking, great graphics and sound, and fast but puzzle-based action.

I recently decided to see if Woopsi would be fast enough to run a full-screen, bitmap-based game. Boulderdash seemed to be a pretty simple game to write, so I set about it. Not long into the process I realised that the game was looking more and more like Earth Shaker, so I set about turning it into a full-blown port of the original game.

A week or so into development it became obvious that Woopsi isn’t really up to the task of running a full-screen game at 60fps. It flickered just a little bit too much. 10 minutes later I had it ported to the much lighter-weight WoopsiGfx library instead, which has proven itself invaluable when knocking up little games like this in no time at all. The total development time so far has been a little over two weeks, which includes the time it took to grab all of the graphics from the original game and figure out how its algorithms worked.

I’ve entered the port into the GBATemp Homebrew Bounty competition. It’s not quite finished yet - no sound and missing levels - but it is perfectly playable in its current silent, shortened form. Inicidentally, if anyone can help getting the makefile modified to support maxmod and convert a directory into a soundbank, please let me know.

The source is available from BitBucket under the MIT/X11 licence that I’ve come to favour lately. I’d initially intended to release it under the GPL v3, but got bored before I’d read the pages and pages of text that comprise the latest version. The copyright for the game’s assets - graphics and level designs - is held by the original author. He has kindly given me permission to use them in this port, but anyone else who wants to use this code will either need to negotiate with him for the right to redistribute his assets, or will need to make their own replacements.

Many thanks to Michael Batty, the original coder, for his approval!

You can download the game here:

The sourcecode is here:

EDIT: In the time it took me to write this blog post, the guys over at Nintendo Max managed to get a YouTube video up. Fast work, guys! Watching this reminded me - press the L and R shoulder buttons simultaneously to commit suicide if you screw up the level and get stuck.

Here are a few screenshots: