Programming, Sprite Graphics and Design (Atari ST, Commodore Amiga)
Sprite Graphics and Design (Commodore 64, Sinclair Spectrum, Amstrad CPC464, PC)
The decision to make a sequel to Rick Dangerous must have had something to do with the fact that the original game topped the UK Gallup charts in the Summer of 1989. So, when asked to revisit Rick a great many of the original team were assembled and we set about the task of following up what was, for some, a classic.
Once again, Terry Lloyd and I sat down in a darkened room and brainstormed, coming up with a premise that began with the end sequence of the first game.
Rick had just saved England and while in the middle of a lavish presentation ceremony in London’s Hyde Park a fleet of alien spaceships appears in the best tradition of ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still’ and begin to take over. Instead of spoofing Indiana Jones, this time we headed for Flash Gordon territory and five levels that took the player from the alien spaceship in Hyde Park to the planet Barf and its many different regions: the Forests of Vegetablia, the Ice Caverns of Freezia and the Atomic Mud Mines. The game reached a conclusion in the Fat Guy’s Headquarters at the centre of Barfalatropolis, with Rick’s nemesis ‘the Fat Guy’ finally making an appearance (after being only a creation for the comic book bundled with the original game.)
As is the case with most sequels, getting the game done was so much easier and with the original Rick to reference and improve on everyone set to work with a clear plan. The mission statements clearly were ‘if it isn’t broken, don’t fix it’ and ‘if it was annoying the first time around, then let’s not do that again’.
Out went annoying jumps, in came the ability to slide dynamite and fly hover scooters. Rick’s very simple Gun, Stick and Dynamite gameplay remained virtually unchanged – the gun became a ray gun, the Stick became a punch and the dynamite, a space age chrome cylinder with a little handle on it.
The major system that needed lots of addressing was the trap system. In the original this was a very primitive affair indeed – we had a sprite linked to a movement table, an animation table and a box that could be placed somewhere on the screen. The box could be poked with a stick, shot at or exploded with dynamite setting the trap into motion. The second time around, Dave Pridmore was given the task of creating a fully functional editor and a trap system based on a list of requirements we had compiled. This included the ability for traps to be set into motion and be interrupted, to change behaviour midway through their movement and to cascade and trigger each other. In the end, that system so unbelievably flexible (read: complicated) that when it came to actually converting the code to work on our given format we had to sit with Dave and convert it from the original Z80 code as a literal line-by-line copy.
Completed in under six months Rick 2 went on to do good things for Micro Style and proved to be a great way to say our farewells to the beloved little guy that had been Core’s first project so long before.
One thing worth mentioning was that the game ended with Rick leaping into a teleporter to head home, but the design document featured this, as yet, never realised note:
EPILOGUE: Whatever, the teleporter could misfire and send Rick back in time, forward or even sideways!! It might be interesting for him to return home safely, leading nicely to RICK III as a detective spoof (along the lines of Bogart, etc., since this 40’s – 50’s feel seems to work quite well). Who knows?
As yet, the Man in the Hat has never reached his destination, his mantle having been passed on to a certain female adventurer of more elegant and saleable proportions.