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Rebellion Buys The Bitmap Brothers, IP. Plans remasters

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Wasn't sure where this should go but figured Retro was likely the best fit. The legendary programming team finds a new a lease of life at Rebellion.

 

Quote

 

Independent development studio Rebellion has acquired The Bitmap Brothers for an undisclosed sum.

 

The Bitmap Brothers created a number of classic games in the 1980s and 90s, including titles such as Xenon, Z: Steel Soldiers, Speedball and Chaos Engine. Rebellion says it “plans to bring classic The Bitmap Brothers games to new platforms, and going forward to create new titles based on its beloved licenses”.

 

“We’re delighted with the addition of The Bitmap Brothers to the ever-growing Rebellion portfolio,” said Rebellion CEO and co-founder Jason Kingsley OBE. “The Bitmap Brothers are renowned for making great games and for bringing gaming into the mainstream with inimitable style. We’ve known Mike Montgomery for many years and we’re honoured by the faith and trust that he has shown in us by passing on the torch. We’ll strive to be vigilant custodians of one of gaming’s great names.

 

 

https://www.mcvuk.com/rebellion-acquires-the-bitmap-brothers/

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This is interesting - I was going to resurrect the "old IP rights" thread for this but glad to see a new one.

 

Obviously the Bitmap's name is "worth" something but what is the point if it is just a name and some IP being sold? Jeff Minter made a very good point which sort of linked in to the IP chat - 

 

 

In this instance the "rights" are definitive and haven't passed from pillar to post over the years so no doubt over who owns them etc. It is known who owns them and they can happily sell them on obviously.

 

But for us, the consumer it is pointless when a "name" is sold - it is just a name tagged on. Either using Bitmap's branding or the old game names branding. It means nothing any more it is just a label to slap on games and doesn't mean we owe it any freeride just cos it has a name with nostalgia attached to it.

 

I mena despite all that I am obviously hoping for a Xenon 2 remake :D:D:D:D:P

 

EDIT - Yes I know Rebellion are great etc but that isn't the point I am making :)

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Equally if someone covers Pink Floyd though, it's still a Pink Floyd song.

 

If they make some entirely new ip and claim it's the Bitmaps it'd be off but if they say, release a "Speedball 2020" that's a remake of Speedball 2 with Rebellion and Bitmap logos on I don't see the problem with that.

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12 minutes ago, Dudley said:

Equally if someone covers Pink Floyd though, it's still a Pink Floyd song.

 

If they make some entirely new ip and claim it's the Bitmaps it'd be off but if they say, release a "Speedball 2020" that's a remake of Speedball 2 with Rebellion and Bitmap logos on I don't see the problem with that.

didn't say it was a "problem" as such. It is just pointless to anyone who liked the originals as noone who was involved originally is now involved just some "names" to plaster on the box. And whilst they don't say it is from the bitmaps they still use their logo on the box/splash screen when they have nothing to do with it. it would be like our Pink Floyd Tribute band (who bought the name Pink Floyd) releasing a new album. It might be obvious it is not them but for the fan what is the point of it. The Ip itself is meaningless as it has been divorced from the creative element that made us love it.

 

Back in the day if you bought a bitmaps game you'd get certain things,  certain qualities. If you buy a Rebellion/Bitmaps game now you get a facsimile at best. The label ceases to have meaning. 

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Music probably isn't the best analogy. I don't see it as being hugely different in approach to, say, someone buying Star Wars and making new films, or someone buying the rights to make a TV series of Watchmen. It's not going to be the same creators as the originals, but it could still be good - it just depends on who's making it.

 

Most of the Bitmap's games don't really stand up today, but they do still have a lovely aesthetic and a distinctive style that would lend itself to being remade in a more modern style. I can easily imagine a modern version of the Chaos Engine that used the same pixel-art steampunk look and used modern game design techniques to create a kind of multiplayer Gauntlet. Possibly with some kind of voxel thing, to allow for environmental destruction and screen rotation or whatever.

 

The same goes for Speedball 2 - none of the remakes really got it, but I don't see why you couldn't make a game that used that same Dan Malone style, and reworked the core idea of a simple, fast, intense, brutally violent futuresport into something that would work today.

 

To be honest, none of their other games were really much cop, but neither was Shadow of the Beast, and the PS4 remake was actually pretty good. If you don't pay too much attention to the original game and focus on making something that recreates the feel and the intention of the original, then you could do something really interesting with Gods or Cadaver.

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56 minutes ago, K said:

 

To be honest, none of their other games were really much cop, but neither was Shadow of the Beast, and the PS4 remake was actually pretty good. If you don't pay too much attention to the original game and focus on making something that recreates the feel and the intention of the original, then you could do something really interesting with Gods or Cadaver.

It;s not hard to imagine a faster paced,  visually stunning speedball2. Kind of in a Nex Machina vein

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Personally, I would say that Speedball 2, Xenon 2, Cadaver and The Chaos Engine are absolute classics that still play wonderfully today. That's a pretty amazing clutch of games that I'd be proud to have on my CV.

 

I'm not sure about this team up though. Don't get me wrong, I'd like to see any of those games I mentioned get proper sequels etc. But there's the rub, what's 'proper' these days? Some would simply like reworked textures, upscales, 3D reworks etc etc. Which would all be awful imo. Maybe it's best just to leave them alone.

 

FWIW, if they were going to do it, I'd mandate a true next gen 2D pixel fest-a-thon. Leverage today's power to punt sprites around the screen at 60fps, maybe up the resolution to 640x480, grab a select crew of absolute top drawer 2D *artists', a designer(s) who's passionate about old school game design but with a eye to the future and a couple of good programmers. Job done... They'll never do it.

 

Oh and I still think SOTB is a great game too! :omg:

 

 

*One of them needs to be Dan Malone too obvs.

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Nigel of Brutal Deluxe picks up the ball and throws it at the goalkeeper...

 

cue slow-motion Sniper Elite X-Ray as the ball shatters skull and scatters teeth...

 

 

Alright, that would be fun to watch. But did the Bitmaps really do anything *original*?

Can the name/legacy carry a new game?

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11 minutes ago, merman said:

Nigel of Brutal Deluxe picks up the ball and throws it at the goalkeeper...

 

cue slow-motion Sniper Elite X-Ray as the ball shatters skull and scatters teeth...

 

 

Alright, that would be fun to watch. But did the Bitmaps really do anything *original*?

Can the name/legacy carry a new game?

Ultimately we'd all be the target market. No-one under 30 is going to get excited at the prospect of a Bitmap game remake, not unless it's a blinding game anyway. And it would have to be a solid game in its own right to get past the pure nostalgia factor. It's possible, certainly.

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Saw the story this morning and did hmmm a bit when I read "The Bitmap Brothers are renowned for making great games and for bringing gaming into the mainstream with inimitable style"

 

Bringing gaming into the mainstream? Bit of a stretch.

 

They had a couple of good games but very of their time, I can't see a revamped Speedball being much of a draw these days and the Chaos Engine is already available for iOS. Difficult to see where the value is in this acquisition.

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 Rebellion also own all of Hewsons back catalogue,  Seems like buying up retro ip is all the rage. 

 

They were selling Uridium and Cybermoid t-shirts at mcm comic con. The bloke  I spoke to said they didn't any current plans for the games yet though. 

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5 hours ago, gizmo1990 said:

Personally, I would say that Speedball 2, Xenon 2, Cadaver and The Chaos Engine are absolute classics that still play wonderfully today. That's a pretty amazing clutch of games that I'd be proud to have on my CV.

Xenon 2? It’s the game where one can accuse the Bitmaps of being a style-over-substance outfit. The game design is dire for a vertical shooter: compare it to something of the same vintage like Tatsujin on the Mega Drive, and Xenon 2’s shortcomings are very apparent. It does look and sound superb for a game from 1989, but the playability’s not there.

 

Anyway, Cadaver is a game I’ve never played, but it looks intriguing from YouTube footage! Shame we never saw more examples of the isometric adventure genre being updated for the 16-bit computers.

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I'm fascinated by Xenon II because it's possibly the worst commercial multiplatform shoot 'em up of all time and yet it persists in our collective consciousness. 

 

It WAS all the rage though. Every computer owner had a copy. Pretty sure the theme tune was a legit Top 40 smash.

 

Alongside Shadow of the Beast it was often used by the small indie computer shops to show off Amiga hardware in action and to tempt people to come inside.

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8 hours ago, spanky debrest said:

I'm fascinated by Xenon II because it's possibly the worst commercial multiplatform shoot 'em up of all time and yet it persists in our collective consciousness. 

 

It WAS all the rage though. Every computer owner had a copy. Pretty sure the theme tune was a legit Top 40 smash.

 

Alongside Shadow of the Beast it was often used by the small indie computer shops to show off Amiga hardware in action and to tempt people to come inside.


Yes, Xenon 2 was terrible. The graphics looked impressive initially but were actually repetitive and bland once you started playing. It was like they wanted it to ‘look’ like an arcade game in their eyes but they didn’t actually try to make it play like one. Especially not a good one. Like with Magic Pockets they wanted to ape console platformers without actually taking on board the player-friendly design principles in those games. Xenon 2’s music was a hit – but that was before the game was out. It was an established song they bought the rights to.

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I think it's easy to knock Xenon 2 now, but going from the 8-bit, tape loading, home computer era to something like Xenon 2 was mind blowing. it was released in 1989, just as the Amiga really started to show how much better it was than the 8-bit micros (especially the Spectrum, which I had). Not only did it have a Bomb the Bass song in it, sounding like it was a high quality single playing from your computer, but how it loaded was unbelievable. It was really well put together. Loading times were at a minimum, making it feel like a real arcade game. 

 

It really was one of those games that was used to showcase the Amiga computer, especially in independent computer shops with the hope that you'd splash out £400 on one.  Another one was Speedball (the first one) which is often forgotten about, but it was absolutely incredible the production behind it. Even hearing the music now totally takes me back to playing it on a great compilation called Triad (along with Rocket Ranger and Blood Money).

 

 

 

Sure, it's easy to go back and say "well it's not as good as game X on the mega drive", but like I said, it was released in 1989 and anyway, there's loads of games from that era that were seen as classics, but looking back they weren't very good (cough... Blood Money.. cough).

 

Anyway, if you want to play Xenon 2, give the CDTV version a try. It's got a brilliant remix of Megablast on it.

 

 

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21 hours ago, X_2_0 said:

 Rebellion also own all of Hewsons back catalogue,  Seems like buying up retro ip is all the rage. 

 

They were selling Uridium and Cybermoid t-shirts at mcm comic con. The bloke  I spoke to said they didn't any current plans for the games yet though. 

That made me sit up. I used to love the Hewson releases on the Spectrum. I still play Ranarama on an emulator. Love it.

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On 26/11/2019 at 14:18, Rex Grossman said:

At best the Bitmaps have one game that stands up today anyway.

I assume you mean Speedball 2 - but Chaos Engine is still a very enjoyable game even today. 

 

Gods is probably less accessible to a gamer of today. But if you get into the swing of the slow, clunky movements and play it with the intention of uncovering it's secrets (with or without a guide) it's also a fun experience.

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2 hours ago, Anne Summers said:

I assume you mean Speedball 2 - but Chaos Engine is still a very enjoyable game even today. 

 

Gods is probably less accessible to a gamer of today. But if you get into the swing of the slow, clunky movements and play it with the intention of uncovering it's secrets (with or without a guide) it's also a fun experience.


Yes I meant Speedball 2, which hasn’t aged a day. 
 

I agree on Chaos Engine. When we were talking about this in work it was the one I felt had the most potential to be great today.

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The original Z was magnificent, but sadly misunderstood in a time when all people wanted was C&C clones.

 

Post Indie boom, post Company of Heroes, a stripped back RTS about point control with fixed respawn timers on new units and ultra chunky pixel art might've had a chance to find its own niche.

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16 hours ago, Cool Ben said:

And Rainbow Islands.

 

Granted.

 

But nothing to do with the Bitmap Brothers.

 

EDIT : Are you confusing Magic Pockets with Parasol Stars and working backwards?

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In terms of how the IP is handled going forward, I believe that the Bitmap Brothers (or whatever was left of them) were quite hard lined when it came to their old games being publicly available. Well, I do know that the guy behind the brilliant CD32 compilations received a takedown notice from Mike Montgomery when he used MEGA to host his amazing Bitmap Brothers CD32 compilation (if you can get a hold of it, it's great as it's got the CDTV version of Xenon 2, but you've also got to keep additional copies of Chaos Engine and Speedball 2 on the CD32 so you can experience the brilliant CD audio on them, but it does make a very nice anthology in an easy to play way). 

 

I do get it why they issued a takedown, because it was when Speedball 2 had just been released on iOS, but it will be interesting to see what Rebellion's view of the originals is (in a way I think it's ok for the Bitmap Brothers to be a bit arsey about IP, they were renowned for giving developers more credit and reward at the time, including creating their own publishing label Renegade, which I believe they allowed the original developers to keep their IP even though they published them. They also probably still think the original IP does have some value through the reputation of the original games, it's just a pity that any new versions of Speedball 2 have been pretty crap). 

 

Hey, I'd love to see Rebellion do what Cinemaware have done with their old games - reissuing CD versions of Defender of the Crown and Rocket Ranger which not only includes floppy disk images but can be booted on original Amiga hardware like the CD32 as well as coming in nice big boxes - but I doubt they'd be interested in that.

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6 hours ago, Dudley said:

 

Granted.

 

But nothing to do with the Bitmap Brothers.

 

EDIT : Are you confusing Magic Pockets with Parasol Stars and working backwards?

Yes, quite possibly. 

 

That was the best time to be alive and gaming! 

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On 27/11/2019 at 01:18, Rex Grossman said:

At best the Bitmaps have one game that stands up today anyway.


This is a bit like The Fall isn’t it where all the fans agree that there were only a few good albums but no one can agree on which ones they are. 
 

It’s an odd announcement. There’s already remakes galore (the Chaos Engine one is excellent) and the music clearance is going to be a bit of a pain surely.

 

I should dig out the Speedball 2 demo on the old C64, that was amazing back in the day.

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10 minutes ago, Unofficial Who said:


This is a bit like The Fall isn’t it where all the fans agree that there were only a few good albums but no one can agree on which ones they are. 
 

It’s an odd announcement. There’s already remakes galore (the Chaos Engine one is excellent) and the music clearance is going to be a bit of a pain surely.

 

Not that difficult, surely? I can't imagine it'll be that hard to clear one Bomb the Bass track and one Betty Boo track.

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1 minute ago, Unofficial Who said:

How many samples are in the Bomb the Bass track and we’re they cleared properly back in the day?

There might be issues if they were cleared for specific formats (CD, vinyl, Amiga) as opposed to unrestricted usage on new formats. 
 

As an example, De La Soul can’t release 3 Feet High and Rising on streaming services as the samples weren’t cleared for streaming at the time as it didn’t exist, even as a concept

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