Monday, 25 November 2019

Classic Amiga game developers Bitmap Brothers bought out by Rebellion Studios

Rebellion Studios have bought the Bitmap Brothers, a stylish British video games development company who released a string of cult hits on the Commodore Amiga platform in the 1980s and 1990s.

For gamers of a certain generation,it's impossible to see this and not hear the crowd vendor screaming "ICE CREAM! ICE CREAM!"

Their early games Xenon and Speedball (both 1988) won them some acclaim, but it was their respective sequels that really took the Bitmaps into the mainstream. The Bitmaps were also famous for their constant invention and shifting between genres. Xenon and Xenon II: Megablast (1989) were shoot 'em ups, whilst Speedball and Speedball II: Brutal Deluxe (1990) were futuristic sports games. Cadaver (1990) was an isometric RPG. Gods (1991) and Magic Pockets (1991) were stylish platformers, whilst The Chaos Engine (1993) was a revamped version of the classic Gauntlet, a four-player action game. The Chaos Engine 2 (1996) was the last game from their "classic area."

With the Amiga platform sadly dying in the late 1990s, the Bitmaps moved into PC gaming with the real-time strategy game Z (1996). It was a moderate success, but the sequel, Z: Steel Soldiers (2001) did not fare well. With funding drying up, the Bitmaps moved to ports and updated versions of the older games for mobile, PC and other platforms, with mixed results.

Rebellion's purchase means that the Bitmap Brothers will have significant funding for the first time in almost two decades. They are already planning remasters of their older, classic games and also sequels which, for the first time, will be given the budget they deserve.

Although it's questionable if the Bitmaps can recapture their 1990s heyday, it's good to see one of the best development companies of the decade rescued.

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