JDGames

Back in the early 2000s, I became interested in remakes of classic 8-bit computer games that had begun to spring up all over the internet, on sites such as RetroSpec, RetroRemakes and others and began to play an active role in the RetroRemakes community. My particular interest was in ZX Spectrum games, especially updates of the classic games I enjoyed in my youth, and many of the games produced by community members, PeeJay, OddBob, The Caffeine Kid, to name just a few, were truly outstanding.

As an aside, in case you were wondering, my identity as Jetman’s Dad (as quoted at the top of this page) stems from this particular period of my existence.

Rather than simply playing games I wanted to have a go at remaking them myself, and started working with a piece of software called GameMaker, which enables even non-programmers to produce complex games using combinations of drag and drop systems with short pieces of scripting, all put together using a clear graphical interface. Perfect for me at the time. I started a few games that never got finished: The Pyramid was the first … I still have a copy of the single room I created somewhere; followed by Horace Goes Skiing which did feature actual skiing, even though you could glide effortlessly through the trees. My first completed game was a remake of the Bug-Byte classic (and first Spectrum game I ever owned) Spectres, which I wanted to go back and update at one point, but it appears I deleted all the source code by mistake. The complete game still exists though, and can be downloaded below.

I began a remake of Tranz Am (the second game I owned and still one I love to this day) and completed a working level, which again you can download below, but got distracted by my magnum opus (or magnificent octopus as Baldrick would have it.

In 2002, RetroRemakes held a competition. Members of the community would have a limited time to complete a remake of a game of their choice, which would then be reviewed by the site admins, and prizes awarded to the best. It was this contest that drew me into the site in the first place. They held another in 2003, and then another in 2004, by which time I figured my skills in GameMaker were up to the job of creating an entry. I elected to remake another of my favourite games, the HudsonSoft classic Stop The Express and after much blood, sweat, tears, stress and panic got it submitted in the nick of time, hoping I might scrape into the top 20 places which would have been more than satisfying. To my continued amazement, the game placed second overall.

And that remains the last game I ever completed.

My follow up was to be a remake of Pheenix, which I did get to around 60% complete, before work and a growing family overtook it (you can download the demo below), and my plans for Full Spectrum Willy, which was to be a mashup of around half a dozen games (Manic Miner, Jet Set Willy, Hunchback, The Pyramid among others) with Miner Willy as the star never got beyond the planning stages.

I have included what screenshots I have, along with the complete games of Spectres and Stop The Express, and the most recent demos of Trans Am and Pheenix below. Enjoy them … I certainly enjoyed putting them together.

   
Pheenix TNG

A remake of the ZX Spectrum version of the classic 80s arcade game Pheenix, with cool soundtrack!

Size: 4.35MB
Version: v0.3
Spectres

JDGames first remake, a version of the 1982 Bug-Byte classic, which is basically Pacman in reverse!

Size: 4.31MB
Version: v1.0
Stop The Express RR

The original version of Stop The Express, as entered in the Retro Remakes Competition 2004 (complete with competition Splash Screen).

Size: 4.24MB
Version: v1.0
Stop The Express

The most up to date version of Stop The Express, with a number of enhancements over the RR version, including:

  • JD can now hang from the straps inside the train
  • JD can now collect and use knives dropped by the redmen
  • Indicator in score bar shows what is being carried
  • Birds are now white in order to stand out more
Version: v1.2
Tranz Am 2004

An early demo of a proposed remake of Trans Am by Ultimate Play The Game. Includes one playable level, but lacks the final versions of all the graphics so looks crude, but plays well.

Size: 4.11MB
Version: v0.1
   

And finally, to blow my own trumpet …

I was somewhat shocked when I opened my copy of the 25th issue of Retro Gamer Magazine, to discover that my remake of Stop The Express had been awarded Remake of the Month and given a glowing review, attaining the highly coveted title of Sizzler. As a result of which, I am going to just leave this here …

Here are another few blasts from that same trumpet

Here is a copy of the review from Retro Gamer 25, by Mike Tooley
Here is a copy of the reviews by the RR Competition judging panel (Hitm4n, The Toker, OddBob0 and STompy)
And, just for good measure, here is a copy of the full RR 2004 competition magazine, including reviews of all the games taking part (it should be noted that the competition included a Wooden Spoon prize for the worst game … which quite a few games were entered in a deliberate attempt to win)
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