So Tony's "cuddly" games, with a large playing area with scrolling backgrounds and fast action combined with original characters, have been a big success. And does he intend to carry on doing that sort of game? "No - I've done enough of those - I'd like to do a really good shoot-'em-up! Suicide Express, the latest Gremlin game, is the same sort of idea as Loco, but it's four times faster and the graphics are better than anything I've done before."

Tony's opinion of UK software isn't very high - "Everything seems to be a copy. Loco is actually based on an arcade game called Super Locomotive, but I only saw that once and I wrote the game a year later, so it's not a direct copy. I look at American software sometimes, and get some ideas there. The music for my games is sometimes transcribed from sheet music, sometimes written by a friend - I got him to do the Jean Michel Jarre music for Loco, but as it turned out it wasn't what I thought it was. I asked for Equinoxe Part 5, but what I really wanted was Rydeen by the Yellow Magic Orchestra, which is what Ocean have on Decathlon. Suicide Express is another one I've transcribed from sheet music; it's a Sky piece from Sky 2."

Super Locomotive
Super Locomotive by Sega

Rydeen Yellow Magic Orchestra
Rydeen by Yellow Magic Orchestra

Tony's games should now be heading in a new direction. Having reused the ideas from his Alligata games, and come up with even better versions for Gremlin, he's now keen to get into new areas. For a start he has to think about his role as a director of Gremlin Graphics: "I'm the only one that draws a wage, because all the others have other companies backing them. I get a sum for each cassette sold, and a percentage of the company's profits. When Suicide Express starts selling well there should be a fair bit coming in!"

Red Arrows
Red Arrows

Tony's next project is connected with the Red Arrows RAF display team. "They've asked us to write a program - they asked Commodore too, and they wrote back with some ideas, but I just laughed at it! Trouble is, they just want the stunts - I've got to figure out a way to make it into a game. It's got to be really well thought out, because it could just end up looking like a commercial for the Red Arrows."

Tony's "0" Level Art and "A" Level--Technical Drawing qualifications no doubt`' help in the design of the games, which look`: in some cases more like cartoons than computer games. "There's only Aardvark's Frak, on the BBC, that gives you a real feeling of cartoon quality - that's due to the way they draw black outlines around the characters. With my details, it's usually too small to do that. I'm doing some work on the BBC now, but really I don't rate any machines except the Commodore 64; it's so easy to write on, I can just sit back and do it. I'll give you that it's slow, and the Basic's poor, but who uses Basic? Aside from that there's nothing against it. I could write any Spectrum game I've seen, on the Commodore 64."

So while he's seen MSX, and is working on the BBC, Tony's main effort should continue to be on the C64 - which is good news for all Commodore 64 games players.

After the Red Arrows project, Tony's plans might include a game based on the Ray Harryhausen film Clash of the Titans, in which mythological figures battle to the death. The complications of writing an adventure don't have much appeal any more - "It does get slightly tedious, having people ringing you up asking 'How do I get past this' - I'm getting the same thing with Monty Mole.

Another thing I've done is to design the cover artwork for Suicide Express, and we've had an artist paint it. I've seen the Plus/4, and though it's got no sprites I like the keyboard; you could write a sprite routine for it, but I think I'd like to write more for the C16. A lot of people will buy it, and 16K is enough to write a good game on - a lot of Atari cartridges like Donkey Kong and Pole Position are in 16K, and the early Ultimate games for the Spectrum. There's plenty you can do with 16K - like a good shoot-'em-up!" Tony comments, returning to a favourite-theme.

Clash of the Titans Ray Harryhausen
Clash of the Titans By Ray Harryhausen

Suicide Express
Suicide Express By Gremlin Graphics

Tony's also working on a book on programming hints for the C64. "It's got some Basic in it, but it's largely going to be on machine code - things like screen scrolling, animated characters, machine code monitors, playing sounds using interrupts, that sort of thing - it might put me out of business! We're looking at several publishers."

But why write a book now? "Fame! I'm enjoying it, getting reviewed in the magazines and getting my name in print. It's not the money that I'm after - I haven't got a Mercedes, I can't even drive! But I've got a good contract with Gremlin, and a scrap-book full of reviews of my games.

Everyone in Sheffield knows me, though I don't get invited to open super-markets yet. Gremlin's going into the American market through UK Gold, Geoff Brown's follow-up to US Gold, and we're all working together to come up with new ideas."

"I took a little notepad with me on holiday in Spain, and it's full of ideas." It should be interesting to see what springs forth from Tony's little notepad next!

Article reproduced from Commodore Horizons magazine November 1984 edition.

Although all text appears unchanged, some photographs or images have been added or modified for aesthetic purposes.

Thank you to the following websites which were used for sourcing some images that appear in this article:
Wikipedia,, Commodore-gg, Arcade History, Discogs, Commodore, Lemon 64.