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Thursday, 17 March 2011

Hyper-Thalamus! Wrap up.

Well, that's the end of my trawl through the entire Commodore 64 catalogue of Thalamus games. And a fun time it was, indeed, although it's fair to say it's taken me a bit longer than I'd hoped.

I had a fair idea of what I was coming into... after all, I'd played a number of the games extensively when they were originally released. But it's been a cool ride regardless, watching Thalamus transform from the arguable kings of the 64 shmup into purveyors of the cute and cuddly.

One thing that has been evident from this mini-odyssey was Thalamus' commitment to delivering a quality product. Even when there was the occasional misfire, there's no doubting that a lot of effort went into producing the best gaming experience possible. The games were always immaculately presented, and there were no sloppy graphics or rubbish music to be found anywhere.

There was controversy, as everyone knows. I'm not sure how much of that was warranted, though. I think, perhaps, some of the gaming mags of the time may have had bees in their bonnets about ZZAP! 64's ties to Thalamus, but I don't think they were guilty of overrating the Thalamus games because of this. Indeed, the release of Delta showed that the ZZAP! lads maintained their independence. Thalamus would have been counting on high review scores to continue the momentum from their first release... for ZZAP! to rate it as "lowly" as they did was testament to their reviewing integrity, in my opinion.

As is obvious from my scribblings, there have been more highs than lows. I think the highest point of all for me was the "discovery" of Hunter's Moon. Much like when I played The Sentinel (two years ago? Wow!), finally playing this properly and uncovering a wonderful game was, in itself, enough to make this exercise worthwhile. It was a shame that the Creatures games turned out as relative disappointments to me - but I'm armed with new knowledge, and I'm going to have another crack at Torture Trouble.

Thalamus was a software house that obviously valued quality above quantity. Their catalogue stands up against anyone else on the Commodore 64, even if the merits of some games are highly debatable among fans of the breadbin. But even the "worst" of their games weren't bad games... maybe just overly difficult or frustrating. They were around for longer than you might think... their fourteen Commodore 64 releases came over a span of seven years. They shone brighter than most before burning out, and as a result yhey're still remembered fondly. Rightfully so.

2 comments:

  1. Really enjoyed this retro-look back at Thalamus' and its games. Cheers :-)

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  2. Quite enjoyed it myself! Thanks for commenting... I think that in future I'll do more series like this. I'm already planning to do all the Need for Speed games at some point...

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