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Parallax MSX Games

A Short History

fire! fire!

Parallax was founded in 1989, for no other reason then to attach a company name to a product: Vectron. Since then, six games for the MSX computer system have been created and published. The company has been a one-man company, run by Cas Cremers. Others have assisted along the way in various ways but are far too numerous to mention them; but I will mention Jan Jansen (Checkmark Productions), the Hensen brothers (Cesium-137), Stefan Boer (Sunrise Foundation) and of course the infamous Patrick 'patje' Smeets, who, by now, is more or less part of the machine that runs Parallax.

A sight...

Vectron was created as a bit of a joke: Just to show that it could be done. Nevertheless, it won the first prize in the MCCM game-coding contest which was sponsored by Eurosoft, run by mister van Aaken. Avoid this man!

Winning the contest would have meant that Vectron would be published and the creator would receive royalties, as well as a (mere) 1000 guilders prize money. Needless to say Eurosoft went bankrupt.

Work then commenced on ARC: This silly Vectron accident would not stop me from producing more! Preliminary demos attracted a few producers, one of which was Jan Jansen. This was to result in a fruitful cooperation in which Parallax created, and Checkmark sold the games.
Under these arrangements three games were created: ARC,MAGNAR and BLACK CYCLON.

Critical note: ARC was about right in the difficulty stakes, although people had problems with the end-boss, which you were supposed to kill by firing the bullet gun at its wheels. Not everyone noticed this. Magnar was too easy (and strangely enough, production runs vary in difficulty...) and Black Cyclon too difficult. Ah well, you can't have everything.

During this period, Checkmark also produced hardware stuff, most noticably 512kB memory mappers and the well-known FM-PAK. Emiel Hensen was the lad behind the software that came with it: Workmate for the memory mapper and a music-test program for the FM-pak.

The msx-market began to fade, causing Jan (checkmark) to have doubts about the profitability of it all. Not that we were doing it just for the money, but a lot of time and effort went into this producing, and we had more important things to do. Jan then slowly crept back from it and started to go into MS-DOS stuff and hardware. At this moment he's into CD-Roms, most of them educational. Emiel quit the msx-scene because he was bored, probably. I kept going, just because it was fun. Lock me in a room and I start making things. It's true. Honest.

During the development of Black Cyclon I used to play the taito classic bubble-bobble a lot, especially the two-player mode. But what it lacked was violence. There was no way you could really annoy the other player besides stealing bonusses that he caused to appear. We solved this problem in the ever-funny Blade Lords, which, surprisingly, has about the right difficulty setting... if we ignore world 2-9...

Black Cyclon was quite new, as far as the coding was concerned. Multiple layer detection, software sprites detected as walls by other sprites. Amazing. The story was really good actually. Pity it never really made it into the game.
It was also the first game in which we included an in-game memory editor. Very useful for debugging as well as cheating. This editor is still in the finished product, although cleverly hidden... anyway we extended this method of debugging to Akin which was actually quite a departure from our older games.

After this we considered making a scrolling game. But this is quite difficult to accomplish on a normal MSX-2 machine. After many thoughts about it we decided to reverse-engineer some MSX-2 classics (for research, obviously) such as Dragonslayer 6 (amazing fast scroll though little onscreen), Y's III (complicated scroll, but slow), Fantasm Soldier IV (fast but clumsy, only suited for action-only games) and discovered there was absolutely nothing we could use...
So we built one from scratch. Designing took two weeks, much thought went into that one, and actual coding a few days. The result is what you see in Akin. Akin is great but it is a bit easy, that's why Core Dump will be a lot more difficult and much bigger!

By now, the scrolling routine has become even faster(!) and this will be used in Core Dump! I'm looking forward to that too, to be honest.

more fire!!

(Someone has to finish this story. Who, me? .....)

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