Who came up with the idea for Solar Jetman?
Me - ("Lets do Thrust and Oids on the NES...")
Was the game made while Zippo Games existed or after Zippo was bought by Rare?
I think the first 2/3 was written at Zippo, it was finished off as 'Rare'.
What made you start programming NES games?
Meeting the Stampers.
Did NES programming have limitations which were hard to work under? (graphics?)
Slow processor, limited number of sprites, the usual 8 bit limitations. Nothing special.
Which other games, besides Solar Jetman, did you make? (help making)
Wizards and Warriors 3. (%80ish)
Since Zippo Games didnt have a license(?) from Nintendo to make games for the NES, you
could'nt have had an original NES development kid, so what did you use?
Rare provided us with a kit. It seemed to be a sort of Rare/PDS hybrid.
Ste Pickford wrote on the ZedTwo history page "It wasn't perfect but it was a really fun
game to play", do you know what he ment by this?
He's off sick today but I can guess...
I think that the map design and enemies were pretty much just thrown
together. More importantly, the rate at which you amassed money,
and the places where you were given opportunities to buy stuff was
badly thought out. The very last scrolling level was a piece of
crap as well!
Compared to the polish and design of Mario 3, the game doesn't
really stand up. But I do think that that the gameplay, and the
sense of exploration were very well executed. The gameplay had a lot
of depth and I really feel that the player was rewarded well for
his persistance and skill. (BTW did you work out the significance
of the planet names?)
Cant say that I did, I just remember the names as being kinda weird.
Could you tell me about those names?
Just that at least the last half are mangled English pub phrases.
'Last orders' and so on.
He also writes that the game design was changed to make it look like Rare's spectrum game
Lunar Jetman. Are there any pictures (screenshots) around of the "original" zippo design?
In my recollection the gameplay wasn't changed at all. We were
only a couple of months in when we started to use the Rare stuff.
Clearly we tried to move to the 'Jetman' style graphically.
The original name for Solar Jetman was "Iota", umm what kind of name is that? :)
An early idea of John's was that your pod would be really
small. The worlds would seem strange because of scale. Predating
Micro Machines by a few years I guess.
Was it the people at Rare who came up with the name, Solar Jetman?
I know Solar Jetman was a great success here in Europe, was a sequel ever planned
(being worked on)?
Tim Stamper started asking me about gameboy versions pretty
much as soon as the NES version was finished, but the Title's
extremely poor performance in the States killed that off. (Not
that I really wanted to program a Gameboy version at that time).
I understand that Trade West made far more carts than they could
sell. So that European sales probably didn't come close to covering
Right now, I would love to write a similar game on, say, the colour
gameboy using a battery backup for an instantaneous save/resume
function but I doubt that any publisher would pay for it...
I think I bought my copy of Solar Jetman in 1993 and at first I
did'nt like the game. A couple of months after I bought it I finally
gave the game one more try and I became a Solar Jetman-coholic :)
It kept me busy for hours every day in a month until I had assembled
the golden warship and was ready to fly it. The stage where you fly
the warship was so hard I could'nt complete it, and I still have'nt
completed the game :-/
Don't worry the ending sequence crashed half the time anyhow ;-]
Yeah? (heh) because the game was finished in a hurry or you just
didnt bother fixing it (no offence)? :)
Just that testing and debugging right to the end of the game was very
tedious, and we simply didn't find that bug before the game was
I remember finding a special planet with no name, just some weird
sprites where the name was supposed to be and the sequence where the
aircraft lands is black and white. You only have one life, quite
weird. (password is BKKBKKHMBHMB).
Hmm. Well the password checking routine was not one of my great
coding moments. Apart from frequently allowing illegal passwords,
there was only rudimentary range checking on some of the values so
that it was perfectly possible to fly around a map created from some
random area of memory. Ho hum.
Remember how long it took to code Solar Jetman?
Over a year - I had to rescue the appalling Cabal in the middle, as
well as run the company.
Were there any bug fixes between the European and US releases?
About 6 or 7. There was a bug in the sound in the US vesion, and a
few collision glitches. Probably some other stuff but I don't
Thats it, hope you enjoyed this little interview. Many thanks to Steve Hughes for taking the
time to answer my questions.