During the early 1980s Ian Stewart and Kevin Norburn owned and ran a tiny games shop called Just Micro. Located at 22 Carver Street, Sheffield, UK, it was frequented by kids that not only loved playing games, but some were also keen to create their own. Occasionally these fledgling coders would come into the store to show off their latest creation. Kevin and Ian seized this opportunity, and decided to start their own publishing business. Situated in a the old Victorian offices above the shop, Gremlin Graphics was born.
Amongst the programmers frequenting Just Micro were Tony Crowther, then author of Blagger, and newcomer Peter Harrap. The game that kickstarted Gremlin revolved around a mole and the hot topic of the time, the coal miner's strike. "Wanted: Monty Mole", written by Harrap for Spectrum and converted to the C64 by Crowther, was a massive success thanks in part to some prime-time publicity on the News At Ten.
What followed was over a decade of smash hit titles - Monty Mole continued unchecked with "Monty On The Run", "Auf Wiedersehen Monty" & "Impossamole". Bounder, Jack The Nipper, Trailblazer and Thing On A Spring each saw huge success and a sequel, not to mention Gremlin's answer to Sonic, Zool.
From its 8-bit beginnings on the C64, Spectrum and Amstrad, Gremlin tore right through the 16-bit years where its focus was predominantly on the Amiga and Atari ST computers. The company marched unabated into the 32-bit console or "PlayStation" era where, a little over ten years, the brand was reinvented as "Gremlin Interactive" in 1994 and "Gremlin Graphics" was no more. As Gremlin Interactive the company continued with strength until the late 1990s, when a floatation left it open to acquisition. Infogrames acquired Gremlin in 1999, and it was ultimately dissolved in 2003.
The spirit of Gremlin lives on in many ways, however. Along the way, and out of its ashes, several development studios have been formed. Sheffield's Sumo Digital, finding a niche in racing titles including OutRun2 and Sonic & SEGA All-Stars Racing has gone on to a seried of Doctor Who adventures. Then, a few miles south, Core Design was established by ex-Gremlin staff, going on to create Lara Croft and the massive Tomb Raider series. ZOO Digital, formed by Gremlin's founder Ian Stewart, began as a publisher & distributor and now provides authoring tools for the games and creative industries.
Eight year later, Ian Stewart resurfaced with a new company, Urbanscan. Acquiring the rights to those old Gremlin titles, Urbanscan produced a modern take on the 1985 title "Bounder" and released it as "Bounder's World" for iPhone and iPad. There are plans to re-release many more Gremlin favourites.
Gremlin Graphics's first work that SPOnG is aware of is the 1984 title, "Percy the Potty Pigeon" (C64).
The company has been involved titles released on the PC, PlayStation, Game Boy, TurboGrafx 16, Sega Megadrive, SNES, Amiga, Amiga AGA, CD32, ST, NEC PC Engine, Game Gear, Sega Master System, NES, C64, C16, Spectrum 48K, Sinclair Spectrum 128K and Amstrad CPC.
The company's most recent involvement was on the 1994 release "Zool 2" (CD32).
15 Dec 2010