The Konix Multi-system Games

Here are the know games that were either in development for the Konix Multi-system or had been planed to be. Some have screen shots from magazines and some have videos provided with kind permission of Jon Dean (the guy that actually filmed them). Please don't distribute or re-produce these videos as they remain Jon Dean's Copyright.

My thoughts

It's pure speculation that a console needs a killer title at launch - after all how can you say for sure that a machine that stuttered at launch failed because of the killer title - you can't go back in time and conjure up a killer title and double check if it would have made a difference.

Having just one "must have" game in the line-up can persuade people to buy one machine over another. The promise of bigger and better games helps, but it's only natural for people to want to buy a game that keeps them occupied for a substantial period of time.

The Konix Multi-system had 24 games in development I know of 22 with a couple of possible titles... With the major developers signed up to the platform, who's to say there weren't more. Unfortunately, from an editorial point of view, I can't put my hand on my heart and say that there seemed to be any more than three titles that I would have really wanted to have bought (AMC 89, Hammerfist and Tunnels of Doom). But then again, unlike the launch of the Xbox, where the obvious killer game was Halo, the Xbox 360 didn't (in my opinion) have an obvious killer game, but that doesn't say I don't love the machine.

Rumoured and unconfirmed games

Shadow of the Beast and Barbarian are the most talked about games that weren't actually in development. Jon Dean, head of software at Konix told me when I interviewed him that he was in talks with several major manufacturers who were very keen, but wanted to see how the console faired after launch before they would commit to writing games. This included Psygonosis. It was written that Gremlin games were interested, and apparently there was a lot of interest from Japanese developers. Of course we all know by now the Lucasarts involvement with the project and what that may have entailed.

Jon says:

I had some great conversations with Psygnosis, and we were in discussion with them for a handful of titles. Ian Heatherington and Jonathan Ellis liked the idea of a European console but like so many publishers at the time, they wanted to see how the launch went before jumping on board. I think if the KMS had launched, they would have been a premier publisher for the system, because they liked the technology.

*Update* I have recently been talking with Paulie Hughes formerly of Ocean Software who told me about The New Zealand Story running on the Konix dev kit:

I didn't personally do any programming on it [Konix Dev kit], however we had the dev kit in our room; I shared a room with Dave Collier and he was tasked with getting something up and running on it - as we had just started converting New Zealand Story to the 8 and 16 bits, he got all the graphics off the arcade board and got them up and running on the "Big Silver Box".
He had the first level scrolling around with the Kiwi jumping around it, and then one day the kit vanished - with some mention that Konix had run out of cash. Real shame - I'm not so sure about all the pipe-dream add-on bits like the Space Harrier-esque chair, but the console itself appeared very capable for the time.
I do remember it being a pretty powerful piece of kit at the time, x86 based with some hardware blitting capability - it certainly seemed to throw around a New Zealand Story level with relative ease.

Further to this, I've recently been in touch with Dave Collier who had this to say of the Multi-system:

I did do an appraisal on the Konix system. I had the pleasure of seeing how it would perform for character mapped play fields. It was aimed purely at the bitmap brigade. I found it tedious to get any sort of speed unless I used the hardware blit engine. We gave up on it due to time to market I think.
I kept a minimal amount of documentation the last of which I recycled before moving to Melbourne last year. From what I remember it is coming back to me slowly. It was not very good at anything.
In fact after looking at the offering, I designed and built an arcade board that had complex audio (ensoniq chipset) and 3D image manipulation, scaling, rotation and a background generator for character map games. Plus any size sprites. I think it was an early 16 bit 86 CPU. I remember dual something coming into it somewhere.
The hardware block transfer was it's only good thing, but it took a while to setup for each transfer. Writing to the bitmap with the CPU took ages in comparison. I put a demo of New Zealand Story on it to test the speed. There may be some video footage knocking around somewhere if you are lucky.

It's interesting to read Dave's recollections, It's surprising that he considers the Multi-system to be so bad - I don't doubt that he is eminently more qualified than me to talk about it and not as biased as I may be.

I wonder though, was he mislead by the hype regarding the machine's capabilities before he got his hands on it?

Multi-system 2 Games

There were also around 9 games in development that I know of for what was effectively the Multi-system 2 - the MSU Multi-system. Lombard RAC rally has been mentioned to me, Moonstone, Dtox, Team Suzuki, F16 Combat Pilot, Lotus Turbo, Magician’s apprentice, 3D Space and Robocod.

Robocod And Magician's Apprentice are the only ones to be 100% confirmed as we now have the source code for Robocod in our hands and Magician's has been confirmed as being 100% finished and ready. Moonstone, Dtox and Team Suzuki are quite likely to have been worked on as they were mentioned in an Edge Magazine article on the TXE Multi-system (MSU Multi-system).

Magician's Apprentice was ported to the PC, and is available as a free game on the PC CDROM release of Alien Olympics by Mindscape. This game is functionally and graphically the same as the Multisystem 2 release, so it's a good way to gauge what was going to be an exclusive Multisystem 2 release could have looked like. This video is a playthrough of the game.

And finally 3D space was to be something like F.O.F.T (Federation of Free Traders) with FMV scenes. This is also reported by several of the people working on it at the time, however, unfortunately no pictures of code is know to still exist.