Bitmap Brothers working on Z makeover

Bitmap Brothers working on Z makeover

For those who don't, or can't, recall, Z was a comedy RTS with some hard-man robots.

The classic 1990s robot-battling RTS game Z is in the process of getting a fancy makeover, courtesy of The Bitmap Brothers, Kavcom and Peter Harrap of Gremlin Graphics fame.

The Bitmap Brothers studio was responsible for some of the classic titles in early PC gaming, including Speedball 2, Xenon 2: Megablast and The Chaos Engine. However, it's been a long time since we've seen a new game from the company, and the developer's Wikipedia page lists it as 'defunct.' What's going on here?

Spokesperson for the project, and former PC Zone editor, Jamie Sefton, explained the situation to bit-gamer. 'Mike Montgomery still runs The Bitmaps,' says Sefton, 'he's the managing director and he owns all the IP and that kind of stuff.'

So who's developing it then? 'That's a very interesting story actually,' says Sefton. 'Basically, a guy called Peter Harrap is developing it. Now here's an interesting fact about Peter; he was the creator of Monty Mole on the ZX Spectrum, which I'm really excited about. Peter worked with The Bitmaps on some of the conversions in the 1990s, so Z came out on the PlayStation for example.

'So when they needed somebody to bring Z onto iOS devices and Android and all the other things that they're doing, there was only one person they were thinking of, and that was Peter because he was the only one who knew about assembly language, which is what Z's written in.'

Meanwhile, Kavcom is stepping in to publish the project, which will feature a lot of the content from the PC game, as well as a few enhancements, including touchscreen control. 'Everything is in there, from the terrific comedy cutscenes to the frantic multiplayer mode,' says Kavcom managing director Tony Kavanagh.

The original 1996 game Z was a fan favourite that received a lot of critical acclaim, and it's amusing listed on The Bitmap Brothers' site as featuring 'four megabytes of stunning in-game graphics.'

Z: The Game will be released on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, Blackberry Tab and Android devices later this year. 'It's looking really nice,' says Sefton, 'especially the iPad version.'

Remember playing Z back in its heyday? Never even heard of The Bitmap Brothers? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.


Discuss in the forums Reply
NethLyn 1st April 2011, 16:24 Quote
Excellent news, a remake not just fronted by the original publishers, but coded by an 8-Bit vet.

If they stick to the spirit of Steel Soldiers rather than the very first Z, I'm pre-ordering.
Guinevere 1st April 2011, 16:35 Quote
Originally Posted by NethLyn
I'm pre-ordering.

Not on iOS or Android you're not.
Phalanx 1st April 2011, 16:36 Quote
Oh I loved Z. Definitely getting this!
NethLyn 1st April 2011, 16:37 Quote
Originally Posted by Guinevere
Not on iOS or Android you're not.

It might be the push to upgrade to a smartphone
kenco_uk 1st April 2011, 16:38 Quote
Woah hang on there nellie! Speedball 2 on iPad?
David 1st April 2011, 16:42 Quote
Bitmap Brothers: now there's a blast from the past.

They were pretty much the cream, back when Amigas were the home computer of choice. I fondly remember playing all of the games mentioned in the article.

Replay value was never an issue with those games.
TheDitherer 1st April 2011, 16:59 Quote
I played Xenon 2 and The Chaos Engine on ST. Brilliant!
Dreaming 1st April 2011, 17:39 Quote
I played Z so much when I was younger. Good memories.
SighMoan 1st April 2011, 17:53 Quote
Magic Pockets and Chaos Engine were really great games.
Skiddywinks 1st April 2011, 18:14 Quote
Oh ****! I have been looking for this game for ages. I remember it from years ago, but didn't know the name.

pbryanw 1st April 2011, 18:18 Quote
I remember playing Magic Pockets - an underrated game from the Bitmap's classic era. And remember wanting it after watching it on kid's Saturday morning TV. Also Xenon 2. One of the best soundtracks from that era, but I could never get past level 2.
Woody59 1st April 2011, 19:13 Quote
No Freaking Way! This is the first strategy game I ever had. I played the hell out of this game till I finally beat it. Man that game was hard - so frustrating mis-managing a unit and having to re-start over and over. I remember playing this on my first ever PC: an Intel 133 CPU with 8mb of ram and a 1.2gig drive. Top of the range back then...
Kroy 1st April 2011, 19:21 Quote
Bitmap brothers rule! Xenon on the amiga was one of a few titles which convinced me to save up enough money to buy an amiga 500 when I was a youngin. Ahh the memories.
Pete J 1st April 2011, 19:25 Quote
Jaysus, blast from the past indeed!

I never got very far in the game and neither did my brother, who was the one who bought it. Harder than steel deep fried in concrete with a diamond coating.
Kasius 1st April 2011, 19:56 Quote
Just about got this to run on 7 a few weeks back. Epic game worthy of a makeover
Shayper09 1st April 2011, 21:13 Quote
Z Steel Soldiers <3

If it comes out on the iPhone I AM GETTING IT! =]
GeorgeStorm 1st April 2011, 21:19 Quote
This brings back memories, will be interesting to see how it turns out
peeki 1st April 2011, 23:09 Quote
The Chaos Engine is an all time great, remake that!!!!
frontline 2nd April 2011, 00:24 Quote
Bitmap brothers + Atari ST = good memories.
ShimBob 2nd April 2011, 11:17 Quote
Too late, There is already an open source "makeover" of Z called The Zod Engine that is fully playable.
soopahfly 2nd April 2011, 15:03 Quote
I loved Z :D Can't wait for this.

While they're at it, can we have another Cannon Fodder, Carmageddon and Shell Shock (the tank game, not the FPS)
soopahfly 2nd April 2011, 15:05 Quote
Oh, and one more thing.

Blood :D
leeroy 2nd April 2011, 15:14 Quote
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Woah hang on there nellie! Speedball 2 on iPad?

total, total win
sub routine 2nd April 2011, 17:09 Quote
dont let monty die in vain,
press a key and try again.
Grimloon 2nd April 2011, 17:11 Quote
Originally Posted by Pete J
Harder than steel deep fried in concrete with a diamond coating.

I sniggered - then sig'd for posterity :D

Hmm, might be what finally gets me to buy a smartphone then, especially if they follow it with Speedball 2 and/or Chaos Engine! ;)
[USRF]Obiwan 2nd April 2011, 18:37 Quote
"sector one" Classic!
Mankz 3rd April 2011, 13:39 Quote
sotu1 4th April 2011, 09:27 Quote
Originally Posted by kenco_uk
Woah hang on there nellie! Speedball 2 on iPad?

Been there for a while now, I've played it :) It's ORRRSUM.
Scarlet0pimp 4th April 2011, 11:12 Quote
Loved the original not so much the second one.
I even got hold of a copy again to play on my netbook a while ago, worked really well and still as playable.
Could never complete the last level though the enemy just started with too many troops for me to deal with.
Xir 4th April 2011, 11:13 Quote
I liked the cutscenes morthan the actual game to be honest :D
xinaes 4th April 2011, 11:31 Quote
Timely announcement.
leegrace 5th April 2011, 09:34 Quote
Originally Posted by TheDitherer
I played Xenon 2 and The Chaos Engine on ST. Brilliant!
Yes i have also played Xenon 2, it is awesome but yet not played the second one..
[USRF]Obiwan 5th April 2011, 10:39 Quote
of course by now we all know this is a very believable april fool joke. Well done BT
[USRF]Obiwan 5th April 2011, 10:40 Quote
Originally Posted by leegrace
Originally Posted by TheDitherer
I played Xenon 2 and The Chaos Engine on ST. Brilliant!
Yes i have also played Xenon 2, it is awesome but yet not played the second one..

I played Xenon.... and two, but one was the best looking shoot'm up ever allongside Salamander and R-type
Domestic_ginger 5th April 2011, 14:40 Quote
The first game was average and overhyped for some amusing animations.

Every level was won or lost based on where you sent your starting droids as soon as the level started.
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