Recently I have been interested in going back to read and watch more about Sega Genesis games. I didn’t own a Sega console, and Sonic was the only game I saw my relatives play on that system in my youth. Blades of Vengeance caught my eyes and I started searching if I could play this game anywhere, sadly, as most old games, you can only get it on its original system. There was no other way to try it, other than on an emulator.
I played the game briefly, five screens, and two bosses while playing with all three characters. The game is a fantasy themed action platformer game where you have the choice of playing as three different types of characters: The Huntress, The Barbarian, or the Wizard. The Huntress is a fast character with a sword. The Barbarian is a slow but strong axe-wielder character, while the wizard cast ranged magic spells. As far as I played, there was no way of seeing the stats of each character, but their attacks’ differences are noticeable when playing as each. While the wizard has long range attacks, they do the least damage.The levels are big, with some exploration to find chests; which contains items, or gold which you can buy items with at the end of each boss. The graphics hold up well, the moody style of the stages are good to look at. The music of the early levels didn’t feel suitable for a fantasy setting and wasn’t memorable.
The game was published by EA on 1993 and developed by Beam Software. That lead me to read more about this studio trying to figure out more about the IP and who owns it; which lead me to discover a fascinating thing about the history of this studio that I want to share with you.
Beam Software, an Australian video game development studio founded in 1980. One of their first successes was The Hobbit, an illustrated text adventure game published by Melbourne House on 1982; based on the book, it was a huge success on home computers at the time and sold over 100,000 copies in its first two years. They made Lord of the Rings: Game One (1985) and Shadow of Mordor: Game Two of Lord of the Rings (1987).
Away from text based games, 1985 was the year “The Way of the Exploding Fist” was released, a one-on-one fighting game for home computers. An NES port was developed but never saw the light of day. The game was well received and was voted for Game of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards, and Melbourne House (Parent company of Beam Software) was picked as Best Software House. Two sequels were made, Fist 2: The legend continues (1986) which was a scrolling action game with one-on-one fighting elements. The next sequel was Exploding Fist + which returned to the original style of the first game.
In 1988 the publisher Melbourne House was sold, and the studio (Beam Software) operated independently while their games were published through different publishers. This was the period from 1988 until 2000; which saw the release of Blades of Vengeance by Electronic Arts. The studio also made Back to the Future (1989), Nightshade (1991), Smash TV (1991), alongside many licensed games for the NES and Shadowrun (1993) on the SNES, sone of which are known to be bad games among retro gamers. Beam Software got acquired by Infogrames in 1999, which was a big publisher before it got defunct in 2009.
In their time under Infogrames and Atari they developed racing games which include: Test Drive: Le Mans, Looney Tunes: Space Race and Grand Prix Challenge, which were all well received before they move to make a third-person shooter with Men in Black II: Alien Escape and Transformers Armada: Prelude to Energon which got decent reviews too. The studio then helped with Porting Test Drive: Unlimited to the PS2 and PSP.
December of 2005 is when Atari decided to shift away from internally developing games and was seeking to sell its development teams, Melbourne House included. Krome Studios, another Australian game company acquired Melbourne house and renamed the studio to Krome Studios Melbourne in November 2006. Krome Studios recent games include: Fruit Ninja Academy and Scribble. Most of which are mobile games.
The studio’s long journey started with Lord of the Rings text-based games, moving to fighting games and then to making licensed games and racing games, and ended up by being acquired by Krome Studios, a game studio for iOS and mobile games. A history that was uncovered to me by being curious to who owns the IP to Blades of Vengeance, a game that I thought would make a good fantasy RPG in the vein of Dragon Age, or even an Action game in the vein of Heavenly Sword. It is fascinating to see how older studios that started in an era where gaming was a niche thing, end up making amazing games, and then disappearing. There sure are well known studios that are still around to this day, but not all of them were fortunate enough to get the same fate.