Krome Studios Melbourne
|Genre||Video game developer|
|Key people||Fred Milgrom, Naomi Besen, Adam Lancman, David Giles, William Tang, Kevin Burfitt, Myles Abbott, Mark Coombes, Holger Liebnitz, Russel Comte, Darren Bremner, Marshall Parker, Kyuji Kawase, Neil Brennan|
Krome Studios Melbourne, originally Beam Software, was a video game development studio founded in 1978 and based in Melbourne, Australia. The studio operated independently from 1988 until 2000, when it was acquired by Infogrames, who changed the name to Melbourne House. In 2006 the studio was sold to Krome Studios.
The name Beam was a contraction of the initials of the founders: Alfred Milgrom and Naomi Besen.
Home computer era
In the early years, two of Beam's programs were milestones in their respective genre. The Hobbit, a 1982 text adventure by Philip Mitchell and Veronika Megler, sold more than a million copies. It employed an advanced parser by Stuart Richie and had real-time elements. Even if the player didn't enter commands, the story would move on. In 1985 Greg Barnett's two-player martial arts game The Way of the Exploding Fist helped define the genre of one-on-one fighting games on the home computer. The game won Best Overall Game at the Golden Joystick Awards, with the company also picking up Best Software House.
In 1988 Beam's publisher, mother company Melbourne House, was sold to Mastertronic for £850,000. Subsequently games were released through varying publishers. The 1988 fighting games Samurai Warrior and Fist +, the third installment in the Exploding Fist series, were published through Telecomsofts Firebird label. 1988 also saw the release of space-shoot'em-up Bedlam, published by GO!, one of U.S. Gold's labels, and The Muncher, published by Gremlin Graphics.
Shift to consoles and PCs
In 1987 Nintendo granted a developer's license for the NES and Beam developed games on that platform for US and Japanese publishers. Targeted at an Australian audience, releases such as Aussie Rules Footy and International Cricket for the NES proved successful. In 1991 they released the original title Nightshade (1991 video game), a dark superhero comedy game. The game was meant to be the first part in a series, but no sequels were ever made; however, it served as the basis for Shadowrun.
In 1993 they released Shadowrun, with an innovative dialogue system using the acquisition of keywords which could be used in subsequent conversations to initiate new branches in the dialogue tree. In the mid-to-late 90s, Melbourne House found further success with PC titles Krush Kill 'n' Destroy (KKND), and the sequels KKND Xtreme and KKND2: Krossfire. Unfortunately, they released KKND2 in South Korea well before they released it in the American and European markets, and pirated versions of the game were available on the internet before it was available in stores in the U.S. They were the developers of the 32-bits versions of Norse By Norse West: The Return of the Lost Vikings for the Sega Saturn, PlayStation and PC in 1996. They also helped produce SNES games such as WCW SuperBrawl Wrestling, Super Smash TV and an updated version of International Cricket titled Super International Cricket. They ported the Sega Saturn game Bug! to Windows 3.x in August, 1996.
In 1999 Beam Software was acquired by Infogrames and renamed to Infogrames Melbourne House.
They continued to cement a reputation as a racing game developer with Test Drive: Le Mans and Looney Tunes: Space Race (both Dreamcast and PlayStation 2), followed by the technically impressive Grand Prix Challenge (PlayStation 2), before a disastrous venture into third-person shooters with Men in Black II: Alien Escape (PlayStation 2, GameCube).
In 2004 the studio released Transformers for the PlayStation 2 games console based on the then current Transformers Armada franchise by Hasbro. The game reached the top of the UK PlayStation 2 games charts, making it Melbourne House's most successful recent title.
In December 2005, Atari decided to shift away from internal development, seeking to sell its studios, including Melbourne House. In November 2006 Krome Studios announced that it had acquired Melbourne House from Atari and that the studio would be renamed to Krome Studios Melbourne.
- 1988 Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi Yojimbo
- 1998: NBA Action '98 (PC)
- 1997: Caesars Palace (PlayStation)
- 1996: 5 in One Fun Pak (GG); Wildcats (SNES)
- 1995: True Lies (GB, Genesis; SNES); The Dame Was Loaded (PC)
- 1994: WCW: The Main Event (Game Boy); Super Smash TV (GG, SMS); Solitaire FunPak (Game Boy); Cricket '97 Ashes Edition (PC); Radical Rex (SNES)
- 1993: We're Back BC (Game Boy); Agro Soar (Game Boy); Itchy & Scratchy in Miniature Golf Madness (Game Boy); Blades of Vengeance (Genesis); NFL Quarterback Club (Game Boy); Radical Rex (Genesis); Super High Impact (Genesis, SNES)
- 1992: NBA All-Star Challenge 2 (Game Boy); Tom and Jerry (GB), Super Smash TV (Genesis, SNES), George Foreman's K.O. Boxing (Game Boy)
- 1991: Hunt for Red October (Game Boy), Smash TV (NES), The Punisher (1991) (NES), Family Feud (NES)
- 1990: Back to the Future II & III (NES), Dash Galaxy in the Alien Asylum (NES), Boulder Dash (Game Boy), NBA All-Star Challenge (Game Boy)
- 1989: Back to the Future (NES)
- Beam Software Timeline. Documentation for a 2007 exhibition at Australian Centre for the Moving Image
- Sharwood, Simon (18 November 2012), Author of '80s classic The Hobbit didn't know game was a hit, The Register, retrieved 10 December 2012
- DeMaria, Rusel and Wilson, Johnny L. (2004) High Score!: The Illustrated History of Electronic Games McGraw-Hill/Osborne, Berkeley, Calif., p. 347, ISBN 0-07-223172-6
- Anthony Guter: History of Mastertronic.
- "Company bio: Beam Software". Gamespy. Retrieved 9 August 2009.
- Al Giovetti. "Alien Earth". The Computer Show.
- Foster, Lisa (17 February 2006). "Atari plans studio sell-off". MCV. Intent Media. Retrieved 2010-02-03.
- "Krome Studios expands with new studio in Melbourne". Krome Studios. 3 November 2006. Retrieved 2010-02-03.