Interceptor Micros

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Interceptor Micros also known as Interceptor Software (and later as Interceptor Group) was a developer/publisher of video games for various 8bit and 16bit computer systems popular in Western Europe during the eighties and early nineties.

In addition to publishing games and utilities under the Interceptor label the company ran a tape and later disc duplication business, a print shop and associated graphic design studio, manufactured dual size cassette tape cases under the Compact Case Company brand and also published budget priced software under the Players and Players Premiere labels, and a couple of full-price titles under the premium Pandora label.

The company was owned and operated by father and son team Julian and Richard Jones, out of various locations in and around the small town of Tadley, near Basingstoke in Hampshire, England. At the height of its success the company employed around thirty people, but fell victim to the 90's video game decline, and went out of business in the early nineties.

Early days[edit]

Richard and Julian’s first foray into the computer games business is documented on the official Llamasoft web site with The Joneses and Jeff Minter forming a partnership in 1982. Although the Llamasoft account of the parties' short relationship and the events surrounding the dissolution of the partnership reflect Jeff Minter and his family's opinions, the key facts and dates do not seem to be in dispute. The Jones' and Minters' short-lived partnership ended in September 1982. History has shown that neither parties' interest in the business suffered from the split, with Jeff retaining the Llamasoft name and the Joneses forming Interceptor.

The Interceptor Label[edit]

The following titles were published under the Interceptor label:

The Players and Players Premier labels[edit]

From 1986 to 1991 Players issued budget priced £1.99 tape based games for various 8bit platforms. The Players Premier label games were priced at £2.99. In addition some titles were released for the Atari ST and Amiga platforms on disc at £4.99 under the Smash 16 and Players Gold labels. The titles competed against budget software pioneer Mastertronic, and later Codemasters and others in an increasingly crowded budget software marketplace.

Players packaging was bright and colourful. The original concept was designed by Michael Wood a talented artist and designer and the then Studio Manager at Interceptor. Most of the packaging artwork at the time was designed by Michael Wood who had several talented artists working with him. The designs were worked up as finished pieces by air brush artists such as Peter Austin.

The label's most successful and best known releases were the Joe Blade series of games (1987–1989), but Players and Players Premier released over 100 titles across various platforms.

Players original titles included: Anfractuos, Auriga, Auto Zone, Big Top Barney, Bubble Trouble, Cagara, Cerberus, The Claws of Despair, Clean Up Time, Crime Busters, Cybernation, Denizen, Desert Hawk, Deviants, Dizzy Dice, Doodlebug, Elektrix, European Soccer Challenge, Fungus, Fruity, Joe Blade, Joe Blade II, Journey to the Centre of Eddie Smith's Head, Killapede, LA Drugs Bust, Lop Ears, Matt Lucas, Metal Army, Miami Cobra GT, Nuclear Heist, Psycho City, Radius, Reflex, Riding the Rapids, Ronald Rubberduck, The Serf's Tale, Shanghai Karate, Shanghai Warriors, Shrewsbury Key, Skateboard Construction System, Street Gang, Super Nova, Swamp Fever, Sword Slayer, Tanium, Thing!, Toadforce, Tomcat, Turbo Kart Racer, Varmit, Xanthius and The Zacaron Mystery.

Players Premier original titles included: Assault Course, Cobra Force, Deadly Evil, Elven Warrior, Havoc, Hawk Storm, Iron Soldier, Joe Blade III, Lost Caves, Mig Busters, Moving Target, Mutant Fortress, Operation Hanoi, Outlaw, Prison Riot, The Race, Roadburner, Saigon Combat Unit, Shark, 3D Snooker, Solar Empire, Spooked, Steel Eagle, Street Cred Boxing, Street Cred Football, Subway Vigilante, Super League, Task Force, Turbo Master, Velocipede, Velocipede II, War Machine and World Cup Challenge.

In addition both labels re-released various full price titles, and various games and demos for magazine cover-mounted tapes, which Interceptor duplicated for various computer magazines.

The Pandora label[edit]

In 1987 Interceptor launched Pandora, a new premium priced label. Pandora released several games for 8 and 16bit computers. Its first and most successful title was Into The Eagles Nest, a Gauntlet style burst-scroller set in a Nazi occupied castle. Other titles included Galdregon's Domain (1988), Xenomorph (1990), Outlands (1989) and Debut (1990). It is believed Debut (a complex planet simulator coupled with a side-scroller action element) was one of the last titles to be published under the Pandora label, in December 1990.

The Fun Factory label[edit]

In 1991 and 1992, during the wanning days of the company several Atari ST and Amiga titles were released under the Fun Factory Brand. Titles included Twin Turbos (1991) and Rebellion (1992) and Slackskin and Flint (1992).

People[edit]

Richard Jones was the public face of the company, and all published titles credited him as producer. Due to his youth, ambition and love of fast cars he often appeared on local television and in the papers during the early years. However, Julian was the company mainstay, working long hours, often on the factory floor, building the company.

Interceptor worked with various programmers, artists, and musicians over the years, relying mostly on freelance talent but also employing a number of up and coming in-house coders.

Foremost amongst the in-house programmers were Andrew Challis and Kevin Parker. Apart from developing original titles and porting existing games to other platforms they also developed custom "loaders" and produced the tape masters for the duplication of Interceptor and other companies titles. Interceptor pioneered "loada-games" across multiple platforms, not just the C64 (see the Spectrum version of Joe Blade II). These were a series of mini games that you could play while the main game continued to load from tape. This was clever stuff, but occasionally resulted in customers returning product mistaking the loada-game for the advertised content.

Other in-house developers included Andrew Severn (last spotted as producer of Gun for Nethersoft), Martin (Jabba) Servern (last spotted working for Pumpkin Studios), Gary Biasillo, Steve Briggs, Chris Johnson (last seen working for SEGA in San Francisco), Mike Brown, Paul Griffiths, Robin Chapman and Colin Swinbourne (last spotted at Nice Tech). Brian Leake and Mark Davidson, who briefly worked on-site during the development of Debut, followed their careers in the USA; Brian was last spotted at The Walt Disney Company in California, and Mark at Destineer in North Carolina.

Prolific freelance Interceptor programmers Richard Robinson & 'Howlin' Mad' (AKA 'Mirai') went on to form the multimedia futurist band "Intelligentsia" in Tokyo, & EARTH ACADEMY RECORDS in London, both working in TV Media & the progressive arts.

External links[edit]