The Bitmap Brothers
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|Headquarters||Wapping, United Kingdom|
|Mike Montgomery, MD
The Bitmap Brothers are a UK based video game developer founded in 1987. The company entered the industry in 1988 with the scrolling shooter Xenon. They quickly followed with the classic Speedball. Prior to becoming the publisher of their own games (under Renegade Software), early Bitmap Brothers titles were distributed by Image Works and Konami.
The Bitmap Brothers released several games on the Amiga and Atari ST, and were one of the most successful companies on those platforms. They became known in particular for releasing games from a variety of different genres that usually came to be regarded as leaders in their respective fields. Their PC games have never matched the sales of their previous Amiga titles, despite garnering positive critical reviews in the press.
They were the first game developers to publicise themselves as rock stars, and were featured in the press posing in dark glasses standing next to the helicopter of Robert Maxwell, the owner of Mirrorsoft, the publisher of a number of their games. They were also one of the first companies to use licensed music in their games. Xenon 2 Megablast featured music by Bomb the Bass.
The Bitmap Brothers were based in Wapping, East London and were privately owned. The company's MD was Mike Montgomery, who had founded the company together with Eric Matthews and Steve Kelly. Mike Montgomery later went on to take sole control of the business.
Mark John Coleman is a computer graphics developer who frequently worked with the Bitmap Brothers, and along with Dan Malone was responsible for the visual style that became a trademark of a Bitmap Brother games. Other key staff included Technical Director John Phillips, Business Development Director Ed Bartlett and Creative Director Jamie Barber.
The Bitmap Brothers became known for the high difficulty of their games. Montgomery later remarked that "all of the Bitmap Brothers games... they're probably a bit too difficult. The reason for that was we designed games that we wanted to play - for us it was actually quite hard to think that somebody would want to play something that's easy." The development team was voted Best 16-bit Programmers of the Year at the Golden Joystick Awards. Speedball was also voted best 16-bit Game of the Year overall.
Two former core members of the company — Mike Montgomery and John Phillips — went on to found Tower Studios (along with Sensible Software founder Jon Hare), and stated their involvement with Bitmap Brothers as having ended in 2004.
After years of silence a news post on the official website announced Speedball 2 Tournament which was released in November 2007 by Frogster Interactive, but failed to achieve the success of previous titles in the franchise.
On 2 July 2012 Speedball 2: Evolution was announced and released for Android in Google Play Store, and in 2013 The Chaos Engine was recreated for release on PC, Linux and Mac.
In chronological order:
- Xenon (1988)
- Speedball (1988)
- Xenon II: Megablast (1989)
- Cadaver (1990)
- Speedball 2: Brutal Deluxe (1990)
- Gods (1991)
- Magic Pockets (1991)
- The Chaos Engine (1993)
- The Chaos Engine 2 (1996)
- Z (1996)
- Speedball 2100 (2000)
- Z: Steel Soldiers (2001)
- Speedball Arena (cancelled)
- World War II: Frontline Command (2003)
- Locke, Phil (December 2013). "Creating Chaos". Retro Gamer (122) (Imagine Publishing). pp. 71–73.
- www.tower-studios.co.uk/about.htm (archived 2007)
- "engage new worlds | The world´s premier in-game advertising company". IGA Worldwide. Retrieved 2010-10-13.
- Speedball 2 iOS announcement