|Developer(s)||Xanth Software F/X|
|Platform(s)||Atari ST, Game Boy, Game Gear, SNES|
|Release||Atari ST: July 10, 1987|
June 23, 1991
July 31, 1992
June 15, 1993
MIDI Maze is a networked first-person shooter for the Atari ST developed by Xanth Software F/X and released in 1987 by Hybrid Arts. The game takes place in a maze of untextured walls. The world animates smoothly as the player turns, much like the earlier Wayout, instead of only permitting 90 degree changes of direction. It has been suggested that MIDI Maze, using the built-in MIDI ports of the Atari ST for networking, introduced the concept of deathmatch combat. The game found a wider audience on the Game Boy as Faceball 2000.
The original MIDI Maze team consisted of James Yee as the business manager, Michael Park as the graphic and networking programmer, and George Miller writing the AI/drone logic.
Up to 16 computers can be networked in a "MIDI Ring" by connecting one computer's MIDI-OUT port to the next computer's MIDI-IN port.
The game area itself occupies only roughly a quarter of the screen and consisted of a first-person view of a flat-shaded Pac-Man-like maze with a crosshair in the middle. All players are shown as Pac-Man-like smiley avatars in various colors. Bullets are represented as small balls.
The game is started by one designated "master" machine, which sets rules, divides players into teams, and selects a maze. A number of mazes come with the game, and additional mazes can be constructed using a text-editor.
A Game Boy version was developed by the original developers, Xanth Software F/X, and published in 1991 by Bulletproof Software, under the title Faceball 2000. James Yee, owner of Xanth, had a vision to port the 520ST application to the Game Boy. George Miller was hired to re-write the AI-based drone logic, giving each drone a unique personality trait. It is notable for being the only Game Boy game to support 16 simultaneous players. It was thought it did so by connecting multiple copies of the Four Player Adapter to one another so that each additional adapter added another two players up to the maximum - thus seven such adapters would have been needed for a 16 player experience. But this method has not worked so far in tests. Originally special cables were used but these were never available for public. Later testing proved that instead connecting 5 or consoles is accomplished by connecting up to 16 official (some 3rd party might work, but most don't seem to work) Game Boy Advance cables (1 per Game Boy needed) into a loop by connecting the violet end of the cable to next cable's connection box's connector (must finish the loop by connecting the 16th cable's violet end into 1st cable's box's connector). After that connect gray end of the cable to Game Boy. To use the cable on Game Boy Pocket, Game Boy Light or Game Boy Color you must cut the plug a little so it fits. To use it on original Game Boy you must do the same cut and use additional Game Boy to Game Boy Pocket cable adapter. Not tested on Game Boy Player or on Game Boy Advance but might work. Also not tested on Game Boy Micro as suitable cables do not exist).
A SNES version was released the following year, supporting two players in split-screen mode. The SNES version features completely different graphics and levels from the earlier Game Boy version. A variety of in-game music for this version was composed by George "The Fat Man" Sanger.
A version for the PC-Engine CD-ROM, simply titled Faceball, was also available in Japan. A multiplayer networked version for the IBM PC was prototyped, but never released. Faceball was nearly completed and built for Nintendo's Virtual Boy console, but it was canceled.
Entertainment Weekly picked Faceball 2000 as the #5 greatest game available in 1991, saying: "The Game Boy meets virtual reality (i.e., artificial, computer-enhanced, first-person perspective). In Faceball 2000, you assume the identity of a Holographically Assisted Physical Pattern Yielded for Active Computerized Embarkation — or HAPPYFACE — and hunt down your opponents. You can play alone or link up with as many as three additional players. More fun than real-life tag, and much more stimulating." Faceball: 2000 was reviewed in 1994 in Dragon #201 by Sandy Petersen in the "Eye of the Monitor" column. Petersen gave the game 2 out of 5 stars.
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