Cover art of MIDI Maze
|Developer(s)||Xanth Software F/X|
|Publisher(s)||Hybrid Arts, Bullet-Proof Software|
|Release date(s)||1987, 1991, 1992, 1993|
|Genre(s)||first person shooter|
MIDI Maze is an early first person shooter maze video game for the Atari ST developed by Xanth Software F/X, published by Hybrid Arts, and released around 1987. It owes a significant debt to what may be the first of its genre, Maze War. The original MIDI Maze team consisted of James Yee as the business manager, Michael Park as the graphics and distributed processing guru, and George Miller writing the AI/drone logic. The game constructed multiplayer networks using the MIDI interface. It has been suggested that MIDI Maze introduced the concept of deathmatch combat.
Up to 16 computers could be networked in a "MIDI Ring" by connecting one computer's MIDI-OUT port to the next computer's MIDI-IN port. Unless the computers were looped correctly, more than 4 players tended to slow down the game to a crawl and make it unstable.
Graphically the game was very simple with a humorous twist. The game area itself occupied 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 were shown as Pac-Man-like smiley avatars in various colors. Bullets were represented as small balls.
The game was started by one designated "master" machine, which set rules, divided players into teams, and selected a maze. A number of mazes were supplied with the game, and additional mazes could be constructed using a simple text-editor or one of various third-party tools. The game was very popular at gatherings of Atari ST users until the end of the Atari ST era, circa 1993.
A prototype of MIDI Maze was found for the Atari 8-bit family. It is possible to connect ST and 8-bit to a network and play together. A three-day all-day MIDI Maze tournament is one popular attraction at Con of the North, a gaming convention in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
MIDI-Maze II and MIDImaze Plus
An improved variation, based more closely on the original Midi Maze, was Midimaze Plus from Robert and Werner Spahl featuring a compass and more detailed info on players.
WinMaze, based on MIDI-Maze II, supports up to 32 Windows-based players networked via LAN, includes a number of enhancements from the original and claims to be "The best MidiMaze II clone ever!". WinMaze is authored by Nils Schneider (with thanks to Jens "Yoki" Unger who provided socket classes and created the first server version) and Heiko "phoenix" Achilles provided the game's graphics.
A Game Boy version was developed by the original developers, Xanth Software F/X, and published in 1991 by Bulletproof Software, now Blue Planet Software, under the title Faceball 2000. James Yee, owner of Xanth, had a vision to port the 520ST application to the Game Boy. With support from Michael Park, graphics rendering techniques and communication protocol knowledge was passed on to Robert Champagne, the game's programmer. 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 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 - seven such adapters were needed for a full 16 player experience.
A SNES version, also programmed by Robert Champagne, was released the following year, supporting two players in split-screen mode. The SNES version featured 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 Game Gear version, programmed by Darren Stone, was released to the Japanese market. It is a colorised version of the monochrome Game Boy edition, supporting two players via two handhelds connected by a cable.
A version called Faceball was nearly completed and built for Nintendo's Virtual Boy console, but it was just canceled. Prototype cartridges of the game do exist, however, with about 80% of the game already completed.
A version called Faceball 3000, written in Shockwave, is also available.
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- MIDI Maze Utilities
- MIDI Maze fan site (German)
- Faceball 2000 information page (ranked #25 of 1up.com's Essential 50)
- Faceball 2000 fan site
- Faceball 3000
- SuperMaze (Freeware Midi-Maze clone from 2005 for Windows and Linux featuring music from Amiga scene musician Chromag)
- WinMaze (MIDI-Maze II clone supporting up to 32 linked players)
- iMaze (clone for X11 supporting systems)