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|Fate||Acquired by Codemasters|
Number of employees
Sensible Software was a British software company founded by Jon Hare and Chris Yates that was active from March 1986 to June 1999. It released seven number-one hit games and won numerous industry awards.
The company used exaggeratedly small sprites as the player characters in many of their games, including Mega Lo Mania, Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder, and Sensible Golf.
Sensible Software was formed in Chelmsford, Essex in 1986 by two former school friends, Jon Hare (nicknamed Jovial Jops) and Chris Yates (nicknamed Cuddly Krix). They worked for 9 months at LT Software in Basildon, and started Sensible Software in March 1986.
Sensible initially released games for the ZX Spectrum and later the Commodore 64, clinching market praise with Parallax, Shoot'Em-Up Construction Kit, and Wizball (later to be voted Game of the Decade by Zzap!64 magazine). At the time, the pair's output was well known among gamers for its high quality and offbeat sense of humour.
In 1988 Martin Galway joined the team, making it a three-way partnership. In mid-1988, it released Microprose Soccer, its first venture into association football games.
By 1993 there were 6 staff members.
Galway left in 1990 to join Origin Systems in the US, and over the next few years the company swapped the 8 bit machines for the more powerful 16-bit Amiga and Atari ST systems, where games such as Wizkid: The Story of Wizball II, Mega-Lo-Mania, the Sensible Soccer series, and the Cannon Fodder series became classics all over Europe, especially in the UK where various Sensible games were number one for 52 weeks of the 3 year period between June 1992 – 1995. With the rise of the 16-bit home console market, Sensible's games were ported to a wide range of computing platforms, including MS-DOS, the Mega Drive, and Super NES.
Though Sensible had a strong presence on the 8-bit and 16-bit machines that dominated the late 1980s and early 1990s, this success was not repeated on the 32-bit machines such as the PlayStation prominent in the mid 1990s. The trademark look of cute 2D characters had slipped out of vogue with the advent of cheap 3D rendering abilities and games such as Actua Soccer and FIFA turned to 2.5D and 3D gradually shoving the Sensible Soccer series aside though belatedly converting the game to 3D in 1998.
Sensible Golf, a simple golf video game (not a simulation), did not perform well in the market and with most of Sensible's staffing resources having been thrown into Sex 'n' Drugs 'n' Rock 'n' Roll, a game that had initially been signed by Renegade Software (a Time Warner Interactive subsidiary) was dropped by their purchasers, GT Interactive (best known for Doom II, Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, and Unreal Tournament), the owners were looking for a smooth exit.
Though never finished, this final project was discussed in certain sections of the media outside of the game press. It was featured in an Independent on Sunday article in mid-1997. Two years later in 1999, the pre-rendered music videos – created for the game with animation by Khalifa Saber – were showcased within a feature piece on Ex Machina, a TV show covering the CG animation scene on .tv.
Another cancelled game that was being developed during this final development period was a PlayStation action game titled Have a Nice Day, also known as Office Chair Massacre. Though screenshots have never been released, it was a first-person shooter, inspired somewhat by the simplicity of Re-Loaded, a first generation PlayStation game by Gremlin Interactive. Jon Hare has spoken about the project in various interviews, but has never discussed the game's content and gameplay features in depth. Aside from the likelihood that it contained themes as controversial as Sex 'n' Drugs 'n' Rock 'n' Roll, in an interview with Total Video Game's Derek dela Fuente, Jon mentioned that the game had "hit some technical barriers" during its development. Sensible was not known to have worked on the PlayStation platform before, which may have made learning the console's problematic 3D libraries a huge issue for the inexperienced team.
Sensible Software was eventually sold in 1999 to veteran UK games publishers Codemasters and since this date Jon Hare has maintained a close working relationship with Codemasters designing many of its games, including a variety of updates of both Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder.
In 2006 the Sensible Software game Sensible World of Soccer was entered into a Games Canon of the 10 most important video games of all time by Stanford University, it was the only game developed in Europe to make the list which also included Spacewar!, Star Raiders, Zork, Tetris, SimCity, Super Mario Bros. 3, Civilization, Doom, and the Warcraft series.
In 2013, the book Sensible Software 1986–1999 was released. This comprehensive retrospective on the history of the company was written by Zzap!64 games journalist Gary Penn in conversational style. It features 19 different contributors including extensive interviews with Jon Hare, plus luminaries of the era including David Darling (entrepreneur), Dominik Diamond, and Peter Molyneux. Chris Yates declined to be interviewed for the book. Half art book and half retrospective analysis, the book is the first of its kind to cover the creative, business, and technical issues that shaped the whole era of early games development in the UK and Sensible Software in particular. The historical importance of this book has been recognised by BAFTA which hold copies in both its library in Central London and its historical archive.
In 2020, the Royal Mail issued a series of postage stamps celebrating great British computer games with Sensible Soccer commemorated as a first class stamp.
|1985||Twister, Mother of Charlotte||ZX Spectrum|
|1987||Wizball||C64, ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC|
|Shoot-'Em-Up Construction Kit||C64, Amiga|
|MicroProse Soccer||C64, ZX Spectrum|
|1990||International 3D Tennis||C64, ZX Spectrum, Amiga, ST|
|1991||Insects in Space||C64, Amiga|
|Mega Lo Mania||Amiga, ST, Mega Drive, SNES, MS-DOS|
|1992||Wizkid||Amiga, ST, MS-DOS|
|Sensible Soccer||Amiga, ST, Mega Drive, SNES, Archimedes|
|Sensible Soccer International Edition||Amiga, ST, Jaguar, SNES, Mega Drive|
|1993||Sensible Soccer 92/93||Amiga, ST|
|Cannon Fodder||Amiga, ST, MS-DOS, Archimedes, Mega Drive, Jaguar, 3DO, SNES|
|1994||Cannon Fodder 2||Amiga, MS-DOS|
|Sensible World of Soccer|
|1995||Sensible World of Soccer 95/96|
|Sensible Train Spotting||Amiga|
|1996||Sensible World of Soccer European Championship Edition||Amiga, MS-DOS|
|Sensible World of Soccer 96/97|
|1998||Sensible Soccer '98||MS-DOS, Windows 9x|
|1998||Sensible Soccer European Club Edition||PlayStation, Windows 9x|
|2000||Cannon Fodder||Game Boy Color|
- ^ "Sensible Software".
- ^ "Touchstone (C64) - 1989 Origin Systems - GTW64".
- ^ "Jon Hare Sensible Software interview – 'There's only one person that's better than me'". Metro.co.uk. 23 October 2012.
- ^ Walker, Sophie (6 July 1997). "Computer nerds discover sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll". The Independent. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
- ^ a b "Sensible Software 1986-1999 book review – the rise and fall of a British giant". Metro.co.uk. 9 October 2013.
- ^ "CTW – Jon Hare interview". Worldofstuart.excellentcontent.com. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
- ^ "Playing Catch-Up: Sensible Software's Jon Hare". Gamasutra. 24 October 2005. Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
- ^ "For the best in C64 nostalgia". C64.COM. 20 January 1966. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
- ^ "Sensible Software 1986-1999 book review". 15 October 2013.
- ^ Chaplin, Heather (12 March 2007). "Is That Just Some Game? No, It's a Cultural Artifact". The New York Times.
- ^ Penn, Gary (7 October 2013). Sensible Software 1986–1999. Read-Only Memory. ISBN 978-0957576803.
- ^ "Sensible Software 1986-1999 book review". Den of Geek. 15 October 2013.
- ^ "Royal Mail celebrates UK retro games". Stanleygibbons.com. 15 January 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2021.
- 1986 establishments in England
- 1999 disestablishments in England
- Companies based in Chelmsford
- Defunct companies of England
- Defunct video game companies of the United Kingdom
- Golden Joystick Award winners
- Sensible Software
- Software companies of England
- Video game companies established in 1986
- Video game companies disestablished in 1999
- 1999 mergers and acquisitions