||This article contains content that is written like an advertisement. (September 2012)|
|Proprietary limited company|
|Industry||Computer and video games|
|Founder||Andrew Bailey, Trevor Nuriden, Arthur Kakouris|
|Tom Crago, CEO
Joss Ellis, Director of Development
|Products||See complete products listing|
Number of employees
|20 to 30 contractors|
Tantalus Media (formerly Tantalus Interactive) is an Australian video game developer based in Melbourne, Australia, founded in 1994 by former Beam Software programmers Trevor Nuridin, Tim Bennett and Andrew Bailey. In the mid 90's Tantalus was partly owned by UK developer Perfect Entertainment, which secured contracts with Psygnosis for ports of their popular PlayStation games to the Sega Saturn. During this time Tantalus was known as Tantalus Entertainment, but reverted to Tantalus Interactive after they became independent when separating from Perfect in 1998. The company changed its name to Tantalus Media in 2007 following investment from private equity company Netus. In 2010 following the completion of the DS & PSP title Megamind: The blue defender, CEO Tom Crago re-acquired the business from Netus.
Tantalus Media are best known for licenced platform conversions and have created over 40 games for the Xbox, Sega Saturn, Dreamcast, Super Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo GameCube, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo 64, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and PC. Currently they are developing for the Nintendo 3DS, Wii U, and iPhone.
Their first original title was South Park Rally, completed for four platforms in just 7 months. Their first handheld game was ATV Quad Power Racing for the Game Boy Advance, and they released Space Race, their first PS2 game, that same year. They used two cross-platform engines: CRIS for handhelds, with skinned mesh rendering, and The Mercury Engine for new generation consoles in its early years.
CRIS (Character Render Interactive System), Was developed by Andrew Bailey for use on the GBA. Using a unique procedure it was able to render 3D mesh on the handheld system. "A game engine that allows the full power of skinned mesh rendering on the GBA. CRIS does away with traditional pre-drawn sprite sequences, replacing them with character images generated in real-time 3D. The result is a level of visual quality and physics realism previously unattainable on a handheld gaming device."
CRIS was used mainly in the 2003 GBA title Top Gear Rally. Released to high critical acclaim it showed the power of a system at it peak, while raising the bar for racing games on hand-held systems. Tantalus won 'Best Game' at the 2003 Australian Game Developer Awards in Melbourne for its effort.
In addition to licenced video games the developer released two original IP titles, Trickstar and Black Market Bowling.
In 2005 Tantalus' had two prominent original IP titles that never managed to attract publisher interest.
Metal Shell was developed into a playable demo, originally a vehicle shoot-em-up on the PS2 in 2003, the feature making it popular was deformable terrain as vehicles and shells exploded. In 2005 new concept and a short promotional video was developed in-house by the art team, shown at E3 that year it was promoted as a battlefield 1942 type game, set in the future. However, the 2003 promotional video was seen by players of the Toronto based games producer Longbow Digital Arts 'Treadmarks' tank combat and racing game, and several issues were flagged up, leading to graphical comparisons drawn in a side by side fashion... they were incredibly alike, in one case down to exact sprite design. Tom Crago was contacted directly on the issue and denied any infer of 'copying' (or trying to copy) Treadmarks, despite Tantalus allegedly holding Treadmarks source material for a short while. Archived video footage of both titles can be found and compared on youtube.
Anaka was first pitched as a jump n run for the GBA in 2003, while only a document existed featuring loose details. In 2005 an animation feature short was made with the help of Act3animation as part of a pilot for television. In 2006 a touch only DS demo was created, Players could control the character indirectly by touching the screen where they wanted them to go. It was a mix between a jump n run and a traditional adventure game.
The developer’s best performing title was the 2007 girl’s horse riding simulator Pony Friends for the Nintendo DS which sold more than 1 million copies, making Pony Friends the largest-selling single-format game developed in Australia. In 2008 Tantalus was running two studios, and during that time the studio worked on Cars race-o-rama and MX reflex for the DS and PSP, as well as Pony friends 2 for the wii & DS, and Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole for DS. Shortly after completion of cars race-o-rama DS in 2009 the Brisbane studio started work on the company's first digitally distributed title Drift street International for the DSi. Meanwhile the Melbourne office began work on Megamind (video game) for PSP and DS, while also prototyping demos for 360, iPhone, and PS3.
Games by Tantalus Media
- Stargate (SNES, 1994)
- Area 51 (Saturn, PSX, PC – 1995)
- Wipeout (Saturn, 1996)
- Krazy Ivan (PSX, Saturn, PC – 1996)
- Manx TT Superbike (Saturn, PC – 1997)
- Wipeout 2097 (Saturn, 1997)
- The House of the Dead (Saturn, PC – 1998)
- South Park Rally (DC, N64, PSX, PC – 1999)
- ATV: Quad Power Racing (PSX, GBA – 2000)
- Looney Tunes: Space Race (DC – 2000) (PS2 – 2002)
- Men in Black II: Alien Escape (GC, PS2 – 2002)
- Woody Woodpecker in Crazy Castle 5 (GBA – 2002)
- Monster Truck Madness (GBA – 2003)
- Unreal II: The Awakening (Xbox, 2003)
- Top Gear Rally (GBA, 2003)
- The Polar Express (GBA – 2004)
- The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius – Attack of the Twonkies (GBA – 2004)
- SpongeBob SquarePants: The Yellow Avenger (DS, PSP – 2005)
- Trick Star (GBA, 2006)
- MX vs. ATV: On the Edge (PSP – 2006)
- Cars Mater-National Championship (GBA, DS – 2007)
- MX vs. ATV: Untamed (DS, PSP – 2007)
- Pony Friends (DS – 2007)
- The Legend of Spyro: Dawn of the Dragon (DS – 2008)
- Pony Friends 2 (Wii, DS, PC – 2009)
- MX vs. ATV Reflex (PSP, DS – 2009)
- Cars Race-O-Rama (PSP, DS – 2009)
- Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (DS - 2010)
- Megamind (video game) (PSP, DS – 2010)
- Super Speed Machines (DS – 2010)
- Ben 10: Galactic Racing (DS – 2011)
- Funky Barn (3DS, Wii U – 2012)
- Pony Trails (iOS 2012)
Publisher / Producer
- AMF Bowling 2004 – Black Market Games (Xbox, 2003)
- Black Market Bowling – Black Market Games (PS2, 2005)
- Heat Shield – Black Market Games (iOS, 2009)
- Drift Street International – Tantalus (DSi, 2010)
- Funky Barn Download – Tantalus (Wii U, 2012)
Tantalus' first office was in Elizabeth Street in Melbourne's CBD from 1994 to 2000. They then moved to 'The Tea House' at South Wharf, Victoria in South Melbourne where they stayed until late 2011. In December 2011, they relocated their headquarters to Fitzroy, a suburb of Melbourne.
In December 2008 Tantalus established an office in Kenvin Grove, Brisbane, supporting a small team to increase development capacity.
At that time Tantalus employed just over 70 staff across the two offices, with 5 titles in production across 5 platforms. The studios were equipped to handle mutable projects, with 3-4 titles were being developed at any one time.
During the last half of 2009, due to a shift in the games industry in Australia, Tantalus Media closed its Brisbane office, while also making much of the staff in the Melbourne office redundant. During the first half of 2010 the company was reduced to a staff of under 18, at a time when many Australian development studios were closing.
- "Sydney Morning Herald Screenoplay: Developer Dreams"
- "Tantalus Media pty ltd"
- "Top Gear Rally Gamesopt"
- "Top Gear Rally Award"
- "Metal Shell" "Treadmarks"
- "Anaka on NickToons"
- "Sydney Morning Herald: Local Hero"
- Tantalus Interactive