Friday 15 May 2020

Turbo Tomato: Resurrection

Welcome to the first Turbo Tomato devlog of modern times!

This post will cover some background on the the game, its history, and how I've come to start looking at bringing it back from the dead.

Turbo Tomato is an arcade action game for Amiga computers. The 5-second pitch is "Butasan or Psycho Pigs UXB, with deeper gameplay, and a fruit & veg theme". It keeps the same manic bomb-throwing core gameplay, and adds features like power-ups, numerous enemy and special enemy types, a world structure with branching level paths through them, boss fights and optional two-player co-op.

Work started on TT in late 1993 and continued, around university, work and life in general for a few years before petering out. It was by no means a solo effort; while I did the production, code and some graphics, my brother did significant work on design, graphics and tools, and we had input from friends in terms of ideas, music and even fan art at times! Some time in 1997 I "officially" quit the project citing "lack of time" (ha!), but really, like any project that continues for some time, and with an ever-growing scope and no end in sight, interest and motivation had waned. In December 1997 I made a final demo build of TT and uploaded it to a website, and left it at that.

I moved on to other things, but the idea of Turbo Tomato never fully went away. I made a few simple prototypes on PC, and my brother did the same, but nothing ever came of these.

Fast-forward to a few years ago, and a friend asked if I'd like to go to the Amiga Ireland meetup in Athlone in Ireland. I had drifted away from the Amiga scene by then, but decided to go anyway (aside: it turned out to be a great weekend and I've been back every year since!). For the sake of having something to take, I threw the final 1997 build of TT on to UAE on my laptop, and left it running for people to play at the show. A few people played it, and feedback was good. "When is it coming out?".

Fast-forward to the 2020 Amiga Ireland, and despite being very busy running a Dodgy Rocks high-score competition, I got chatting to a few people about the current retro game development scene. It seemed to me there had been a resurgence lately, perhaps driven by much improved tooling, and I already had a notion to make some "small" games that could, theoretically, be ported to classic 8 or 16 bit systems. After spending February and March finishing off new releases of my existing PC games, I came back round to this idea and started working on a basic few tests before - lightbulb moment - I have a 16-bit game that's 80-90% finished already, why not look at that?

I have the source code, I have the assets, could I get Turbo Tomato building on a modern development environment and finish it off after two decades away?

Let's see...

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