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Jeff Minter was burnt by his experience developing for the Konix when the project fell apart. For an independent developer, the time and money he invested in it were wasted. It's not surprising that he would be more than happy to forget the experience. He was however one of the biggest advocates for the system at the time. The following is a collection of excerpts regarding the Konix Multi-system from his company newsletter "The Nature of the Beast" (I believe this is issue 11 dated 11/10/1989). One thing to explain before you read is he uses a lot of quirky language - especially the superlative 'Zarjaz' which comes from the 2000AD comics and simply means 'excellent'.

The excerpts in order of how they appear in the newsletter:


"Since the last newsletter I've been fairly busy, creating another ST blaster (Gridrunner) and getting to grips with the zarjaz new Konix console (of which more later). Work is now well underway on the first Konix title 'Mutant Camels 89' (of which more later), and there's yet another ST blaster happening too provisionally entitled (get this) 'Atomic Tadpoles vs. Savage Mutant Weirdoes from Basingstoke' (of which more [you guessed it] later)."

"2: The Konix Konsole

Just before I started work on Gridrunner, I was invited to Konix HQ down in Ebbw Vale to view what was at the time their rumoured new console. I won't go on at great length about the console now, as it's been covered in most games mags by now, but suffice to say that I was impressed by the graphics and sound hardware, and also by the startling, innovative design of the console. Far from being just another black box you plug a joystick into, the Konix actually looks like is should be used for flying a spaceship. Attracted by the weird design, the 256-colour graphics mode (could anyone resist a 256-colour graphics mode?), the blitter and the possibility of great sonix via a digital sound processor, I decided that writing some games for the Konix would be a Good Thing, despite having to learn scrummy 8086 assembler and buy a PC to run PDS on. Consequently, in May I took delivery of the large black box containing the prototype Konix board and hooked it up to my shiny new 12MHz 80286 VGA PC and set about learning the system. Learning 8086 wasn't that bad, except that all the instructions are back to front compared to their 68000 equivalents (in 68000 you would say 'move d0,llama' to move the contents of the register d0 to memory locations 'llama', in 8086 the nearest equivalent instruction is 'mov llama,ax') and that there's a lot of piddling around to be done with 64K segments, I much prefer the 68000's contiguous address space. Despite the CPU not being a 68K, programming on the Konix is still good fun as you're assisted by a wickedly fast blitter and a sound chip capable of doing just about anything you want (I managed to get 14-channel stereo sound out of it without too much hassle, and it'll also double as a fast RISC processor for crunching numbers if you want).

By now, I'm about two-thirds of the way through programming 'Mutant Camels '89', a considerable re-design of good old AMC. The fundamental idea of the game is the same - prevent the camels from reaching your base at one end of a horizontally-scrolling play area - but the gameplay has been extended in a number of directions. There's more of a mission - you collect shards of shattered camels and carry them back to base, where eventually they're turned into a Neutronium Bomb which you use to destroy the enemy base and complete the level, and the camels aren't alone - they've got air and ground support from all manner of weird psychedelic aliens all out to splatter your pixels. To aid you, you've ten devastating weapons systems allowing up to 16 bullets onscreen simultaneously. Some of the higher-powered systems enable you to fill the screen with enormous bullets against which no meanie stands a Spectrum's chance in Hell, and the very best weapon, Smart Lazers, you don't even have to aim.

All this mayhem takes place to the accompaniment of eye-earing psycadellcly-coloured visuals (sort of 'I've-got-a-256-colour-mode-and-I'm-going-to-damn-well-make-sure-everybody-knows-it kind of stuff), with a sun which rises and sets and a raster horizon which lightens and darkens accordingly. The game music is fast, in Stereo, loud and algorithmically-generated to change according to what's happening in the gameplay, and the sonix are satisfyingly blasty. The graphics should be much better than usual Yakly stuff, too, since they're being provided by my mate Wulf, who's an artist, whereas I'm not.

The finished game will span five or six major levels each with a different theme (at the moment I've got Pyramids and Stonehenge, but there'll be others like volcanic, City and Strange). There's a 44-entry high-score table which will be saved to disk, and three pause modes, and some zarjaz demo screens with an exceedingly groovy variety of purple-and-black colourflows behind them. There's powerups and big explosions and loadsabullets and just plenty of blasting, and we hope to have the game out sometime in november, hopefully by which time the Konix will be on sale and people buying it in droves. The Konix hardware itself provides more potential for fast colourful, innovative games than even the best Japanese offerings - PC-Engine and Sega Megadrive. Software is planned to be around 15 pounds too, comparing very favourably with current 16-bit and console prices. If the console does well, I plan a steady stream of releases - games and maybe something weirder - although I shan't be abandoning the ST altogether; how could I now I've got such a zarjaz library of ST sprite, raster and sound drivers?

The Konix also has some amazing add-ons to turn it into the ultimate gaming system outside of the arcades, not least of which is the Power Chair, bringing hydraulic-style gameplay within the reach of the slightly rich game freak. If you're into something more than just the latest coin-op conversions and you want the hottest game hardware around, get yer mitts on a Konix Konsole. And you'll be able to play YAK games...

3: Current Developments I'm currently waiting for the final release of the Konix development system (which contains a true 8086 instead of the 8088 in the prototype and which should cop a 3x speed increase, yes please I'll have some of that) which will allow me to finish off MC89. "

"Another good thing about the Lynx is that it doesn't conflict with my enthusiasm for the Konix, which I consider to be the most capable, original, interesting and globally zarjaz TV-based console around (or nearly around as I write this). (Brief pause at this point in typing to appreciate a Dave Gilmour guitar solo which just shouldn't be type through). Whereas something like the PC Engine is specifically zarjaz in respect of its supreme capability to accurately reproduce scrolly arcade games controlled by an 8-way joystick, the Konix is globally zarjaz in that it possesses unparalleled colour-handling, blazing speed, and a great variety of game control possibilities, allowing not only accurate arcade conversions but also the possibility of original games designed around the unique capabilities of the system. Konix are encouraging third party developers to use the system which will make for a good variety of titles catering to different tastes, and they're going to quality check each game before it's released, which should hopefully ensure that no naff games are sold. Software will be diskette-based and priced at around 15 pounds, making building up a library of games considerably cheaper than a ROM based console. And you can always expand the system and get the [Power Chair for the ultimate home game experience.

I like the Konix a lot because it is an original design. Even the PC-Engine is just an improved version of the original Atari VCS games machine: a box you plug an 8-way joystick into to play sprite based, scrolly games. The Konix gives you the same capability if you want, but it also allows you to go beyond the limited control options offered by the old 8-way switch joystick and explore the designs using flight controllers, foot pedals and all sorts of groovy stuff like that. The Konix also uses a fast bitmap display, rather than sprites, which is a little harder to program than a sprite system but which allows for a much greater variety of effects onscreen (you'll never see a PC-Engine drawing any vectors or polygons. And the classic Williams arcade machines were all fast-bitmap systems).

To conclude this section, here's a summary of the machines which a well-equipped blaster ought to be forking over the dosh for in the immediate future:

1) the Konix: It's fast, colourful, original, Welsh, reasonably-priced and awesomely powerful, and of course I've got an ulterior motive, you can play Mutant Camels on it.

2) The Lynx: Now there is no reason ever to stop playing videogames. You can play in the bog, on the beach, in the car (as long as you're not driving), just anywhere. And the system's got infinite pose value for freaking people out on trains and in 'planes.

3) The PC-Engine: Now becoming generally available over here, and still nice to have as a dedicated machine for running standard-format arcade conversions. Get one if you have any dosh left over after the Konix and the Lynx. "

"Then there was the PC show just last week, and this year we were guests of Atari, who kindly provided us with a large Mitsubishi monitor for the purposes of displaying Trip-A-Tron, which looked most groovy thereupon. We were situated in the Games Arcade section of the Atari stand, which meant I could sneak off from time to time and have a quick blast. Most of the time I sat there quite happily demonstrating just how zarjaz 9.5 megabytes of STs can look when they are all running Trip-A-Tron through my video mixer. Konix were demonstrating the Multi-system, and whenever I went over there was always someone playing my Mutant Camels, which was encouraging to see (if anyone thought that the Konix demos lacked smoothness or were in any way slow, remember that the demos at the show were running on the old 8088-based systems, which (a) only have an 8-bit address bus, and (b) are shut down during screen lines. Production Konixes will have the full 16-bit 8086 CPU, which will remain active during screen lines, so all the games will run a lot smoother and faster)."