Weird Dreams WIP

By Dave E

Originally published in EUG #68
WEIRD DREAMS - The Glorious Garden (Click To Open In New Window) WEIRD DREAMS - The Fairground Sequence (Click To Open In New Window) WEIRD DREAMS - The Descent (Click To Open In New Window)
WEIRD DREAMS - The Teapot (Click To Open In New Window) WEIRD DREAMS - The Deserts (Click To Open In New Window) WEIRD DREAMS - The Endgame (Click To Open In New Window)
WEIRD DREAMS - The Pianolands (Click To Open In New Window) WEIRD DREAMS - The Hall Of Mirrors (Click To Open In New Window)
WEIRD DREAMS - The Corridors (Click To Open In New Window)

Oh Yes, It Really Is In Development!

The Atmospheric Cut-Scenes Have Been Ported In Full From PC Version

The Game Thrives Upon Surreality
And Use Of Colour

Rather Like Exile, You've Got A Novella And A Killer Wasp!

Reach The Final Stage And Do Battle For Control Of Your Mind

An article on a BBC/Electron game still in development means either one of two things. Either it's been hopelessly delayed or it is going to be big. In the case of Weird Dreams, it's surely the second explanation. And, when you take into account that the original game ran only on the Amiga, Atari ST and PC machines, the word 'big' even appears, well, rather inadequate as a descriptor,

I personally loved the original Amiga game, which was released in the early Nineties and also featured on the ITV show Motormouth. The premise was a surreal one; the game attempting to set the scene a la Exile, with a short novella. The main character, who you go on to control in the game proper, gets on the wrong side of a daemon. The daemon has taken the form of a young office girl, Emily, to whom you made a slighty risque comment. The punishment she ultimately metes out is to send you into a deep coma and so begins the strange world of your Weird Dreams.

The game is probably best described as a platformer, although considering not a single platform exists within it, perhaps not. In-game cut scenes punctuate the action, beginning with the murky confines of an intensive care unit as four sinister-looking surgeons peer over you. Your heart rate flatlines then registers the odd sign of life. When you begin the game, an impressive animation of your pyjamaed character falls backwards into a tunnel of light.

Whilst the 32+ colour palette of the 16 bit versions could not be mapped to the 8 bits wholescale, for the obvious reason that the limit is 8, a quick review of the visuals planned for BBC Weird Dreams shows the techniques that have been used to get around this limitation. The graphical backgrounds are mesmerising and, because it has been produced as a disc only title, very little detail has been sacrificed at all. Featureless landscapes like those of the desert levels and complex scenarios like the hall of mirrors are each rendered at the base of a Mode 1 screen. Colours are regularly switched so each scene feels remarkably different to the one before.

The protagonist features in them all, an agile chap whose pyjamaed actions involve fighting killer tulips, avoiding a murderous lawnmower and feeding a small, grinning girl to a killer football. Or, if that's not to your liking, you can fight giantic phalluses, elongated slimers, whirlpools and a killer wasp. Progress even further and you deal with a china ballet dancer, vampire bats, and a mutant chicken. As yet, you are stuck with slideshows of all of these backdrops and sprites - and the word is that some of these may not survive to the final game due to memory constraints - but the original game boasts four different attack moves, and several quite bloodthirsty ways to die! Oh yes, you can be bludgeoned to death by a grinning lolita, eaten by a football, chewed up by the lawnmower, bitten in half by a big door, kicked off screen by a ballerina or thwacked by a giant crystal.

As you will see from the accompanying screenshots here, the 8 bit version is shaping up to be one of the best games ever seen on either computer, at least visually. There are still a few unanswered questions - like "Will the piano scenes There's No Escape From That Maniacal Grin... include hardware or software scrolling?" and "What about all that atmospheric music? Is that being ported over too?" The development disc at present has only the option to view each of the 15 backdrops, two cut-scenes and sprite source code, together with some mockup scenes. All that is left to do therefore is to string it all together and the game will be born. Our mouths are already watering at the prospect, although rumours are circulating that we might be waiting at least until Christmas 2013 for the final product. Boo...