The Bitmap Brothers : Universe – An Incredible Guide to one of Gaming’s Greatest Software Houses

When we first heard about the work of Read-Only Memory books and founder Darren Wall, we were instantly captivated by the aesthetics and attention to detail of their publications. Stunningly printed and covering some of the most beloved aspects of retro gaming. Their varied work included publications covering the likes of the Sega Mega Drive,  Bitsoft, and the incredible Sensible Soccer to name a few.

So when founder Darren Wall launched his Kickstarter campaign  ‘Bitmap Brothers : Universe’ a book based upon the work of legendary software group the Bitmap Brothers, creators of such renowned games such as Speedball, Magic Pockets, Gods and Chaos Engine we simply couldn’t wait to find out more.

The Bitmap Brothers were undoubtedly the rockstars of 90’s Amiga gaming. With press shots spread across the gaming publications of the time, and an iconic pixel art style that still looks as iconic today as it did back then. The BB games always seemed ‘edgy’ and had ground breaking elements of the time including soundtracks by the likes of legendary producer Bomb the Bass with his Megablast soundtracking their hit shooter ‘Xenon 2’. Or ‘Doin the Do’ by ‘Betty Boo’ used on the title screen of their platformer ‘Magic Pockets’. The team’s unique styling put them at the very forefront of 80’s and 90’s gaming so it’s no wonder that devoted fans are still playing remakes of games such as Speedball and The Chaos Engine which have launched over recent years.

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The Bitmap Brothers : Universe is the definite guide on the legendary software house and an absolute tome of information (over 300 pages!).  Like the incredible aesthetics of ROM’s other books’ ‘Universe’ is beautifully presented, this time on a printed board with amazing cover art by Dan Malone. The content includes a host of never seen before work in progress sketches and high resolution imagery of the games. The latter keeping the classic ‘scan lines’ of the era.  It should be said this archive material was created by NVIDIA graphics engineer Timothy Lottes and it’s a welcome reminder of the era’s CRT displays in print form that many of us grew up with.  Duncan Harris’ chronology of the gaming house is fantastic and comprehensively covers the company’s birth in the 80s to the 90s.

t’s wonderful to get a glimpse of Bitmap Brothers’ artist Dan Malone’s early sketches becoming the finished pixel art that we know today.Especially to be able to get a brief glimpse of other pieces of art which never made the finished products.

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On top of which delving into the unseen designs for the never released Amiga racer ‘Bike’ and conceptual art for Speedball game franchise is an absolute treat, something we truly never expected. It’s a rarity to get such an insight into a similar style of book and really does set ROM’s work apart from many other gaming publications.

 

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The book itself features a host of interviews with the men themselves – including Eric Matthews, Dan Malone, Steve Kelly and of course Mike Montgomery. It’s a fascinating insight into the relatively now small environment and working relationships that helped launch such now legendary games. From their enigmatic press photos it’s great to finally meet the team that helped shape such a definitive style that’s instantly relatable to Bitmap Brothers.

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It’s an engaging read, especially glimpsing those press shots with the team and Robert Maxwell’s helicopter and a now near unrecognisable London in the background. As gaming has grown dramatically over the past couple of decades, smaller teams such as the Bitmaps have evidently made way for the mammoth software houses of today. The Bitmap Brothers : Universe serves as a welcome reminder of a simpler time when such a small team could create such epic and still fondly remembered games.

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The Bitmap Brothers : Universe is an absolutely fantastic read and one all retro gamers will absolutely love.

Make sure you get your copy today from https://readonlymemory.vg/shop/