HiScore TV // September 2006 – February 2007
In the late Nineties, US companies like Jakks Pacific and Radica Games found a small but highly profitable niche creating battery-powered joysticks that you could plug directly into your TV and use to play retro coin-op classics.
As time went on these companies started to expand and diversify their ranges (partly because the pool of unlicensed arcade games was rapidly drying up), most successfully with ‘themed’ joysticks based around popular TV or film characters featuring a collection of original (albeit still simple) mini-games.
We’d been doing work for Radica since 2005, first on McKids Dance (a dance mat game featuring licensed McDonalds’ characters and official McDonalds songs) and then on PlayTV Soccer (a sports game using an innovative light sensor controller to detect kicking motions). Unfortunately, both projects got canned despite several months of hard work: McKids Dance because Radica’s relationship with McDonalds soured, and PlayTV Soccer because Radica’s engineers failed to get the hardware costs low enough.
Fortunately, we were to prove luckier with our next three projects, starting with ConnecTV Cricket. As the sharper reader may have already guessed, it was a cricket simulation offering the player a range of international teams and authentic game modes to choose between.
Predating the likes of Nintendo’s Wii by a couple of years, the game employed motion controls adapted from tech previously seen in Radica’s baseball game – the player swung a shrunken plastic bat to hit the ball, and pretend-lobbed a tethered plastic ball to bowl (while pressing combinations of buttons on the ball’s surface to perform different bowling styles).
Overall the game was a lot of fun to design, the only real headache being that neither I nor anyone else at HiScore knew anything about the rules of cricket! I spent an intense week researching the sport, working through countless books and websites in a cricketing crash course.
Coding duties were handled by the legendary Jon ‘Head Over Heels’ Ritman with graphics by the talented Anthony ‘Bliz’ Rosbottom. Both did a wonderful job, squeezing great results out of the primitive sub-Super NES hardware.