Simulants' Revenge - Full Playthrough featured image

EDIT (21/09): Thanks to MiloScat (double thanks, in fact, since he was the one to get us looking into the same in the first place) we’ve very quickly discovered that the version we play here is in fact a medium fidelity version and there’s at least a high and low fidelity version. We’ve now repackaged the downloads to include these versions. This also clears up speculation in the video and in this article regarding the visuals, as the high fidelity version seems to have all the visual features seen in the screenshots.

Back in 2003, TOS and a company called Blue Beck launched the first ever official Red Dwarf game, Simulants’ Revenge. Billed as the first of a ‘host’ of new games, it would sadly be the only example of its kind and the only official game to be made for the next decade plus. It was made for the then prominent mobile platform J2ME (if you had a phone in the early to mid 2000s that produced actual colour images it was probably running this platform) but it quickly fell off the face of the earth as GNP’s short lived foray into the mobile space was put on ice. After a question submitted to an episode of DwarfCasts piqued our interests we promptly tracked down a copy to fill a 17 year gap in our collective knowledge, so we can now present to you a full run through of the game with commentary from Jonathan Capps, Danny Stephenson and Ian Symes…

The game is, at its core, about as simple as you’d expect from an arcadey mobile game of the time and goes for the tried and tested top down space shoot-em-up forumla you’d expect. You blast your way through waves of enemies until you get to a final boss (if you were able to survive long enough to be become an overpowered killing machine thanks to the plethora of power-ups), kill it, and the whole cycle repeats until you run out of lives and you can log your highscore. The world building is quite interesting as it’s clearly set at some point between Gunmen of the Apocalypse and Rimmerworld. The opening blurb sets the scene by stating that Starbug has wandered in a simulant hunting zone although, put simply, the newly gifted upgrades from the simulants are about to fuck shit up. That’s about as far as the overall story of the game goes (there’s no mention of why, for example, the Simulants seem to have an entire army of GELFs to throw at you) but we also get some fun and often daftly paraphrased quotes from the show between levels to keep us amused.

For further reading, check out these Simulants’ Revenge TOS posts from back in the day as well as this really interesting Mr. Flibble interview with Peter Scott of Blue Beck (something we hadn’t actually stumbled on at the time of recording this video) which goes into a load of extra detail about the genesis of the game, as well as the plans for future games such as 6000 and Falling (great name, that), Grav Pool and Rogue Skutters. There’s also a full rundown of the logos created for the arcade section (also by Blue Beck) and the ambitious sounding plans for the future of the platform, including online leaderboards and the like. We also mention in the video the fact that a lot of the publicity screenshots look a lot more detailed than the game itself, and the interview is also a great source of those types of screenshots. At the time if writing, though, we don’t actually know for sure whether these are not from a version of a game that targets more powerful phones, so if you know more than us please do get in touch.

It’s a shame the full plans for the Arcade section never came to fruition but we do have Simulants’ Revenge as a very interesting and genuinely fun relic of the time and if you fancy giving it a shot then please sneak over to the Downloads section and ask for the ‘special stuff’ at the counter.

16 comments on “Simulants’ Revenge – Full Playthrough

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  • I was having a conversation the other day about how when you think back to PS1 or even PS2 era games, the graphics feel/are remembered as being a lot better than they were. Presumably a) your brain is filling in some games and b) you’re sort of overlaying current gen graphics/expectations.

    I think back to simulates revenge and I remember the graphics being a lot better than seen here. Whether that is because I have a better phone (Nokia 3650) or whatever at the time I don’t know, but I can’t imagine it was that much better.

    Speaking on whether it was too niche, the TOS article lists only 27 phones it could run on, at a time when pages and pages of catalogues would be dedicated to mobiles phones. (Whether there were more different phones then than now I don’t know but a lot more separated them. Now it’s basically Apple or Android (or Samsung I guess) the phone itself isn’t going to be wildly different or powerful to run different games/software. It’s just up to the devs to make the apps.) So it could only run on a very small number of phones comparatively, and required you to be something of a fan of the show to find it and download it. I know know because of TOS at the time. How many casual fans might have played if there was an App Store or anything of a marketing campaign (the XI & XII games were able to get TV spots when the show was on) to promote something like this.

  • You’re right I do have fond memories of this game. A lot of that will be down to the fact that this would have been quite revolutionary at the time. Aside from Snake, mobile gaming just didn’t exist before this really. Having the ability to play something a complex endless running space shooter on a phone based on my favourite TV show was a bit mind blowing.

  • I’m pretty sure I’d have used more of the Nitro before meeting the final boss and needing to fight a little harder with standard lasers and dodging to defeat it.

    That could be down to playing it on a phone keypad and not being able to react as quickly so using Nitro to get yourself out of a sticky situation might have happened a lot more often that here.

    That or I was incredibly shit at the game.

  • That was a lot of fun to watch. I have memories of it being a lot harder to play overall. Whether that was having to play using a phone keypad or me being crap who knows. But I definitely feel like it took me several attempts over days to complete the game.

    I definitely remember getting through the game twice. Whether I got through it a 3rd time I don’t know, and I think that is down to how difficult I found it. Or the amount of time it takes to play through.

  • If you Aborted the game rather than let your lives run down, would you still be able to add CUNT to the hi-score screen?

    Sadly, no

  • I had this. Played it on my Nokia at the time. It wasn’t very fun to play on a phone keypad, but it did become my go-to “something to do on the toilet so I’m not left alone with my thoughts and/or excretions” activity.

  • Great video! Lots of fun to watch, thanks so much. I’m especially pleased that it was my question to the show that spurred this flurry of activity!

    Now… I’ve scoured the Internet and found another version of the game, one targeting more powerful phones perhaps. Compared to the paltry 81KB of the one you played, this is a mighty 191KB! It has all the features that were in the previews but you noticed as missing from your copy: polygonal asteroids, floating heads to accompany the quotes, etc.

    In my attempted playthrough just now, I also noticed more detailed backgrounds, an additional powerup (the Ace Shield), and two additional enemy types (some kind of structure on a space station, and turrets on a planetary surface). It’s also got a nifty 3D spinning Starbug graphic on the title screen. I died about halfway through and true to Cappsy’s word progress became utterly impossible as I’d lost all my powerups. I also had trouble getting the sound to work properly but you might have more luck.

    I wonder if you’d like to do a follow-up video covering this more advanced version as well as the interview linked in the article. Or just put this one up for download as well. Either way, I’d like to give you this file! How shall I do it?

  • Ooooh! I was obviously not looking in the right places when I was trying to find other versions. Emailing to admin [at] ganymede.tv would be lovely, thank you!

  • Ok, done. Let me know if you have any problems with that.

    In the meantime I had another go and noticed a new type of enemy spaceship, and some nifty polygon towers that shoot electricity differently to the other ones. The final boss also seems to have a lot more segments. Sadly I died again at that point so can’t confirm if there’s any additional message when clearing a loop. There were some different between-level quotes though (including one from Kochanski!), perhaps they’re semi-randomised or based on your score?

    Additional: I found a third version, for more basic phones. Smaller screen, less detailed graphics. I’ll have a go at it too and see if there’s any notable differences.

  • This does also solve the mystery of the Ace Shield references I found when I decompiled the original version we found, but I’d assumed it was a cut idea!

    Thanks to Mr Scat we’ll be updating the Download links with the newly found versions soon, just as soon as I’ve finished my obligations to my employer for the day.

  • Awesome!

    A few thoughts about the “small” 53KB version. The most noticeable change is the powerups being simpler letter graphics, but otherwise it looks and feels very similar to the “medium” 81KB one from the video. I did notice on level 9 a version of the “large” 191KB game’s electric towers that I don’t remember seeing in the video. They’re simple red squares in this one.

    Playing it also made me retroactively notice more improvements in “large” though, like it not flashing the whole screen yellow when attacking the boss, or accepting more than one input at once! This makes a big difference to the playability.

  • Download links are all updated! I haven’t had chance to dig into the other versions much, specifically the hi res one, but if it’s significantly different I might stick out a quick addendum to the video to cover the missed points.

    I am brilliant at research.

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