Sensible Software 1986–1999

When I was 14, I wrote a list for my parents: "100 reasons why it'd be a good idea for me to have an Amiga 1200". Although it didn't work immediately, my dogged dedication to the cause eventually wore them down, and before long I was able to chuck out my old grey Amstrad 464 and replace it with something much lovelier. That's the power of lists for you.

The Amiga – a kind of precursor to the modern Mac in terms of human-friendly home computing – was an incredible machine. As well being the platform for useful software such as Wordworth and Deluxe Paint (both of which were mentioned near the top of that list and were essential tools at university), it was home to some classic games. The best of these games came out of a handful of idiosyncratic British developers such as Psygnosis (Lemmings), Bullfrog (Syndicate, Theme Park), Team 17 (Alien Breed, Body Blows, Superfrog, Worms), Bitmap Brothers (Speedball), and Sensible Software (Sensible Soccer, Cannon Fodder).

Those who grew up with the Amiga have seen computing and gaming change in all sorts of massive, ridiculous ways, so a lot of this only exists in our flaky ephemeral memories now. Still, at least we have jobs and internet connections now, so at least we're able to do things we only dreamed of back then – such as fund a biography of Sensible Software using Kickstarter.


The first project from new games publisher ROM, the book looks pretty damn lovely – credit to designer Darren Wall. If you throw enough money at it, you get a heavyweight vinyl LP of the songs from their games (War from Cannon Fodder is a classic). It'd be a shame to see this period of British creativity and innovation (and the weird geeky humour that came along with it) get swept aside and forgotten, so books like this are important. With any luck, the success of this project (at time of writing, it's just £4,000 away from its funding goal) will lead to similar titles that we can wave at our grandchildren while we explain to them how things used to be better, back in the day.

UPDATE: They've reached their funding goal! Good work, everyone.