11 minutes from an unreleased Shadow of the Beast challenger.
Back in the 1990s, Iraqi programmer and designer Auday Hussein worked on an Amiga adaptation of the Mesopotamian epic of Gilgamesh, the oldest surviving work of literature. He was kind enough to talk me through this amazing project earlier this year, discussing his first experiments with the MSX and Amiga, what it was like learning about programming in Baghdad during the rule of the Ba’ath Party, the challenges of visualising the Gilgamesh universe, and the possibility of releasing the partly completed game today.
Hussein also shared a video of the game, which now has the working title “Kingdom of Death”. It’s a beautiful and atmospheric action-adventure set in the underworld, with a wonderful monster bestiary and thoughtful puzzles tied to cuneiform inscriptions. You can read much more in the full feature, but here’s the video by itself if you’d rather cut to the chase.
An excerpt from the article, for context: “It’s a 2D platform adventure with a musclebound, sword-wielding hero, a vast menagerie of monsters and intricate, cavernous environments. It takes inspiration from a multitude of non-Mesopotamian sources, including Shadow of the Beast, Zelda and David Joiner’s 1987 RPG Fairy Tale Adventure, and is “more free, more open” than the Gilgamesh narrative, with puzzles that pull you deeper into the setting.”
Auday’s other projects include the terrific hoverbike racer Impulse GP, published on iOS, Android and Amazon many years after he left Iraq. Its 60 frames a second performance aside, the game is notable for its “Trackmaster” proprietary course editor, which allowed artists and designers to quickly import and modify objects.
“I had designers and artists just bringing their art from Maya or any other application that makes 3D objects and importing them into this tool, and then start just paving their track along the line,” Hussein told me. “They just draw the line and the track goes on, they can twist it and do everything in a very easy way. You can basically design a whole track within a couple hours, with all the environment around it and everything, and you can actually play the game in Trackmaster while you design it.”