Sensible Software - a potted history

In 1981 in a quiet suburb of Chelmsford two 15 year olds Chris Yates and Jon Hare became school buddies and formed a world beating rock band called Zeus, in 1989 after 9 long years of writing and gigging and more band names than you can shake a stick at including Hamsterfish, Dark Globe, The Amazing Technicolour Dreamglobe and Touchstone the band was no more. The band's career highlight had been one solitary piece of airplay for one track only on Loughborough University Campus Radio, the DJ didn't even like it.

Fortunately for Chris and Jon, they had been quick to spot the fact that playing in a 70's style rock band when everyone was listening to Spandau Ballet and Stock, Aitken and Waterman was jolly good fun but unlikely to make them any lolly. So in 1985 with both of them by then having established themselves as professional College dropouts they stopped claiming dole and both took up jobs with a computer firm in Basildon called LT software. Chris was programming for the ZX Spectrum and Jon was doing some odd graphics jobs. After six months their first game and their only non-original game to date was complete 'Sodov the Sorceror' a conversion of the game 'Gandalf' it was published by a company called Bug-Byte who are now long extinct. Anyway after the publication of 'Sodov the Sorcerer' the two of them went on to do their first original game, again on the Spectrum this game was called 'Twister', most notable for the scantily clad women that danced on System 3's stand at the PCW show in Earl's Court in order to promote the product.

After 'Twister' Jon and Chris broke away from LT Software (the manager of which later had a sex change and became Patricia instead of Mike) and in March 1986 they started up their own company Sensible Software on a Government Enterprise Scheme. They can well recall the sale of their first game as Sensible Software, it was on the Commodore 64 and entitled 'Parallax'. They nervously got on a train and headed up to Manchester to the offices of Ocean Software clutching their demo disk in their hands. They came back with a cheque for ÂŁ1000 pounds and a signed deal and they thought it was Christmas. They celebrated by having a champagne meal with cigars on the train on the way back, this had been their lucky break, the sort of lucky break that everyone needs when they are starting out and they knew it.

Parallax was released in November of that year and was soon followed by 'Wizball' probably the greatest of Sensible's earlier releases this received the ultimate accolade of "Game of the Decade" from 'Zzap 64' which just happened to be the computer magazine of the decade.

Still on the Commodore 64 Sensible then released, 'Shoot'em Up Construction Kit' or SEUCK as it is better known. This program enabled people at home to write their own action games using a simple and effective program with which you could draw the characters make your own sound effects and put the whole thing together. SEUCK was awarded with the "State of the Art" award for highly original software in 1987.

Next off the production line was Sensible's first soccer game called 'Microprose Soccer'. This was stunning for it's time and hailed in 'Computer and Video Games' as "The Best Sports Game available on any Computer" it won many awards and is still widely regarded as the best football game available for the C64. `International 3D Tennis` was the end of the first chapter in the history of Sensible Software as it was their last game for the C64.

The first games written by Sensible specifically for the 16 bit machines particularly the Amiga and the Sega Megadrive were 'Mega lo Mania' a god game with a difference, featuring very early use of good quality sampled speech and 'Wizkid', surely Sensible's most surreal effort so far it is packed with hundreds of the neat touches that have come to be known as Sensible's own Inimitable Sense of Humour. It won the most original game of the year award in 1992 from The One magazine and is the only thing even remotely representing a platform game that Sensible have ever done.

But what Sensible have come to be most renowned for is the `Sensible Soccer` and `Sensible World of Soccer` series a massive success throughout the 90`s with over 1,500,000 sales in Europe alone to date. Still widely regarded as the most playable game on any machine Sensible Soccer received Best Selling Game Computer Software 92/93 at the Computer Industry Annual Dinner 1993 and is an all time industry classic.

'Cannon Fodder' and it`s sequel `Cannon Fodder 2` are two more classic chart topping, award winning Sensible games. Indeed between 1992 and 1994 Sensible Soccer and Cannon Fodder between them spent a staggering 50 weeks at No. 1 in the charts.

Whatsmore the imminent release of `Sensible Soccer World Cup `98` on PC CDRom Sensible`s new football game in full 3D is about to send Sensible Soccer back to the top of the league again after more than 3 years on the drawing board.

Starting way back on the Sinclair Spectrum and having since produced titles on the Commodore C64, Amstrad, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga, Sega Megadrive, SNES and more lately for PCCDRom Sensible have now grown to a company with a turnover of £1,500,000 and a size of over 20 people. Sensible are truly one of the oldest and most established development firms in the world, whatsmore their reputation as pioneers of great gameplay and their renowned professionalism, sense of humour, attention to detail and common touch have earnt them a special place in the memories and software collections of the computer literate public not only in their native UK, but also throughout the whole of Europe.

Sensible has been knee deep in research over the last 3 years and is now ready to enter a new third phase of success following it`s former triumphs and ultimate domination of the Commodore 64 and Commodore Amiga markets throughout Europe. Although nearly all of Sensible`s titles have been converted to PC, Sensible have never before themselves originated on this platform and they are now looking forward to really attacking the CDRom market throughout the world, starting this year with `Sensible Soccer World Cup `98` and `Sex `n` Drugs `n` Rock `n` Roll` (an orgy of entertainment and the world`s first true cross-media product) and from then on looking to produce at least one original Sensible title every year.

After 12 years Jon (Jops) Hare and Chris (Krix) Yates are still at the helm of Sensible and many industry legends have long since passed through the Sensible Turnmill, some are still onboard some have sailed off to different waters. Development greats such as Chris (Chipper) Chapman, Richard (RJ) Joseph, Martin Galway, Dave (Ubik) Korn, Jools, Rob Trevellyan, Stoo Cambridge, JL, CD, Stuart Campbell and many more have all added to Sensible`s legendary culture and status.

Sensible's 3 greatest qualities have always been originality, playability and attention to detail. This has been recognised over the years by several Programmer of the year and game of the year awards at various awards ceremonies and in various magazines and the two `Developer of The Year' awards they received in 1992 and 1993 at the Computer Industry Annual Dinner (the nearest things you can get to Oscars as a computer games developer) are probably their greatest industry accolades yet.