In my review of Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, I mentioned that Charlie Brooker’s latest installment of the popular British anthology series is loosely based on a real-life unreleased video game of the 1980s, also named Bandersnatch.
Bandersnatch was made by Imagine Software, a British video games developer based in Liverpool which although existing for only a short period of time, had a big impact on the UK games industry. The company was founded in 1982 by former members of Bug-Byte and produced several successful games, before running into financial trouble in late 1983 when undertaking a hugely ambitious project that had the team working on six big-concept games.
According to Wikipedia, these games were designed to push the boundaries of the hardware of the time, even to the extent that they were intended to be released with a hardware add-on which would have increased the capabilities of the computer, as well as guarding against piracy. One of those games was the aforementioned Bandersnatch which was to be written by John Gibson and Ian Wetherburn and released on the Commodore 64. Unfortunately, the collapse of Imagine meant that they remained vaporware and neither of these games was ever released.
Although Bandersnatch was never finished, Imagine did leave a mark on gaming history, and thanks to the nationwide notoriety they had received at the time, BBC sent a documentary crew to interview the team before the software house went bankrupt by their own ambitions.
The documentary titled “The Rise and Fall of Imagine Software,” just so happens to be available to watch on Youtube. It’s quite a fascinating watch and a unique snapshot of software houses Ocean and Imagine between 1983 and 1984.