Obituaries Famous video game artist Bernie Drummond has passed away. His creations were among the most beloved on the ZX Spectrum, and some of his iconic titles are among the highest rated computer games of all time: Batman in 1986, and Crazy in Love and Matchday II in 1987.
The Batman franchise is huge now, but that wasn’t the case when work on the game began in 1985. It was before the eponymous film by Tim Burton (1989), Alan Moore and Brian Bolland Batman: the murderous joke (1988) or that of Frank Miller Batman: Return of the Dark Knight comic strip (1986). It wasn’t an obvious choice for a game, but that’s what Drummond suggested to programmer Jon Ritman, who asked Ocean Software to authorize the aged comic book character. The look of the game is visibly influenced by the 1960s television series starring Adam West.
Batman wasn’t the first isometric 3D game on the Spectrum. The system had been implemented earlier by Ultimate for its Knowledge of the knight. No doubt, however, Batman did it better – partly in its distinctive look, and partly via easier up-down-left-right controls as opposed to History of the Knights turn then walk system, as well as smooth animation and charming details such as the protagonist impatiently tapping his foot if left standing for too long.
Programmer Ritman was impressed with Drummond’s art from the start. “Bernie created what looked like a jumble of random dots with no sign that he knew where he was going… He went from crazy doodler to craftsman instantly, sculpting a matching eye and then an entire character – that was without a doubt there. ‘one of the best pieces of game art I had ever seen,’ he said. Retro player.
In 1987, the duo embarked on the design Crazy in Love and Matchday II, a sequel to Ritman’s 1984 game. Exceptionally, both Batman and Crazy in Love were also released for Amstrad PCW – among the only arcade games for what was intended as a semi-dedicated word processor.
Drummond was surprised by his own success: “It never occurred to me that I was an artist, or that I was going to be an artist – I loved to draw, but I had no ambition.
He compared the work to being like a sculptor, saying “The manipulation of pixels is very strange – things are very different on the screen compared to how they might appear on paper,” he Recount Your Sinclair magazine. “If you have a character with a head that doesn’t look round, adding a few pixels can round the head and make a few ears.”