We had always felt that converting Grand Prix Simulator for the Spectrum had not produced the best possible version of the game. So we decided to write Grand Prix Simulator II, a Spectrum specific version which made full use of the machine's capabilities.
We'd been big fans of an early game called Choplifter on the Apple IIe and whilst we thought this was cool we wanted to add something new. So when we wrote Operation Gunship we used an aerial view of a helicopter flying around an island picking up soldiers to give the player much more scope for choice. A few years later Desert Strike came out and used a very similar technique, but sold a few more copies than we did!!!
It was our most ambitious project for the last few years and as a result took a very long time to write. We were quite pleased with the final game but it looks so much better on emulators that can speed things up to 200%.
Here's a funny story about Operation Gunship: Codemasters' art department was an efficient and fast production line for creating packaging and illustrations. They had been given a message that our next game was called Operation Gunship, the player controlled a gunship rescuing soldiers from islands. We thought this was specific enough in those days. However, just as the game was about to be duplicated we saw the final box art and the artist had created an illustration of a battleship not realising that a gunship was actually a helicopter!
After writing Operation Gunship we wanted to write a quick game that was just fun to play. We decided to write Kwik Snax which was a simple Dizzy maze game and a follow-up to Fast Food. In this game the wall moved and you pushed blocks around which jumbled the maze around you. It turned out more complicated that we first imagined and it certainly wasn't as quick to write as Fast Food!
Amstrad and Spectrum formats were dying.
It was time to move formats as the main sales were now on the Atari ST & Amiga. Other programmers had converted some of our games successfully, but we couldn't go on creating the lead versions on the lowest power machines.
We started living in Leamington Spa sleeping on a fellow programmer's floor whilst we considered what we should target next. The Darlings proposed a couple of interesting ideas, one being the ability to load games from CDs which were just becoming popular.