This was one of my first articles on Vintrospektiv, originally in German since all of Vintrospektiv used to be in German in the beginning.
This English version first appeared on Medium, but since I’m closing my account there I thought it would be a good idea to have everything here on Vintrospektiv.
A Look at Cinemaware
My first ever video (German with optional English subtitles) focused on Defender of the Crown, a game by Cinemaware. In the second half of the 80s, after the release of Defender of the Crown, there was no avoiding Cinemaware, but from the 90s on the company was plagued by an aimless (or altogether non-existant) vision: after it had made a name for itself with action-infused cinematic strategy games (Sinbad and the Throne of the Falcon, S.D.I., King of Chicago and others), it first refined that concept in the form of games that were more clearly strategically (Lords of the Rising Sun) or cinematically (Rocket Ranger) oriented, and then expanded its programme to other genres with the action flight simulator Wings and the TV Sports game series.
At that point, however, there seemed to be a sudden lack of ideas. After a total of four TV Sports games, 1991 saw the end of any publications, and a gap of around 10 years began. Only in 2003, after the original rights had been bought by the newly formed successor company Cinemaware Inc., some games were reissued or redesigned: Defender of the Crown became Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown and, four years later, Defender of the Crown: Heroes Live Forever. In addition, some games by other creators were repacked and rereleased as a “Cinemaware Inc.” or, after the label was transfered another time in 2005, a “Cinemaware Marquee” production.
The legal situation was similarly convoluted: first, licenses of the old Cinemaware games were given to retrogaming websites and commercial compilations of old (Amiga) games, then for several years the games could be freely downloaded at the Cinemaware website for different systems (Amiga, C64, NES, among others). Eventually, those downloads were removed again and replaced by announcements of new reissues of the games that mostly never saw the light of day.
The current situation: the website at cinemaware.com is non-existent; the reissue website “Cinemaware Retro” at retro.cinemaware.com, which hasn’t been updated since 2015, still offers the “Extended Collector’s Cut” (or “Extended Collector’s Edition”, as it is called on the packaging) of Defender of the Crown and the “Remastered Edition” (or “Remastered AMIGA Edition”) of Wings for preorder at a price of $45 US each. However, both the shop and the contacts page result in a 404 error. (Update: the domain cinemaware.com has not been renewed, so I’ve removed the link in this section. Obviously, the games are not offered there anymore either.)
At least the official YouTube channel, which also hasn’t been maintained for several years, can still be accessed. Additionally, some Cinemaware games are available commercially (for instance at Steam and GOG). (Update: this section has been slightly rephrased to reflect the fact that Amiga versions of some games are currently available on GOG.)
(The Cinemaware logo is featured here under the assumption of “fair use”.)