Lost Treasures

October 19, 2015

Episode 11: Forbidden Forest

Interview with Paul Norman


After a small hiatus, we return with special guest Paul Norman, the creator and developer of 1983’s Forbidden Forest for the Commodore 64.  We speak to Paul and get an inside look at the development of this title and what made him make the game the way he did.  His true passions come through in the creation of the game and, as a result, it was a game like no other at the time.  It’s really too bad Paul is no longer in the gaming industry as he really was a pioneer of the times.

Music plays a very important role in both movies and video games.  Sometimes, it’s a role that seems under appreciated as we try and focus on amazing graphics or addictive gameplay. But neither of these equally important elements is nearly as compelling as a soundtrack and sound effects that accompany a game. It’s a full experience that affects you more than you quite possibly can imagine.

What makes video games even more interesting and awesome over a typical movie is that in a game, the soundtrack can become dynamic depending on what is going on and the movements you make. It wasn’t always like this, however. The Wakka-Wakka of Pac-Man and the constant siren in the background don’t really change much. The great tunes of Donkey Kong are only heard at certain scripted moments, and well Space Invaders has a low drone that while distinctive and important, doesn’t really change too much as you play.

Forbidden Forest (originally for the Commodore 64 and also released on the Atari 8-bit system) had music and sound play an important role in the game. As bees of the forest got closer to you, the volume of their sound would get greater. When a threat loomed closer to the player the music changed, and when you cleared an area of enemies a delightful tune played and the player actually did a little dance on the screen. Sound a little unusual for the time? It was, for sure. It’s also what makes this game a Lost Treasure. It was a game full of firsts or near first. One of the first games to use dynamic sound and music, one of the first to feature blood splatter and one of the first to use parallax scrolling on the Commodore 64. It was also one of the first megahits for Cosmi, a company that was started in 1982 and is still around today and has sold over 100 million pieces of software in total.

There was a sequel called “Beyond the Forbidden Forest” that enhanced the 3D effects in the original, and a forgettable 2003 remake that includes the original Commodore 64 releases playable on Windows XP, but the original is, in my opinion, still the best and definitely worth digging up.


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About the Author

Sean is an avid gamer and lover of all thing tech. He is a dedicated husband and the father to three beautiful daughters. In addition to taking his love of gaming to a new level with this site, Sean is also host of our podcasts: The OMG! Hour, Lost Treasures of Gaming, and Primetime as well as the bi-weekly podcast mashup show, Gamers Unscripted. Follow Sean on Twitter as @Xiantayne and this blog as @OMGnexus.



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