Saturday, November 4, 2017

Gaming Ads: Epyx

Jon Freeman and Jim Connelley met in 1977 while playing the pen-and-paper game Dungeon & Dragons. Freeman assisted Connelley during the development of his first game, Star Fleet Orion, and the two of them founded Automated Simulations in 1979 to publish the game. Temple of Apshai was the company's next game and it sold quite well, leading to a number of expansions and sequels. However, Jon Freeman was not involved beyond the first game as he left the company in 1981 following a series of business-related arguments with Connelley. In 1982 the company name was changed to Epyx, Inc., which is a name they came up with after their first choice Epic was already owned by Epic Recordings.

Another one of the company's early big hits was Jumpman (no relation to Nintendo's Mario who was originally known as Jumpman) but it was 1984's Summer Games that took the company to the next level. Summer Games led to a line of popular "Games" titles that includes Winter Games, Summer Games II, California Games, World Games, and California Games II. Epyx developed its own titles, like Jumpman and Summer Games, but also published games for other developers. Other hit titles from the developer and publisher are Pitstop II, Impossible Mission I & II, G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero, World Championship Karate, The Eidolon, Street Sports Baseball, and Spiderbot.

Despite releasing more than 100 games and having many successes, Epyx ultimately had to declare bankruptcy in 1989. Epyx did manage to remain open following massive layoffs and the sale of the complete rights to its in-development handheld unit to Atari; Atari was already signed on to handle production of the system that would eventually be named the Atari Lynx. In 1993 the few remaining employees opted to sell off the remainder of the company's assets.

Being a big fan of sports games when I was younger, Epyx was one of my favorite companies during my Commodore 64 days. I played a lot of the "Games" titles, and the other Epyx Olympic games: The Games: Summer Edition and The Games: Winter Edition. Street Sports Baseball and The Sporting News Baseball are two other sports titles that kept me in front of the computer for many hours. Aside from its sports titles, I also enjoyed the Impossible Mission games though I never did get too far in the original (one of my favorite game openings) before completing the sequel.

Flickr album: Epyx

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