Unsung Heroes (Part II)
Haven’t posted for quite some time on here, let alone the fact that I have severely neglected this topic series of the unsung heroes in classic game development. I’ve been busy working on “Space Madness” which is a clone/reboot of the classic shooter “Bandits”. With that being said, what better subject matter than to present an overview of the Ngo brothers (Benny Ngo aka “Aik Beng” and Tony Ngo) and their fabulous early digital creations.
As a Commodore kid, first starting with a VIC-20, then moving on to a 64 in ’83, I was already an avid gamer and was also learning to program (in BASIC) on these machines at the same time. One game came along on the 64 that totally derailed my programming progress for a period of time, that game was called “Bandits”. Not only was Bandits nice to look at graphically, it had super smooth motion and great playability. Somehow, someone had found the perfect balance of arcade difficulty and varied enemy delivery as to never get boring. The balance of enemy specialization was refreshing, with a constant mix of foes all with unique attack patterns and abilities. I was hooked!
Bandits (Atari 8-Bit version)
I remembered their names, as I would whenever something amazed or impressed me to the point of inspiration. Tony and Benny Ngo… those names I would look out for now. It wasn’t until a visit to my cousins house (who also had a 64) that I would come across another Ngo creation… Drol.
Drol (Apple II version)
This game had amazing graphics and smooth animation, which immediately drew me in. I was happy to see the Ngo name attached to this, “Aik Beng” aka Benny Ngo. The game had its merits, but kind of lacked in the replayability area. I mean, I did play it quite a bit, but overall didn’t wow me as much as Bandits did. Technically a great effort though, and I can reward someone on that alone.
Besides the amazingly cool Squish’Em by Tony Ngo (which I had only played on the VIC), I never had a chance to play their other titles, namely Gamma Goblins (an early Apple II space shooter) and Park Patrol which Tony Ngo had conceived.
Park Patrol (Amstrad CPC version)
Squish’Em (VIC-20 version)
Gamma Goblins (Apple II)
Not much is known what happened to the brothers after this brief but successful run. I often wondered what became of them and if they are even involved with programming at all anymore. The good thing is they left behind a solid legacy that can still be enjoyed today.