Among all the members of Nintendo’s Ultra 64 Dream Team, Software Creations is perhaps among the lowest-key, having only developed a handful of titles for the system over its lifespan. However, that doesn’t make them any less important; in fact, they played a strong role in the grand scheme of things.
Founded in 1985 by Richard Kay in the city of Manchester, England, it was in 1986, when Steve Ruddy responded to an advertisement placed by Kay that the studio began to take form. As with other English studios of the day, they found success by developing software for home computers such as the Amiga and ZX Spectrum, among others. However, their specialty would prove to be less in the creation of original titles than it was in porting various arcade titles to these computers, with Taito’s Bubble Bobble for the Commodore 64 proving especially successful both commercially and critically. They did go on to create software of their own, with Solstice: The Quest for the Staff of Demnos impressing Nintendo enough to grant them a contract.
Throughout the course of the life of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Super NES, Software Creations worked on a number of titles for other publishers, many of which were licensed, including Wolverine, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man and the X-Men in Arcade’s Revenge, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Blaster Master 2, and Spider-Man & Venom: Maximum Carnage and its sequel, Spider-Man & Venom: Separation Anxiety. Perhaps the most notable would be Ken Griffey Jr. Presents Major League Baseball, which spotlighted the star player of the Nintendo-owned Seattle Mariners.
On February 7th, 1995, Nintendo announced that Software Creations would be joining the Ultra 64 Dream Team. While part of their contract stated that they would develop a three-dimensional title solely for the 64-bit hardware, it was the other part that was of greater significance:
First, under an exclusive agreement, Software Creations will complete creation of “Sound Tools,” a development tools package that will provide cutting-edge audio capabilities for Nintendo Ultra 64. Sound Tools will become part of the development kit made available to all officially authorized software developers for Nintendo Ultra 64.
The customized Sound Tools software has been under development for the past 12 months and should be completed in spring 1995.
As for which title was the contractually-obligated game? That’s a good question; all of the titles they released for the Nintendo 64 were multiplatform, including Hexen: Beyond Heretic, Wayne Gretzky’s 3D Hockey ’98, FIFA 98, and Carmageddon, the latter of which was a port of someone else’s game, anyway. Unseen64 offers some insights, as there were a number of concepts slated for development that would all find their way to cancellation as they switched to projects with greater profit potential, generally paid for by other publishers. Hence, four different Rugrats titles across the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, and Game Boy Advance in as many years.
On May 1st, 2002, Acclaim purchased Software Creations and renamed the group “Acclaim Studios Manchester.” This was short-lived, however, as Acclaim themselves shut down entirely on August 27th, 2004. Former Acclaim Chief Executive Officer, Rod Cousens, and head of publishing, Barry Jafrato, announced the following month their plans to open a new publishing label called Exclaim (clever), and had eyes on acquiring the Manchester and Cheltenham branches of Acclaim Studios, but this was challenged by the Acclaim’s liquidator and went nowhere.
Their last games were a Game Boy Advance version of All-Star Baseball 2004 and Gladiator: Sword of Vengeance on PlayStation 2, Xbox, and Windows, earning largely middle-of-the-road reviews — save for IGN and Maxim magazine, who each gave it an 8 out of 10. Surprisingly, the latter is available now on Steam, thanks to Throwback Entertainment:
In April 2005, a successor was formed in SilverBack Studios, who employed 15 of the former Acclaim Studios Manchester staff. However, unless someone else over there has taken up the name (which seems to be the case), it doesn’t look like they have much to do with video games any more.