Born in Sheffield in 1965, Antony Crowther is a prolific and highly-regarded British video games designer/programmer who has had success across a number of different platforms.
Crowther is particularly well known for his Commodore 64 games, although he has worked on pretty much every gaming system known to man. He still designs and programs games to this day.
Crowther‘s first game was a version of the board game Mastermind for the Commodore PET 4032, although this was never commercially released, it was just infecting the young Antony with the programming bug.
In 1983 Tony acquired a Commodore VIC-20 computer and taught himself how to program machine code. From there he wrote a number of games and showed them to Superior Software (or Superior Systems as they were known then). Impressed, Superior loaned him a Commodore 64 and he wrote Lunar Rescue on it, which was his first commercial release (and try as I might, I’ve not yet been able to track down a copy of this game).
Following on from that Crowther then went to work for Sheffield-based Alligata Software and produced his first game for them, Bug Blaster, in 1983. This began a long and fruitful period of Commodore 64 game design for Crowther, so fruitful, in fact, that he shelved his plans to go to art college to remain as a games programmer.
From 1983 to 1989 Crowther designed and wrote (or co-wrote, in some cases) twenty one (that’s 21!) Commodore 64 games in total, and also contributed music and sound effects to others – averaging 3.5 games a year, which is pretty good going when you consider how good most of his games are.
And when the C64 started to wane in popularity Crowther moved over to 16-bit machines and wrote classics such as Captive and Liberation for Mindscape, before eventually moving on to the PC with Normality and Realms of the Haunting (both published by Gremlin).
And Crowther didn’t stop there. He coded games on the PlayStation (N2O: Nitrous Oxide in 1998); on the Dreamcast (Wacky Races, 2000); in Windows (Soulbringer, 2000); on the Nintendo DS (Zubo, 2008); and the XBox 360 (Forza Horizon 2, 2014).
His last game that I know of was Crackdown 3 on XBox One, which was developed by Sheffield’s Sumo Digital and released in February 2019, so he’s still obviously very active in the games industry and still lives in Sheffield. Which is interesting to note (as a Yorkshireman myself).
Tony Crowther‘s games are worth remembering and worth playing now, and the reason for that is because they are good games, and good games endure. So here’s our little tribute to the talent of an exceptional British coder – if you’ve never played Tony Crowther‘s games: seek them out!
The King of Grabs
Tony Crowther photo at the top of the page courtesy of Gremlin Archive.
Bug Blaster, Commodore 64 (1983)
Haunted House, Commodore 64 (1983)
Damsel in Distress, Commodore 64 (1983)
Brands, Commodore 64 (1983)
Blagger, Commodore 64 (1983)
Bat Attack, Commodore 64 (1983)
Aztec Tomb Adventure, Commodore 64 (1983)
Killer Watt, Commodore 64 (1984)
Wanted: Monty Mole, Commodore 64 (1984)
Suicide Express, Commodore 64 (1984)
Son of Blagger, Commodore 64 (1984)
Potty Pigeon, Commodore 64 (1984)
Loco, Commodore 64 (1984)
Gryphon, Commodore 64 (1984)
Black Thunder, Commodore 64 (1985)
William Wobbler, Commodore 64 (1985)
Trap, Commodore 64 (1986)
Kettle, Commodore 64 (1986)
Zig Zag, Commodore 64 (1987)
Challenge of the Gobots, Commodore 64 (1987)
Centurions: Power X Treme, Commodore 64 (1987)
Bombuzal, Commodore 64 (1988)
Fernandez Must Die, Commodore 64 (1988)
Phobia, Commodore 64 (1989)
Captive, Amiga, Atari ST (1990)
Knightmare, Amiga, Atari ST (1991)
Liberation: Captive 2, Amiga, Atari ST (1993)
Normality, PC (1996)
Realms of the Haunting, PC (1997)
N2O: Nitrous Oxide, PlayStation (1998)
Wacky Races, Dreamcast, PS1, PS2, Windows (2000)
Soulbringer, Windows (2000)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, GameCube, PS2, Xbox (2004)
Battlefield 2: Modern Combat, PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360 (2005)
Zubo, Nintendo DS (2008)
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Nintendo DS, PSP (2009)
Burnout: Paradise – The Ultimate Box, PS3, Win, Xbox 360 (2009)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, PS3, Wii, Win, Xbox 360 (2010)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, PS3, Wii, Win, Xbox 360 (2011)
Sonic & All-Stars Racing: Transformed, Android, iPad, iPhone, Nintendo 3DS, PS3, PS Vita, Wii U, Win, Xbox 360 (2012)
Nike+ Kinect Training, Xbox 360 (2012)
Forza Horizon 2, Xbox 360, Xbox One (2014)
Burnout Paradise: Remastered, PS4, Win, Xbox One (2018)
Crackdown 3, Win, Xbox One (2019)