Co-founder of Ocean Software, David Ward, has sadly passed away. A titan of the UK games industry, Ward's Ocean Software was one of the biggest European game developers and publishers in the '80s and '90s.
This news was revealed by Just Flight founder Andy Payne on Twitter, and there has been an outpouring of support and sadness on this news from people across the UK games industry.
Ocean Games was started up in 1983 by Ward and Jon Woods as a mail-order business called Spectrum Games, where they sent out copies of games based on video game clones for the ZX Spectrum, among other consoles. They changed their name to Ocean Software following confusion that they only made games for the Spectrum consoles.
The Manchester-based developer was most famous for its extensive library of excellent licensed games, from The Addams Family on the SNES, Batman: The Movie for the Amiga and Commodore 64, The Flintstones movie tie-in, and for developing three RoboCop games on various systems.
The developer was a big part of many people's childhoods during the '80s, so it's difficult to overstate the influence of Ward's studio, especially in the UK. We send our thoughts to his family and friends.
A true legend of the industry. A real shame.
aww man... they made some really good games back then..
I'd need to check a list of all their output, but from memory I can only remember playing Ocean's Batman and RoboCop games, and yet the Ocean logo is burned so strongly in my head.
Edit: Add Guerilla War, Pang, Rainbow Islands, Parasol Stars and, of course, The New Zealand Story.
I remember playing Jarassic Park on my friend's Sega Genesis (the one where you play as Grant or the Raptor) and then getting the Nintendo version that was developed by Ocean. It was a very different kind of game, and I was disappointed. Then one day, after being bored of playing the other games I had beaten, I popped it back in and thoroughly enjoyed it, eventually deciding that it was the superior version.
I've played other Ocean games since, but this one stands out the most.
A part of my childhood, sad to hear this. I can still vividly remember their chromo logo, thinking it was so futuristic and cool
Very sad news. My C64 came with Ocean's 'Hollywood Pack', and the excellent Ocean Loader music made waiting for games to load from a cassette much more bearable. I still play Platoon and Batman the Movie on my C64 every so often. Certainly the logo and the brand will be a big part of many UK gamers memory of the micro computer days.
Removed - inappropriate
I played many (many) Ocean games on my Spectrum - which was a computer, not a console. After a shaky start, Ocean games on the the Speccy were often seen as a sign of quality. The later arcade conversions, like Rainbow Islands, Chase HQ, Pang, Operation Thunderbolt, (plus more!) were brilliant.
Ocean's foray into 16 bit computers and consoles was somewhat inconsistent. It's a shame the label isn't around now, doing what they did best.
And more importantly, it's a sad day to find out of Mr Ward's passing. Enjoying playing Ocean games will be a fond memory for me and no doubt many others too. A good legacy to have.
Ah, Ocean… famous for many mediocre and some good movie licensed games
I really liked playing Batman: The Movie. On Amstrad CPC of course. And Wizball on Amiga was legend
I had loads of Ocean games for my Spectrum. They were mostly the £9.99 cardboard box games, a big jump from the standard £1.99/£2.99 games that come in a plastic cassette box, so their games felt premium to me. Chase HQ was one of those cardboard box games and I took a paper round on to save up for it . Paid me a penny a paper and took me 3 weekly runs to save the tenner needed to buy it.
Who here played total recall? Ugh shudder! Stone cold classic right there. The nightmares i had. The movie wasn't much better.
Really sorry to hear this, Ocean were a big deal for me back in the day.
They did do lot of film tie-ins but they were really good with varied gameplay.
Great coin-op conversions too - Midnight Resistance, New Zealand Story, etc.
Always found the Spectrum version of RoboCop to be superior to the arcade version.
Having Dawn Drake and Mike Lamb's names on the credits was a sign of a quality game for me.
Absolutely a legend of the industry. He will be missed.
I remember the Amiga 500 launching a bundle that included Batman The Movie and The New Zealand Story. It was the first, broadly affordable(!), 16 bit games "console" in the UK (yes OK it needed a monitor!).
Ah, I remember that Ocean logo back in the day. May he Rest In Peace and condolences to the family.
Totally OT - I know you know the A500 is not a console, but this is a good article about its history in electronic music:
That Ocean logo is iconic to gamers of a certain age… that is to say, my age 😅 Rest in Peace
If you played 8bit games in 80s then you knew about Ocean and their logo is, to this day, still iconic.
Cabal, Target Renegade, Midnight Resistance, Rainbow Islands, Robocop, Batman, Operation Wolf….the list is endless.
Very sad new this.
Man that logo just brings me happy thoughts. One of my favourite developers of all time.
May he R.I.P. That was a time gaming was simple. Oh how I miss those times. I still have Robocop along with my Spectrum ZX today along with other old games for it such as Manic Miner.
@Orokosaki Very sad. I come from that time, well actually I started I think with Pong which was before but Ocean is a Company I have fond memories of and hearing this news brought a tear to my eye.
@RubyCarbuncle I miss those times too, everything was simpler back then or that’s how it seemed but maybe now we just have the complications of being an adult.
The ocean logo and load screen music is one of my favourite all time
Darkman was my favorite Ocean game. RIP, sir.
Sad to hear, my condolences and respect. Ocean was a part of my childhood like THQ, Acclaim, and others when it came to licensed games. It was fun playing so many "platform-ized" or "run n' gun-ized" movie/cartoon/etc. versions of the subject matter imitated. Iconic days, those were...
This is incredibly sad news. Ocean were so iconic in the U.K. gaming scene during the 80s and early 90s. So many fond memories playing their games on the good ole Speccy. Even if the games were incredibly hard and not always good.
Some the best Coin Op conversions came from Ocean (they were better than US Gold) in the 80’s and early 90’s. Chase HQ and Operation Wolf on the Amstrad were very good.
Always enjoyed Wetrix on the Nintendo 64. Very fitting company name for what that game is about (isometric Tetris with water).
@gcunit The RoboCop game for the Amiga came in a box, a 3.5 inch floppy in a box!
Anyway, point is that in that box was a poster of RoboCop, and it went up on my wardrobe door, the Ocean logo was prominent, and I remember it so well! To this day, I associate RoboCop with that game and Ocean Software.
Sad news. Ocean were massive back in the day.
What happened to them, take it they sold out to someone?
That's sad to hear.
Ocean might not have exactly been regarded as the best game developer out there. (I recall even a website by a former staffer was willing to poke fun at their reputation.)
However, the SNES Addams Family was among my favorite games as a child (if thanks to the extra lives horde making the game a more enjoyable experience, don't know if I could've done it without). I also like the SNES Pugsley's Scavenger Hunt, though the game didn't seem to like my console and crashed a lot.
What I played of their PAL-exclusive NES port of Rainbow Islands looked like a fairly good port, and possibly better than Taito's own version released in Japan and North America (the later release at least allowed Ocean to use a more sophisticated mapper than the Japanese port).
And of course, RoboCop 2 for the Game Boy is apparently a legend among the retro gaming scene (even if I haven't played it), if even just for its title theme (which the honor for that probably belongs to a different person).
My favourite games as a kid were Ocean licenses on the Spectrum: Robocob, Batman the Movie, The Untouchables... I wish they would come back!! <3
This looks interesting:
By Roger Kean of Crash! fame
I just remember the Rambo First Blood Part II loading music on the C64 (Rob Hubbard wasn't it?!)
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