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Peter Harrap wants new Monty Mole

Shares future ideas, criticisms of original.

Peter Harrap wants to make a brand new Monty Mole and has shared ideas for the potential game with Eurogamer.

Harrap created Wanted: Monty Mole when he was 19, in 1984, as a reaction to the British Miners' Strikes. The game involves a mole stealing coal to keep his family warm.

Gremlin Graphics published Wanted: Monty Mole for ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64, and Harrap's topical video game landed him on national television as part of the comedy slot closing the News at 10.

Four sequels were spawned: Monty is Innocent (1985), Monty on the Run (1986), Auf Wiedersehen Monty (1987) and Impossamole (1990).

Harrap went on to co-found Krisalis Software (Alone in the Dark, Manchester United football games) and semi-retired in 2001. But now he's back, converting Z for Kavcom and iDevices. And he plans on sticking around.

"Personally I would like to do a new game based around my original idea Monty Mole," he revealed to Eurogamer. "Another platform type of game would be an interesting challenge for me. It would probably work quite well.

"It's rattling around in my head; I've actually got a few ideas about it rummaging around in there. I'm thinking something along the lines of: obviously it's been 20 years since Monty Mole stole all that coal; I'm thinking he's probably got kids now - probably got the mole babies might come into it somewhere, ha ha."

"I know some people didn't like the crushers ... I still like that; I like a bit of a shock."

Peter Harrap

Harrap said iPhone game Labyrinth impressed him with its use of tilt controls. "It would be quite nice to feel as if you're in the screen by allowing your position of where you're holding the device to help you see what you're doing," he mulled. "That would be quite good."

Harrap also referenced iPhone darling Angry Birds and the game's easy to understand bird-launching controls.

"That would work quite well with a platform game," he thought out loud. "I might set [Monty Mole] off from the start position and say, 'I want you to go there, but at a certain point I want you to jump.' He's walking automatically and if I leave him alone he might find the ladder and start climbing up it, and if I want him to jump I'll tap the screen or something like that."

That's the theory. But can Harrap, more than 26 years later, actually use the Monty Mole name?

"As far as I'm aware, if I was to use Monty Mole himself there wouldn't be a problem," shrugged Harrap. "I don't think the licence as such... It would be debatable whether it still belongs to me or it belongs with a company that was bought by a company that was bought by a company that was bought by a company ha ha!

"Obviously Gremlin Graphics - originally it was their character. I've been in touch now and again with the owner of Gremlin Graphics, but he has sold to I think it was US Gold, Centresoft, then Infogrames.

"The actual copyright of the Mole now?" asked Harrap speculatively. "I'm not entirely sure whether anyone would take ownership of it, and I've probably got as much right as anyone to it as the original author and designer of the whole series."

Harrap laughed when we asked whether he ever critiques Wanted: Monty Mole. "Oh God I have!" he chortled, recalling how he often scratches his head and asks, "Why the hell did I do it that way?"

He must mean those brutally unforgiving Monty Mole crushers, mustn't he? Nope.

"I think I might [get back in to games], yes."

Peter Harrap

"There are some things I've still got a great fondness for," he explained. "I know some people didn't like the crushers coming down randomly and hitting them. I still like that; I like a bit of a shock on people.

"I like the humour I managed to get into it at the time, even though it was very juvenile.

"I was only 19," he added.

Nevertheless, Harrap accepted that Monty Mole would have benefited from planning, which is one thing he'd do differently this time around.

"These days when people set to writing a game they give it a little bit more thought... With Monty Mole there were a couple of objects you could pick up, and there were some objects that looked exactly the same but if you ran into them you died.

"Thinking back to it, I could have probably done with a proper design philosophy to make sure that everything was consistent. I'll probably do that for this next one if I go ahead and do it. But other than that it's just trying to keep the pleasure in it I had back then, and that was why Monty Mole was quite popular - quite a popular little series."

I'm sure Harrap would be delighted to hear your enthusiasm for a new Monty Mole game. And thankfully it appears he has tired of retirement and wants to rekindle his passion for making games.

"I think I might [get back in to games], yes," Harrap announced. "My wife's a bit puzzled about the whole game writing idea ha ha; doesn't quite understand what it was all about.

"She's quite interested in seeing a game go through from start to finish, so I'm there trying to describe to her how you go about writing a game and of course it goes straight over her head. But now of course she's seen how it's fairly poor initially and then you get this working and that working and eventually it all comes together and it all works, and she's quite interested.

"She says, 'Oh can you do some more?' The answer to that is yes, I can do some more and no, it won't take as long."

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About the author

Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer  |  Clert

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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