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Ex-Bizarre devs revive Dreamcast cult classic Fur Fighters on iPad

Original lead designer bought IP for a fiver.

Former Bizarre Creations developers have revived Dreamcast classic Fur Fighters for release on the iPad.

Liverpool-based mobile developer Muffin Games developed a port of the third-person action game, which launched on Dreamcast, PC and PlayStation 2 in 2000, using the PC codebase.

Muffin is lead programmer Mark Craig (who was 21 when he worked on the original) and lead designer Jeff Lewis (who was 24) - both are rapidly approaching 40. It's a sister company to Lucid Games, which also formed out of the ashes of Activision's closure of the Blur and Project Gotham developer. Both Craig and Lewis work at Lucid full-time, and created the port in their spare time during the first few months of Lucid Games' existence.

"I had seen the specs of the iOS devices getting close to the Dreamcast," Craig told Eurogamer. "You had the iPad 2 coming out and other devices, and I thought, well maybe I should try porting Fur Fighters just to see if a Dreamcast spec game will work on an iOS device. That was my main motivation - a curiosity thing.

"Plus I wanted the game to come back in some form. I thought, if I could get the ball rolling and just see if it was feasible... that's how it started."

Craig and Lewis spent around a year porting the game to iPad - what amounted to just shy of 200 hours of spare time - using the codebase underpinning the PC version because it fixed many of the bugs in the Dreamcast version. The pair settled on a virtual joysticks control scheme ("it was the only way of doing it because it's so fundamental to the way the game played") and for some mini games introduced brand new touch controls.

Muffin is able to continue the Fur Fighters franchise because Lewis owns the rights to the IP - he bought them for a fiver back in 2007.

"Bizarre Creations was cleaning house and tidying up its business dealings," he recalled. "By that point it was pretty clear there wasn't going to be a sequel to Fur Fighters. The MD, Martyn Chudley, knew it was going to go into the ether if anything didn't happen with it. As I had done the character design and came up with a lot of the world, he very generously, just as a gesture, gave me the rights. He couldn't give it to me. He had to sell it to me for a pound. I gave him a fiver because I was very pleased.

"He really just meant it as a nice thing, rather than seeing it disappear forever. I don't think either one of us had any expectation things would change in the way they have since 2007, and an opportunity to port the game to a mass market device would come along again."

Now that the game is available for iPad, Muffin will consider porting it to other platforms, including iPhone, Android, the Raspberry Pi (a version for this is already up and running) and maybe even the Ouya Android console - if it ever comes out.

Beyond that? Well, that all depends on how Fur Fighters on iPad goes down. "If it goes really well, maybe we will do something more with it," Lewis said.