Sheffield-based Gremlin Graphics is one of those names that will be instantly familiar to British gamers of a certain age – a bit like US Gold, Ocean and The Bitmap Brothers. During the '80s and '90s, the company was responsible for releasing a wide range of titles across various formats, only to be gobbled up by Infogrames in 1999, renamed Infogrames Studios a year later, and then sadly shuttered in 2003.
While Gremlin is sadly no more, it leaves behind a legacy that's worth shouting about – hence this collection of six classic titles for your Evercade. We might as well kick things off with the headline act, which, for most people, is likely to be the 2D platformer Zool.
Released on the Commodore Amiga in 1992, this insanely speedy title was a clear attempt to muscle in on the popularity of Sonic the Hedgehog, and while it certainly gives the Blue Blur a run for his money in terms of pace, it lacks the refined gameplay and design of Sega's offering. Furthermore, as this cartridge was released before Evercade's Amiga emulator was finalised, you have to make do with the Sega Mega Drive port.
The next big name is the PS1 port of Actua Soccer, the first in Gremlin's moderately successful line of 3D sports titles. With its fancy camera angles, realistic movement (thanks to motion-capture work by Andy Sinton, Chris Woods and Graham Hyde, all of whom played for Gremlin's local team, Sheffield Wednesday), and full commentary by Barry Davies MBE, Actua Soccer rightly gained a lot of attention when it was released in 1995 – and is still jolly good fun today, if played with a like-minded individual. However, it feels rather primitive when compared to the best football games of the modern age, so perhaps don't expect it to occupy you for too long.
Keeping with the football theme, the Mega Drive version of Premier Manager 97 gives you the chance to step into the dugout of a leading team and take them to glory. Again, things have moved on in the world of football management games since this was released, but it's certainly not without its charm.
Another PS1 offering comes in the form of off-road racer Hardcore 4x4, which showcases some "unique" vehicle physics that make it frustrating to play, especially without any analogue control.
Celestial Software's SNES strategy title Utopia: The Creation of a Nation, however, is a real hidden classic. A bit like Sim City in space, it sees you colonising alien worlds while dealing with all manner of logistical nightmares. It's arguably the game on this collection that we most enjoyed reacquainting ourselves with. Game Boy puzzler Brain Bender is a memory we'd ideally like to have suppressed, though – the concept of deflecting a beam to complete each conundrum is interesting, but it never grabs you in the same way that Tetris does.
In the end, it's hard to shake the feeling that Gremlin Collection 1 doesn't quite do the great name justice. While we understand that, given the passage of time and the intricacies of software licencing agreements, many of the games published by Gremlin couldn't be included (we'd love to have seen HeroQuest and Space Crusade, for example), it still feels like some key releases are missing – not a single Monty Mole game makes the cut, for example. Oh well. There's always Gremlin Collection 2.