The software wing of Amstrad, Amsoft was created with one very specific goal: to get software on the shelves for the launch of the CPC 464. Amstrad owner Alan Sugar viewed this as a key component of his strategy for entering the already crowded British home micro market in the mid-1980s. Sugar was determined not to make the same mistake as the people behind already doomed machines like the Dragon 32 and Oric and saw a strong software base as a necessity if he was to break the stranglehold of the more established trio of machines being produced by Acorn, Commodore and Sinclair.
This domination of the home micro market made it difficult for any manufacturer to make an impact, particularly a new start in the industry, as the software industry in the UK had not reached its full potential by this point and those companies who had began to establish themselves were mostly unwilling to take a gamble on the expensive production of software for a machine with no user base.
Sugar's idea was to take a calculated risk. He reasoned that with the amount of money being invested into producing the machine, a dedicated software wing would be a relatively low additional cost with a potentially high yield return - if his software company got a cut of every game sold then they would soon re-coup at least part of the expenditure particularly when the user base grew enough to have third party developers approaching Amsoft to publish their games.
Amsoft and its management team, headed up by Roland Perry and William Poel both of whom were still heavilly involved in the development of the CPC 464 itself, were given a straight forward brief of getting as much software on to the shelves as possible to support the launch and first years of the machine's life, with a minimum of regard given to the actual quality of the software itself.
Prior to the machine’s launch, the company approached a number of software houses who had made a name for themselves developing for the ZX Spectrum and C64, provided them with prototype CPC’s and commissioned the companies to produce software that could support the machine.
Every game and program produced was sold under the Amsoft label with developers given a credit on the uniform loading screens and spine of the cassette inlay along with a unique SOFT Number, all of which helped make the programs stand out on the crowded computer shop shelves.
Unfortunately, despite a raft of quality games like Manic Miner, Pyjamarama and Codename MAT appearing under the label's distinct and brightly coloured livery, Amsoft quickly developed a bit of a bad reputation in the industry from both frustrated developers unhappy with the cut of profits being taken by Amsoft through to the games players themselves who became disgruntled at paying top prices (£8.95 per game at a time when new ZX Spectrum releases were priced at £5.95) for poor titles.
As a result companies such as Ocean and Elite Systems decided to strike out on their own, releasing their games under their own labels as they did with other machines, now that the user base had begun to be established.
The earliest success for Amsoft, and it's biggest legacy, was the Roland series. Named after Roland Perry, the character was used as the basis for a number of games none of which (with the exception of Roland in Time and Roland in Space) had anything to do with each other! Instead, the Roland brand was added almost arbitrarily to a selection of games from different developers and all of which sold by the bucket load, regardless of the quality of game itself.
Roland’s status as a CPC icon was firmly established when two of the titles, Roland on the Ropes and Roland in the Caves, were sold as part of the CPC 464 bundle from the beginning of 1985 making Roland’s games amongst the first played by a large proportion of the CPC games playing market.
Despite this success and his popularity, the Roland character was shelved as the company attempted to shed the image it had created for itself of allowing any game to be published under their name. Roland was felt to be indicative of this approach and he was quietly phased out following the release of Roland in Space.
The loss of so many early supporters of the CPC as developers was a blow to the company. As well as Ocean and Elite Systems, the company’s working relationships with Kuma, Durell, Mikro-Gen and Software Projects also soured with each of those companies breaking away from the partnership and releasing games under their own banner.
Some of these break-ups were due to the tough negotiating stance taken by Amsoft who refused to be drawn into making bids for ‘expensive’ software when a cheaper alternative could be sought elsewhere. The most infamous example of this being their decision to not even tender a bid for the rights to produce a CPC version of Elite, arguably the most successful 8-bit game of all time.
Not even the re-packaging of their basic Snooker and Pool games with celebrity endorsement from World Champion Snooker player, Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins could turn their fortunes around. Something had to be done to stop the rot.
In an attempt to combat the growing number of third party developers who were releasing games directly on to the system themselves, Amsoft attempted to re-establish their position as the leading CPC software house with a re-branding exercise to coincide with a marked increase in quality that was to prove confusing for the consumer.
While maintaining the regular Amsoft range the company also began releasing games under the Amsoft Gold banner. These games came packaged in distinctive gold clam cases and were purported to be the best games that the company had to offer.
Linking up with a new batch of companies who were set to have a significant impact on the industry including US Gold and Virgin Games, ‘’Amsoft’’ had seemed to turn a corner with positive reviews coming in for not only ‘’Amsoft Gold’’ games like Sorcery + and Beach Head but also releases made on the old label like Beyond Software’s Lords of Midnight and Alien from Argus Press Software.
Almost inevitably though, this was to be a short lived renaissance as the quality control soon dipped again with sub-par titles appearing for the Gold range and the stigma attached to their earlier policy never fully seemed to lift from the company.
After a period of inactivity, the final releases which, in the past would’ve been greeted by a blaze of publicity, were almost sneaked out by the company.
All the more strangely, these titles were solid ports of high profile arcade games Tapper and Hard Balland came out at a time when former partners US Gold, Elite Systems and Ocean were leading the charge with home computer versions of all the most popular arcade games of the time.
Amsoft seemed almost apologetic for still being involved in the software business and the company finally pulled the plug on their software publishing wing at the beginning if 1987.
Their final game, a conversion of Sega's Spy Hunter was never released in Amsoft packagaing and was later brought out by US Gold as a launch title for their Kixx budget label, the title screen of which still bore the Amsoft name – a final reminder of this once powerful unit’s presence on the CPC scene.
- Friss Man (1985)
- Seesaw (1985)
- Supertripper (1985)
- Kingdoms (1985)
- Overlord 2 (1985)
- Campeones (1985)
|Title||House||Year||Soft N.||Soft N.||Soft N.||Soft N.|
|3D Boxing||James Software||1985||06025 / 07025||46025 / 47025|
|3D Chess||Intelligent Software||1985||06026 / 07026||46026 / 47026|
|3D Grand Prix||Exopal Software||1985||961 / 1961||- / 41961|
|3D Invaders||Quark Data||1984||136||AMC 142 / S-511||436|
|3D Stunt Rider||DJL Software||1985||183 / 1183||AMC 164||4183 / -|
|50000 Lieues Sous Les Mers||Protek Computing||1984||135 / 1135||435 / 41135|
|6128 Games Collection||1986|
|Admiral Graf Spee||Temptation Software||1984||146||AMC 118||446|
|Airwolf||Elite Systems||1985||06011 / 07011||- / 47011|
|Alex Higgins World Pool||Gem Software||1985||964 / 1964|
|Alex Higgins World Snooker||Gem Software||1985||978 / 1978||- / 41190|
|Alien||Argus Press Software||1985||956 / 1956|
|Alien Break In||Romik||1984||137||S 137||437|
|Almirante Graf Spee||Temptation Software||1984||146||AMC 118||446|
|Aguilas del Espacio||Durell Software||1984||177 / 1177||S 115|
|American Football||Argus Press Software||1984||901|
|Amsgolf||Computersmith||1984||185 / 1185||S 130||485 / 41185|
|Asalto||Shirekilo||1985||06022 / 07022||AMC 174|
|Assault on Port Stanley||Shirekilo||1985||06022 / 07022||AMC 174|
|Astro Attack||Ian Beynon||1984||175||475|
|Atom Smasher||Romik||1984||139||S 139||439|
|Attaque Astrale||Ian Beynon||1984||175||475|
|Attaque au Laser||Mikro-Gen||1984||126||S 126||426|
|Beach Head||US Gold/Access||1985||07001|
|Billar (Snooker)||Gem Software||1984||190||S 190|
|Blagger||Alligata Software||1984||926||S 506|
|Braxx Bluff||Micromega||1985||955 / 1955||AMC 166|
|Briseur D'Atomes||Romik||1984||139||S 139||439|
|Catastrophes||Andromeda Software||1985||934 / 1934||AMC 153||4934 / 41934|
|Catastrophies||Andromeda Software||1985||934 / 1934||AMC 153||4934 / 41934|
|Centre Court||Epicsoft||1984||921 / 1921||S 508|
|Classic Racing||Paul Neil||1985||928 / 1928|
|Codename MAT||Micromega||1984||129 / 1129||S 129||41129|
|Commandos Galactiques||Terminal Software||1984||147||S 147 / AMC 119||447|
|Crazy Golf||Mr. Micro||1984||149||S 509||449|
|Cyrus II Chess||Intelligent Software||1985||06026 / 07026||46026 / 47026|
|Detective||Argus Press Software||1984||902||4902|
|Doors of Doom||Gem Software||1985||06047 / 07047|
|Dragons||O. Goodman||1985||977 / 1977||41977|
|Dragon's Gold||Romik||1985||935 / 1935||4935|
|Echec et Mat||Mikro-Gen||1984||125||S 125||225||425 / 41125|
|El Hombre de la LLave Inglesa||Gem Software||1984||114 / 1114||S 114 / AMC 103||214|
|El Laberinto del Sultan||Gem Software||1984||113||S 113 / AMC 134|
|El Pirata||Computersmith||1984||192 / 1192||AMC 128 / S 502|
|Electro Freddy||Softspot Software||1984||144 / 1144||S 144||244||444 / 41144|
|Exocet||Durell Software||1984||112 / 1112||S 112||212||412 / 41112|
|Fantastic Voyage||Edmonds Software||1985||984 / 1984||AMC 148|
|Frank 'n' Stein||PSS Software||1985||907||AMC 156|
|Fred L'Electronicien||Softspot Software||1984||144 / 1144||S 144||244||444 / 41144|
|Fruit Machine||Paul Aitman||1984||919||AMC 137|
|Fu-Kung in Las Vegas||Romik||1985||979 / 1979||4979|
|Gatecrasher||Exopal Software||1985||958||AMC 157|
|Gems of Stradus||Kuma Computers||1984||121|
|Glen Hoddle Soccer||Shirekilo||1985||06021 / 07021|
|Golden Path||Magic Logic||1986||07055|
|Grand Prix Driver||Britannia Software Ltd||1984||110||S 110|
|Grand Prix Rally II||Loriciels||1985||06012 / 07012|
|Hard Ball||Accolade||1986||06063 / 07063|
|Harrier Attack||Durell Software||1984||112 / 1112||S 112||212||412 / 41112|
|Haunted Hedges||Micromega||1984||128||S 128||428|
|Home Runner||Britannia Software Ltd||1984||109|
|Hunchback||Ocean||1984||132 / 1132||S 132||432|
|Hunter Killer||Protek Computing||1984||135 / 1135||435 / 41135|
|Invasores||Quark Data||1984||136||AMC 142 / S-511||436|
|Jammin||Taskset||1985||911 / 1911||AMC 150|
|Jardins Hantes||Micromega||1984||128||S 128||428|
|Jeannot le Rouge||Paul Shirley||1984||181 / 1181||481 / 41181|
|Jet-Boot Jack||English Software||1985||172||AMC 144|
|L'Or des Dragons||Romik||1985||935 / 1935||4935|
|La Troisieme Dimension||Quark Data||1984||136||AMC 142 / S-511||436|
|Le Golf des Dingues||Mr. Micro||1984||149||S 509||449|
|Le Polichinelle||Mr. Micro||1984||150 / 1150||S 150||250||450 / 41150|
|Les Dragons||O. Goodman||1985||977 / 1977||41977|
|Les Envahisseurs de L'Audela||Romik||1984||137||S 137||437|
|Les Portes du Destin||Gem Software||1985||06047 / 07047|
|Lords of Midnight||Beyond software||1985||957 / 1957|
|Macrocosmica||Datacom||1986||06042 / 07042|
|Manic Miner||Software Projects||1984||173||S 173|
|Master Chess||Mikro-Gen||1984||125||S 125||225||425 / 41125|
|Mr. Wong's Loopy Laundry||Artic Computing||1984||923||S 505||4923|
|Mutant Monty||Artic Computing||1984||922 / 1922||S 507||4922|
|Nom de Code : MAT||Micromega||1984||129 / 1129||S 129||41129|
|Nuclear Defence||James Software||1986||06031 / 07031|
|Oh Mummy||Gem Software||1984||115||AMC 138|
|Plaga Galactica||Indescomp||1984||196||S 201 / AMC 125|
|Punchy||Mr. Micro||1984||150 / 1150||S 150||250||450 / 41150|
|Pyjamarama||Micro-Gen||1984||943 / 1943||AMC 146|
|Qabbalah||Gem Software||1986||06062 / 07062|
|Quack a Jack||Paul Shirley||1984||181 / 1181||481 / 41181|
|Raid Souterrain||Insight Software||1985||06010 / 07010||AMC 162||- / 47010|
|Roland Ahoy!||Computersmith||1984||192 / 1192||AMC 128 / S 502|
|Roland aux Oubliettes||Indescomp||1984||118 / 1118||S 118||218||418 / 41118|
|Roland en el Infierno||Gem Software||1984||169 / 1169||S 202|
|Roland en el Tiempo||Gem Software||1984||170 / 1170||S 136||470 / 41170|
|Roland goes Digging||Gem Software||1984||169 / 1169||S 202|
|Roland goes Square Bashing||Durrell Software||1985||937 / 1937||AMC 155|
|Roland in Space||Gem Software||1985||927 / 1927|
|Roland in the Caves||Indescomp||1984||117 / 1117||S 117||217|
|Roland in Time||Gem Software||1984||170 / 1170||S 136||470 / 41170|
|Roland on the Ropes||Indescomp||1984||118 / 1118||S 118||218||418 / 41118|
|Roland on the Run||Epicsoft||1984||199 / 1199||S 199|
|Roland y los Cubos||Durrell Software||1985||937 / 1937||AMC 155|
|Rally II||Loriciels||1985||06012 / 07012|
|Satellite Warrior||D. M. Lock||1985||949 / 1949|
|Snooker||Gem Software||1984||190||S 190|
|Sorcery +||Virgin Games||1985||1983||AMD 109||21983||41983|
|Space Hawks||Durell Software||1984||177 / 1177||S 115|
|Spannerman||Gem Software||1984||114 / 1114||S 114 / AMC 103||214|
|Splat!||Incentive Software||1984||909||S 504|
|Star Commando||Terminal Software||1984||147||S 147 / AMC 119||447|
|Stockmarket||Argus Press Software||1985||903|
|Strangeloop +||Virgin Games||1985||07058|
|Subterranean Stryker||Insight Software||1985||06010 / 07010||AMC 162||- / 47010|
|Sultan's Maze||Gem Software||1984||113||S 113 / AMC 134|
|Super Pipeline II||Taskset||1985||987 / 1987||AMC 151|
|Tank Command||Magic Logic||1986||06023 / 07023|
|Tapper||Bally Midway/Sega||1987||06007 / 07007|
|Tenis||Epicsoft||1984||921 / 1921||S 508|
|Toujours Pret!||H.R. Software||1985||988 / -||- / 41988|
|The Fantastic Voyage||Edmonds Software||1985||984 / 1984||AMC 148|
|The Galactic Plague||Indescomp||1984||196||S 201 / AMC 125|
|The Game of Dragons||O. Goodman||1985||977 / 1977||41977|
|The Key Factor||Paul Aitman||1985||975||AMC 149|
|The Prize||Arcade Software||1985||952|
|The Scout Steps Out||H.R. Software||1985||988 / -||- / 41988|
|Tombstowne||Premier Software||1985||06040 / 07040|
|Traffic||Andromeda Software||1985||929 / 1929|
|Une Lessive Eprouvante pour Monsieur Wong||Artic Computing||1984||923||S 505||4923|
Storage / Media
- Amsoft CF2 Compact Floppy Disc
- Amsoft Printer Paper (mentioned in DMP1 Users Manual, page 8)
- Amsoft PL-1 Printer Cable (mentioned in DMP2000 Users Manual, chapter 1, page 6)