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Supaplex History

This page will discuss the following:

  1. The complete history of Supaplex.
  2. The history around Supaplex.
  3. The future of Supaplex?
  4. Anything to add?

Chapter 1 - The complete history of Supaplex.

Supaplex was originally programmed for the Amiga. Later the company also made ports (translations) for the Apple Macintosh (where it was called "Infotron", see also Dave Peck's website at http://delver.org/games.html) and the PC. Since I know nothing about the Amiga and Macintosh versions I will only talk about the PC version here. It is (supposed to be) a 1:1 port, so everything should be the same as in the other games (though bugs do exist).

Somewhere in, or before 1991 a group of students (the authors) were in need of a project to program. They decided to make a Boulderdash clone. After a lot of hard work, their game (then called "Think") was completed, and they sold it to Digital Integration.

The name "Think" was apparently already in use in another game somewhere, so to avoid legal problems they changed the name to "Supaplex", the name everyone here now knows well.

The release of Supaplex was accompanied by a special contest (and a demo with only a few levels was sent to a lot of magazines - I have copies of several of the articles these magazines printed. Some in languages I can't even read :-)

More information will be added here if time permits...

Chapter 2 - The history surrounding Supaplex.

Since Supaplex was released to the public, a lot has been happening. I will feature my own viewpoint in this chapter, since I can tell you most about my own experiences.

I discovered Supaplex in a small game review in a magazine in November 1992. It said Supaplex was an "oldie", re-released in the low-budget market. It was recommended if you liked thinking games (I did.) They gave some good ratings (on a scale from 1 (awful) to 10 (best)):

I decided that the screen and sound are not the most important aspects of a thinking game, and the documentation is something nobody cares about. Since the important two ratings (playability/price) were very high. It was priced at only F29,95 (EURO 13.60) - affordable by little me, so I decided to buy it. I still have the original box at home!

I played the game, and it was a very good game. I just wasn't very patient back then, so after trying a level three times I would give up if I hadn't finished the level yet. I tried to find a way to cheat (which was quite easy) after I got completely stuck around level 20 somewhere, and I looked at the levels I couldn't reach yet. Unfortunately the higher levels were even harder, so the game ended up in the cupboard soon.

At that time I was also programming as a hobby. I didn't have any idea of what to program. After thinking about it a while, I tried to find out how Supaplex stored its levels. If it was easy, I could make a level editor. Indeed, the levels are encoded pretty easily (at least the basic information) and I started working on the level editor.

After a while, the level editor seemed "finished". (It didn't even support gravity, since my limited playing of Supaplex never got me in a situtation where gravity was present!) I made some new levels, and that was about it for then. I put the editor in the cupboard, and got on to new adventures.

When I got on the Internet a few years later (around 1994), I decided to put the level editor up there. I didn't know anyone who knew Supaplex, but it didn't cost me anything to put up the editor for download, so why not?

I also found out about the famous Hilde's Supaplex page - really the first webpage ever about Supaplex! It was my first encounter with a human being outside my own house that knew Supaplex. While I worked some more on my level editor, I got to know more people enjoying Supaplex, and I decided it would be a good idea to share my home-made levels with other people, and maybe they would also share their levels. For this purpose, I created a page where all new Supaplex levels that were sent to me would be available for download.

By the time my Supaplex pages were online for the first time, people started asking me questions about the LEGAL status of Supaplex. I was under the impression that the company was broke. Since the game was property of Digital Integration, there was a problem for people who wanted to get the game LEGALLY, since it could no longer be purchased anywhere (except a few second hand copies maybe), and copying would be illegal.

To find a good answer to the important question, I went to look for the authors of Supaplex, and asked them about it. They said that it would be ok if I just gave away the game for free, and that they enjoyed seeing the game still "alive". So that's what I did. I put up the game on my webpage, free for downloading.

After some time, I found out that there was another level editor (at present I know of lots of level editors.) To my astonishment, the level editor was also made by a Dutch guy, who even lived in the same village as I do (with less than 30000 people!) This was an unbelievable coincidence, considering my belief that there were only a few dozen Supaplex fans in the world.

In the mean time, I found out that Digital Integration was, in fact, still alive and kicking, so I immediately asked them about the distribution of Supaplex. Luckily (for all Supaplex fans) they agreed to let me continue to give away the game for free.

Then something really important happened. I got to know Herman Perk, who told me that Supaplex was actually running too fast! It seemed that on a slow computer, Supaplex would run fine, but on a fast computer (anything faster than a 286 probably) it would run at twice the speed. After some debugging, and reading through hardly readable assembler code, he found the problem, and created the first SpeedFix. As with any program, there were improvements, and soon version 4 was to be released, the first SpeedFix to be "officially distributed as "SUPAPLEX.EXE substitute".

Since those old days, my pages have been growing steadily over the years. New levels have been sent to me regularly, and there are now already over six hundred new levels (compared to the 111 original ones)! I have added related software, background information, explanations, frequently asked questions, and more. There are more Supaplex fans than I would have ever imagined when I first started on the level editor.

Chapter 3 - The future of Supaplex?

It's hard to predict the future of Supaplex, but I'm under the impression that there will always be new fans, as long as the game is playable on one or more computers.

I will try to keep these Supaplex pages alive, and maybe I will find someone to take over from me when I die (not that I hope to die any time soon!) I think I should be reasonably good at mainaining the Supaplex pages, since over time I have shown that I can keep the pages up - this website has been up for over 5 years now (it's moved only once) - not many web pages survive for so long! (Applause for me)

Of course, there is now Igor to worry about. It started out as Supaplex 2, but for legal reasons (Digital Integrations goodness doesn't go on forever, however unfortunate) the name was changed to Igor, and almost everything else has changed too. I am confident that the game will be finished eventually, even though it might take a long time, and even though it's sometimes like the end will never come into sight.

To look even further into the future, maybe there will be three dimensional versions of Supaplex-clones (in fact, there has already been speculation about 3D-plex, but it seems hard to find a good way to show the playfield clearly on screen.) New Supaplex-clones may be getting even more extensive than Igor, and they will continue to look, hear and feel better. Maybe there will be a virtual reality version one day? Then you can walk through the playfield yourself. You will be Murphy more than ever before.

Well, that's as far as I dare to look. Any further will be dreaming. That's not a bad thing, it's just that I always have trouble remembering my dreams when I wake up, so I can't tell you about it here.

Chapter 4 - Anything to add?

If you feel that something should be added to this history, please let me know. Please look at the contact information to see how you can contact me.

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