Exclusive Interview - June 2009
Jim Sachs (pronounced 'Sax') is one of those artists that might not be a home name outside of the computer industry, but if you know the name then you know the incredible amount of joy he's brought into your life. Whether you had your breath taken away in Defender of the Crown or were just mesmerized by his artwork on various slideshows on the Amiga, once you knew the name you had to discover the rest of the artwork. Jim has an incredible way of producing shading using two dimensional artwork and can easily be considered one of the best computer artists in the 16-bit computing world. We had a unique chance to talk to Mr. Sachs about the past, the present and even a glimpse into the future.
Those that know anything about your work with 2-D graphics probably know you got your start on the Commodore 64. How did you end up with a 64 over the other computers that were available at the time?
There really wasn't that much available back then. The Price Club (now Costco) started carrying the C64, and the price of about $400 was just barely within my budget. Of course, within a few weeks the price was about half that.
You've stated previously (in other interviews) that piracy drove you out of the Commodore 64 market but you also mentioned the unreleased "Time Crystal" game. What was the premise behind this title?
You have built a time machine, which is powered by a rare crystal. On your first outing, the crystal shatters into several pieces, which are hurled into different times. You can't get home again until you go to those specific times and retrieve all the parts of the crystal. One was in the Age of Dinosaurs, one was in Medieval Europe, one was in the future, etc. Once you safely land the time machine in each era, you would proceed on foot through various challenges to retrieve a crystal shard.
The Amiga was the next evolutionary step after the Commodore 64. Some of your early artwork indicates that you planned on porting both Saucer Attack and Time Crystal to the Amiga. What happened to both of these titles?
I had actually done quite a bit of work in planning Saucer Attack for the Amiga. The game would entail driving a tank-like vehicle around Washington DC, blasting alien saucers out of the sky. My plan was to create a game engine which would look work almost exactly like today's Google's Street View, where a different 360-degree picture is taken every 100 feet or so. That way, you could drive the vehicle down the streets, but also be able to stop and rotate anywhere you wanted. My wife and I went to Washington and took several thousand pictures, but other projects got in the way.
Speaking of titles that we all wanted but never got, you have shared some artwork from the game 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. What's the story behind that game, and what happened to it?
For years I had been in talks with Disney regarding my doing a game based on 20,000 Leagues. Finally, they agreed, which is why I dropped Saucer attack. After I worked about a year on the project, they decided not to fund it after all, which sent me into a deep depression. I'm still convinced that it would have been the ultimate computer game of all time.
(This interview is four pages, please continue below to the next page)