Fish! was probably the oddest Magnetic Scrolls game. Jinxter had a skewed sense of humour, but Fish! was maybe just a tadpole too bizarre in hindsight. The idea for the game came from computer game magazine journalist Phil South and Magentic Scrolls’ John Molloy. They were both adventure game enthusiasts and came up with the scenario of starting an adventure as a goldfish. The germ of the idea was then presented to Magnetic Scrolls and they agreed to take it on.
Apart from Phil and John coming up with the initial idea, Peter Kemp was also drafted in along with Magnetic Scrolls’ Robert Steggles, Richard Huddy, Bob Coles and a handful of graphic artists to provide the scenic on-screen location illustrations.
You can read a much more in-depth look at the genesis of the game from Magnetic Scrolls perspective by reading an interview with Phil South on the Magnetic Scrolls Chronicles web site.
From the publishers perspective, Fish! appeared for testing very soon after Corruption had shipped, so there was little time for a breather. The usual suspects (Paul Coppins, Graeme Boxall and me) ended up doing the majority of testing across the usual formats (although the 8-bit Atari and Amstrad (CPC and PCW) versions had been dropped by then).
I don’t remember any major issues during the testing of Fish! By then, Magnetic Scrolls had a well-oiled illustrated text adventure system complete with experienced coders, artists and supporting staff to back it all up. As far as I can recall, it was a very painless game to test, and I don’t think it shipped with any bugs, although there were revisions (e.g. the released Amiga version was v1.03, but the C64 was v1.07).
However, as testing on Fish! progressed, it became clear to most of us that Magnetic Scrolls were unlikely to sign another publishing contract with Rainbird. I was never privy to the reasons behind the move, but after three years and five products, I guess they wanted to try and see if the grass was indeed greener on the other side.
We were all aware of their new Magnetic Windows system, and that ‘Alice’ (eventually published as ‘Wonderland‘ by Virgin Games) was also to be their next game. Timing-wise, the sale of TelecomSoft to MicroProse probably made little difference, as Magnetic Scrolls were almost certainly going to change publishers anyway.
So, Fish! ended up being the last MS game to be published by Rainbird and as such, it marked the end of an era.
As with every game tested at TelecomSoft, the testers weren’t given any solutions or hints to help them solve or complete any of the games we published. So, starting from scratch, Paul and I eventually came up with WASCO, which helped solve one of the main puzzles in Fish!.
A couple of years after Fish! was published by Rainbird, it was re-released by Virgin Games within the new Magnetic Windows system as part of the 'Magnetic Scrolls Collection - Volume 1, which also included The Guild of Thieves and Corruption.
Volume 2 (which would presumably have contained The Pawn and Jinxter) was never published. In fact, the configuration of Vol 1 suggests that there might have been other reasons why certain games weren't re-released. Logically, The Pawn, Guild and Jinxter would themically have been a better fit for a compilation.