Otherwise known as the Rowlands brothers, Steve and John, they responsible for some of the most exciting and classic software released on the Commodore 64. They surfaced in the latter years of the C64's life and unlike many other programmers, stuck with the machine even after most commercial companies had stopped producing software for it.
Their first 'game' was a Firebird cheapo called Scorpius. In fact they were only responsible for the graphics and sound, the programming was done by someone else. But it was a start. The game, a sub-aqua shoot em up, was recieved well and paved the way for things to come.
Their next game to be released was not the next they produced, but more of that later. From nowhere the game Retrograde appeared. Working in conjuction with a mate, this was another shoot-em-up, but set over scrolling landscapes. Taking control of a lone jetpacker, the objective was to collect bombs and plant them at points in the planet's core. More than just an ordinary shooter though, you could buy weapons AND choose in which of 16 directions you wanted them to fire around you. This game got them noticed, partially because the company releasing the game, Thalamus, already had an impressive track record.
The Apex/Thalamus partnership was to continue for another two games. However before that came the release of Cyberdyne Warrior. Essentially the prequel to Retrograde, it involved retrieving rogue droids in a hostile 8-way scrolling environment. It was in a similar way an large version of Retrograde's subsections when you had to plant the bombs. Again colourful and aurally great, it helped sales of the compilation it was present on.
Having put themselves on the map, Zzap!64 signed them up to write a diary of the next game they made. Which turned out to be Creatures, an acronym for Clyde Radcliffe Exterminates All The Unfriendly Repulsive Earth-ridden Slime. This was a platform game par excellance, controlling Clyde with a variety of unusual weapons (and flame breath) going around shooting the daylights out of monsters in various locations. The reason for doing this? The very amusing, original and bloody torture screens which interspaced the action. Either save a Fuzzy friend or watch him get 'dealt' with in an unusual manner! The game was the best seller of 1991 and well deserved it too. Unfortunately the conversions to other formats didn't go well, but enough about them.....
Obviously onto a winning thing, Zzap!64 got the Reynolds bros to diary their next game, which in a predictable mould was Creatures 2! Due to Newsfield going into liquidation, the diary passed to Commodore Format half way through, but didn't stop the game itself. Having listened to feedback about the original, the sequel had one main focal point; those torture screens! Interspaced with Fuzzy juggling sections (much like what Earthworm Jim 2 has), swimming bits and demon confrontations, this game showed that the C64 could still produce mind-blowing games on par with supposedly superior machines. And a small note... anyone with Zzap!64 issues #88 to #90 will find a certain person tipping this game heh!
How could they possibly top this? Well their next and last game to date (they are rumoured to be working on the PC now) was to astound everyone, and make #3 in my alltime C64 list. Entitled Mayhem in Monsterland, the best way to describe it is as a cross between Super Mario and Sonic, as it was both speedy and requiring brain work. Taking control of Mayhem the supercharged dinosaur in a quest to return his home of Monsterland to its former glory, it had been transformed into a place a sadness by accident. With hidden extras, bonuses, subgames and more, coupled with top notch graphics and sound, Commodore Format went as far as to award it 100%! Now no game can get that mark, but it certianly comes close for shear playability and aestetics.
With all these brilliant games under their belt, I could almost say that the Rowland bros were the best games producers on the C64. But I won't. Someone out there I am sure didn't like the games... it's all a matter of opinion. But the games will always live in memory...