Argonaut Games was a British video game developer, founded in 1982 and liquidated in late 2004, with the company ceasing to exist in early 2007. It was most notable for the development of the Super NES video game Star Fox and its supporting Super FX hardware, as well as for developing the Playstation video game Croc: Legend of the Gobbos.
|Public limited company|
|Founded||23 February 1982|
|Defunct||1 October 2004|
|Headquarters||London, England, U.K.|
(Colindale, then Edgware)
—Argonaut founder and Super FX codesigner, Jez San
In 1993, Argonaut collaborated with Nintendo during the early years of the NES and SNES, a notable incident being when Argonaut submitted a proof-of-concept method of defeating the Game Boy's copyright protection mechanism to Nintendo. The combined efforts from both Nintendo and Argonaut yielded a prototype of the game Star Fox, initially codenamed "NesGlider" and inspired by their earlier Atari ST and Amiga game Starglider, that they had running on the NES and then some weeks later on a prototype SNES. Jez San told Nintendo that his team could only improve performance or functionality of the demonstration if Nintendo allowed Argonaut to design custom hardware to extend the SNES to have true 3D capability. Nintendo agreed, so San hired chip designers and made the Super FX chip. They originally codenamed it the Mathematical Argonaut Rotation I/O, or "MARIO", as is printed on the chip's surface. So powerful was the Super FX chip used to create the graphics and gameplay, that they joked that the Super NES was just a box to hold the chip.
After building the Super FX, Argonaut designed several different chips for other companies' video game machines, which were never released. These include the machines codenamed GreenPiece and CD-I 2 at Philips, the platform codenamed VeggieMagic at Apple Inc., and Hasbro's "virtual reality" game system, codenamed MatriArc.
In 1995, Argonaut Software was split into Argonaut Technologies Limited (ATL) and Argonaut Software Limited (ASL). With space being a premium at the office on Colindale Avenue, ATL was relocated to an office in the top floor of a separate building. The building was called Capitol House on Capitol Way, just around the corner. There, they continued the design of CPU and GPU products and maintained "BRender", Argonaut's proprietary software 3D engine. They won a chip design project with LSI Logic for a potential PlayStation 2 design. LSI Logic became a minor investor in Argonaut.
In 1996, John Edelson was hired as the company General Manager. John Edelson ran the group for two years. Capital was raised in 1996-1998 from Tom Teichman and Apax Partners. According to Jez San, Argonaut remained an independent developer by choice, and had turned down several buyout offers.
In 1997, the two arms of the company once again shared an office as the entire company was moved to a new building in Edgware. In September 1997, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos was released by Fox Interactive for the PlayStation and Sega Saturn. A PC version of the game was also later released in 1998.
In 1998, ATL was rebranded ARC after the name of their main product, the Argonaut RISC Core, and became an independent company spun off to the same shareholders. ARC was an embedded IP provider. Bob Terwilliger was engaged as the President.
Argonaut Software Limited became Argonaut Games and was floated in 1999.
In late October 2004, Argonaut Games called in receivers David Rubin & Partners, laid off 100 employees, and was put up for sale. Many former employees left for newly gaming establishment workstation, Rocksteady Studios. Lack of a constant stream of publishing deals had led to cashflow issues and a profit warning earlier that year. In 2005, the company entered liquidation and it dissolved in early 2007.
BRender (abbreviation of "Blazing Renderer") is a development toolkit and a realtime 3D graphics engine for computer games, simulators, and graphic tools. It was developed and licensed by Argonaut Software. The engine had support for Intel's MMX instruction set and it supported Microsoft Windows, MS-DOS and PlayStation platforms. Support for 3D hardware graphics accelerator cards was added. Software made with BRender includes Carmageddon, Croc: Legend of the Gobbos, FX Fighter, I-War, and 3D Movie Maker.
|Skyline Attack||1984||Commodore 64|
|Starglider 2||1988||ST, Amiga|
|Days of Thunder||1990|
|Birds of Prey||1992||Amiga|
|King Arthur's World||1993||SNES|
|Stunt Race FX||1994||SNES[b]|
|Ren & Stimpy: Fire Dogs||1994||SNES|
|FX Fighter Turbo||1996||PC|
|Croc: Legend of the Gobbos||1997||PC, PS1, SAT|
|Croc 2||1999||PC, PS1|
|Star Wars Math: Jabba's Game Galaxy||2000||Microsoft Windows|
|The Emperor's New Groove||2000||PC, PS1|
|Red Dog: Superior Firepower||2000||DC|
|Disney's Aladdin in Nasira's Revenge||2000||PC, PS1|
|Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone[c]||2001||PS1|
|Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||2002||PS1|
|Bionicle: Matoran Adventures||2002||GBA|
|Bionicle||2003||GameCube, PC, PS2, Xbox|
|I-Ninja||2003||GameCube, PC, PS2, Xbox|
|SWAT: Global Strike Team||2003||PS2, Xbox|
|Power Drome||2004||PS2, Xbox|
|Catwoman: The Game||2004||GameCube, PC, PS2, Xbox|
|Star Fox 2||2017[d]||SNES|
- Race Drivin' was ported from the arcade.
- Argonaut Games provided assistance in programming with the FX Chip.
- The game was titled Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in the United States.
- Star Fox 2 was developed in 1996 but wasn't released until 2017 when it was included in the Super NES Classic Edition.
|Bionicle: City of Legends||2004||Xbox, PS2|
|I-Ninja 2||2004||PS2, Xbox, GameCube|
|Zero Hour||2004||PS2, PSP|
|Cash on Delivery||PS2|
|Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (unconfirmed)[a]||2004||PS1|
- The development of this game was alluded to in a 2004 edition of PlayStation Magazine, but its actual existence is unconfirmed as of 2020 - any development builds, should they exist, would not have been seen or accounted for in 16 years.
- Bolton, Syd. "Interview with Jez San, OBE". Armchair Empire. Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2014.
- Brookes, Jason; Bielby, Matt (May 1993). "Superplay interview: Jez San, Argonaut". Super Play. United Kingdom: Future Publishing.
- "Company Summary" (Archive). Argonaut Games. 29 October 1996. Retrieved on 21 May 2016. "Argonaut Technologies Limited Capitol House, Capitol Way, Colindale, London, NW9 ODZ, United Kingdom" and "Argonaut USA Rich Seidner - Head of US Operations 210 Grandview Drive, Woodside, California, 94062, USA"
- "Argonaut Contact information". Argonaut Games. 13 January 1998. Archived from the original on 13 January 1998. Retrieved 9 November 2009.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link) () "Argonaut House 369 Burnt Oak Broadway Edgware Middlesex HA8 5XZ"
- McFerran, Damien (22 June 2014). "Born slippy: the making of Star Fox". Eurogamer. Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "Of argonauts, vectors, and flying foxes: The rise of 3D on Nintendo consoles". Archived from the original on 13 June 2008. Retrieved 4 January 2015.
- "Interview with Jez San". arwinglanding.net. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 4 September 2007.
- Rider, David; Semrad, Ed (December 1997). "British Invasion". Electronic Gaming Monthly. No. 101. Ziff Davis. p. 170.
- Jenkins, David (3 November 2004). "Remaining Argonaut Development Staff Laid Off". Gamasutra. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
- "BRender Web page". Argonaut Software. Archived from the original on 29 October 1996. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
- "The Wave Report on Digital Media Issue 606 8/16/96". 4th WAVE, Inc. Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
- "NG Alphas: Carmaggedon [sic]". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. pp. 125–6.
- "3D Graphics Help". GamePro. No. 80. IDG. May 1995. p. 139.
- "NG Alphas: I-War". Next Generation. No. 34. Imagine Media. October 1997. p. 104.
- Bramwell, Tom (30 January 2004). "EA bags Catwoman". Eurogamer. Retrieved 26 June 2018.
- "Bionicle 2 tech demo discovered" Archived 3 October 2017 at the Wayback Machine, ptponline.com, 30 October 2012
- "BIONICLE 2: City of Legends (Xbox Beta) ISO Release", biomediaproject.com, 1 February 2014
- "I-Ninja 2: PS2/XBOX/GameCube - Cancelled", Unseen64, 12 March 2009
- "Zero Hour, PSP - Cancelled", Unseen64, 26 November 2009
- "Cash on Delivery, PSP - Cancelled", Unseen64, 27 July 2009
- Kanaan (Argonaut) [PC - Cancelled], Unseen64, 11 May 2016