Sensible Software: Book Review.

Growing up during the late 80s to the early 90s I was like most people my age now a massive gamer. A fair few of the games I was playing during that period came from a developer called Sensible Software. You must have heard of them right? So its 2013 and this new book has just been released chronicling the Sensible Software years from 1986 – 1999.

The book is the idea of Read Only Memory founder, Darren Wall, who started a Kickstarter project to raise £24,000 to fund the book. Thankfully, for you and me it was very much a success.

So onto the book itself and what a treat it is, the cover is simple but yet so effective, displaying loads of images from the Sensible Software archives in a softcover binding. With 340 pages made with high quality paper, it’s the perfect size measuring 165 x 230 mm.

Inside the book

It’s a great read overall, a rag to riches story in many ways, the book is done in the form of interviews with the author Gary Penn asking the questions to such greats as Jon Hare, Ocean founder Gary Bracey, Stoo Cambridge and Games Master presenter Dominic Diamond amongst others.  This style of writing is new for me in terms of reading a book but it works very well indeed.

One minor issue for me is co-founder of Sensible Software Chris Yates, did not want to take any part in the book but that’s hardly the fault of guys who have worked on the book, it would have been great to read some stories about life at Sensible from his point of view, I’m sure Darren and his team at Read Only Memory did all they could to get him involved but sadly it was not to be.  There is a comprehensive run down of all the games made by Sensible Software with loads of interesting facts that I certainly never knew and it’s interesting to be able to have a glimpse into the lives of the people behind the games that so many of us loved and have many fond memories of.

5 Sensifacts You Might Not Know

1. The contract for SWOS was signed on top of Jon Hare’s car after a particularly heated golf game involving Mike Montgomery of The Bitmap Brothers.

2. Sensible co-founder Chris Yates once gave programmer Jools Jameson his salary in £5 and £10 notes poured over his head from a briefcase.

3. In 1991 – four years before GTA made its first appearance – Sensible abandoned plans for a road rampage drive ’em up called ‘Mirror, Signal, Manslaughter’.

4. The initial tests for Sensible Soccer were built-in the Mega Lo Mania engine, so the game began life as a kickabout between warring cavemen.

5. Jon Hare hasn’t bought a Remembrance Day poppy since 1993, when Sensible had to pay the Royal British Legion £500 for using a familiar flower on the cover of Cannon Fodder.


It’s a fascinating and educating book all the way through. I could go on about how great this book is but rather than ruin your reading time by as I really hope you go and buy this, as it really is a fantastic read. If you’re a retro gamer but more importantly a gamer then you really need to get this book!

Available to buy HERE.

  • 9/10
    RVG Rating - 9/10


It’s a great read overall, a rags to riches story in many ways, the book is done in the form of interviews with the author Gary Penn asking the questions.


Retro head and key holder of RVG.

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