Wednesday, 7 March 2012

This week: Brass Band Playstation One 1997

Brass Band was created by Taistral Styudyus in Yorkshire.
The initial idea was conceived off the surprising success of the the film "Brassed Off", which made considerable stars of Ewan McCewan and Peter Pepper Pot.

The game was conceived by a local business man Frank Rank, who having witnessed some of the filming believed he could cash in on the "Brassed Off" fever. Rank, although a highly successful businessman was completely clueless with gaming and this is were the problems began.

Rank hired a local studio (Taistral Styudyus) to develop and deliver his own ideas. Frank wasn't completely clueless though and brought in a local Band Leader: Alan Pleng to give advice and help with details. Unfortunately for Rank though, his initial knowledge was soon marred by his drink problem. Rank spoke to close friends of how he found Pleng asleep slumped in front of his television. Rank said at the time: "Eee was bladdered. The fella was out cold with an empty whisky bottle next to im. Worster though were his gaming problem. The dorzy basteds at Taistral had lent him PaRappa the Rapper and a ps 1!" It wasn't long before Rank sacked Pleng and moved on with his own vision.

The game itself was something of an oddity that beat the Wii for innovation. This came in the form of the controllers. Rank believed that if one was to capture the feel of the brass band, one would need to tap that feeling. Rank developed 28 separate, wired, controller that resembled the instruments they would mimic! On top of this, Rank conceived a conductors "wand" to be the main focus.

As development continued, it was noticeable that this much effort was too much for the developers. Rank brought Pleng back in to "shore up" the instrumentation. But this too was proving unwise. As the budget grew beyond belief, Rank was horrified to find Pleng at home hanging from a noose. Pleng was attired as the character he loved: PaRappa the Rappa, complete with "boot polish" nose.

Rank was now unravelling, as he couldn't tell the incidents from the film, reality, and consequently the game. He layered in the story of Pleng's death and pushed forward a release date.

Two weeks after release, Rank declared himself broke and never developed a game again. The game bombed and was laughed out of town. But a twist was around the corner. Japanese gamers had received the game late as Rank was unaware of the Eastern potential. Gamers here revelled in buying all the instruments and it was not unknown for families to perform live at meet ups. The game gained a cult following and was loved by all!

Rank was worshipped in Japan where he went on to develop five more games in the series before retiring a wealthy man. Sadly for Pleng's family, the future was bleaker. Rank denied any knowledge of his involvement and left them penniless. A clearly insane Irene Pleng can be seen to this day, dressed as ParRappa the Rapper pushing a shopping trolley through busy streets. Cursing Rank's name


  1. Ah, a happy(ish) ending for once! The cut-throat world of video game development has taken many casualties - Pleng isn't the first, and most certainly won't be the last.

    I hope this wasn't inspired by the Plusnet adverts. They cheese me off no end. :D

    I still have my PS1 trombone mouthpiece. Wanna see it? *Slurps and drools maniacally*

    1. Funny how you mentioned the ending! I realised as I typed it, that it was yet another "misery fest". I'd like to think I could make a happy gaming experience yet the pull of ying to the yang is too much. I reckon 90% of great games are really made through agony and unhappiness. I do wonder how people make games like PaRappa. I get the feeling they are playing against the fact that real life couldn't be any worse so they make the polar opposite