Distinctive Software

Last updated
Distinctive Software Inc.
Industry Video games
FateMerged into EA Canada
Successor EA Canada
Key people
Don Mattrick
Jeff Sember
Paul Lee
Tarrnie Williams
Bruce McMillan
Products Test Drive series
4D Sports series
Parent Electronic Arts

Distinctive Software Inc. (DSI) was a Canadian video game developer established in Burnaby, British Columbia, by Don Mattrick and Jeff Sember after their success with the game Evolution. [1] Mattrick (age 17) and Jeff Sember approached Sydney Development Corporation, who agreed to publish Evolution in 1982. [2] Distinctive Software was the predecessor to EA Canada. [1]


Distinctive Software was best known in the late 1980s for their ports, racing and sports games, including the Test Drive series and Stunts .

DSI also made sports games like 4D Boxing , and the second title in the Hardball series, Hardball II .

In 1991, DSI was acquired by Electronic Arts in a deal worth US$10 million and became EA Canada. [3] [1]

Trade-named as Unlimited Software, Inc., and lawsuit

In 1989, programmers Pete Gardner and the "Old Kid" (Amory Wong) of DSI, under the pseudonym USI (Unlimited Software, Inc.), converted Sega's arcade game Out Run into a DOS version. For Out Run, they used several software libraries they had developed for Test Drive II. Consequently, Accolade charged that DSI violated a working agreement, and sued. Accolade sought a preliminary injunction against the distribution and sale of Out Run. Distinctive Software argued that it had only used source code that did routine functions, such as clearing the video screen and that Accolade did not own a copyright on those functions. Accolade argued that their contract for Test Drive II gave them the ownership and copyright of the final product—the game—and the source code used to create it. Distinctive Software won; the court ruled that "the licensing agreement transfers to Accolade the copyright to the concept and design of the video game but not the underlying source code." The court also found that Accolade had failed to demonstrate that the balance of hardships was in its favor. [4]

Notable games

4D Sports Boxing 1991 Mindscape/Electronic Arts Amiga, Atari ST, DOS, Macintosh
4D Sports Tennis 1990MindscapeDOS
Accolade Comics 1987 Accolade Apple II, Commodore 64
Ace of Aces 1987Accolade Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64, DOS
After Burner 1988 Sega Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS
Altered Beast 1990SegaAmiga, Commodore 64, DOS
Bill Elliott's NASCAR Challenge 1990 Konami Amiga, handheld, Macintosh, NES, MS-DOS,
Castlevania 1990KonamiCommodore 64, DOS
Champions Forever Boxing 1992 NEC TG-16
Grand Prix Circuit 1988 Accolade Amiga, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, DOS
Fight Night 1985Accolade Apple II, Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64
Hardball! 1985Accolade Apple IIGS, Commodore 64
Mario Andretti's Racing Challenge 1991 Electronic Arts DOS
Metal Gear 1990 Ultra Games Commodore 64
Mission: Impossible 1991 Konami DOS
Out Run 1989 Sega Commodore 64, DOS
Pipe Dream 1990 Bullet-Proof Software Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS, NES
Stunts ( 4D Sports Driving )1990 Broderbund/Mindscape Amiga, DOS
Super C 1990 Konami Amiga, DOS
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990Ultra Games/KonamiAmiga, Commodore 64, DOS
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Manhattan Missions 1991KonamiDOS
Test Drive 1987 Accolade Amiga, Commodore 64, DOS
The Cycles: International Grand Prix Racing 1989AccoladeCommodore 64, DOS
The Duel: Test Drive II 1989AccoladeAmiga, Apple IIGS, Commodore 64, DOS
The Simpsons: Bart's House of Weirdness 1992KonamiDOS
Top Gun: Guts and Glory 1993 Konami Game Boy

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  1. 1 2 3 Zinn, Jacob (September 5, 2014). "EA Canada pushes boundaries in Burnaby". Burnaby Now . Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  2. Kyllo, Blaine (January 28, 2009). "Case: Vancouver's video game family tree [C]". The Georgia Straight. Retrieved September 26, 2019.
  3. "COMPANY NEWS; Electronic Arts To Buy Distinctive". The New York Times . June 18, 1991.
  4. Dannenberg, Ross (May 30, 2005). "Case: Accolade v. Distinctive (N.D.Cal. 1990) [C]". Patent Arcade. Archived from the original on November 27, 2019. Retrieved September 26, 2019.