Top Banana (video game)

Last updated
Top Banana
Top Banana, Amiga Title Screen.png
Publisher(s) Hex
Programmer(s) Miles Visman
Artist(s) Miles Visman
Karel Dander
Sophie Smith
Robert Pepperell
Matt Black
Platform(s) Archimedes, Amiga, CDTV, Atari ST
Release1991: Archimedes
1992: Amiga, ST
Genre(s) Platform

Top Banana is an environmentally-themed platform game produced by Hex and Psycore for the Acorn Archimedes in 1991 and ported to the Amiga and Atari ST in 1992. The chief artist and coder was Miles Visman, with supporting graphics and sound by Karel Dander, and supporting graphics by Sophie Smith, Robert Pepperell and Matt Black. Top Banana was released using recycled cardboard packaging, furthermore being advertised as being the 'first video game with recycled packaging'. [1] [2] [3] Top Banana's plot is about trying to save the environment from pollution using love. [1] [4]


Top Banana is heavily influenced by techno and rave culture, and the game features a techno music video as an introduction. [1] [5] Reception for Top Banana was polarized; some reviewers praised the game's techno soundtrack and 'original' environmental plot, [4] [6] while others heavily criticized the game due to its 'repetitive' and 'difficult' gameplay and 'difficult to parse' graphics. [2] [5] [7] [8] The game's graphics and sound are left uncompressed, allowing the player to edit them, something that the README included alongside the game encourages. [9]


"Our planet is under threat - not from slimy aliens or evil wizards but from direct consequences of our own greed and stupidity. Every moment sees further demolition of the rainforest, more leaking nuclear waste, land floods caused by melting ice caps and much needed food rotting in locked warehouses. Your task is to combat those forces which are worlds tilts into oblivion you must redress the balance through positive action. To aid you in this task you are invested with a great power - that power is Love. Use this power to repel the agents of destruction. By spreading Love your enemies will vanish, or even begin to help you. You will be able to stem the tide of flood, neutralise the acid rain and release the hoarded fruits of the World's produce for all to share. If you succeed then you will have proved your skill and courage in the material world. Consequently, you will be offered the opportunity to seek ultimate wisdom in the Mind-Scape and achieve the status of Top Banana."
- Top Banana Manual [10]
A clip from Top Banana's introductory music video, as shown in the Amiga version. Warning: Clip contains bright flashing images.


Top Banana is a platformer with the goal of each level being to reach the top of the level. The heroine, KT, must travel through psychedelic levels while jumping across platforms and throwing lovehearts to convert planet-damaging enemies into energising fruit. The enemies include Corprats, Popstars, Chainsaws and Bulldozers. [7] Much like Rainbow Islands , water that damages the player rises from the bottom of the level to motivate the player to ascend to the top of the level quickly. However, in Top Banana the water is not an instant kill, and instead deals 1 point of damage to the player, the water then resets to the bottom of the level, and continues to rise. [1] The player has one life and can take 5 hits before dying; upon death all progress in the game is lost, and the player must start again from the beginning of the game. [1] KT's health is depicted visually by her portrait in the lower left, and parts of it disappear as health is lost. [1] Fruit that the player may collect throughout the game does not replenish health, and instead awards points, which have no tangible reward other than the player may place in the high score table if enough points are collected. [1]

Enemies are defeated in one hit, except for bosses which take several, and stationary enemies such as skulls that cannot be defeated and must be avoided. Some enemies can move through platforms, and towards the player directly. Bosses in Top Banana include a digitized photo of a man's head surrounded by circling dollar signs, a mecha robot, a motorcycle police officer's helmet combined with a spider, and a convulsing knobbled multi-coloured sphere, referred to in the manual as the "psychesphere of Enlightenment". [10]

Top Banana features bosses at the end of each stage; each stage has several levels, and have differing background graphics and enemies. To finish a level, a picture of a woman's head at the top of the level must be touched by the player, and stages with bosses are completed when the boss is defeated. Top Banana has four stages: the Rain Forest, the Metal-City, the Temple, and the Mind-Scape. [10] The background graphics in each stage are randomly selected from a set of graphics matching the stage's theme; each time the level is loaded the graphics may differ, although platforms remain fixed in the same locations. [1] Upon finishing a level, the game displays a phrase randomly selected from a list of phrases as the next level loads, including "Beware, Behave", "Recycle The Hype" and "Get Up Get Down". In later stages there are traps that if walked into, slow movement, reverses the game's controls, as well as inverts the colors of the level's graphics for several seconds. Upon taking damage, the player phases through the platforms they are on for several seconds, causing the player to lose progress. There are checkpoints in each level that, upon being reached, the player cannot fall through. Blue flowers in levels may be turned into moving platforms by shooting them. [1]

As a copy-protection measure, the player is prompted to enter a word from a specific page and line in the manual upon starting the game. [1]


Many of Top Banana's sprites are taken from videos and television for use in the game, much in the same way audio may be sampled in music. [11] Musician and Coldcut member Matt Black worked on Top Banana, and later members of the Hex multimedia group formed Hexstatic. [10] [12] Top Banana was playtested in Holland. [3] Top Banana cost 329 Swedish Kronor in 1992. [6]

Top Banana's developer & publisher Hex is also known as Hardwire, a company specializing in computer graphics work for music videos. [11] Hex spokesman Robert Pepperell stated in an article in a May 1991 issue of The One that Top Banana was developed because Hex believed "a computer game would be an interesting challenge", and because "Most games look rather sterile. We wanted to do something really different and positive. The technique of video sampling has never been used in a game before. Top Banana really looks and sounds completely different to any other computer game yet written." [11] Matt Black was initially going to make a cameo appearance in Top Banana as a manic bongo player, but this is absent in the final game. [11] The screenshot of Top Banana featured in The One's article is drastically visually different to that of the final game, with a differing artstyle, a top-down perspective as opposed to a 2D one, and depicts a performance hall with a piano, a location absent in the final game. [11]


Review scores
Datormagazin75% (Amiga) [6]
GamesMaster 65% [4]
Amiga Power 45% (Amiga) [7]
Aktueller Software Markt 4/12 (Amiga) [5]
Amiga Joker16% (Amiga) [2]

Several reviewers compare Top Banana to Rainbow Islands and criticize Top Banana's graphics. [6] [7] [8]

The Atari ST version of Top Banana is featured in Stuart Ashen's (also known by his online presence as Ashens) 2017 book Attack of the Flickering Skeletons: More Terrible Old Games You've Probably Never Heard Of, particularly criticizing Top Banana's graphics, calling them "an utterly indecipherable, garbled mess" and that "the only reason you can actually pick out the enemies from the rest of the screen is because they move ... each area gets progressively uglier and more muddled." Ashens criticises the sound effects, calling them "irritating", and notes that playing the Atari ST version on anything but an Atari STe removes them, replacing them with stock sound chip effects, which Ashens expresses is a more 'tolerable' alternative. Ashens also criticises Top Banana's gameplay and its difficulty, calling it "semi-playable" and a "badly executed platformer". [8]

Amiga Power gave the Amiga version of Top Banana an overall score of 45%, starting their review by stating that "the last thing I wanted to have thrust at me was a game featuring psychedelic 'acid' graphics, a 'dance' soundtrack, a naive ecological plot, environmentally-friendly packaging and things that wobble the screen about when you walk into them." Amiga Power criticises Top Banana's gameplay, plot, and graphics, comparing its gameplay to Rainbow Islands, stating that "Rainbow Islands does it all a hundred times better" and calls the traps that reverse the player's controls 'irritating', and the graphics "confusing" and that it's "impossible to see what's going on most of the time". Amiga Power also expresses that there 'isn't much to do', summarizing Top Banana's gameplay as "just collecting, shooting, and climbing." [7]

German gaming magazine Amiga Joker gave Top Banana an overall score of 16%, beginning their review with the following: "Our beautiful Earth is in a miserable state: the rainforests are dying, the hole in the ozone gets bigger every day, the sea levels are rising uncontrollably, and environmentally friendly software also gets worse! The box is made of recycled cardboard, which makes it very environmentally friendly - but the platforming game inside is unfortunately everything but friendly. Although this game follows in the tradition of Captain Planet and the packaging states it is "as engrossing as Sonic and Mario", the reality is quite different: what you see on your screen will ruin your eyes, destroy your eardrums and kill every last nerve." [2]

Amiga Joker continues their review by criticising its graphics and gameplay, saying that "it plays even more boring than we have described it here; moreover there may as well be nothing recognisable on the screen: [there are] disgusting, barely animated digital graphics in hideous colors." Amiga Joker furthermore expressed their disdain for the music, gameplay and sound effects, calling Top Banana "almost unplayable, wholeheartedly unoriginal and, thanks to idiotic sound effects and grinding title music, also acoustically unbearable ... Conclusion: picking up trash in the park is a more exciting and meaningful environment game [than Top Banana]." Amiga Joker's only compliment was the parallax scrolling, which they called "smooth", but expressed that it did not make up for the rest of the game's shortcomings. [2]

German gaming magazine Aktueller Software Markt gave the Amiga version of Top Banana four out of twelve; the reviewer is a fan of Coldcut, and praised Top Banana's introductory music video ^ , stating in regards to the game that "Such a first-class promotion will naturally bring lots of interest to the game - so what is concealed within Top Banana? The answer: a cheap version of hopscotch." ASM criticises Top Banana's gameplay and graphics, expressing that "Perhaps quite notable are the crazy techno sounds and the psychedelic graphics, which are best enjoyed with a pair of sunglasses. But other than that? More sparkle than sense!" ASM praised Top Banana's music, giving it a ten out of twelve. [5]

Swedish gaming magazine Datormagazin gave the Amiga version of Top Banana an overall score of 75%, beginning their review by stating that "It's not easy to break new ground when it comes to platform games, but Top Banana attempts exactly this." Datormagazin expresses a desire for more problem solving in Top Banana, and further notes that the gameplay is 'par for the course' for platform games, comparing it to Rainbow Islands. Datormagazin praises Top Banana's unique graphics and music, praising the techno soundtrack and stating that "The backgrounds look like a middle ground between 'neat 70's style & a MTV video run off a modem', complete with music." Datormagazin however notes that "sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish between the background and things on screen that are important or dangerous ... [also] some enemies you cannot see because they're too small", furthermore calling the graphics "a bit messy at times." Datormagazin praises Top Banana's plot and meaning as "deep", and praises the ability to edit Top Banana's graphics, stating that it adds "longetivity" to what the player can get out of the game. Datormagazin concludes by calling Top Banana "not the best of the best", but that it has the 'spirit' of the original Rainbow Islands. [6]

British Channel 4 television programme GamesMaster reviewed Top Banana in episode five of season one; the reviewers were contestants on the game show, and gave Top Banana an overall score of 65%. Top Banana was reviewed by three reviewers with differing opinions on the game; one reviewer praised Top Banana's "great" music and "absolutely superb" graphics, while simultaneously calling the game 'unplayable', while another praised its 'original' environmental plot, but summarized Top Banana as "just another platformer with a beat 'em up in the middle." Another reviewer stated that "I've seen it all before, really." [4]


A demo for Top Banana is featured on Amiga Format issue #32's coverdisk. [13] In November 1992 the game was included in Hex's release Global Chaos CDTV on the then new CD-ROM medium, alongside remixes of Top Banana's soundtrack. [14]

See also

Related Research Articles

<i>Marble Madness</i> 1984 arcade video game

Marble Madness is an arcade video game designed by Mark Cerny and published by Atari Games in 1984. It is a platform game in which the player must guide a marble through six courses, populated with obstacles and enemies, within a time limit. The player controls the marble by using a trackball. Marble Madness is known for using innovative game technologies: it was Atari's first to use the Atari System 1 hardware, the first to be programmed in the C programming language, and one of the first to use true stereo sound.

<i>Wonder Boy in Monster Land</i> 1987 video game

Wonder Boy in Monster Land, known by its original arcade release as Wonder Boy: Monster Land, is an action role-playing platform video game developed by Westone Bit Entertainment and released by Sega in Japanese arcades in 1987 and for the Master System in 1988, with a number of other home computer and console ports following. The game is the sequel to the 1986 game Wonder Boy and takes place eleven years after the events in the previous game. After enjoying over a decade of peace on Wonder Land following the defeat of the evil King by Tom-Tom, later bestowed the title "Wonder Boy", a fire-breathing dragon called the MEKA dragon appeared; he and his minions conquered Wonder Land, turning it into "Monster Land". The people, helpless due to their lack of fighting skill, call for Wonder Boy, now a teenager, to destroy the monsters and defeat the MEKA dragon. Players control Wonder Boy through twelve linear levels as he makes his way through Monster Land to find and defeat the MEKA dragon. Players earn gold by defeating enemies and buy weapons, armor, footwear, magic, and other items to help along the way.

<i>Llamatron</i> 1991 video game

Llamatron is a multidirectional shooter video game programmed by Jeff Minter of Llamasoft and released in 1991 for the Atari ST and Amiga and in 1992 for MS-DOS. Based on Robotron: 2084, players of Llamatron control the eponymous creature in an attempt to stop an alien invasion of Earth and rescue animals—referred to as "Beasties"—for points. Players advance by destroying all of the enemies on each level using a laser that fires automatically in the direction that the Llamatron is moving. Various power-ups exist to aid the player in defeating the wide variety of enemies and obstacles they face along the way.

<i>The Humans</i> (video game)

The Humans is a puzzle-platform video game developed by Imagitec Design in Dewsbury, England and originally published by Mirage Technologies for the Amiga on May 1992. It was later ported to other home computers and consoles. The goal of the game varies per level but usually revolves around bringing at least one of the player-controlled humans to the designated end area marked by a colored tile. Doing this requires players taking advantage of the tribe's ability to build a human ladder and use tools such as spears, torches, wheels, ropes and a witch doctor in later levels.

<i>Star Goose</i> 1988 video game

Star Goose is a vertically scrolling shooter that was published for the Amiga, Atari ST, and MS-DOS by Logotron in 1988. The player controls Scouser-Gitt, who pilots the eponymous Star Goose, a vessel that has been commissioned to scour the planet Nom and collect 48 crystals. Players must collect all six crystals in each of the game's eight levels to advance, while at the same time avoiding or destroying enemies and maintaining their shield, ammunition, and fuel levels. The game's surfaces are contoured, which affects the way that bullets travel, and contain tunnels that switch modes to a three-dimensional perspective where the player can replenish their resources.

<i>Xenon 2: Megablast</i> 1989 shoot em up video game

Xenon 2: Megablast is a 1989 shoot 'em up video game developed by The Bitmap Brothers and published by Image Works for the Amiga and Atari ST. It was later converted to the Master System, Mega Drive, Commodore CDTV, Game Boy, Acorn Archimedes and Atari Jaguar platforms. The game is a sequel to Xenon and takes place a millennium after the previous title. The goal of the game is to destroy a series of bombs planted throughout history by the Xenites, the vengeful antagonists of the first game.

<i>Hook</i> (video game) video games based on the 1991 film Hook

There have been several video games based on the 1991 film Hook. A side-scrolling platform game for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and Game Boy was released in the United States in February 1992. Subsequent side-scrolling platform games were released for the Commodore 64 and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) later in 1992, followed by versions for the Sega CD, Sega Genesis, and Sega's handheld Game Gear console in 1993. An arcade game was also released in 1993.

<i>RoboCop 3</i> (video game) 1991-1993 video game

RoboCop 3 is a video game based on the 1993 film of the same name. Amiga, Atari ST and DOS versions were developed by Digital Image Design beginning in September 1990, and published by Ocean Software in December 1991. The Digital Image Design version includes multiple gameplay styles. During 1992 and 1993, other versions consisting of side-scrolling platform gameplay were released for the Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, NES, SNES, Nintendo Super System, Game Gear, Master System, and Sega Genesis.

<i>First Samurai</i> (video game) 1991 computer and video game

The First Samurai, alternatively titled First Samurai, is a 1991 beat 'em up platformer developed by Vivid Image and published by Image Works. The First Samurai was originally released in September 1991 for the Amiga and Atari ST, and was later ported to the Commodore 64, MS-DOS and the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It was followed by a sequel, Second Samurai.

<i>Black Crypt</i> Role-playing video game for the Commodore Amiga from 1992

Black Crypt is a role-playing video game. It was Raven Software's debut title, and was published for the Amiga by Electronic Arts in 1992. Its 3D realtime style is similar to FTL Games' popular Dungeon Master, where the player leads a party of four heroes through a large dungeon to ultimately confront and defeat a powerful enemy.

<i>Bomberman</i> (1990 video game) 1990 video game by Hudson Soft for PC

Bomberman is a action-maze video game originally developed and published by Hudson Soft for the TurboGrafx-16 in Japan on 7 December, 1990 and later in North America by NEC in 1991. Belonging to the Bomberman franchise, it is a greatly expanded re-imagining of the first game in the series starring White Bomberman on a quest to rescue Lisa, the kidnapped daughter of his inventor Dr. Mitsumori, from the castle of Black Bomberman while defeating evil monsters and villains that work for him. Initially released for the TurboGrafx-16, the game was later ported to home computers, each one featuring changes compared to the original version. Conversions for other platforms were in development but never released. The title garnered positive reception from critics since its initial release on TurboGrafx-16 and later on home computers.

<i>Cloud Kingdoms</i>

Cloud Kingdoms is an puzzle game published by Millennium Interactive for the Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and MS-DOS in 1990. The player controls Terry, a green bouncing sphere, on a quest to recover his magic crystals that have been stolen by Baron von Bonsai. To do so, he must travel through the eponymous Cloud Kingdoms, avoiding enemies and hazards while collecting all of the crystals within the game's time limit. The game was developed by Dene Carter at Logotron, with sounds and music composed by David Whittaker.

<i>The Real Ghostbusters</i> (1987 video game) 1987 video game

The Real Ghostbusters is a 1987 shoot 'em up arcade game developed and published by Data East in the United States. It is loosely based on the animated series of the same name. In Japan, Data East released it as a non-Ghostbusters arcade game under the title Meikyuu Hunter G. In 1989, Activision published The Real Ghostbusters for various computer platforms in Europe, including Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum.

Deliverance is a platform game developed and published by 21st Century Entertainment in 1992 for the Amiga and Atari ST, and in 1993 for Macintosh. It is a remake of the 1990 Hewson Consultants game Deliverance: Stormlord II, featuring new graphics and sound as well as a changed gameplay system and a different plot.

<i>Judge Dredd</i> (1990 video game) 1990 platform shoot em up game

Judge Dredd is a 1990 platform shoot 'em up game based on the character of the same name. It was developed by Random Access and published by Virgin Mastertronic. It was released in Europe in 1990, for the Commodore Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and Sinclair ZX Spectrum. Judge Dredd was criticized for its gameplay, which was viewed as repetitive.

<i>Tom & Jerry</i> (1989 video game)

Tom & Jerry, also known as Tom & Jerry: Hunting High and Low, is a 1989 platform video game developed and published by German company Magic Bytes. It is the first video game based on the cartoon of the same name, and was released in the United States and Europe, for Amiga, Atari ST and Commodore 64 (C64) computers.

<i>Pink Panther</i> (video game)

Pink Panther is a 1988 video game based on the character of the same name. It was developed by German company Magic Bytes and published by Gremlin Graphics. It was released in Europe for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum. Pink Panther was criticized for its control and difficulty, although the Amiga and Atari ST versions received praise for their graphics.

<i>Red Heat</i> (video game)

Red Heat is a beat 'em up video game based on the 1988 film of the same name. It was developed by British studio Special FX and published by Ocean Software. It was released in Europe in 1989, for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 (C64), and ZX Spectrum.

<i>Sex Olympics</i>

Sex Olympics, alternatively titled Brad Stallion in Sex Olympics is an erotic point-and-click adventure game developed and self-published by Free Spirit Software, and released for DOS, Atari ST, and Amiga. The Amiga version of Sex Olympics was released in Europe in April 1991. Sex Olympics is the finale of the Brad Stallion series, and is preceded by Sex Vixens from Space (1988), Planet of Lust (1989), and Bride of the Robot (1989). Sex Olympics was panned by reviewers.

<i>Deathbringer</i> (1991 video game) 1991 video game

Deathbringer is a 1991 hack and slash action role-playing video game developed by Oxford Digital Enterprises and published by Empire that was released for the Amiga, DOS, and Atari ST.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Top Banana (1992), Amiga. Hex. Hex.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Top Banana: The Environment Catastrophe". Amiga Joker. Joker Verlag. April 1992. p.  18.
  3. 1 2 "Top Banana". Zero Magazine. No. 26. Dennis Publishing Ltd. December 1991. p.  13.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "GamesMaster Season 1 Episode 5". 24:20. Channel 4. 6:29-7:00.
  5. 1 2 3 4 Suck, Michael (April 1992). "More Sparkle Than Sense: Top Banana Review" (PDF). Aktueller Software Markt. Tronic Verlag. p. 16.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 "Top Banana Review". Datormagazin. Egmont Publishing. March 1992. p. 64.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Davies, Jonathan (March 1992). "Top Banana Review". Amiga Power. No. 11. Future Publishing. pp.  72–73.
  8. 1 2 3 Ashen, Stuart (2017). Attack of the Flickering Skeletons: More Terrible Old Games You've Probably Never Heard Of (1st ed.). London, England: Unbound. pp. 180–185. ISBN   978-1-78352-413-6.
  9. Top Banana (1991), Acorn Archimedes. Hex. Hex. README.
  10. 1 2 3 4 "Top Banana Manual (1992)".Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)Amiga. Hex. Hex.
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 "A Fruit Frenzy". The One. No. 42. emap Images. March 1992. p.  18.
  12. "Hex Going Bananas". The One. No. 38. emap Images. November 1991. p.  18.
  13. "Amiga Format Issue #32 Coverdisk". Amiga Format. No. 32. Future Publishing. March 1992.
  14. Global Chaos CDTV 1992. London, England. DMI. Hex. Coldcut.