I hear the sirens calling
As the rain is gently falling

Czech your head

Amanita Design's Samorost gameAmanita Design is an independent games company based in the Czech Republic. I didn’t think I’d ever heard of these chaps before I pitched up on their website a few days ago, but it turns out I had. Going back to around 2004, I was a big fan of what I now realise was Amanita’s earliest work – an online point-and-click puzzler called “Samorost” originally created as a thesis project by the company’s founder, Jakub Dvorský, while he was studying at the Academy of Arts in Prague.

The aim of “Samorost” (no idea what it means) is to guide a small humanoid character through a surreal world full of odd creatures. Our hero starts his journey in a spaceship made from a rusty old tin can and, once he’s landed his craft, he encounters a stoner in a coolie hat puffing at a bong, a critter with a voracious appetite for fish, a fella with a lightbulb for a head, lizards that race up the face of a cliff, hairy little goats that sing and fall off mountains when you click them… Come on now people, what’s not to like here? It’s got a trippy ambient jazz soundtrack too. When I first discovered it, I used to play “Samorost” for hours and hours. Days and days. Weeks and weeks. I swear there’s a version of me still playing it somewhere in another dimension.

Over in the Czech Republic meanwhile, Jakub Dvorský has been busy. From its humble beginnings as a university project, Amanita Design has developed into an eight-strong company of graphic artists, animators, programmers and musicians. The Amanita website features several free games, including “Samorost”, “Samorost 2”, “Rocketman” (created for Nike and based upon a cartoon version of American basketball star Vince Carter) and “Quest For The Rest” (created for symphonic rockers The Polyphonic Spree), plus a demo of Amanita’s first full-length game, “Machinarium”. There are also links to the team’s individual ventures. I’m especially liking Floex, the name under which game music composer Tomáš Dvořák records his atmospheric electronica. Hit the link to hear “Zorya”, the latest Floex album. It’s luxurious and haunting and magical stuff.

Jakub, Tomáš and the rest of the Amanita crew are supremely talented folk. I’ll even forgive them for causing me to waste a large chunk of my life. Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s a guy in a tin can spaceship who needs my help…

2 Comments on “Czech your head”

  1. Alex says:

    > “Samorost” (no idea what it means)

    “Samo” + “rost” kinda means, “Grows by itself”. 🙂

    P.S. Add “Questionaut” to your list of Amanita Design productions. They made it for the BBC to help fund completion of Machinarium. Put on your thinking cap and check it out! (it’s soundtrack was also created by Floex)

    link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/ks2bitesize/games/questionaut/pop.shtml

  2. Push says:

    Thanks for the info, Alex. “Grows by itself”, eh? Well, that certainly makes sense!

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