History of Triplane? games

SUPRISE… As writing my thesis about our game development process this part had to be taken off so now I will upload it HERE! Cant let it go to waste… Oh yeah.. sorry about the “bi-weekly” updates.. You can expect like … Not frequent updates at all at this point as we need to focus and prioritise the work. Sorry!! :((

Brief history of similar style 2D dogfight games. Starting on the arcade machines circa 1970 and ending in modern mobile market. Games listed are the most influential ones that have helped to create and mold the genre where it is today.

Arcade machines

Multiple arcade cabinets were released by different developers about the same time. Records and dates are unclear about which cabinet was really the first biplane game ever created. BiPlane was produced by Fun Games Inc. in 1976 and is probably the first game created in the genre as the manual for the game is dated in January 1976. (Arcade-Museum.com – BiPlane). Second cabinet was released by Allied Leisure Industries and was named ACE. (Arcade-Museum.com – ACE). BiPlane looked bit more like PONG and ACE was bit more advanced with parachuting animation and different looking score table. Both arcade cabinets were coin operated and had two-player modes.

First game for the home console

Success of the arcade games was transferred to home consoles in 1977 by Atari. Releasing a multi-game cartridge called “Combat” for Atari 2600. It came bundled with the console all the way up to 1983 and is fondly remembered by the “Atari generation”. One of the games featured was called “Bi-plane”. It had three modes: 1 vs 1, 2 vs 2 and 1 bomber vs 3 planes.  You could also set clouds to appear in game. (Old-Computers.com – Combat).

DOS era

Sopwith was the first “modern” game in the biplane-genre of games. Developed in 1984 by BMB Compuscience for DOS. It was the first game to feature scrolling map with hangar, takeoff and bombing. Every game since has its roots somehow connected to Sopwith. Game was designed to demo BMB’s new network called Imaginet which connected IBM PCs with Atari 520STs. 2 users were able to connect through it and play Sopwith against each other. (Sopwith FAQ).


Sopwith 2 was released two years after the first one in 1986. Couple of the listed features were more intelligent AI, Real-time radar, Game recording, State of the art PC-speaker sound and music etc…

Sopwith build a large fan base and multiple mods and clones were released through the years. Like a fan made version with working TCP/IP multiplayer mode. Original author David L. Clarke also released his own improved version of Sopwith 2 – “The Author’s edition” in 2000.  Sopwith 3 was released in 2003 and was more or less the original Sopwith but runnable in the modern Windows machine. (Sopwith.org)

In 1994 Manfred von Krashenbern’s Flying Circus was released by COSMI Software. Featuring only single-player campaign against AI and engaging in various missions. Name of the game is a wordplay of the famous “Red Baron” or Manfred Albrecht Freiherr von Richthofen. (Videogamegeek.com – Manfred). Red Baron is a recurring theme in the DOS era flying games. Ducktales the game for DOS also featured a similar kind of flying level with similar art style as Manfred. It was used in level transitions to pilot Scrooge McDuck to the next destination using Launchpad McQuacks red biplane.

Side by side Manfred vs. Ducktales


Triplane Turmoil

In 1996 Finnish studio Dodekaedron Software made the jump from biplanes to triplanes and released the Finnish cult classic Triplane Turmoil for DOS. Triplane was heavily inspired by Sopwith and you can also see some familiar elements from the games listed above. (IGDA.fi – interview with Markku Rankala). Triplane featured 4-player deathmatch against AI or PVP and a hefty single-player campaign mode. Game was originally released as shareware but was later released as freeware. Triplane became a cult classic over the years and after Dodekaedron Software released the source code under GPLv3 in 2009 and the community around Triplane has been updating the game ever since. Last update was released in 2013 but the current builds are only runnable on Linux though.

Draconus Entertainment Ltd. released Triplane Turmoil 2 in 2006 but it never got the same success as its predecessor. It deviated from the original formula by being a 2D side-scroller with 3D elements. Markku Rankala was the only one continuing in Draconus from the original Triplane team.

Game designed by The Parviirus and released in 1999. Koiratappelu 2 – Taistelumme was a multiplayer only clone of Triplane Turmoil. It featured fully voiced announcer and items with special powers. Game belongs to the beloved classics of the 90’s Finnish indie game scene and deserves a special mention.

Triplane Turmoil vs. Koiratappelu 2 side-by-side


Mobile market and web

On these modern days, everything must be on mobile and of course there is a mobile version of Sopwith! It’s 1:1 remake of Sopwith 1 with mobile device compatible control scheme. It’s made by CactooSoftware and released in 2015. (Google Play Store – Sopwith)

Pocket Squadron gives a modern take on the dogfight genre. Made by Bombsight Games and released in 2015. Game features multiple plane types and the familiar dogfighting action. (Google Play Store – Pocket Squadron)

Pocket Squadron


Lentokonepeli, playable in browser at aapeli.com gets a special mention. It was released in 2004 and as the site was very popular among the youngster of that time and achieved the cult status with its own generation. Game featured online pvp that supported 6 simultaneous players. Multiple plane types and the very familiar dogfight gameplay.


Some MansikkaMarmeladi news!

So I’m settled here in Helsinki! I’ll write about it soon enough how the first two months have been. :)

We decided to migrate to GameMaker Studio 2 to be ready for the “future” of Triplane: Furball.

Ville has been busy making our game more lively with some great sounds!

If you have any concerns or want to ask us something, send us a pm in twitter.


Catch you later!


Sources for the images:

Image 1. Old-Computers.com – BiPlane & Arcade-Museum.com – ACE. Referenced 29.8.2017

Image 2. Old-Computers.com – Combat. Referenced 29.8.2017

Image 3. Sopwith.org – Sopwith 2. Referenced 30.8.2017

Image 4. Side by side Manfred vs. Ducktales. Referenced 30.8.2017

Image 5. Triplane Turmoil campaign mode. Referenced 30.8.2017

Image 6. Pocket Squadron gameplay. Referenced 31.8.2017

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