Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Jet-Boot Jack (English Software, 1983)

Written by Jon Williams for the Atari 400/800.
Converted for the Commodore 64 by Mark Taylor.
Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Colin Hughes.
Converted for the Acorn BBC Micro and Electron by Dave Woodhouse.

Originally published by English Software in 1983.
Published in North America by Datamost in 1984.
Amstrad version published by Amsoft in 1984.
Acorn versions published by English Software in 1984.



Jet-Boot Jack has got to be one of the best known, or at least the most circulated games on the 8-bit Atari computers, because English Software pushed the game on the first three Atari Smash Hits compilations after the original release. Of course, this doesn't mean it was in every Atari gamer's collection, but it certainly will have helped the exposure. On other platforms, the game's status is not necessarily quite as notable. My personal introduction to Jet-Boot Jack was rather unnotable, since I can't actually remember when it happened and on what platform, or if it was through emulation or on a real C64, for example, but it has grown on me over the years, which is why I decided to compare this game right now.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Exolon (Hewson Consultants, 1987)

Designed and written by Rafaele Cecco for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Spectrum sounds by Nick Jones. Loading screen by Nigel Brownjohn. Both SPE and CPC versions also available on Enterprise 128.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Nick Jones, with loading screen for the Rack-It re-release by Stephen "Sir'88" Robertson.

Remade for the Atari ST by Martin J. Bysh, with graphics by Gary P. Helix and music and sound effects by J. Dave Rogers. Released by Hewson in 1988.

Converted from the Atari ST version for the Commodore Amiga by Guido Henkel for Linel/Dragonware. Released by Hewson in 1989.

Two (unofficial?) conversions for the Sharp MZ-800 written by Midos and Datelsoft in 1989.



Rafaele Cecco's games all have a certain kind of a quality, that make them all feel most at home on the Spectrum and Amstrad for some reason, but I've always thought Exolon to be one of the games that was almost equally good on every 8-bit. The 16-bit versions I never even knew of until I started doing the research for this entry, so it'll be something new to look forward to, at least for me. Exolon also has a certain amount of randomness about it, that makes it impossible to feel completely comfortable about it at any given time, and perhaps for that reason, it has never been one of my favourites, but that hasn't stopped everyone else from liking it.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Loco (Alligata Software, 1984)

Based on the 1982 Sega arcade game "Super Locomotive", originally designed and programmed by Fukumura Mizunaga.

Commodore 64 version by Antony Crowther, with music by Ben Daglish. Published by Alligata Software in 1984.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version written by Richard Stevenson and David Wright, with loading screen by Nigel Speight.

Atari 8-bit version written by Anthony J. Wilson and Russell Knight. Graphics by Russell Knight and sounds by Antony Crowther.

Spectrum and Atari versions published by Alligata Software in 1986.



When I was called on to write yet another Format Wars article for the Reset64 magazine many, MANY months ago, there was a thematic twist to this request. It took a while to realize that the only thematic game that's possible to write a comparison about that would fit the magazine is Loco from Alligata. Even that was a bit questionable, because, after all, the game is based on an arcade game with a different title, and there are a few other variants based on the same original that it would be impossible to fit all that into a magazine format comparison. Therefore, it was decided and agreed that the article should be focused and limited to precisely the three versions of Alligata's Loco. Obviously, this blog edition features a bit more. However, as the current Reset issue in-the-making is still in such a state for an undeterminable time, I was given permission from mr. Tilley, the chief editor, to post this entry before the magazine gets out, so for the first time ever, you'll get to read the long version before the short version. The magazine pdf and purchase links will be eventually added here when it's finally available. Now then...

Friday, 17 July 2020

It's a Knockout! (Ocean Software, 1986)

Amstrad CPC version programmed by D.J. Burt and A.J., with loading screen by Simon Butler.

Commodore 64 version programmed by Keith Purkiss, R.P.P. and D.A.W., with loading screen by Simon Butler and music by Fred Gray.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum programmed by Keith Purkiss, with sound by D.J. Burt and loading screen by Dawn Drake.

Cover artwork by Bob Wakelin.

Published by Ocean Software in 1986.



I promised you some more Ocean awfulness after Knight Rider, didn't I? Don't get me wrong - I love old Ocean games, particularly the 1985-1989 period, but even they had their fair share of trash in their catalogue. Well, here's an old BBC gameshow made into a relatively unknown computer game, and it fits in well with Ocean's other miserable TV-licence games, although it's definitely a very different beast compared to Knight Rider, Miami Vice and Street Hawk. See, this is a multi-event sports game, if you can call it a sports game as such. If nothing else, it's good enough to add an entry under the letter 'I' in the archive, but I know some of you love badness just as much as I do, when you can laugh at it, so It's A Knockout! might just fit your bill.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Nero 2000 (Bio-Syntax Method Oy, 1987)

Designed by Taisto Orre and David Cumberworth
Programming by David Cumberworth and Timo Kokkonen
Graphics by Timo Kokkonen
Questions and music selection by Taisto Orre
Published originally for the Commodore 64 in 1987.

IBM-PC version written by Timo Kokkonen
MSX version written by David Cumberworth
Both published in 1988.



Some pieces of Finnish gaming history have been rather harshly scattered around with little hope of ever having the chance to get known to people, but lately, great amounts of archaeological findings have come up in the Finnish MSX scene. One of perhaps the most important findings has been the long-lost MSX version of the most famous computerized Finnish quiz game of all time, Nero 2000. Also, not much more than two years ago, Skrolli magazine found out the people behind the game and the company Bio-Syntax Method, on which they wrote an article for their first issue in 2018. So, before I continue into the actual article, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has made this comparison possible: Kasettilamerit, MP83, Tokamoka and NYYRIKKI , and whoever uploaded the DOS and MSX versions on the internet. It has been a long time in coming.

Saturday, 6 June 2020

2,000,000 visits! / UPDATES strikes back!

That's right, you read it right - the not quite as magical line as the previous one of 1,000,000 visits line, has been broken at last, although I never anticipated it coming to this after my year's near-constant absence. Having crossed that line in the year 2020 (less than a week before June, apparently) seems even more of an odd coincidence, because last month's comparison entries pushed the number of actual content articles over 200 (not including updates, achievements and other news), so I guess that's cause for more celebration! Anyway, I didn't post this blog entry just for these celebrations - that was merely coincidental to a dust-gathered post of UPDATES to old comparisons and perhaps even some other entries on the blog, with new surfacings of information and new versions of games having been released, etcetera.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Agent X II: The Mad Prof's Back! (Mastertronic, 1987)

Developed by Software Creations.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC versions:
Programming by Steven Tatlock
Graphics by John Tatlock
Music by Tim Follin
Additional programming and graphics for the Amstrad CPC version by Mark Wilson.

Commodore 64 version:
Programming by Jonathan French
Graphics by Andrew Threlfall
Music by Tim Follin

Published by Mastertronic in 1987.



The unexpectedly formed Mastertronic trilogy for May ends with a game I used to love as a young gamer, and made me not only acknowledge the existence of a game music composer by the name of Timothy Follin, but also made me into a big fan of his work. But I grew up with the C64 version, and I have never actually even as much as tried out the other two versions of the game, so this shall be yet another learning experience. What I have learned already, is that the makers of the Spectrum-exclusive original Agent X game, the Tatlock brothers, are also largely responsible for the other two versions, so I'm expecting great differences here.