Tuesday, 22 November 2016

TLL (Vortex Software, 1984)

Written by Costa Panayi for the ZX Spectrum.

Amstrad CPC conversion by David Aubrey Jones for Discovery Software, and published by Vortex in 1985.

Commodore 64 conversion by Simon Nicol, with music by David Dunn; published by Ocean in 1985.



Well over three years into the blog's life, I think it's about time I made a comparison of a game by the great Costa Panayi, the man responsible for such Spectrum classics as Highway Encounter, Cyclone and Deflektor. TLL, the official title abbreviated from the alternative full title "Tornado Low Level", was my first step into the world of games by Costa Panayi. At the time, I was only about 4 years old, so I didn't pay much attention to who made the games I was playing, nor did I realize or care about what a legendary man he was to become, but I did notice, how extraordinarily different TLL was from other games around at the time. Naturally, I didn't understand how to play it, but I recall it being one of my brother's favourites, so this one goes out to him.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

TWOFER #14: Formula 1 Simulator (Mastertronic, 1985)

Developed and produced by Mr. Chip Software for the Commodore 16 and Commodore 64 in 1985.
Programming and graphics by Shaun Southern.
Additional graphics for the C16 version by Michelangelo Pignani.
Music for the C64 version by Rob Hubbard.

Another game from 1984 called "Formula One" was written by S.C. Stephens for the ZX Spectrum 16k/48k, and was published by Spirit Software in 1984.
An enhanced version of it was released as "Formula One Simulator" by Mastertronic in 1985.

Credits for the Amstrad CPC and MSX versions are currently unknown, but both were released by Mastertronic in 1985.



Reportedly the best-ever selling title from the Mastertronic label was curiously this rather straight-forward racing game, rather Codemasters'ly titled Formula 1 Simulator. Shaun Southern has been mentioned a couple of times before on this blog in more flattering circumstances, but I decided to take a look at this little under-appreciated title from his catalogue, because of how different the non-Commodore versions are. So, practically, we have another two-for-one article on our hands, for a change!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Maniac Mansion (Lucasfilm Games, 1987)

Originally designed and scripted by Ron Gilbert and Gary Winnick for the Commodore 64.
Script Creation Utility for Maniac Mansion (SCUMM) designed by Ron Gilbert, Aric Wilmunder and Chip Morningstar. Art and animation by Gary Winnick. Programmed by Ron Gilbert, David Fox and Carl Mey. Music by Christopher Grigg and David Lawrence. Sound effects by Christopher Grigg. Special support for the Apple ][ conversion by F. Randall Farmer.
Released for the Commodore 64 and Apple ][ in 1987 by Lucasfilm Games.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Ron Gilbert, Aric Wilmunder and David Fox, with sounds by David Hayes and David Warhol. Released in 1988 by Lucasfilm Games.

Converted for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST computers by Aric Wilmunder, Edward Kilham and Steve Hales. Sound effects for the Amiga version by Brian Hales, and for the Atari ST version by David Warhol and Daniel Filner. Released in 1989 by Lucasfilm Games.

Converted for the Nintendo Famicom by Jaleco in 1988, and released only in Japan in 1989.

Conversion for the Nintendo Entertainment System by David Stifel. Re-scripted by Ron Baldwin. Graphics by Harrison Fong and Mike Ebert. Music by Psychadelic Brie, George Alistair Sanger, David Govett, David Hayes, David Warhol, Christopher Grigg and David Lawrence. Released in 1990 by Jaleco in USA and Europe.

NOTE: In the above list of credits, you only see the most directly involved personnel. If you are interested to see a more thorough list, visit MobyGames.



In the light of Lucasfilm Games' first actual graphic adventure game having its 30th anniversary this year, I decided to write about their next game in the line, because Labyrinth turned out to be a bit impossible to write about due to its versions for Japanese computers. Also, I was planning on writing about Maniac Mansion for this Halloween, but due to unforeseen circumstances, things got delayed. But also, it could well be, that SCUMM also celebrates its 30th anniversary this year - it hasn't been documented that well, really: the only known facts are that Maniac Mansion was released in October, 1987; the idea of the game was conceived around 1984-85; and that its actual development took 18-24 months. Make of it what you will. So, while I'm running late on getting a second game for the Halloween theme, I thought I might as well extend this season a bit.

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Ghostbusters (Activision, 1984)

Designed by David Crane for the Commodore 64. Programming by David Crane and Adam Bellin. Graphics by David Crane and Hilary Mills. Music by Russell Lieblich. Published by Activision in 1984.

Converted for the Apple ][ by Robert McNally, and released by Activision in 1984.

Converted for the Atari 8-bit computers by Glyn Anderson, with graphics by Hilary Mills. Released by Activision in 1984.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC by James Software, Ltd, with speech by David Aubrey Jones, programming assistance by Adam Bellin and graphics by Hilary Mills.
Released by Activision in 1984 for the ZX Spectrum, and in 1985 for the Amstrad CPC.

Converted for the Atari 2600 by Dan Kitchen and Adam Bellin, with graphics by Hilary Mills. Released by Activision in 1985.

Converted for the MSX computers by Robert Rutkowski, and released by Activision in 1985.

Converted for the IBM PCjr and TANDY 1000 and their compatibles by Robert Rutkowski, and released by Activision in 1986.

Conversion for the Sega Master System done at Activision, and published by SEGA of America, Inc. in 1987.

Conversion for the Nintendo Entertainment System by GlennHills Graphics Co.:
Programming by Works, Susumu Endoh, Satomi Miya and James M. Kirk
Graphics by Yoshio Tsuboike, Kaketo Tsuguri and Satoru Miyazaki
Sounds by Yoshiaki Tsuruoka and Tadashi Sou
Editing by Masatoshi Kanemitsu
Produced by Tom Sloper
Directed by Ryuuichi Yarita
Published by Activision in 1988.



This year's Halloween theme will likely only consist of one game, but it's a rather big one - in fact, it's the biggest single comparison I've written so far, so prepare yourselves with plenty of coffee or other refreshments to keep you awake. Sorry to make the Halloween month so short this time, but these things do take quite a bit of time to prepare properly, which I don't really have too much these days. With all that crazy commentary having been going on about the recent reboot/remake of the film series, I forced myself not to take part in it until after the whole circus had quieted down and I had actually seen the movie myself. Not that seeing the new movie would have anything to do with my writing of this blog, other than for making me do the obvious statement, that Ghostbusters really is a classic 80's movie, and shall always remain as such, in both good and bad, even though I cannot but feel that the 2016 Ghostbusters movie was unfairly prejudged. I didn't think it was as bad as it could have been, but it certainly cannot beat the 80's version. But more than being a classic 80's movie, it is also almost solely responsible for making movie-licence games a viable marketing plot; after all, it was Activision's best-selling game until 1987.

Monday, 26 September 2016

NGOTM: Reaxion (Cosine, 1994)

Designed and programmed for the Commodore 64 by Jason Kelk in 1994. Music by Sean Connolly. Originally released as public domain, and published on the coverdisk of Commodore Format magazine issue 47.

Converted and extended for the Commodore Amiga by Sean Connolly in 1995, with graphics by Jason Kelk.

Extended version for the Commodore 64 re-written by Jason Kelk in 2001, with music by Glenn Rune Gallefoss. Published on the coverdisk of the December 2001 issue of Commodore Zone magazine.

Reaxion Extended converted for the Atari 8-bit computers as "Reaxion" in 2005. Programming and graphics by Jason Kelk. Music by Adam Hay and Sean Connolly.

Reaxion Extended converted for the Commodore Plus/4 as "Reaxion" in 2005. Programming and graphics by Jason Kelk. Music by Sean Connolly.

Reaxion Extended converted for the Nintendo Game Boy Advance as "Reaxion" in 2007. Programming by Christian Widmann, graphics by Christian Widmann and Jason Kelk, sounds by Rebecca Gurney. Developed and released at the Buenzli 2007 party.

Reaxion Extended converted for Javascript-abled platforms as "Reaxion" in 2012. Programming and graphics by Christian Widmann. Developed and released at the Revision 2012 party, and the final version can be found on his website.



For my only new comparison entry for September, I chose to do another New Game Of The Month, since this was something I planned on doing before I left for my summer holiday, but didn't have the time to finish it. Anyway, this time, we're REALLY going to stretch the meaning of the word "new", but since this is still a comparison of a game originally made for a machine that was already commercially dead, the definition sort of applies. But although the original Reaxion was programmed well over 20 years ago, its most recently released conversion is "only" 4 years old.

Monday, 19 September 2016

Anarchy (Hewson Consultants/Rack-It, 1987)

Written for the Commodore 64 by Michael Sentinella.
In-game graphics by Michael Sentinella.
Title screen by BAY. Music by Nigel Greave.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum by Dominic Robinson.
Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Michael Croucher, with graphics by John Cumming and sounds by J. Dave Rogers.



The fourth season at FRGCB starts off with very little effort for myself - a comparison article that was originally written for the ninth issue of RESET magazine. The moment I was made aware that the magazine's theme was Hewson, I knew I was in trouble, because I didn't know of any Hewson games that would have just two versions available, at least from which the other was made for the C64, so I had very little options from those that had no more than three, just to get the amount of printed text and pictures to a minimum. In the end, Anarchy from Hewson's low-budget range was the only plausible, and really, possible choice for this issue.

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Achievements and tough decisions - Starting Year 4

Two months worth of relative rest and relaxation, and I'm happy to say I have made a decision of sorts. The happy news is, the blog still continues. The unhappy news is, I have stopped working on it pre-actively, in the way I have so far been doing. This means, that the rate of posts will be lower (perhaps even much lower) than previously, and I cannot guarantee the sort of material you will be getting on a regular basis anymore, because I'm only going to work on one article at a time, unless I've got a RESET magazine article to work on simultaneously. On the plus side, now I can focus on bigger games with more versions to compare, rather than lesser-known titles that only a handful of people care about. The lack of a schedule also means that I can now accept suggestions and requests more freely and work on with more immediacy than the previous year. Also, due to the less frequent posting, I have decided to continue working on the blog as far as I can bother with no summer holiday breaks or anything of the kind, but this also means, the next time I decide to go for a break, I might as well quit the blog then. But now, let's start the fourth year, or season, if you will... with an announcement about achieving another visitor milestone:

The above number of visits FRGCB has had over the past 3 years was passed on the 3rd of August, which is already well over a month ago. Currently, we're going at almost 250,000 already, which I think is spectacular. Thanks for the continued interest, everybody! The next stop, half-a-million!

Now, if you're even more interested, click on to read what I've been up to this past two months. Some of it might have something to do with the blog, but I assure you, not all of it is FRGCB-related.