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Thursday, 16 February 2017

Drelbs (Synapse Software, 1983)

Designed and written by Kelly Jones for the Atari 8-bit computers in 1983. Converted for the Apple ][ by Jonathan Tifft. Converted for the Commodore 64 by Miriam Nathan and William Mandel in 1984.

Published by Synapse Software in the North American market and by U.S. Gold in the European market.

Remake for the Commodore Amiga written by Simon Chin, and released into public domain in 1995.

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GAME STATUS


Here we have another cult classic from Synapse Software's catalogue, this making it the sixth game from Synapse to be featured on this blog. It is perhaps a bit odd that it took so long to come to this one, at least from my point of view, because it's one of the games that was requested early on in the blog's life, but for a long time, I wasn't aware of the unofficial Amiga remake or even the Apple ][ version. I remember this game having been a great favourite of mine and also a few of my friends back in their active C64 days, which makes it strange to realize that it wasn't much of a hit back when it was originally published, so in the hopes of spreading out the good word, here's my contribution to advertising this game.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Garfield: Big, Fat, Hairy Deal (The Edge, 1987)

Designed and written for the Commodore 64 by Stephen Cargill. (This has not been divulged anywhere, but it's an assumption based on information in other versions.) Music by Neil Baldwin and sound effects by Jas C. Brooke. Released by The Edge in 1987.

Converted and released for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1988: Design and programming by Stephen Cargill, with additional programming on the Amiga version by John Jones-Steele. Amiga and ST graphics by Jack Wilkes, Amstrad graphics by Mat (Sneap, perhaps?) and Spectrum graphics by Neil Strudwick. Amiga music and sound effects by David Whittaker. Released by The Edge in 1988.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


The first of many games featuring everyone's favourite overweight feline was expected with some enthusiasm in 1987, and not only because the first attempt for the Atari 2600 was cancelled three years prior, and the second computerized version of Garfield wasn't a game at all, but a cartoon studio of sorts. The company to take over the first Garfield game to actually be released was The Edge (currently Edge Games), later to become more known for their enforcing trademarks relating to the word "edge". But at the time, The Edge were still known to produce some pretty good games like Bobby Bearing, Fairlight, Brian Bloodaxe and Mindstone. So, when Garfield was announced, there was promise of high quality cartoon graphics and an adventure worthy of Garfield's name, and these promises were even fulfilled to some extent. Having a beloved cartoon (or comic strip) turned into a computer game was still somewhat of a novelty at the time, so it didn't bother too much that the game was practically a modified version of Pyjamarama. Deeper within the surface, though, Garfield's first proper game proved to be a more brutally aggravating game for some than what one would have expected from a Pyjamarama variant, and has been considered either a lost opportunity or a wasted effort by many. My experience of the game has been woefully limited to the C64 original so far, so this entry is not just an attempt to prove that it's still a rather playable game, but also to educate myself and others like me of the differences between all five versions of one big, fat, hairy computerized deal.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

FRGR #07: Kultakuume (Triosoft, 1986)

Written by Marko Aho and Kari Aaltonen for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1985, and published by Triosoft in 1986.

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DESCRIPTION & STATUS


The series of Finnish Retro Game Reviews continues from where my series of a History of Finnish Games began. This will probably be the shortest entry in the history of FRGCB, because it's a review of a text adventure game. Well, at least it has some graphics, so it's not going to be a completely barren entry in that way. Too bad the cover art and the loading screen have been lost in time, and the only downloadable version currently available is a .z80 file (inside a .zip archive) at Marko's old website, which was last updated in June 2007. In any case, Kultakuume (Finnish for "Gold Rush") was the only commercially released Finnish text adventure game for the ZX Spectrum, and it was made with Gilsoft's The Quill Adventure System from 1983 and The Illustrator from 1984. It was also one of only three commercially released Finnish ZX Spectrum games, the third of which is a golf game which hasn't been found yet.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Blades of Steel (Konami, 1987)

Originally developed and released by Konami for the arcades in 1987. Sound editor: Kazuki Muraoka. Cabinet graphic design: Don Marshall. Further credits are unknown.

Conversion for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Konami: Directed by Shigeharu Umezaki.
Programming by Shigeharu Umezaki and Satoshi Kishiwada. Character design by Setsu Muraki and T. Nishikawa. Music by Shinya Sakamoto, Kazuki Muraoka, Atsushi Fujio and Kiyohiro Sada. Released in 1988. Also released for the Famicom Disk System as "Konamic Ice Hockey".

Conversion for the Commodore Amiga and IBM-PC compatibles by Novotrade: Programming by Peter Agocs, Judit Buczolich and József Szentesi. Graphics by Zoltan Hoth. Released by Konami in 1990.


Converted for the Commodore 64 by Antal Zolnai for Novotrade, and released by Konami in 1990.

Converted for the Nintendo Game Boy by Konami: Directed by Y. Nakanishi. Programming by Y. Nakanishi and S. Tamate. Character design by Nobuaki Matsumoto. Music by Hidehiro Funauchi and Akiko Itoh. Released as "Konamic Ice Hockey" by Konami in 1991 in Japan. Released as "Blades of Steel" by Ultra in 1991 outside of Japan.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Happy New Year, everybody! Let's start 2017 with something cheerful and fitting for the season: ice hockey! Since the blog has already featured my all-time favourite hockey game - Hat Trick, there is only one other game of this particular sport that can be considered good comparison material. Curiously enough, my initial research into Blades of Steel faced a peculiar obstacle: no source seems to have any knowledge on the team behind the original arcade game. Even the "thank-you" sections in the NES and Game Boy credits list the original arcade team as exactly such. Mysterious, isn't it?

Monday, 26 December 2016

Netherworld (Hewson Consultants, 1988)

Designed and developed by Jukka Tapanimäki. In-game graphics by Jukka Tapanimäki. Title screen by Darrin "Stoat" Stubbington. Sounds by Jori Olkkonen. Originally released for the Commodore 64.

Converted for the Atari ST by Mark Barker, with graphics by Nigel Cook and sounds by Nigel Pritchard.
Converted for the Commodore Amiga by Mark Mason and Mark Barker, with graphics by Nigel Cook and sounds by Adrian Waterhouse and Nigel Pritchard.
Converted for the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum by Chris Wood with music by J. Dave Rogers.
All of the above versions published by Hewson Consultants in 1988.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Chris Wood with music by Jas C. Brooke based on J. Dave Rogers' soundtrack. Released through United Software GmbH in 1990.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Failing to find something suitable for writing a proper Christmas-themed comparison or other article, here's another Finnish game comparison to make this month have a Finnish theme complete: the late Jukka Tapanimäki's puzzling shooter classic, Netherworld. I was originally thinking of writing about this game for this year's celebratory Finnish Independence Day comparison article, but things turned out differently, so this was left for the final entry for 2016. I already did a Finnish Retro Game Review about Jukka's first commercial title, Octapolis, in June, so this one acts as a sort of a sequel to that. As it happens, Netherworld remains the most converted Finnish game of all time, so it should be a big one. Not a bad note to end 2016 with, eh?

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

TWOFER #15: Finnish Special!

1. Sanxion (Thalamus, 1986)

Design, programming and graphics by Stavros Fasoulas, title screen by Mat Sneap and music by Rob Hubbard. Produced by Gary Liddon. Originally released for the Commodore 64 in 1986 by Thalamus.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k/128k by Softstorm Developments: Coding by Dave Thompson, graphics by Dennis Mulliner, music and sound effects by Wally Beben. Produced by Paul Cooper. Released by Thalamus in 1989.

Unofficial conversion for the Commodore Plus/4 by László Könöszy (TYCB), and released as freeware in 1991.

2. Sceptre of Bagdad (Atlantis Software, 1987)

Created by Productive Playtime: Designed by Ilja Summala, programmed by Ari-Pekka Raita and graphics by Tomas "D.R. Tomppe" Westerholm. Originally released for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k in 1987 by Atlantis Software.

Remade for the Commodore 64 by Jonathan Wells, with music by Paul Hannay. Released as "Sceptre of Baghdad" in 1993 by Psytronik Software. Another version called "Sceptre of Baghdad Uncut" released through Binary Zone PD in 1996.

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.

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GAME STATUS


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.