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Saturday, 26 April 2014

Leaderboard (Access Software/U.S. Gold, 1986)

Originally written for the Commodore 64 by Bruce and Roger Carver.

Atari 800/XL/XE conversion by Kevin M. Homer.

Atari ST conversion by Brent Erickson.

Commodore Amiga conversion by Craig Conder, Hal Rushton and Bryan Brandenburg from Sculptured Software.

Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum conversions by Roy Gibson, Chris Pink, Ian Weatherburn and Simon Butler from Canvas.

Arcadia conversion by Starbuck the Space Cowboy of Soft Arts, Inc. in 1989, with sounds by O.M. Underwood and graphics by Vadron.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


After Raid Over Moscow, it's almost too early for another game from Access Software, but since I'm currently in a mood for finishing off some writings that I started a while ago due to some requests made a longer while ago, then why not this one this time. So, this one goes for Aki V. for making the request for Leaderboard first, and for a couple of other blokes as well for making the additional suggestions to fuel this writing.

While not even nearly the first computerized golf game (that honour belongs to either Magnavox Odyssey²'s Golf or Apple ]['s Pro Golf 1 from 1979), Leaderboard (or Leader Board, as it is sometimes written) was the first one in the genre to utilise some sort of animated 3D graphics. It also had fairly sophisticated physics modeling, and very good playability compared to most previous attempts at the sport. Only Nintendo's Golf had come close to being realistic enough for anyone to bother playing a computerized golf game so far.

Naturally, while golf may not be everybody's favourite sport ever, the achievement itself to finally get a properly good golf video game on the market was remarkable enough to create a lasting legacy in video sports gaming. At the time of release, the game received a 97% overall score from Zzap!64 magazine, a 9 out of 10 from Your Sinclair, etcetera. Now, the ratings at our favourite websites are as follows: Atarimania has given the A800 version a 7.4 with 251 votes so far, while the ST version has been given a more preferable 7.7 with 34 votes. World of Spectrum users have given 34 votes so far, to make a score of 8.22. Strangely, I couldn't find any ratings or reviews of the Amstrad CPC version, but at least the KIXX tape release has some proof that the Amstrad press gave some positive reviews of their version - 90% from Computing With The Amstrad magazine. Finally, the original C64 version and the Amiga conversion have a 8.6 from 219 votes and 7.75 from 36 votes at each respective Lemon website. Not too shabby, don't you think? As for the Arcadia conversion... well, it's a very rare piece of work, and I only found about this version by reading about it at Hall of Light, the Amiga games database, so the lack of reviews is quite understandable in this case. I guess it's time to make one, then.

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DESCRIPTION & REVIEW

It's a golf game, so unless you don't know what golf is, I suggest you look it up yourself from Wikipedia, or go find a real golf course and try it out for real. As the back cover of the game says, it's "undoubtedly the most realistic golf game available." Well, sure, back then it was. It also is "a simulator that gives you a true perspective view of your golf game. There are three levels of play so you can compete from amateur to touring professional", although you can play as a novice, too, which for some reason escaped the writers of the back cover. It can be played either alone or as a hot-seat multiplayer session with anything up to 4 players. As with so many other sports games, it would be going too far to describe the finer points of playability in the Description section, so I will save that for later. So, long story short, Leaderboard is the first 3D golf computer/video game with realistic physics and some other fancy stuff.

And as such, it might come as no surprise that it is the first golf game I ever played, and was baffled with it's greatness even at the tender age of 6. Later on, I did start to appreciate the game's brilliant engine, and started gradually noticing that although all the graphics, sounds and small specifics have evolved since 1986, the basic gameplay formula is still very much rooted in Leaderboard. My favourite of the series will always be the second part, titled Leaderboard Executive (or is it Executive Leaderboard?), which also came out in 1986, and its only two notable differences to the original were different courses and the addition of trees and sand traps. But this is where it all began, and this has more versions to compare.

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LOADING

For a change, there is some more purpose to this section than just comparing the tape loading times. There are a few different types of loading screens, as well - not that it adds a whole lot from the usual. It should be noted, that all the versions had a disk release. The C64 even had a cartridge version released by HES in Australia.

C64: slowest - 5 minutes 39 seconds; quickest 4 minutes 59 seconds
CPC: slowest - 4 minutes 24 seconds; quickest 4 minutes 18 seconds
SPE: slowest - 3 minutes 40 seconds; quickest 3 minutes 35 seconds

Loading and title screens. Top row, left to right: Commodore 64 tape and disk, ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC.
Bottom row, left to right: Arcadia, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST.

Already from the loading screens, we can see that some major differences can be expected. But what can't be instantly obvious, is that some versions of Leaderboard came with a copy protection dongle that you needed to plug in one of the joystick ports, or the screen would become scrambled once you started the game, and so the game would crash. So, this bit is somehow very much connected to the Loading section, unless you are using a cracked version, like most of you probably are. Also, for those of you struggling to get the Atari ST version working, as I was for a few days: the biggest problem you're most likely facing is the disk image, but if you are having controlling problems and glitchy graphics, you might be using the wrong TOS. The best results that I got were with the 1.00 US version. Thanks to Atarimania's Marakatti for providing me with a working image of the ST version.

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PLAYABILITY

Once the loading is finished, the game throws a series of options at you, unless it's either of the Canvas conversions, in which you will get a very primitive credits screen, before you get to the options. The options to be chosen are in order: the number of players, the names of the players (all typed in with the keyboard), the difficulty level (novice, amateur or professional), the length of your game (18, 36, 54 or 72 holes), the order of courses, and if you happen to be playing any of the Canvas conversions, you will get to choose your preferred method of control as well.

As for the controls, it's really all very simple, at least on the 8-bits. Up and down are for scrolling through the clubs, left and right are for moving the aiming crosshair, and the fire button is for giving the power to your shot, or swing, whatever the professionals call it. Of course, the Spectrum and Amstrad versions have the additional optional/default keyboard control, which is a bit awkward in both cases. The Spectrum keys follow the good old 56780 setting (5 and 8 = left and right, 6 and 7 = up and down, 0 = fire), and the keys for the Amstrad version are Z for left, X for right, D for down, R for up and 5 for swinging.

On the 16-bits, the game is entirely mouse-controlled, apart from the initial options that have to be chosen with the keyboard. Moving the aiming crosshair is done by holding down the left mouse button and moving left and right. Holding down the right mouse button will charge your swing meter, and letting it go will make your golfer swing the club. Scrolling through the clubs menu is done differently for the Amiga and ST versions - on the ST, the club list is scrolled simply by moving the mouse forwards and backwards, much like in the original, while on the Amiga, you need to push the two up and down arrow buttons on the left side of the club indicator. Although the Arcadia machine has Amiga hardware inside, the conversion of Leaderboard for it is quite an unusual thing to experience, and I will have to refrain from explaining it to you until I have dealt with all the other versions.

Now we get to comparing the gameplay elements, which is the most interesting bit, really. First off, all the other versions have a driving range, where you can practice your shots in professional difficulty mode, except for the Spectrum version, due to memory restrictions. The driving range can be accessed from the title screen by pushing the 'R' key. Also, in the Amstrad version, the other golf balls you've hit don't stay on the field, which kind of loses some of the point of practicing.

Depending on your chosen skill level, you need to focus on a few important indicators on the screen. First of all, the power meter. When not on the green, your choice of clubs will be of 3 different wood clubs, 9 iron clubs and a pitching wedge; all of these clubs use a similar power meter, which consists of the swing power indicator (top left), the down swing timer (top right) and the snap indicator (bottom half). Playing on novice level, you need only to concentrate on the actual power meter, but the higher your skill level, the more is expected of you. The snap indicator makes the flight of the ball curve to the left (or "hook") or to the right ("slice"), unless you stop the point of snap right at the middle of the snap meter.

The next object of focus is the wind indicator, which can be tricky. There are two things you need to look at on it: the white stake indicating wind velocity (tall = really windy, short = not so windy) and the blue line, telling you the direction of the wind. Note that the wind only has any effect on the professional level.

When you get to putting, you will have a different kind of a power meter, only giving you an approximated power output estimation of the distance the ball will travel from anything up to about 64 feet. Of course, the use of it depends more on the other important indicator here, which shows you the steepness and direction of the slope on the green.

In the original C64 version, all the power meters have a slight acceleration period when you begin your swing or putt, and has a more constant speed towards the end of the shots. This makes it very easy to focus on all the different types of shots you need to perform. Most of the indicators are nicely placed, and never get in the way of your field of vision. Then again, the action screen is only 2/3 of the whole screen, but it matters very little on the whole, because all the drawing and animations are quick enough.

Brent Erickson's Atari 8-bit conversion has been done as gracefully as I have ever seen anything converted. The only thing that I am a bit confused about is the inclusion of a timer, indicating how long have you been playing. It can be resetted, though, so in case you are playing to beat your time on finishing the courses, it just might come in handy. This might indicate the earliest example of having a speedrun timer in a game, but to be blunt, it's a pretty useless feature. No matter - it doesn't seem take anything away from the whole.

The biggest problem with the two Canvas conversions is not the slightly slower drawing of the screens, but that the aiming crosshair always shows a bit too little into the direction you're aiming than what the ball is going to fly to. Of course, if you're playing in any other mode than novice, you won't probably notice the problem all that much, but it's there all the same. Also, when you're on the green, the same thing occurs, making your aiming a bit of a nightmare.

Speaking of being on the green, putting in the Amiga version has been made stupidly difficult. Unlike in the original, the ball can't fall off from the edge of the hole, ever. I have more often seen it stop one inch away there than in any other version. Powering up your shots is made too fast, as well - it's nearly impossible to make any sort of finely tuned shots, and so, getting the ball in the hole from, say, 23 inches away, will most likely result in the ball either getting to the edge (and stay at 1 inch away) or making the ball hop over the hole. Also, the power meter doesn't really relate to distances nearly as well as in the other versions. The same problem with the power meter is pretty much similar in the Canvas conversions, but at least there the ball acts more like in the original, and will get sucked into the hole more easily from an inch away.

Both the Amiga and Atari ST versions have been through a similar upgrade - both of them have more hazards, such as trees, sand traps and asphalt, compared to the 8-bit versions, all of which only have water. All the holes (fields, as I prefer) are the same as in the original game, only the 16-bit holes have more elements, making them feel like a different game entirely. I could compare them more easily to C64's Executive Leaderboard, but that game has different courses, and is only available on the C64, so it's not a very good balance. BUT - the Atari ST version plays very similarly to the C64 in essentials, making it more comparable. The Amiga version has additionally been given a top-down view mode of the holes, which is a feature not present in any other version...

...except in the Arcadia machine. And now that we have got this far, let's take a quick look at all the strange differences in it. First of all, the game looks very different - all the wind/power/slope indicators are placed on the right side of the screen, but all of them have a sadly unorganic feel to them, making it a bit difficult to adjust yourself to the differently styled information. But then again, it's all adjusting. All the holes and courses are different from the original, which makes the game really stand out. Controlling everything is different: as you have no mouse control, it rightly feels more like an arcade game. Scrolling through the clubs is done by one button, making the list move in one direction. The other button toggles the bird's eye view. Making the power meter move, you have to pull the joystick down, and for making it stop, push it up. For some reason, the arcade game doesn't give you the option to change the difficulty level - you're never anything less than a professional. The game does, however, give you useful hints about the clubs and distances, and even automatically gives you the preferred club when going for a swing. Arcadia's arcadey part comes in the way the game is operated with coins: you feed the machine a coin, and it gives you a few minutes of play time. When the time is over, the game asks you to feed it some more coins and waits for 10 seconds while at it. Not a very gamer-friendly arcade game, I'd say. But it's not all bad - once you get used to everything, the playability itself is not nearly as bad as on the Amiga version, only the difficulty level might be a bit of a problem if you haven't gotten used to playing on the professional level.
Dongle protection craziness.

So, all things considered, the cream of the crop are a very closely knit bunch. It doesn't matter, really, which control method each of the games have, once you have gotten used to them, but it does help quite a bit, that you don't have to plug in a piece of copy-protection hardware into your computer. Since the comparisons are based on what would have been the experience back in the day with original hard- and software, it needs to be considered, whether the game would be playable or not after a few months in a house with children and/or animals, or otherwise unpredictable members of the household cleaning up things that look questionable. In the case that it wasn't your fault, or indeed the disk's or even the computer's, that the game suddenly wasn't possible to be played, it only serves as a negative impact for the said version(s) of the game. This would include the Atari 8-bit, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga versions. The Amiga version also has a really annoying putter problem, which effectively ruins the whole game. Therefore, I would say the bad things in the Amiga version counterbalance for the bad things in the Arcadia version, and for me, they are equally bad.

1. COMMODORE 64
2. ATARI ST/ATARI 8-BIT
3. ZX SPECTRUM/AMSTRAD CPC
4. COMMODORE AMIGA/ARCADIA

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GRAPHICS

As messy as the playability comparison was, I'm afraid the Graphics section isn't going to be much easier. The loading screens shown earlier might have already given you some sort of taste of what is to come. As if it wasn't clear enough already, you might need to bear in mind, that all of these screenshots are from games titled "Leaderboard", meaning that it's supposed to be the first, and therefore the least evolved game in the series. Clearly, the developers of the latter versions forgot about that, as you will soon see for yourselves.

Once again, I have compiled sets of screenshots from each version in a similar order, as far as I have been able to. The 16-bit versions don't show the 3D drawing processes, so it has been left out in those versions. By default, the screenshots will show you: 1) some part of the menus, 2) a shot of the drawing process, 3) driving range, or regular teeing place in Spectrum's case, 4) an island, or bird's eye view in Amiga and Arcadia's cases, 5) putting screen and 6) the score board.


Screenshots from the Commodore 64 version.


The original Leaderboard will only give you a relatively elementary set of graphics. Apart from the nicely stylised scoreboard standing at the edge of a grassy patch of land next to a vast stretch of water, also shown on the menu screens as a backdrop for all the options screens, the game really only has a few things to show you: green islands in the midst of a very large lake or something, and a long stretch of brown mountains in the background. There are some clouds in the sky as well, but just the right amount not to make it feel overblown or too understated. That is all the scenery you will get, although it is all shaded very nicely. But it is quite enough, bearing in mind that the maps are completely 3D-modeled, and any additional time spent on drawing objects on the action screen would lessen the pace of the game, as it has done in the sequels. Your golfer looks quite life-like in his movements, and is a high-quality sprite. The texts on the right side of the screen use an interesting shaded font, which looks simple enough at first look, but have a distinctly personal look, and make the game feel just that bit more elegant. Counting all the colours present, even the font shadings, the C64 version has 13 colours in use.

Screenshots from the Atari 8-bit version.

Although the gameplay is pretty much spot on in the Atari 800 version, when compared to the C64, the graphical output is something to leave you a bit unsatisfied. Somehow, this version lacks some of the sophistication that is shown as little details in the original, such as the shaded font, reflections on the water, and the high quality player character. It's not too bad - it can even be considered adequate, but just not quite as good as the original. As we have now also gotten into the habit of counting colours, this version has 7 of them in use.


Screenshots from the Amstrad CPC version.
On the Amstrad, the natural system font works very nicely, although it takes away some personality from the game. The power meter looks a bit more solid and rounded than in the previous two versions, which is a nice personal touch. Placing the wind indicator at the bottom right corner of the action screen, however, can sometimes be a very distracting graphical misplacement, as it is always surrounded by a large green box. What is even more distracting is the very restrictive palette, which consists of as many as four colours: black, red, green and blue. Somehow, I would have expected a bit more from Amstrad, and this just feels like a DOS game with CGA graphics.

Screenshots from the ZX Spectrum version.

It seems a bit surprising, considering the previous two versions, that the Spectrum version has a rather impressive 8 colours in the game, plus magenta in the menu. What is less impressive is the system font, used throughout the game, which is rarely a very pleasing thing to see, as it makes the games feel less worked on. Somehow, it works on the Amstrad, but then it does have a less pronounced 8-bitness to it. The Spectrum version shares the very understated start menu style with the Amstrad version, which is understandable, as they were both developed by Canvas. What is very much different, though, is the way the information bits look on the Spectrum. This is the only version that shows you all the information of the current hole, par, course and your shots BEFORE your man steps into the picture, which you must do by pressing the fire button. The info bits are replaced by the power meter at the bottom left corner and wind indicator, club indicator and distance at the bottom right corner. The rest of the screen is taken by the action screen, making the Spectrum version the only one with almost the full screen dedicated to the action. This, in turn, makes drawing the 3D landscape slightly slower than on the other computers, but not so much as to bother. However, it doesn't have the amount of sophistication in colour and detail as the original version has, but it's pretty much on the par with the Atari 8-bit version.

Screenshots from the Atari ST version.


Strangely, the Atari ST version has only one more colour in use than the C64 original, but since there are more graphics to use the colours in, it feels a bit useless to even compare the amount of colours. And although the Amiga version has two more colours in use than the ST version, I really can't say for sure, whether all the colours are used any better, since most of the extra colours go into the text bits and the background elements. I would almost say the Amiga version has too much colour in places, but that's really a matter of opinion. Both of the 16-bit home versions have pretty much the equal amount of background imagery, but they are a bit different in each game. As both of these versions are very much based on the original, the screen setup looks much the same; only the information board on the right has some clear differences: namely the colours used in text, the font (both use their respective system fonts) and the additional club scroller buttons in the Amiga version. To be brutally honest, although there is some sort of a display bug in the scoreboards (at least in the version I was given), I still really prefer the Atari ST version of the two in this case, simply because of the lack of buttons beside the chosen club indicator, and because the backgrounds are more similar to the original. However, one would be a fool indeed to deny the fact that both of them do look miles better than any of the 8-bits, even if all the additional graphics make them look like a different game.

Screenshots from the Commodore Amiga version.

Finally, the unexpected arcade conversion is really something else, much as it turned out to be before. Even though the graphics are based on the Amiga conversion, since the Arcadia's hardware is basically an Amiga, there are some drastic changes to the basic layout and overall feel of the graphics. Once again, the game has graphically received an immense upgrade: there are more terrain elements, and everything is more detailed than in any previous version. It really is such a shame that all the indicators and other information takes so much more space from the screen and makes the game feel bloated, particularly when the additional information text bits are shown at the top of the screen. All the information makes you feel even a bit claustrophobic. The most peculiar thing about this version, graphically, is the 3D graphics on the action screen - somehow, they lack the feel of depth here that can be found even from the least impressive 8-bit versions. For the most part, though, it does look very much as it should for a 16-bit game, and because of the depth issues and bloated information bits, I can't really say it looks better than the other two 16-bits.


Screenshots from the Arcadia version.

1. ATARI ST
2. COMMODORE AMIGA
3. ARCADIA
4. COMMODORE 64
5. ZX SPECTRUM
6. ATARI 8-BIT
7. AMSTRAD CPC

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SOUNDS

Since golf isn't exactly what you would call a noisy sport, it should come as no surprise to anyone that there are very little sounds that the game has to offer, in any version. And surely, if you were looking for a game as close to being a real sport simulation, you would want it to be as close to the real thing in as many ways as you possibly could. So, naturally, there is no music in the game, which in turn makes comparing the sound effects more difficult than you might believe, because the sound effects are now in such an important role.

As I already knew that the two main SID chip versions (6581 and 8580) used the filters in this particular game very differently, I had to make a point of testing them both out properly and share my observations. I know this is going to feel really hardcore testing for some of you out there, but this test might actually have a point. Perhaps not, but still. The first sound you will hear is the muffled "blip" when using the menus and it will be heard quite often while changing clubs. Although it sounds very much the same on both SIDs, the newer one (8580) is just a tiny bit quieter. Swinging the club has a clear difference: the 6581 gives you a fairly realistic sound of the club swooshing through the air and hitting the ball, while the 8580 sounds more like a chalk being pulled sideways against a blackboard, and finally colliding with the ledge. Both SIDs have the effect for the ball going into water reminiscent of water hitting hot sauna stones, the faintness of which depends entirely on how far away this happens from you. For those of you who do not know the reference, think of a faint hit of a crash cymbal with a brush. Hitting the flagpole is more different again: on the 6581, the "clunk" is louder, and slightly cowbell-like, while on the 8580, the metallic effect is more tinny and clear. Finally, the sounds on the green - putting and getting the ball in the hole - are more earthy and wholesome on the 6581, while the 8580 gives you a more faint and plastic feel of the occasion. From these two, I prefer the 6581 more overall, but let's see if this comparison of the two C64 soundchips has any actual worth.

Taking care of the easier conversions first, our next stop is the Amstrad "soundtrack". You only get three different sounds in the game: hitting the ball with long-distance clubs, getting the ball in the hole (which is the same sound as hitting the flagpole) and making the ball sleep with the fishes. Even then, the scoring sound is the same as when you hit the ball with a long-distance club, and the only difference is the lack of a faint unexpressive hissing sound that the club makes. Compared to these two sounds, getting the ball into water is superbly noisy, a distorted mess, made to damage your hearing if your volume is set high because you couldn't hear the other two sound effects.

It isn't much different for the Spectrum users, as they also get only three sound effects. Two of them are short "blip" sounds from a different pitch; one for indicating a ball drowning and one for getting the ball in a hole, although that one doesn't always get played for some reason. Probably a bug or something. The third one is for swinging a long-distance club, which is a really strange experience, because the sound effect feels more like a space ship exploding or something - it's a LONG noisy mess of some trademark Speccy farting mixed with a strange descending tone followed by something akin to picking a power-up in a shooter game. It certainly isn't pretty, but it could have been a lot less imaginative.

The one area I'm not even remotely happy about the Atari 8-bit version are the sound effects. Most of them feel like they were taken from a set of DOS beeper sounds, the main problem of which is in the relative lack of percussive effects. All the hits of the ball are low beeps, and even getting the ball in the hole is rewarded with an effect reminiscent of a telephone ringing effect from an early Sierra graphic adventure game. The only sound effects that deviate from the melodic type are the swish and splash noises for swinging the clubs and for when the ball hits water. It's not the worst of the lot, but I kind of expected more.

Thankfully, it's time to take a listen to some 16-bit sounds now. Both the Amiga and ST versions have 7 sound effects in the library, so it should be an interesting pair to compare. The list of effects are as follows: "tick" sounds for choosing options and clubs (low for ST, high for Amiga), hitting the ball with a long-distance club, hitting a tree, putting, clickety sound for getting the ball in a hole, a splash, and hitting the flagpole. Basically, it's the same 6581 vs 8580 battle all over again, Amiga being 6581 and ST being 8580. Somehow, the differences between the two 16-bit home conversions are exactly similarly comparable as the two C64's: the other one being more computerized (ST version, clearly more hand-made for the computer) and the other one being more natural-sounding (Amiga version, clearly sampled). But that is how it always seems to have been with the Amiga and ST. No news there, I'm afraid.

Only the more recent Amiga version is able to beat the first Amiga version in its own game. The samples are clearer on the Arcadia, and there are some crowd and wildlife noises and a little bit of commentary to go with all the regular golfing sounds. There is even a unique theme tune, which makes this version the only one to have one. Whether it helps to add to the atmosphere or not is entirely a personal matter, but it's still more sounds, and since the music doesn't affect the gameplay in anyway, I'm happy with it. So, we have a clear winner here.

What is still unclear, though, is how the two C64 versions compare with the Amiga and ST versions. It might be a personal problem, but I think the 6581 sounds more natural for this game than the ST, for whatever reason. The 8580, on the other hand, is slightly less impressive than the ST, so for the first time, I'm going to have to give the C64 two different scores.

1. ARCADIA
2. COMMODORE AMIGA
3. C64, OLD SID
4. ATARI ST
5. C64, NEW SID
6. ATARI 8-BIT
7. ZX SPECTRUM
8. AMSTRAD CPC

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OVERALL

Once again, I'm afraid we end up with largely silly results. Whoever thought giving overall scores in a mathematical method was ever a good idea? Well... let's get it over with.

1. ATARI ST: Playability 3, Graphics 7, Sounds 5 = TOTAL 16
2. COMMODORE 64 (6581): Playability 4, Graphics 4, Sounds 6 = TOTAL 14
2. ARCADIA: Playability 1, Graphics 5, Sounds 8 = TOTAL 14
2. COMMODORE AMIGA: Playability 1, Graphics 6, Sounds 7 = TOTAL 14
3. COMMODORE 64 (8580): Playability 4, Graphics 4, Sounds 4 = TOTAL 12
4. ATARI 8-BIT: Playability 3, Graphics 2, Sounds 3 = TOTAL 8
5. ZX SPECTRUM: Playability 2, Graphics 3, Sounds 2 = TOTAL 7
6. AMSTRAD CPC: Playability 2, Graphics 1, Sounds 1 = TOTAL 4

Well. It didn't turn out quite as bad as I thought it would, but still, I certainly wouldn't place the two Amiga versions so high. Certainly, the two at the bottom are more playable, and as such, deserve a higher spot in my mind. The thing is, when you have a game that's trying to simulate something, you want it to be as playable as possible. Besides, all the non-8-bit versions have been through too much evolution to be considered the same game in the first place, particularly the Arcadia version. As such, this is my personal top list, although I'm sure even that doesn't agree with everyone:

1. C64
2. Atari ST
3. Atari 8-bit
4. Spectrum
5. Amstrad
6. Amiga

And now for something more serious. What I failed to mention in my comparison of Raid Over Moscow, is that Bruce Carver died of cancer on 28th of December, 2005, aged 57. Since Leaderboard was the genesis for the Carver brothers' vastly successful and influential Links golf game series, and their main product for years, I suppose this really is the more proper place to pay some respect to one of the Gods of Gaming. So, thank you very much, Bruce, for letting us have a few pieces of your genius.



Thank you very much for reading, and thanks again to Aki V. and others for the suggestion.
More suggestions are always welcome, as well as corrections and other comments.

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