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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.

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.

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GAME STATUS


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.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


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.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


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.

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GAME STATUS


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.

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GAME STATUS


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.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Summer Games II (Epyx/US Gold, 1985) - Part 2


Oh my lord, they actually went with an upgrade of the hilariously horrid advertisment used for the first Summer Games... Well anyway, in what has become a familiar formula for my writing comparisons of Epyx's multi-event sports games, Part 1 left us with a bunch of scores given for the game's playability, and now we have to deal with the game's graphics, sounds, and the overall scores. You might already know how this is going to end, but the real question here is, are there any properly good options for the original? Sure enough, that is a question that could easily stand as the conceptually central one for the whole blog, and a fine question to pose at the beginning of the second half of the last comparison article of this season.

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Summer Games II (Epyx/US Gold, 1985) - Part 1

Created for the Commodore 64 by Chuck Sommerville, Jon Leupp, Kevin Norman, Michael Kosaka, Larry Clague and Scott Nelson, with music by Bob Vieira. Tape loader by Gary J. Sabin.

Converted for the Apple ][ computers by in 1985 John Stouffer, Jeff Webb, Doug Matson, Greg Broniak, Tim Grost, Matt Decker, Vera Petrusha, Ken Evans, Pat Findling, Chris Oesterling and Dr. Keith Dreyer from K-Byte.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles in 1986 by Phil Suematsu, Don Hill, Jeff Grigg and Jimmy Huey from Designer Software.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Einstein, with graphics by Steve Hawkes. Released through US Gold in for the Spectrum in 1988 and for the Amstrad in 1989.

Converted for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST/STe by Creative Materials: Graphics by Adam Steele; Music by Dave Lowe; Sound effects by Phil Morris. Released by US Gold in 1992.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Here's another two-parter for all of you Epyx's Games series' fans. As I mentioned long ago in the entry of the first Summer Games, I do enjoy this one a bit more, so I thought I might as well start on both games simultaneously. And as you can see, that plan went well - it's now been a couple of years since I finished up with the other one. Luckily for me, there are quite a bit less versions of Summer Games II around, than the previous two games from the series that I wrote about, so this was somewhat easier to work on; it just took a longer while to actually bother to start working on it. But as it is the last game comparison for this year, I hope it'll do to keep you satisfied until I decide to get back from this year's summer holiday, whenever that may be.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

FRGR #06: Octapolis (English Software, 1987)

Designed by Jukka Tapanimäki for the Commodore 64.
Programming, graphics and sound effects by Jukka Tapanimäki. Music by Wally Beben.

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HISTORY, DESCRIPTION & STATUS


This season's final entry for the Finnish Retro Game Reviews series will be more of a history lesson, rather than just another "regular" review that I have been doing for the MSX games. Jukka Tapanimäki was one of the most notable personalities in the Finnish gaming scene, having been one of the more regular reviewers for both major computing magazines of the 1980's: MikroBitti and C-lehti. He also published a book about writing games for the C64 in 1990. Of course, most of you outside of Finland will know him for his classic C64 games, Netherworld and Zamzara, both released by Hewson, and both of which I might very likely talk about in the future of this series. However, for this entry, I chose Octapolis, because it was his first commercially released game, and more particularly, his first game released outside of Finland. That, and Jukka's story deserves to be begun from the beginning.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Test Drive (Accolade, 1987)

Developed by Distinctive Software, Inc.

Designed and programmed by Mike Benna, Donald A. Mattrick, Kevin P. Pickell, Brad Gour, Bruce Dawson, Amory Wong and Rick Friesen.

Graphics by John Boechler and Tony Lee.

Music and sound effects for the Commodore 64 by Patrick Payne, and for the 16-bit versions by Patrick Payne and Rick Millson.

Originally released by Accolade in North America for Commodore 64, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and IBM-PC compatibles in 1987. Distributed in Europe by Electronic Arts.

Converted for the Apple ][ computers in 1988 by Distinctive Software, Inc. with additional coding by Allan Johanson and Esteban Ahn.

Conversion for the NEC PC-9801 published by Pony Canyon Inc. in 1989; further credits are unknown.

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OFF-TOPIC INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


In the light of attempting to keep my word on doing the comparisons teased in the teaser picture I posted in last August, I shall have to make a little confession. The last one missing from the picture is, of course, Broderbund's Wings of Fury, which has a couple of conversions made for machines that I wasn't aware of at the time of compiling the teaser picture, and these particular machines are such that I have had no luck so far in either finding, or getting to work through emulation, and purchasing them through eBay for this single purpose would be, frankly, a tad idiotic. But since the comparison of Wings of Fury was a pick from a small list of suggestions made some time ago by my bandmate Jaakko, I decided to pick one that I am only barely more able to do from his list.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

APB (Atari Games/Tengen, 1987)


Developed and released for the arcades by Atari Games.

Designed by Mike Hally; Programmed by Russell Dawe and David Theurer, with technical support from Alan Murphy; Graphics by Mark West; Sounds by Brad Fuller, Hal Canon and Earl Vickers.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum 48k/128k by Walking Circles: Programming by David Beresford, Graphics by Graham Stafford and David Fish, Sounds by David Whittaker. Published by Domark in 1989.

Converted for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga by Walking Circles: Programming by David Selwood, Graphics by Andrew Page and David Fish, Sounds by David Whittaker. Published by Domark in 1989.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Walking Circles: Programming by Carleton Handy, Sounds by David Whittaker, Title screen by David Fish. Published by Domark in 1989.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Walking Circles, and published by Domark in 1989. Sounds by David Whittaker. No further credits known.

Converted for the Atari Lynx by Atari Games Corp.: Programming and sounds by Robert Barris, Graphics by Shann Chastain, Arlene Caberto Somers and David Nelson, Music by Dave Bean, Movie projector by William C. Fisher. Published by Atari/Tengen in 1991.

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GAME STATUS


Okay, it's time to fulfill another request/suggestion, and against my better judgment, I have chosen another late 80's Atari product, although I can't claim having enjoyed doing the comparison of Toobin' some time ago. Anyway, this one goes to a WoS user by the name of Slenkar (again) - I hope this was worth the wait.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

SWIV (Storm, 1991)

Developed by Random Access for various platforms, and released by Storm in 1991.

Designed by Edward "Ned" Langman, Ronald Pieket-Weeserik and Daniel Marchant.

Commodore Amiga and Atari ST versions programmed by Ronald Pieket-Weeserik and John Croudy; Graphics by Edward "Ned" Langman; Music and sound effects by Andrew Barnabas.

Amstrad CPC, MSX2 & Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128k conversions team: Programming and sound effects by Ken Murfitt; Graphics by Tahir Rashid; Additional CPC programming by Javier Fafula; Spectrum loader code by Steve Snake; Spectrum and MSX music by Sound Images.

Commodore 64 conversion team: Programming by Robert Henderson; Graphics by Robert Whitaker; Presentation screens by Paul Rogers; Music and sound effects by Martin Walker.

Acorn Archimedes conversion team: Programming by Nigel Little; Music and sound effects by Andrew Barnabas; Published by Krisalis Software Ltd. in 1992.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


You all remember Tecmo's Silkworm, that brilliant co-operative two-player shoot'em-up, right? Well, Tecmo wasn't involved in the second entry in the series at all - instead, it was made directly for home computers by Random Access, who were responsible for converting the original Silkworm to home computers. At the time, there was some debate as to whether or not SWIV was a sequel to Silkworm or not, but I'm guessing that was just pirate talk, because it is clearly indicated in the game manual, that SWIV is clearly a sequel, however unofficial. So of course, as a sequel of sorts to the Silkworm comparison from December, we decided to drive this matter to some sort of a conclusion. This results in the comparison of the newest game from the time prior to the 8-bit home computers' commercial death in 1993. And as was previously suggested, SJ has come to help me with the game's pivotal two-player mode, that made the first game so brilliant.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

FRGR #05: Space Satellite (Teknopiste, 1985)

Written by Ari Anturaniemi for Spectravideo SVI-728 and compatibles.

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DESCRIPTION & STATUS


Here's another Finnish Retro Game Review for a change. Just to steer away from the overabundant Finnish offerings for the C64 for a second, let's take a look at one of the arguably better known Finnish titles for the SVI. The reason why Space Satellite might be better known in this part of the world is simply, because during the mid-80's, the game was bundled along with the MSX-based SVI-728, so that anyone who purchased the machine would have a piece of Finnish game developing history in their possession. I doubt anyone really cared after having loaded up the game and tried it out once, though.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Unique Games! - Part 10

Nope, I haven't gotten lazier than usual lately, although it's been two full weeks since my previous entry - just superlatively busy with a lot of stuff, such as this one. As we have reached the 10th episode in the Unique Games! series, I thought it only proper that the occasion should be celebrated with having four games featured for ten machines this time. So as you might imagine, it's a properly big one! And if that wasn't enough, there are two new systems lined up this time. Or perhaps... well, see for yourselves.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Last Ninja (System 3, 1987)


Designed by Mark Cale; Storyboard by Tim Best; Programmed by John Twiddy; Graphics by Hugh Riley;
Music by Ben Daglish and Anthony Lees. Originally released for the Commodore 64 in 1987.

Converted for the Acorn BBC Micro and Electron computers by Peter Scott, and published by Superior Software in 1988.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles in 1988 by Tanager Software: Programming by Peter Fokos; Graphics by Erol Otis; Title screen by Doug Barnett; Music and sound effects by Russell Lieblich; Technical engineering by Nicky Robinson; Produced by J. David Koch.

Converted for the Apple computers by Tanager Software: Apple ][ programming by Peter Fokos and John Krocckel; Apple ][GS programming by Jeff Silverman; Graphics by Erol Otis; Apple ][ music and sound effects by Robert Kelly; Apple ][GS music and sound effects by Russell Lieblich and Don Harlow; Produced by J. David Koch. Apple ][GS version published by Activision in 1988 and Apple ][ version in 1989.

Remade as "Ninja Remix" for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST by Eclipse: Programming by Marc Rosocha, Klaus-Peter Plog and Lothar Becks; Graphics by Hugh Riley, Erik Simon and Tim Lange; Music by Jochen Kippel; Published by System 3 in 1990. Originally converted for the Atari ST in 1988 by the same team as "The Last Ninja", but was never officially released as such.

Converted for the Acorn Archimedes by Andrew Catling with music by John Bell, and published by Superior Software in 1992.

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HISTORY & GAME STATUS


Ninjas were in the latter half of the 1980's basically what the Jedi are once again, but there was an advantage to the coolness of ninjas: you could do many movies about them with a tiny budget. It was just a natural continuation from old kung fu movies with Bruce Lee and the likes, to ninja movies with very little known actors. So, with kung fu and karate games having already been made and remade numerous times, it was only natural that game developers moved on to ninjas. After having had such a huge hit game with International Karate, System 3's new ninja game was awaited with as much anticipation in late 1986, as gamers would now wait for a new Bethesda game, be it a sequel to Fallout or the Elder Scrolls. But The Last Ninja was about to be something completely different and, probably most importantly, would bring a notable change to the gaming rivalry dynamics.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Enduro Racer (Sega, 1986)


Designed by Yu Suzuki, and developed by Sega Amusement Machine Research and Development Department 2.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Doug Anderson* for Icon Design, with music by David Whittaker and graphics by Focus. (*officially credited for Nick "Orlando" Pelling)

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Mevlut Dinc, with graphics by Focus.

Converted for the Atari ST by Ian Morrison for Giga Games, with music by David Whittaker and graphics by Focus.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Alan Laird and Ian Morrison for Giga Games, with graphics by Focus.

Published in 1987 for the Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Activision.

Also converted and published for the Thomson MO5 and TO8 computers by France Image Logiciels in 1988, but no further credits are known at this time.

Also converted for the Sharp MZ-computers in 1989, but further credits are currently unconfirmed.

Rewritten for the Sega Master System by Sega Enterprises, and released by Sega of America, Inc. in 1987.

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GAME STATUS


Here's a game, which I'm quite certain most retrogamers out there will consider somewhat of a disappointment in most cases, at least when it comes to any of the home conversions. Enduro Racer was basically developed as the dirt version of Sega's previous motorcycle racing game, Hang-On, and utilised either handle bars or a full-sized dirt bike on the cabinet itself. Missing these embellishments would make any of the home conversions feel and look incomplete, but due to its arcade hit status, it had to be ported on as many home computers as possible. In Sega's own stroke of infinite wisdom, the Master System version was developed as a completely different racing game, but most of us fondly remember Enduro Racer as an awkward Hang-On clone.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Updates - The Next Generation: Part MMXVI

Since it's been about one and a half years since my previous entry of updates, it's no wonder that new finds have necessitated another entry of updates, even though I clearly remember having promised that I shall only be updating the required entries whenever necessary. The thing is, I realised that these compiled Updates entries serve as a good reminder for me to do my research more thoroughly, as well as a good notifier for you folks out there to see what sort of information has been added to old entries, or more likely will (or will NOT) be added to them, depending on the nature of the new finds. As usual, proper updates on the original comparisons and other entries will be made after I have posted this one, and found some actual time for updating the old ones. Perhaps it will have to wait until my summer holiday, but whatever. Now, let's get to it. Hopefully, this will truly be the last one I will ever have to make, but I think the opposite seems more likely...

Sunday, 27 March 2016

FRGR #04: Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle (Amersoft, 1986)

Game concept by Petter Kinnunen
Game design and programming by Pasi Hytönen
Music by Jori "Yip" Olkkonen
Co-produced by Petter Kinnunen for Amersoft, and Simo Salminen for Nasse-Setä Oy
Released for Commodore 64 in December 1986.

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HISTORY, DESCRIPTION & GAME STATUS


The most obvious game to be featured in the series, Uuno Turhapuro muuttaa maalle has the honour of being  simultaneously the most frustrating Finnish game ever released on the 8-bits, and the most sought after Finnish C64 game of all time, if only because it's so well-known. The most recent spotting of the tape version of the game being auctioned at huuto.net earlier this year reached 500 euros, and the tape version is the more common one, since around 2000 copies were pressed of those, while the disk version had a much smaller print - only about a 100 copies were made! For the quality of the game, I'm hesitant to vouch for, but merely for what it represents, it has definitely earned its firm spot in the commercial history of Finnish games.

Sunday, 20 March 2016

The Sacred Armour of Antiriad (Palace Software, 1986)

Programming by Andrew Fitter
Plot and graphics by Daniel Malone
Sound design by Richard Joseph
Originally released for the Amstrad CPC in 1986.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 by Stanley Schembri in 1986.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles and Apple ][ in 1987 by Stanley Schrembi and Craig Seastrom. Converted for the TRS-80 CoCo by Jesse Taylor in 1988. The Commodore 64, IBM-PC, Apple ][ and TRS-80 CoCo versions published in North America by Epyx as "Rad Warrior".

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Now, here's a game I have to admit having an almost complete ignorance on, even though I came across it plenty of times back in the day. The Sacred Armour of Antiriad, or just plain Antiriad, as it was often referred to, never caught my fancy due to its initially awkward controls and slightly more than usually restrictive flip-screen system. Only lately I have found out that there is actually more to this game than just walking around naked in a jungle, dying randomly on things I don't understand, and since a comparison of Antiriad was suggested a good while back in a blog comment posted by Brain Breaker in 2014, I thought I might as well try and learn to play this game now, almost 30 years after its release. Better late than never, right?

Sunday, 13 March 2016

NGOTM & TWOFER: The New Dimension Special!


Balloonacy

Concept based on "Crazy Balloon" arcade game by TAITO from 1980. Programming and music by Richard Bayliss. Graphics by Richard Bayliss and Hiram Kumper. Loading screen by Marq Watkin. Originally released as freeware for the Commodore 64 in 2001 by the New Dimension, and published by Cronosoft in 2003. Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Kevin Thacker, and published by Cronosoft in 2007.

Sub Hunter

Concept based on a Commodore VIC-20 game "Sub Hunt" by Mastertronic from 1984. Programming by Richard Bayliss. Graphics by Frank Gasking. Music by Thomas "Drax" Mogensen and Richard Bayliss. Originally released for the Commodore 64 in 2008 through Psytronik Software.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Paul "Axelay" Kooistra, with music by Herve Monchatre. Released in 2011 through Psytronik Software.

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GAME STATUS, PLURAL


All right, so we have a curious little twofer here this time: it's simultaneously a New Game Of The Month special entry, although neither of these games are particularly new anymore, only released well after the two machines' commercial demises. Also, neither of these games are particularly original - rather remakes of over 20 year old titles, so I shall be taking a quick look at the original games the two remakes are based on, as well.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Eliminator (Hewson Consultants, 1988)

Designed and developed for the Atari ST by John M. Phillips, with graphics by Pete Lyon.

Converted for the Commodore Amiga by Linel: Programming by Christian Haller and Christian A. Weber, Music and sound effects by Roman Werner, Graphics by Pete Lyon, Title screen by Michael Tschoegl.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by John Wildsmith, with sounds by Nicholas A. Jones. Graphics for the Amstrad version by Hugh Binns and for the Spectrum version by Stephen Crow.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Tim Rogers, with graphics by Darrin Stubbington and Hugh Binns, title screen by Stephen "SIR" Robertson and sounds by Jeroen Tel for Maniacs of Noise.

All versions released in 1988 by Hewson.

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GAME STATUS


Here's something that this blog hasn't featured in quite a while: a game that was made for all three principal 8-bit computers, that these sorts of comparisons usually are focused on, as well as the two next-generation computers that went through a similar battle of "whose reproductive organs are more appropriate for the job" as the three 8-bits. If only the MSX and 8-bit Atari computers were included here, it would be perfect. But curiously enough, Eliminator was first made for the 16-bit Atari, so that's something to consider with a bit of seriousness. Particularly as it is also one of the select few three-dimensionally behaving games featured on the blog so far. And if that's not reason enough to write about Eliminator, then at least having included it in the teaser picture in last August should give me some excuse to do this now.

Saturday, 27 February 2016

Frak! (Aardvark, 1984)

Game concepts by DCE, OMP & BOF
Designed and programmed by Nick "Orlando" Pelling for the Acorn BBC Micro in 1984, and converted for the Acorn Electron in 1986.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Jason Perkins, Anthony Clarke and Mark Rodgers, and published by Statesoft in 1985.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


For a change, we have a slightly edited blog version of another RESET magazine article for you all to browse through. And once again, if you haven't read the original magazine yet, you can do so here. Now, I've been trying to put our C64 against a different machine for each Format Wars article, whenever possible, and since it's the sixth article in the series already, it's inevitable that the game under the magnifying glass should be a more obscure one. I never knew much about the Acorn computers, since we didn't get them here in Finland, but believe it or not, Frak! was one of my favourite platformers on the C64 back in the day, because it was deceivingly simplistic in its mechanics, but completely unique in certain ways. Finding out only lately, that it was originally made for the Acorn computers came to me as a bit of a shock, so of course I had to do a comparison of it as I test the original game for the first time.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

FRGR #3: Miner Machine (Boss Company, 1987)

Written by Tero Weckroth and Mika Savolainen for the MSX computers in 1986.

The original Finnish release published by Boss Company in February 1987, and later the same year, published by Eaglesoft in France (from which the cover art here is taken) and by System 4 in Spain.

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DESCRIPTION & GAME STATUS


Merely for the sake of change, I decided to take a look at something not C64-based this time. Although there were quite a few Finnish games released for the MSX (and SVI) computers, most of them are still unavailable on the internet. Miner Machine is one of the rare examples of Finnish MSX games that are available, so I decided to take a closer look at it.

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Renegade (Technos Japan Corp./Taito, 1986)


Originally developed by Technos Japan and released for the Japanese arcades as "Nekketsu Kouha Kunio-kun".

Detailed credits for the original arcade version are currently unknown. However, since there are so many people involved in all all 10 home conversions, I decided to construct another separate Credits section before the actual comparison material. So, apologies for the short introduction, but click on "Read more >>" (or whatever it is in your language) to read the whole thing - sure enough, there's a lot of it to be had. And before you do so, you might as well prepare yourselves with a fresh pot of coffee - I haven't done a comparison this huge since Pirates! before my last summer holiday.

Monday, 8 February 2016

BoneCruncher (Superior Software, 1987)

Designed and programmed by Andreas Kemnitz for Commodore 64, with music by Michael Winterberg.

Converted by Martyn Howard for the Acorn Electron and BBC Micro computers in 1987.

Converted by Andreas Staerkert for the Commodore Amiga, with music by Michael Winterberg. Released in 1988.

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GAME STATUS


Here's another quick one for a change, because I also need to get through the games that I hinted on in that season-opening post in August. Yeah, this one was hinted in that collage. BoneCruncher (or Bone Cruncher, as it's sometimes seen written) was one of those games that was made during that time period, when Boulder Dash variants were made as variants, instead of clones, as they would be a bit later on. Perhaps it is not one of the most interesting games of all time, but it has some charm, and it was one of my childhood's more intriguing gaming experiences on the C64, which is why I chose to do a comparison of it.

Sunday, 31 January 2016

The Last V8 (Mastertronic, 1985)


Designed and programmed by David Darling for the Commodore 64, with graphics by James "Jim" Wilson, music by Rob Hubbard and voice samples by Covox, Inc. Released in 1985 through Mastertronic's MAD label.

Conversions for the Atari 8-bits and Amstrad CPC made most likely by the same team - no conclusive documentation found so far. Released in 1986 through Mastertronic's MAD label.

Enhanced version designed and developed for the Commodore 128 by the original team, and released by Mastertronic in 1986.

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GAME STATUS


Since I finished this month's planned entries in such a good time, I decided to do another quick one. I chose to do a comparison of one of the most notoriously difficult games ever released by Mastertronic (or more specifically, their sub-label MAD) because it's one of the rare games that were also released for the Commodore 128 to be played from the machine's native state.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Chuckie Egg (A'n'F Software, 1983)


Originally designed and developed by Nigel Alderton for the ZX Spectrum in 1983.

Converted for the Acorn BBC Micro in 1983 and Acorn Electron in 1984 by Doug Anderson; for the Dragon 32/64 computers by Martin Webb in 1983; for the Commodore 64 by Sean Townsend and Martin Webb in 1984; for the MSX (and some of its clones) by A&F's "R&D team" in 1984; for the Amstrad CPC by Nigel Alderton in 1985; for the Atari 8-bit computers by Sean Townsend in 1985; for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST by Icon Design Ltd with music by Tony Williams for Sound Images, and published by Pick and Choose in 1988; and for the IBM-PC compatibles by M.C. Lothlorien: Programming by Ste Cork, graphics by Anthony Anderson and Martin Holland, and music by Tony Williams. Published by Pick and Choose in 1989.

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GAME STATUS


Judging by the amount of ports released of Chuckie Egg, you can see that a proper classic is in question here. The number of versions doesn't necessarily mean that the comparison must be stupendously large, as has been customary, because this is one of those old games that can be dealt with relatively quickly. I remember someone having made a request of this one a long time ago, but I have no recollection whom it came from, but I'm sure Chuckie Egg is classic enough to be on the list of comparisons that I simply must do, since it's possible... at least for the most part.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

FRGR #2: Painterboy (Tikkurila, 1986)


Developed for the Commodore 64 by Chart Top Design:

Programming by Teijo Pellinen
Graphics and music by Jani Luomajärvi
Produced by Risto Vuorensola

Released in 1986 by Tikkurila.

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HISTORY, DESCRIPTION & GAME STATUS


The distinction of being the first television or movie license game from Finland isn't Uuno Turhapuro Muuttaa Maalle, although it was made and released the same year. Painterboy was released a short time prior to that, and was based on the television and radio adverts from a Finnish paint company called Tikkurila, but it wasn't a particularly commercial release, so its cult status in Finland was almost entirely achieved by - what else - heavy piracy. I don't ever remember seeing this game being mentioned in any of the Tikkurila commercials at the time, but I was 5 years old at the time of the game's release, and hardly able to pay much attention to anything properly, particularly anything C64-related, since we only had a ZX Spectrum at the time.

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Silkworm (Tecmo, 1988)


Developed by Tecmo Co, Ltd., and released originally for the arcades in 1988.

Commodore Amiga conversion programmed by Ronald Pieket-Weeserik. Commodore 64 conversion programmed by Warren Mills. Amstrad CPC & Sinclair ZX Spectrum conversions programmed by Nigel Brown. Atari ST conversion programmed by John Croudy. Graphics by Edward "Ned" Langman. Music and sounds by Barry Leitch for Imagitec Design Ltd. Project management by Simon Pick. Produced by the Sales Curve Ltd. Published in 1989 by Virgin Mastertronic, except the Atari ST version published in 1990.

Conversion for the NES developed and published by American Sammy for the North American market in 1990.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Although I can't claim to be much of a fan of shoot'em-up games, the two Silkworm games have always held a strange appeal despite my never having really put much effort in playing either game all that much. The reason for this more than likely being that both games require two players in order to have a full experience, and back in the day I didn't really give much value to these kinds of games. So this shall be the first comparison made with a more significant help from my friend SJ, to get some insight into the two-player experience, but this time, we shall be only focusing on the first game because it has enough versions for one comparison.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Unique Games: Afterlife, Part 2


Welcome to 2016, everybody! Let's start this year with a sequel to the Unique Games special episode I did about 18 months ago. Phew! Now, I shall be focusing primarily on properly new games - ones that were released during 2015, but I shall also mention a few interesting titles from the previous two years that I wasn't aware of before. I hope this will be of some interest to at least some of you out there. As before, not all of these games are particularly unique, but all of them are exclusive, as far as I have been able to find out, and most of them have something really specific about them.