Sunday, 20 November 2022

Buggy Boy (Tatsumi/Taito, 1985)

Developed by Tatsumi Electronics Co. Ltd., and published by Taito Corp. for the arcades in 1985.
Published in North America as "Speed Buggy" by Data East.

Amstrad CPC version written by Andrew G. Williams, with graphics by Peter Tattersall. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1987.

Commodore 64 version written by Dave Thomas, with graphics by Bob Thomas. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1987, and as "Speed Buggy" in North America by Data East in 1988.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version designed by Dented Design: Programming by Maz H. Spork, Graphics by Paul D. Walker, Music by Mark Cooksey. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1988.

Atari ST version written by Martin W. Ward, with music and sound effects by Jason C. Brooke. Published by Elite Systems Ltd., and as "Speed Buggy" in North America by Data East in 1988.

Commodore Amiga version written by Martin W. Ward and Richard Frankish. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1988, and as "Speed Buggy" in North America by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1989. (North American release distributed by Keypunch Software).



It's been a while since the blog featured a game from Elite, a publisher that had a strong presence in my gaming youth, and the last comparison from a game from Elite's catalogue was posted in August 2017 - that being Overlander, a game that cannot honestly be considered one of Elite's finest. So, it's high time to finally do a comparison of my all-time favourite game release from Elite on the Commodore 64.

Monday, 31 October 2022

Hunchback (Century Electronics, 1983)

Developed and released for the arcades by Century Electronics in 1983.

Commodore 64 conversion written by Jon Steele, and published by Ocean Software in 1983.

Tangerine Oric-1 & Atmos conversion written by Philip Hulme, and published by Ocean Software in 1983.

Acorn Electron and BBC Micro conversions written by J.M. Dyson, and published by Superior Software in 1984.

Dragon 32/64 conversion written by Béla S. (Bill) Barna, and published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Commodore VIC-20 conversion written in-house at Ocean Software, with no details ever disclosed. Published by Ocean Software in 1984.

MSX conversion by Paul Carter, and published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum conversion by Christian Urquhart, with loading screen by Frederick David Thorpe, and published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Amstrad CPC conversion written by Christian Urquhart for Ocean, and published by Amsoft in 1985.

Unofficial conversion for IBM-PC compatibles written by Robert Schmidt, and published by Fireball Software Ltd. in 1988.

Another unofficial conversion was written for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A by Joe Morris, and published by Retrospect Games in 2021.

Cover artwork for the Ocean Software release by Bob Wakelin.

Also written for the Atari 8-bit computers by Steven MacIlwee for Ocean Software, but was unreleased. A prototype is available online, but the year of conversion is not indicated.



I would hazard a guess, that one of the earliest gaming memories for any 80's child would have been Hunchback, or any of its unofficial variants, since it was an arcade classic ported to almost every imaginable 8-bit home computer during the first half of the decade. I certainly got to experience Hunchback on the three main 8-bit platforms of my childhood, but principally on the Commodore 64, since that's what I, and most of my friends had in our area.

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

Daley Thompson's Decathlon (Ocean Software, 1984)


Written by Paul Owens and Christian Urquhart for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, with loading screen by F. David Thorpe.
Published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Commodore 64 version:
Programming by David A. Collier, Bill Barna and Tony Pomfret.
Music by David Dunn.
Published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Amstrad CPC version by Choice Software, and published by Ocean Software in 1985.



After years of waiting, it is now possible for me to do a reliable comparison of one of these joystick-killing sports games that have been sorely missing from the archives of FRGCB. The reason for this is, that I finally have an actual Amstrad CPC in my collection, as well as a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a Commodore 64, and because in my experience, emulation hasn't been accurate enough to get a realistic sense of how each version plays. Now, Daley Thompson's Decathlon has been made possible to compare from the trilogy, and therefore, has the honour of starting our Ocean October of 2022.

Thursday, 25 August 2022

Jack the Nipper II Coconut Capers (Gremlin Graphics, 1987)

Game concept by Greg Holmes

Programming and sprite graphics by Greg Holmes
Other graphics by Terry Lloyd
Music by Ben Daglish
Odds & Ends by David K. Pridmore, Andrew Green, Chris Shrigley and Robert Toone

MSX version:
Programming by Greg Holmes, Andrew Green and David K. Pridmore
Graphics by Terry Lloyd and Andrew Green
Musical bits by Ben Daglish, Greg Holmes and David K. Pridmore

AMSTRAD CPC version:
Programming and sprite graphics by Greg Holmes
Additional programming by David K. Pridmore
Other graphics by Terry Lloyd
Music by Ben Daglish

COMMODORE 64 version:
Programming by Andrew Green
Graphics by Terry Lloyd
Music by Ben Daglish
Assistance by Rob and Chris

All versions published by Gremlin Graphics in 1987.



Some time ago, a reader observed that a game featured on this blog, that would have a series of other games to look into, are rarely featured as more than footnotes at the end of the comparison at hand. This is true enough for good reasons, as most games that would have a larger series to choose comparisons from, are usually too similar to be bothered with. There have been exceptions to this rule, such as the Epyx sports games series, Blue Max (the sequel was handled with the original in a two-fer), the Way of the Exploding Fist (Fist II was compared first), two Horace games were also compared as a two-fer, Saboteur and its sequel also had a two-fer entry; and now, the comparison of Jack the Nipper from 2013 shall finally have its companion, even though back then, I solemnly swore not to do this one, because I'm utterly bollocks at it.

Thursday, 4 August 2022

Lazy Jones (Terminal Software, 1984)

Designed and written by David Whittaker for the Commodore 64 in 1984.
Ported to Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Simon Cobb in 1984.
Ported to the MSX computers and Tatung Einstein by David Whittaker in 1985.
All versions published by Terminal Software.



Time for another lightweight comparison again, this time a cult classic that most C64 and Spectrum gamers seem to know, even though it could hardly be called a hit game. Lazy Jones was, however, the most successful game released by Terminal Software, and is one of the most memorable games from that time period for those who have ever had the chance to experience it - regardless of when they experienced it. With this game, FRGCB will have its first comparison featuring the rare and neglected Tatung Einstein, and with a 99% possibility, will also remain the last.

Sunday, 24 July 2022

Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off-Road (Leland Corporation, 1989) - Part 2

Let's start Part 2 with a confession: I rarely do ragequits with any game, particularly with retrogames, but during the making of this comparison, I ended up ragequitting Super Off-Road a considerable number of times on various versions. Not because it's unfair - though it certainly is at times - but rather because some of the versions become practically unplayable after reaching a certain level, that I had to re-write parts of the first part of the comparison a few times to feel comfortable with it. Also, in the making of this comparison, I did some considerable harm to my keyboard, necessitating to buy a new one, but the harm was necessitated by breadcrumbs under the backspace key. Oh well.

If you didn't read Part 1 of the comparison of Super Off-Road from last week, it should be noted that all things concerning the game's playability in its different variations was dealt with in that post. As it really is the more important bit in this comparison, I urge you to read that before reading Part 2. If you don't care as much about the gameplay, or have read the first part already, then feel free to continue.

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off-Road (Leland Corporation, 1989) - Part 1


Now quite a long time ago, a request was made by a reader who commented by the name "The Gambler" to write a comparison of one of my all-time favourite arcade racing games that has been ported to pretty much all the major computers and consoles at the time. As Super Off-Road had been on my to-do list for a long time already, I decided to tackle it now, because there's already a video comparison of it on YouTube from Gaming History Source - which will naturally be linked at the end of the comparison. Despite of that, Super Off-Road proved to be such a large undertaking, that I'm going to split this comparison in two parts - the first time doing so since I did the Epyx sports games comparisons many years ago.

Because there are so many versions of Super Off-Road, and so many different people working on most different versions, it was necessary to write this pre-amble, and do a separate Credits section for a change. Hold on to your cowboy hats and click to read on!

(Note: The entire comparison just went under slight maintenance due to neglect in checking for proper information on the release dates. The originally mentioned 1994 release date for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis version was suggested by MobyGames.)