Friday, 1 September 2023

FRGCB's Let's Play series returns for another set of episodes!

While the comparisons are still on a break of sorts, it's time for another announcement. After an unnecessarily long break, we're back with another set of Let's Play videos. In case you haven't seen these videos before on FRGCB's YouTube channel, it's all unemulated gameplay footage with unscripted commentary of games I like to revisit more or less often.

This year, the plan is to get three more Let's Play videos out, with one platform that hasn't had a chance to get its place in the spotlight yet. For now, here's Saboteur on the ZX Spectrum. Enjoy!

Sunday, 13 August 2023

Scuba Dive (Durell, 1983)

Originally written by Ronald Jeffs for the Tangerine Oric-1/Atmos.

Converted to the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Mike A. Richardson.

Converted to the Commodore 64 by Nigel Dewdney.

All versions published by Durell Software in 1983.



While I was preparing FRGCB's special 10th Anniversary post, I realized I needed to focus more on games that would bring forth the superiority of versions made for other than C64. So, to start working on getting that balance more balanced, I start with another Durell classic that I used to play a lot back when I originally had a ZX Spectrum in the mid-80's.

Tuesday, 8 August 2023

FRGCB - 10 years and still kicking!


Exactly ten years ago today, I launched Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog, without having a clear idea, what I was getting myself into. Sure, the basic idea was to give retrogaming enthusiasts "less biased opinions, more balanced reviews", but just how long a journey getting from relatively undetailed comparisons of games I thought would be somewhat simple to tackle, to the video-accompanied
ridiculously detailed comparisons they are now, has it been? And was it all worth it? Well, if anyone is interested in this sort of a thing, click on to read more about it, and look at some statistics while at it. Be warned, though, there are barely any pictures in this post, apart from the animated gif thing above.

Sunday, 23 July 2023

Stop the Express (Hudson Soft, 1983)

Originally designed and programmed for the Sharp X1 and Sony SMC-777 by Fumihiko Itagaki, and published as "Bousou Tokkyuu SOS" by Hudson Soft in 1983.

Ported to Commodore 64, Hitachi S1 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Hudson Soft, and respectively published in 1984 by Commodore Business Machines, Hudson Soft and Sinclair Research Ltd.

Ported to MSX by SoftBank, and published by Hudson Soft, Sony, Kuma Computers, HoneyBee Soft and Toshiba in various regions in 1984.

Unofficial conversion for Commodore Plus/4 by Csabo, with graphics by Chronos, and released by Legion of Doom in 2021.

Unofficial conversion for Mattel Intellivision by Carlos Madruga, with music and sound effects by Anders Carlsson, and released through Intellivision Collector in 2023.



Hudson Soft's games haven't been all that well represented here at FRGCB, so I thought I might tackle at least one of them now. If you're first and foremost a fan of either Commodore 64 or Sinclair's ZX Spectrum line of computers, chances are that you might have missed Hudson Soft either by choice or by accident. Their games for those two computers didn't really scream Hudson Soft at you, although they were certainly responsible for some of the earliest Sinclair classics. Stop the Express was not necessarily one of the most well-known ones of the lot, possibly because it was already made during the time when Hudson was prioritizing their efforts on the Japanese 8-bit computers like Sharp X1 and MSX, but it became some sort of a cult classic. Only in the last few years, Stop the Express has gone through a revival period, with new versions for Commodore Plus/4 and Intellivision already out, and rumour has it, there are more conversions in the pipeline.

Monday, 3 July 2023

Gyroscope (Melbourne House, 1985)

Developed by Catalyst Coders.
Produced by David Wainwright.

Acorn BBC Micro and Electron versions written by David Wainwright and John Nixon.

Amstrad CPC version written by Tony Mack and Steve Lamb, with music by Gloryflow Ltd.

Commodore 64 version written by Mark "Dubree" Prosser, with music by Graham Davis and Rob Hartshorne as "Alphingwood".

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version written by Steve Lamb, Tony Mack and David Dew, with loading screen by Mark Alexander.

All the above four versions published by Melbourne House in 1985.

A version was also made for Apple II, with no credits known, and published by Melbourne House (?) in 1986.



Marble Madness is one of Atari's most recognizable arcade classics, and has easily earned its status with no less than 15 (if not more) conversions in addition to the original. Isometric 3D games were big in late 1984, so having an isometric ball-rolling game with a trackball as your controller in the arcades must have been something very unique back then. Because of such an enormous amount of versions available, though, Marble Madness is likely to never be featured in this blog as a comparison. So, I decided to go with the next best thing: Gyroscope, which was developed for the 8-bit computers before the first home conversions of Marble Madness started coming out. This proved to be a relatively wise move from Melbourne House, since they later got the rights to port Marble Madness to some of the home computers.

Monday, 19 June 2023

Grand Prix Simulator (Code Masters, 1987)

Devised and originally written by Andrew and Phillip Oliver for the Amstrad CPC in 1986.
Graphics by the Oliver Twins and James Wilson.
Amstrad music and sound effects by Jon Paul Eldridge.
Atari and Commodore conversions by Adrian Sheppard.
Commodore loading screen by Steven Day.
Spectrum programming by Surjit Dosanj.
Spectrum graphics by Mervin James.
Atari, Commodore and Spectrum sounds by David Whittaker.
Design and artwork by Nigel Fletcher.

All versions published by Code Masters in 1987.



In an attempt to make the Format Wars article series in Reset64 magazine slightly bigger, the already announced racing theme for issue #16 gave the opportunity to choose a game with more versions, but less content. I found myself two optional games to write comparisons of, and I chose to write them both - the other one is still waiting for the next issue of Reset magazine to be finished and eventually released, but I decided to release this comparison now, just to get rid of it. One of Code Masters' earliest hit games, Grand Prix Simulator, was designed by the Oliver Twins on their Amstrad CPC, but was ported to other platforms by developers other than themselves, which, if you read my comparison of Dizzy at FRGCB, should make GPS a much more interesting game to compare.

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

NGOTY: Tenebra (Public domain/BOBR Games, 2021)

Designed and written by Ali "Haplo" Pouladi, with occasional level design by Marukpa.

Originally released to public domain for the Commodore 64 in 2021, and an updated version "Tenebra Extended" published by BOBR Games in 2022.

Tenebra Extended was ported to Amstrad CPC, Commodore Plus/4 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 2022, and to Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), Commodore Amiga and MSX in 2023 by Haplo.

Rewritten for Windows, Linux and Macintosh by Haplo in 2022.



When I began writing this comparison, it was February 2023, and I decided to wait for the Amiga version of Tenebra to arrive, which was hinted about in January, before I finished up this comparison. Of course, once the Amiga version was finally released in April, work got in the way and delayed the release of this comparison/review, but here it is, finally. In case you're still out in the blue on what Tenebra is, it's one of the most praised puzzle games of recent years on all the 8-bit machines it has been released for so far, and was popular enough to spawn a sequel in October 2022 for the Commodore 64 and Plus/4. UPDATE! - 19th of June, 2023: Haplo surprised Tenebra fans today by released an MSX version of the game, so information on that version will be included as soon as I have written it (might be in already).