Friday, 30 October 2020

Cauldron (Palace Software, 1985)

Design and graphics by Steve Brown
Programming by Richard Leinfellner
Music and sounds by Keith Miller
Published originally for the Commodore 64 by Palace Software in April 1985.
Published in North America by Broderbund in 1986.

Conversion for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum:
Programming by Simon Dunstan and Tony Barber as "The RamJam Corporation"
Graphics by Steve Brown
Published by Palace Software in June 1985.

Conversion for the Amstrad CPC:
Programming by Richard Leinfellner
Graphics by Steve Brown
Music and sounds by Richard Joseph
Published by Palace Software in November 1985.

Also released as "Hexenküche" in Germany.



The sudden appearance of yet another Halloween in the calendar prompted me to dig out this beast of a game from my to-do list. Cauldron was never one of my particular favourites in its genre, due to reasons you will likely understand shortly by reading this article, but for its history of conception, it deserves to be featured on the blog. Besides, it's b-side (Evil Dead) has already been compared many years ago, and of course, what would Halloween be without a properly thematic entry?

Thursday, 22 October 2020

FRGCB YouTube channel update

This year, I have been concentrating more on creating video content for FRGCB's YouTube channel than last year, which has made things a bit slower here on the actual blog. Well, that will not be changing for at least another year or so, but I will be attempting a change of pace in some manner. But for now, the FRGCB YouTube channel's exclusive content will be taking a break of at least a few months, and you can expect My Nostalgia Trip Games and Let's Play series continuing sometime before the second quarter of 2021. Until then, comparison accompaniment videos will proceed when necessary. All the videos released so far can be found in the Videos section. Thanks for watching. 👍

Thursday, 1 October 2020

TWOFER #21: Mr. Do's Wild Ride! (Universal Co., Ltd., 1984) + Kong Strikes Back! (Ocean Software, 1984)

Originally developed and released by Universal Co., Ltd. for the arcades in 1984.

Ported for the MSX computers by Masamitsu Kobayashi, and published by Colpax in 1985.

Re-branded, developed and published by Ocean Software as "Kong Strikes Back!" for Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1984, and Amstrad CPC in 1985, with cover art by Bob Wakelin.

Spectrum version written by Nigel Alderton and Jonathan Smith.
Amstrad version written by Michael Webb.
C64 version's programmer currently unknown.
Music for Amstrad and C64 by Martin Galway.
Loading screen by Frederick David Thorpe.



An odd choice this time. Mr. Do is one of those arcade characters that don't necessarily connect to all that many retrogamers, particularly those who grew up with the NES or Sega's equivalent. Somewhat perversely, the original Mr. Do game did find its way to Super NES and even Game Boy in the 1990's, and it's also one of those games that had its fair share of direct clones for various machines, which is why I chose not to write about the original game - at least, not yet. Instead, I chose the third game in the series (which features five games all in all) - Mr. Do's Wild Ride, which I got to know first as Kong Strikes Back! on the ZX Spectrum as a wee lad. It took me a good while to find out the origins of this game, well into the 2000's, because Mr. Do was never as interesting to me personally, as anything based on Donkey Kong was. Only when I found out a couple of months ago, that the game was actually ported for the MSX computers with its original title, I began considering writing a comparison of it, and here we are.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

Jet-Boot Jack (English Software, 1983)

Written by Jon Williams for the Atari 400/800.
Converted for the Commodore 64 by Mark Taylor.
Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Colin Hughes.
Converted for the Acorn BBC Micro and Electron by Dave Woodhouse.

Originally published by English Software in 1983.
Published in North America by Datamost in 1984.
Amstrad version published by Amsoft in 1984.
Acorn versions published by English Software in 1984.



Jet-Boot Jack has got to be one of the best known, or at least the most circulated games on the 8-bit Atari computers, because English Software pushed the game on the first three Atari Smash Hits compilations after the original release. Of course, this doesn't mean it was in every Atari gamer's collection, but it certainly will have helped the exposure. On other platforms, the game's status is not necessarily quite as notable. My personal introduction to Jet-Boot Jack was rather unnotable, since I can't actually remember when it happened and on what platform, or if it was through emulation or on a real C64, for example, but it has grown on me over the years, which is why I decided to compare this game right now.

Monday, 24 August 2020

Exolon (Hewson Consultants, 1987)

Designed and written by Rafaele Cecco for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Spectrum sounds by Nick Jones. Loading screen by Nigel Brownjohn. Both SPE and CPC versions also available on Enterprise 128.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Nick Jones, with loading screen for the Rack-It re-release by Stephen "Sir'88" Robertson.

Remade for the Atari ST by Martin J. Bysh, with graphics by Gary P. Helix and music and sound effects by J. Dave Rogers. Released by Hewson in 1988.

Converted from the Atari ST version for the Commodore Amiga by Guido Henkel for Linel/Dragonware. Released by Hewson in 1989.

Two (unofficial?) conversions for the Sharp MZ-800 written by Midos and Datelsoft in 1989.



Rafaele Cecco's games all have a certain kind of a quality, that make them all feel most at home on the Spectrum and Amstrad for some reason, but I've always thought Exolon to be one of the games that was almost equally good on every 8-bit. The 16-bit versions I never even knew of until I started doing the research for this entry, so it'll be something new to look forward to, at least for me. Exolon also has a certain amount of randomness about it, that makes it impossible to feel completely comfortable about it at any given time, and perhaps for that reason, it has never been one of my favourites, but that hasn't stopped everyone else from liking it.

Thursday, 30 July 2020

Loco (Alligata Software, 1984)

Based on the 1982 Sega arcade game "Super Locomotive", originally designed and programmed by Fukumura Mizunaga.

Commodore 64 version by Antony Crowther, with music by Ben Daglish. Published by Alligata Software in 1984.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version written by Richard Stevenson and David Wright, with loading screen by Nigel Speight.

Atari 8-bit version written by Anthony J. Wilson and Russell Knight. Graphics by Russell Knight and sounds by Antony Crowther.

Spectrum and Atari versions published by Alligata Software in 1986.



When I was called on to write yet another Format Wars article for the Reset64 magazine many, MANY months ago, there was a thematic twist to this request. It took a while to realize that the only thematic game that's possible to write a comparison about that would fit the magazine is Loco from Alligata. Even that was a bit questionable, because, after all, the game is based on an arcade game with a different title, and there are a few other variants based on the same original that it would be impossible to fit all that into a magazine format comparison. Therefore, it was decided and agreed that the article should be focused and limited to precisely the three versions of Alligata's Loco. Obviously, this blog edition features a bit more. However, as the current Reset issue in-the-making is still in such a state for an undeterminable time, I was given permission from mr. Tilley, the chief editor, to post this entry before the magazine gets out, so for the first time ever, you'll get to read the long version before the short version. The magazine pdf and purchase links will be eventually added here when it's finally available. Now then...

Friday, 17 July 2020

It's a Knockout! (Ocean Software, 1986)

Amstrad CPC version programmed by D.J. Burt and A.J., with loading screen by Simon Butler.

Commodore 64 version programmed by Keith Purkiss, R.P.P. and D.A.W., with loading screen by Simon Butler and music by Fred Gray.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum programmed by Keith Purkiss, with sound by D.J. Burt and loading screen by Dawn Drake.

Cover artwork by Bob Wakelin.

Published by Ocean Software in 1986.



I promised you some more Ocean awfulness after Knight Rider, didn't I? Don't get me wrong - I love old Ocean games, particularly the 1985-1989 period, but even they had their fair share of trash in their catalogue. Well, here's an old BBC gameshow made into a relatively unknown computer game, and it fits in well with Ocean's other miserable TV-licence games, although it's definitely a very different beast compared to Knight Rider, Miami Vice and Street Hawk. See, this is a multi-event sports game, if you can call it a sports game as such. If nothing else, it's good enough to add an entry under the letter 'I' in the archive, but I know some of you love badness just as much as I do, when you can laugh at it, so It's A Knockout! might just fit your bill.