Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Metro-Cross (Namco, 1985)

Originally developed and released for the arcades by Namco Ltd. in 1985. Designed by Masanobu Endo, Tatsurou Okamoto and Yukio Tahahashi. Programming by Kyota Tanaka. Graphics by Hiroshi Ono and Yuki Kasukawa. Sounds by Nobuyuki Onogi. Illustrations by Satoshi Kitahara.

Converted and released for the Nintendo Famicom by Namco Ltd. in 1986; no further information available.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Probe Software: Programming and sounds by Brian O'Shaughnessy. Graphics by Vakis Paraskeva. Produced by Fergus McGovern. Published by U.S. Gold (EU) and Epyx (US) in 1987.

Also converted for Amstrad CPC and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Probe Software in 1987; no credits are known.

Atari ST version programmed by Timothy Moore, and published by U.S. Gold in 1988.

Converted for the Sharp MZ-700 by Kazuhiro Furuhata, and published by Namco in 1989.

The Atari ST version unofficially ported for Commodore Amiga by Wanted Team in 2013.



Back to more arcade cult classics. This time, the game under the magnifying glass, Metro-Cross, was the ninth-biggest arcade table in Japan in 1985, but it was rarely encountered elsewhere in the world. In fact, the International Arcade Museum website lists Metro-Cross as one of the least common games among collectors, with a 6 out of 100 in popularity based on census ownership records (1 being the least common). Taken that into consideration, all the European conversions must have been made after finding out about this game through the Famicom port from 1986. But that's just guessing. My personal introduction to Metro-Cross happened on the C64 around the mid-90's when the local C64 scene in my area had already turned more to Amigas and consoles, but because it never came up in anyone's collection on other platforms, it felt like such a hidden gem, which I still think it is.

Monday, 25 October 2021

The Simpsons: Bart vs. the Space Mutants (Ocean/Acclaim, 1991)

Designed by Garry Kitchen, Barry Marx, Dan Kitchen, Roger Booth and Henry C. Will IV for Imagineering Inc.
Developed by Arc Developments
Directed by Garry Kitchen
Produced by Colin Gordon
Story conceived by Barry Marx
The Simpsons theme song written by Danny Elfman
Original score by Mark van Hecke

NES credits:
Programming by Roger Booth, Barry Marx, Garry Kitchen, Dan Kitchen, Rob Harris, David Crane and Scott Marshall
Graphics by Jesse Kapili
Audio engineering by Alex de Meo

Other versions' programming by: Chris Coupe (SMD/GEN, AMIGA and ATARI ST); Julian Scott (SMD/GEN and ATARI ST); Tim Coupe (AMIGA); Colin Gordon (AMIGA); Byron Nilsson (CPC, SPE, SMS and GAME GEAR); Richard Underhill (C64); John Wildsmith (DOS)

Other versions' graphics by Paul Walker
Additional graphics for Commodore Amiga by Gary Tonge

Sega sounds by Mark Cooksey
Other versions' sounds by Jonathan Dunn
Additional sounds for Commodore Amiga by Byron Nilsson and Derrick Owens

Published by Ocean Software for Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga, IBM-PC compatibles and Sinclair ZX Spectrum 128k, and Acclaim for the NES in 1991.
Published by Acclaim (Flying Edge) for the Sega consoles in 1992.



On the long run, horror games is not exactly a bottomless well for trying to find games specifically with comparison in mind for Halloween, so in the spirit of transforming October from a month of horror games to a month of Ocean games (hopefully starting properly next year), I chose to go with one of the most commercially successful tie-in games of the 8- and 16-bits era with some sci-fi/b-movie theme going on in it. And, well, I had to visit the 1990's for a change, didn't I? Well, hold on to your hats and eat your shorts while at it, because this is going to be an unusually long comparison.

Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Anteater / Oil's Well - the origins and variations

My attempt at writing a comparison of Oil's Well from Sierra On-Line fell short quickly, when I realized, how many other clones of this game there actually were. Not only that, but that the game was itself a clone of an arcade game that never got officially ported to home systems with the original title - Anteater. By another coincidence, it has been almost four years since my previous "origins and variations" entry about Bomberman, so it's definitely time for another one of these special entries.

The problem with these sorts of entries is, that the existence of clones based on certain games is documented very loosely, usually only mentioning the most well-known clones of any said game. So, inevitably, the amount of Anteater clones for this entry will not be as close to the truth as it could be, but you're very welcome to mention more clones in the comments section, that I might have missed during my research. Having said all of the above, it might not come as too much of a shock that this entry will not feature a companion video.

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Express Raider (Data East, 1986)

Developed by Data East Corporation and released for the arcades in 1986. Released in North America as "Western Express".

Commodore 64 conversion by Damned House: Programming by Zoltán Kanizsai, Zoltán Czigler, István Rátkai & Ferenc Frank; Graphics by Melinda Legradi; Music and sound effects by Istvan Toth Gy. Published by Data East (US) and U.S. Gold (EU) in 1987.

Amstrad CPC conversion by Paul Zsadanyi, Gergely Gyurkovits, Peter Kovacs and Laszlo Kovacs
for Homega Software. Published by U.S. Gold (EU) in 1987.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum conversion by Paul Zsadanyi, Paul Zsadanyi Jr., Attila Kertesz and Zoltán Farkas
for Homega Software. Published by U.S. Gold (EU) in 1987.



Some time ago, Reset64 magazine had a train theme on their 13th issue, which inspired me to dig out one of my old C64 favourites, an arcade original called Express Raider, which I had on a compilation called Arcade Alley, a relatively rare compilation with only games by Data East. Ported only to the three major 8-bit home computers, Express Raider seems to be somewhat of a cult classic that's rarely spoken of, but mostly with very rose-tinted glasses stitched over the old gamers' eyes.

Wednesday, 4 August 2021

Inside Outing (The Edge, 1988)

Design and main programming by Michael St. Aubyn.

Programming for Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum versions by Pamela Roberts for Timedata. Graphics for Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC versions by Michael St. Aubyn. Graphics for the ZX Spectrum version by Mike Smith. Music for the 8-bit versions by Wally Beben.

Originally published for Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by The Edge in 1988. Alternative titles were "Raffles" in Germany and Epyx's release "Devon Aire in the Hidden Diamond Caper" in North America.

Atari ST and Commodore Amiga versions:
Atari ST programming by Michael St. Aubyn, Commodore Amiga programming by Glyn Kendall; Graphics by Mike Marchant; Sounds by Dave Lowe. Published as "Raffles" in Europe by The Edge, and "Devon Aire in the Hidden Diamond Caper" in North America by Epyx in 1989.



FRGCB's long time readers might recognize my general indifference towards isometrically viewed 3D arcade adventure games, but the keyword there is "general". I do like them when they are comfortable to play, and The Edge's Inside Outing just about crosses that threshold for me, which is why I've had this game lurking for its moment on my to-do list for a few years now. A request from a Lemon64 forum user by the name of MinerWilly (apparently a fellow countryman, too!) forced me to finally let this beast have its share of blog space.

Saturday, 17 July 2021

Vixen (Martech, 1988)

Developed by Intelligent Design
Music by Jason C. Brooke

Amstrad CPC:
Programming by Ian McArdle and D. Richards
Graphics by Malcolm J. Smith and Mark Eason

Atari ST:
Programming by Ian McArdle and Jonathan Howell
Graphics by Malcolm J. Smith and Mark Eason

Commodore 64 & IBM-PC compatibles:
Programming by Nicholas A. Jones
Graphics by Malcolm J. Smith and Mark Eason

Commodore Amiga:
Programming by Ian McArdle, Jonathan Howell and D. Richards
Graphics by Malcolm J. Smith and Mark Eason

Sinclair ZX Spectrum:
Programming by Ian McArdle and D. Richards
Graphics by Malcolm J. Smith

Also released as "She-Fox" in Germany.



Due to a request, I started looking into more run 'n' gun -type games, and didn't really find much to write about, unless you went for the REALLY big ones. I decided that since Contra in all its versions has been so well documented and compared elsewhere, I'll try to find a lesser-known game with enough versions to make it interesting. A childhood favourite of mine, and an unimportant curiosity elsewhere, by the name of Vixen popped into my head, which I decided to take a closer look at, since I hadn't played it in over 20 years or so.

Saturday, 3 July 2021

A Day In The Life Of UPDATES

Yes, it certainly is time for yet another UPDATES entry, as the one from almost exactly a year ago was written in a relative absence of mind. No such celebratory occasions as last time will be coming in a while yet; 3 million visits is still looming in the distance of just below half a million. Since the Updates entry a year ago, many new remakes and demakes have appeared, and I also had the time to dig through a few game archives of machines that rarely get mentioned anywhere. Additionally, some of my old comparison articles have been updated with new (or new-found) videos by some of the YouTube channels that have given permission to link their stuff. So, let's get to it!