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!

Sunday, 6 June 2021

FRGCB's Let's Play series also continues!

Hello, readers and viewers alike! FRGCB's YouTube channel continues to spew more content out, this time with another Let's Play video, the first one for 2021. Just wanted to share that with you here in a more official manner. I shall attempt to make at least the same amount of these as last year, and for a different platform each time, but I still have no schedules planned, much like I didn't the two previous years. This year's Let's Play series started off with the C64 version of Batman the Movie, an old favourite of mine, of which I wrote a comparison of way back in 2014.

As for other news, I will be taking this month quietly again, first and foremost because the deadline for Reset64 magazine's contributions is getting close, and I haven't done squat, apart from having chosen the featured game. Secondly, a band of mine has released an album 5 days ago (Spotify link here), and I will be spending much of my free time on promoting it and making music videos whenever possible. So, apart from the video stuff, things will be quiet here at FRGCB this month, maybe even July. See you when things get less crazy!

Monday, 31 May 2021

Motos (Namco/Dempa, 1985)

Design by T. Okada
Programming by Kosei Matz
Music by Norio Nakagata
Graphics by Satoru Chan
Engineering by SIG-EL
Debugging by M. Taguchi
Supervising by Sing Kozima
Originally released for the arcades by Namco/Dempa in 1985.

Developed for the Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Binary Design (1001 Ltd.):
Amstrad and Spectrum programming by Matthew Rhodes
C64 programming by Michael Delves
Amstrad and Spectrum graphics by Ste Pickford
C64 graphics by Lee Cawley
Music by Jason C. Brooke
Published by Mastertronic in 1987.

Converted for Sharp X68000 by Yodel, with sound by Hideya Nagata. Published by Dempa Microcomputer Software in 1989.



One thing Mastertronic never got properly recognized for was their arcade conversions, mostly because they didn't do all that many of them, and those that they did were largely made after they merged with Virgin Games in 1988. Prior to that, Motos represented one of Mastertronic's earliest ventures into arcade game licencing. This could have been one of the reasons why the eventual merging with Virgin was necessary, since Motos wasn't really one of the most celebrated arcade games in its time. Now, though, it makes an interesting study.