Thursday 26 December 2013

Winter Games (Epyx/US Gold, 1985) - Part 2

In Part 1, we took a deep look at all the 12 versions' events and playability, leaving us to deal with graphics and sounds, and calculating the overall scores. With this entry, I will wish you a very happy Christmas or whatever you might be celebrating at this time of year, if anything, and best wishes for a better year in 2014! But now, let's try to bring this one to a conclusion...

Saturday 21 December 2013

Winter Games (Epyx/US Gold, 1985) - Part 1

Developed for the Commodore 64 by Action Graphics, and converted for the Apple ][ in 1985, and for the DOS in 1986.
Converted for the ZX Spectrum by Sentient Software and Mark Alexander in 1986.
Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Sentient Software and Ocean Software in 1986.
Converted for the MSX by Ocean Software and released by US Gold in 1986.
Converted for the Atari 2600 by Steve Baker, Peter Engelbrite and Tod Frye in 1987.
Converted for the Atari 7800 by Atari in 1987.
Converted for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST by Incredible Technologies in 1987.
Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) by Atelier Double
and released by Acclaim in 1987.
Converted for the NEC PC-8801 by Pony Canyon.

Also converted for the Apple ][ Game System and Macintosh computers, but I couldn't find any game files or information for this entry, so no information on those. A version for the Sega Master System was also in the works, and was advertised, but was never released. A prototype is rumoured to exist, but hasn't been recovered yet, so can not be tested.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Krakout (Gremlin Graphics, 1987)

Written by Andrew Greene and Robert Toone. Additional coding by Greg Holmes, Chris Shrigley, Shaun Hollingworth, Peter Harrap, Colin Dooley and Chris Kerry. Music by Ben Daglish, graphics by Steve Kerry and Terry Lloyd, loading screen by Marco Duroe. Released in 1987 for the ZX Spectrum, Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC and MSX. Converted by John Mackay for the Acorn BBC Micro, and released by Gremlin Graphics in 1987. Converted by Wise Owl Software Ltd. for the Thomson MO5, and released through France Image Logiciel in 1987.

Unofficial (?) conversion for the Sharp MZ-800 written by Bill Gilbert and released through Firefly Software in 1988. Unofficial conversion for the Commodore Plus/4 by Tamás Sasvari, Valeria Feher and Peter Feher in 1992.



After having done a comparison on Batty a couple of months ago, I have had a few people suggest that I do a comparison on Krakout, another good variation on the breakout theme. So, while I'm working on something bigger simultaneously, I figured that I might as well write a comparison on Krakout now to clear out some of the requests. Clearly, this game has its own fan base, perhaps even more so than Batty ever had, for whatever reasons.

Strangely, closest to my own opinion on this game can be found at CPC Game Reviews, having received a rather average 6 out of 10. All the other ratings are better, next one being 4 stars out of 5 from 24 votes at Generation MSX, and just a tad better with a score of 8.05, the C64 version as voted by 128 Lemon64 voters, placing the version at #81 in their Top 100 (basing the list on at least 100 votes). World of Spectrum users have so far given their version 87 votes, giving it a score of 8.23, being the highest rated official version. The unofficial Plus/4 version only has 10 votes at the Plus/4 World website, but has a score of 8.6, which makes me really want to try it out now. All the other conversions listed above don't seem to have much of ratings or reviews anywhere, so onwards to the comparison then...

**UPDATE, 12th of September, 2016**
This entry is under some heavy updating, so if you happen to be reading this, be advised of any possible inconsistencies until the entry is finished and this notice is removed. (Left to update: Sounds and Overall sections.)

Friday 6 December 2013

So far so good... FRGCB in 2013

Since my blog has the arrogance to call itself "Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog", I might as well write a quick retrospective of the blog so far on the Finnish independence day. This post is basically just a list of all the games so far featured on the blog, so if you have read everything so far, I thank you for that very much indeed, and you don't really need to take a look at this list, unless you really like lists.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Dynamite Dan (Mirrorsoft, 1985)

Written by Rod Bowkett for the ZX Spectrum 48k, and is claimed to have been converted for the C64 by himself, but this information is currently unknown. Amstrad CPC conversion was made by Dalali Software Ltd. MSX conversion was made by Mr. Micro Ltd.



It is time to write about another game that is more regarded as a cult favourite than a real classic. Granted, the basic game mechanics are very clearly copied from Jet Set Willy and the likes, so there is not all that much different to recommend itself. But regardless of the small amount of originality, I happen to like Dynamite Dan more than Jet Set Willy, most likely due to it being slightly more possible to complete - which I never did, without a cheat mode, that is.

At our favourite haunts, Dynamite Dan has earned a reasonably good reputation. At World of Spectrum, it has a score of 8.39 from 120 votes, placing it at #42 in their Top 100. Not too far behind, 28 Lemon64 voters have given it a 7.4. Generation MSX has given it a fairly good 3 out of 5 stars, and CPC Game Reviews website has given it an 8 out of 10. Additionally, the game was awarded the best platform game of the year according to the readers of the Crash magazine, and in 2004, the original ZX Spectrum version was voted the 24th best game of all time in a special issue of Your Sinclair magazine. Let's see how they really compare, then.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Platoon (Ocean, 1987)

Original Commodore 64 version: coded by Zach Townsend - graphics by Andrew Sleigh and Martin McDonald - music by Jonathan Dunn. // ZX Spectrum conversion: coded by Sean Pearce and David Lyttle - graphics by Andrew Sleigh and Mark R. Jones - music by David Whittaker. // Commodore Amiga and Atari ST conversions: coded by Sean Pearce and Colin Gordon - graphics by Sharon Beattie, Steve Wahid and Mark K. Jones - music and sound effects by David Whittaker. // Amstrad CPC conversion: coded by Sean Pearce, David Lyttle and Giles Weatherup - music by David Whittaker. // Apple ][ and DOS conversions by Quicksilver Software: coded by Lennard Feddersen - artwork by Walter Holland, Shann Chastain, Arlene Caberto and Nancy Nakamoto. // NES conversion by Sunsoft.



Since 1979, video games have been made based on movies. The year 1982 saw the first proper licensed video game based on a movie: Raiders of the Lost Ark on the Atari 2600. Since then, there were many big hit movie-games and some less big, like Alien from Argus Press, Rambo: First Blood part II and The NeverEnding Story from Ocean, Back To The Future from Electric Dreams, A View To A Kill and Friday the 13th from Domark, Ghostbusters from Activision, The Evil Dead from Palace Software and many others.

In 1986, Oliver Stone wrote and directed an award-winning war drama called Platoon, currently at #149 in the IMDb Top 250. The movie is not so much about the action and bloodshed, but instead focuses on the duality of man and the psychological impact a young man faces when put on the battlefield of Vietnam. Since the movie was such an enormous blockbuster, the game industry immediately sensed a good tie-in license for a game. Of course, it would have been impossible to make a war game based on something as abstract as psychology, so Ocean Software designed a fun multi-genre jungle shooter based on some of the more actiony scenes from the movie. That should work, right...?

Monday 18 November 2013

The Sentinel (Firebird, 1986)

Released in the United States as "The Sentry".

Created and programmed by Geoff Crammond for the BBC Micro, and converted by himself for the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC. Converted for the ZX Spectrum in 1987 by Mike Follin. Converted for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST in 1988 by Steve Bak. Converted for the DOS in 1989 by Mark Roll. Music for the Amiga by David Whittaker. Loading screen for the Amstrad CPC and Commodore 64 by Bob Stevenson.



This is the second time in my blog's history to feature a game by the great Geoff Crammond. The reason why I'm writing about The Sentinel now is because I feel it hasn't had enough exposure lately. The last time any larger collective was interested about this game was probably in 2006, when two different programmers were working on a remake of the game for the Retro Remakes competition, both of which were rather nice. It's not really one of my favourite games as such, because the original game's controls kind of put me off, but it's definitely one of my favourite concepts ever. The sequel, Sentinel Returns, from 1997 for the PC (Windows 95) and the original PlayStation, was more my thing because of the mouse aided control system and better graphics.

Whatever my personal opinion on the game is, the general opinion seems to be very generous. Although I couldn't find any rating numbers for the BBC Micro and DOS versions, the C64 version has been given a score of 8.3 by 97 Lemon64 voters; the ZX Spectrum version has a whopping 8.53 from 206 WoS voters; CPC Game Reviews has given it a 9 out of 10; 77 Atarimania voters have given the ST version a measly 5.9, and LemonAmiga has a score of 8.1 with 41 votes.

Thursday 14 November 2013

Jack The Nipper (Gremlin Graphics, 1986)

Written by Greg Holmes and Peter M. Harrap for the Amstrad CPC, MSX and ZX Spectrum.
Conversion for the C64 was coded by Jason Perkins and Mark Rogers. Graphics for the C64 version was made by Buck Rogers, Greg Holmes and Steve Curry. Music for the C64 version written by Ben Daglish.
Music for the ZX Spectrum version written by Nick Laa.
Additional odd bits for the ZX Spectrum version by John Holmes.



A relatively quick comparison this time, just to catch up on my imaginary quota. This game was requested by one of my band mates a while ago, so this one goes to Tero H., thanks for the suggestion. The reason why I did not make this a two-fer and include the sequel is simply, that I never got anywhere in Jack The Nipper II: in Coconut Capers, so I'm not anywhere near qualified enough to talk about it.

The original Jack The Nipper has a certain status in gaming history - not because it was in any way unique, but because it's loaded with a sense of humour rarely seen in games like these. The game has an overall respectable score on every platform it was released on: World of Spectrum users have given it a 8.25 with 93 votes, almost bringing it into the Top 100 list; Lemon64 users have given it a 7.1 with 55 votes; at Generation MSX the game has a rating of four stars out of five, with 14 votes, and at CPC Game Reviews, the game has earned a whopping 9 out of 10. Considering the game's genre, the Amstrad version actually might have a fair chance at topping our comparison this time. But let's see...

Friday 8 November 2013

Wizball (Ocean, 1987)

Written by Jon Hare, Chris Yates and Martin Galway for the Commodore 64. Converted by Steve Watson, Paul Owens, Peter Clarke and Mark R. Jones for the ZX Spectrum. Converted by Steve Lamb and Alison Jeftha for the Amstrad CPC. Converted by Nick Sheard, Shaun Ridings and Roger Fenton for the DOS. Converted by Peter Johnson for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga. Additional sounds for the Amiga by Ian McLaughlin.



Wizball appears to be one of those games that will always divide the audience, depending on whether you can learn it or not. I've read from a lot of forums people saying that the game is overrated, because they either never understood the hype or couldn't get a grip on the controls or whatever. Sure, it's a very fantastical idea and doesn't involve much real world physics or anything, but isn't that one of the basic ideas behind gaming? Interacting with your dreams.

Regardless of it being called overrated, Wizball is placed at #34 with 242 voters having rated it 8.51 at Lemon64's Top 100 list. At World of Spectrum, the game has a score of 8.06 from 51 votes, which isn't bad at all, although it doesn't reach the top 100. Atarimania has the ST version rated 7.6 with only 13 votes, and the Amiga version takes the low end with only 5.9 from 58 LemonAmiga voters. Although proven slightly less trustworthy in their opinions in some of their reviews, the folks at CPC Game Reviews have given it a whopping 9 out of 10. The DOS version was the most difficult for finding any reviews and ratings, but at least the good old Home of the Underdogs has a Top Dog mark on it. So, let's see how the ball rolls, shall we?

Sunday 27 October 2013

A History of Finnish Games, Part 3

In part 2, we left off somewhere around 1997 or thereabouts, and were moving towards a more commercial game industry for the PC and console machines. We still have a few surprises to look forward to, and much ground to cover,  because this will be the final entry in my version of such a history lesson. For this occasion, I drew that picture with Crayon Physics Deluxe, which I will talk more about later on in this entry. Of course, if some unexpected new information turns up, I'll make an appendix of sorts later on when I feel like. But for now, let's head on for the turn of the millennium and see what's happening.

Sunday 20 October 2013

TWOFER #3: Saboteur! + Saboteur II: Avenging Angel (Durell Software, 1985/1987)

Written by Clive Townsend for the ZX Spectrum. Music for Saboteur II by Rob Hubbard.

Saboteur! converted for the Amstrad CPC in 1986 by Clive Townsend, and for the Commodore 16/+4/64 in 1986 by Branko Špoljarić.

Saboteur II converted for the Amstrad CPC in 1987 by Clive Townsend and Maz Spork; for the Commodore 64 in 1987 by Clive Townsend; for the IBM-PC compatibles in 1987 by Mike Richardson; and for the Plus/4 in 1990 by Muffbusters.



Durell's Saboteur! and its slightly less known sequel, fully titled Saboteur II: Avenging Angel, were at their time a rare specimen of espionage themed games. To make the game more alluring to the young customers, you'd play as a ninja and use some limited martial arts skills, as the whole ninja thing was big during the mid 80's. This would later be even further proved by System 3's Last Ninja series, but I think it's safe to say that Saboteur started the development of stealth and espionage games, or at least made a big impact on the theme.

The first Saboteur has a respectable 8.37 score with as many as 373 votes at World of Spectrum, CPC Game Reviews website has given it a 7 out of 10, Lemon64 voters have given it a 6.9 with 83 votes, and the Plus 4 version has another respectable 8.5 out of 10 at Plus4world, although it has only 22 votes.

The sequel has another 8.37 at World of Spectrum, although there's only 266 votes, but this makes both Saboteur games currently sharing the 47th spot in the Top 100 at WoS. Lemon64 rates it 6.6 with 46 votes, and only 6 Plus4world voters have given it 7.5. The only reviews I could find for the Amstrad version were some old magazine cuts that had given it four stars, but that doesn't say much about the current consensus.

Sunday 13 October 2013

Hat Trick (Bally Sente Inc., 1984)

Developed and published for the arcades by Lee Actor, Martin French, Bil Maher, Gary Levenberg, Richard Green and Ed Rotberg.

Ported by Bally Sente to the Atari 7800 in 1987, and converted by Capcom USA for the Commodore 64 and DOS.



Another one of my favourite games of all time, even though I don't particularly enjoy ice hockey... or perhaps it is so for that exact reason. It's not really ice hockey - it plays sort of like Pong, but not nearly enough to call it a clone. Anyway, it seems a bit too underrated in my mind on every retro gaming website I go to, so I'll give this one a free advertisement space here. Also, it's a relatively quick one to compare.

The original arcade version can easily be found and played on MAME, but I've never seen the actual cabinet, except in pictures on the internet. At, it has a rating of 8.73 from 15 votes, so it's not too bad, but not really that well known. It's a bit harder to find ratings for the Atari 7800, since Atarimania doesn't have games for the machine yet, but I found a review at The Atari Times, which gave it an overall 72%. Not too shabby either, but clearly less than brilliant. Lemon64 voters have given it an 8.1 with 60 votes, and the editor at Abandonia gave the DOS version a 4.0 out of 5, while their 532 visitors have given it a score of 3.1. So, what is it about it then, that makes people not too fond of it?

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Street Rod (California Dreams, 1989)

Developed by P.Z. Karen Co. Development Group and Logical Design Work, based on an original concept by Magic Partners. Published by California Dreams for DOS, Commodore Amiga and Commodore 64.



Street Rod has earned its place in gaming history by being the first 3D first-person car racing game with the ability to fix and modify your cars. The creators also had enough sense of style to place it in the year 1963, when rock'n'roll was the hip thing and everyone who was everyone was apparently street racing with their hot rods.

At Lemon Amiga, Street Rod has been rated with a 8.27 score from a total of 74 votes, 49 voters at Lemon64 have given it 8.3, and at Abandonia, 6189 people have rated the PC version an average 3.3, while the editor has given it a 4.0 out of 5. It's not necessarily one of the greatest or most valued games ever, but it certainly has a good cult following, with at least two sequels in the making by indie developers.

Monday 7 October 2013

Loading instructions!

For a serious retrogamer, it's important to be able to load up any kind of games on any machine on any sort of available equipment, not just the ones you're used to handling. So before I finish up with my latest comparison, I decided to do a list of loading commands for as many computer systems as necessary, because I had a rough time finding every command on the internet. It's not only for your convenience, if you want to try out some of the other systems to what you're familiar with, but also because it's easier for me to keep a good list available somewhere other than my harddrive - you never know when something might accidentally get lost. Also, somewhat inspired by the struggles James Rolfe, probably better known as the Angry Video Game Nerd, seems to have with his Commodore 64, I'll throw in some additional useful information to go with the commands. I'll start with the most familiar ones, and go progressively more difficult.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Jetpac (Ultimate Play The Game, 1983)

Written by Chris and Tim Stamper for the ZX Spectrum 16k.

Converted for the Commodore VIC-20 (1983) and BBC Micro (1984) by Ashby Computers & Graphics Ltd., but details are unknown.



Jetpac is in many ways an historic game. For one, it's the first release from Ultimate Play The Game, currently known as Rare. Second, it's the first game ever to be presented the Golden Joystick Award for Game of the Year in 1983. (Additionally, Ultimate caught the prize for being the Software House of the Year.) Somewhat historically in a more questionable way, Jetpac was one of the very few and first titles for the Sinclair machines that didn't get an official conversion for the Commodore 64, likely because they didn't want the Spectrum's "killer app" of the day get ported to the competing machine, but who knows.

In today's retro setting, Jetpac is placed at #31 at World of Spectrum voters' Top 100 list (tied with West Bank, Flying Shark and Abu Simbel Profanation) with a rating of 8.42 with 460 votes. I didn't have much luck finding any top lists for either BBC Micro or VIC-20, but really, for these two machines, you're lucky if you can find anything at all, really. The VIC version seems to be rather kindly spoken of, but the BBC version seems to be such an obscurity that I couldn't find much comments on it. So, as classic as it is on the Spectrum, the two other versions are rarely spoken of, and I intend to try my best at finding out why.

Sunday 29 September 2013

A History of Finnish Games, Part 2

At the end of Part 1, we had just decided to give up on the Commodore 64, and we had moved to the Amiga and Atari ST. When modems started increasing in homes and other, more community-based distribution methods began to develop and thrive, our indie games and their developers didn't have much place in world computer and video gaming press, but there was a lot of interesting things going on in our so-called cottage industry. We continue now with the 16-bits and move on simultaneously to the PC indie gaming scene, somewhat covering the years 1990-1996. If you haven't done so yet, and wish to read the first part before heading on with this post, check it out here.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Orc Attack (Creative Sparks, 1983)

Designed and coded by Dean Lock for the Atari 800.
Converted for the ZX Spectrum by Dean Lock in 1984.
Converted for the Commodore 64 by Chris James in 1984.



Because my last blog entry was such a hugely time consuming job, I decided to take an easier job this time. By the suggestion of a World of Spectrum user who goes by the name of "fog", I decided to have a go at this game, which looked easy enough to make a reasonably short piece for once. It's a pretty unknown game for me, so it's still a challenge, but in a completely new way.

Retro gamers seem to like it enough at the familiar sites: WoS users have given it 7.79 with 49 votes, at Lemon64 it has a slightly lower score of 7.2 from 28 voters, and 29 Atarimania voters have given it 7.6. So it's not a particularly well known game, based on the number of votes, but it looks to be well above average. Let's have a look, shall we?

Friday 20 September 2013

The Great Giana Sisters (Rainbow Arts, 1987)

Developed for the Commodore 64
by Time Warp Productions:
Armin Gessert - code & design
Manfred Trenz - graphics
Chris Hülsbeck - music

Converted for the Atari ST/STe
in 1987 at Time Warp by:
Armin Gessert - design
Thomas Hertzler - code
Manfred Trenz - graphics
Jochen Hippel - music

Converted for the Commodore Amiga
in 1988 at Time Warp by:
Armin Gessert - design
Thomas Hertzler - code
Manfred Trenz - graphics
Thomas Lopatic - music

Converted for the Amstrad CPC in 1988 by Spiky Productions.

Converted for the MSX2 in 1993 by Jan van Valburg for MGF, and published by Sunrise.

Also converted for the ZX Spectrum in 1988 by Ian Richards from Source Software,
but was ultimately left unreleased, and is currently impossible to find.

This is a really big one, so grab some pizza or coffee, you're gonna be reading this a looong time.

Monday 16 September 2013

TWOFER #2: Blue Max + Blue Max 2001 (Synapse Software, 1983/1984)

Originally released by Synapse Software for the Atari 800 XE/XL.
Commodore 64 conversions released by Synapse Software.
ZX Spectrum conversion for Blue Max by SynSoft/U.S. Gold in 1984.

Atari 800 originals coded by Bob Polin; Blue Max 2001 sounds by Ihor Wolosenko.

C64 Blue Max: code by Peter Adams, music by Stephen C. Biggs.
C64 Blue Max 2001: code by Bob Polin, music by Ihor Wolosenko.
Spectrum's Blue Max conversion programmer is currently unknown, but was made for U.S. Gold by Ocean Software.



Here's a duo of games that you probably didn't expect too soon to appear here, but for some reason, I have a strange fondness for this twosome. Yes, even Blue Max 2001, even if it is universally thought of as the idiot bastard son of the original Blue Max. I won't be dwelling into my past too much, but I'll say that inexperience has its advantages.

Currently, the Atari versions are rated at Atarimania thus: Blue Max - 8.07/10 from 588 votes (ranked #73 in the top list), and Blue Max 2001 - 4.2/10 from 47 votes. Lemon64 ratings for the C64 versions: Blue Max - 8.3/10 from 211 votes (ranked #57 in the top list), and Blue Max 2001 - 4.9/10 from 39 votes. World Of Spectrum has a rating of 6.22/10 from 25 votes for Blue Max, and... Blue Max 2001 was not converted for the Spectrum. So it's gonna be a bit unbalanced, but this is not just a comparison between the different versions - we're gonna compare the two games and see why the sequel is as disapproved as greatly as it is.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Bruce Lee update!

Before I get to my second two-for-one, which will be posted hopefully on Monday, I got around to writing this update on my earlier comparison of Bruce Lee.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Samurai Warrior (Firebird, 1988)

a.k.a. "The Battles of... Usagi Yojimbo"

Based on the Usagi Yojimbo comics by Stan Sakai.

Commodore 64 original by Doug Palmer, Paul Kidd and Russel Comte from Beam Software.

Spectrum conversion by Ross Harris and Dave Semmens from Source Software Ltd.

Amstrad conversion by Gregg Barnett, Cameron Duffy and Dam from Source Software Ltd.



Back in the 80's, fighting games were brilliant. Most gamers loved them regardless of how unrealistic the controls and character animations were, but then, you couldn't expect too much because you  would be playing them most likely on an 8-bit machine. Nowadays, the old games look and feel... well, old. The level of realism and graphics are so high in the latest Tekken, that it doesn't really feel much like a game anymore. The time you will spend on studying the movements to get your preferred combos and everything to perfection, takes about as much time as taking a course in your prefered martial art and learning to perform some of the movements yourself, and it'll be useful in real life as well.

The old beat'em up games, however, were just that: games. You'd pick them up and learn to play them in a minute, and depending on your level of concentration, skills to use the few moves available, and a great amount of luck, you'd be able to get quite far. That was the case with most of the beat'em ups back then - The Way Of The Exploding Fist, International Karate, Kung-Fu Master... you know.

Then, the guys who made the Exploding Fist, gave us Samurai Warrior: The Battles of Usagi  Yojimbo. Most of us probably still look at it with slightly rose-tinted glasses, but back then, it was a very different gaming experience to anything, and it still is. The game is currently rated 8.6 at Lemon64 from a total of 199 votes, and is ranked #26 in the top 100 list, from games with at least 100 votes. CPC Game Reviews has given it an 8 out of 10, and 67 World of Spectrum voters have rated it 8.17, but it doesn't quite reach the current top 100. So, whichever the platform, it's still quite highly regarded in the retro gaming world.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Batty (HitPak/Elite, 1987)

Spectrum & Amstrad version coded by Mark Crane.
Amstrad & C64 title screen by Paul Walker.

C64 version:
Coded by Jason Benham.
Music by Robert Westgate and Frank Cohen.



I decided to have a look at this game, because I wanted to have a go at something lighter this time. Being a breakout, you can't get much lighter. Well, the legend says this game was originally released on a cover tape of Your Sinclair magazine in October 1987. That would mean that the other two conversions (one of which was coded by one and the same Mark Crane who made the Spectrum version) were written within two months of the initial release. Possible, I suppose, but sounds a bit iffy.

Whatever the case, this game is considered somewhat of a classic, particularly amongst the Spectrum users. I was always more partial to Cascade's TRAZ on the C64, released a year later, because it's such an insane game, but Batty was the first to evolve from the regular Arkanoid style of breakouts.

As of today, the users at World of Spectrum have given it 8.25 with 156 votes; Lemon64 users have given it 7.7 with 48 votes; CPC Game Reviews website has given it a measly 4 out of 10. Let's see. This time, I won't be giving any scores, and the reason for it you will hopefully understand as you read on.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

DuckTales: The Quest For Gold (Walt Disney Computer Software, 1990)

Written by Incredible Technologies for Amiga, Atari ST, Apple ][, Commodore 64 and PC.



It's not the most popular game from the turn of the 1990's, but it's fondly remembered by those of us who grew up with it. Disney, in general, have always been a big thing, and DuckTales was no exception back then, although the TV show only lasted for 3 seasons. It was rare to have a good game to be based on our favourite cartoon characters, so when DuckTales was released, it was huge for a while. Now that the remastered version of the NES game has been recently released, I thought it might be nice to have a look at the other DuckTales game, that most of us who didn't have a Nintendo back then, know better.

While this review was written, as small a number as 29 of Lemon64 members have voted it 7.3, and Lemon Amiga has a rating of 7.41 from a total of 71 votes. Abandonia users rate the PC version 3.1 out of 5, while the editor has rated it 4.0. Atarimania has a rating of 7.0 from only one voter, but then the game is a bit harder to find for the ST. Wikipedia says a version for Apple ][ was also released, but I haven't been able to find one, so it's left off from here.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

A History of Finnish Games, Part 1

Okay, it's not a comparison, but just to justify the word "Finnish" in the blog title, in more than just the fact that I happen to be a Finnish person living in the said country, I decided to lecture people  about some classic Finnish games. And why not start with the computer that they even advertised as "Computer of the Republic". I kid you not, it's right there in the advertisement scan. And I'm doing this, because this blog now has reached readers from quite a few countries over the world, so here's something completely different to you. Perhaps you guys from other parts of the world will share  your histories of gaming industry similarly, so we can get the comparison part here as well. ;-)

Sunday 25 August 2013

Bump 'n' Jump (Data East, 1982)

Released to the arcades in Japan as "Burnin' Rubber" and to the rest of the world as "Bump 'n' Jump".

Ports were released for:
- Atari 2600 and Intellivision by Mattel Electronics in 1983 as "Bump 'n' Jump"
- Commodore 64 by Colosoftware in 1983 as "Burnin' Rubber"; by Bubble Bus in 1984 as "Bumping Buggies"; and by IJK Software in 1984 as "Krazy Kar"
- Colecovision by Coleco in 1984
- Nintendo Entertainment System by Vic Tokai in 1986 as "Buggy Popper" in Japan and "Bump 'n' Jump" for the rest of the world.


Here's an oldie, but definitely a goldie. Currently, at Lemon64, "Burnin' Rubber" has 98 votes and is rated 7.4,  while "Bumping Buggies" has 40 votes and is rated 7.1. AtariMania doesn't have it rated, but has several releases of it as "Bump 'n' Jump", all of which have a fair amount of hits and downloads. INTV Funhouse website gives it excellent marks. Coleco and Nintendo reviews and ratings are stupidly hard to find, but they seem to be getting average marks overall.

Wednesday 21 August 2013

Commando (Capcom, 1985)

Original title: "Senjou no Ookami", translated Wolf of the Battlefield
by Tokuro Fujiwara & Tamayo Kawamoto.

Ports developed for:
- Acorn Electron, Amiga (1989), Amstrad CPC, Atari ST (1990), BBC Micro, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum at Elite (check Wikipedia for a list of developers) in 1985.
- Commodore 16 plus4 at Elite by Richard Ikin and Ray Tredoux in 1986.
- MS-DOS at Data East by Quicksilver Software Inc. in 1986.
- Nintendo NES version by Capcom in 1986.
- Apple ][ at Data East USA in 1987.
- Intellivision by John Tomlinson, Connie Goldman and David Warhol for INTV in 1987.
- MSX at ASCII in 1987.
- Atari 2600 at Activision by Mike Reidel in 1988.
- Atari 7800 and 800 XE by Sculptured Software in 1989. Prototype was found of the 800 XE  version, and released to the internet in the 2000's.



Another true classic to compare. This time we have our first arcade machine on our hands.

Currently, Commando is spotted at #91 with a score of 7.9 with 252 votes at Lemon64 (on a list with at least 100 votes); 314 WOS voters gave rated it 8.48, and it's placed at #10, tied with 4 other games; AtariAge has compiled an average score of 82% for the Atari 7800 from external reviews; Atarimania users have voted it 7.1 out of 10 on the ST and the 800 XE: 59 LemonAmiga users have voted it surprisingly low at 5.86; CPC Game Reviews has given it 7 out of 10; DOS gamers seem to think their version the worst of the bunch, but I couldn't find ratings anywhere and the Atari 2600 version seems a bit obscure, so people haven't voted on it at Atarimania. The rest of the bunch seemed pretty impossible to find reviews or ratings of on the internet. So it's a bit of a hit and miss, this one, depending on the platform. So, with that amount of versions to get through, prepare yourself for another big one.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Twofer #1: Percy the Potty Pigeon + Wanted Monty Mole (Gremlin Graphics, 1984)

Percy the Potty Pigeon
Concept by P. Jackson
SPE version by Shaun Hollingworth (code and music) and R. Vessey (graphics)
C64 version by Antony "Ratt" Crowther (code & graphics) and Ben Daglish (music)

Wanted: Monty Mole
SPE version by Peter M. Harrap
C64 version by Antony "Ratt" Crowther



For today's entry, I've picked two early Gremlin titles, of which the other one is a bit more obscure one. Neither of these games appear on any Top 100 lists currently, but have their own cult following. Monty currently has 8.09 with 45 votes at WOS, and 6.6 with 44 votes at Lemon64. Potty Pigeon has 7.42 with 19 votes at WOS, and 6.0 with 34 votes at Lemon64. That seems to give some idea of the end results, but both were my favourites on both computers when I was a kid, so why not give them a little tribute here anyway. Hope you'll enjoy.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Stunt Car Racer (MicroStyle, 1989)

Original by Geoff Crammond. Released in the U.S. by Microplay as "Stunt Track Racer".

Commodore 64, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST graphics by John Cummins.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum (1989) and Amstrad CPC (1990) by Pete Cooke, and for the MS-DOS by Tim Ansell from The Creative Assembly.


Another proper classic under the looking glass here. A truly unique racer at the time, which only recently has gained some competition in the form of the TrackMania series, but the thirst for a new version or a sequel seems to remain unquenched forevermore.

Currently, the game is placed #49 at Lemon64 Top 100 (for games with at least 100 votes); was placed #85 on the YS readers Top 100 in 1993, is currently out of WOS Top 100 but rated 8.20 with 98 votes; CPC Game Reviews gave it a 9 out of 10; Lemon Amiga Top 100, with similar voting requirements as Lemon64, puts it on #43; Abandonia rates the DOS version 3.2 out of 5; and finally, Atarimania Top 100 of Atari ST games by rating places it at the #70 spot.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Bruce Lee (Datasoft Inc., 1984)

Original by Ron J. Fortier and Kelly Day.

Published for :
Apple ][, Atari 800, Commodore 64 and MS-DOS by Datasoft Inc. in 1984
Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum by U.S. Gold in 1984
MSX by Comptiq in 1985
Sharp MZ-800 by VSetin (?) in 1988
NEC PC-8801 (and Sharp X-1?) by Comptiq in 1989
Sega Master System by Kagesan in 2015


To properly start off this blog, let's go for what most of us retrogamers would call a true classic. Currently, on the Lemon64 top 40 list, it's on #23, World Of Spectrum has it tied on spot #55 with 5 other games, Atarimania has it on spot #21, CPC Games Reviews gave it an 8 out of 10, and at Generation-MSX, it has four stars out of five. For the other conversions, I found it too difficult to find any reviews, but it's not a seriously bad game on any platform. Just a seriously flawed conversion on some of them. UPDATE, 6th of July, 2016: the newish Sega conversion was released a couple of years after I originally wrote this comparison, but as I mentioned in the relevant Updates entry, the remake shall not be featured here.

Thursday 8 August 2013

Less biased opinions, more balanced reviews.

Very early on in my gaming history, in the latter half of the 1980's, I wanted to be a game reviewer, because I wanted to play as many games on as many different systems as possible. This dream job took a back seat a bit later, as my primary objective in life was to become a musician, which I eventually did. Now, my other job dream can take some ground back, and I can start writing about games I like. More specifically, the games I liked back then, and still do, on the machines I owned back then, still do, and continue to collect. Maybe have a friend or two help me out with this project as well, because it's already starting to feel like a lot of work. :-P

The purpose of this blog is to compare an endless stream of retro games, as reasonably as possible, play them on every gaming machine I can think of, either on a real machine or an emulator. I've seen too many blogs and review websites that are clearly biased towards the machine of their preference.

When I was a kid, my first gaming devices were a Donkey Kong Jr. Game & Watch handheld game, then a 48k ZX Spectrum, then a Commodore 64C, before finally getting to the modern age of PC gaming. The first machine I ever played on was Atari 2600. Alongside my own machines (which, of course, my parents had bought), I had a fairly good access in the neighbourhood to machines like the MSX, NES, SNES, Sega Master System, Sega Megadrive (Genesis), and Commodore Amiga. Later on, I had most of these machines myself, and had an easy access to Nintendo 64, Atari Jaguar, the Sony Playstation machines and some others. All in all, I had a pretty balanced view of what was going on in the biggest scenes of the gaming world, so I couldn't get too biased about what I had. Since this is a retro gaming blog, I won't be getting any closer to modern gaming than the PS1 generation here, and even THAT is stretching the idea a bit.

Here you can see a (mad photoshop skillz!!) collage of most of my equipment. My current favourite old machine is the Commodore 64, mostly because of the modern equipment I have been able to acquire for it, but I will always have a soft point for the ZX Spectrum. My favourite new machine has been for many years, and will continue to be, a PC, preferably equipped with a Windows release of odd number, until Microsoft stops building their GUI's for people to use.

I will begin posting some actual content next week. If you have any game review requests, gimme some comments.

RANTISH UPDATE - 5th of January, 2020:
Over the years, a few people have complained about the blog being biased towards one thing or another, despite my self-proclaimed intention of having LESS biased opinions towards different versions of games, and writing MORE balanced reviews for each game - that is, compared to some much older comparison websites, that mostly focused on either just Spectrum and C64 or having only the Amstrad CPC added into that mix. It is impossible to have a list of... CURRENTLY 171... completely unbiased comparisons, when the games by design don't offer such luxury, hence "LESS unbiased". Many of the featured games that have been compared are done by request, and some originally for a C64-based magazine even, yet sometimes, I have dug out some games that I had previously no knowledge on, just to get things even more balanced.

Some games are so clearly designed for certain machines, that the design has remained the same across all different platforms, so they don't really call for a comparison, such as Knight Lore. Another thing I cannot currently do is comparisons of joystick-waggling sport games, because I would need to have all the necessary platforms as actual machines to make a fair comparison - I don't trust emulation that much. Further on, some games have such a small amount of versions to write about, writing about those would be fruitless. On the other hand, games like Bubble Bobble and Lemmings are so huge and have too many versions to mention, are out of limits for the types of comparisons I do here. The special entries like the Unique Games series, which I personally think are more important than the comparisons, have long been the point of focus and enjoyment for me to research and write, because for those entries, it's not about anyone having the chance to complain about something, but rather giving some lesser known games and their authors some focus.

To my knowledge - as I have actually kept an Excel chart of the games featured on the blog - the bias towards C64 (which is in the lead for the platform that has "won" the most comparisons) isn't nearly as big as you might think. To get more "wins" for machines like the ZX Spectrum or Acorn's BBC Micro or even the 16-bits would require either a writing partner who likes to play simulations, strategy games and isometric adventures that certainly would be preferable on an Acorn or a Spectrum, or then we'd have to find 8-bit originated games that actually WERE better on the 16-bits, or vice versa. The thing is, though, this is a Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog, and the bias is local because the Commodore had such a strong foothold and impenetrable marketing machinery in here back in the day. And the bias will remain as it is, unless some Finnish retrogaming enthusiast pops his/her head in and writes similarly detailed comparisons of games that I have no interest playing. Until then, the only thing I can suggest you readers can do is request some games to be compared, and I shall try to accomplish something.