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.