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.


  1. Hey, good idea and some really nice comparisons so far!

    Really enjoyed reading these first couple of reviews, keep on doing them!

  2. The title sounds good, but especially your 8bit comparisons are often more like "more biased opinions, less balanced reviews". The blog is clearly biased towards the machine of your preference (ZX Spectrum), even if you don't wanted it to be.

    On the other hand the Amstrad CPC seems to be a system you don't like at all.It gets some weird low scores in some of your reviews, based only on your opinion and ignoring all fakts. Please check my comment for your "TWOFER #3: Saboteur! + Saboteur II: Avenging Angel (Durell Software, 1985/1987) " post for an example.

    1. Your comment on the Saboteur comparisons has been replied, and I hope some of your complaints have been put to rest.

      As for the title on this post... well, we're all biased towards something we like, aren't we? I'm no different in that. All I'm trying to do here is write LESS biased, not UNbiased comparisons - that would be impossible. For good examples of truly biased comparisons with badly described differences, try these for starters - should be up your alley.

      Besides, my favourite is the C64, just so that we're clear on that issue. If the Spectrum seems to be so well represented here is because it deserves it, although I think lately the blog has been more leaning towards C64. I have never seen any game on the Amstrad that was better than on at least one of the other machines the game was released on. Doesn't mean I don't like the Amstrad. You're welcome to throw some examples of games that truly are better on the Amstrad than on any other machine, but make sure your own sense of nostalgia doesn't colour your opinion on it.

    2. First of all, please accept my apologies for my first two comments. I should have chosen my words more wisely. There was no intent to disrespect you and your blog.

      Second, in your other answer (for Saboteur) you complain about me writing anonymous comments. I only do that because it's the easiest available option for me. I didn't mean to offend you.

      That said, I have to admit that I actually like your blog. The comparisons are very detailed and you write about a lot of my favorite games. I guess I should have mentioned this in my first comment ;-) Yes there are some errors, but you are right, it could be much worse.

      If you are looking for games where the Amstrad CPC version is best available 8bit version, please take a look at "Trantor: The Last Stormtrooper" or "Savage" for example. Both games are from Probe Software and these guys really knew how to get the best out of the system. Plus there are tons of games from spanish and french developers that show the "true power ;-)" of the CPC ("Freddy Hardest" for example). These are the countrys where the system has been quite popular back in the day. The developers from these countrys really cared about the system.

    3. Okay, apology accepted, no harm done. It's just irritating that people tend to get so riled up about these sorts of matters, and not consider their words thoroughly before commenting - for instance, taking your first comment here as an example, you accused me of not taking all the facts into account. Sure, I can't be aware of ALL the facts, no matter how hard I try, but when I compare the games as they are, I can only give an estimation of my understanding of all the art involved with my fairly well educated background into arts, along with the old and current perception of how games work and should work. Facts are hard to come by when dealing with hardware that you don't necessarily understand. I'm only interested in how the games play, not how the machines work.

      Thanks for the suggestions, I'll put them on my list, and try to concentrate more on Amstrad-friendly games in the future.

  3. Yep. Sadly I thought the blog was not biased as I started enjoing the detailed description from many games. But is too much c64 biased :(

    1. Well, I guess it all depends upon your point of view. Having relatively balanced view of all the main computers and consoles from the 80's (and my first computer ever being a ZX Spectrum for about 3 years), doing unbiased comparisons of old games was what I set out to do.

      If I have veered towards more C64-biased comparisons, there's probably a reason for it, but I'm not sure what you mean by C64 biased? Is it that there are too many games featured on the blog that are favourable towards the C64, or is it just that there aren't enough games that are favourable towards other machines? After 5-6 years of writing this blog, actual real work has taken over my life, and so my time and interest for maintaining FRGCB and writing about games that personally don't interest me are currently very limited, and I also try not to write about anything too obvious or too heavy to work on (such as Tetris or Bubble Bobble). Regardless of that, suggestions are welcome, and I'll try to see if your wishes regarding upcoming comparisons can be fulfilled somehow.

  4. Thank you for your reply. I wish you the best. And thanks for your blog.