Sunday 30 March 2014

Paratroopers - the origins and variations

A rather special item this time, the idea of which was born as long ago as at the beginning of 2013, when I was playing the C64 version in a tour bus, and our bass player mentioned that the DOS version was a bit different - it had not nearly as many features as the C64 version. A year went by, and I came across the Spectrum version of Paratroopers while making research for the comparison of Booty, which gave a spark to that idea of comparing all the different versions of Paratroopers. As I went along doing research, I noticed that while there aren't all that many (known) versions around, some of them have a different name, and there are enough gameplay differences to make some of them seem like completely different games as well. So, this will not be an actual comparison as such - it's a look into the evolution of this particular game idea. Paratroopers became the chosen title for the entry, because I felt it is probably the most recognizable name of the lot.

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Arcadia (Imagine Software, 1982)

Designed by David H. Lawson and Mark Butler.
Graphic design and illustration by Steve Blower.
Written by David H. Lawson for the ZX Spectrum 16k and Commodore VIC-20.
Converted for the Commodore 64 by Eugene Evans in 1983.



For me, Arcadia was never such a big deal, because I didn't get to play it until the age of emulation. Even considering it was made in 1982, it has always baffled me, why it was ever such a big deal. In the 1983 C&VG Golden Joystick Awards, it got the fourth place in the Game of the Year category, and the third place for the best arcade style game. FRGCB has already featured the winner of the said awards, which was Jetpac - a well deserving winner, I should say. This one, however, didn't bring anything really new to the table, as far as I am aware, other than being compatible with the Fuller Sound Box, although it didn't utilise it to enhance the gameplay much at all. But, it did get good reviews from the magazines at the time, and currently it has a score of 7.45 from 41 votes at World of Spectrum. The C64 version came a year later, and understandably, wasn't quite as well received, and currently has a score of 5.2 with 29 votes at Lemon64. The VIC-20 version doesn't seem to have reviews or ratings anywhere, but it is said to have been a hit game on the machine as well. However they are received elsewhere, here's what I think...

Friday 21 March 2014

Raid Over Moscow (Access Software, 1984)

Originally developed for the Commodore 64 by Bruce Carver, and released by Access Software and US Gold.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum and Enterprise 128 by Platinum Productions' David Anderson, Ian Morrison and F. David Thorpe, and released by US Gold in 1985.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Ocean Software in association with Choice in 1985, and released by US Gold and Amsoft in 1985.

Converted for the Apple ][ computers by Hal Rushton, Peter Adams and Bryan Brandenburg of Sculptured Software, and released by Access Software in 1985.

Converted for the Atari 8-bit computers by Steve Coleman of Sculptured Software, and released by Access Software and US Gold in 1986.

Converted and released for the Acorn BBC Micro and Electron computers by US Gold in 1986.

Friday 14 March 2014

TWOFER #5: Action Biker + Bump, Set, Spike! (Mastertronic, 1985/86)

Action Biker (1985)

Atari 800/130 and Commodore 64 versions written by an unknown programmer ; Music by Rob Hubbard ; ZX Spectrum version written by M.J. Child

Bump, Set, Spike! (1986)

Commodore 64 version written by Ken Grant ; Title screen by Sean Grant ; Music by Rob Hubbard ; ZX Spectrum & Amstrad CPC versions written by Paul Ranson with graphics by Peter Ranson ; Spectrum title screen by Ray Owen



For a change, I will take a look at two games I have had very little experience previously. One of the reasons for doing so is because I have been requested of these two games, and the other is because it's time I educate myself further on these two questionable Mastertronic classics. For another Two-for-One comparison entry, this time I will take you back to its original form, as it was done in the first Twofer with the two Gremlin games - mostly because one of each games' versions differ so completely from the other two that I saw this as a nice opportunity to get back in that form.

Monday 10 March 2014

Rock Star Ate My Hamster (Codemasters, 1989)

Written by Colin Jones, and produced by Colin Jones with Richard and David Darling.

Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum graphics by Chris Graham. Commodore Amiga and Atari ST graphics by Chris Graham and Brian Hartley.

Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum sounds by Paul Hiley. Commodore 64 sounds by Gavin Raeburn. Commodore Amiga and Atari ST sounds by Allister Brimble and Colin Jones.

Unofficially converted for the Commodore Plus/4 by András Szigand, and released as "Rockstar Manager".



A while ago, I thought I had made my shortest comparison I am likely to ever make. Then I came up with this strange gem. So, unless I really go nuts and try to compare a text adventure, I believe this will remain the shortest entry for quite a while.

Before all the karaoke games and Guitar Hero games and Rock Band games and whatnot, there were not all that many games based in the world of music, mostly because the hardware abilities of old were not up to scratch, when it came to performing music. The first game I remember that had anything akin to having a musical instrument as your controller was a game called Quest For Fame, where you had to rock out to the tunes of Aerosmith with an electronic guitar pick of sorts. Before any of this happened, though, there were a small group of music management games - this one being most likely the most fondly remembered of them all. I might do a feature later on, listing some of the other music-based retrogames, but this one is dedicated to comparing this Codemasters classic.

Friday 7 March 2014

North & South (Infogrames, 1989)

Original development team for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST versions:
Brainstorming by Philippe Agripnidis, Stéphane Baudet, Vincent Belliard, Charles Callet, Didier Chanfray, Laurent Charbonnier, Alain Nakache and Stephen Trevallion. Coding by Alain Nakache, Stéphane Baudet and William Hennebois. Graphics by Didier Chanfray, Alain Nakache, Dominique Girou, Frédéric Bascou, Laurent Charbonnier and Sophie Cau. Music by Charles Callet and Stéphane Baudet.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles in 1990 by Infogrames. Conversion programmed by Christophe Lacaze and William Hennebois.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1990 by Kemco. (no further information)

Converted for the Commodore 64 in 1991 by Probe Software:
Coding by Daryl Bowers, Graphics by Lee Ames, Music by Jeroen Tel, Produced by Jo Bonar.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and MSX1/2 in 1991 by New Frontier:
Coding by Isidro Gilabert, Daniel Diaz, David Herrero. Graphics by Juan Jose Frutos, Alberto Jose Gonzalez and Ruben Gomez. Music by Alberto Jose Gonzalez.

Saturday 1 March 2014

Unique Games! - Part 3

Another month, another part of the Unique Games series. This time the focus is on slightly more obscure machines, such as the Commodore 16 and Plus/4 and Intellivision, because we're already on the verge of running out of interesting titles for the more common machines, and I need to regulate their appearance. Having said that, as I'm already on the third part of the series, I will take a break from writing these for a while after this one has been finished, and concentrate more on some regular comparisons, because these buggers take a lot of energy. So, let's head on before I lose my momentum.