Friday 25 December 2015

Santa's Xmas Caper (Zeppelin Games, 1990)

Developed for the Commodore 64 by Reflective Designs: Programming by Duncan Scott Kershaw, graphics by Tyne Base Computer Design, with music and sound effects by Mark Wilson.

Also written for ZX Spectrum in 1990 and Amstrad CPC in 1991: Programming by Ian Richards and graphics by John Cassells.

Yet again written for Commodore Amiga in 1992 and IBM-PC compatibles in 1993: Programming by The Chief Elf, graphics by David Taylor and Ted E. Bear.



Yeah, okay... when the credits section is so difficult to write, what can you expect from the game? Santa's Xmas Caper is not the most interesting game to end a year with, but somehow, it has the dubious honour of being a Christmas-themed game with the most conversions out there... or whatever. You already might have seen the Lazy Game Reviewer's video about this unfortunate little title, but since we're talking about two entirely different kinds of games with the same name (more or less), published by the same company, I don't really know whether this should have been a two-fer or not. But it's a Christmas special, so what the heck.

Friday 18 December 2015

Olympic Skier (Mr. Chip Software, 1983)

Originally developed and released for the unexpanded Commodore VIC-20 as "Ski Sunday" by Shaun Southern in 1983. Expanded and refined for the Commodore 64 by Shaun Southern, with loading screen by Andrew Morris. Redesigned for the Commodore 16 by Shaun Southern, and released in 1985 by Mr. Chip Software. Conversion for the Atari 8-bits based on the C64 version written by Amin Hoque, and released in 1986 by Americana Software.



The obligatory sports title for this winter season is a fairly small title from the early days of Shaun Southern's career, because I've got a more Christmas-oriented number planned for the big event of the year. Whether or not that one will be any good is another matter entirely, but now, let's focus on this one.

Saturday 12 December 2015

The Snowman (Quicksilva Ltd, 1983)

Based on the book "The Snowman" by Raymond Briggs.
Developed by David Shea for the ZX Spectrum in 1983.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Robert Harris in 1984.
Also converted for the MSX in 1984, but the credits are currently unknown.



It's time to start the 2015 Christmas season proper, and this time I shall be getting into another suggestion (or was that a request?) by a reader - I think it was Alessandro Grussu who mentioned this one last year. To be honest, I wasn't too aware of this game, until mr. Grussu suggested the game, so I had to take a proper look at it.

The World of Spectrum users have given 23 votes for their version, rating it with a total score of 7.67, which isn't too bad. At Generation-MSX, the game has 9 votes, with a rating of 4 and a half stars. Curiously, the C64 version has no scores whatsoever anywhere - the Lemon64 archive doesn't even have this game in its database, nor does MobyGames. I guess my lack of knowledge in this case mirrors the overall C64 population's, since I originally became aware of this game's existence due to extensive browsing of the WoS archive, but never paid much attention to it. So, let's see how this turns out.

Sunday 6 December 2015

FRGR #1: Afrikan Tähti (Amersoft, 1985)

Adapted for the Commodore 64 by Otso Pakarinen & Jari Heikkinen. Produced by Jouko Riikonen. Based on the board game by Kari Mannerla, originally published by Tilgmann in 1951.



Since it's been so long since I did anything Finnish-related on the blog, for this year's Finnish Independence Day, I decided to start a new series on the blog to add some more justification for the blog's title. So, the new series is called Finnish Retro Game Reviews, which features in-depth reviews of old Finnish-made games - as a kind of extension of my History of Finnish Games entries. For my first Finnish Retro Game Review, this might seem like an odd choice, but you shall find soon enough, that there is some logic here.

Monday 30 November 2015

Uridium (Hewson, 1986)

Developed and programmed by Andrew Braybrook for the Commodore 64, with music by Steve Turner. Published for the European market in 1986 by Hewson Consultants.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Dominic Robinson. Loading screen by Stephen J. Crow. Published for the European market in 1986 by Hewson Consultants.

Converted for the Atari ST by Joe Hellesen. Published for the North American market in 1986 by Mindscape.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Neil Latarche, with music by Dave Rogers. Published for the European market in 1987 by Hewson Consultants.

Converted for the Acorn BBC Micro by A.I.M. (Angus Hughes has hailed himself as the "A." part of the conversion team on YouTube.) Published for the European market in 1987 by Hewson Consultants.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by John Friedman and Joe Hellesen. Published in 1988 by Mindscape.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Graftgold. Published in 1990 by Mindscape as "The Last Starfighter".



Andrew Braybrook is a name that continues to evoke waves of nostalgia-related emotions in retrogamers, particularly of the Commodore population. His influence in the latter half of the 1980's computer gaming industry was incalculable, with games like Paradroid, Gribbly's Day Out, Alleykat, Fire & Ice, and Uridium perhaps most particularly, since it spawned so many clones with varying success. He also worked on some of the better conversions of Rainbow Islands and Ivan 'Ironman' Stewart's Super Off Road, which could well explain their home conversion statuses. Sadly, after the fall of Commodore circa 1995-96, Braybrook quit the game industry and joined an insurance company - a sad loss to be sure, but his legacy lives on.

The reason why it has taken me so long to get to work on a comparison of a Braybrook game is exactly because my respect for his games is so great that I'm still unsure whether I can make a properly fair comparison - after all, he was a Commodore programmer, and it can only be expected that his original work would best the others quite easily. But, perhaps a comparison should be made if only for the sake of giving you detailed descriptions of all the versions, and not primarily for the sake of letting a certain group of retrogamers gloat in their betterness.

Friday 20 November 2015

Jumping Jack (Imagine, 1983)

Written by Albert Ball with graphics by Stuart C. Ball. Originally released for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 16k as "Jumping Jack"

Converted for the Atari 8-bit computers by Roy B. Gibson, and for Dragon 32/64 by R.K. Lowry, and released as "Leggit!"



I wish I could say the regular service at the blog continues with a slightly lighter theme, but looks can be deceiving. Although most of us who remember Jumping Jack (or Leggit!) will remember it as a cunningly simple, but addicting little bugger, only a person determined to find every version of the game out there will notice how difficult such a task can be. So, I have given myself the freedom to only write the main comparison based on the three official Imagine Software versions, and focus on the unofficial conversions after the main event. Who knows, perhaps to some of you, the main event comes after the comparison.

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Unique Games! - Part 9

Now that the Halloween season is over again, it's time to move on to something different. And sure enough, it's been a long time coming, due to various different delays caused by real life and other obligations, but at long last, we've got another set of exclusive games, some of them hopefully even unique. This time, we've got games for mostly familiar machines, but we're going to start with a couple of consoles that haven't been featured in the series all too many times for good reasons. Here we go...

Thursday 29 October 2015

TWOFER #12: Cosmi horror!

Written for the Commodore 64 by Paul Norman. Converted for the Atari 8-bits by Vance Kozik. Published by Cosmi in 1983.

Written for the Atari 8-bits by Robert T. Bonifacio, and published by Cosmi in 1983. Re-written for the Commodore 64 by Paul Norman, and published by Cosmi in 1984.



I guess there are plenty of folks out there who have been waiting for a comparison of the original Forbidden Forest, since it has that certain sort of a status, and I think I might have mentioned it in one of the Unique Games entries when the sequel was included. Well, since it was originally supposed to be done during my first year, and I'm already doing my third one, I thought I might as well finally include it in this year's Halloween set, and couple it with another Cosmi classic. Similarly to the Elite twofer last month, it's time for another versus battle between two computers with two games for the price of one.

Tuesday 20 October 2015

Aliens - The Computer Game (Electric Dreams Software, 1987)

Developed by Software Studios: designed by Mark Eyles and produced by Jonathan Dean.

Commodore 64 version programmed by Mevlut Dinc, Steve Green, Alan Steel and Edwin Rayner. Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum versions programming, music and sound effects by Soft Machine and Pennsoft. Commodore 16 version programmed by John F. White and Greg Duddle from Mr. Micro. MSX conversion by Mr. Micro. Graphics by Saul Marchese for Focus Creative Enterprises Ltd.



While not quite as atmospheric or terrifying as the original Alien, James Cameron's action-oriented sci-fi classic left its own specific sort of mark in the Alien franchise, this time allowing for a more straightforward approach to the horrors in outer space. I have to admit to being more of a fan of the original Ridley Scott movie, but the first Alien game by Argus Press doesn't have as much of content or conversions to make for quite as interesting a comparison, so I decided to go with the more popular one of the two official games based on the movie.

Saturday 10 October 2015

NGOTM: Nanako in Classic Japanese Monster Castle (Computer Emuzone, 2007)

Based on Jose Gonzalez's original game Classic Japanese Monster Castle, released by LOKOsoft in 1991 for the ZX Spectrum 48k.

Concept, programming, graphics and sound effects by na_th_an. Originally released as freeware for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k in 2007.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by the Mojon Twins in 2009, powered by PSG Player by WYZ and cpcrslib by Artaburu. Uses Exomizer 2 decompressor for Z80 by Metalbrain.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by the Mojon Twins in 2010: Programming by Algarbi, graphics by Nathan Asshantti and Domingo Alvarez, music by Sascha Zeidler and Mikael Backlund.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX81 by the Mojon Twins in 2011: Programming and graphics by na_th_an, concept and story by the Mojon Twins, level design by Zemman, Anjuel and Jf_Jara.

Original cover art by Pagantipaco. Cover art for the ZX81 version by Anjuel.



It's been a long while since I did my last New Game Of The Month, so I figured it's time to dig up another one of these, since the single one I had on my research list was thematically suitable for October. This time, it's not a particularly NEW game as such, since we're talking about a game that was released 8 years ago already, but the word "New" in the series name implies games that were released long after the machines' commercial demise, so in that sense, the word is still valid. As for the selected game having much to do with our current Halloween theme... well, perhaps Classic Japanese Monster Castle isn't the most frightening title ever in any possible way, but I guess it wasn't really meant as such. But classic Japanese monsters? I admit that I'm really out of my league here, but I don't think a single-screen puzzle-platformer with creatures... well, a creature, to be more precise, just barely resembling some sort of monster that anyone could have made up move around without any inclination of appearing scary really fits the bill. But let's not get too much ahead of ourselves.

Monday 5 October 2015

Achievements got! - Part 4

HECK YEAH!!! The number of visits to FRGCB has passed 100,000! Again, thanks for your continued interest!

Honestly, I don't really know how this would have happened, since the previous milestone of 50,000 was reached only less than nine months ago, but most of the current count was added up during my long holiday. Perhaps I should take more longer holidays then? :-D However it happened, my gratitude goes out to all of you who have brought this up.

Friday 2 October 2015

Psycho (Box Office, Inc., 1988)

Designed for the IBM-PC compatibles by Craig Morehouse for StarSoft Development Laboratories. Programming by Scott Adams. Screenplay and graphics by Hal E. McCrery. Published by Box Office, Inc. in 1988.

Conversion for the Commodore 64 by Larry Phurrough, and released in 1988. Conversions for the Commodore Amiga and Atari ST by Henry S. Bolley with additional graphics by Frank Haug, and released in 1989.



It's time to get our Halloween theme up and running again, and take a look at a few horror-themed games. Like last year, our first entry into the realm of horror is a questionable item at best, and a computerized adaptation of a classic horror movie, but this time, I have picked a fairly unknown game to start the month with. Trust me on this, it has so far been unknown for a good reason, and it perhaps should remain as such, but people must be warned - or at least informed - of bad games. Besides, I know there are plenty of bad game enthusiasts out there, so this one should be right up their alley.

Tuesday 22 September 2015

TWOFER #11: Elite TV-Licences


Developed for the Commodore 64 by Neil A. Bate, with additional programming by Chris Harvey. Published by Elite in 1984. Converted for the ZX Spectrum in 1985 by Andy Williams. Sounds for both versions by Rory C. Green.


Credits for both versions are currently unknown. Developed for the ZX Spectrum in 1985. Conversion for the Commodore 64 released in 1986.



Once in a while, I like to back into the very beginnings of software companies, just to dig up and learn something about the history of gaming. This time, I'll be digging into the beginnings of Elite Systems Ltd. Originally the company was known by the name of its establisher - Richard Wilcox Software - under which the company released only one game: Blue Thunder, a TV-series adapted into a computer game. Bringing in a group of other people to work on new games, the company was relaunched under the name Elite Systems, later becoming best known for their massively popular home conversions of arcade hits Ghosts 'n Goblins, Buggy Boy, Commando, Paperboy and Bomb Jack.

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Encounter! (Synapse Software, 1983)

Developed for the Atari 8-bit computers in 1983 by Paul Woakes for Novagen. Originally published by Synapse Software.

Converted by Paul Woakes for the Commodore 64 in 1984, and for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1991, and released by Novagen Software Ltd.



Today's comparison was suggested by cubamanuel in the comments section of my comparison of Cybernoid, so this one's for you. Paul Woakes was a man who wasn't much for blowing his own horn, but he certainly had a huge impact on the 8-bit Atari and Commodore game developing scenes. Encounter! was his first commercial game, which quickly became a classic for good reasons. This masterpiece can boast of being one of the earliest first-person shooters, particularly as one that has an awe-inducing framerate, so it is no wonder that you can still see it spoken about with a singular sort of respect. As it well should be.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Zany Golf (Electronic Arts, 1988)

Developed by Sandcastle Productions:
Designed by Will Harvey. Programming by Jim Nitchals and Will Harvey. Graphics by Ian Gooding. Music by Douglas Fulton. Produced by Rich Adam, Roger Hector and Happy Keller. Originally released for the Apple //GS in 1988.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles, Commodore Amiga and Atari ST by Sandcastle Productions in 1988.

Converted for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive by Brett Durrett in 1990.



After the re-edit of the most recent RESET magazine article, year number three at FRGCB will begin properly with yet another classic Electronic Arts game, and one that was a solid favourite for me and some of my Amigist friends back in the early 1990's. Miniature golf in a digital format has always been a concept that would practically allow for an unimaginable number of variables, depending on your imagination, of course. Will Harvey's Zany Golf was easily the most ridiculous mini-golf game at the time, and for quite a long while afterwards, and the reception at the time of release was mostly very positive. It also became the first Apple //GS game to attract mainstream gaming market and be ported to other platforms, so it has some proper value in gaming history in a few interesting ways.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Thing On A Spring (Gremlin Graphics, 1985)

Developed by Micro Projects Engineering:
Design by Mark Rogers
Coding and graphics by Jason Perkins and Anthony Clarke
Music by Rob Hubbard
Originally released for the Commodore 64 in 1985.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Pedigree Software in 1986, with music by Ben Daglish.



Now that every RESET subscriber has their copy of the original comparison, I guess it's safe to publish the very slightly edited blog edition. (The corrected credits for the C64 original were updated on the 3rd of September, 2019, with help from the reader "Non sono Mandrake", whose source for the information was an interview in Retro Gamer magazine issue #99. Thanks again.) Gremlin's first big C64 title for 1985 came as a slightly shocking surprise, if the writers' reaction from Zzap!64's issue #4 is anything to judge something that happened 30 years ago by. Apparently, the gaming press of the time wasn't all too happy about Gremlin's earlier output on the C64. But the shock was quite a positive one, since the game was given a 93% overall score and a Sizzler award to go with it, and the main character also became a regular graphic element to be printed in the margins of Zzap!64. The Amstrad conversion came out the next year to a much lesser fanfare, but whether this was so for a good reason or not, remains to be seen.

Sunday 23 August 2015

Looking towards the third year...

Before I make a proper return from my prolonged holiday, here's an inevitable rambling about the past, present and future of the Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog. I shall begin by reviewing the past year before telling some of what you can expect from the blog in the future. This post will again feature some of those charts that show all the released versions of all the games featured on the blog so far, as well as each game's "winners", so to speak. But if you're truly interested about all that, click on, and see how I've ended up in actually starting a third year.

Friday 26 June 2015

Pirates! (MicroProse, 1987)

Originally designed and developed by Sid Meier for the Commodore 64, with: Software graphics & manual illustrations by Michael O. Haire; Scenario design & Documentation by Arnold Hendrick; Cover & map art by Rebecca Butcher; Print graphics director: Mark J. Ciola; Quality assurance: Alan Roireau.

Amstrad CPC conversion programmed by Stefan Walker, with artwork by Murray Taylor and sounds by Ken Lagace. Released in 1987.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Randall Don Masteller, with: Graphics and artwork by Michael O. Haire, Andy Hollis, Randall Don Masteller, Gregg Tavares and Murray Taylor; Music and sounds by Ken Lagace. Released in 1987.

Apple ][ conversion programmed by Ed Magnin and Tony Dahbura, with artwork by Michael O. Haire, Murray Taylor and Iris Leigh Idokogi, and sounds by Ken Lagace.

Apple //GS conversion programmed by Ed Magnin and Dan Chang, with artwork by Michael O. Haire, Murray Taylor and Max Remington, and sounds by Ken Lagace and Silas Warner. Both Apple conversions released in 1988.

Also converted for the Macintosh by the MicroProse team, and released in 1988. Further credits unknown. Also converted for the NEC PC-88 and PC-98 computers in 1989, but no further information is known.

Atari ST conversion programmed by Steve Bohrer, Russell Finn and Ken Veale, with graphics by Max D. Remington III and sounds by Ken Lagace. Released in 1989.

Commodore Amiga conversion programmed by Steve Bohrer, with graphics by Kim Biscoe and sounds by Ken Lagace. Released in 1990.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Rare Ltd. and released through Ultra Games for the North American market, and through Palcom for the European market in 1991.



For the last comparison entry for my second year of intense blogging, I have not chosen Defender of the Crown, as I originally planned (as you might have guessed from the preview picture I made last August), because it turned out to be practically impossible for me to do for various reasons. Instead, I was cornered to do one of my earliest and most frequent requests, and certainly a classic: Sid Meier's Pirates! This comparison was made within a three month period, and the resulting entry is the longest single comparison I have made so far. So, before you click on to read further, make sure you have plenty of time and refreshments at hand. Also, a word of warning: *This post is heavy on graphics, so be patient. Also, if your internet deal has a data limit, read this one elsewhere.*

Saturday 20 June 2015

Unique Games! - Part 8

It never ceases to amaze me, how many exclusive games are there on not only our favourite machines, but other consoles and computers as well. This blog has been worth doing just for digging up this sort of stuff, if not for anything else, and all the helpful comments to find new games you've never heard of more easily have made it even more worthwhile than I anticipated. As this series is already on its eighth outing (in the main series at least), it's high time I give some more attention to some of the machines that I have left for less attention after their initial visits in the series, but I will also give space for another first-timer as well.


Friday 12 June 2015

Skate or Die! (Electronic Arts, 1987)

Developed and released for the Commodore 64 by Electronic Arts: Programming by Stephen Landrum and David Bunch. Graphics by Michael Kosaka. Sound effects by Christopher Grigg. Music by Rob Hubbard and Kyle Granger. Product management by Kelly Flock. Associate producer: Don Traeger. Technical support: David Maynard. Art director: Nancy L. Wong.

Converted for the Apple //GS by David Bunch, Michael Kosaka and Michelle Shelfer, and released in 1988 by Electronic Arts.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Arti Haroutunian for Sculptured Software, and released in 1988 by Electronic Arts.

Converted and released for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Ultra Games in 1988.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Kinetic Designs team: Mike Talbot, Tim McCarthy, Doug Trower, Richard Cheek and Sarah Day. Released in 1989 by Electronic Arts.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Kinetic Designs team: Mike Talbot, Stephen Landrum, Tim McCarthy, David Bunch, Sarah Day, Drew Northcott and Richard Cheek. Released in 1989 by Electronic Arts.



Although this might look a bit dubious to feature another Electronic Arts game almost immediately after the previous one - only separated by a newer game - it's only natural that I follow my December comparison of Ski Or Die! with the original game in the series, Skate Or Die! as my extended summer break is soon about to start. For many, this is the better game of the two actual sports titles, so I'm sure some of you have been waiting for this one.

Thursday 4 June 2015

NGOTM: Sir Ababol (The Mojon Twins, 2010)

Originally developed for the ZX Spectrum 48k by the Mojon Twins: Concept and story by anjuel, maribip and zemman - Graphics by anjuel and kendrook - Programming by na_th_an - Music adapted by anjuel from the original "Romanic" MOD chiptune by Mekola - Powered by La Churrera by the Mojon Twins and splib2 by Alvin Albrecht - Originally published by Ubhres Productions in 2010.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by na_th_an in 2010.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Woodmaster in 2012, with in-game music and sound effects by Conrad/VRZ, tape loader by Enthusi, tape loader music and end screen music by Linus/VRZ.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Shiru in 2013.



Let's start this month with another entry in the New Game of the Month series. This time, we've got our second game by the Mojon Twins to compare, with our usual threesome joined by a conversion for the NES, and one other surprise.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Realm of Impossibility (Electronic Arts, 1984)

Originally designed by Mike Edwards for the 8-bit Atari, and released as "Zombies" by Bram, Inc. in 1983. Enhanced version re-titled as "Realm of Impossibility" published by Electronic Arts in 1984. Music for the 1984 version by Dave Warhol.

Converted for the Commodore 64 in 1984 by Mike Edwards and Henry S. Bolley, with music by Dave Warhol.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum 48k by Mike Edwards and published by Ariolasoft in 1985.

Converted for the Apple ][ computers by Marek Popiel, and published by Electronic Arts in 1986.



I know, I know - I was supposed to do a big one for the end of this month, but I realised about a week before my self-set deadline that I wouldn't be able to make it, because the comparison I was working on was just too big for that. But I will get that done as soon as possible, which will probably be about a month from now. To make up for it, I have chosen to do something completely unexpected, and I hope this will be one of those that will make people more interested about an often forgotten game. Who knows, perhaps this IS a big one for some of you.

Tuesday 19 May 2015

Cybernoid - The Fighting Machine (Hewson, 1988)

Designed by Raffaele Cecco and Nick Jones for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC. Programming by Raffaele Cecco. Music by J. Dave Rogers.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Nicholas A. Jones, with graphics by Hugh Binns and music by Jeroen Tel.

Converted for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga by Tony Cooper. Graphics for the Amiga version by Stephen Robertson, and for the ST version by Stephen Robertson and Tony West.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Chris Harvey with artwork by Adrian Carless. Published by Acclaim Entertainment in 1989.



This month's already half-way through and we're only getting to the second entry now. And it should be an interesting one, since it's the first comparison from a Hewson game - kind of surprising it took me this long to get here, but there you go. Cybernoid was always a C64 game for me due to the awesome Jeroen Tel soundtrack, but then I have never really played any of the other versions, so it's about time I took a proper look at them. I'm aware that Retro Sanctuary has made a comparison of Cybernoid a long time ago, but it doesn't feature the 16-bit versions in it, and besides, this will be a different view of the game anyway.

Saturday 9 May 2015

Barbarian: The Ultimate Warrior (Palace Software, 1987)

Developed and released for the Commodore 64 by Palace Software: Programming by Stanley Schembri, Designed by Steven Brown, Music by Richard Joseph, Artistic assistance by Gary Carr.
Released by Epyx in the USA as "Death Sword".

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Andrew Fitter in 1987; for the ZX Spectrum by Shaun Griffiths in 1987; for the Atari ST by Gary Thomson of Seer Computer Systems in 1988; for the Acorn Electron and BBC Micro by Peter Scott of Superior Software in 1988; for the Commodore Amiga by Richard Leinfellner in 1988; for the Apple ][ and IBM-PC compatibles by Designer Software in 1988.

Unofficial conversions for the Commodore Plus/4 by Muffbusters and SF in 1990: Muffbusters version programming, graphics and sounds by Mucsi, with title screen by Jeva. SF version by Ferenc S.

Conversion for the Atari 8-bits released by Laboratorium Komputerowe Avalon (L.K. Avalon) in 1993: Programming by Piotr Pazdzierkiewicz, Graphics by Piotr Podsiadlo, Music by Jakub Husak.



I have been meaning to do a comparison of Palace Software's Barbarian for a long time now, but due to various reasons and excuses that I have allowed myself to make, there just hasn't been a moment so far that felt right for this one. Make of it what you will, but the time is now. On April Fools' Day 2015, I had finally begun to work on this one, so you can imagine it's one of those super long ones again, so prepare yourself with plenty of coffee. Making a comparison of Barbarian was never a suggestion, but I know many of my friends enjoyed this game back in the day, and long after that time, so this one goes for all those friends that I got around to playing Barbarian with.

Wednesday 29 April 2015

NGOTM: Teodoro no sabe volar (Retroworks, 2010)

Designed for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computers by Fco. Javier Velasco (Pagantipaco)

SPECTRUM CREDITS: Programming, graphics and music by Fco. Javier Velasco. Additional programming by Jaime Tejedor and Javier Peña. Sound engine by Jonathan Smith. Music engine by Beepola. Translation by Jaime Tejedor and Yuri Potapov. Testing by José Juan Rodenas, Javier Ortiz, Iván Sánchez and Sandro Mestre.

MSX CREDITS: Original idea, design and graphics by Fco. Javier Velasco. Programming and additional graphics by José Vila Cuadrillero. Sound engine, music and sound effects by José Vicente Masó.

AMSTRAD CREDITS: Original idea and design by Fco. Javier Velasco. Programming by José Vila Cuadrillero. Graphics, Screen and Loader by David Donaire Sánchez. Sound engine, music and sound effects by José Vicente Masó.

MSX & AMSTRAD: Translation by Jaime Tejedor. Testing by David Donaire, José Juan Rodenas, Javier Peña, Jaime Tejedor, Manuel Pazos and Fran.

Released originally for the ZX Spectrum 48k and 128k in 2010 as English and Spanish versions.
Russian translation for the ZX Spectrum released in 2011.
The Amstrad and MSX versions released in 2012.



It's time to take another more recent game under inspection, and this time we've got one that hasn't got a C64 version (holey moley, that's the second non-C64 entry in a row!), at least not yet, nor does it have an official English title, so that's a first one. Also, this is a game that has sort of escaped my noticed so far, for some reason, so the first time I will be playing this one will be for the blog.

Friday 24 April 2015

Alley Cat (Synapse Software, 1983)

Original concept by John Harris. Written by Bill Williams for the Atari 8-bit computers in 1983.
Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Bill Williams, and published by IBM in 1984.

Also converted for the NEC PC-8801, and published by Kotobuki-Raison in 1985. Further credits are unknown.



This came out as a suggestion a while back, but since the bulk of the blog's readership is mostly C64 and Spectrum-based, for a long time I thought it wouldn't serve much purpose in doing a comparison about a game that wasn't released for either of those, nor even the Amstrad. But Alley Cat has a curious status of being one of the most widespread DOS games, at least in Finland, but I suspect it's probably so all around the world, and most of retrogamers know it through that connection, even if most of their gaming history is related to some other computer. So, while all of the machines included in this comparison are often featured on the blog, this is the first time ever, that the Atari 8-bit or IBM-PC's are not put against their arch nemesis - or is that nemesi in plural? Anyway, this one goes out to that certain anonymous reader who suggested the game in a comment a few months ago, as well as all you others who have Alley Cat somehow included in your gaming history. (And sorry about the cover picture - I couldn't find a scan of the original anywhere.)

Monday 20 April 2015

Scumball (Mastertronic/Bulldog Software, 1988)

Produced for the ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 by Software Creations.

Written by Peter Gough for the ZX Spectrum.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Martin Howarth, with graphics by Tiny and music by Tim Follin.



For RESET magazine's sixth issue's Format Wars article, I had chosen to write about budget game publisher Mastertronic's final release under the Bulldog sub-label - Scumball. At least in my mind, it has to be one of the most memorable budget titles of all time, and I'm sure it is so to many others as well. Although clearly a cousin to Ultimate's Underwurlde from 1984 and Bubble Bus' Starquake from 1985, Scumball was more accessible due to the initially much lighter price tag and a more easily memorizable map. At the time of release, Crash gave the Spectrum version a very respectable 81%, and shortly after, Zzap!64 gave the C64 version 79%, so that alone should make you expect a rather tight comparison.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Unique Games! - Part 7

It's been well over three months since I did the previous proper entry in this series, so it's about time I did another one. This time, the list will be featuring mostly familiar items for many, but some surprises, some properly strange titles and a new machine to introduce to the UG hall of fame - a machine that celebrated its 20th anniversary just last year, and for some reason, the occasion went by unnoticed for many. But let's save that one for the last, now let's get on with some more exclusive and sometimes even actually unique games!

Sunday 5 April 2015

O'Riley's Mine (Datasoft, 1983)

Written by Mark Riley for the Atari 8-bit computers.
Converted for the Commodore 64 by Al Rubin with additional graphics by Kelly Day.
Converted for the Apple ][ by Larry Lewis.
All three versions published in 1983 by Datasoft.

Converted for the Commodore 16/Plus4 by Doug Turner for British Software, and published by Mastertronic in 1986 as "Prospector Pete".



While trying to decide for something light and easy to start April with, my decision was set due to two things. First and foremost, the World of Spectrum forums are still offline, so I can't advertise anything Spectrum-oriented at the moment. Secondly, the letter 'O' looked a bit boring with only two games, one of which is officially useless. So, let's start this month with another Datasoft title, a company I haven't revisited since last September.

Monday 30 March 2015

Rick Dangerous (Rainbird/MicroPlay, 1989)

Developed by Core Design Ltd.

Coding by Simon Phipps. Graphics by Simon Phipps and Terry Lloyd. Music and sound effects by Ben Daglish, David Pridmore, Simon Phipps and Terry Lloyd. Other miscellaneous bits by Bob Churchill, Rob Toone, Simon Phipps and Terry Lloyd.

AMSTRAD CPC conversion by David Pridmore. COMMODORE 64 conversion by Stuart Gregg with music by David Pridmore. DOS conversion by David Pridmore and Stuart Gregg, with art by Terry Lloyd. SINCLAIR ZX SPECTRUM conversion by Terry Lloyd. Published for the European market by Firebird Software Ltd., and for the North American market by MicroPlay Software in 1989.

Unofficial conversion for the MSX2 by Paragon Productions in 1992. Another unofficial conversion for the ACORN ARCHIMEDES by The Hitmen Software in 1995. Remade for the 128k AMSTRAD CPC+ computers in 2009 by Carl-Stephane Berquez, BDC Iron and MacDeath.



One of the most important platforming games of the late 80's was born alongside the hype of what was at the time supposedly final part in the series of Indiana Jones movies - the Last Crusade. Rick Dangerous did what hadn't been properly done before: it brought the action aspect of Indiana Jones successfully into computer games - much more so than Montezuma's Revenge. All the official Indy games had been more or less half-arsed attempts, but Rick Dangerous was made as a humorous, although playable and challenging tribute to everyone's favourite archaeologist. The style of the game was familiar to most 80's gamers, of course, since most of Core Design, the team behind the game, had been former employees of Gremlin Graphics. Such a success the game turned out to be, that it spawned not only a sequel, but worked as the basic blueprint for the same company's greater success formula in Tomb Raider. But let's focus on the original, shall we.

Sunday 22 March 2015

LED Storm (Capcom, 1988)

Planned by Piston Takashi and Tomoshi Sadamoto. Designed by Tomoshi Sadamoto. Programming by N. Kaneko, Akikoro, Ken.Ken and Maekawa. Character Design by K. Ashenden. Graphics by Puttun.midori, Inu and Innocent Saicho. Sounds by Ogeretsukun. Hardware design by Masayan.

Released into the arcades worldwide in 1988 as "LED Storm Rally 2011", and into the Japanese arcades as "Mad Gear" in 1989.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Software Creations: Coding by Dean Belfield, Graphics by Wayne Blake and John Tatlock, Music and sound effects by Tim Follin, Published by Go! in 1988.

Converted for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga by Software Creations: Coding by David J. Broadhurst, Graphics by Andrew R. Threlfall, Music driver code by Mike Follin, Music and sound effects by Tim Follin, Published in the USA by Capcom and worldwide by Go! in 1988.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Software Creations: Coding by Mike Follin, Graphics by John Tatlock and Andrew R. Threlfall, Music and sound effects by Tim Follin, Published by Go! in 1988.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Software Creations: Coding by Stephen Ruddy, Graphics by Andrew R. Threlfall and Mark Wilson, Music and sound effects by Tim Follin, Published in the USA by Capcom and worldwide by Go! in 1989.



There seems to be a focus on racing games currently on the blog, although some of it is purely coincidental. This time, the comparison stems from another request/suggestion made by slenkar at the World of Spectrum forums a few months ago, but I confess racing games usually make for easier writing, which is one of the reasons I chose to do this one now. So, hopefully this meets your approval.

Thursday 12 March 2015

TWOFER #10: Racing Special!

John Anderson's Rally Speedway

Written for the Atari 8-bits and Commodore 64 by John Anderson. Released for the Atari 8-bits through Adventure International in 1983, and for the Commodore 64 through Commodore International in 1984.

The Great American Cross-Country Road Race

Written for the Atari 8-bits by Alex DeMeo. Converted for the Commodore 64 by Alex DeMeo and Kevin Kalkut. Converted for the Apple ][ by Ivan Manley for Synergistic Software Inc. Published by Activision in 1985.



Because of the current controversies with Top Gear, I got myself in a bit of a racing mode, so decided to hurry up my work on this two-for-one entry, which is another thematic one, similarly to the last couple of twofers. Actually, my original idea was doing another Format Wars article for the RESET magazine about Rally Speedway, but I had already done a versus battle against the Atari too recently, so I took a long and hard thought about what should I lump to go with it. Another John Anderson game would have been a great choice, but since Arex was just barely available for the C64, and it could only be played with a lightpen of all things, I went for a more comfortable choice instead, and took another racing game, which I had at some point considered for Format Wars: The Great American Cross-Country Road Race (a bit of a mouthful, isn't it?) from Activision. Both games have something else in common to make it even more fitting for a twofer, but more on that later on.

Thursday 5 March 2015

Firepower (MicroIllusions, 1988)

Created and designed by Baron Reichart Kurt von Wolfsheild. Coding by William A. Ware. Produced by Silent Software, Inc. for the Commodore Amiga in 1987, and released by MicroIllusions in 1988.

Converted for the IBM-PC compatibles by Mark Snow. Released by MicroIllusions in 1988.

Converted for the Apple //GS by Stephen P. Lepisto. Converted for the Commodore 64 by Stephen C. Biggs and Ken Grant with graphics by Les Pardew. Released by MicroIllusions in 1989.

Some sources (Wikipedia and MobyGames) claim that a version also exists for the Atari ST, but none of the major Atari websites support this claim. Also, unreleased versions were reportedly made for the Macintosh Classic and WebTV. This article will not talk about those - you can find all the necessary information on Wikipedia.



Let's start this month on another foot, and focus on the 16-bits for a change. Somehow, Firepower (or "Fire Power" as it is written on the cover) was one of the most widely circulated Amiga games in my area at the turn of the decade. I don't think any of us ever really saw the game as anything more than a pirated copy, and it seems that most people on the internet have had a similar acquaintance with the game, because hunting down a good cover picture took more time than it has ever done for any game on this blog previously. There is one problem with the game that makes it less attractive for the collectors who collect games to play: it's basically a two-player game. Also, the game is surprisingly rare as an original MicroIllusions release for any machine, and the CDS re-releases look hideous enough that no-one but the most obsessed collectors would think of adding it to their collection.

Saturday 28 February 2015

SPECIAL: Music-themed games!

It seems like such a long time ago already, when I made a comparison of Rock Star Ate My Hamster - one of the best known music management games. So I got around thinking, it's about time that I should take a dive into the deep end of this corner of gaming, and take a quicker look at a bunch of other music-based games. Since there wouldn't be much sense in making this into a Unique Games entry, because there aren't that many either unique or exclusive music-themed games around, we're going to have a look at all the music-themed games that I can find within a reasonable time limit, regardless of their platform and style. Whether the games are management simulators, arcade games, action games or whatever, they will be covered here. Without a doubt, some of them will be left out, because my patience for doing research has some limits, but at least most of the games somehow connected to music from before the age of Guitar Hero and Rock Band games will be featured. If you have any more suggestions for this list, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page. (EDIT: The suggested new additions will be added to the bottom of the list in the order they are given.)

Monday 23 February 2015

Rambo: First Blood Part II (Ocean Software, 1985)

Developed by Platinum Productions.

ZX Spectrum version by David J. Anderson, with loading screen by F. David Thorpe; produced by Jon Woods. Released in 1985.

Commodore 64 version: Programming by David Collier, Tony Pomfret and Bill Barna; Graphics by Tony Pomfret and David Collier; Loading screen by Stephen Wahid; Music and sound effects by Martin Galway. Released in 1986.

Amstrad CPC version: Programming by J.E. Cosby and Colin Gordon; Loading Screen by C. Thornton; Graphics by Steve Calvert, Jim Bagley and Craig Houston; Music and sound effects by Jims DX. Released in 1986.



It's been a long time since I did my first Stallone game comparison, so it's about time I made another one. And this one, I suspect, is one of the more expected ones, because anyone who grew up in the eighties with one of our three main competitors will very likely have played at least one version of Rambo: First Blood Part II - the first game based on the famous Rambo movie series. Some of us have been so fortunate to even having played or owned two different versions of it. The reasons for the game's relatively wide exposure could be more or less dependant on where you lived, but the truth is, Sylvester Stallone was big back then. Really big. Probably even bigger than Schwarzenegger. And the 1980's were the not only the golden age of high voltage action movies, but also the timeframe, during which big game publishing companies were born and movie licences in video and computer games were a fresh novelty. Before Rambo: First Blood Part II, I really cannot think of any bigger budget movie licence games for home computers, apart from Ghostbusters, and now was the time for publishers to spend more money on selling their products. Young gamers who idolized Stallone was an idiot-proof combination, and so Rambo proved to be one of the biggest successes of the year.

Saturday 14 February 2015

Savage (Firebird, 1988)

Developed by Probe Software for the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum: Programming by David Perry - Graphics by Nick Bruty - Additional graphics for the Spectrum version by Alan Tomkins - Music by Jason C. Brooke and David Shea - Additional sounds for the Spectrum version by David Whittaker.

Converted for the Commodore 64: Programming by Grant Harrison - Graphics by Steve Crow - Title screen by Paul Docherty - Music by Jeroen Tel.

Converted for the Atari ST: Programming by Tim Moore - Graphics by Nick Bruty - Music by Jason C. Brooke.

Converted for the Commodore Amiga in 1989: Programming by Chris Long and Tim Moore - Graphics by A. Aquero and Alan Tomkins - Music by Kevin Collier.

Converted for IBM-PC compatibles in 1989: Programming by Brian O'Shaughnessy and David McKibbin - Graphics by Alan Tomkins - Music by Jason C. Brooke.



The blog is back, and we're starting this shortened month by fulfilling another request to appease the Amstrad folks. Again, we have a Probe game on our hands, and this one started its life apparently on the Amstrad, although some sources like to claim that the Spectrum was the original platform. Whatever the case, both parties seem to think well of the game. I'll be honest: I wasn't very familiar with the game beyond the first level on perhaps two versions, so I knew beforehand that I would be faced with not a little bit of work, but judging by the people that have been involved with the game on different platforms, this seemed like another potentially interesting comparison.

Friday 30 January 2015

Montezuma's Revenge (Parker Brothers, 1984)

Developed by Utopia Software
Concept by Mark Sunshine
Written by Robert Jaeger for the Atari 800 in 1983.

Squeezed into 16k from Jaeger's 48k code by Chase Sebor and Bob Halliday, and published by Parker Brothers in 1984 for the Atari 5200 and Atari 8-bit family computers. Also converted and published by Parker Brothers in 1984 for the Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Commodore 64 and IBM-PC compatibles. Converted for the Apple ][ computers by Parker Brothers and published by BCI Software in 1984.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum in 1984 by Amazon Systems, and published by Parker Brothers and Sinclair Research Ltd in 1984 as "Panama Joe".

Re-developed and published for the Sega Master System by Parker Brothers in 1989.

Unofficial MSX conversion based on the ColecoVision version by Muffie of ICON Games in 2008.
Unofficial ZX Spectrum 128k remake "Preliminary Monty" was programmed by Andrew Zhiglov in 2009.
Official remake for the iOS by Jim Pavloff in 2012.

Monday 26 January 2015

Achievements got! - Part 3

The number of visits to FRGCB has passed 50,000! Thank you for your continued interest!

Yes indeed, half of a hundred thousand has been passed, and this achievement was actually gotten on the 25th of this month (January), so I'm actually a bit late in announcing this momentuous occasion. Also, the comparison entry for The Goonies games (posted just a little less than a year ago) was the first one to cross the 1,000 views line! If I recall correctly, this one happened on the 14th of January. Closely behind on the 2nd place is the first part of A History Of Finnish Games - brilliant! And what's still more, this post is my 100th post on the blog, so there's another milestone right there.

Now, although I'm currently working on a comparison I hinted about in August, I'm not entirely certain whether or not I will be able to post it before February, at the beginning of which there will be some sort of a break in posting anything due to some personal matters. So it might take a week or two before I can start posting again. I'll get back on the blog as soon as I'm able to - hopefully within the next two weeks, but I can't promise anything. See you when the time allows. =)

Sunday 25 January 2015

TWOFER #9: Pinball Special!

David's Midnight Magic (Brøderbund Software, Inc., 1981)

Designed and programmed by David Snider for the Apple ][ in 1981.
Converted by David Snider and released for the Atari 8-bits in 1982.
Converted by Martin Kahn for the Commodore 64 in 1983.
Converted by SystemSoft for the NEC PC-8801, PC-9801 and PC-6001/6601 in 1984.

Unofficial conversion for the Commodore Plus/4 by Imre Szabo, and released as freeware in 1987.
Redesigned and programmed by Glenn Axworthy for the Atari 2600 in 1987, and released by Atari as "Midnight Magic".

Night Mission Pinball (subLOGIC, 1982)

Designed and programmed by Bruce A. Artwick for the Apple ][, Atari 8-bits, Commodore 64 and IBM-PC compatibles in 1982.

Commodore 64 version extra credits:
Sound effects by Sue Kiefstad
Disk system by David Denhart

Unofficial conversion for the Commodore Plus/4 by Mucsi of Muffbusters in 1990.

Monday 19 January 2015

Dropzone (U.S. Gold, 1984)

Written by Archer MacLean for the Atari 8-bits and Commodore 64, and originally released through U.S. Gold.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System and Game Boy by Eurocom Developments Ltd., and published by Mindscape in 1992. Music for the NES version by Neil Baldwin.

Converted for the Sega Game Gear by Codemasters in 1994. Further credits currently unknown.

Rewritten for the Nintendo Game Boy Color by Awesome Play, based on the Game Boy version:
Produced by Dave Wolowitz, James Daly, Lisa Koch and Russell Ballenger - Art and Design Management by Lenny O'Donnell - Art, animation and modelling by Bethany Pawluk and Scott Grimando - QA Management by Carol Caracciolo - Published by Acclaim in 1999.



This year certainly starts off strong regarding requests and suggestions, this being the second game in a row of such. It's also the second one in a row of requests from dedicated forums, in which the requested game isn't available for the machine the community forums are dedicated for, which is a bit peculiar. Anyway, this particular suggestion was originally made by a World of Spectrum forum user by the name of ewgf, so this one goes for you and anyone else who has been waiting for an entry on an Archer MacLean title.

Monday 12 January 2015

Hard Drivin' (Atari Games/Domark, 1989)

Original game design by Rick Moncrief, Max Behensky, Jed Margolin, Stephanie Mott and Eric Durfey, all of whom made various other things at the side. Original graphics by Sam Comstock, Kris Moser and Deborah Short. Additional programming by Gary Stark, Mike Albaugh and Ed Rotberg. Music by Don Diekneite.

Hard Drivin' was conceived, designed, engineered and built in the USA and Ireland by the Hard Drivin' Atari Applied Research Group. You can find the full list of credits for the original arcade version here at MobyGames.

Incredibly, the second game on FRGCB to require a separate list of credits is another game from Atari Games, which started its life in the arcades. Naturally, as with Toobin', the home conversion was again made by Tengen and published by Domark. Although I'm sure most of you readers already know how that turned out, I for one haven't played all the versions yet, so I'm a bit curious about this. So, click on to start with the credits, and then proceed to the actual introduction...

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Unique Games! - Part 6

Once again, Happy New Year, readers! As promised, 2015 will begin with the first proper Unique Games entry in a long while, even though the previous entry in the series was written less than a month ago. We will start the year off with a list of mostly unique and/or exclusive familiar titles for mostly familiar machines, and save the more obscure ones for the later entries to keep things more interesting. So, without further ado, let's get on with it...