Wednesday 28 December 2022

Unique Games! - The Second Encore (Part 12)

Well, I guess five years is long enough a break in the lifetime of this blog to bring back its most interesting series for a one-off. If you don't remember what the Unique Games series was all about, the idea still continues to be, for the duration of this one more bonus chapter, to list a bunch of games that were not only at least a little bit unique in their presentation or style of gameplay, but also completely exclusive for the platform it was released on. Some mistakes were made in the course of the original 11 parts of the series, so I'm not exactly expecting this list to be completely accurate, since internet sources are too numerous and often contradicting in their information to have a 100% chance at getting everything correct here. But anyway, with this second encore entry of Unique Games!, I bid you another happy Christmas and a better next year!

Tuesday 6 December 2022

TWOFER #24: Aasipelit Special!

1. Juhannussauna 2016

Programming and graphics by Arto4000. Music, sounds and cover art by Nutshell. Originally published for the NES by Aasipelit in 2016.

2. Juhannusolumppialaiset 2017

Programming and graphics by Arto4000. Music, sounds and cover art by Nutshell. Originally published for the NES by Aasipelit in 2017.

Commodore 64 versions written by Joonas Niinistö. Juhannussauna C64 published by SopuisaSopuli in 2020, and Juhannusolumppialaiset C64 published in 2021.



Happy Finnish Independence Day 2022, everybody! This is going to be a really short one, because this comparison was made first and foremost as a "wing it" kind of a video test for both versions of both games, and also featuring Aasipelit's third game, written in honour of Finland's 100th Anniversary of Independence five years ago. That game will not be mentioned in this text, but there's plenty of footage in the video below. So, without further ado, check out the video below, before you continue any further.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Buggy Boy (Tatsumi/Taito, 1985)

Developed by Tatsumi Electronics Co. Ltd., and published by Taito Corp. for the arcades in 1985.
Published in North America as "Speed Buggy" by Data East.

Amstrad CPC version written by Andrew G. Williams, with graphics by Peter Tattersall. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1987.

Commodore 64 version written by Dave Thomas, with graphics by Bob Thomas. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1987, and as "Speed Buggy" in North America by Data East in 1988.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version designed by Dented Design: Programming by Maz H. Spork, Graphics by Paul D. Walker, Music by Mark Cooksey. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1988.

Atari ST version written by Martin W. Ward, with music and sound effects by Jason C. Brooke. Published by Elite Systems Ltd., and as "Speed Buggy" in North America by Data East in 1988.

Commodore Amiga version written by Martin W. Ward and Richard Frankish. Published by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1988, and as "Speed Buggy" in North America by Elite Systems Ltd. in 1989. (North American release distributed by Keypunch Software).



It's been a while since the blog featured a game from Elite, a publisher that had a strong presence in my gaming youth, and the last comparison from a game from Elite's catalogue was posted in August 2017 - that being Overlander, a game that cannot honestly be considered one of Elite's finest. So, it's high time to finally do a comparison of my all-time favourite game release from Elite on the Commodore 64.

Monday 31 October 2022

Hunchback (Century Electronics, 1983)

Developed and released for the arcades by Century Electronics in 1983.

Commodore 64 conversion written by Jon Steele, and published by Ocean Software in 1983.

Tangerine Oric-1 & Atmos conversion written by Philip Hulme, and published by Ocean Software in 1983.

Acorn Electron and BBC Micro conversions written by J.M. Dyson, and published by Superior Software in 1984.

Dragon 32/64 conversion written by Béla S. (Bill) Barna, and published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Commodore VIC-20 conversion written in-house at Ocean Software, with no details ever disclosed. Published by Ocean Software in 1984.

MSX conversion by Paul Carter, and published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum conversion by Christian Urquhart, with loading screen by Frederick David Thorpe, and published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Amstrad CPC conversion written by Christian Urquhart for Ocean, and published by Amsoft in 1985.

Unofficial conversion for IBM-PC compatibles written by Robert Schmidt, and published by Fireball Software Ltd. in 1988.

Another unofficial conversion was written for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A by Joe Morris, and published by Retrospect Games in 2021.

Cover artwork for the Ocean Software release by Bob Wakelin.

Also written for the Atari 8-bit computers by Steven MacIlwee for Ocean Software, but was unreleased. A prototype is available online, but the year of conversion is not indicated.



I would hazard a guess, that one of the earliest gaming memories for any 80's child would have been Hunchback, or any of its unofficial variants, since it was an arcade classic ported to almost every imaginable 8-bit home computer during the first half of the decade. I certainly got to experience Hunchback on the three main 8-bit platforms of my childhood, but principally on the Commodore 64, since that's what I, and most of my friends had in our area.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

Daley Thompson's Decathlon (Ocean Software, 1984)


Written by Paul Owens and Christian Urquhart for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, with loading screen by F. David Thorpe.
Published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Commodore 64 version:
Programming by David A. Collier, Bill Barna and Tony Pomfret.
Music by David Dunn.
Published by Ocean Software in 1984.

Amstrad CPC version by Choice Software, and published by Ocean Software in 1985.



After years of waiting, it is now possible for me to do a reliable comparison of one of these joystick-killing sports games that have been sorely missing from the archives of FRGCB. The reason for this is, that I finally have an actual Amstrad CPC in my collection, as well as a Sinclair ZX Spectrum and a Commodore 64, and because in my experience, emulation hasn't been accurate enough to get a realistic sense of how each version plays. Now, Daley Thompson's Decathlon has been made possible to compare from the trilogy, and therefore, has the honour of starting our Ocean October of 2022.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Jack the Nipper II Coconut Capers (Gremlin Graphics, 1987)

Game concept by Greg Holmes

Programming and sprite graphics by Greg Holmes
Other graphics by Terry Lloyd
Music by Ben Daglish
Odds & Ends by David K. Pridmore, Andrew Green, Chris Shrigley and Robert Toone

MSX version:
Programming by Greg Holmes, Andrew Green and David K. Pridmore
Graphics by Terry Lloyd and Andrew Green
Musical bits by Ben Daglish, Greg Holmes and David K. Pridmore

AMSTRAD CPC version:
Programming and sprite graphics by Greg Holmes
Additional programming by David K. Pridmore
Other graphics by Terry Lloyd
Music by Ben Daglish

COMMODORE 64 version:
Programming by Andrew Green
Graphics by Terry Lloyd
Music by Ben Daglish
Assistance by Rob and Chris

All versions published by Gremlin Graphics in 1987.



Some time ago, a reader observed that a game featured on this blog, that would have a series of other games to look into, are rarely featured as more than footnotes at the end of the comparison at hand. This is true enough for good reasons, as most games that would have a larger series to choose comparisons from, are usually too similar to be bothered with. There have been exceptions to this rule, such as the Epyx sports games series, Blue Max (the sequel was handled with the original in a two-fer), the Way of the Exploding Fist (Fist II was compared first), two Horace games were also compared as a two-fer, Saboteur and its sequel also had a two-fer entry; and now, the comparison of Jack the Nipper from 2013 shall finally have its companion, even though back then, I solemnly swore not to do this one, because I'm utterly bollocks at it.

Thursday 4 August 2022

Lazy Jones (Terminal Software, 1984)

Designed and written by David Whittaker for the Commodore 64 in 1984.
Ported to Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Simon Cobb in 1984.
Ported to the MSX computers and Tatung Einstein by David Whittaker in 1985.
All versions published by Terminal Software.



Time for another lightweight comparison again, this time a cult classic that most C64 and Spectrum gamers seem to know, even though it could hardly be called a hit game. Lazy Jones was, however, the most successful game released by Terminal Software, and is one of the most memorable games from that time period for those who have ever had the chance to experience it - regardless of when they experienced it. With this game, FRGCB will have its first comparison featuring the rare and neglected Tatung Einstein, and with a 99% possibility, will also remain the last.

Sunday 24 July 2022

Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off-Road (Leland Corporation, 1989) - Part 2

Let's start Part 2 with a confession: I rarely do ragequits with any game, particularly with retrogames, but during the making of this comparison, I ended up ragequitting Super Off-Road a considerable number of times on various versions. Not because it's unfair - though it certainly is at times - but rather because some of the versions become practically unplayable after reaching a certain level, that I had to re-write parts of the first part of the comparison a few times to feel comfortable with it. Also, in the making of this comparison, I did some considerable harm to my keyboard, necessitating to buy a new one, but the harm was necessitated by breadcrumbs under the backspace key. Oh well.

If you didn't read Part 1 of the comparison of Super Off-Road from last week, it should be noted that all things concerning the game's playability in its different variations was dealt with in that post. As it really is the more important bit in this comparison, I urge you to read that before reading Part 2. If you don't care as much about the gameplay, or have read the first part already, then feel free to continue.

Sunday 17 July 2022

Ivan "Ironman" Stewart's Super Off-Road (Leland Corporation, 1989) - Part 1


Now quite a long time ago, a request was made by a reader who commented by the name "The Gambler" to write a comparison of one of my all-time favourite arcade racing games that has been ported to pretty much all the major computers and consoles at the time. As Super Off-Road had been on my to-do list for a long time already, I decided to tackle it now, because there's already a video comparison of it on YouTube from Gaming History Source - which will naturally be linked at the end of the comparison. Despite of that, Super Off-Road proved to be such a large undertaking, that I'm going to split this comparison in two parts - the first time doing so since I did the Epyx sports games comparisons many years ago.

Because there are so many versions of Super Off-Road, and so many different people working on most different versions, it was necessary to write this pre-amble, and do a separate Credits section for a change. Hold on to your cowboy hats and click to read on!

(Note: The entire comparison just went under slight maintenance due to neglect in checking for proper information on the release dates. The originally mentioned 1994 release date for the Sega Megadrive/Genesis version was suggested by MobyGames.)

Monday 27 June 2022

Dizzy (Codemasters, 1987)

Spectrum and Amstrad versions:
Design and programming by Philip & Andrew Oliver
Graphics by James Wilson
Music by Jon-Paul Eldridge

Commodore 64 conversion written by Ian Gray with music by David Whittaker.

Originally published for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC by Codemasters in 1987.
Commodore 64 version published by Codemasters in 1988.



Despite Codemasters being an enormous entity in the life of gamers for over 35 years now, the company hasn't been represented here on the Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog enough, so I gathered it was high time to correct this imbalance. The game chosen for this job was the first game in a series that would eventually become a full-blown franchise for all the major home computers at the time, and practically give these machines the first recognizable mascot since Horace, Miner Willy and Wally Week. The notable difference was, of course, that Dizzy had actual facial expressions to make the character have an actual personality than being merely another sprite with no clear defining characteristics.

Monday 13 June 2022

Splat! (Incentive Software, 1983)

Originally written for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Ian Andrew and Ian Morgan, and published by Incentive Software in 1983.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Ian Andrew and Steve Zodiac, and published by Incentive Software in 1984.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Ian Andrew and Paul Shirley, and published by Amsoft in 1985.

Converted for the SAM Coupé by Colin Jordan, with music by Colin Jordan and František Fuka, and digitized speech by Edwin Blink. Published by Revelation Software in 1991.



After last month's mayhem with Mastertronic games, I wanted to start off this summer with something less demanding, but which would offer something rare for the blog. In the case of Splat!, the rare element is a SAM Coupé version of the game, which I found when doing research for Endless Forms Most Beautiful. I didn't find Splat! until after emulation had arrived, but it has still been a favourite of mine for over 20 years now (it did get featured in one of My Nostalgia Trip Games episodes), so I decided to have a look at all its official versions before the game's 40th anniversary.

Tuesday 31 May 2022

SPECIAL: Mastertronic Exclusives

For many years, I've been thinking about writing about games by some of my favourite publishers that aren't particularly unique, and don't really fit in elsewhere because of their general nature of being kind of mediocre, but should probably be mentioned in some context anyway. So, finally, I figured I could replace the Unique Games series with a new one, and write just about games exclusively released on a certain platform by the chosen publisher (or perhaps include games that were only released on two very similar platforms), and since this month has been dedicated to Mastertronic games since 2020, what better time to start this new tradition, particularly as there's a Mastertronic book coming out later this year.

Tuesday 17 May 2022

Milk Race (Mastertronic, 1987)

Developed by Icon Design Ltd.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version by Phil Berry and Stuart Ruecroft.
Atari 8-bit version by Paul D. Marshall with music by Tony Williams.
Music for other versions by David Whittaker.
No other credits are known.

Published by Mastertronic for the Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit computers, Commodore 64, MSX and Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1987.

The C64 version was also re-released in North America as "Ten Speed" in 1988 by Mastertronic.



Another 1987 game from Mastertronic gets a comparison, but this time I chose Milk Race because of its sadly underutilised genre: cycling. I have always been a big fan of cycling in general, and racing bicycles and BMX bikes have rarely gotten the kind of high quality games they deserve. I'm not completely sure, whether Milk Race actually fits the bill, but at least it's one of the rare cycling games that can actually be made a comparison about.

Tuesday 3 May 2022

The Island of Dr. Destructo (Mastertronic, 1987)

Developed by Clockwork Game Systems.
Amstrad and Spectrum versions written by Eugene Messina with graphics by David Lincoln-Howes.
C64 version written by Richard Aplin with music by David Whittaker.
Published through Mastertronic's Bulldog label in 1987.



The third annual Mastertronic May starts with another rare example of an Amstrad original to be featured on the blog, which is also the first of Eugene Messina's only two 8-bit games ever created - the other one being the game included in Incentive Software's 3D Construction Kit; and the first of only four games he ever had a hand in. Rather neatly, it also brings a slightly different aspect to one of the most common occurences in 8-bit game comparisons, because these cases usually originate either on the C64 or the ZX Spectrum.

Monday 18 April 2022

TWOFER #23: Reset Run'n'Guns!

1. Bazooka Bill (Melbourne House, 1985)

Programming by Brian Post
Graphics by David O'Callaghan and Russel Comte
Music by Neil Brennan
Originally released for the Commodore 64 by Melbourne House/Arcade in 1985.
Also published by Spinnaker Software in North America, and as "Colorado Bill" by Micropool in Germany.
Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Brian Post and Craig Smith, with graphics by Greg Holland, and published by Melbourne House/Arcade in 1986.

2. Foxx Fights Back (ImageWorks, 1988)
Developed for the Commodore 64 by Denton Designs
Programming by Dave Colclough
Music by Fred Gray
Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by John Heap.
Both versions released by ImageWorks (Mirrorsoft) in 1988.



Issue #14 of the lately re-energized Reset64 magazine was to be themed around run'n'gun games, meaning the likes of Contra, Green Beret and such. To my surprise, there didn't seem to be all that many games on the C64 that would go with the relative compactness required from a magazine article, so I made two optional comparisons of Bazooka Bill and Foxx Fights Back to have the comparison chosen for Reset #14 from. As it turned out, I couldn't exactly get the comparison of Bazooka Bill finished before the intended deadline, perhaps all for the better,  for reasons I shall mention later. The intention, of course, was to eventually posting both of them on the blog as a traditional two-for-one entry.

Wednesday 30 March 2022

NGOTY: Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Stonechat Productions, 2012)

Originally written by Dave Hughes for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, with music by Dr. Thomas, and released digitally in 2012 by Stonechat Productions; re-released on cassette by Monument Microgames in 2017. Based on Dave Hughes' original Spectrum Crap Games Compo 2010 game 2010: A Philatelist's Story and its 2011 sequel, Stamp Quest.

Windows PC remake of EFMB written in 2012 by Locomalito, with graphics and music by Gryzor87.

A sequel, The Lost Tapes of Albion was also developed and published by Stonechat Productions in 2012.

A conversion of The Lost Tapes of Albion was made for the SAM Coupé as The Lost Disks of SAM, as well as another variation for the SAM Coupé called Moby DX; and a Commodore Amiga remake of EFBM and Lost Tapes, titled The Incredible Adventures of Moebius Goatlizard:
Programming by Andrew Gillen; Graphics and music by Andrew Gillen and Jaco van der Walt; Published in 2013 by Black Jet. 

MSX version named Lizard Willy written by sfranck72 in 2016.

Another sequel, Biscuits in Hell written by Dave Hughes for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum, with music by Yerzmyey, and published in 2017 by Monument Microgames.

Commodore 64 version of EFMB based on the 2012 Windows remake:
Programming and graphics by Rikib80
Music, sound effects and playtesting by nm156
Title screen and attract mode graphics by Hend
Music player and I/O code by Lasse Öörni
Published by Rikib80 on in 2019.

Pokitto remake of EFMB titled Endless Forms Most Pokittoful developed and published in 2019 by Black Jet.

Atari 8-bit version of Biscuits in Hell written by Paul Lay, Darryl Guenther and Jaden. Published on an ABBUC Magazine coverdisk in June 2020. Also released for Atari 5200 in October 2020.



Since the New Game Of The Month feature has become such a rarity in recent years, it might as well be called New Game Of The Year from now on. Today's entry, Endless Forms Most Beautiful, shall be the first of its kind, officially, although the previous New Game Of The Month already was the only one featured that year (2019). But as you might have gathered by the credits, this is not just another comparison.

Sunday 13 March 2022

FRGCB's YouTube series "My Nostalgia Trip Games" starting fourth season!

Just a quick reminder for all you YouTubing folks out there, who didn't catch my hint at the end of the comparison of Zybex, that the fourth season of My Nostalgia Trip Games has now launched. Here's the first episode; subscribe for my channel if you wanna stay alert!

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Zybex (Zeppelin Games, 1988)

Designed by Kevin Franklin and Michael Owens.

C64 Programming by Kevin Franklin
Atari programming by Brian Jobling
Graphics by Michael Owens
Sounds by Adam Gilmore
Published by Zeppelin Games in 1988 for Commodore 64 and Atari 8-bit computers.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum conversion by Gareth Briggs, with graphics by Kevin Franklin and Michael Owens.
Published by Zeppelin Games in 1989.



FRGCB is back from a relatively brief time off, and we're starting 2022 with a fairly lightweight comparison of a game that will almost certainly keep the bottom end of the alphabetical list of the blog henceforth. This comparison was requested some time ago by an anonymous reader, which makes it as good a reason as any to start this year off with it, and I have to admit some curiosity for this one, because although Zybex seems to be one of the best-regarded horizontal space shooters of all time on the 8-bit home computers, it's one that I never actually played until starting to write this comparison.