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.

There are so many odd things about this New Game Of The Year, aside from the original version being already nine years old. The title itself is a quotation from the conclusion of Charles Darwin's 1859 book, "On the Origin of Species"; the phrase, which in this four-word cut form managed to end up not only as the title of a 2005 book on evolutionary developmental biology by Sean B. Carroll and this ZX Spectrum game from 2012, but also a 2013 episode of Orphan Black, as well as a song and an album by the well-known Finnish symphonic metal band, Nightwish, although that didn't come out until three years after the game. The second odd thing is the odd title changes for SAM Coupé, Commodore Amiga, MSX and Atari 400/800. The third odd thing is, it seems to be just about as popular a choice for other 8-bit ports as another fantastic modern retro platformer, l'Abbaye des Morts, but similarly to that game, an Amstrad version has yet to be produced, although I'm certain it shall come around eventually. The fourth, I found three incarnations of the game and/or its sequel by a team called Black Jet for three machines, one of which I had never even heard of until 30th of July, 2020. The fifth and so far the final odd thing is, how did I escape playing the original until now?

Well, it's hard to pinpoint any particular reason, but when this game first appeared, it didn't look anything even remotely interesting to me, but when I noticed those oddly familiar-looking remakes and renamed versions having been appearing for the past few years, something not completely like an inkling of interest started brewing within me. It eventually took the appearance of the C64 version in 2019 for me to try the game out for the first time, and many months afterwards to remember some, if not all the previous other versions, which would probably make for an interesting comparison of a more recent game. To my utter horror, the amount of conversions, sequels, remakes and even combined reimaginings made a regular comparison of EFMB practically impossible. So, instead, I shall offer you a history lesson without so much focus on actually comparing the games against each other. If in the process of writing this, another version of any of these games appears which I will likely have slipped under my radar in that case, please leave a comment.



Just to make sure we're on the right track, let's start from the known beginning. Most of those of you, who even recognize the name "Endless Forms Most Beautiful" as a game for old computers, will be very unlikely to know the path to how the game came out to become the EFMB we know today.

Back in November 2010, a game by the name of 2010: A PHILATELIST'S ODYSSEY was submitted to the comp.sys.sinclair Crap Game Competition of 2010 by an author known then as R-Tape. It didn't fare all that well, because it was deemed "too refined" for the compo, but it was clearly the first rendition of what was to become EFBM, written in Basic. Make no mistake, the game was "bad" enough for a Crap Games Compo entry, seeing as it was painfully slow and aggravatingly buggy, but it was still almost disqualified for not being bad enough. The basic premise, however, was already there: collect all the stamps from each level, and avoid getting hit by the roaming enemies by switching platforms through teleporters. The most curious thing about the game was, that you could walk through the edges to appear at a randomized platform on the opposite edge of the screen.

At this point, the name of our protagonist was Norman, and he looked quite different from his upgraded version in the next game. Even in his pre-Moebius form, Norman was given the backstory of being an "intergalactic stamp collector of some considerable repute", with his then current mission being to collect some Earth stamps before he can relax. No such offer for relaxation would be made in his further adventures.

The following year, Dave Hughes released an Assembly-written upgrade of the game as STAMP QUEST, that took the speed of the game up to a more suitable level, smoothed out all the unnecessary bugs, ramped up the difficulty level with a few enemies in each level that will follow your movement, increased the number of lives from 3 to 5, and finally, switched the edge-looping randomization to a more logical design: you would appear at the right edge of the platform above, if you cross the left edge of the current platform, and you would appear at the left edge of the platform below, if you cross the right edge of the current platform. Also, the graphics were updated to something closer to what we got in EFMB, the name of the protagonist was switched to Moebius, and sound effects were also introduced in Stamp Quest.

Some time during 2011, Hughes also gave Moebius another kind of a game to be featured in, yet still an arcade-action, by the name of WUNDERCHAR$. In this game, you would fly around and pick up character-sized items and drop them into a container at the bottom of the screen, while dodging slowly flying enemies. While an amusing game by itself, it doesn't really belong into the lot that's about to be compared here, so I'll just leave it here as a footnote. Worth checking out, though.

For the final actual gameplay upgrades, at least on the Spectrum, Hughes introduced bombs and an attribute snake for further hazards, as well as a tea and biscuits item for brief invincibility. With an alternative player character added, and music by Dr. Thomas, as well as pseudo-randomly generated levels, colours, blocks and sprites, not to mention a storyline adjustment from stamps to imps and aliens, and you have ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL in its full original ZX Spectrum glory. The downside was, that you only got one life to collect as many items as you can.

This was fixed and for the sequel, THE LOST TAPES OF ALBION, which gives you 30 lives to start with. But Albion is not exactly, nor do I think it ever was supposed to be an upgrade over EFMB - instead, it was written as a tribute of sorts to the ZX Spectrum for its 30th birthday. All the 8 levels of Albion have the same layout, and the difficulty level rises brutally, so the 30 lives will turn out to be surprisingly welcome. But what this game really is, is a tribute of sorts to Spectrum games, giving an idea of what would the world of Spectrum games be like, if it was still a commercially viable machine. Not that it really differs all that much from what it is now, to be honest.

As if all that weren't enough, Dave Hughes gave Moebius yet another adventure with BISCUITS IN HELL, released in 2017, which took after Albion in that it only features 8 levels, but the number of lives you get to begin with was turned up to 128. All these six chapters of Moebius's adventures need to be taken into account when examining the other versions of the game, because there are bound to be vast differences in many ways.



The journey from 2010: A Philatelists Odyssey to Endless Forms Most Beautiful is truly an interesting one, as the series is such a simple one in terms of gameplay, that it really feels like there shouldn't be all that much of evolution going on. As I mentioned, though, the original CGC game entry was written in Basic, while EFMB is not only machine code, but it was also made with the use of a tool called Bifrost Engine, which allows for Rainbow Graphics - a modern form of multicolour graphics on the ZX Spectrum. Because of the surprisingly wild evolution of the original idea over the years, it would be practically impossible to do a traditional comparison of it, so going about it in a chronological order and deal with the versions for different platforms as we proceed.

So, starting again with 2010: A PHILATELISTS ODYSSEY, the game is played with the classic QAOP setup on the keyboard. O and P walk left and right, while Q and A use the teleports up and down. There is a trick to it, though, as you need to stand on a teleporter in order to be able to use it - trying to get through a teleporter above you will not work, unless you also happen to be standing on one. The protagonist, then known as Norman, walks in an agonizingly slow speed, as do his antagonists, so clearing even the first level can take up a few minutes, particularly as crossing the borders will make Norman appear randomly at another border. On a technical note, Norman is two character blocks wide, and moves around in leaps of character blocks, which is 8 pixels, and moving one set of 8 pixels takes almost a second. I gave up playing this when I reached the second level.

Screenshots from 2010: A Philatelists Odyssey (ZX Spectrum, 2010)

Graphically, 2010: A Philatelists Odyssey is very 1983/84'ish, but then considering its Basic approach, you wouldn't expect much more. Norman has all of three animation frames to both directions, and the enemies move around in their solid form. Aside from the background wall colour, only the baddies for each level and the look of the non-platform bits of floor alter in any notable way. The stamps use a different colour, but that's it. Sound-wise, there's nothing to mention, since there is absolutely no sounds in the first game, but then it was written into a Crap Game Competition, so it's all expected.

In STAMP QUEST, Norman has become Moebius, but his movement is still very much character-based. At least the speed is much more comfortable, even if it's notably quicker than what it eventually became with the adjustments made for the next game. The method of movement is still strictly keyboard. Stamp Quest has 8 levels, with a fairly effective difficulty curve.

Screenshots from Stamp Quest (ZX Spectrum, 2011)

If you didn't pay much attention, it might escape your notice, that the title screen in Stamp Quest has been upgraded quite significantly. Yes, the unnecessarily large text area is still unnecessarily large, but there is at least some design involved even in that bit now. The top half of the screen has been radically altered, since all the pictures of the hero, baddy, telepad and stamp are now animated, instead of just the hero; and the game logo is not just letters and basic ASCII graphic symbols. The title screen even features what can be considered as a theme melody, albeit a fairly nonsensical one that is entirely written in sharp staccato notes using a D-minor scale for 99% of the melody. Still, better than in the previous game.

The in-game graphics aren't that much altered from Philatelists Odyssey, but there is a bit more animation, and everything moves around much more smoothly than previously, which really makes a huge difference. You just cannot really see it in a screenshot. There are some fairly basic sound effects, as well - a separate one for all necessary occasions, but in true Spectrumesque form, are no more than the usual bips and blops you would expect to hear from the single channel beeper. Still, the game is definitely charming at this point.

Now we get to the real deal - ENDLESS FORMS MOST BEAUTIFUL, which requires some more attention. The game actually starts with an odd request for writing your favourite 4 letter word, which might come to use later in the game. Only after having written your favourite 4 letter word, you get to the main menu, in which you can choose your character between Moebius and Pucky, the objects you pick up between Imps and Aliens, and you can also redefine the keys, including a pause key. The differences to Moebius' earlier adventures don't end there, though. First and foremost, your movement, as well as the enemies', is now very much pixel-based, which gives the game a much better overall feel. The first levels don't have nearly as many enemies as those in the earlier games, and you don't get to confront enemies that follow you around until the 6th level, and some of the enemies move at clearly different speeds. The second level features a new type of enemy, that can change levels. There are 10 levels to clear in EFMB, and although you have only a single life to use, you have endless continues with a success rate counter to go with it. If you decide to continue after dying, though, the game throws you back one level.

Endless Forms Most Beautiful: ZX Spectrum loading screen build-up

One of the most impressive things about the original Spectrum version of EFMB is the loading screen. Don't get me wrong, all the things that make EFMB what it is, are just about as incredible, but I had never seen a partly randomized loading screen on any platform ever, until this beast came along. The way it works in this case is, that the central character graphic is loaded in prior to the randomized bit, which fills up the rest of the screen a few seconds later. As an interesting little detail, you can see the game's credits while the main picture is being built, before the colour is filled in.

Screenshots from Endless Forms Most Beautiful (ZX Spectrum, 2012)

If the loading screen didn't get you wild, the title screen might do it. EFMB has gone through a complete redesign, as it doesn't even attempt to cram everything on the same screen. Rather, the instructions can be found behind a key press, and the controls are now redefinable, so you can find them behind another key press. The basic system font has been replaced by a much more stylish and smaller font by ZX-ALFA (credited on the title screen), and the game logo is a masterpiece in all its simplicity: large EFMB letters at the top, which changes its visual effect randomly from a vast number of different effects. As if that weren't enough, a giant Moebius hops about in two frames at the lower right corner, and he can be switched to a similarly giant Pucky, by pressing the designated key for choosing your character. Also, the selector for aliens and imps contains a bit of specific graphics within the option menu item. And for the first time in the history of the series, there is a coherent - and catchy, even - theme song using a special technique that makes the 48k Spectrum able to produce two sounds at once.

The in-game graphics in EFMB are not so altered as to lose the game's initial style, but rather tastefully enhanced by addition of random colours and floor patterns, and the enemy sprites are apparently also randomized for each level. The most random graphical thing, though, appears to be the shapes of imps/aliens that you need to collect, which is shown as a giant version of itself before entering the level. A couple of new additions to the game's graphical output are the blinking bomb and its eventual explosive effect, the tea-and-biscuit item, and the attribute worm that doesn't look like anything else than a bunch of coloured blocks made to look like a worm going from left to right, right to left and top to bottom. However, it's very effective and certainly gives the game some new energy. The in-game sound effects are nicely evolved from the previous game, even if they're still unmistakably Spectrum beeper stuff, and there's even some more music to be heard each time you complete a level. All in all, it's a step in evolution of a Crap Game Compo entry that I'm not sure anyone could have really expected, and as has lately become evident, Endless Forms Most Beautiful has become one of the most important modern Spectrum titles since the machine's commercial demise.

Screenshots from Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Windows, 2012)

The first official port/remake of EFMB was released for Windows PC's in 2012, the same year the original EFMB was released. Locomalito's PC version was by no account a mere port, but rather another major upgrade. First off, in this version, you were able to play with a second player in either a co-operative mode or a versus mode, the latter of which would end after getting a certain number of items. The gameplay itself was further finetuned by many things: giving the players a higher running speed and a bit of inertia - not so much as to annoy the players who had gotten used to having no inertia whatsoever; introducing many bonus items to collect and further enemy types and more complicated enemy behaviour, such as tanks being able to shoot and later enemies being able to fly freely around the level. The number of bonus items has been increased from one to eight, with the new item bonuses being higher running speed, a time bonus, enemy freeze, extra points, extra life and an instant level clear.

Needless to say, the upgrade wouldn't be a full upgrade without a notable amount of attention given to the graphics and sounds. Of course, being a Windows game, it doesn't feel nearly as impressive as the randomized Spectrum original, even though it's stylistically a 16-bit version, but really, the important part of the upgrade is in the gameplay. If I were to give the Windows version of EFMB some sort of a close stylistic relative of a console, it would most definitely be Sega Genesis/Megadrive, if only based on the soundtrack, because it has that sort of a tinny plastic feel to it, and there's more music than the game really even needs. Overall, though, it's the most evolved version of EFMB that you can currently find, so it's arguably the best, too, if you're into more evolved games.

Screenshots from The Lost Tapes of Albion (ZX Spectrum, 2012)

Then, we have THE LOST TAPES OF ALBION, still released in 2012 for the ZX Spectrum, which plays almost exactly like the original Spectrum version of EFMB, but otherwise, it's a bit of a hit and miss thing. It features a few upgraded enemies,including the occasionally appearing giant enemies, as per the Windows version of EFMB, and moving around Moebius feels exactly the same as in EFMB, but everything else feels like we're back in Stamp Quest, only with 30 lives and altered graphics and collectables, and just a bit more sound effects.

Screenshots from The Lost Disks of SAM (SAM Coupé, 2013)

Rather neatly, THE LOST DISKS OF SAM, the 2013 SAM Coupé remake of Lost Tapes of Albion by Black Jet, feels like both an upgrade of Albion, as well as a downgrade from EFMB. The enemy behaviour is more akin to the PC version of EFMB, and you get suit upgrades after each level, which serve for one layer of armour, but everything else in the gameplay feels like Spectrum EFMB and Albion. SAM Coupé also got another dose of Moebius the same year in the form of MOBY DX, which gives an even closer experience to the PC version of EFMB, at least in terms of game speed and enemies, but without any of the bonus items and cutscenes, and also no two-player modes.

Screenshots from Moby DX (SAM Coupé, 2013)

Graphically, the two SAM Coupé entries are not all that far from each other, although Moby DX definitely has more content than Lost Disks, with the attribute snake being actually present, as well as bombs and such. There's one thing I do have a rather big complaint about in both cases on SAM Coupé, and that is that the level designs are always the same alternating lines sort of thing, and you wouldn't notice any difference were it not for the graphical alterations.

Screenshots from The Incredible Adventures of Moebius Goatlizard DX (Commodore Amiga, 2013)

The same team responsible for the two SAM Coupé games also made a Moebius game for the Commodore Amiga, called THE INCREDIBLE ADVENTURES OF MOEBIUS GOATLIZARD, and released it in 2013. They actually released three versions of it: the original/regular version was playable on a stock Amiga 500, with no memory expansions; the first DX version required a 1MB chip RAM to work, and a later build of the DX version was made compatible with a stock A500 with just a 0.5 MB RAM expansion.

According to Black Jet's website, TIAOMG features 40 levels in normal mode, of which there are five different difficulty levels, and 99 levels in survival mode. It feels more like an Amiga exclusive variation of EFMB, featuring slightly different gameplay mechanics, such as random teleportation by pressing the fire button, brief sliding when changing direction and, once again, there are some different enemies and different enemy behaviours for the old ones in this game, perhaps most notably the giant enemies instead of attribute worms. The major difference in TIAOMG DX to the basic version is background music, which is a rendition of an old C64 classic theme from "Thing on a Spring"; and if you happen to have 1 MB chip RAM in your Amiga, you'll also get different music for the title screen in form of a not very accurate rendition of Mozart's "Rondo alla Turca". The DX version with 1 MB chip RAM also features a simultaneous two-player mode, which was taken out of the stock A500 DX version. The 1 MB chip RAM version of TIAOMG DX is really the closest one to the Windows PC version of EFMB, but the other versions are missing just a bit too much.

Even though The Incredible Adventures of Moebius Goatlizard is a fine contribution into the series, it does not come without its fair share of problems. I have only managed to play the full-fledged 1 MB chip RAM version through emulation, so I'm not 100% sure my emulated hardware combination is the proper one, but more often than not, the screen turns black sometime during level 2, and doesn't return to normal until Game Over. The second problem is a much smaller one: the screen halts for about a quarter of a second every 10-15 seconds or so, and I first thought it was a problem with emulation, but further testing on my actual A500 (+0.5 RAM expansion) proved that to be a fault with the game code itself. Not game-breaking, but an annoyance, certainly.

I would hazard a guess, that because the development of Moebius' adventures took a decidedly evolved turn after the original Endless Forms Most Beautiful, it took a few years for the 8-bits to even bother competing. Or maybe they just woke up late, like I did. The first 8-bit machine that wasn't the ZX Spectrum, that would be blessed with a Moebius game, was the MSX.

Screenshots from Lizard Willy (MSX, 2016)

In 2016, a MRC forum user by the name of Sfranck72 announced his first ever MSX game made in assembly, inspired by the already modern ZX Spectrum classic, EFMB. This game, LIZARD WILLY, was made into a 32kb ROM, so it couldn't really fit all the things from the original in it, but as I said, it's an approximation, and not a bad one for a first MSX assembly project. Lizard Willy contains 7 levels, and has some fairly nice music and adequate sound effects, as well as wildly altering graphics. The game plays sort of like a mixture of EFMB and Oil's Well, because of the level designs and because the teleports only get you downwards, and none of the enemies seem to follow your location. Also, you get a hint of the old Stamp Quest in the way the protagonist moves around in character block based leaps. It works surprisingly well, though, all in all - it just doesn't really feel enough like EFMB to be considered part of the family. Still, I'd recommend it just because of its differences.

(On a side note, Sfranck72 later on ported another modern classic, l'Abbaye des Morts, for the MSX.)

Screenshots from Biscuits in Hell (ZX Spectrum, 2017)

Dave Hughes returned to give Moebius yet another outing on the ZX Spectrum in 2017 with BISCUITS IN HELL, and got it, along with the first physical cassette tape publication of EFMB, published through Monument Microgames. Biscuits plays much like any other Moebius adventure on the ZX Spectrum, with the major differences being in the notable increase in difficulty through advanced enemy behaviour, as well as increased amount of bombs and attribute worms appearing on the screen. The difficulty level is notable enough for the game to let you have 128 lives at the beginning of your journey, even though there's only the usual eight levels to plough through. There is also a new theme song by Yerzmyey playing constantly in the background, if you happen to be playing the game on a 128k Spectrum - the 48k version only has sound effects.

As for the visuals, the telepads now indicate themselves being active when you step on them, so there is less chance of mix-ups as to how to use them than in previous games. The title screen revolves almost entirely around the Imp-machine that spews biscuits on a conveyor belt, and Moebius is seen jumping between the large game title and the conveyor belt. Everything else looks familiar enough not to give you any particular surprises at this point.

Two years onwards, we were treated with two more versions of EFMB. I'm not exactly sure, which of them came first, but I'll start with the one we actually have a release date for.

Screenshots from Endless Forms Most Beautiful (Commodore 64, 2019)

In July 2019, Rikib80 announced his work on a C64 port of the PC version of Endless Forms Most Beautiful, with music and sound effects by NM156 and additional graphics by Hend. Being another first-time game developer (see Lizard Willy), Rikib80's take on the PC version of EFMB might have been considered too large of a piece to swallow, but after a few updates (the latest having released in 2021), the C64 EFMB works almost as perfectly as Lokomalito's original.

Of course, it's not nearly as visually evolved as the PC version, nor quite as visually interesting as the Spectrum original, but both two-player modes from the PC version are included, the player character moves around very similarly to that in the PC version, and there's a lot of great music by NM156, most of them being old rock covers of Led Zeppelin and Aerosmith and such. The title music feels like a weird hyperactive version of some old traditional English or Irish song, but I can't really figure out what it is. The sound effects are spot on what they need to be in their respective uses, but they do get a bit in the way of all that nice music. Apart from the lack of an element of randomness to it that the Spectrum original is almost based around, the C64 port/demake of the PC EFMB is excellent, almost preferable to the original, particularly for being a first time coding effort.

Screenshots from Endless Forms Most Pokittoful (Pokitto, 2019)

Sometime during 2019, our old friends Black Jet finished up their demake of EFMB for the DIY handheld console Pokitto, which I had never heard of before working on this article (Egads, it's a Finnish product!) - this time conveniently retitled as ENDLESS FORMS MOST POKITTOFUL. Because of the Pokitto's relatively small screen size, this demake is basically half the size of the original game. Naturally, there's no two-player mode here, either, nor is there any music, and it seems like the attribute worms and other major enemies have also been taken out. I have no idea, what sorts of restrictions does the Pokitto console give the game developers, but it's an intriguing little thing, and if nothing else, this demake made me want to find out more and buy one. But is it a valid representation of EFMB compared to the rest? Perhaps not, but on its own, it's a very effective demake.

Screenshots from Biscuits in Hell (Atari 400/800, 2020)

Finally, we arrive to 2020, when a small group of Atari 8-bit game developers finished their take on BISCUITS FROM HELL, and published it through the ABBUC magazine. I'm not entirely sure if all of this is correct, but one of the game's creators, Paul Lay has been around the Atari scene since the mid-1980's and has 16 other games credited for him, some of them quite impressive, too. The other two involved in the Atari version of Biscuits are Darryl Guenther and Jaden Houghton, of which only the former has been involved in any other game, and that was another 2020 title made with Paul Lay, called "Runner Bear".

The Atari version of Biscuits differs from the Spectrum version quite notably. First of all, it runs a bit slower than the original EFMB, which is actually helpful in this case. The second thing I noticed was, that the collectables do not reset to their full amount after dying in a level, but instead, you are allowed to continue collecting where you left off. The third notable difference was, this version is the first one - at least that I know of - that presents a handgun item you can pick up, as well as bullets, to kill enemies with after a few levels. This is really the one major thing that separates the Atari version of Biscuits From Hell from all the other Moebius games, but there are a few minor considerations that make this one its own thing, instead of a faithful conversion of any of the previous Moebius games, such as the length and style of the attribute snake, the four difficulty levels (one being "Spectrum", which does reset all the collectables upon death) and of course, the graphics, music and sound effects are unique to the Atari.



Considering the amount of similar Moebius games made for the ZX Spectrum, it isn't really that much of a wonder, that some of these versions took a decided sidestep from the usual path. However, the legacy of Dave Hughes' Crap Games Compo creation from 12 years ago is nearly unparalleled in the realm of modern retrogames.

Because of the unusual comparison of all the games in the Moebius Goatlizard saga, and a few slightly off of it, I'm forced to give the games an unusual scoring. Instead of a full three-category scoring, this time I'm only going to give you a personal opinion on which versions I would give my highest recommendation based on all the usual three categories as well as something of a gut feeling, and which ones I wouldn't.

11. MOBY DX - SAM Coupé
14. STAMP QUEST - Spectrum
15. 2010: A PHILATELISTS STORY - Spectrum

Putting my personal top 15 aside, there are lots of good reasons to put some time into all the games (including Wunderchar$) and their versions listed here, most particularly the changes in plots and the humour within. And while the original Spectrum version of EFMB might well be relatively speaking the most impressive game of the lot, to me, Stamp Quest remains the most charming one. Make of that what you will.

In case you really don't feel like going through the entire list on your own, very likely downloading and installing a bunch of emulators you weren't that interested in the first place, I have prepared a video for your convenience. Perhaps this will all be outdated in a year or two, if someone decides to make  another Moebius game for, say, the Amstrad or Acorn computers or whatever.

Well, having written all of the above and even compiled the video, I have to say I'm not completely certain that I've managed to take all necessary things into consideration - there might be some things I have left out due to some of the versions being too much for my abilities or whatever, so if you feel like some corrections are required, feel free to leave a comment below. But for now, thanks for reading and/or watching, hope this little sidestep from proper retrogames was as enjoyable as it was informative. Which, of course, is always comparative. See you next time with something much older!

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