Friday, 29 September 2017

Tom (Kingsoft, 1984)

Written by Udo Gertz for Commodore Vic-20 (+16k), C64 and C16. Music for the C64 and Vic-20 versions by Brigitte Gertz. Released by Anirog in the United Kingdom as "Tom Thumb".



I was called on to write something special for the RESET magazine celebrating its 10th issue an unexpectedly great elongation of a while ago, so I decided to choose something truly special. As the magazine specializes in all matters related to Commodore, contrary to previous occasions, this time I thought it would be a nice change seeing three Commodore machines put against each other in one man's battle to get in grips with each Commodore machine's difficulties in coding. This article was originally prepared about 11 months ago, and it was finally published a couple of weeks ago - but I have to say, the wait was well worth it! Go and order yourself a copy of the magazine from Binary Zone Interactive Retrostore, or if you're cheap, check the fantastic new layout from the free pdf version once it gets released on the RESET website. Now, back to the point. As I guess we all Commodore fans might agree, it's an almost universally acknowledged fact, that the C16 version rewrite is the best one, but in case you haven't read the RESET article already, here's your chance to see what's what, and why.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

TWOFER #17: Unique Games Corrections

1. Bigtop Barney (Interceptor Software, 1984)

Written by Jason Benham for the Commodore 64, with music by Robert Westgate. Released by Interceptor Software in 1984.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Alan Bridgman, with music by Tim Gibson. Published on Interceptor's "Players" budget label in 1986.

2. Harricana - International Snowmobile Race (Loriciel, 1990)

AMSTRAD CPC version: Designed by Bernard Auré, Programming by Olivier Richez, Graphics by Ivan Gaidonov, Philippe Tesson and Richard Martens; Music by Michel Winogradoff.

ATARI ST and COMMODORE AMIGA versions: Design and programming by Bernard Auré (Benoist Aron?); Graphics by Ivan Gaidonov, Philippe Tesson and Richard Martens; Music by Michel Winogradoff.



If the title doesn't tell you enough, let's elaborate. Back when I was still doing the Unique Games series, I made a few mistaken inclusions, these two games being some of the most glaring ones, but there were a few other games I could still make comparisons of, if anyone's interested. The thing is, though, most of the other games only became available for more platforms in the recent years, and the other two most obvious titles would have been rather obscure games called Illusions and Brain Strainers, both of which I thought felt unique enough, but were revealed not to be exclusive to the Colecovision... but I'll go with these two for now, because they're more interesting on a general basis.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Zorro (Datasoft, 1985)

Designed by James Garon, Kelly Day, John Ludin, Roy Langston and Terry Shakespeare.

Written by James Garon for the Atari 8-bit computers and Commodore 64 in 1985, with graphics by Kelly Day. Converted for the Apple ][ by Rick Mirsky and James Garon. Music for the C64 version by John A. Fitzpatrick. Released in North America by Datasoft, and in Europe by U.S. Gold in 1985.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC in 1985 and for the ZX Spectrum 48k in 1986 by James Software Ltd., and published by U.S. Gold.



This is perhaps going to sound a bit worrisome for some of you, but when I started on this blog, I decided that Bruce Lee and Zorro would be the two "bookend" comparison articles. Well, worry not, because there's still a good few comparisons to come, but this does mark the beginning of the end of FRGCB. There should be enough games on my to-do list at least until the end of this year, and perhaps a little further beyond, and I'm doing Zorro now only because I want the last foreseeable comparison article to be a properly high note. Now, let's get back to the basics, and hope there will be no similar updates to this as they were for Bruce Lee.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Overlander (Elite Systems, 1988)

Designed by Simon Cook

ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC versions: Programming by Mark Haigh-Hutchinson, graphics by Gary Tonge and Peter Tattersall, music and sound effects by Mark Cooksey. Published in 1988 by Elite.

Commodore 64 version: Programming by Richard Underhill, graphics by Peter Tattersall, loading screen by Paul Walker, music and sound effects by Mark Cooksey. Published in 1988 by Elite.

Atari ST and Commodore Amiga versions: Programming by Darren Pegg, graphics by Simon Cook, Gary Tonge and Peter Tattersall, ST music and sound effects by Jason C. Brooke, Amiga music and sound effects by Mark Cooksey. Published in 1989 by Elite.



When I started planning on taking the blog back into regular form, I decided I wanted to do something light and easy, so I decided to take a look at one of my old driving game favourites: Overlander. I remember buying this from some electronics shop in a sale of two tapes for a reduced price, and from the very few choices available, the other choice was Supertrux, because I didn't know anything about it - as opposed to knowing all the other games were useless. Anyway, judging by the information on the regular websites - Lemon64, CPC-Power and World of Spectrum, it looked to be just a regular threesome. But of course, things have a tendency to get more difficult when you least expect them to. This one just had to have two 16-bit versions as well, and naturally, in addition to the traditional three-way 8-bit battle, we would also have the other traditional 16-bit battle on our hands. Since the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga versions aren't too well known, this is a good opportunity to get to know them better, in case the game's 8-bit versions offer no surprises.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

SPECIAL: Modern Game Ports And Demakes!

This summer's series of special entries continues with a variation on a theme, which we have previously touched upon: games from more modern platforms for older systems. Simply put, "demade" games - devolved remakes. If you have not the faintest idea of what demakes characteristically are, the idea is to getting something of the essence of the games into a more restrictive platform, usually dropping some of the more consuming elements from the game and just get all the most characteristic elements included. Sometimes, though, they manage to be surprisingly close to the original, and fortunately, many of the more current demakes are as impressive as they are improbable. Some of the games on this list are still, or have been left unfinished, in a promising development stage, but most of the games featured here are finished demakes for our favourite 8-bit and 16-bit systems. Due to unexpected PC power supply blowing up -related circumstances, I couldn't quite get this finished before the end of July, so perhaps this will make August have more entries.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

SPECIAL: A Brief History of Scandinavian Games

That should probably read "Other Scandinavian Games", since I've already dealt with Finland. But yes, you read it right: it's time to dig into the history of our neighboring countries' gaming industries. The topic has been requested by a few different readers occasionally, and because I couldn't find any proper easy-to-browse articles about this topic from the internet, I decided, that before I call it quits with this blog in the not-too-distant future, this should be one of the special entries I make before the inevitable. Mind you, at least the history of Swedish gaming industry has been made into a book called "Svensk Videospelsutveckling - Från 50-tal till 90-tal" by Thomas Sunhede and Martin Lindell, and the book was released in October last year; I have no idea about the existence of either Norwegian or Danish equivalents. Unluckily for me, the book mentioned has been published in Swedish only, and I'm not proficient enough in the said language to have any interest in buying the book, so all the information I have dug into this article have been found by heavy googling, so if any game historian finds anything of interest missing, comments are welcome.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

California Games (Epyx/US Gold, 1987) - Part 2

Previously, we left California in a state of discord and mayhem, as the 8-bits were taking the lead over the 16-bits. Of course, like so often before, the games originally developed for a certain kind of a machine rarely translates well onto other platforms, but some of the console versions were of a surprisingly good quality, and were sometimes even better than the original. While working on Part 2, I have also updated Part 1, since I posted it a bit hastily before having figured out all the gameplay aspects of all versions, so you might want to read it through before heading on to the conclusive part. But if you're more interested in graphics and sounds, as well as the overall scores, feel free to continue with this entry.