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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.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS, PLURAL


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.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


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.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


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.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

California Games (Epyx/US Gold, 1987) - Part 1

Designed, developed and published for the Commodore 64 by Epyx, Inc. in 1987: Game Design by Kevin "Fuzzy" Furry, Chuck Sommerville, Jon Leupp, Ken Nicholson and Kevin Norman. Graphics by Jenny Martin, Susan Greene, Sheryl Knowles and Paul Vernon. Music by Christopher Grigg and Gil Freeman.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC, MSX and Sinclair ZX Spectrum computers by Choice Software in 1987.

Converted for the Apple ][ computers by Carl Mey, Edwin Reich, Ed Chu, Brian Fleming and Kevin Norman in 1987.

Conversion for the IBM-PC compatibles by Epyx, Inc in 1988: Programming by Gil Colgate, Dan Duncalf, Dave Farquharson, David Miller, Ken Nicholson, Lee Powell and Ken Rogoway. Graphics by Sheryl Knowles, Muffy McCosh, Gail Rathbun and Steve Snyder. Directed by Matthew Householder.

Converted for the Commodore Amiga by Westwood Associates, and published by Epyx, Inc. in 1988: Programming by Michael Legg, Barry Green and Louis J. Castle. Graphics by Maurine Y. Starkey, Louis J. Castle, Jenny Martin and Sheryl Knowles. Sounds and music by Christopher Grigg, Karl Lehenbeuer, David Hayes, Steve Hales and Chris Ebert. Project management by Brett W. Sperry, Matthew Householder and Ronald J. Fortier.

Converted for the Atari ST by Choice Software, and published by Epyx, Inc. in 1988: Programming by Colin Gordon. Graphics by Sharon Connor. Music by Ben Daglish.

Apple //GS version developed by Designer Software, and published by Epyx, Inc. in 1988: Programming by Jimmy Huey and Dan Chang. Graphics by Jenny Martin and Sheryl Knowles. Music by Bill Bogenreif. Project management by Matt Householder and Ron Fortier.

Atari 2600 version written by Peter Engelbrite and Steve A. Baker, and published by Epyx, Inc. in 1988.

Sega Master System conversion programmed by Mark Cerny, and published by SEGA of America, Inc. in 1989.

Converted for the Atari Lynx by Epyx, Inc. in 1989: Programming by Pete Wierzbicki, Stephen Jungels, James Donald and Larry Abel. Graphics by Matthew Crysdale, Susan Greene, Jenny Martin, Arthur Koch, Paul Vernon and Sheryl Knowles. Music by Robert Vieira and Alex Rudis. Additional help by Robert J. Mical and Dave Needle.

Converted for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Rare and published by Milton Bradley Co. in 1989: Graphics by Tim Stamper (uncredited). Music by David Wise (uncredited). Other involvement (shown in high scores, otherwise uncredited): Poppi, Kevin Bayliss, Paul Proctor, Tess, Sweep and Rachel Edwards.

Converted for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive in 1991 by Mihály Brudnyák, József Molnár and László Szenttornyai, with graphics and animation by Talent, sounds by András Magyari and film linking by Gyuri Szollosi. Published by SEGA of America, Inc. in 1991.

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INTRODUCTION AND GAME STATUS


Since the first seasonal Epyx two-parter, I have attempted to have one of these at least once a year. A year ago, the obligatory Epyx sports game comparison of the year was Summer Games II, and since then, I have had requests to write yet another one, more particularly of California Games. I'm not sure, whether this will be the last one I make, or not, because there's still World Games to consider as being part of the original series; it all depends on how long I have the energy to write this blog. But a comparison of California Games is what people have asked for, so it's what you shall be given this summer.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

FRGR #10: Yleisurheilu (Amersoft, 1984)


Written by Juha and Mika Salomäki for the Commodore VIC-20 and C64.
The C64 version was published in 1985.

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INTRODUCTION


It's that time of month again to do another Finnish Retro Game Review, and for now, it shall be the last one for a while. There is a good reason for it, though: I'm going to focus my time I would usually spend on writing the FRGR entries on something much bigger, but loosely related to the topic. Now, though, the tenth game in the FRGR series is about another game which will require plenty of translating, which is also the first - and so far, the only Finnish multi-event athletic sports game: Amersoft's Yleisurheilu for the VIC-20 and C64. Naturally, having been released for two computers, this is also a comparison of sorts, but not quite in the same manner as a game released for two computers from two different manufacturers would be.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

TWOFER #16: Roland's re-branded CPC adventures!

1. Bugaboo/Booga-Boo (The Flea) (Investronica S.A./Quicksilva, 1983)

Originally written for the Sinclair ZX81 as "La Pulga" by Paco Suárez Garcia, but was, and remains officially unreleased.

Re-written for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Paco Suárez Garcia and Paco Portalo Calero, and published through Quicksilva in 1983.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Paco Suárez Garcia, with graphics by Juanjo Redondo, and released through Amsoft in 1984 as "Roland in the Caves".

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Pedro Ruiz, with graphics by Ángel Domínguez and music by Félix Arribas, and published through Quicksilva in 1984.

Written for the MSX computers by Steve and Ann Haigh, and published through Quicksilva in 1986.

2. Fred (Zigurat/Investronica S.A./Quicksilva, 1984)

Written for the Amstrad CPC by Paco Menendez, Fernando Rada Briega, Camilo Cela and Carlos Granados Martinez, and published in Spain by Zigurat in 1984. Also re-branded and re-released as "Roland on the Ropes" by Amsoft for the Amstrad CPC in 1984.

Written for the Commodore 64 by Pedro Ruiz, and first published in the UK by Quicksilva in 1984.

Written for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Carlos Granados Martinez, Paco Menendez, Fernando Rada Briega and Juan Delcan, and first published in Spain by Investronica S.A. in 1984.

Also converted for the Texas Instruments TI-99/4A by Arnd Russmann, and released as "Freddy" by Saurussoft in 1985.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Kane (Mastertronic, 1986)


Designed and written for the Commodore 64 by John Darnell in 1985, with additional graphics by Nicole Baikaloff and Janet Porch.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC and Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Simon Freeman.

Conversion for the Acorn BBC Micro and Electron produced by Mike Woodbridge; no further credits are known.

Also converted for the Commodore 16 and Plus/4, but no credits are known.

All versions published by Mastertronic in 1986.

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GAME STATUS


I thought this might be a good time to do a comparison of a game by the recently re-emerged John Darnell, whose work I shall be talking about after the main event. Kane was always one of my favourite games of his, although he has more ambitious games in his softography, and because I know a few of my C64'ing friends also have a soft spot for this particular game, it seemed like a good choice to end this month with.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

FRGR #09: Bomulus and the Lost Crown (Teknopiste, 1986)

Written by Sampo Suvisaari for the MSX/SVI computers, and published by Teknopiste in 1986.

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INTRODUCTION


Our timetravels today will take us back into 1985, which was when the Finnish computing wares importing company Teknopiste started publishing Finnish-made games, mainly for the MSX-compatible computers. One such case has already been dealt with earlier in the blog (Space Satellite), but today's game is the title that practically ended Teknopiste's run as a game publishing company, before the job of publishing Finnish MSX-games was more or less handed over to Triosoft. Bomulus and the Lost Crown is the final part in a trilogy of Bomulus games, but the first two games in the series, "Bomulus ja beduiinit" (translates literally to "Bomulus and the bedouines") and "Bomulus atomivakoojana" (translates more or less to "Bomulus the Nuclear Spy") are more difficult to find, so this is the only game in the series I am able to write about at the moment. Strangely enough, this is also the only game in the series, which uses English instead of Finnish for the displayed messages, supposedly in an attempt to get more international MSX gamers interested. This makes it all the more sad to say, that this shall be the last MSX game in the series, until more Finnish MSX/SVI games are found and/or digitized to an emulatable format... so let's make the best of it.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Into The Eagle's Nest (Pandora, 1987)

Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and Sinclair ZX Spectrum versions written by Kevin Parker, with graphics by Robin Chapman. Additional programming for the Commodore Amiga version by Nigel Edwards. Music for the Amstrad CPC version by Andy Severn and A. Brown.

Commodore 64 version written by Andrew Challis. Graphics by Robin Chapman. Music by Keith "Howlin' Mad" Harvey.

Apple ][ version written by Andrew Pines, based on the Commodore 64 version.

IBM-PC version developed by Visionware, Inc: Programming by S. Chan and Robin Kar. Graphics by Robin Chapman and Matthew Crysdale.

All of the above versions originally written in 1986, but published for the European market by Pandora, and for the North American market by Mindscape in 1987.

Atari 8-bit version written by Kees Beekhuis, with graphics by Robin Chapman. Published by Atari Corporation in 1988.

Unofficial conversion for the Commodore Plus/4 written by Mucsi, with additional graphics by Jeva. Released by Muffbusters in 1990.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Previously on FRGCB: Sega tried to push themselves on the simultaneous four-player gaming market with something perhaps a bit too different from Atari's smash hit, Gauntlet. Today's entry takes the other path, and in a way, does Gauntlet in a single-player mode, and takes the action to World War II. Allegedly, Into the Eagle's Nest was heavily inspired by the movie "Where Eagles Dare", so naturally, I had to watch the movie for the first time in perhaps over 20, maybe even closer to 30 years. It's a great movie for its time, I have to admit, but I could only see some very basic resemblance in the game. The movie's screenplay was written by Alistair MacLean, while doing a novel of it simultaneously, so perhaps there are some differences worth examining, but I have no time for it right now, nor do I believe the comparison between the book and the movie to be fruitful in connection to the game. And in any case, the game is the more important subject here, so let's get on with it.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Quartet (Sega, 1986)

Designed by Rieko Kodama for Sega Enterprises, with music by Katsuhiro Hayashi. Originally released for the arcades by Sega in 1986.

Conversion for the Sega Master System (Mark III) written and released by Sega in 1987. Released in Japan as "Double Target - Cynthia no Nemuri"

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Sega: Produced by Jonathan Dean, Music by David Whittaker. Published through Activision in 1987.

Converted for the ZX Spectrum by Probe Software: Programming by Antony R. Lill, Graphics by Nick Bruty. Published through Activision in 1987.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC by Probe Software: Programming by Anthony Heartley. Published through Activision in 1987.

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GAME STATUS


Admittedly, this isn't one of Sega's most successful games of all time, particularly when it comes to the home conversions. However, due to its limited exposure, I thought Quartet would make for a nice alternative against all the more obvious games, and besides, there aren't too many games that begin with the letter Q that would be interesting enough to fit into the blog. But what makes Quartet a properly interesting game is the fact that it was released just a bit after Atari's Gauntlet - another four-player action game was doing high profit in both the arcades and home computers. Not too many game companies would have the guts to try and achieve the same level of success with something quite a bit different. As you might already know, the home conversions of Quartet left a lot to be desired on every platform, but can you really blame the conversion teams for their attempts?

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Well, I'll be...!



Over half a million visits this blog has had already, and the rate at which this number grows, only seems to be getting quicker. So, half a million thanks to everyone of you out there - let's see if we can't get it up to a full million within the next year, so we can have a proper celebration!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Congo Bongo (Sega, 1983)

Developed (at least partly) by Ikegami Tsushinki for SEGA Enterprises Ltd., and released originally for the Japanese arcades as "Tip Top" in 1983.

Converted and mostly published by Sega for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit computers, MSX, Sega SG-1000, Commodore 64, Commodore VIC-20, Mattel Intellivision and Texas Instruments TI-99/4A in 1983.

So far, the only known credits are:
- Commodore 64 and VIC-20: additional programming by Kevin Kenney; published by SEGA/US Gold.
- Intellivision: programming by Mike Noll
- TI-99/4A: published by Texas Instruments Incorporated

Also converted and published by Sega for the Apple ][ and IBM-PC compatibles in 1984.
Still also converted for the ColecoVision in 1984, and published by Coleco Industries, Inc.
Converted again for the Commodore 64 in 1985 by SEGA/US Gold.

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GAME STATUS


Here's another early Sega classic for you, and our game for today is perhaps not quite as obscure as the last one. This time, I'm picking up one of my friend Bob's favourite games, Congo Bongo, which was basically Sega's attempt at cashing in on the success of their earlier collaboration with Konami on Frogger, as well as Nintendo's Donkey Kong. According to Wikipedia, it wasn't much of a success when it was released, but despite of it, Congo Bongo was ported to nearly every major gaming platform at the time, and uniquely, the C64 was given two different official conversions, as if someone was trying to apologise and make up for making such a mess the first time around. Weirdly, as with most other Sega's early games, the game's developing and porting team credits are well kept secrets for the most part, but there are indications in the game's original arcade ROM to it having been likely coded at least in part by the company Ikegami Tsushinki, who also worked on Donkey Kong and Zaxxon. If anyone finds out more about the credits for any version, please drop a line in the comments section.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Up'n Down (Sega, 1983)

Designed by Yoji Ishii.
Developed by SEGA Enterprises Ltd., and released for the Japanese arcades by SEGA, and for the North American arcades by Bally/Midway in 1983.

Ported for the following home computers and video game systems in-house by SEGA Enterprises Ltd.: Apple ][, Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit computers, ColecoVision and Commodore 64 in 1984 and IBM-PC compatibles in 1987.

ColecoVision conversion programmed by Paul Crowley. Commodore 64 music by Tony Vece. IBM-PC conversion by R. Leittner. No other credits are known.

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GAME STATUS


This month, I shall be focusing on Sega's old arcade titles, starting with this slightly lesser-known title to give some filler for the other end of the alphabetically ordered list. The popularity, or at least the becoming of more common knowledge among 80's gamers of Up'n Down, I believe, can be credited mostly to piracy. At least from what I can remember, it was one of those games that was most likely to be featured on any C64 gamer's collection of either turbo tapes or disks full of single-filed games. I'm pretty sure it must have been the same story for Apple ][, 8-bit Atari and IBM-PC communities back then, but I can only attest to the game's C64 spreading. Although Up'n Down along with a few other games from Sega were to be converted for both ZX Spectrum and Amstrad CPC, this was one of the games that sadly never got released, but we're still hoping for a prototype or something to appear. Not only that, but there was supposed to be an SG-1000 version of the game, which was reportedly advertised in Japan and Finland of all places - that one never appeared either. As it is, though, seven different versions is already a lot to take in and write about.


Sunday, 26 February 2017

FRGR #08: Golf Master (Hewson/Rack-It, 1988)

Written by Mikko Helevä in 1987 for the Commodore 64. Loading screen by Stephen "SIR" Robertson. Originally published through Hewson's Rack-It budget label in 1988.

Re-released as "Challenge Golf" by Prism Leisure Corp. in 1992.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


We continue the Finnish Retro Game Reviews series back in the expected realm of Commodore 64 games. This time, however, the game under inspection is the only commercially released game from a then-promising game developer, Mikko Helevä, whose only other game developing credit is an Asteroids-clone called Space Ace, also for the C64. Although Golf Master came too late in the 8-bit computers' time to make much of an impact, it was deemed good enough for a re-release by Prism Leisure in 1992, as well as freebies included in both February 1991 Zzap!64 Megatape and Commodore Force Reel Action #7 covertape (from 1993). Despite the relative success, and very likely due to Mikko's young age of 18 when his Golf Master was released, he never got back into game developing - at least not to anyone's knowledge. Golf Master's current rating being 5.1 from 14 votes at Lemon64, perhaps it's not much of a wonder that we haven't heard from Mikko Helevä since 1989. In any case, once again in a relatively short, but seamless review form, here's a proper look at the only currently available Finnish golf game - let's hope it serves a purpose.

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Drelbs (Synapse Software, 1983)

Designed and written by Kelly Jones for the Atari 8-bit computers in 1983. Converted for the Apple ][ by Jonathan Tifft. Converted for the Commodore 64 by Miriam Nathan and William Mandel in 1984.

Published by Synapse Software in the North American market and by U.S. Gold in the European market.

Remake for the Commodore Amiga written by Simon Chin, and released into public domain in 1995.

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GAME STATUS


Here we have another cult classic from Synapse Software's catalogue, this making it the sixth game from Synapse to be featured on this blog. It is perhaps a bit odd that it took so long to come to this one, at least from my point of view, because it's one of the games that was requested early on in the blog's life, but for a long time, I wasn't aware of the unofficial Amiga remake or even the Apple ][ version. I remember this game having been a great favourite of mine and also a few of my friends back in their active C64 days, which makes it strange to realize that it wasn't much of a hit back when it was originally published, so in the hopes of spreading out the good word, here's my contribution to advertising this game.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Garfield: Big, Fat, Hairy Deal (The Edge, 1987)

Designed and written for the Commodore 64 by Stephen Cargill. (This has not been divulged anywhere, but it's an assumption based on information in other versions.) Music by Neil Baldwin and sound effects by Jas C. Brooke. Released by The Edge in 1987.

Converted and released for the ZX Spectrum, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST and Commodore Amiga in 1988: Design and programming by Stephen Cargill, with additional programming on the Amiga version by John Jones-Steele. Amiga and ST graphics by Jack Wilkes, Amstrad graphics by Mat (Sneap, perhaps?) and Spectrum graphics by Neil Strudwick. Amiga music and sound effects by David Whittaker. Released by The Edge in 1988.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


The first of many games featuring everyone's favourite overweight feline was expected with some enthusiasm in 1987, and not only because the first attempt for the Atari 2600 was cancelled three years prior, and the second computerized version of Garfield wasn't a game at all, but a cartoon studio of sorts. The company to take over the first Garfield game to actually be released was The Edge (currently Edge Games), later to become more known for their enforcing trademarks relating to the word "edge". But at the time, The Edge were still known to produce some pretty good games like Bobby Bearing, Fairlight, Brian Bloodaxe and Mindstone. So, when Garfield was announced, there was promise of high quality cartoon graphics and an adventure worthy of Garfield's name, and these promises were even fulfilled to some extent. Having a beloved cartoon (or comic strip) turned into a computer game was still somewhat of a novelty at the time, so it didn't bother too much that the game was practically a modified version of Pyjamarama. Deeper within the surface, though, Garfield's first proper game proved to be a more brutally aggravating game for some than what one would have expected from a Pyjamarama variant, and has been considered either a lost opportunity or a wasted effort by many. My experience of the game has been woefully limited to the C64 original so far, so this entry is not just an attempt to prove that it's still a rather playable game, but also to educate myself and others like me of the differences between all five versions of one big, fat, hairy computerized deal.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

FRGR #07: Kultakuume (Triosoft, 1986)

Written by Marko Aho and Kari Aaltonen for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum in 1985, and published by Triosoft in 1986.

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DESCRIPTION & STATUS


The series of Finnish Retro Game Reviews continues from where my series of a History of Finnish Games began. This will probably be the shortest entry in the history of FRGCB, because it's a review of a text adventure game. Well, at least it has some graphics, so it's not going to be a completely barren entry in that way. Too bad the cover art and the loading screen have been lost in time, and the only downloadable version currently available is a .z80 file (inside a .zip archive) at Marko's old website, which was last updated in June 2007. In any case, Kultakuume (Finnish for "Gold Rush") was the only commercially released Finnish text adventure game for the ZX Spectrum, and it was made with Gilsoft's The Quill Adventure System from 1983 and The Illustrator from 1984. It was also one of only three commercially released Finnish ZX Spectrum games, the third of which is a golf game which hasn't been found yet.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Blades of Steel (Konami, 1987)

Originally developed and released by Konami for the arcades in 1987. Sound editor: Kazuki Muraoka. Cabinet graphic design: Don Marshall. Further credits are unknown.

Conversion for the Nintendo Entertainment System by Konami: Directed by Shigeharu Umezaki.
Programming by Shigeharu Umezaki and Satoshi Kishiwada. Character design by Setsu Muraki and T. Nishikawa. Music by Shinya Sakamoto, Kazuki Muraoka, Atsushi Fujio and Kiyohiro Sada. Released in 1988. Also released for the Famicom Disk System as "Konamic Ice Hockey".

Conversion for the Commodore Amiga and IBM-PC compatibles by Novotrade: Programming by Peter Agocs, Judit Buczolich and József Szentesi. Graphics by Zoltan Hoth. Released by Konami in 1990.


Converted for the Commodore 64 by Antal Zolnai for Novotrade, and released by Konami in 1990.

Converted for the Nintendo Game Boy by Konami: Directed by Y. Nakanishi. Programming by Y. Nakanishi and S. Tamate. Character design by Nobuaki Matsumoto. Music by Hidehiro Funauchi and Akiko Itoh. Released as "Konamic Ice Hockey" by Konami in 1991 in Japan. Released as "Blades of Steel" by Ultra in 1991 outside of Japan.

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INTRODUCTION & GAME STATUS


Happy New Year, everybody! Let's start 2017 with something cheerful and fitting for the season: ice hockey! Since the blog has already featured my all-time favourite hockey game - Hat Trick, there is only one other game of this particular sport that can be considered good comparison material. Curiously enough, my initial research into Blades of Steel faced a peculiar obstacle: no source seems to have any knowledge on the team behind the original arcade game. Even the "thank-you" sections in the NES and Game Boy credits list the original arcade team as exactly such. Mysterious, isn't it?