Wednesday, 21 February 2018

1,000,000 !!!

Well, here it is! The milestone of one-millionth visit to the blog was reached today, on the 21st of February, 2018. In addition to being now featured on two top retrogaming blog lists (many thanks for the more recent addition to The Great Setup!), this is definitely a milestone worth celebrating. Of course, since I figured this was coming sooner or later, I prepared this little video to express my thanks and thoughts on the matter. (Hope you can make out all the words, my recording setup is not perhaps the best for this sort of a thing...)

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Frankie Goes To Hollywood (Ocean Software, 1985)

Developed by Denton Designs.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum version:
Programming by John Gibson and Roy Gibson
Graphics by Karen Davies

Commodore 64 version:
Programming by Dave Colclough and Graham Everett
Graphics by Karen Davies
Music by Fred Gray

Published in Europe by Ocean Software in 1985.
The C64 version also published in North America by Firebird in 1986.

Amstrad CPC version written by John Gibson, and published by Ocean Software in 1986.

NOTE: This entry also contains a slightly belated bonus tribute chapter to the recently passed Bob Wakelin, who made the cover art for this game, as well as a great deal of many other classic games of this era. May he rest in peace.



A long time ago in a Finnish village far, far away from any real access to anything that was going on in the real world, a young boy just about ready to take his first steps into computer gaming was utterly, blissfully unaware of anything resembling modern pop music. Right about that time, an oddly named pop group called Frankie Goes To Hollywood had released their few smash hit singles, as well as a couple of albums, before disbanding. The first time I actually learnt that Frankie Goes To Hollywood was a band was shortly after I had first come across this game on Ocean's compilation, The Magnificent Seven, and played it for a while. Like all the other best games have a tendency to do, Frankie the Computer Game (as it was otherwise known) and its brilliance took awhile to sink in. It didn't help, that I hadn't read anything about the game before playing it - not even the manual. See, part of the whole point in experiencing Frankie the Computer Game with as little knowledge as possible is the sheer surprise of discovery, but happily, it still manages to remain somewhat of a mystery. In case you want to keep this game as a mystery before you play it, do yourself a favour and stop reading now. If you're familiar with Frankie the game, read on.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Crack Down (Sega, 1989)

Developed and released for the arcades by SEGA Enterprises, Ltd. in 1989. Music by Yasuhiro Kawakami.

Converted for the Atari ST and Commodore Amiga by Arc Developments: Programming by Tim Round, Graphics by Paul Walker, Music by Mark Cooksey. Published by U.S. Gold in 1989 for Atari ST and in 1990 for Commodore Amiga.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Arc Developments: Programming by Chris Coupe, Graphics by Paul Walker,
Music by Mark Cooksey, NTSC conversion by Darrin Stubbington. Published for the European market by U.S. Gold, and for the North American market by Sega in 1990.

Converted for the Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum by Arc Developments, and published by U.S. Gold in 1990. No further credits known.

Conversion for the IBM-PC compatibles programmed by Joe Peter, and published by SEGA of America, Inc. in 1990.

Converted for the Sega Genesis/Megadrive by Sage's Creation, Inc.: Programming by SA.160A, Kimihiro Endoh, EBUC and Soft MA; Graphics by Kanazawa, Nagasaki and Gunma; Sound design by Masaru Suzuki; Music by Sega and Mecanoize. Published by SEGA Enterprises Ltd. in 1991.



Odd to think that this will be already the 200th entry on the FRGCB, although I'm not sure if it's quite the 200th game comparison, if you count all the twofers. But since we're celebrating such an occasion, and seeing as this is probably the last time I shall be needing a collaborator on a FRGCB entry, I decided to pick a properly good game. It was to be either Atari's Xybots or Sega's Crack Down, and a coinflip was the deciding factor. To be honest, I never knew if Crack Down was ever considered as a proper classic or anything of the kind, but ever since I found and bought the C64 version randomly from a flea market about 22 years ago, I have always thought Crack Down a cracking good concept, and I had never even heard of it before then. Perhaps if I ever bring the blog back in the distant future, I shall do a comparison of Xybots, but that's a big "if".

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Zenji (Activision, 1984)

Designed and written by Matthew Hubbard for for Atari 8-bit computers and 5200.

Converted for the Commodore 64 by Adam Bellin.
Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum by Software Conversions Ltd.
Converted for the ColecoVision and MSX by Action Graphics, Inc.

The Atari 5200/8-bit, ColecoVision, Commodore 64 and Sinclair ZX Spectrum versions published through Activision in 1984.
The MSX version published through Pony Canyon in 1984.



To start this year with a light-weight comparison, here's an odd little action-puzzler for the other end of the alphabet, which you don't really hear talked about too much. Can't imagine why, really, because I always thought this one was well worth anyone's notice, even though it's aesthetically not particularly inspiring. As a matter of fact, I don't think I have ever seen a review of this game anywhere, so bumping into Zenji at a distant relative's house for the first time when I was about 14 or so, was somewhat of an eye-opener. It was one of those games that got me inspired to do some further research on games outside of my own comfort zone. Until now, though, I hadn't realized that this was originally an Atari game, so for those simple reasons, this became one of the last chosen games for this blog.

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Unique Games! - Encore (Part 11)

From what I've gathered, the Unique Games series has been one of the most popular recurring features on FRGCB, so I decided to do one more before I make my exit from the blogosphere. Happily, I still managed to find enough of unique or at least exclusive games since late September to get a good, hefty set; some platforms feature six games, some only five, sometimes for a good reason, sometimes not. As a thanks for all your support on the series, here's the last serving of Unique Games for a slightly belated Christmas present, and it's a long one! Enjoy!

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

TWOFER #18: Classic Finnish shooters

1. Delta (Thalamus, 1987)

Written by Stavros Fasoulas for the Commodore 64, with music by Rob Hubbard and title screen by Bob Stevenson.
Released as "Delta Patrol" in North America by Electronic Arts.

Converted for the Sinclair ZX Spectrum 48k/128k and SAM Coupé computers in 1990 by Twilight: Jason McGann, Andrew Swann, Peter Tattersall and Mark Mason (details unknown).
Released by Thalamus Ltd. as "Delta Charge!" in 1990.

2. Stardust (Bloodhouse, 1993)

NOTE: Different sources list slightly differing credits, so this is a compiled list of all those. If anyone has any real information, throw in a comment.

Designed and developed by Bloodhouse for the Commodore Amiga: Programming by Harri Tikkanen, Jussi Hartzell and Mikko Hämäläinen. Graphics by Celeborn Hagelberg, Jani Isoranta, Mare Ollinkari and Sampsa Virtanen. Sounds and music by Risto Vuori and Bassbomb. Miscellaneous stuff by Petri Putkonen.

Conversion for the Atari STE/Falcon030 developed by Aggression: Programming by Jani Penttinen, Rene Kivioja and Tomi Kivelä. Sounds and music by Risto Vuori and Tero Kostermaa.

Conversion for the IBM-PC compatibles developed by Francis Pierot, and published in 1995.



For my final Finnish Independence Day special, at least until further notice, I chose to examine two of the most famous classic Finnish shoot'em-ups. The first one takes a look at how Thalamus cemented their name in C64 publishers' hall of fame, and later attempted to repeat the success on the ZX Spectrum. The second one was made originally, and for a long time, exclusively for the 16-bit home computers by Bloodhouse, who later merged with Terramarque into one big powerhouse called Housemarque. That's two cornerstones in Finnish gaming catalogue that no-one should miss.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Bomberman - the origins and variations

While I was working on the remakes and demakes entry a while back, I considered including the various brilliant Bomberman (or Bomber Man, as it is sometimes written) clones made for various old platforms in the recent years, but it didn't take too long for me to realize, that it's too big of a subject to talk about in passing. In truth, I have wanted to talk about the Bomberman series throughout the blog's history, and the subject has been often requested as well, but without limiting the area to a certain number of games or anything of the sort, it would be impossible to do just one article on it. So, only by modifying the idea from my earlier article on Paratroopers - its origins and variations (from 3 and a half years ago!), I can finally have the chance to talk about not only the original series, but also the numerous latter-time unofficial ports that are otherwise impossible to mention anywhere. Hold on to your helmets!