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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.