Conversion Capers feels lazy

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RocketRanger
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Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by RocketRanger » Fri Apr 17, 2020 7:02 am

I've really enjoyed your magazine for years, some of your articles feel so stupidly niche' I'm convinced there must only be a handful of people that read them and that's not a bad thing.

My one continuing anoyance with the mag is the conversion capers section that accompony various (otherwise good) retrospectives.

I don't know who is writing these but the format feels pretty much the same each month:

Spectrum version: "Marvelous work considering the machine's limitations. Exactly how I remember it"
Amstrad version: "Just loaded it up in an emulator, looks like speccy code but slower so crap"
C64 version: "Just loaded it up in an emulator, looks crap"
etc.

We get it that whoever writes this section had a Spectrum and has no idea about the other machine ports merits or context but it's lazy journalism.

Have a look at Chinny vision on YouTube, he uses actual hardware and makes really good fair points about each machines ports rather than just lazily dismissing them in an emulator. The various 'comparison' threads on your own forums are vastly superior as they have input from people that actually remembers playing the game.

It's an annoying feature, at least in the way it's currently executed.

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Darran@Retro Gamer
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by Darran@Retro Gamer » Fri Apr 17, 2020 11:32 am

Sorry you feel that way. Conversion Capers is really popular, so we won't be changing it any time soon.
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mr jenzie
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by mr jenzie » Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:14 pm

but isn't that totally accurate to the REAL machines!
:twisted:

also screenshots

do you WANT them to hang a computer out of the window in THIS day and age?!?
:lol:

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RocketRanger
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by RocketRanger » Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:35 pm

mr jenzie wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:14 pm
but isn't that totally accurate to the REAL machines!
:twisted:

also screenshots

do you WANT them to hang a computer out of the window in THIS day and age?!?
:lol:
You are saying that the journalists for retrogamer do not need to play the games on real hardware and a quick 'load it up and see what it looks like in an emulator' is enough for them to write quality content? That's a bit like a film critic reviewing films after just watching the first few minutes of a film using a dodgy rip-off pirate copy. It's completely out of context and misses a good portion of the real experience.

However I can understand the use of emulators, that is not the real issue, my original point is that the opinions of these conversions comes across as being written by someone spending the minimum amount of time on the various conversions they have never played before. It seems a bit wasteful.

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Alex79uk2
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by Alex79uk2 » Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:49 am

I can't really agree with this. I don't think a Conversion Capers write up necessarily needs a lengthy play through in order to write about each version. The game would be largely the same (and if it's not, this would be pointed out) so really the main things to point out would be alterations in the graphics and how the game runs, both of which can be evaluated after a few minutes of play. Personally, having already read a fairly sizable feature on a game I don't feel there would be much value in really in-depth looks at each different port. Just a few lines pointing out any differences or something is all that's needed I think. Just my thoughts, though.

Re: the movie reviewer analogy; no, I don't think it would be like a movie being reviewed after 5 minutes of a pirate copy. However, if you were comparing say VHS to DVD to Bluray of the same movie, you wouldn't need to sit and watch it three times all the way through. You could confidently comment on the quality of the picture and audio of each format after a few minutes though, couldn't you. That's more how I'd look at it.
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RocketRanger
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by RocketRanger » Mon Apr 20, 2020 7:28 am

To give a specific example which was the final straw for me, the recent 'Hard Drivin' comparison. The complete write-off of the CPC conversion was disingenuous and even contained a couple of things that weren't true. The screen isn't "much smaller", it's just in on a higher resolution mode but it's a pixel by pixel port of the fine speccy game. Much of that might come down to how large your TV was.

That port was perfectly well respected by CPC owners at the time, reviewed well, and it's only with access to YouTube videos and emulators that you are able to notice it plays slightly slower than the speccy version (due to the difference in screen memory) , I've beaten the entire game many times (I've also beaten the speccy version) so it's not enough that it makes the game unplayable as the "comparison" suggests. In fact it has some nice use of multi-split modes and some nice presentation enancements. The speccy version is a triumph and I think it's a reasonably well optimised port that still has enough pace when compared to the freescape 3D games we were used to.

I must admit I wasn't aware the CPC version was a direct port until the internet came along, as I said it reviewed well enough - I played the arcade version many times and thought a CPC version was impossible. What we ended up with was (as ChinnyVision put it in his YT comparison ) extensively the same as the Speccy version, that's to say a perfectly reasonable sourvernier of the arcade version and I was able to improve on the arcade machine by learning the tracks on my Amstrad which was unthinkable before I bought the tape copy for my 6128.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not claiming that the CPC isn't in second place. Just that the write up was "oh dear, awful hah" bla after praising the Spectrum version. That's best left to these forums and the playgrounds of the 80s.

We simple weren't able to lug our Amstrads and Spectrums round to each others houses in the day and compare frame-rates, in reality both versions are technically impresive considering the limitations of both machines and the Z80 code was outstanding given that most programmers wouldn't have come up with anything that was recognisable compared to the arcade game. They both run at 2-3 frames per second which is laughable when compared to even 16-bit games at the time but we didn't mind. Back in the day we didn't mind.

You really do have to look hard, even with the beneift of emulation and videos, to notice that the games run at slightly different speeds, the same could be said about the CPC port of Chase HQ so I guess that's also a write off? In the same "comparison" I notice that the Amiga port of the ST game isn't a complete write-off even though it too runs at a slightly slower pace.

Just one example, there are frequently many other very lazy, playground style, writing-off of other versions via just loading them up in an emulator and making assumptions. Another one that really urked me was off was apparantly North & South on the CPC is horrible because it had a "pink fort". Yet these kinds of pedantic notes are never aimed at the reviewers favourite "mine is best" system.

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Rory Milne
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by Rory Milne » Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:19 am

It's worth noting that the writer of issue 205's Hard Drivin' feature absolutely slates the Spectrum version of Special Criminal Investigation in his issue 206 article, which tends to suggest that he's not playing favourites - or taking prisoners.

The North & South Comparison Capers that has the "pink fort" joke in it was nine years ago, and it described the CPC 464 version as "a very respectible port," so I'd say there was some balance there too.

Just saying. :)

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RocketRanger
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by RocketRanger » Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:36 am

Rory Milne wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:19 am
It's worth noting that the writer of issue 205's Hard Drivin' feature absolutely slates the Spectrum version of Special Criminal Investigation in his issue 206 article, which tends to suggest that he's not playing favourites - or taking prisoners.

The North & South Comparison Capers that has the "pink fort" joke in it was nine years ago, and it described the CPC 464 version as "a very respectible port," so I'd say there was some balance there too.

Just saying. :)
Which is why context is important. The 464 (tape) version of north & south was awful in reality as was the Speccy & C64 tape versions.

All tape versions of North & South had the multi-load from hell, the worst multi-load I ever encoutered. My friend had the tape version, you had to load all of the language/level selection screens seperatly (10 odd mins for each screen), turn over the tape for the map screen (10- 25 mins?) and rewind another tape for the battle screens (10 mins) or the arcade sequence (10-15 mins), then you had to rewind the tape and load the map screen again.

They were also cut down compared to the disk versions, the train sequences were missing and battles only had one background screen.

If you even had the patience to multi-load through one cassette game of north & south it felt like a demo version of the superior disk versions. We knew there was a good game in there, but had to upgrade to the disk version to really start enjoying it.

But of course, we rewrite history around emulation experience now don't we?

My point about the "pink fort" comment was that it would not have been made by the reviewer when mentioning the Spectrum version of a game they liked. In my opinion the "reviewer" looks to pick holes in the versions he didn't play. Unconcious bias maybe, but it doesn't seem to be written as an opinion piece - more factual. So to produce a content of any quality around comparisons you have to speak to a few people that actually played it back in the day, or do some basic research like see what the magazines thought of the game or the communities that actually liked the format.
Last edited by RocketRanger on Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:45 am, edited 2 times in total.

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ivarf
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by ivarf » Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:42 am

Rory Milne wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:19 am
It's worth noting that the writer of issue 205's Hard Drivin' feature absolutely slates the Spectrum version of Special Criminal Investigation in his issue 206 article, which tends to suggest that he's not playing favourites - or taking prisoners.
Just saying. :)
No wonder, SCI was written by ICE. The same guy(s) that wrote Outrun. You really have to be diehard fanboy to reccomend games by ICE.

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RocketRanger
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by RocketRanger » Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:49 am

One last point I'd like to make, in case anyone from the magazine does read this.

These games were written on CRT screens, colour/graphical choices were chosen for CRT screens not emulators.

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Rory Milne
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by Rory Milne » Mon Apr 20, 2020 10:21 am

RocketRanger wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:49 am
One last point I'd like to make, in case anyone from the magazine does read this.

These games were written on CRT screens, colour/graphical choices were chosen for CRT screens not emulators.
I write for the magazine, and Darran said something earlier in the thread - he's the editor of the magazine. We both own CRT TVs.

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Rory Milne
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by Rory Milne » Mon Apr 20, 2020 10:23 am

ivarf wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 9:42 am
No wonder, SCI was written by ICE. The same guy(s) that wrote Outrun. You really have to be diehard fanboy to reccomend games by ICE.
Too true. And the writer of the SCI feature is no diehard fanboy, so the Spectrum port was duly slated. :)

MartynC
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by MartynC » Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:20 am

Hey I think the CPC version of Hard Drivin is pretty good. I didn't call it 'unplayable' or summarise that it was a 'complete write-off'.

Here's what I wrote: "Oh dear. Besides a nice Mode 1 dashboard, this is a hasty port of the Spectrum version (the monochrome graphics and smaller screen size are dead giveaways). This wouldn't be such a bad thing, except it's slower and choppier than the Spectrum version, which impacts on the gameplay." If I had to apply a score it would have been 73% ;)

A couple of things to note here. In the mag, the word 'monochrome' was removed for space reasons, but it doesn't change what I meant. I wanted to highlight its obvious Speccy origins, and I think the screen size is important here, which is exactly the same as the Spec version (256x192). It's quite noticeably especially as the map transmission select screens are 320px wide, and then it reduces when the game starts.

The opening "Oh dear". That does look disingenuous out of context. I was queuing up the "Oh dear oh dear" opening for the C64 review that followed. Either way, not my finest moment.

For the record, I do use emulators, but if I'm making direct comparisons between versions, I always run them side by side so I can properly appraise the differences.

I'm guessing the main issue here is brevity. Trying to sum up a version in just 50 words can be tricky, and sometimes meanings may get muddled or missed entirely.

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jdanddiet
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by jdanddiet » Wed Apr 22, 2020 6:16 am

MartynC wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:20 am
Hey I think the CPC version of Hard Drivin is pretty good. I didn't call it 'unplayable' or summarise that it was a 'complete write-off'.

Here's what I wrote: "Oh dear. Besides a nice Mode 1 dashboard, this is a hasty port of the Spectrum version (the monochrome graphics and smaller screen size are dead giveaways). This wouldn't be such a bad thing, except it's slower and choppier than the Spectrum version, which impacts on the gameplay." If I had to apply a score it would have been 73% ;)

A couple of things to note here. In the mag, the word 'monochrome' was removed for space reasons, but it doesn't change what I meant. I wanted to highlight its obvious Speccy origins, and I think the screen size is important here, which is exactly the same as the Spec version (256x192). It's quite noticeably especially as the map transmission select screens are 320px wide, and then it reduces when the game starts.

The opening "Oh dear". That does look disingenuous out of context. I was queuing up the "Oh dear oh dear" opening for the C64 review that followed. Either way, not my finest moment.

For the record, I do use emulators, but if I'm making direct comparisons between versions, I always run them side by side so I can properly appraise the differences.

I'm guessing the main issue here is brevity. Trying to sum up a version in just 50 words can be tricky, and sometimes meanings may get muddled or missed entirely.
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antsbull
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Re: Conversion Capers feels lazy

Post by antsbull » Fri Apr 24, 2020 1:10 am

RocketRanger wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:35 pm
mr jenzie wrote:
Fri Apr 17, 2020 2:14 pm
but isn't that totally accurate to the REAL machines!
:twisted:

also screenshots

do you WANT them to hang a computer out of the window in THIS day and age?!?
:lol:
You are saying that the journalists for retrogamer do not need to play the games on real hardware and a quick 'load it up and see what it looks like in an emulator' is enough for them to write quality content? That's a bit like a film critic reviewing films after just watching the first few minutes of a film using a dodgy rip-off pirate copy. It's completely out of context and misses a good portion of the real experience.

However I can understand the use of emulators, that is not the real issue, my original point is that the opinions of these conversions comes across as being written by someone spending the minimum amount of time on the various conversions they have never played before. It seems a bit wasteful.
The thing is, a movie review is about the movie, so you'd expect the entire thing to be watched -the conversion capers are just a sidebar to other content, so thats not a great analogy.

I read the articles from a pretty neutral point-of-view, as I grew up in the late 80s and 90s and had DOS machines for gaming, so a lot of the time there isn't even a conversion for it. I've never had the impression that the Spectrum was getting any favouritism, I actually think it shows through a lot of the time in the Conversion Capers that the Amstrad is given the attention it deserved back in the day but never got.

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