The 8-bit GAME COMPARISON Thread

Discuss and discover all the great games of yesteryear!

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Post by Emperor Fossil » Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:24 am

I planned to try a big comparison of a particular game over several systems, but the game in question is a shooter of sorts and I realised I've only done shooters so far, so for the sake of variety I thought I'd take a look at a different style of game -- a game in which you zap things with a laser to make them explode... oh, wait... can I start again?


DEFLEKTOR

The K in the name really does it for me. It's the kind of name that demands to be in all caps, maybe even preceded by the words: 'Your puny weapons are no match for me, for I am...'
So, developed by one Costa Panayi, DEFLEKTOR is a puzzle game that requires you to adjust the angle of various mirrors in order to DEFLEKT a laser beam about the playfield with the aim of popping all the balls on the screen, at which point you must then divert the laser out the specified exit point. Reversing the beam back upon itself brings the danger of overheating the laser generator, as do the mines scattered around the screen, and on later levels wandering 'gremlins' roam the playfield, occassionally messing with your mirrors with the sole intent of making rude words erupt from your mouth. The game has been remade under various names over the last twenty years, but let's take a look at the 8-bit versions:



Spectrum

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More mirrors here than on Hugh Hefner's bedroom ceiling.

If I'm not mistaken, the speccy version is the original, and it sets a decent standard for the others to follow. It's quite colourful (though with perhaps a tad too much purple), and the neatly laid out grid-like playfield means there's very little colour clash. Sound-wise, the game features a scratchy title tune that would make all but the most loyal of speccy fans wince, while in-game SFX are minimalist but appropriate buzzy, electrical effects that do a good job of providing useful audio cues. So, not a bad game at all, but still, like an old aged pensioner watching the evening news, I'm not without complaint. First off, moving the player cursor can be sluggish at times, particularly when the laser's path gets complicated (as this causes the game to slow down). This can be a problem when you're racing to adjust a mirror to prevent an overheat. Another niggle is that when you pop a ball, the laser won't continue through that particular grid square until the explosion has completely disappeared, which means if you're busting a whole bunch of balls all in a row (quiet you in the back!), you have to sit and wait while each one pops in turn. However my main gripe is that there is no password system to resume where you left off, and nor is there the option to select a starting level, so if you're unlucky enough to bomb out (or simply had to quit playing) it can be a real pain to slog through all the screens you've already cleared.

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Q: Why you always gotta bust my balls? A: Because I am DEFLEKTOR, buster of balls.


Amstrad

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I keep waiting for Ethan Hunt to drop down from the ceiling on this level.

Very similar to the speccy version, but less colourful. According to the credits, Costa programmed this one too, and I expect most of it was a matter of just porting the code over as it has much the same quirks, including the way the laser can't pass through an explosion. Apart from that, the cursor feels like it might be a tiny bit more responsive, but it's still sluggish enough to be a problem on busy levels. The menu screen has a version of the DEFLEKTOR tune that, in WinAPE, is punctuated by brief bursts of high-frequency noise almost beyond the range of human hearing,which is probably great for annoying your neighbour's dog. In Arnold, the noise turned into Geiger counter-ish popping, while in CPC95 the sound was clean, so I think there might be some digitised percussion or something there that's causing sound emulation issues. SFX are suitably buzzy noises, similar to those found in the speccy version. And of course, like the speccy version, there is no password system. Drat.

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Your Etch A Sketch... on drugs.


c64

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That red box in the top left makes your laser jump around randomly.
Apparently one of these was incorporated into the DVD drive of every second early model PS2


This version is quite colourful but has a lower horizontal resolution due to the use of the c64's multicolour mode. Although it looks OK, I think a game like this really benefits from sharper hi-res lines so it's a shame they didn't go with the c64's hi-res mode. A bigger problem is the speed. On all versions, the game slows down significantly as the laser's path gets more complex, and the c64 version suffers the most. The movement of the cursor block stays fairly responsive throughout, but the process of adjusting the mirrors can get very sluggish, and this problem is exacerbated by the fact that the overheat meter can still fill up at its usual fast rate, which means there are times when it will swiftly overheat even as you're desperately trying to swing the laser around to a safe spot. As for sound, we have another version of the strident DEFLEKTOR theme that I doubt anyone will choose to listen to for long. As with the speccy and amstrad versions, the SFX are basic but effective. And again, no password or level select. Rats.

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Fig. 1a) How the Internet works.


Atari 8-bit

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If you stare at this screenshot long enough you can see a naked woman playing a harp.

While the above versions came out in 1987, this one was made in 1989 (though apparently it didn't actually get a release*). I guess in those two years humankind made some pretty significant advances in terms of modern thought, because this version actually has ... 'A password system?' I hear you ask. Well no, but it does give you the option of starting on level 1, 5, 10, or 15, which goes a long way towards minimising the amount of slogging through previously cleared screens you'll have to do. As you can see, it looks similar to the c64 version, but with much less colour. Still, even if it doesn't look too hot, this version slows down the least and is generally the most responsive throughout, which gives it an edge over the others in regards to playability. Sound-wise, we get another noisy version of the unappealing DEFLEKTOR tune, and more appropriately minimalist SFX.

EDIT: I forgot to mention that the Atari version has a sampled voice that says "DEFLEKTOR!" at the start in exactly the way you'd imagine it should be said, which was kind of cool.

*Thanks Atari Frog for this info.

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I'm totally running out of things to say about these screenshots. So... how have you been anyway?


Verdict:

Though it may make my inner fanboy weep bitter tears of bitter-tasting bitterness, I have to give the gold to the Atari 8-bit version, which is a real ugly duckling in that it looks the worst but is helped immensely by the presence of a level selector of sorts and by having the edge in terms of speed and responsiveness. As for the rest, I'd rank the Speccy and Amstrad versions about even, though extra colour in the Speccy version makes it more visually appealing. Last we have the c64 version, which is mainly held back by the sluggishness of the mirrors on complicated levels.

Emulators used: Spin0.61, WinAPE 2.0 Alpha12 and CPCE 1.4 and Arnold (crikey!), Vice 1.21, A800 WinPlus 3.1
Last edited by Emperor Fossil on Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:34 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Post by paranoid marvin » Sat Aug 18, 2007 3:33 am

Nice comparison
You're right of course - pretty graphics are nice , but not at the expense of gameplay. There's no point having a game that looks stunning but plays like a dog

Tbh I am a bit suprised at the number of games released for the A8 - I had one for a while , and cant rememer ever seeing this game
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Post by Emperor Fossil » Sat Aug 18, 2007 4:10 am

Yeah not only did the A8 version come a bit late to the party, but I think it might have been a US only release.

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Post by CraigGrannell » Sat Aug 18, 2007 6:37 am

Mm. Deflektor is the kind of game that lives or dies by its controls and responsiveness. A case in point is the GBA remake, which is utterly fab, apart from it being nigh-on impossible to turn a mirror by one increment (almost always, the finicky controls force two increments), which in one fell swoop totally wrecks the game.
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Post by Atari Frog » Sat Aug 18, 2007 7:58 am

Thanks for the review.

I don't know which settings you used for the Atari version (default palette it seems) but the colors are off, hence some terribly dark graphics. I just updated our page for the game and it looks more or less like this on my PAL system: http://atarimania.com/detail_soft.php?M ... ON_ID=1569

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Tbh I am a bit suprised at the number of games released for the A8
7,547 and counting: http://atarimania.com/lst_soft.php?SOFT ... YPE_CODE=G
I had one for a while , and cant rememer ever seeing this game
Actually, it's a prototype. Nobody really saw it until 1993 or 1994.

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Post by Emperor Fossil » Sat Aug 18, 2007 8:11 am

Atari Frog wrote:Thanks for the review.

I don't know which settings you used for the Atari version (default palette it seems) but the colors are off, hence some terribly dark graphics. I just updated our page for the game and it looks more or less like this on my PAL system: http://atarimania.com/detail_soft.php?M ... ON_ID=1569
I use the Atari800Win PLus 3.1 emulator, so whatever palette it uses is what I'm using. Is there some other palette you'd recommend?
Atari Frog wrote:
I had one for a while , and cant rememer ever seeing this game
Actually, it's a prototype. Nobody really saw it until 1993 or 1994.
Whoops.. I'd better edit that detail in the comparison.

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Post by Atari Frog » Sat Aug 18, 2007 9:51 am

Well, I use the default.act palette. Thing is the saturation, black and white levels need to be adjusted as the original values don't match what I see on my TV at all.

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Post by NorthWay » Sat Aug 18, 2007 2:01 pm

Emperor Fossil wrote:DEFLEKTOR
Funnily enough, this has always been an Amiga game for me. Are we dropping 16-bit(no, I don't really mean 16 but since no-one has made a generation classification list I can't call it Generation 3 or somesuch, and this is the easiest way to keep the ducks in a column) machinery in these comparisons now?

And the SID80's live version of the tune rocks the house!

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Post by paranoid marvin » Sat Aug 18, 2007 2:07 pm

NorthWay wrote:
Emperor Fossil wrote:DEFLEKTOR
Funnily enough, this has always been an Amiga game for me. Are we dropping 16-bit(no, I don't really mean 16 but since no-one has made a generation classification list I can't call it Generation 3 or somesuch, and this is the easiest way to keep the ducks in a column) machinery in these comparisons now?

And the SID80's live version of the tune rocks the house!
Yeah , remember this game being given free for ST/Amiga with Zero
One of the best ever 'free' games
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Post by revgiblet » Sun Aug 19, 2007 12:40 am

Deflektor is one of my fave game tunes ever.
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Post by Emperor Fossil » Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:30 am

Atari Frog wrote:Well, I use the default.act palette. Thing is the saturation, black and white levels need to be adjusted as the original values don't match what I see on my TV at all.
I see yeah. I hadn't set Win800 PLus to use any external palette, but I've now set it to use the default.act, and the colours are brighter and more vibrant, so I'll stick with that. I can't really get into tweaking the values though, as I have no real Atari hardware to refer to.
NorthWay wrote:Are we dropping 16-bit(no, I don't really mean 16 but since no-one has made a generation classification list I can't call it Generation 3 or somesuch, and this is the easiest way to keep the ducks in a column) machinery in these comparisons now?
Well it is the 8-bit comparison thread, so 16-bit versions haven't really come into any of the comparisons so far. Personally, I wouldn't mind seeing 16-bit versions included as well, but it might end up being too much work.
revgiblet wrote:Deflektor is one of my fave game tunes ever.
Hmm... perhaps I should have given the tune more of a chance, though I must say that high-pitched lead instrument had me reaching for the volume control pretty quickly.

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Post by revgiblet » Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:36 am

Well, I've always rated it - especially the Amiga version. And the remixes available on remix.kwed.org are mighty fine.
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Post by Emperor Fossil » Sun Aug 19, 2007 1:46 am

Actually, I was going to say that it sounds like the kind of tune that I think would sound good in a remix, as it was mainly the squawkiness of the instruments that put me off. I think I'll have to take a look at the Amiga version and maybe check out some remixes when I get a chance.

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Post by merman » Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:43 am

Emperor Fossil wrote:Actually, I was going to say that it sounds like the kind of tune that I think would sound good in a remix, as it was mainly the squawkiness of the instruments that put me off. I think I'll have to take a look at the Amiga version and maybe check out some remixes when I get a chance.
Interesting fact... Ben Daglish wrote the original tune for C64/Amiga. Reyn Ouwehand remixed it for his album Nexus6581, and Ben's comment was that it was ALMOST EXACTLY how he envisaged the tune sounding before it was squeezed into three/four tracks. And Reyn ended up playing the tune with Ben as part of Stuck In D'80s...


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Post by markopoloman » Sun Aug 19, 2007 9:51 pm

Next up - we have Mastertronic's SPELLBOUND!

C64, Speccy, Amstrad and Atari.....................
I have always been a big fan of the Magic Knight games. My best mate always had the Speccy versions and I always had the C64 versions and from memory, both were jolly good at doing the Magic Knight 'thing'! How's my memory holding up????? and how do the Amstrad and Atari cope????

First up is the AMSTRAD -
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The roof garden at Chernobyl earlier........
Music:
Rob Hubbard music :shock: Its got Rob Hubbard music :? OK, so Its got RH music - and we all know what a musical god he is............. for the first 3 mins of play in this case! Why? Well, its the C64 tune done with an Amstrad sound chip - and although I've heard some nice music on the Amstrad, I wish they could just take some time out and listen to what they have thrown at peoples ears! It isn't terrible - but by god does it start to grind!
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White Herring! You're having a laugh!
Graphics:
The Amstrad reviews always get the criticism about overly bright colourful graphics - but in this case WTF happened??? Purple, thats what happened!
oh, and green and white. It seems strange that it normally looks like the speccy version is ported and coloured up (Amstrad-ized) but in this case I think the graphics guy had been doing drugs :shock: I mean, look at them! YUK!

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The grass is always greener

Gameplay:
Well, at least they can't get the gameplay wrong - can they?
Well, YES, they most certainly can! You walk around fairly slowly but jump like someone has shoved K.I.T.T's turbo boost ap Magic Knights arse! This is handy if you want to get from one side of the room to the other really quickly - but doesn't do you any favours should you want to jump onto a platform or step, as you have to stand about a quarter of a screen away - or you'll miss it and come to a sudden annoying stop! The menu system is slower than the other three versions also. With the awful colour scheme and grating sound, it all adds up to a HUGE fat raspberry blown in its general direction..........

The Red Herring - No! you tw*ts! you made it White :shock:

Overall: 2/10 from me :x


Next up - The SPECTRUM......

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Follow the yellow brick clash!

Sound: As usual, there is just so very very little to comment on. No music, no footsteps, no jumping noises..... but there is a blip blip noise for the menu system and for the lift! What there is works well though, so be sure to have a good tune in your head to hum...........

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He showed the girl his big blue helmet....

Graphics: Why oh why couldn't the Amstrad manage this? Magic knight is no longer Purple - He is blue! But look at the rest of the room...... Bright and colourful - makes the Amstrad look even worse! Ok, so there is the usual clash when Magic Knight walks in front of objects but that really makes no difference at all. Crisp and clear and I would say just edges into the best graphics for this game. Nice!

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The grass is always errrr blue - err........

Gameplay: Very good. SpellBound on the Speccy is a joy to play and is so much smoother than the Amstrad. Strangly enough, the turbo boost jump is still there, so you can rocket through the rooms and struggle to jump onto steps and platforms - and thats the biggest let down in the whole game.

The Red Herring - Well done! You got it right, the red herring is indeed RED!

Overall - 8/10 from me :)



Next up ATARI

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note the clever use of all '3' colours on the yellow man!!!


Sound: Where did they hide it then? For a machine that is 'better' than the C64, why did they choose to emulate the sound of a spectrum? The only sounds you get from this game are in the menu system and in the lift! Just like the speccy. Not a good start.......


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It's OK boasting about the size of his helmet, but I'd see a doc about his balls!!

Graphics: OMG! OK, the Amstrad had PURPLE all over the place - but the Atari has graced us with GREEN! with grey and yellow - and that is it! I thought the Amstrad version look bad - but this just takes the pish. To make matters even more dire, it suffers from colour clash! Oh dear! On a plus point, the game runs smoothly. BUT YUK!

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BUT ITS BLOODY GREY!!

Gameplay: Well, whistle a tune and pop a pair of red/green 3d specs on and you might just notice that it actually plays a decent game - better than the Amstrad. The Jumping seems more 'jumpy' as opposed to 'rockety'! and the menu systems are fairly smooth but slow.

Red Herring - you bloody plonkers, its a Grey herring!

Overall: Shocking - gets a 2.5/10 :x


Next up - C64

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OMG, I feel faint - colours have been used!

Sound: Rob Hubbard. C64. Nuff said!
No really though, its a classic Hubbard tune and has some good sound FX for the menu, lift and Jumping. Been humming this all night!

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Choke Choke - mastering Deep Throa - err magic!

Graphics: Very nice use of colour, as with the speccy, although Mr Knight is not quite as good looking as his Speccy counterpart. All is very smooth, bright and clear.

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LOOK! a RED herring thats RED!

Gameplay: Excellent! Very fluid like the Speccy version but unlike that one, the jumping is sorted out. It just feels right - he jumps and walks (walks faster - and thats a bonus). The menu system is quick and smooth. With the help of the Music and the fact that the jumping is sorted, I have got to say that this pushes past the Speccy version and into the lead.

The Red Herring - Yes! its RED again!

Overall: Brilliant. 9/10 and deffo a game to come back and play again.



I know I am a C64 fanboy - but I really didn't know what to expect from the Amstrad or Atari. I played the games in the order i reviewed them and am still in shock at how bad the Atari and Amstrad versions were! I would guess that it was just a cash-in job for Mastertronic! But at £1.99 :?



1st C64
2nd Speccy
3rd Red Herring
4th Atari
5th Amstrad

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