Most disappointing conversions from other systems

reminisce about bbc micro & electron games like chuckie egg, repton, elite & exileRelated forum: adventures


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Rich Talbot-Watkins
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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Tue Jan 30, 2018 9:42 pm

Pablos544 wrote:so from this general upbeat kind of thread I can infer that there certainly seems to have been some bad arcade conversions then lol :lol: :lol:
Plenty of great ones too though! Skirmish is a near-identical version of Williams' Joust, and plays perfectly. Snapper (original release) was so close to Pac-Man that Acornsoft were forced to change the graphics. Mr Ee! is an almost perfect clone of Mr Do! ...and so on.

I don't think any of these were officially licensed releases. Maybe licensing was the kiss of death for the Beeb!

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by crj » Tue Jan 30, 2018 11:59 pm

Monsters was a fine clone of Space Panic, Planetoid was an ok Defender, etc.

There were lots of good conversions. But there's a very obvious reason they don't get mentioned in a "most disappointing conversions" thread. (-8

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by tricky » Wed Jan 31, 2018 7:02 am

While we are opposite of topic, let's not forget Chuckie egg, better than the speccy original released at the same time.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Pablos544 » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:42 am

Sorry you're right the topic is after all "Most disappointing conversions from other systems" and after all the Spectrum vs. BBC vs. Commodore 64 argument is still raging today :D :D

RichardTalbotWatkins is completely correct about Pac Man of course, and it's a very interesting point you raise there. What if indeed the early near 100% perfect conversions the BBC had were a bit of an early exit for the BBC's fortunes?

And Tricky's right, the Chuckie Egg on the Spectrum was a bit less good than the BBC's. I hadn't even realised the Spectrum was the original. I suppose the thread of this does seem to be "conversions from other systems" doesn't it. You can't really expect an upbeat conversation here, they were real rivals all the way these machines after all. Respect =D>

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by paulb » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:25 pm

Rich Talbot-Watkins wrote:I don't think any of these were officially licensed releases. Maybe licensing was the kiss of death for the Beeb!
Although not getting "licensed" ports possibly diminished the schoolyard credentials of the Beeb and Electron, both platforms were probably better off as a result. Most of the best games for the Beeb and Electron were original titles, and punters weren't being pumped dry of cash by the likes of Ocean and other opportunists turning out mediocre re-spins of the same basic themes. So native games got rewarded instead.

Indeed, when the Beeb and Electron did start to get a wave of conversions late on, it became fairly clear that both were at the end of their commercial lives and that getting people to do quick ports was seen as the way to get full-price games in front of punters while they were still buying. I think Tynesoft is an example of that kind of operation, with similarities to other 1980s software companies in the way they ended up.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by 1024MAK » Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:37 pm

Some of my thoughts: Part of the mix with conversions, is the different computer hardware, and the different CPUs. Often the programmer(s) doing a conversion for a machine that uses a different CPU were not the same programmers that made the original. And it seems that often, the timetable for doing the conversions was rather tight (so that the versions for the ZX Spectrum and C64 could be released at the same time for example). Combined, this did appear to result in some conversions being rather poor.

Between Z80 machines, a lot of software was as easy a conversion as possible. Often being based on the Sinclair Spectrum version, even keeping some of the limitations of the Spectrum version (due to the Spectrum hardware limitations) on machines that did not have the same hardware limitations... And often some features from the Spectrum version being dropped (bleeper music for example).

Not owing a C64 back then, and not having access to a C64 back then, I can't comment on, but do wonder if some BBC titles had the minimum work done to convert from the C64 versions.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Commie_User » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:48 pm

1024MAK wrote:Some of my thoughts: Part of the mix with conversions, is the different computer hardware, and the different CPUs. Often the programmer(s) doing a conversion for a machine that uses a different CPU were not the same programmers that made the original. And it seems that often, the timetable for doing the conversions was rather tight (so that the versions for the ZX Spectrum and C64 could be released at the same time for example). Combined, this did appear to result in some conversions being rather poor.
You're right. They too often weren't the same programmers, which is one reason quality suffered. That and things like the licence eating most of the budget and games needing to be out in a rush while the movies or arcade games were still current. BBC owners missed out on a lot gameswise, but they must have missed out on a lot when it came to being shafted.

Unauthorised clones of arcade games could really be the bees' knees as programmers could put more care and love into them - and they could be cheaper. BBC and Electron owners can at least claim good arcade clones for more affordable money.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by fwibbler » Thu Feb 01, 2018 6:52 pm

1024MAK wrote:
Not owing a C64 back then, and not having access to a C64 back then, I can't comment on, but do wonder if some BBC titles had the minimum work done to convert from the C64 versions.

Mark
Maybe, but I do think that Jet Boot Jack on the BBC is better than on any other system (Atari 8bit, Amstrad and C64). Even the Electron version isn't too awful (apart from the abysmal tune).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch_dLfm8u_Q

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by fwibbler » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:22 pm

Going slightly off topic (well, everyone else has :lol: ) is the BBC not very good at producing racing games?
I ask this because it never got ports of Outrun, ChaseHQ, both of which were done reasonably well on the humble Spectrum (well, maybe not Outrun but ChaseHQ was excellent.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Commie_User » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:35 pm

fwibbler wrote:I do think that Jet Boot Jack on the BBC is better than on any other system.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch_dLfm8u_Q

'Cos there's a secret for us all - I frankly think the BBC looked (and often played) better for a great many early arcade-type games. The Commie was evidently harder to program over time unless you wanted a blocky mess, yet mum needed that housekeeping money from junior in her pinny, like, yesterday.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fj5cAdVo2A4

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Commie_User » Thu Feb 01, 2018 7:37 pm

fwibbler wrote:Going slightly off topic (well, everyone else has :lol: ) is the BBC not very good at producing racing games?
Ah, case in point. Pole Position! The BBC version looked better, sounded nicer, probably had better physics and seemed more polished than the Commodore 64 version. And I don't think kids made that one.

That game is really nice.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by tricky » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:06 pm

I'd forgotten that, I played it BITD, when I was running an arcade where we had a "real" one.

Looks like a good candidate for a bit of NuLA love.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by RobC » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:11 pm

tricky wrote:Looks like a good candidate for a bit of NuLA love.
Can't remember if it was Pole Position or Overdrive but I looked at adding more colours to one of them but they were using the flashing colours for the track animation :( The palette could still be improved though.

On driving games, we did get Revs of course. I remember playing it on a friend's C64 when I was about 11 or 12 and thinking that the Beeb version was better but I haven't compared them since.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by MatthewThompson » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:25 am

RobC wrote:
tricky wrote:Looks like a good candidate for a bit of NuLA love.
Can't remember if it was Pole Position or Overdrive but I looked at adding more colours to one of them but they were using the flashing colours for the track animation :( The palette could still be improved though.


On driving games, we did get Revs of course. I remember playing it on a friend's C64 when I was about 11 or 12 and thinking that the Beeb version was better but I haven't compared them since.

If it had corners, it was Pole Position, if it had a straight road then it was Overdrive.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by MatthewThompson » Fri Feb 02, 2018 10:27 am

fwibbler wrote:Going slightly off topic (well, everyone else has :lol: ) is the BBC not very good at producing racing games?
I ask this because it never got ports of Outrun, ChaseHQ, both of which were done reasonably well on the humble Spectrum (well, maybe not Outrun but ChaseHQ was excellent.

There was Pole Position, Revs, Crazee Rider, and E-Type which was probably the BBC equivalent of Outrun, and made me think a version could of been done. Acorn User claimed one was in development, but it never happened.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by RobC » Fri Feb 02, 2018 1:47 pm

MatthewThompson wrote:If it had corners, it was Pole Position, if it had a straight road then it was Overdrive.
I genuinely can't remember which as it was only a quick go on B-Em with VideoNuLA's logical colour mapping mode turned on. There's a chance that I looked at both of them...
MatthewThompson wrote:There was Pole Position, Revs, Crazee Rider, and E-Type which was probably the BBC equivalent of Outrun, and made me think a version could of been done.
They are all excellent examples of what the Beeb was capable of. The thing that has struck me most while I've been working on the Spectrum emulator is the amount of memory bandwidth that the Beeb has. Compared to other machines of it's day, it was seriously quick.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Rich Talbot-Watkins » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:13 pm

There's also 3D Grand Prix, and I have a feeling there was yet another similar one to that too.

Edit: Chicane, that's the one.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by sbadger » Fri Feb 02, 2018 2:14 pm

crj wrote:Monsters was a fine clone of Space Panic, Planetoid was an ok Defender, etc.

There were lots of good conversions. But there's a very obvious reason they don't get mentioned in a "most disappointing conversions" thread. (-8
I can still remember the exciting panic and terror of being five and chased up a ladder by a monster....happy days.
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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by ThomasHarte » Mon Feb 05, 2018 5:04 pm

RobC wrote:They are all excellent examples of what the Beeb was capable of. The thing that has struck me most while I've been working on the Spectrum emulator is the amount of memory bandwidth that the Beeb has. Compared to other machines of it's day, it was seriously quick.
It's just a shame about the total quantity, and the quantity you need to manipulate for the display. A 48kb Spectrum has more than 41kb for program code and data once you subtract its display, and even if you shrink a BBC pixel mode to the same physical on-screen footprint and accept Mode 4 or 5 it's still 12.5% more data because the pixels are thinner.

(EDIT: also, as an Electron owner, I can think of several disappointing conversions. But they are mostly from the BBC. How embittered is acceptable?)

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by RobC » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:01 pm

ThomasHarte wrote:It's just a shame about the total quantity, and the quantity you need to manipulate for the display. A 48kb Spectrum has more than 41kb for program code and data once you subtract its display, and even if you shrink a BBC pixel mode to the same physical on-screen footprint and accept Mode 4 or 5 it's still 12.5% more data because the pixels are thinner.
Yes - the Beeb does have to manipulate more data but that's where the extra speed comes in. I've been genuinely surprised by how well the Beeb can run Spectrum games even with the screen data going across the TUBE. (As an aside, I'd say the Pi co-pro is an excellent choice for anyone wanting to port or write new games for the Beeb: you have huge amounts of memory, can write in a high-level language and don't really pay a speed penalty on data transfers.)
ThomasHarte wrote:(EDIT: also, as an Electron owner, I can think of several disappointing conversions. But they are mostly from the BBC. How embittered is acceptable?)
Agreed. It's a pity that Acorn didn't include the "turbo" mod as standard in the Electron.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by ThomasHarte » Mon Feb 05, 2018 7:32 pm

RobC wrote:
ThomasHarte wrote:(EDIT: also, as an Electron owner, I can think of several disappointing conversions. But they are mostly from the BBC. How embittered is acceptable?)
Agreed. It's a pity that Acorn didn't include the "turbo" mod as standard in the Electron.
I don't know its memory map sufficiently to be certain, but that might have saved Stryker's Run, which was like playing a slow-motion replay. Though just switching to Mode 5 might have been sufficient.

Codename: Droid, conversely, is an excellent conversion.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by ivor_the_injun » Mon Feb 12, 2018 12:26 am

I think the most disappointing thing for me as a Beeb and Electron user was some of the games that were converted, when players were crying out for versions of massive arcade titles.

Predator, two years after the film. The Timothy Dalton Bond film licences. Hostages, a game I hadn’t heard of until the reviews turned up. Beverly Hills Cop FFS.

I actually quite got into Paperboy, even though it’s ridiculously unpolished. The Domark Star Wars games weren’t great either.

Match Day was one that really wound me up. Almost a very good game, but felt buggy and unfinished.

I think Mr Wiz has to be up there. Utterly shown up by the outstanding Mr Ee.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by algenon_iii » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:49 pm

1024MAK wrote: Not owing a C64 back then, and not having access to a C64 back then, I can't comment on, but do wonder if some BBC titles had the minimum work done to convert from the C64 versions.

Mark
Total speculation here... The C64 basically had a 6502 (6510 = 6502 + I/O ports) so from that perspective it could have been straightforward (so long as the games didn't make full use of the RAM). I suspect the sprite graphics capabilities of the VIC II chip would have been the big problem.

If the BBC had a Z80 Spectrum/CPC ports would have been comparatively (RAM permitting) straightforward, the Spectrum didn't have fancy hardware and because of attribute clash the playing areas tended to be monochrome so could be transferred in MODE 1 or 4 (aka BBC and Electron versions). IIRC graphics from Spy vs Spy were taken from the CPC version during conversion.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by davidb » Tue Feb 27, 2018 4:46 pm

algenon_iii wrote:IIRC graphics from Spy vs Spy were taken from the CPC version during conversion.
See page 1 and page 2 of Kevin Blake's article for more details. :)

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by kieranhj » Wed Feb 28, 2018 5:17 pm

davidb wrote:See page 1 and page 2 of Kevin Blake's article for more details. :)
Nice! Thanks for posting the article. Makes me want to go play the game now. :)
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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Ricardo » Tue Mar 06, 2018 10:28 pm

RobC wrote:...On driving games, we did get Revs of course. I remember playing it on a friend's C64 when I was about 11 or 12 and thinking that the Beeb version was better but I haven't compared them since.
Revs was a completely different beast to the likes of Outrun, Pole Position or any other "driving game" that appeared on any 8-bit machine ever. It was a 3D sim and as such relied on CPU power alone. The Beeb's 6502 runs over twice as fast as a PAL C64's and Revs chugged on the Commodore. As a general games machine the C64 was superior with its extra RAM, SID, colours and hardware sprites. But for bitmapped graphics the Beeb reined supreme (Elite, Aviator, Revs, Sentinal etc).

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by richardtoohey » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:22 am

Ricardo wrote:But for bitmapped graphics the Beeb reined supreme (Elite, Aviator, Revs, Sentinal etc).
Don't you mean vector graphics? Or did I miss your point?

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Kecske Bak » Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:34 am

barbarossa69 wrote:I really enjoyed gyroscope!
After reading your comment I wondered if I was being harsh, but now I've seen it feature in the high score challenge I can see that it is as bad as my brother and I thought at the time. :lol:

Let me know if you find the "superb synthesier music" the cover talks about!

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by barbarossa69 » Wed Mar 07, 2018 9:13 am

Kecske Bak wrote:
barbarossa69 wrote:I really enjoyed gyroscope!
After reading your comment I wondered if I was being harsh, but now I've seen it feature in the high score challenge I can see that it is as bad as my brother and I thought at the time. :lol:

Let me know if you find the "superb synthesier music" the cover talks about!
I don't know because I'm playing at work with the sound off.
But yeah, it's actually a pretty terrible game. I must have been more easily impressed 25 years ago.

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Re: Most disappointing conversions from other systems

Post by Ricardo » Tue Jun 12, 2018 9:21 pm

richardtoohey wrote:
Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:22 am
Ricardo wrote:But for bitmapped graphics the Beeb reined supreme (Elite, Aviator, Revs, Sentinal etc).
Don't you mean vector graphics? Or did I miss your point?
You're right in a way, but my thought process was lower level. The Beeb's screen was purely bitmapped (except Mode 7) whereas the C64 and Spectrum were character mapped (as I recall) and to render a 3D scene you need CPU horsepower and simple (fast) screen memory access. Vectors are a higher level. The main difference between a 2D and 3D game in this context is dealing with rectangular or irregular shapes on screen. The hardware in the C64 and the screen format of the Spectrum were very rectangular. The Beeb's screen hardware freedom allowed for the irregular shapes required for polygons to be drawn and the faster CPU provided a smoother refresh rate.

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