Sunday, 23 August 2015

Looking towards the third year...

Before I make a proper return from my prolonged holiday, here's an inevitable rambling about the past, present and future of the Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog. I shall begin by reviewing the past year before telling some of what you can expect from the blog in the future. This post will again feature some of those charts that show all the released versions of all the games featured on the blog so far, as well as each game's "winners", so to speak. But if you're truly interested about all that, click on, and see how I've ended up in actually starting a third year.


I'll be honest with you: an odd number of months ago, I wasn't looking forward to doing a third year of comparisons in a row, and I battled with myself for quite a while on whether I was going to continue with the blog or not. Even some of the comments that were made to be constructive criticism for some comparisons irritated me to the point of declaring the end of the blog after I had finished with the June entries. My girlfriend - who, by the way, isn't all that happy about me spending so much time writing these damn things all the time - talked me into just taking it a bit easier, and some of my other friends agreed with the new plan. One of those friends was my old school buddy from a very long time ago, who I even managed to recruit as an assistant information seeker, so thank you and welcome aboard, SJ.

What I mean by "a bit easier" is, quite simply, a lower and more random rate of posting comparison entries. Since January, my post rate has gone down quite a bit due to other real life duties and some of the actual comparisons having come out rather over-sized compared to my earlier work. So what I'm going to do is make less regular easy comparisons of relatively unknown games, but put more focus on the heavy duty comparisons, hopefully similar in size to those of Spy vs. Spy, Barbarian, Commando, Giana Sisters and Platoon, but simultaneously keep out of the really super-sized games like Pirates! and Winter Games, for example. That said, I shall not be posting those big entries very often - perhaps one every two or three months. We'll see how it goes. The total number of entries will be dropped to about 3 per month, maximum, which gives me time to focus on one or two regular comparisons, and either one of those more special kind of entries (two-fers, Unique Games series or other specials) or one big comparison, although I can't really promise the rate of posting will be as constant as I'm hoping it to be.


The second year for the Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog was surprisingly prosperous, having achieved close to 75000 visits by the end of June (now passed 85000), as well as gained some notice from Retro Gamer magazine and other interesting people from rather surprising corners of the world. Also, having written five different comparisons of more recent games for old machines have been received surprisingly positively, which has been nice. But there has to be a balance with everything, so the bad bits of last year, at least from my point of view, were a serious loss of focus at some point, which showed in a notably lower quality of some entries, and noticing that some games would be pretty much impossible to compare with my current setup was a huge downer. Here are some examples that I have considered doing, but either will not be done due to having too many conversions to be bothered, or simply cannot due to incomplete or otherwise bad emulation options and/or unavailable real hardware:

- Bubble Bobble
- Decathlon (or other joystick-waggling sports titles)
- Defender of the Crown
- Hostages
- Lemmings
- Manic Miner
- Micro Machines
- Prince of Persia
- R-Type
- Tetris + variants

Due to the amount of work I have needed to put into a lot of the comparisons in the past 12 months, I also needed to cancel my plans of starting to do the comparisons in a video format. While it would certainly be more comfortable for most of you out there, it would take even more time to get anything out there, and I considered that not to be an option.

One of the big things I've been attempting to do a lot on the blog is to take readers' suggestions and write comparisons of games you want to see. While this can be rewarding for both you the readers and myself, there is always a possibility that the quality of writing will suffer from my not being very interested in some/any aspects of a game at hand. This, I'm sorry to say, can be seen in comparisons of games like Savage, Hard Drivin', Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge, and perhaps Barbarian to some extent. I shall be endeavouring to make comparisons of the suggestions you pose and have posed previously, but in an attempt at getting the quality of the comparisons stay as high as possible, I shall mostly be concentrating on games that I actually enjoy playing and know well enough to speak about from the heart. Trying to write about games that I know next to nothing about is cumbersome and takes away from the pleasure of doing this blog, and could possibly result in bad articles.

Something else I have been attempting to do here is to bring a balance to the archive list of comparisons, in an alphabetical sense as well as those of release date and genre. One of the main points of focus has been to feature as many types of games as I can write about without having to work on a game for years. This, unfortunately, rules out the majority of simulations, RPG's and strategy games. Also, considering that certain machines are more or less designed to run certain types of games as good as possible will result in a loss in genres not so well suited for them, but I have been trying to bring as many machines as I can into the spotlight. With varying results, I'm afraid, but at least attempts have been made. All of these are things I shall be keeping a focus on, but I cannot promise that with the scoring system that my comparisons use, the results will ever be completely fair or just. I guess I will just have to keep reminding you to focus on the text, and not the score.

Anyway, I promised to give you another table of all the games featured so far, along with markings for all sorts of things, which are explained under the picture. To make this easier for viewing, both years are shown in their own picture, so you can just click on either picture and perhaps view the list side by side with the explanations.

In case you need some clarification for the order of machines at the top, from left to right: arcade, Apple ][/][e, Atari 2600, Atari 7800, Atari 8-bit computers, Commodore Amiga, Atari ST/STe/Falcon, Acorn Electron/BBC Micro, Commodore 16, Commodore Plus/4, Commodore 64, Colecovision, Amstrad CPC, IBM-PC compatibles, Mattel Intellivision, MSX, NEC PC-8801, Nintendo Entertainment System/Famicom, Sharp X-1, Sega consoles, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Commodore VIC-20, and at the final column, I have included other machines that haven't been featured often enough to warrant their own column, such as Texas Instruments TI-99, Enterprise 128, all the Nintendo Game Boy handheld consoles, Apple //GS and others.

Comparisons from year 1.

R = Released on the indicated platform.
O = Originally released on the indicated platform.
X = What I consider to be the best one of the lot.
W = Winner based on the mathematical results.
S = In some manner a positive surprise, recommendable.
U = Unreleased, although might be more recently recovered.
Uo = Unofficial conversion.

Comparisons from year 2.

This second list necessitated a couple of additions into the machines list, so I updated the first year's list accordingly as well. There have been more Sega and NEC entries lately, as well as some Apple //GS entries, and I'm guessing I shall need to add another column for the Gameboy family and some of the more obscure machines in the future.

But anyway, as I said a long time ago, I gave up on trying to bring balance into who's winning and who's not, so I didn't really give all that much thought into that bit last year. Nor will I think on it this year either. As long as some requested games get compared and some big comparisons and special entries get thrown in the mix, that should be plenty enough.


In short, I'm expecting to do more of the same on the blog that I have been doing so far: comparisons and some occasional special entries in some of the established series: two-for-one comparisons, Unique Games lists, New Game of the Month entries and perhaps some more seasonal specials. I have been pondering on the option of writing just plain in-depth reviews of some old Finnish games to keep the blog title somewhat justified, but let's see about that. Perhaps the new team member, SJ will get his own writings published here at some point, but I can't promise anything.

To end my musings on a higher note, here's a small glimpse into what the future might likely bring...

Hope you will enjoy another season at the Finnish Retro Game Comparison Blog!

Since this is still my blog, I can stretch my own rules regarding content as much as I like, so here's a little something that one of my bands got out recently. Hope you like it! Some more Snowreport material can be found at Soundcloud and we also have a Facebook page.


  1. Best of luck for the third year! Your comparisons are beyond compare when it comes to thoroughness. I'm glad that you have the energy to keep at it :)

  2. I see the Scared Armor of Antiriad, Encounter (First game to use Novaload!), Paratrooper, and possibly Attack of the Mutant Camels in the image near the end.

    1. Yay, a guess! You got the first two of them right. =)