Thursday, June 30, 2022

Ports of Entry: Infogrames

This list does not include games by Gremlin Interactive.


Unknown lead platform:



First released for Thomson MO & Thomson TO in 1984

Released for Apple II in 1985


Passengers on the Wind

First released for Amstrad CPC, MSX, & Thomson TO in 1986

Released for Atari ST, Commodore 64, & PC in 1987


Final Assault

First released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Thomson MO, & Thomson TO in 1987

Released for Atari ST, Commodore 64, & PC in September 1988

Ported to ZX Spectrum in 1988



First released for Amiga & Atari ST in 1988

Released for PC in March 1989

Released for Commodore 64 in August 1989

Released for Apple IIgs & Macintosh in December 1989

Ported to NES in December 1989


North & South

First released for Amiga & Atari ST in 1989

Ported to Commodore 64 in 1989

Released for PC in 1990

Ported to Amstrad CPC & NES in 1990


Tintin on the Moon

First released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, & PC in 1989

Ported to ZX Spectrum in 1989



First released for Amiga, Atari ST, & PC in 1989

Released for FM Towns in November 1990

The Amiga version is the most colorful of the initial releases, with up to 40 colors at once, but the Atari ST version also breaks the system's 16 color limit and I'm not sure how.


The Smurfs

First released for SNES in September 1994

Released for Genesis in November 1994

Ported to Sega CD in 1995


Prisoner of Ice

Released for PC & Macintosh in 1995


Tintin in Tibet

Released for Genesis & SNES in 1995

Ported to Gameboy in 1995

Ported to DOS/Windows & Game Gear in 1996


Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time

Released for PlayStation & PC in 1999


Select chronology: 

8-bit era: 
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Mandragore ??? 1984 Same-year releases on Thomson MO & Thomson TO
1985 release on Apple II
Vera Cruz Amstrad CPC 1985 1986 ports to various European microcomputers
Passengers on the Wind ??? 1986 Same-year releases on Amstrad CPC, MSX, & Thomson TO
1987 releases on Atari ST, C64, & PC


Early 16-bit era: 
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Final Assault ??? 1987 Too many to fit here
Hostages ??? 1988 Same-year releases on Amiga & Atari ST
1989 releases on various computers
1989 port to NES
North & South ??? 1989 Same-year releases on Amiga & Atari ST
Same-year port to C64
1990 release on PC
1990 ports to Amstrad CPC & NES
Tintin on the Moon ??? 1989 Too many to fit here
Drakkhen ??? 1989 Same-year releases on Amiga, Atari ST, & PC
1990 release on FM Towns
Alpha Waves Atari ST 1990 Same-year port to PC
1991 port to Amiga


DOS era: 
Title Date Contemporary ports
Alone in the Dark 1992 1993 ports to FM Towns & PC-98
Alone in the Dark 2 1993 1994 ports to FM Towns & PC-98
Call of Cthulhu: Shadow of the Comet 1993
Alone in the Dark 3 1994 1995 port to PC-98


Late 16-bit era: 
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
The Smurfs ??? 9/1/1994 Same-quarter releases for SNES & Genesis
1995 port to Sega CD
Prisoner of Ice ??? 1995 Same-year releases for PC & Macintosh
Tintin in Tibet ??? 1995 Same-year releases for Genesis & SNES
Same-year port to Gameboy
1996 ports to DOS/Windows & Game Gear


32-bit era: 
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Mission: Impossible Nintendo 64 7/18/1998 1999 port to PlayStation
Outcast Windows 6/26/1999
Bugs Bunny: Lost in Time ??? 6/29/1999 Same-year releases on PlayStation & PC
Alone in the Dark: The New Nightmare PlayStation 5/18/2001 Same-quarter ports to Dreamcast & PC
Same-year port to PS2
Boiling Point: Road to Hell Windows 5/19/2005

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Ports of Entry: Accolade

Unknown lead platform:



Released for Amiga, Atari ST, and PC in 1990

Ported to Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, and ZX Spectrum in 1990 by The Code Monkeys

The PC version supports 256 color VGA, surpassing the Amiga and Atari ST capabilities.


The Games: Winter Challenge

Released for Genesis & PC in 1991


Genesis looks like it may be a downconversion from PC's VGA graphics.


Bubsy II

First released for SNES in October 1994

Released for Gameboy & Genesis in 1994


Deadlock: Planetary Conquest

Simultaneous Windows 3.1 & Windows 95 release in 1996


Test Drive 4

First released for PlayStation in November 1997

Released for PC in 1997


Slave Zero

Released for Dreamcast & PC in November 1999


Select chronology: 

8-bit era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
SunDog: Frozen Legacy Apple II 1984-3
HardBall! Commodore 64 1985 1986 ports to various computers
Law of the West Commodore 64 1985 1986 port to Apple II
Mean 18 DOS 1986-3 Same-year ports to Amiga & Atari ST
4th & Inches Commodore 64 1987-11 1988 ports to Amiga, Apple Iigs, & PC


DOS era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Jack Nicklaus' Greatest 18 Holes of Major
Championship Golf
DOS 1988-10 Same-quarter port to C64
1989 ports to TurboGrafx-16 and various computers
Star Control DOS 1990-7 Same-year ports to Amiga & Amstrad CPC
1991 ports to C64, Genesis, & ZX Spectrum
Test Drive III: The Passion DOS 1990
E-Motion ??? 1990 Same-year releases on Amiga, Atari ST, & PC
Same-year ports to Amstrad CPC, C64, & ZX Spectrum
1991 port to Gameboy
Gunboat DOS 1990 Same-year ports to Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum
1991 port to Amiga
The Games: Winter Challenge ??? 1991 Same-year releases on Genesis & PC
Star Control II DOS 1992-11
Summer Challenge DOS 1992 1993 port to Genesis


Late 16-bit era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Bubsy in: Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind SNES 1993-5 Same-quarter port to Genesis
Bubsy II ??? 1994-10 Same-year releases on Gameboy, Genesis, & SNES
Zero Tolerance Genesis 1994-11


32-bit era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Deadlock: Planetary Conquest ??? 8/14/1996 Simultaneous Win3.1/Win95 release
Bubsy 3D PlayStation 11/26/1996
Test Drive 4 ??? 11/3/1997 Same-quarter releases on PlayStation & PC
Slave Zero ??? 11/17/1999 Simultaneous releases on Dreamcast & PC

Monday, June 20, 2022

Ports of Entry: Magnetic Fields

Unknown lead platform:



Released for Commodore 64 and VIC-20 in 1983

Because the VIC-20 version is credited to Ian Creasey and not lead programmer Shaun Southern, I think it likely the VIC-20 is a port of Southern's C64 design.



Released for Commodore 64 and Commodore 16 in 1986

Ported to Amstrad CPC, Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, MSX, & ZX Spectrum in 1986


Super Cars

Released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, and Atari ST in 1990.

Ported to ZX Spectrum in 1990.

Amiga supports 48 colors ingame (split 32/16 between gameplay and status bar) and Atari ST only 32 (split 16/16), suggesting to me an Amiga original design..


Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge

Released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, & ZX Spectrum in 1990

Amstrad CPC and ZX Spectrum are credited to Ali Davidson rather than Shaun Southern.

Once again, Amiga supports 48 colors ingame (32 on the top splitscreen, 16 on the bottom), while Atari ST only supports 32 (16 per splitscreen).


Lotus Turbo Challenge 2

Released for Amiga & Atari ST in 1991

Ported to Acorn & Genesis in 1992

This time, likely due to the full frame viewport, Amiga has only 32 colors ingame, while Atari ST is 16.


Lotus III: The Ultimate Challenge

Released for Amiga & Atari ST in 1992

Ported to Genesis & PC in 1993

Amiga still supports 32 colors ingame. Atari ST does up to 20 through what I must assume are some scanline shenanigans.

Select chronology: 

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Pacmania ??? 1983 Same-year releases on C64 & VIC-20
Kikstart: Off-Road Simulator Commodore 64 1985
Trailblazer ??? 1986 Same-year releases on C64 & Commodore 16
Same-year ports to various microcomputers
Super Cars ??? 1990 Same-year releases on Amiga, Amstrad CPC, & Atari ST
Same-year port to ZX Spectrum
Lotus Esprit Turbo Challenge ??? 1990 Too many to fit here
Lotus Turbo Challenge 2 ??? 1991 Same-year releases on Amiga & Atari ST
1992 ports to Acorn & Genesis
Lotus III: The Ultimate Challenge ??? 1992 Same-year releases on Amiga & Atari ST
1993 ports to Genesis & PC
Network Q RAC Rally Championship DOS 1996
Mobil 1 Rally Championship Windows 11/19/1999 2000 port to PS1 by HotGen Studios

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Game 322: GATO

The GATO class submarines, according to Spectrum Holobyte, were the US Navy's workhorse in the pacific campaign of WWII. Fast, durable, quiet, and armed to the metaphorical gills with ten fore-and-aft-firing torpedo tubes, sea minelayers, and anti-aircraft guns, GATOs were tasked with merchant patrols, reconnaissance, combat interception, covert supply runs, rescue missions, and even coastal bombardment. They were among the first naval submarines to earn a reputation as invisible terrors.

Spectrum Holobyte is mainly known war simulations and licensing Sokoban and Tetris (and by extension Pajitnov's subsequent puzzlers). GATO was their first game, originally written in Microsoft BASIC for DOS and ported to Macintosh in a short order, and is a semi-casual sim, too complex to be suitable for arcades, but also simplified to the point of little correspondence to real-world models.

I played the DOS version, though I could only find a manual for the Apple and Atari versions, which are not strictly 100% accurate to the original version.

Your submarine, callsigned GROWLER, holds these equipments and capabilities:

  • Double-hulled construction capable of withstanding pressure up to 300 feet below surface and (usually) indirect hits from depth charges
  • Diesel engines with a maximum speed of 20 knots and operable at up to 20 feet below surface
  • Battery-powered engines with a maximum speed of 10 knots, operable at any depth for short periods, and rechargeable when running on diesel
  • Four forward-firing ordinance tubes (far fewer than the historical ten), self-loading with a full loadout of 24 torpedoes
  • Periscope, rotatable in 90 degree increments
  • Active radar
  • Radio communication
  • Subsystem damage reporting
  • Maps of the operation and its 20 quadrants, which track your own movements, and on the lower difficulty settings, of enemies and friendlies
  • "Rapid Sub Deployment" function which didn't work for me, as it requires a password from the manual which seems to vary from platform to platform
The operational map is incredibly useful on the lower difficulties and make radar unnecessary

GATO may be played at ten difficulty settings, rated from 0 to 9, and certain milestones will add major handicaps.

  • At level 3, the operational map no longer tracks ship movements other than your own, forcing you to reckon the quadrants of enemies based on radio communications. Quadrant maps remain useful for tracking nearby ships.
  • At level 6, quadrant maps cease to track ship movements, forcing you to rely on radar, but I'm honestly not sure how you can, as radar only covers a fraction of a quadrant's area, having about the same range as periscope sighting, and increases your visibility when active.
  • At level 8, radio communication comes in through your PC's beeper in Morse code and must be manually transcribed. No thanks!

More generally, at higher difficulties, ships become more difficult to kill, and are more likely to take multiple torpedo hits before sinking.

I never really got comfortable enough with GATO's controls and play mechanics to raise the difficulty past its default setting of 0. I recorded and uploaded a video of my most successful run, and it felt like luck was more involved than skill; getting spotted or not feels random no matter what I do (and getting spotted by a destroyer is a death sentence that only luck can stay you from), torpedoes can miss at stupidly close ranges or hit at stupidly far ones, and taking a hit usually renders you combat ineffective, but one-shot kills and no-sells can also happen, with about equal frequency.

First thing upon starting a game, your mission orders are received. Most of the time, your mission will be to intercept and destroy a primary target, but you will occasionally receive rescue missions.

Checking the map, my target is close, just one quadrant away. I set the throttle to 12 knots and turned 30° to starboard, leaving the map open to track vectors.

35 seconds of travel

As I reached the target's quadrant, I dove to 40 feet (the deepest at which you remain combat effective), and switched to electric engines.

The chase - first day

The operational map shows multiple boats approaching. Note that radar would not reveal any of them!

Attempting to flank an unidentified vessel at the rearguard

At this point, my battery alert started bleeping madly, and I quickly rose to 20 feet so I could switch back to diesel. Soon, a ship was sighted in the horizon.

Up periscope!

Destroyer! I soon heard its sonar pinging me, and closed in to try to kill it.

Somehow it never spotted me, even as I let loose with four fish at point blank. Somehow none of my torps hit either. But as it zipped out of sight, my main target came into visual range.

Miss! A patrol boat is seen in the distance.

My salvos eventually down the freighter

At any time in GATO, you may request a new mission (provided the radio is not damaged), and doing so will abort the current one if active, and reset all enemy ships to their initial state and position for the mission selected. Given that there was a destroyer trying to ping out my position, this suited me fine. There is no penalty for aborting an in-progress mission in this manner, though your own state and position will not be changed.

The new mission was to intercept and destroy patrol boats around the island perimeters.

Don't know what I'd do without this viewing mode.

Patrol boats are less deadly than destroyers but are fast and nimble, making them annoying targets to pursue should they take evasive maneuvers.

I set a course southeast and found my first target.

It took five torps but I got it without detection.

The next target I encountered, on the island to the north, evaded my salvos and returned fire, forcing me to take evasive action of my own.

Combat ineffective with a busted torpedo room

100 feet under the sea and dangerously close to the shoals. All I can do is back up and pray that active sonar won't find me before I place enough distance to do a 180 and scram.


Luck was on my side and I was able to get out of visual range, surface, and cruise back to the subtender on diesel to repair and reload.

Cruising back to the subtender. This takes about two minutes at full speed.

Returning to the fray, a patrol boat knocked out my torpedo launchers again before I could fire a shot, forcing me to retreat and repair yet again. But my third run bagged the rest of them, completing the mission.

The next mission given was to sink supply ships en route to two islands in the north half of the map. And I was already on the perfect interception course.

These ships traveled in groups, and the manual recommends doing underwater recon before engaging groups so you can better prioritize your targets, but prior experience had taught me this was suicide. I may just be doing it completely wrong, but even at 40 feet deep and moving at the slowest speed on electric engines, if you can see them closely enough to identify their type, they can detect and sink you. So I engaged the top two boats head-on, taking out both in just a few shots, and pursued the other five to their destination, where I could pick them off one-by-one after they set anchor.

I'll start by doing a torpedo run on the closest two dots.


That left three anchored ducks in a vertical row, and I managed to sink one more with my remaining ammo. A surviving PT boat crippled me as I dove and moved out of its range.

Hunter hunted. This is as exciting as it gets, folks.

The survivors give up the chase and return to anchor as I evade their sonar.

At this point I had to quit and do some real work. GATO has no way to save, so my mission progress was lost, but I'm sure I could have made it back to the subtender and made one last run at the last two boats to finish it.

In any event, I'm done playing this, even though I never made an attempt at the higher difficulty settings. To be honest I have no idea how you would begin to play them, especially as they remove your map trackers. Combat successes and failures already feel too random; perhaps experience teaches you things like optimal depth, speed, and distance to maximize your chances of coming out alive from a sortie, but making the effort doesn't feel worth it. What puzzles me more is how you manage to locate your targets without seeing them on a map; the radar is so short range it seems useless, and using it makes you more visible, which is something you obviously do not want.

GAB rating: Below average. Maybe it's not fair for me to evaluate a game like this when it's meant to appeal to a niche, but as a sim GATO feels overly simplistic, and as a game feels slow, unexciting, and repetitive. At least, unlike Flight Simulator, I found it playable, just not particularly rewarding.

Speaking of flight simulators, there's a big retrospective of MicroProse's early sims coming up soonish. My track record for enjoying such sims hasn't been great so far, and I wonder, will I like them any better?

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Ports of Entry: Appaloosa Interactive

Unknown lead platform:


Alternative World Games

Released for Amstrad CPC, Commodore 64, & ZX Spectrum in 1987

Rick Davis's World Trophy Soccer

Released for Amiga, Atari ST, Commodore 64, & PC in December 1989

Ported to Amstrad CPC, MSX, & ZX Spectrum in 1989 by Probe Software

The Amiga version is the most colorful, so I assume it is likely the lead platform.

Ecco: The Tides of Time

First released for Sega Genesis in August 1994

Released for Game Gear & Sega CD in 1994

Select chronology: 

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Caesar the Cat Commodore 64 1983 1984 port to ZX Spectrum
Spitfire '40 Commodore 64 1985 Same-year ports to Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum
1986 ports to Atari & MSX
Alternative World Games ??? 1987 Same-year releases on Amstrad CPC, C64, & ZX Spectrum
Rick Davis's World Trophy Soccer ??? 1989-12 Simultaneous releases on Amiga, Atari ST, C64, & PC
Same-year ports to Amstrad CPC, MSX, & ZX Spectrum
Ecco the Dolphin Genesis 1992 1993 ports to Game Gear, Sega CD, & Sega Master System
Ecco: The Tides of Time ??? 8/26/1994 Same-year releases on Game Gear, Genesis, & Sega CD
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future Dreamcast 2000-6

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Ports of Entry: Rare

Unknown lead platform:


Battletoads / Double Dragon

First released for NES in June 1993

Released for SNES in October 1993

Released for Gameboy in December 1993 

Released for Genesis in September 1994

In what would be an otherwise perfectly straightforward Ports of Entry list, where every single other game by Rare was unambiguously developed for one platform, Battletoads / Double Dragon is the one aberration. If I hadn't played its various versions, I'd assume NES-centric development based on the release date, the reuse of NES sprites from previous games (with unimpressive 16-bit upgrades to their respective versions), and a plethora of 8-bit technical wizardry, including pseudo-3D scrolling effects, which are mundane on 16-bit consoles. On top of that, the NES version also features faster, more fluid gameplay than the SNES, better hit detection, and it looks more colorful (the later Genesis version is more similar to NES than SNES in these regards).

But there are some inconsistencies. For one, the music sounds correct on SNES, and nowhere else. The SNES version also feels incomplete compared to other versions - it has less dialog between-levels, is almost completely missing the intro cut-scene, and the soundtrack has fewer songs (even if it is overall much higher quality). These things make it feel like the NES version had more development time, even if it came out earlier.

My best theory is that NES was the base platform, but SNES conversion started off an early and incomplete NES build without music or its final cutscenes. And that Wise composed the SNES soundtrack first before converting to NES. Further developments on NES did not work their way back into the SNES port, but the later Genesis port used NES as a base.

Select chronology: 

Ultimate Play the Game era

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Dingo Arcade 1983
Jetpac ZX Spectrum 1983-5 1984 ports to BBC Micro & VIC-20
Lunar Jetman ZX Spectrum 1983-11
Atic Atac ZX Spectrum 1983-12
Sabre Wulf ZX Spectrum 1984-5 Same-year port to BBC Micro
1985 ports to Amstrad CPC & C64
Knight Lore ZX Spectrum 1984-12 1985 ports to Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, & MSX
Alien 8 ZX Spectrum 1985-2 Same-year ports to Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, & MSX


NES era

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Wizards & Warriors NES 1987-12
R.C. Pro-Am NES 1988-2 Same-year port to PlayChoice-10 arcade system
WWF Wrestlemania NES 1989-2
Cobra Triangle NES 1989-7
Who Framed Roger Rabbit NES 1989-9
The Amazing Spider-Man Game Boy 1990-7
Solar Jetman: Hunt for the Golden Warpship NES 1990-9 1991 port to PlayChoice-10 arcade system
A Nightmare on Elm Street NES 1990-10
Captain Skyhawk NES 1990 Same-year port to PlayChoice-10 arcade system
Snake Rattle N Roll NES 1990
Battletoads NES 1991-6
Super R.C. Pro-Am Game Boy 1991-10
Battletoads Game Boy 1991-11


SNES era

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Battletoads / Double Dragon ??? 1993-6 Same-year releases on NES, SNES, & Gameboy
1994 release on Genesis
Battletoads in Battlemaniacs SNES 1993-6
Killer Instinct Arcade 1994-10 1995 ports to Gameboy & SNES
Donkey Kong Country SNES 11/1/1994
Donkey Kong Land Game Boy 1995-6
Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest SNES 11/21/1995
Killer Instinct 2 Arcade 1996-1
Donkey Kong Land 2 Game Boy 1996-9
Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong's Double
SNES 11/1/1996

N64 era

Title Lead platform Date
Killer Instinct Gold Nintendo 64 1996-11
Blast Corps Nintendo 64 3/21/1997
GoldenEye 007 Nintendo 64 8/23/1997
Diddy Kong Racing Nintendo 64 10/31/1997
Donkey Kong Land III Game Boy 1997-10
Banjo-Kazooie Nintendo 64 5/31/1998
Jet Force Gemini Nintendo 64 10/12/1999
Donkey Kong 64 Nintendo 64 11/22/1999
Perfect Dark Nintendo 64 5/22/2000
Perfect Dark Game Boy Color 2000-8
Banjo-Tooie Nintendo 64 11/20/2000
Conker's Bad Fur Day Nintendo 64 3/5/2001

6th gen

Title Lead platform Date
Star Fox Adventures GameCube 9/24/2002
Grabbed by the Ghoulies Xbox 10/21/2003
Conker: Live & Reloaded Xbox 6/21/2005

Xbox 360 era

Title Date Contemporary ports
Perfect Dark Zero 11/22/2005
Kameo: Elements of Power 11/22/2005
Viva Piñata 11/9/2006 2007 port to PC

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Ports of Entry: Firebird Software

Firebird Software is more of a publishing label than a developer. Any games credited to a developer prolific enough to have its own page (e.g. Level 9) aren't listed on this one, or else it would be massive and mostly redundant.

Unknown lead platform:



Released for Commodore 64 & ZX spectrum in 1984

Ported to Amstrad CPC in 1984


Star Empire

First released for Commodore 64 in May 1986

Released for Amstrad CPC & ZX Spectrum in 19864


Black Lamp

Released for Amiga & Atari ST in July 1988

Ported to Commodore 64 & ZX Spectrum in 1988

Ported to Atari 8-bit in 1989


Weird Dreams

Released for PC c1988

Released for Amiga & Atari ST in 1989

Released for C64 c1989

Mobygames and Wikipedia do not agree on release order. Mobygames lists the PC version as coming out first in 1988, but Wikipedia says it came out in Fall 1989, and puts the Atari ST version first in April 1989.

Technically this one's Rainbird but I don't mind lumping it with its parent label.


Select chronology: 

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Booty ??? 1983 Same-year releases on C64 & ZX Spectrum
Same-year port to Amstrad CPC
The Sentinel BBC Micro 1986 Same-year port to C64
1987 ports to Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, & ZX Spectrum
Thrust BBC Micro 1986 Too many to fit here
Star Empire ??? 1986-5 Same-year releases on Amstrad CPC, C64, & ZX Spectrum
Black Lamp ??? 1988-7 Simultaneous releases on Amiga & Atari ST
Same-year ports to C64 & ZX Spectrum
1989 port to Atari 8-bit
Weird Dreams ??? c1988 1988-1989 releases on Amiga, Atari ST, & PC
1989-1990 release on C64

Monday, June 6, 2022

Ports of Entry: Loriciels

Unknown lead platform:



First released for Oric on June 1984

Released for C64 on 1984


Bob Winner

Released for Amstrad CPC & Amstrad PCW in 1986

Ported to PC in 1986

Released for Atari ST, Thomson MO, & Thomson TO in 1987


Mach 3

Released for Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, PC, Thomson MO, & Thomson TO in 1987

Released for Amiga in February 1988


The Amiga & Atari ST versions have very different title screens from the rest, making me think they may have been developed later. Amiga's title is 32 colors, though gameplay in both are only 16.


Space Racer

Released for Amiga, Atari ST, C64, PC in 1988

Ported to Amstrad CPC, Thomson MO, & Thomson TO, & ZX Spectrum in 1988

For whatever it's worth, the PC version credits author Pascal Jarry as its programmer, the Amiga & C64 versions credit others, and the Atari ST version does not credit anyone as its programmer. The Amiga version also does not use more than 16 colors, even on the title screen.

For whatever it's worth, the PC version credits author Pascal Jarry as its programmer, the Amiga & C64 versions credit others, and the Atari ST version does not credit anyone as its programmer. The Amiga version also does not use more than 16 colors, even on the title screen.



Released for Amiga, Atari ST in 1989

Ported to Amstrad CPC & PC in 1989

Amiga appears to make use of 320x256 resolution mode and 64 colors, which are not available on Atari ST, though Atari ST uses 36 colors and I am not sure how it does that. It suggests Amiga-first development, but I have questions.


Panza Kick Boxing

Released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, & PC in 1990

Released for TurboGrafx-16 in 1991

The Amiga, Amstrad, and PC credits have specific entries for Amiga/CPC/PC code while Atari ST just credits author Pascal Jarry with "programming," suggesting that may be the lead platform.


Best of the Best Karate Championship

Released for Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Gameboy, PC

Ported to NES in December 1992

Released for Genesis in January 1993

Ported to SNES in March 1993

Wikipedia says this is the same game as Panza Kick Boxing.

Select chronology:   

Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
The Mystery of Kikekankoi Oric 1983
Jeep ??? 1984-6 Same-year releases on C64 & Oric
Thomson MO5
1986-6 Same-year releases on Amstrad CPC & Thomson TO
1987 releases on Atari ST & PC
PC 1986-10
Bob Winner
??? 1986 Same-year releases on Amstrad CPC & PCW
Same-year port to PC
1987 releases on Atari ST, Thomson MO, & TO
Mach 3
??? 1987 Too many to fit here
Space Racer
??? 1988 Same-year releases on Amiga, Atari ST, C64, & PC
Same-year ports to various computers
??? 1989 Same-year releases on Amiga & Atari ST
Same-year ports to Amstrad CPC & PC
Panza Kick Boxing
??? 1990 Same-year releases on various computers
1991 release on TurboGrafx-16
Best of the Best Karate Championship
??? 1992 Same-year releases on Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Gameboy, & PC
Same-year port to NES
1993 release on Genesis
1993 port to SNES

Friday, June 3, 2022

Ports of Entry: Virgin Interactive

Unknown lead platform:



First released for NES on September 1990

Released for arcade, C64, & PC in 1990

Ported to Gameboy on 1990

Released for Amiga in 1991

Ported to Atari ST in 1991

A RetroGamer interview with programmer Graeme Devine inconclusively suggests NES was the original platform, although Wikipedia states the original version, Infection, was programmed for Amiga, Atari ST, and C64 in 1988 without being released, and ported to arcades as Ataxx. It isn't said whether Spot is a conversion of Infection's code, or if it's a remake simply based on the same concept and gameplay rules.


Jimmy White's 'Whirlwind' Snooker

Released for Amiga & Atari ST in 1991

Ported to PC in 1991


Screamer 2

Released for DOS and Windows in 1996



Released for DOS and Windows in 1997


Select chronology: 

ZX Spectrum era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Yomp ZX Spectrum 1983
Ghost Town ZX Spectrum 1983
Rider ZX Spectrum 1983
Strange Loop ZX Spectrum 1984 1985 ports to Amstrad CPC & C64 by Gang of Five
Falcon Patrol II Commodore 64 1984 1985 port to ZX Spectrum
Dan Dare: Pilot of the Future ZX Spectrum 1986
James Clavell's Shogun Amstrad CPC 1986 Same-year port to C64


Late 8-bit / early 16-bit era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Spot ??? 1990 Same-year releases for arcade, C64, NES, & PC
Same-year port to Gameboy
1991 release for Amiga
1991 port to Atari ST
Jimmy White's 'Whirlwind' Snooker ??? 1991 Same-year releases on Amiga & Atari ST
Same-year port to PC
M.C. Kids NES 1992-2 Same-year ports to Amiga, C64, & PC
1993 port to Atari ST


Genesis era:
Title Date Contemporary ports
Mick & Mack as the Global Gladiators 1993-8 Same-year ports to Amiga, Game Gear, & Sega Master System
Disney's Aladdin 11/12/1993 1994 ports to Amiga, PC, & NES
Cool Spot 1993 Same-year ports to Amiga, Game Gear, Sega Master System, & SNES
1994 ports to PC & Game Gear
RoboCop versus The Terminator 1993 Same-year ports to Game Gear & Sega Master System


32-bit era:
Title Lead platform Date Contemporary ports
Screamer DOS 1995
Screamer 2 ??? 1996 Same-year releases for DOS and Windows
Ignition ??? 1997 Same-year releases for DOS and Windows

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Game 321: Questprobe featuring The Hulk

Read the manual and accompanying comic here:


Scott Adams' Adventureland was one of the first whales I covered, and the first adventure to make whale status. An aggressively truncated adaptation of Don Wood's Adventure, it entertained me more than its colossal ancestor did, thanks to its near-absence of empty space and somewhat cleverer puzzles. Nevertheless, it was made comically obsolete by Zork I in 1980 just a little over a year later. Adams would churn out a dozen text adventures between 1978 and 1981, all within the 16KB constraints of Adventureland's two-word BASIC engine, few of which are given much veneration in modern retrospectives.

Fast-forward to the current year of 1984, and there have been massive developments in the genre. Infocom, of course, is a class of its own in terms of writing, parser sophistication, world building, storytelling, puzzles, and interactivity, with ten so-called "interactive fiction" titles and counting produced by a stable of authors, half of which made my ivory deck. Ken & Roberta Williams pioneered graphical adventures three times, with crude wireframes in Mystery House, full color in The Wizard and the Princess, and the fully animated pseudo-3D King's Quest. In the UK, where tapes were still the most widespread computer games media, Level 9 crammed massive worlds into 32KB memory spaces with compression algorithms and other cleverness, and The Hobbit offered a dynamic world driven by physics and independent actors, albeit one where nothing that happens and nothing that anyone does makes any kind of sense.

Adams had still been active, and his back catalog, easily portable thanks to having a common codebase sold rather well abroad on low-end computers, but none of his output past 1979's The Count (which I played but did not cover) flew on my radar. By 1982, he started re-releasing his adventure series with graphics on the Apple II and other platforms as the SAGA (Scott Adams Graphical Adventure) series. Without any expanded content or prose, they are still the same old primitive and terse text adventures, only accompanied with illustrations that sometimes hinder gameplay. In 1984, he followed-up the original twelve adventures with two all-new SAGA engine games, but they flopped. Graphics just weren't a novelty any more, and Adams' mold was years obsolete.

This brings us to the Questprobe series, a collaboration with Marvel Comics that produced two whales, his first since Mission Impossible. This series would be the final games of Adventure International, and to be frank, I'm not looking forward to them. The picture being painted here is a desperate Hail Mary to save a moribund studio whose design sensibilities never evolved from its primordial origins - an evidently unsuccessful one - and the way the manual condescendingly tells us "your computer can't understand" commands with more than two words doesn't enhearten.

Included with each game is a comic book detailing the backstory. Here, a coalition of prosperous, pacifistic worlds learns the consequences of beating swords to plowshares as a mysterious fleet of space invaders destroys planet after defenseless planet. In the high council, whose robed members look like Kanamites from The Twilight Zone, one "Durgan the Philospher" observes that though generations of peace have left his people unwilling to fight for their lives, other worlds have heroic defenders.

Meanwhile, Hulk is fighting the national guard yet again, and singlehandedly smashes a platoon of tanks into scrap metal, carving a second Grand Canyon into Colorado in the fracas, much to the amazement of a space-helmeted observer. Introducing himself as the Chief Examiner, Hulk retorts that he has no wish to be examined, and they fight for a several more pages, where he is tricked into jumping through a magic portal, and comes out the other side weakened. The events of the game, we're told, show what happened in the split-second of existing in the portal dimension.

Although the Apple II version wasn't released until 1985, Adams informed me in an email that this was indeed the lead development platform for the Questprobes, as it was for all SAGA engine games. This version also apparently has voice output, but neither the game nor the manual identifies the supporting hardware, and I couldn't get it to work at all. Oh well.

So we begin as Bruce Banner, alone and tied to a chair in some kind of bunker. I let "D" have a first shot at it.


You and me both, Hulk.


Conceding the keyboard to me, I found "ROCK CHAIR" had the desired effect.

The graphics transition as screen-wipes and are rendered remarkably fast compared to similar games on the old Apple.

You wouldn't know it from the final image, but as soon as you start typing, the graphic is replaced by a much more useful text description of the room, listing the visible items here; a mirror, a broken chair, a gem, and a metal hand fan, as well as the immovable hatch in the floor and the sign, which explains the quest:


Whee, another treasure hunt adventure!

Connected to this room is a tunnel in which a sign warns us of "hi grav" ahead, and a button here, when pushed, activates a voice that announces "DELAY ON." Leaving is instantly fatal, but since this is a computer simulation, the only consequence is a gentle chastisement from the Chief Examiner and a free respawn in the bunker.

I had to look up what to do next. BITE LIP summons Hulk anytime, though the nerve gas will revert you back quickly. PUNCH MYSELF works too and seems a bit more thematically appropriate. Either way, the button effect delays the gas just long enough to leave.

Freedom and gem awaited outside, where I began Trizborting. And very soon stopped Trizborting.


Every direction you go leads to a "fuzzy area" of impossible objects where a signpost indicates a drop-off point for the gems. Going north leads to a dead-end where an egg explodes, killing you and destroying a "bio gem," and if you return after resurrection, there's no way out and eventually nerve gas floods the room and kills you again. Going any other direction leads to one of three random fields, each with a dome to enter, or rarely the Chief Examiner's office, where a gem can be stolen from his desk. The random fields contain one gem each, one is infested with giant ants and its dome contains two more gems, and the third dome has a box of wax that you can't get because bees will sting you.

Seven gems collected were worth 41/100 points, suggesting a total of 17. But I was stuck. The walkthrough told me that you can lift the domes from the outside, which I did, revealing yet more gems, and also that I could dig holes, where I found more. The dome with the ants was pretty annoying as I had to leave after every single action so that the ants didn't kill me, and then stumble around the fuzzy room until it randomly brings you back.


That's 13 gems, worth 76 points.

Stuck again, the walkthrough told me to EXAMINE DOME (the one with the wax and bees) to spot a grate on the back, which you can wave the fan at to drive the bees away, and then get the wax.

Next - I once again needed the walkthrough - you must go to the dome where the ants lurk and BITE LIP inside. This summons Dr. Strange, who reveals the gas vent's location, which you can then plug up with the wax.

TALK STRANGE three times and he drops some cryptic advice ("REMEMBER YOUR WORST ENEMY NIGHTMARE"), and another gem.

REMEMBER NIGHTMARE triggers a graphic that vanishes faster than you have a chance to see it - and lets him resist the nerve gas in the domes just long enough to rip open the hatch in the starting room, leading to the cul-de-sac with the exploding egg.

Drop through the hole, though, and you've softlocked the game, because there is now nothing you can do to stop the egg from exploding and killing you, and more importantly, destroying the gem. You've got to open the hatch so that there's a way out of the room, but then go back to the "fuzzy area," REMEMBER NIGHTMARE there, and then go north to enter from the other side, where you can EAT EGG to save the gem.

From here, the walls can be scratched to reveal a passage into a cavern. But you've got to REMEMBER NIGHTMARE as your every alternating move in order to resist the nerve gas that permeates the indoor areas.

Ultron here has Ant-Man trapped in a cage. Also there's a gem to take, which is just about the only thing I could do without Ultron's interference. The gas flows here, too, so once again every other move must be REMEMBER NIGHTMARE or else you go back to Bruce. Speak to Ant-Man and he asks you to bring his friends.

What you have to do is get the giant ants, who will normally attack your eyes, but if you type CLOSE EYES they'll attack your nose instead. Hold your nose first and then close your eyes, and they'll attack your ears. Plug your ears with wax, then hold your nose, and then close your eyes, and you can get the ants safely. Then you've got to blindly find your way back to Ant-Man, where they'll destroy Ultron. Ant-Man then gives you the last gem.

I dropped it off, and then, nothing happened. The command SCORE said I collected 16 gems for 94 points, but this was the 17th gem! So I turned to the walkthrough one more time - the "Bio gem" apparently has to be the last one dropped off or else the final gem doesn't count. So I replayed the entire game, got very annoyed with the time wasted constantly wandering the "fuzzy area" whenever I needed it to randomly take me to a specific dome, and completed it properly.

GAB rating: Bad. While not the worst adventure I've ever played, Hulk is astoundingly bad. The concept was crummy from the start - why does a Hulk adventure mainly involve finding gems and dropping them off at a location, and so little smashing? Scott Adams himself had moved on from that format, albeit in baby steps, in 1979! The graphics aren't bad considering the system limitations and they're drawn much more quickly than Sierra's Hi-Res Adventures, and I guess the ant puzzle is a bit clever, but other than that this is an obtuse and barebones treasure hunt with trivial yet sometimes unreasonable puzzles and multiple annoying gameplay mechanics.

One more of these and I will close the book on Adventure International forever.

My Trizbort map:

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