Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 conversion of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is surprisingly good, even though everything in it looks a bit tiny. To achieve a playable scale the designer has shrunk the graphics down, and it does look a bit funny. I think they made the right call, though. It would’ve looked worse had they not adjusted the scale and probably wouldn’t be as playable as it is now.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the C64 was developed by Software Creations for US Gold and published in 1989. It did reasonable business and was a hit with the fans and critics.

The game is well-programmed and nicely-polished and is a darn sight more playable than most Ghouls ‘N Ghosts conversions. Three severed thumbs up!

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, PC Engine

Only ever released in Japan, this PC Engine conversion of Capcom‘s classic Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was developed by NEC Avenue and is one of the very best conversions out there.

While not 100% “arcade perfect” it nonetheless delivers on every front. Graphically, it pushes the PC Engine to its limits. Nerves-wise, it pushes the player to the limit.

The only weak area is the music. The Megadrive version is better on that front.

Arguably the best game on the entire system. Some people consider it to be. It’s definitely up there with the best.

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts, Megadrive/Genesis

The Megadrive/Genesis conversion of Ghouls ‘N Ghosts is one of the very best conversions out there. In my opinion, second only to Super Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on the SNES (and of course the original arcade game).

Megadrive Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was reprogrammed by Sega and published on cartridge in 1990. And it has to be said that Sega did a marvellous job. The graphics are a work of pixel artistry; the gameplay is challenging and precise; there’s a practise mode that allows you to explore a bit more of the game than you might normally see. I’m not a hundred percent sure, but I’m convinced I saw stuff in this that I hadn’t seen anywhere else – not even in the arcade game. I must be wrong… It could be because I got further in this version than any of the others.

Ghouls ‘N Ghosts was an early release for the Sega Megadrive and it really showed what the console was capable of. It also still holds up well to this day. A testament to its greatness.

More: Ghouls ‘N Ghosts on Wikipedia

Defender of the Crown, Commodore 64

The Commodore 64 conversion of Defender of the Crown is a celebrated retro gaming classic. Apart from loading times, there’s little to fault about it.

Considering that the game has effectively been converted from the 16-bit Amiga original, down to the 8-bit Commodore 64, it must rank as one of the best conversions of all time.

Part Risk; part Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Defender of the Crown is where castles, strategy and cinematics meet – 8-bit retro style.

Also on The King of Grabs: Cinemaware Week


Q*bert 3, Super Nintendo

Q*Bert 3 was developed by Realtime Associates and released in 1992, and it was a bit of a missed opportunity in some respects.

The SNES could’ve done a great follow-on from Q*Bert, but instead we get an animated technicolor yawn… The first backdrop – the blue skies and clouds – is brilliant. Love it. After that it’s a procession of mind-bending colour schemes and patterns – it’s just too much! Every now and then you might get a less garish backdrop, but they’re rare.

Which is a pity because the underlying mechanics of Q*Bert 3 are fine. A bit dull maybe, but still fine. I just don’t think that the game is as imaginative – or as good – as it should have been. Especially graphically. Whoever designed (most of) the backgrounds was out of control… Jeff Lee – creator of Q*Bert himself – worked on the graphics for this game. Maybe it was him? 🙂

Never mind. Q*Bert 3 is what it is. An alright game. Certainly no classic, but fun for a short while (ie. until it leaves you blind…)

More: Q*Bert 3 on Wikipedia

Pyracurse, ZX Spectrum

An involving, multi-character isometric adventure set in an Egyptian tomb, Pyracurse was written by Mark Goodall and Keith Prosser and published by Hewson in 1986.

You take control of a party of four (a woman, two men, and a dog…), on a rescue mission to find a lost scientist. Each character has individual strengths and weaknesses. Frozbie the dog, for example, can dig up buried items. Very useful in certain situations.

Controlling the characters is done via the little red little menu at the bottom of the screen and either joystick or keys. You choose a character and put them into “mobile mode”, then you can take them for a manual walk. Items found when wandering around can be picked up by simply walking over them. An inventory is also accessible via the small, red menu.

A variety of monsters patrol the tomb. Some will chase any of the party members on sight, while others will only activate when approached. Each character has their own life bar and will snuff it if it reaches zero. Exploring can be quite tense for a tiny little 48K game… That’s what made Pyracurse a critical hit at the time, and still makes it worth a play now.

More: Pyracurse on Wikipedia

Discs of Tron, Arcade

The second video game based on Disney‘s famous 1982 movie, Tron, released into arcades in 1983 by Bally Midway. The first one is here.

Discs of Tron focuses on the disc-throwing game, as seen in the film between Tron and Sark, and it was one of the first games to feature a playfield set in a 3D space.

You basically throw discs at each other and have to catch your opponent out by hitting their ass. Well, not their ass – just catch them off-guard. Or knock them off the platform.

As the levels progress the difficulty gets harder. Your opponent, Sark, becomes more and more aggressive. Platforms begin moving vertically, requiring you to aim up and down. Actually, aiming upwards can be the key to beating your opponent, because bouncing a disc off the ceiling, and onto one of your opponent’s platforms will make it disappear for ten seconds. Which can be a huge problem for him. Or you, if he does it to you.

It’s strange that the developers didn’t include a simultaneous two player game, with player two controlling Sark. But then again: this was 1983 and we were stupid back then. 🙂

More: Discs of Tron on Wikipedia

Sparkster, Super Nintendo

Konami‘s Sparkster is a side-scrolling platform action game released for the Super Nintendo in 1994.

Sparkster is also the name of the main character who you play – an Opossum Knight who fights wolves and robots with a sword that can fire energy bolts and a jet pack that helps him fly short distances.

It’s a cool game, and moves at a fast pace. There’s plenty of variety in both the graphics and the gameplay. The section where Sparkster rides a giant robot bird is just awesome.

Yes: I did cheat when I took these screenshots. The energy bar barely drops across them all… Dead giveaway. It does give a good overview of the first half of the game though.

More: Sparkster on Wikipedia