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Controversial Retro Opinions

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1 hour ago, Wiper said:

I feel a bit bad for arguing any point made in here (particularly as it's already being argued), but I'd also disagree with the "home consoles good, micros bad" perspective, to a point. 

 

I do agree that the ratio is different - the sheer volume of games put out for the micros means they do have an overwhelming amount of rubbish on them, even moreso than the consoles of the time. But in terms of games which still hold their quality I think they at the very least match their console brethren, albeit not necessarily in the same genres. 

 

The vast majority of computer platformers and run 'n' guns, for example, have aged awfully, particularly compared to the general quality of console games in those genres, 8- and 16-bit eras. But there's a wealth of puzzle, adventure, RPG and strategy games on the systems which hold up fantastically well, and overall there are at least as many home computer games I return to as console games, even if we choose to imagine that I suddenly like Mario and Zelda games.

 

I don't want to create a list of games, but as a brief example, the combined works of Bullfrog, Jeff Minter, Lucasfilm, Origin, Mike Singleton and Sensible Software provide a wealth of brilliant titles on their own (dropping Bullfrog and Sensi if we're only talking 8-bit). Not many great platformers between them, admittedly, but even sticking to that handful of "big names" we get a great set of games, and that's without recourse to the less prolific/less "reliable" developers. 

 

My point exactly

 

when you have an open platform like the microcomputers where absolutely anyone can make a game and self-publish a tape - of course the quality will be less. There is no gatekeeper of standards.

 

Nintendo had a huge advantage, in theory, of producing the carts themselves and of course taking a cut for the production. Far fewer games, with an element of "seal of quality". In reality, i think they just checked if the carts worked or had any game-breaking bugs/ crashes. It certainly didn't stop some absolute stinkers being released.

 

The NES had 700 releases, the Famicom had about 1000. There was a lot of crossover. Compared to the micros, its far fewer. The ZX Spectrum had 12,000 games released.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Controversial retro opinion: scan lines and crt filters on emulators and modern retro consoles like the SNES mini are all rubbish and make the games look worse. I want my retro games looking pin sharp and pixelated, thank you very much, none of this blurry nonsense.

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14 minutes ago, dug said:

Controversial retro opinion: scan lines and crt filters on emulators and modern retro consoles like the SNES mini are all rubbish and make the games look worse. I want my retro games looking pin sharp and pixelated, thank you very much, none of this blurry nonsense.

 

I strongly agree with this. I do love the look of scan lines on specifically a CRT. They look great with their bloomed out edges and all that. 

On a flat panel display, absolutely no way to fake scan lines. Give me well scaled chunky pixels all day long. 

 

Fake scan lines just do not work on a flat panel, and darken the image. This doesn't happen at all with a CRT, as its basically the difference between staring at a row of light blubs where each odd numbered one is turned off vs. each odd numbered one is on but blacked out. If that makes sense. 

 

Fake scan lines would prob work on an OLED in saying that, but it would actually have to be HDR content. 

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Hybrid scanlines plus a small compensatory gamma boost on the Super NT/Mega SG looks great. I also think the Sharp Scanlines mode in Sonic Mania is very good.

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1 hour ago, Alexlotl said:

Hybrid scanlines plus a small compensatory gamma boost on the Super NT/Mega SG looks great. I also think the Sharp Scanlines mode in Sonic Mania is very good.

This

 

they look fantastic!

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22 hours ago, Qazimod said:

 

They're hit-and-miss for me. I wasn't keen on Sheep in Space or Hovver Bovver, I liked AMC and the Tempests, and Iridis Alpha is up in my top 10 all-time favourite games. :P 

 

It sort of goes with the territory really - for a developer who is frequently (unfairly) presented as though all he puts out are Tempest clones, Jeff's output - particularly his early work - is extremely eclectic. For me Gridrunner, Llamatron, Iridis Alpha and Revenge of the Mutant Camels are his real classics on the micros (and Trip-a-Tron, but that's not a game), while Attack of the Mutant Camels and Hovver Bovver do nothing for me. But then they're all games of widely different styles, so that's no real surprise!

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Iridis Alpha, Voidrunner, Revenge II are my favourite Minter games of the era. I loved Batalyx back in the day too but haven't played that for a very, very long time.

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I always liked Llamatron on the Amiga. Thought it was a fun take on a decade-old arcade game, with its unashamedly retro-styled graphics, raw gameplay and offbeat design decisions. Sure, it was all rather bare-bones and not exactly original, but it was solid entertainment on the cheap. (Hang on, did Jeff Minter essentially create the precursor to today’s retro-styled indie games?!)

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Not sure if this is contraversial, but i think one of the reasons I find computer games of the past disappointing is that you can usually emulate the arcade originals or some other better version today. Therefore, you take, say Strider on Amiga, which I enjoyed and spent a lot of time on back in the day. Today it is off the radar because the Megadrive version is fantastic and the Arcade version is available on Mame as well.  Not sure this is a controversial opinion, but it means that over time a lot of games become nostalgia curios you play for 5 minutes just to have a look at, because there are better versions that are still retro.

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Super Mario World is a pretty dull game. I absolutely adore Super Mario Bros 3. I remember at the time i had gotten a Mega Drive for christmas and my neighbour had gotten a Nes. Pah i got this new 16 Bit Machine with Sonic and all it's colours and he got a Nes. Still i was around there every day playing Mario Bros 3 because it was amazing but i didn't comprehend why at the time. It is one of the best games ever made.

 

Then Super Mario World appeared, going up against Sonic the Hedgehog. Firstly it looks so flat and basic. Where are all the colours? Secondly where is the inventiveness? All the levels basically look and feel the same and by and large just feel kinda empty and dull to explore. Wheres hidden stuff like being able to go behind the stage in Mario 3, where are the areas out of the visible screen i can fly to, to find secret areas? Where are all the different inventive looking and playing worlds? If Sonic is like watching a BMX bike as it does jumps and stunts and looks amazing, Mario is like watching someone ride a brompton to work. I really don't get the love for World and if anything it's a huge step back from Mario 3.

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Somebody never flew under the exit on Butter Bridge, found all the exits from a ghost house, or cleared the Star Worlds!

 

World is actually quite a subtle tech showcase, although it can be hard to see in retrospect. The giant Bullet Bill right at the start showing the ability to handle huge sprites compared to the NES, the two-sided climbing fences showing off transparency, the bosses frequently using mode 7 for rotation and scaling. 
 

One negative thing I will say about World, having replayed it recently, is that it drops off dramatically after the Forest of Illusion. Chocolate Island feels totally phoned in and the Valley of Bowser isn’t much better. The final level and the inner star worlds are great, though. 

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38 minutes ago, dumpster said:

Not sure if this is contraversial, but i think one of the reasons I find computer games of the past disappointing is that you can usually emulate the arcade originals or some other better version today. Therefore, you take, say Strider on Amiga, which I enjoyed and spent a lot of time on back in the day. Today it is off the radar because the Megadrive version is fantastic and the Arcade version is available on Mame as well.  Not sure this is a controversial opinion, but it means that over time a lot of games become nostalgia curios you play for 5 minutes just to have a look at, because there are better versions that are still retro.


Yeah, this is fair. Although Amiga Strider does at least have the hyaah that was cut out of the western Megadrive/Genesis releases!

 

I think it still has the only good home port of Rodland too, which I played to death. 

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I think with the topic of this thread and the anger it might cause for some we should have a rule in place. No negs! Safety for those living in fear of sharing these controversial opinions.. it's the only way we finally see who has been hiding in plain sight for all these years. Come one, come all. Feel safe to share your dirty, terrible retro secrets.

 

Another of mine is.. I don't get fighting games. I could see the fun in playing Streetfighter 2 round a mates house as a kid but every sequel seemed to be the same thing. No matter the game it's all just a mix of button presses and movement to do fancier moves. I don't like beat em ups and have zero interest to play more.

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23 hours ago, ulala said:

The NES wasn't popular in the UK because of...

 

 

Nobody could have afforded the price of the games

 

 

I don't think it was not being able to afford it, it's just that a game for the NES was double the price of an Amiga game which seemed insane when you looked at the graphics.

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The home computers popular in the UK would've been 10 times better if they all had multi-button controllers (and I don't mean the keyboard).

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25 minutes ago, Rex Grossman said:

 

I don't think it was not being able to afford it, it's just that a game for the NES was double the price of an Amiga game which seemed insane when you looked at the graphics.

 

I think a good reason why the MS was so much more successful is that they hit the market with loads of cheap, budget titles that were more expensive than tapes but not too far away price wise to spoil the market. I had loads of the cheaper titles and with stuff like Enduro Racer it was no surprise it was a hit.

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8 minutes ago, Lorfarius said:

 

I think a good reason why the MS was so much more successful is that they hit the market with loads of cheap, budget titles that were more expensive than tapes but not too far away price wise to spoil the market. I had loads of the cheaper titles and with stuff like Enduro Racer it was no surprise it was a hit.

 

Graphics were way better than everything else 8-bit too.

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5 minutes ago, Rex Grossman said:

 

Graphics were way better than everything else 8-bit too.

 

including the nes

 

 

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20 minutes ago, ulala said:

 

including the nes

 

 

 

God yeah. If you were a kid at that time in the UK and saw both consoles running in a shop you'd have no reason to put the NES ahead of the Master System.

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1 hour ago, Rex Grossman said:

The home computers popular in the UK would've been 10 times better if they all had multi-button controllers (and I don't mean the keyboard).

 

The weird part is that the Amiga supported multi button pads - I remember a friend had one which worked with Flashback, so you didn't have to use the spacebar to draw your gun. Odd that more games didn't support it.

 

Weirdly fond memories of putting the Amiga on the floor so I could push keys with my feet while playing joystick games!

 

That said, there's a certain wonderful simplicity about the controls of things like Speedball 2, Sensible Soccer and IK+ that was rare on a console. I think Sonic the Hedgehog is probably the only single-button console game I can think of.

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2 minutes ago, Alexlotl said:

 

The weird part is that the Amiga supported multi button pads - I remember a friend had one which worked with Flashback, so you didn't have to use the spacebar to draw your gun. Odd that more games didn't support it.

 

Weirdly fond memories of putting the Amiga on the floor so I could push keys with my feet while playing joystick games!

 

That said, there's a certain wonderful simplicity about the controls of things like Speedball 2, Sensible Soccer and IK+ that was rare on a console. I think Sonic the Hedgehog is probably the only single-button console game I can think of.

 

Just having a separate button for jumping in games that otherwise had you pushing up or pressing the spacebar would've made a world of difference.

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11 minutes ago, Alexlotl said:

 

The weird part is that the Amiga supported multi button pads - I remember a friend had one which worked with Flashback, so you didn't have to use the spacebar to draw your gun. Odd that more games didn't support it.

 

Weirdly fond memories of putting the Amiga on the floor so I could push keys with my feet while playing joystick games!

 

That said, there's a certain wonderful simplicity about the controls of things like Speedball 2, Sensible Soccer and IK+ that was rare on a console. I think Sonic the Hedgehog is probably the only single-button console game I can think of.

 

From what I recall it's being Commodore decided to pack single button joysticks in with the base units at first which became the default for developers to make games for. Even though the Miggy was easily able to use more buttons it set a president which everything else followed to get to the most customers.

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12 minutes ago, Alexlotl said:

The weird part is that the Amiga supported multi button pads - I remember a friend had one which worked with Flashback, so you didn't have to use the spacebar to draw your gun. Odd that more games didn't support it.

 

The CPC also supported two button joysticks, but virtually no games did, and only a few joysticks. I imagine the thinking at the time was that more than one button on a joystick was overcomplicating things.

 

It led us into the terrible world of Up To Jump.

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In hindsight, joysticks from the 1980s were not just rubbish but prevented us from adopting two-button pads. Would've saved so much hassle.

No wonder that many of the Amiga games that have aged well are those that use the mouse.

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Up to jump meant I developed such a revulsion of joysticks, I played most games using the keyboard if I could. For the most part, this meant the old faithful combination of QAOP and Space, others may have just relied on cursor keys. But for one game, things got ludicrous.

 

Emlyn Hughes International Soccer on the CPC didn't offer up proper keyboard support at all - no QOAP or cursors for you. That's ridiculous in a game that's surely made for two players, on a system that only had one joystick port, but never mind that. The quirk of the CPC was that Joystick 2 on the system mapped to the keyboard anyway. You just had to determine which keys they were.

 

Such was my hatred of the joystick control, I would set player 1 to the CPU, and player 2 to Joystick 2, just so I could play the game with those keys. And that leads me to my potentially controversial opinion.

 

The combination of 5, 6, R, T and G is better than using a joystick.

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The whole button thing really came down to standardisation. Consoles came bundled with controllers, which had a set number of buttons determined by the manufacturer. Therefore devs coded to that standard. Computers of the era didn't come with a standardised controller other than mice on 16bits. Hence devs took the only route open to them, all joysticks had at least one button, so code to that. As soon as you deviate from a standard, you open yourself up to losing a segment of the user base.

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8 minutes ago, gizmo1990 said:

The whole button thing really came down to standardisation. Consoles came bundled with controllers, which had a set number of buttons determined by the manufacturer. Therefore devs coded to that standard. Computers of the era didn't come with a standardised controller other than mice on 16bits. Hence devs took the only route open to them, all joysticks had at least one button, so code to that. As soon as you deviate from a standard, you open yourself up to losing a segment of the user base.


Doesn’t explain why they didn’t offer *optional* support for two button sticks/pads. I can’t imagine it would be a big stretch to add an option to the menu or an in game toggle key or something.

 

If the mags had praised games that supported it, it soon would have caught on. 

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19 minutes ago, Alexlotl said:


Doesn’t explain why they didn’t offer *optional* support for two button sticks/pads. I can’t imagine it would be a big stretch to add an option to the menu or an in game toggle key or something.

 

If the mags had praised games that supported it, it soon would have caught on. 

 

It kinda is a big stretch. Requiring many different design choices.

Quote

 

"Let's make our game have 2 buttons, one for jump, one for fire."

"Hang on, 98% of players have one button joysticks"

"Ok, we'll just have two control options"

"Hmm, this significantly impacts game design such, as ease of jumping/firing, where to reasonably place obstacles, what to ask of the player etc etc etc.

"Ummm, how long is our dev time?"

"We've got 5 months."

"98% eh?"

"Screw it, up to jump it is. Pub?"

 

 

 

 

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I remember either John or Ste Pickford noting here or elsewhere that there was a chunk of standard Z80 code for redefining controls that nobody seemed to know who wrote, but appeared in a whole ton of games across multiple different developers. You can see it in both Batman The Movie and RoboCop from Ocean.

 

That might explain why many developers didn't offer additional options - the boilerplate code for handling input probably didn't support it, and it was extra work to implement. At a time when titles were being turned around in months, you probably didn't have the luxury of exploring it.

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3 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

I think it still has the only good home port of Rodland too, which I played to death. 

 

The ST version is also excellent, helped by the fact the game avoids the ST's two greatest weaknesses: full-screen scrolling and sample-based music. For similar reasons, the ST version of Bubble Bobble is fantastic too. 

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