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 Post subject: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:03 pm 


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By popular request?

The world of home computer ports is a pretty sad one, as any European members of this forum are sure to know. This thread will focus on promoting any that you think are worth a mention, and perhaps pointing out any significant flaws in any considered popular.

Granted, X68000 and FM Towns ports will probably win by default most of the time, but what the hey.

To start off, here is the DOS port of the first Mortal Kombat, a very close conversion by 1993 standards.

Chris Hutt's Atari XL port of Space Harrier is far and away the best 8-bit home computer port, but it's also a homebrew from 2011. I'll leave it up to other members to decide whether or not other homebrew efforts deserve mention.
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 9:28 pm 


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This thread is very relevant to my interests.

Mega Man X had a very solid MS-DOS port that came bundled with a 6 button pc controlller. Unusually I never got more than 3 buttons working with it and always wondered if the remaining 3 were actually connected (they also released a Street Fighter II port with the same controller if I recall so I assume they would work with that game). The only unusualy bit was a change to Chill Penguin's stage: the ride armor there was completely removed. Great rendition of the soundtrack though. Unless you use the PC Speaker option (which is bizarre that it even exists considering how common Soundblaster audio was at the time, most games didn't waste time with PC Speaker audio as an option by then).

Shockingly enough, the group that did the port, Rozner Labs, is run by the same guy who was responsible for the infamously bad MS-DOS Mega Man games, Stephen Rozner. Would not have believed it until I read about it.

Mega Man X3 also had a great Windows port that was pretty much the updated PS1 version of the game with the cutscenes and vastly improved music.

The Intellivision game Astrosmash had a freeware version fanmade for MS-DOS called Smashteroid, features several game modes now including unlockable Pong and Simon minigames. Full playthrough of the Deluxe mode they added that has bosses here.

There's also a great freeware port of the arcade game Wizard of Wor called Wizard of Wor '98 that I had a lotta fun with.
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Oct 30, 2019 11:11 pm 


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I owned (still do!) DOS Mega Man growing up, all boxed and everything. My best friend had all the NES games. I cried a lot. Image
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 12:01 am 


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Sticking to Amiga for now... may follow up with another post about C64 and more Amiga games later.

I mentioned it in another thread, but Operation Wolf for the Amiga is pretty great. That version of Mortal Kombat is also very serviceable, more akin to the Genesis version but plays quite well with the single-button controls.

Also worth mentioning as having decent quality on the Amiga:

• Golden Axe
• Rampart
• Marble Madness (plays wonderfully with a trackball)
• Pang

That said there's a difference between what was considered a competent or even great port back then and what would be considered worth playing now. Few home computer ports back in the day came with extra features that the arcade lacked (unlike, say, the extra level and vs. mode added to the MD version of Golden Axe), so there's generally little to recommend them over their siblings today. Of the games on this list, I think only OW, Rampart, and Marble Madness are really 'worth it' today aside from historical curiosity, and that's more down to their input methods—mouse/trackball vs. only controller support on most of the console ports (or having to deal with mapping difficulties in emulation).
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:07 am 


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Speaking of Rampart, I heard the DOS version was done by former Tengen staff and has some extra levels not in the original.

A8 DK and A8 Ms. Pac-Man were the best ports around for awhile. In some ways, Ms. Pac-Man is closer to the arcade than some of Namco's own ports. A8 DK was one of the first home ports to have all levels and has excellent controls.

BareKnuckleRoo wrote:
There's also a great freeware port of the arcade game Wizard of Wor called Wizard of Wor '98 that I had a lotta fun with.


Not sure if it's the YouTube video, but it seems to run a bit slow. Generic voice effects and lack of original arcade voices too. I did hear that the C64 port of it is very good and supports a voice synthesis cart. I heard the voice cart is rare, though.


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:16 am 


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BrianC wrote:
A8 DK and A8 Ms. Pac-Man were the best ports around for awhile. In some ways, Ms. Pac-Man is closer to the arcade than some of Namco's own ports. A8 DK was one of the first home ports to have all levels and has excellent controls.



Atari 800 Donkey Kong is surprisingly good for a port that was reverse-engineering with no access to the code. I think the missing girder hurts the quality of the port, though. Missing cement factory aside, the Famicom port is better in that respect.

BrianC wrote:
Not sure if it's the YouTube video, but it seems to run a bit slow. Generic voice effects and lack of original arcade voices too. I did hear that the C64 port of it is very good and supports a voice synthesis cart. I heard the voice cart is rare, though.


I agree. It's kind of ugly, too, compared to the minimalist look of the arcade original. I think that's par the course for a freeware port, though. That Astrosmash remake looks quite nice, too. Really, Golden Age classics were one area where home computers really excelled - the Atari 800 port of Defender and the Apple ][ port of Robotron are the stuff of legend.
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:35 am 


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If we're bringing freeware ports/conversions and spiritual sequels into this, then the Amiga has amazing versions of:

Galaga - Deluxe Galaga

Brought to us by the sadly passed Edgar M. Vigdal, Deluxe Galaga takes the ideas found in the original game and the '88 sequel and expounds on them in astonishing ways. This is probably the secret best Galaga game. He made a later revision called Warblade for Windows and mobile devices, but I think Deluxe Galaga is still the best option. Absolutely loaded with cool bosses, levels, and secrets.

Donkey Kong
This PD port by Bignonia (as far as I can gather, a group of Dutch Commodore enthusiasts) absolutely kicks ass. I'm not a DK aficionado by any stretch, but I played a lot of this game back in the day and although it's converted to a landscape format it is really playable and fun in its own right. High quality software for sure.

Star Castle
This port was a Christmas present from ASDG, a company that developed the original 'morphing' software used for a bunch of visual FX in '90s Hollywood movies. Before they did that, they released a paint program called Art Department Professional which was sort of a hybrid of Photoshop and Dpaint more aimed towards image processing. This freeware game was my first exposure to the title, and it simulates the vector graphics and gameplay with astonishing accuracy. This game is pretty obscure, but its gameplay is on par with Asteroids and I think it deserves more recognition. I also own the Vectrex version and I think this freeware game is generally more fun. Super cool port.

---

I was going to mention Asteroids as well — there's a pretty decent straight port that I noticed in a YouTube video which seems to be a pretty faithful recreation of the arcade, but I also recall playing a version that could run in high resolution interlaced mode with all kinds of additional options; for example, in addition to the standard UFOs and mini UFOs from Deluxe, you could add star destroyers as an enemy type. My Google searches for this are proving useless, but the game was probably distributed on one of the Fred Fish disks. Anyone have an idea what this might be?
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 4:15 pm 


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Everybody should play Spectrum R-Type at lease once. It's a jaw-dropping translation this simply didn't seem possible on hardware that was already starting to look antiquated. Very close to the coin-op indeed, and still really playable in it's own right.
Speccy racers usually turned out well, Enduro Racer, Super Hang-On and Chase HQ were both really enjoyable takes on the respective coin-ops and far better than their C64 equivalents. Although a very loose conversion, I always thought it's version of Midnight Resistance was pretty stunning as well.

C64 wise, Power Drift was a superlative effort, which proved that '3D' titles didn't have to be necessarily shit on the old beige breadbin. Kung-Fu Master retained enough of the coin-ops crisp gameplay to make for a passable home experience, Salamander was a pretty decent conversion with some nice graphics, and Mr Do and Spy Hunter were pretty faithful efforts.

May be time for a trip down memory lane later.
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:00 pm 


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Wow, Power Drift for C64 really does look very competent and playable. There were a few good racers for the C64 I remember such as Super Cycle, it seemed that was a good time for that genre.

Sadly I used to think Outrun for C64 was the best game ever as a kid, but nowadays the only thing I love it for is the music. It actually feels harder than the arcade version to clear, as in I've never been able to beat anything but the A or B route in the C64 version (possibly the C route). Even without crashing, the traffic is just too damn obnoxious to reliably clear the game, and instead of freely choosing what route to take on-the-fly, the game makes you pick a destination first.
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Thu Oct 31, 2019 5:10 pm 


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What do you think of the C64 Alcon/Slap Fight conversion? I'm not sure if the gameplay holds up, but the music is amazing.

The official Atari 800 port of Asteroids is terrible, but there's a homebrew "emulator" out there that is amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:35 pm 


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Typing of the Dead was pretty playable on my WinXP system and looked just alright, with only a few graphical glitches to it. Likewise, I've had my share of fun with the first Metal Gear Solid PC port, forced AF & AA in hardware-accelerated mode, 1024x768 resolution (exactly my LCD's back then), nicely playable with just a keyboard, defalut keys layout at that. Those were the days of typically bad ports from PS2-gen consoles, when Billy Hatcher & the Giant Egg, with its erratic framerates and on-screen references to GameCube controller's buttons left right there, could be considered an above-average one. Admittedly, games multiplatform from the word go had already fared better on PC since about the year 2002 (Hitman 2: Silent Assassin).
Demanding on hardware as it was when new (with no real special graphics to justify its demands), I've grown to appreciate Halo: Combat Evolved PC port more on a considerably upgraded system. The latter can be said about Midnight Club II as well - both are worthy ways of playing those classics these days, I feel.
The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay (2004 one), however, was FINALLY a PC port that did not seem like a joke in the very year when Far Cry, Painkiller, Half-Life 2, Doom 3 and so on saw daylight on home computers.
Midway Arcade Treasures Deluxe Edition, once patched, does most things I could ask for, except its resolution is 640x480 only.
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 1:24 am 


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PS2-era PC ports always had some compatibility and stability issues, but not owning the console for the better part of it's lifetime that was how I experienced a lot of those games for the first time and generally they have stood the test of time better than their console counterparts due to fan efforts. In addition to Midnight Club II and Halo that you mentioned, I played through the likes of MGS2, Silent Hill 2 and 3, and OutRun 2006 on the PC first and with the exception of MGS2 the PC is still my preferred platform for those games today. Sometimes ports like these are technically janky but they generally authentically recreate the gameplay of the original.

I think the 8- and 16-bit micro ports are more interesting to consider, as with newer ports the developers typically had access to the full game assets and source files (although notably not so in the case of the Silent Hill HD collection, not that it's a PC port), whereas in the olden days devs were usually recreating the game without either of those things, sometimes without even a dedicated arcade machine to play, making these games more of an 'adaptation' than a 'software port' in the sense of making a chunk of code work on another platform. Really, it's miraculous that some of them are as good as they are given that devs might have to rely on just taking notes/photos and would be required to turn around a product in as little as a few weeks.

BrianC wrote:
What do you think of the C64 Alcon/Slap Fight conversion? I'm not sure if the gameplay holds up, but the music is amazing.


"I'm not sure if the gameplay holds up, but the music is amazing." could practically be a tagline for damn near every C64 port ever. :lol: The soundtracks for C64 Ghosts 'n' Goblins and Commando damn near have their own religions...
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:01 am 


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C64 Ninja Spirit has some damn good music too - the port itself looks surprisingly fun, faring a lot better than its generally depressing contemporaries versus IREM's killer PCE conversion. But the soundtrack is outstanding, blows away the Achilles' heel of the PCE version. Way more of the PCB's guttural murderbass, makes up for the difference with scratchy AKUMA NO DIALTONE grit.

...actually I might give overdubbing the PCE one with it a go! my unsacred AC->PCE BGM transplant for fellow VGM observers
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:44 am 


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Does C64 really count as a home computer though? I mean sure, that's how they tried to market it, but the hardware was obviously built for video games. :)


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:49 am 


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Total outside observer here, but that would certainly explain why many of its conversions seem suspiciously non-shit. ( :lol: )
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 8:56 am 


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Honestly, I think a lot of them are crap, but I think that's more the expected result of trying to port a late 80s arcade game to an early 80s home system than anything else. :P Devs like Ocean really did their best - and the music obviously tends to stand out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3a9IUBj8X0


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:58 pm 


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C64 conversions are hit and miss. A lot of them are plain awful, mostly due to hardware restrictions, incompetent developers, or gibing talented ones too little time to do their work. Sometimes, however, some really good stuff ended up being released, but it was the exception rather than the rule.

Speaking of specific games, I always thought the C64 port of Shinobi was surprisingly well done. I only ever played the first few levels, though, so I can‘t guarantee it doesn‘t fall apart later.

I did play all the way through C64 Gradius (released as Nemesis) and found it every bit as fun as the NES one, despite the crude graphics that are the result of cramming the whole game into a single load. Sadly, there‘s no music. SID renditions of the original tracks would have been rad. I love how the Vic Viper goes down in flames after being hit instead of just exploding, that‘s a neat little detail.

C64 Salamander looks fantastic, but I haven‘t played it.

I don‘t know how accurate Slap Fight and Terra Cresta are, but the difficulty level of the originals seems mostly intact at least.


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Tue Nov 05, 2019 11:36 pm 


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I've mentioned these before, but Capcom's initial Windows port of Resident Evil 4 was legendarily bad. Actually, I've got a bunch of their PC ports, but most of their previous game releases should have been more or less fine. I aaaalmost beat Resident Evil 2 in one go, which you kind of have to do as the PC port's saving was broken on systems newer than Win9x (possibly, any later than Windows 98).

Iceberg Interactive's retail PC port of From Software's Ninja Blade was an awful stuttery mess last time I looked, and people blamed USB polling handling by the software. Might have been fixed up since, though, as I don't recall seeing this mentioned on the Steam release page.


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 2:20 am 


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PC port of Saints Row 2 has been well recognized as one of the worst PC port ever made. Fortunately Volition has announced they have rediscovered the source codes recently and promised to completely fix the port while adding previously console exclusive DLC contents.


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:15 am 


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Oh nice, that is welcome news!


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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:22 am 


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I would have killed for C64 Shinobi back in the day. That was my favorite arcade game (along with Rastan) and the closest I ever got to a home port was the godawful NES version. I knew the SMS version existed (same with Rastan), but didn't know anyone who had an SMS. idk why, but by the time I got around to downloading games from BBSes I'd either forgotten about the C64 versions of these games or they weren't uploaded to my local ports of call (they sure had that 9-disk version of Pools of Radiance, though!)

And hey, I did plenty of programming along with word processing, graphics stuff, and other productivity things on the C64 so damn straight it was a home computer!
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 Post subject: Re: The Best (of the Worst?) Home Computer Ports
PostPosted: Wed Nov 06, 2019 3:52 am 



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PC Evil Within was also awful on launch, but they patched up that now it's the best version. The free demo on steam however was never fixed, if anyone wants to experience how crap it was at launch.


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