Can you ever really go back?

The thing about that list though is many are available on other platforms and look and play better there. Like, if I want to play R-Type, it’s the arcade version in 2018 or nothing.

I think you have to really love the Amiga to look at your list and say, “I want to play the Amiga version of that!!” Clearly you do, which is cool, but it’s super niche to be in that frame of mind I think.

Amiga Lemmings is better than every other version (SNES close 2nd)

If you want to start a list war, you’re going to have to quote and justify this opinion for each game on the list.

Now, saying that some of these were multi platform or that they were better somewhere else doesn’t negate their intrinsic quality on the platform discussed here. This is moving the goalposts from “it had no good games” to “it had good games which were also elsewhere”, which is a totally different conversation.

When arguing about arcade ports, this opinion is valid for all home machines. Singling out the Amiga is grossly unfair.

Yeah there are other options, but that’s why I was very careful with my wording… I know there are some games with better versions, but as a whole the Amiga versions rank very high or highest for most ports.

Just because a game or series didn’t become famous or continue on, that doesn’t mean it’s lesser quality than those that did. I see that used as a justification a lot to downplay classic games that weren’t on Nintendo systems, and it’s not a fair way to measure quality.

And just because a port isn’t the overall best version, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth playing. Most old game ports were rebuilt from the ground up making them look, sound, and feel notably different than the source material. R-Type is a good example where the Amiga and Master System versions offer enough difference from the arcade game to make them all worth playing if you’re a fan.

Yup. The Master System port is pretty far behind in graphics and sound, but it’s still an exceptionally fun game.

The Amiga port suffers from only having one button, but the gameplay, graphics, and sound quality is the closest you can get to arcade that I know of.

My comment was more of a comment on the micro market in general. Amiga seems pretty nice, it’s more stuff like the spectrum I can’t wrap my head around. Yknow, stuff like this:

The color palette for most of the games are so fugly.

I’m willing to admit I’m probably super wrong. I think it’s one of those “you have to be there” type things.

I agree with you on some of the other micros for sure. MSX, ZX Spectrum etc… I think mainly because they were just before my time. Same goes for the Atari 2600.

I think the Spectrum has always been overrated in the UK because it was the cheap popular choice of the time there. Even by the standards of its time, the games usually look and sound much worse than Commodore 64 stuff, and anything ported from another system usually plays clunkier. The C64 also has more cultural variety with a greater number of North American-developed games (I think those games tend to be less polarizing for people than old European games).

That said, even as someone who grew up in non-Spectrum NTSC land, there are games on it that stand the test of time for me: Jetpac, Head Over Heels, Deathchase, Sir Lancelot, Vera Cruz Affair, Chuckie Egg, etc…

I’ve always been interested in Spectrum, largely because of the Ultimate games but also because of the unique look the games had. But yeah, it was popular. We have a similar thing in Australia with the Sega Master System, which was a big hit long after the Mega Drive due to being a budget system, you could get the whole console with built in game for the price of a SNES game. Its bargain reach meant it has nostalgia clout (especially for ‘Alex the Kid’) well beyond its value at the time it was really popular.

I’d go another step past that and say that C64 is overrated too, just one step up. The ‘cheap games on tape coded by one or two guys’ and piracy environment meant in most cases vastly less professional, ambitious and polished products than what Japan was making at the same time. And the sound chip is truly a ‘had to be there’ thing, it just sounds terrible to me with the warbling three channel clunk, but is the call of youth for half of Europe.

IMO it wasn’t a coincidence that many budget re-releases of games on these old computers came with a printed card with codes for invincibility, level select or some other cheat that trivialises the game: these were games with bad controls and poorly tuned difficulty to mask their short length. I grew up during the micro computer era in Europe and I struggle to think of many games that I was able to complete legitimately.

What struck me about the NES was that it was host to games that controlled well (a button for jump!) and were fair. It was a bit of an awakening for me having been used to games on the ST and the Amiga that seemed like they were developed with game balance and control as an after-thought.

That’s sort of true of the late '80s (with some exceptions) where the C64 fell behind keeping up with NES/SMS in some areas but back in 1983-1984, Western developers were quite ambitious on C64 and Atari 800. Publishers like EA and Epyx were known for polished games. Games like Impossible Mission, Bruce Lee, Archon, MULE, Infocom adventures, Aztec Challenge, Raid Over Moscow, Summer Games, Pitstop II, etc. were generally more complex than the Famicom and SG-1000 scene at the time.

The warbling is more a popular choice of UK musicians than an automatic function of the sound chip. If the C64 was full of Japanese musicians, its music scene would sound much different.

Also, IIRC in other threads you mentioned being a ColecoVision fan. Early C64 has tons of arcade-y games similar to Coleco but with smoother scrolling. You might like that stuff if you haven’t tried it. That part of the C64 library doesn’t come up much in conversation but it’s a strong area for the system as the hardware was more capable than pre-NES consoles, and that arcade gameplay can appeal to the crowd that doesn’t like what they call “Euro-jank” nowadays.

Your Master System comment shows how much this stuff varies by region. Here in Canada (and the US) where the NES completely dominated in sales, the SMS is so far on the underrated side of the spectrum, it’s kind of infuriating. It was sad to see some of the best games of the 8-bit era like Phantasy Star and Shinobi sell like shit by comparison.

But that hasn’t killed the interest for many of us with retro consoles and with more widely available and easier-to-use flash carts. Sometimes we get selection paralysis, but we’re not literally bored to the point of wanting to sell of our entire hardware and software collections. FYI I’m referring to those of us in the hobby for gameplay reasons, not for collecting and selling it all of like mad and rinse/repeat.

My take is that he went back, tried his favorites and found they had aged poorly, felt frustrating to reacquaint with and eventually bored him to tears. Then he tried the classics mention online that he never got to try; same result, not as good as anticipated. Then he went off the beaten path a bit and tried exploring new games; same thing again as he found a sea of unplayable crap and felt it was a daunting experience to pick out an actual gem.

It’s that last point why that computer is being passed around. Go venturing off for something new to experience and there’s a good chance it’s a broken mess. Try your hand at a random PCE, Genesis, N64, PS2 game and chances are it’s at least decent, controls well and can be played to the end with reasonable persistence. The further you go back, such as NES, the more of a mixed bag it becomes, but from my experience dabbling with the micro computers, the NES library is still far more polished and adhering to a general baseline standard. I think someone (you on the old forum?) told me once, after buying the MiST, to be aware that a lot of that stuff is from a place and era that had not yet cemented/figured out game design standards, controls and quality control.

Many of us do in fact go back and play our childhood favorites that we have beaten many times. I still revisit my NES favorites and think they hold up remarkably well (in many cases).

I liked it well enough, although some cores are in rougher shape than others. I think my favorite was the Apple II core for Oregon Trail and Number Munchers. :slight_smile:

If you want to try out a bunch of old computer gaming hardware but don’t want to spend a lot on tons of old hardware that takes up space, I think it’s worth looking into. There are also a few cores for regular home consoles. I don’t have any experience with that newer hardware (MISTer).

Yup… There was only one other kid I knew that had a SMS. It’s woefully underrated in NA. Up here in Canada, the retro stores will have a couple hundred NES games in display, and about 5-6 SMS games.

This is a good thing for me… With a bit of patience I was able to amass a pretty awesome SMS collection all CIB for a fraction of what a similar size NES collection would cost.

That’s true, about earlier C64 stuff. It could handle the ‘1983’ paradigm games fine, it was as a Famicom alternative that it started to be iffy, just like MSX and SG1000 except better tan those. I actually grew up with the C64 originally and did love certain games like Montezuma’s Revenge that are somewhere between an arcade game and a Mario.

I was actually playing Colecovision today and yeah you have to get into that arcade game mode.

This is also what I feel about them. Nostalgia is a huge part of it and can/is enough for a lot of people but I think the “not being able to go back” is more of a thing for people getting into it without a strong history in the devices. They are culturally and historicity significant, especially to the people who lived through it, but I feel the actual quality of the software for them when not viewed though the “time and place” lens is lacking when compared to other retro systems of similar age. There is a much wider breath of games and software available for those systems as part of the “enthusiast” nature behind their popularity for sure so there is that added appeal,

As for the topic, I have no problem bathing myself in nostalgia and fulfilling those old feelings but I guess it helps that my enjoyment of retro gaming isn’t completely centered around that. Why I don’t think I’m at risk of just burning out on it or just insta buying a collection then selling it all a year later when I get tired of it. I do recognize the trouble with choice paralysis and it dosn’t just effect emulation/rom carts. Some games you may not have spent more then 2 minutes on back in the day if you had anything else to play but you were “forced” to find enjoyment in them. It is one of the reasons why I try to stay to one game at a time even now expect in special cases. If it’s worth it for me to play it’s worth it for me to give it it’s own room to breathe.

Sure that also means my backlog is eternal and growing faster then I play games, but whacha gonna do? Not be a shithead and just buy what I can actually reasonably get to? That’s crazy talk.

I agree. From what I’ve heard heard of each, the SID sounds more capable and versatile than the NES’s sound capabilities despite the latter have one (or two?) more sound channel. C64 games can sound wildly different from each other, whereas I find most NES games have the exact same “voices” repeated. Recently came across this awesome track that blew my mind:

Not to mention all the insane C64 demoscene music out there.

RE: C64 vs Famicom music:

I think there are two issues that intertwine - less channels, and more flexibility, which led to poorly chosen ways of working around there being less channels.

There’s two types of warble. One is the oscillating between two notes, the other is the note bending all off the place in various types of vibrato. The first sounds outright bad IMO, the second is just used badly a lot but can be good. The reason C64 coders used the oscillating warble a lot (and yes they did use it when they made NES games too, maybe out of habit/Stockholm syndrome or maybe their tools were set up for C64 and they just used the same ones) was the C64 only had three channels as the warble between two notes acted as proxy chord when you had no spare musical space free.

C64 music cut out for sound effects more often for the same reason (or skimped on sound effects), only three channels. So while a track may sound okay, it’s not usable in gameplay unless you have no sound effects. This is an issue Mark III FM games have too, as FM only has three channels, but they’re really nice instruments in that case vs standard Mark III/MS audio which is pretty scabby so it’s still an improvement there.

Essentially the Famicom has four channels (or two more available by expansion as the cart slot had a direct audio connection, which hundreds of Fami games used but the NES lost), but those channels were specifically chosen to be nice instruments for music and sound effects. Only two are really flexible, so yes a lot of the music on the system sounds similar. Two are basically only usable as drums and bass (or crunchy or bassy sound effects), so most Fami games get a drums and bass by default, which may be rigid but is a solid bedrock.

C64 has three flexible channels, but a) the flexibility allows for too much freedom by people with poor taste and b) three is just not enough for a game, as you can only really use two for music.

Every time I have this discussion I look up ‘best of C64 music’ and find a bunch of lists that have IMO c-grade stuff, like this:

Really not a single really good sounding piece there to me? And some are outright painful. The Shadowfire one is nice actually, but has no percussion, just sounds like an organ piece. Otherwise some good stuff technically, but with much ugliness mixed in.

Paperboy demonstrates really clearly how programmers got around three channels - by using one for both drums and bass, so they have to alternate with clean breaks between both. The Last Ninja has some good uses of the bending to make some nice oriental instrument sounds, but also has heaps of nasty oscillating, and also has another issue common in C64 soundtracks (though not inherent to the chip) - the choice to use extremely high pitched notes. Once again western developers brought the high pitched notes ‘innovation’ to NES a lot when they made games on it too, so it’s not the C64’s fault, just a common issue with its music. The R-type track manages to fake having more channels most successfully by doing the alternating thing very rapidly, but is still warble central and has the high pitched thing too.

In comparison, generally Famicom was simpler but just more pleasant, here’s Konami alone, not even a best of just some random music from each game:

Definitely more homogeneous, but also all sound actually good. And since only one track disappears when playing games, typically it sounds less abrupt - you’d still have drums, bass and either melody or harmony still playing, games would cut either the melody or harmony.

See Contra, which just loses the harmony on the melody, but keeps drums bass and lead, and it can mix the harmony back in smoothly in when there’s no action:

If you wanted music and sound effects, you had two channels left on C64. Often percussion AND harmony got the boot, like in C64 Castlevania

Or R-type which almost skips most sound effects altogether, having them only when it can shove a really flat and short crunch in between notes on one into the ‘faked four channels with three channels’ mix. It’s actually really well done how it managed to do a version of the original arcade tunes with only three channels (but still uses nasty warbles), alternating sound types within single channels, but is so flat sounding on the combat front, you only get sound effects when the melody is taking a break, and then with only wimpy short crunches for shots or hits in most cases

When channels are already serving double duty as 1.5 instrument parts, there’s just no room to slot it sound effects half the time.

Add in expansion audio for FDS and others in Japan, and it just gets nuts with six tracks at once, multiple harmony layers, instrument parts can play and fade at the same time as the next picks up etc

TL:DR Famicom’s instruments were less flexible, but generally nicer sounding, and there were more of them.


Good write up. I think that consistency and channel count has allowed so much NES music to hold up and def has a pleasant signature that has come to definite “8-bit music” for most gamers (to the chagrin of others who don’t regard NES as the beginning and end of the discussion). I know NES sort of sets a baseline that makes it hard to go back and listen to older or less capable hardware from the 80s that comparitively sounds like beeps and boops (or it literally is just that).

I can listen to an NES music playlist on YouTube. I’m not listening to a C64 playlist for the reasons you mentioned. SID has potential for amazing music, but just as much potential for disaster in the form of some serious screeching, warbly tracks. I know in-game the C64 doesn’t hold a candle to the NES. Sounds barren in one area or another as you highlighted. It’s why one has to pull up title music or demoscene stuff to demonstrate good examples of music on that hardware.