The Blues Brothers: The Video Games

The Blues Brothers

The Retroist Blues Brothers podcast has sparked lots of memories for me, not least of which is of the hours that I spent playing the game of the film on my Amiga in the early 90’s. I was going to write a post about just that game, but after a quick play of the game and lots of research, I thought it would be much more fun to take a look at the various versions of the game released instead.

I’ll start with the game closest to my heart – the Amiga version, released in 1991 by Titus. I recall at the time that Amiga Format magazine loved the game and I was quick to snap it up at my local computer store. The first thing to hit me was the quality of the in-game audio. I was a huge fan of the film and thought that Titus did a wonderful job of recreating the music. Sadly, I didn’t agree with the magazines of the era about the quality of the game. Sure, it looked quite nice, but the platforming antics of Jake and Elwood left me a little cold. I did eventually beat the game but my lasting memory of the experience is of the soundtrack, not the gameplay.

Also released in the same year as the Amiga version were efforts for the Atari ST and PC. I say ‘efforts’ because both were lumbered with very mediocre versions of the game. Considering both machines had similar capabilities to their rival from Commodore, the screen flipping, poor quality sprites and inferior audio leaves me pleased that I had an Amiga!

That said, if you were yet to climb to 16-bits in 1991 and you still owned an Amstrad CPC, you were stuck with this…

Thankfully the C64 version raised the 8-bit flag high, using the SID chip to maximum effect and delivering a quality game that I’d actually like to go back and play now.

Jump into 1992 and the Nintendo Entertainment System found itself the lucky (!) recipient of its own variation. I didn’t own a NES at the time but I do recall a friend having this game and he let me have a play for a few minutes. It was horrible. I was used to the pace of my Amiga copy and the speed of this NES update was a little too quick for me. Watching the video now proves that my younger self was right to steer clear, though I do think they did a good job with the sound.

Next up is the Nintendo Gameboy version from 1994. I owned a Gameboy but this game never entered my radar and this is the first I’ve seen of it. Strangely, the first thing to hit you about this game isn’t the graphics, it’s the music! The themes and songs used in the film are so iconic that even the diminutive Gameboy is capable of recreating a fine rendition. The game looks to be based on the 1991 originals, though the levels are very different to those that I played. Whilst this is clearly not a Mario-beater, I think this version of the game looks like a great game and I might have to have a play in the near future.

During 1993 there were other Blues Brothers games released. Subtitled as “Jukebox Adventure” and released on the SNES, PC and Gameboy, they are considered to be truly terrible with many people saying they are WORSE than the Blues Brothers 2000 film! High praise indeed, and I think worthy of their own Retroist article, which I’ll write in the near future. For now, here’s a little preview of what’s to come – look out for the BB 6-pack!

Oh, and if you’re lucky, I might take a look at the Blues Brothers 2000 game next time too!

The Kefrens Desert Dream Mega Demo

Desert Dream

One of the many reasons that I loved my Amiga back in 1993 was the prevalence of the MEGA DEMO. These were not demo’s of new games or other software, but a demonstration of the skills of coders who were able to make the machine do some quite amazing things.

These demos were essentially just presentations consisting of amazing music, incredible graphics and special effects that were crammed into the confines of a floppy disk (or two) and distributed at demo scene gatherings and other similar events. To me, these coders were like rock stars and their names and work will be forever etched into my brain.

In my opinion, the best of these demos is Desert Dream from a group called Kefrens. This demo had it all, a soundtrack that was brilliant and perfectly in sync with everything on screen, visuals that were not only fun to watch but technically impressive too, and above all that, a fun little story at the beginning that has a space ship firing a melon at an Egyptian pyramid!

If you’re still reading this after watching the 13 minutes of footage above, what did you think? The saw cutting into the screen in time with the audio is my favourite part. That all this fit into less than 1.6Mb, spread over two disks still astounds me to this day, especially when you learn that disk 2 has a hidden mini demo that can be accessed by inserting disk 2 first!

This demo has had quite an impact since it’s release 20 years ago and has inspired a number of remakes. I’ve included several of those below including a new CGI opener, a complete Commodore C64 remake which is just incredible and a parody remake from 2010.

Is this the greatest Commodore C64 video on the internet?

C64

Every once in a while, I’ll find a video on Youtube that puts such a smile on my face that I just have to tell the world about it. The C64 video below from 1982 is one such video! At over 2 hours long, it appears to be a very thorough marketing film that goes into astounding detail to convince you that you should buy the machine.

The best part is at the 2 hour mark where the creator of the Ghostbusters game, David Crane, gets to give a lengthy demo of his creation!

Enjoy, and if you know of any C64 videos that are better than this, please let me know!

Commodore 64

CompuServe Software

Long before America Online (AOL), CompuServe (CIS) ruled the land of online services. I could never afford CompuServe (they charged by the hour) but a good friend of mine had an account and the two of us spent some time together on CompuServe posting messages, trading files, and chatting with people across the country. CompuServe had local phone numbers connected to modems for users to call; those modems were connected to PDP minicomputers that were connected to nodes all across the country. This allowed my friend and I to trade files and chat with people all across the country (as long as his parents continued to pay the bill!). According to Wikipedia, CompuServe was the first online service to offer internet connectivity, all the way back in 1989. Up until the mid 90s CompuServe was the most popular online service. It was toppled by AOL, whose monthly rate with unlimited usage proved to be more popular than CompuServe’s original rate of $10/hour.

Several years ago when my friend got rid of all of his old Commodore equipment I inherited it, including his old CompuServe software. Obviously it no longer works (which is a shame), but I still get a kick out of looking at it and remembering those good CompuServe times.

Avoid the Noid (C64/PC)

Earlier today Christopher Tupa posted a short post warning people to Avoid the Noid. Completely coincidentally, I was digging through some old Commodore 64 diskettes this even and ran across this game. The Noid is harder to avoid than I had imagined!

Here’s a bit of gameplay I found on YouTube from the less colorful MS-DOS version of the game. Good luck avoiding that Noid!