The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

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The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by PeteProdge » Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:56 am

Now, these software house polls concentrate on the games that clearly came out with the software house's brand on them. I have come up with 107 games that have been released for the ZX Spectrum that are published under the Ocean name.

I am not counting Imagine games here. I know Ocean acquired the Liverpool label, and from then on, it was pretty much used by Ocean at their whim, but I'm considering that as a separate brand.

For clarification, Ocean began life as Spectrum Games Ltd back in 1983, using the name Spectrum Games to publish software for the ZX81 (16K) ZX Spectrum 16K and Commodore VIC 20 (the Dragon 32 and Oric were also considered).

However, I'm not counting the Spectrum Games brand here either. It's got be Ocean as publisher, simple as that really. (The Spectrum Games discussion thread is here.)

The first game under the Ocean label is Kong, pretty much the same principle of what came before, an obvious knock-off of a famous arcade game. (It's notable that they would officially release a licensed Donkey Kong about three years later.)

Now, onto the anomalies, which are up for discussion.

Emilio Butragueño is a notable 1980s Spanish footballer, known for his outstanding skills as a player for Real Madrid and the national team. Why, you could say he was the Spanish equivalent of Gary Lineker. Ocean, in association with Spain's Topo Soft, jointly published Emilio Butragueno Futbol. From the gameplay, it's very close to being an arcade conversion of Tehkan World Cup. For us Brits, this is an unheard-of Ocean game, but hey, it did come out under their brand, so I say it counts.

When it comes to Emilio Butragueño 2, well, I see it as a re-release of some old games. You see, Ocean and Erbe have done a deal with Gremlin Graphics to reissue Gary Lineker's Superskills and Gary Lineker's Hot-Shot!, albeit with necessary differences to make it about Emilio Butragueño and appeal to the Spanish market. It's translated to Spanish, references to Gary Lineker are of course adjusted and the loading screen is very much about Emilio. It's still pretty much a compilation of the Gary Lineker games from Gremlin, so I am not counting this.

Rescue was one of 9 titles heavily advertised in games magazines as the Ocean brand was launched, but it never materialised - MIA. Therefore this isn't up for voting.

Quondam is rather questionable. It didn't hit shop shelves in the conventional way. It only surfaced on a magazine cover tape (issue 66 of Crash) in 1989. It's by Denton Designs, so was likely made in about 1986 and was probably kept away from a conventional commercial release for its... well, let's be honest... mediocrity. I say it counts, although it's not exactly going to be a vote magnet.

Ditto, Road Race, which solely appeared on a Your Sinclair cover tape in early 1987 (ah, an era when such freebies were quite rare). Billed as "an Easter gift from Ocean", this also seems to have been a game held back from a proper commercial release. Again, this isn't likely to attract any votes, but I say it is an actual Ocean game.

Then there's the first incarnation of Street Hawk, which isn't the same game that hit actual shop shelves. The first version really is a different game, rather primitive and made rather quickly to fulfil a contractual obligation for those who order it as a bonus via a Crash magazine subscription. It's basically Defender with a motorbike. Anyway, it came out under the Ocean brand, so I say it counts.

Toki was heavily advertised for the 128K Speccy in 1991, but ultimately never got a release. Amstrad users can also nod their heads at this story. Ocean did manage to get it out for the Commodore 64, Amiga and Atari ST. Therefore, it's MIA, so not up for a vote here.

Oh, and Wizkid - the sequel to Wizball - was planned for a Spectrum release around 1991, as evidenced by this baffling full-page advert in Your Sinclair which omits the game's name. It only surfaced on the major 16-bit computer platforms - Atari ST, Amiga and IBM PC. An MIA status here, which is why it's not up for voting.

I think that clarifies things. So here we go...

Addams Family, The
Adidas Championship Football
Adidas Championship Tie-Break
Armageddon
Batman
Batman: The Caped Crusader
Batman: The Movie
Battle Command
Beach Volley
Cabal
Cavelon
Chase HQ
Chase HQ II: Special Criminal Investigation
Chinese Juggler
Cobra
Combat School
Cosmic Wartoad
Daley Thompson's Decathlon
Daley Thompson's Olympic Challenge
Daley Thompson's Super-Test
Darkman
Digger Dan
Donkey Kong
Double Take
Emilio Butragueno Futbol
Eskimo Eddie
Firefly
Flashpoint
Frankie Goes To Hollywood
Gift From The Gods
Gilligan's Gold
Great Escape, The
Gryzor
Gutz
Head Over Heels
Highlander
Hudson Hawk
Hunchback
Hunchback - The Adventure
Hunchback II
International Match Day
It's A Knockout
Knight Rider
Kong
Kong Strikes Back
Madballs
Mailstrom
Mario Bros
Match Day
Match Day II
Miami Vice
Midnight Resistance
Moon Alert
Mr Wimpy
Mutants
N.O.M.A.D.
Narc
Navy Seals
NeverEnding Story, The
New Zealand Story, The
Night Breed
Nightmare Rally
Operation Thunderbolt
Operation Wolf
Pang
Phantom Club
Platoon
Plotting
Pogo
Power Drift
Predator
Pud Pud
Puzznic
Quondam
Rainbow Islands
Rambo
Rambo III
Red Heat
Road Race
Robocop
Robocop 2
Robocop 3
Roland's Rat Race
Royal Birkdale: Championship Golf
Run The Gauntlet
Shadow Warriors
Short Circuit
The Simpsons: Bart vs The Space Mutants
Sly Spy
Smash TV
Space Gun
Street Hawk
Street Hawk - Subscriber's Edition
Super Bowl
Tai-Pan
Tank
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Top Gun
Total Recall
Track & Field
Transformers, The
Transversion
Untouchables, The
V
WWF Wrestlemania
Where Time Stood Still
Wizball
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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by Juan F. Ramirez » Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:44 pm

No need to say more.

Probably the most prolific company back in the day, the one with the most official conversions (and curiously, it published both an official and unofficial conversion of the same arcade: Donkey Kong(1986)/Kong(1983)). Full of classics but also full of disappointing games. There is all sorts.

My top 5:

- D.T. Decathlon
- The Great Escape
- Cobra
- Batman
- Super Test
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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by StooB » Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:54 pm

Predator?

Image
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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by StooB » Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:14 pm

PeteProdge wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:56 am
Then there's the first incarnation of Street Hawk, which isn't the same game that hit actual shop shelves. The first version really is a different game, rather primitive and made rather quickly to fulfil a contractual obligation for those who order it as a bonus via a Crash magazine subscription. It's basically Defender with a motorbike.
Another myth that seems to keep being repeated for some reason!

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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by redballoon » Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:29 pm

Beach Volley never got a a release in the UK on both the Ocean or Hit Squad labels. I think I it got released under the serve label but God knows which version was released as nobody I’ve ever spoken to ever remembered it getting finished. There was an SU cover demo, though.
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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by PeteProdge » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:39 pm

StooB wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:54 pm
Predator?

Image
Ooops!

And that just goes to show why we have these week-long discussion threads instead of just me putting up the poll immediately! Thank you so much for spotting this error.

It happened because this site throws up a load of non-Ocean games when you look at Ocean's softography - games that were included in compilations under the Ocean name, but were not originally by Ocean. For example, Activision's After Burner and Domark's APB are counted as Ocean. I thought I had carefully removed all of these, but that one slipped my eye. I'll of course exclude it from the poll that starts next week.
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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by PeteProdge » Sun Jul 07, 2019 3:46 pm

StooB wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:14 pm
PeteProdge wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 8:56 am
Then there's the first incarnation of Street Hawk, which isn't the same game that hit actual shop shelves. The first version really is a different game, rather primitive and made rather quickly to fulfil a contractual obligation for those who order it as a bonus via a Crash magazine subscription. It's basically Defender with a motorbike.
Another myth that seems to keep being repeated for some reason!

Aaargh, again, another reason why we have these discussion threads, so thank you for spotting this one.

This game is titled Street Hawk - Subscribers Edition, and there's a few places on the web implying that it did come available to Crash subscribers. I of course now defer to Mark R Jones's tweeted evidence, and I'll instead refer to it as Street Hawk - Kays Catalogue Edition.
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Episode 1: Out Run on the ZX Spectrum 48, 128 and other machines

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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by PeteProdge » Sun Jul 07, 2019 4:09 pm

redballoon wrote:
Sun Jul 07, 2019 2:29 pm
Beach Volley never got a a release in the UK on both the Ocean or Hit Squad labels. I think I it got released under the serve label but God knows which version was released as nobody I’ve ever spoken to ever remembered it getting finished. There was an SU cover demo, though.
But it came out somewhere in the world, didn't it? I think that's what counts.
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Episode 1: Out Run on the ZX Spectrum 48, 128 and other machines

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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by toot_toot » Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:49 am

Re Street Hawk, there’s clearly some copies of the original version that got released, but it’s interesting that it was through Kay’s catalogue. I wonder if Ocean just dumped the copies of the game with Kays hoping nobody would notice, after it was rejected by Crash? Although I actually quite like the original game, although it does feel more like a very polished budget game. Definitely more fun to play that Transformers!

I’ve also wondered if Ocean’s approach to magazines, where they took out lots of advertising in order to get more favourable magazine coverage, also played in the amount of cover tape games they provided. Both Sinclair User and Crash had a lot of Imagine/Ocean games in the early days.

They also seemed to give a few games that they clearly didn’t deem to be good enough to publish, like the mentioned Road Race or even Flashpoint (developed by Denton Designs who were exclusive to Ocean at the time). It made me think, I wonder if it was actually Ocean that gave Hyperactive to Sinclair User? It’s a “Special FX” game but at the time of release Ocean were promoting the “Special FX” almost “sub label” of Ocean. Both Gutz and Firefly were dual branded Ocean and Special FX and I remember Ocean talking at the time as this being almost like a new label. I also think Special Fx were exclusive to Ocean at the time, so again it makes me wonder if it’s technically an Ocean game?

Another interesting thing about Ocean was just how close it was to US Gold. Ocean’s directors were also significant shareholders in US Gold, helping fund them at the start as well as “developing” the early US Gold Spectrum conversions like Beach Head and Raid Over Moscow (Ocean is credited as developing them, although it was FD Thorpe and others). It’s probably why the only non-Ocean game to get a Bob Wakelin cover (afaik) is Dambusters by US Gold.
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Re: The best Speccy game by Ocean: discussion

Post by Juan F. Ramirez » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:43 pm

Super Huey is another US Gold cover by Wakelin (but it was not released for the Spectrum, though).

https://www.mobygames.com/game/super-hu ... er-art
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