Many moons ago I had a cassette copy of Final Fight for my Amstrad CPC 464. I love Final Fight, it's one of my favourite arcade games, so my excitement at getting the home version back in the day was intense! Though graphically impressive, it was a clunky sausage of a game due to the obvious technical limitations of the time. However, getting this much of the coin-op experience recreated on my trusty CPC was enough to make me play through the game repeatedly.
The problem was: I could never, ever complete it. The game would not load the last level. Back in 1990 (or was it 91?), I assumed the problem was with my computer, not with the tape. But it turns out I was wrong...
Skip forward to 2015 and I've just replaced my long lost CPC and most of the games collection with some ninja Ebay skills. I have another copy of Final Fight on cassette in excellent condition. It loads up with no issues. It proceeds with the multiload levels with no issue. Then I get to the last level, ready once again all these years later for the final boss and guess what?! It wouldn't load!! AAAAARRRRGGHHHH!!!
I did some research and found nothing mentioning this (at the time), apart from one forum post from somebody with the exact same problem I had. A reply to this person's cry for help had been posted explaining that a mistake was made during the original production run of the Amstrad cassette version of the game. The issue was that the code for the last load of the game had been replaced with the code for an earlier level. The data for the game's finale wasn't even on the tape! Unfortunately I've since lost (forgotten), the forum location otherwise I'd link it here.
I've been able to enjoy the complete game on my current CPC 464 via the disk version and with the help of a DDI3 and a memory upgrade. I'm not sure if the KIXX budget re-release of Final Fight fixed this tape mastering problem or not, I've never owned it.
Has anyone else had this experience with this particular game on cassette for the Amstrad?
Can anyone here shed some light on the story about the tape mastering error?
I didn't even realise until now that Final Fight was released on the Amstrad, I'm going to have to give this a try for sure! Regarding the tape mastering error, yeah the issue is also documented on a popular CPC preservation site in the entry for Final Fight, exactly as you describe, they'd duplicated a block of a level so the final level wouldn't load properly. Apparently the KIXX budget version is identical, however, according to this site there is a fixed cassette version available, I won't link directly to the site as being a preservation site it has games for download so I expect that isn't okay to post here. But the site said that it was fixed by copying the level from the floppy version then adapting it to the cassette version and redoing the encryption, so it has now been fixed, albeit "unofficially".
Yes I think I became aware of the fixed cassette image later, possibly from Novabug's channel. I did some nosing around this morning and found a similar mention of the error to the one you described, but it mentions a different loading issue to the one I had. To quote the entry on the website...
"The coders have duplicated the block of a level by mistake which makes the loading of the 2nd level at the edge of the river (the street or at the end there is the statue of liberty) impossible to load"
This is a slightly confusing statement all by itself. On an initial read you could be forgiven for thinking it refers to level 2 of the game, but we know that's on a subway, a street, and finally in a wrestling ring. I think it refers to the second loading block of the last level? The plot thickens... 😄
Regardless of all these details, the fact remains that this was a massive foul up at the time that didn't seem to get any recognition. I have the copy of Amstrad Action with the review of the game and it's not mentioned at all (they reviewed the disk version no doubt). It's trivial and amusing now but 30yrs ago I was DEVASTATED.
Yeah, it's gutting when you play through a game and it screws up when you've put a lot of time into it. I always found it annoying in RPGs or adventure games as well, if there's a bug or if a save file got corrupted or something after weeks of play, even more frustrating when it's an actual bug in the game's code itself which makes it unplayable or uncompletable. Glad Final Fight was fixed at least, apparently the person who fixed it is the same person who made Bubble Bobble 4 CPC, a remake of Bubble Bobble which has enhancements and improvements over the original Amstrad conversion. I'll admit I always find it amazing what people still do for old machines and their games tbh even after the end of the computer's lifespan.
"apparently the person who fixed it is the same person who made Bubble Bobble 4 CPC" - Interesting! I've played that remake and it's great.
The CPC and GX have had a fantastic few years. There was a point in 2019 (I think), when a new article for a CPC game appeared on IndieRetroNews alomst every week!
Yeah, the CPC scene is pretty active atm, and this years CPCRetroDev competition is also starting anytime now, there's usually a good number of decent games emerging from that each year, Operation Alexandra being one of my favourites from thae past. But yeah, it's weird how we're seeing some of the best games ever made for the CPC coming out decades after the Amstrad died, there's been some amazing stuff done in recent years that just makes me wish we'd had more developers back in the day who were capable of and dedicated to producing games of that quality. Had they done that the whole 8 bit story would have looked very different.
Indeed, there were so many factors that affected how the “Triple A” games of the time turned out for the CPC, especially in the case of multi-format arcade conversions. Some were just lazy Spectrum ports and some were ports from devs that weren't interested in the unique abilities of the CPC, seeing it as simply another Z80 based computer format to generate revenue from. Then there were the games that showcased what the CPC could do differently to, just as well as, or better than the competition. It was a real mixed bag!
I don't think the Amstrad versions of games sold as well as the C64, Spectrum and Amiga versions so I think maybe sometimes the CPC version was bottom of the coders priority list and got rushed (hence the lazy Spectrum ports).
In the UK, because the Amstrad came long after the C64 and Spectrum had established themselves, it was always at a disadvantage not only with the consumer and gamers but also with certain developers. There is a pioneering computer history and spirit to the C64 and Speccy stories which is not present within the Amstrad computers history. Alan Sugar is a straight up business man and the short story of the CPC's rise and fall is definitely a “business story”.
Op' Alexandra is great, that game would have been huge back in the day! As would Abduction of Oscar Z, which blew my mind last year. I'm still hopeful that the 'Batman' team will complete work on Vespertino!!