Videogame wrongs that need righting
Recently, for professional reasons, I've been pondering the quality of some old arcade conversions. (I know. It's no job for a grown man in his 40s, but in modern Britain it's either that or selling people crap they don't want from a call centre with a 20-minute lunchbreak, and I hate rushing lunch.)
And one of the things I realised was that there's some old stuff out there that badly needs fixing, and given the hundreds of homebrew coders and hackers still working with 8-bit hardware, really ought to be.
One is Nintendo's inexplicable NES port of Donkey Kong. The original Famicom version came out in 1983, just a couple of years after the arcade game, but could only squeeze three of the coin-op's four stages into its weedy little 24K ROM cart, leaving out the "cement factory" second round. Nintendo subsequently claimed that they'd been unable to source bigger carts in the required numbers.
However, another FIVE YEARS passed before the game was released in the UK as part of the "Donkey Kong Classics" double pack, which had a 64K ROM to play with – 33% more space than the 48K that the original releases of DK and DK Jr occupied – but despite having five years and an extra 16K Nintendo still put the game out with the cement factory missing, setting the penny-pinching standard that has defined the company ever since.
Still, hacking a whole extra level into the game might be a tricky task, so how about an easier fix for an old Kong? Ocean's official ports for the 8-bit home micros in 1986 were generally pretty impressive jobs, but the Spectrum version is marred by an weird and needlessly ugly colour scheme.
Even the Speccy's limited palette was capable of reproducing Donkey Kong's simple primary colours with near-perfect accuracy, so unless the coders were actually colour-blind it's very hard to understand why they chose to make the levels pink and green instead of the proper red and blue that all the other 8-bit ports got. Surely, in this incredible age we live in, some skilled coder can sort it out?