"Actual in-game graphics may vary"

Arcade and Home Comparisons

This is the classic era, back in the time of the 8 bit home computers - where game boxes weren't the size of double-decker buses and could be bought for as little as 2 quid a throw.
One of the tricks employed by certain game publishers was to show off the far superior arcade graphics on the back of the game box. Often, they'd label the screenshots with the version in question (with maybe a disclaimer along the lines of "Actual game graphics may vary" - in small print of course), but often the temptation was to leave the unwitting punter with the impression that the visuals on the box were what they were actually going to get.
To apply a metaphor, this is kind of like selling orange juice with pictures of big juicy oranges on the front, only to find out the contents consist of a watery mix of preservatives, aspartame and artificial flavouring.

A classic instance of this scenario was what convinced me to purchase the game 'Chase HQ' for the Commodore 64. In my naivety, I semi-expected something living up to the awesome box screenshots - only to load the thing up, and be presented with something more akin to the kind of graphics you'd expect from a cheap handheld. Once I found the truth, this only made me drool for a taste of the original arcade version all the more. What were the differences in graphics, general gameplay and sound/music?

On this page, you'll see how the home conversions match up to the arcade version. Each scene is grabbed at the same point in the game - whether it be Spectrum, Amstrad, NES, C64, Megadrive and of course the original arcade version. See how they compare!
As of yet, I don't have Amiga/ST, or Master System versions, so if anyone would like to help add to this collection - then contact me.

  • Pacland
  • Bombjack
  • The New Zealand Story
  • Strider
  • Road Blasters
  • Donkey Kong
  • Bubble Bobble
  • Ghosts and Goblins
  • Ghouls and Ghosts
  • Midnight Resistance
  • Outrun
  • Rainbow Islands
  • R-Type
  • Wonderboy
  • Slapfight
  • Chase HQ
  • Pacland


    The humble Speccy version :) Monochrome, but what did you expect? Also, the screens 'jump' instead of scroll.


    The NES version sponsored by legoland. Now there's a gaudy
    colour scheme if I ever saw one.


    The not bad C64 version. Looking similar to the arcade, except blockier of course. Fun to play, but missing vital sections from the arcade (only 5 levels) and there's no parallax scrolling.


    The original arcade version! I enjoyed the game so much in fact that I purchased the perfect conversion for Playstation (it was part of the Namco Museum vol. 4).

    Custom Enhanced

    An enhanced version of the original arcade I did! Did you know the arcade has over 30 levels (split over 7 main stages)!!! I've got to level 27 so far. See if you can beat this =)

    Custom Enhanced (Night)

    One of the cool things about Pacland is the way the scene progresses from day to night and back to day again. This is another enhanced pic I made which takes the style to the max.

    Location .... Log Bridge - the arcade version no doubt. On very later levels, there are only a couple of isolated logs to navigate - making it very tricky indeed.

    This is the best I could find I'm afraid. The Commodore 64 version has no 'tumbling logs' section - only the 'floating' ones.

    Level 2 from the Arcade version.
    Note the double-decker bus - which is missing in the 8 bit home versions (Amiga/ST has them though).

    The C64 version - Level 2 - away trip

    Hang on, those logs look a bit too high to jump over - ah... this must be the return trip in the Arcade version

    The C64 version. I was pleased to discover that the arcade version has both foreground and background parallax. Here, there's none at all.

    The Arcade version. In a castle further on in the game, you can only see a small area around you.

    The Arcade version.


    The Spectrum version. Faithful to the arcade's graphics in resolution, but lacking the colour depth

    The C64 version. Actually worse in resolution than the speccy, this version also plays the worst.

    The Amstrad version. An 'interesting' colour scheme, with the resolution depth nearing the speccy version.

    The Arcade version. The original and best.

    The Spectrum version

    The C64 version.

    The Amstrad version.

    The Arcade version.

    The Spectrum version. One of the more colourful spectrum pics - ripe for colour clash! ;)

    The C64 version. The foreground and background graphics tend to clash here.

    At least the background provides a good contrast to the foreground in this Amstrad version

    Everything the others should be and more in this cool Arcade version.

    The Spectrum version.




    This night shot from The Spectrum version contains a 'neon' look that perhaps even the arcade version lacks!

    The C64 version. It's here you can best see the blockiness of the bombs... bleurgh.

    The Amstrad version.

    The Arcade version.

    The New Zealand Story

    Arcade. What's amazing is the difference in quality not only of the background, but also of all the sprites.

    C64 version - still great fun to play despite the loss in graphic quality.

    The Arcade also has a secret 'Heaven' area that's missing in all the home versions.

    Location .... Did you know the C64 version lacks some of the music in the main arcade ditty?

    The first level from Auckland! The Arcade version. The original and best.

    Instead of snails, those 'brown things' look more like Christmas trees covered in mud in the C64 version.

    The semi-monochrome NES version. It was renamed from TNZS to 'Kiwi Kraze' for some reason.

    This Spectrum version looks like a completely different game!

    The Arcade version. More subtle than
    the C64, the scrolling is also smoother too.

    The C64 equivalent. OK, not bad, but just look
    at the decrease in screen height!

    At least the NES version has some of the background detail that was is the Arcade version.

    Ermm.... at least it's not flick screen - close though ;-) The Spectrum version

    This whale from the Arcade version looks better than the C64 version, but it's actually less fun to play.

    The C64 version.

    The Arcade version

    The C64 version.

    Location... Rotorua! The Arcade version.

    The C64 version.


    The Megadrive version of Strider was actually very good, and certainly much closer to the arcade version than all the other home versions put together.

    Differences in this Arcade version include more flashing lights (i.e. the windows in the building on the left flash). Also, you get more screen width for your money. The colours are quite close though.

    Very close to the arcade version here. This Megadrive shot misses only a few trivial details such as those just beneath the floor.

    The Arcade equivalent.

    Road Blasters

    This road routine ran at 50 frames per second in the The Arcade version.

    Just look at the reduction in graphics quality. This C64 version is still quite fun to play however (though lacking the steering wheel of the arcade).

    Can you believe the road routine from the humble Spectrum version moved in perspective!

    Donkey Kong

    C64 version

    Arcade equivalent.



    Bubble Bobble

    As timeless as they come. The Arcade version has many secrets that are lacking in the home versions

    The C64 version still has that catchy ditty.

    The Speccy version - no less - and unfortunately, no more.

    Meet bub and bob, our bantam weight brontosaurus who are bent on battling big bullies by blowing and bursting bubbles.

    The closest the C64 gets to Arcade BB.

    Monochromatic bliss.

    One of the most memorable levels - since I played the real arcade when I was very young, and only got this far.

    C64 version

    Speccy - and more monochromatic fun!

    The Arcade version.

    The C64 version.

    Ghosts and Goblins

    Not the arcade version, but a nostalgic remake by Retro FX Studio that never was never finished due to legal issues :-( Visit The Ghoul Realm for more details and a larger screenshot.

    So /that's/ what the original Arcade looked like. Interestingly, the arcade boasts more levels than the home versions.

    The Amiga version. Excellent graphics. In fact, they look like a direct rip from the arcade version.

    The PC version.

    The NES version.

    The C64 version had different music to the arcade - and I would say better.

    Different (and very cool!) music again from the Amstrad version.

    The NES version.

    The Speccy version

    Ghouls and Ghosts

    The stunning Arcade version

    Ummmmm... is this the same game? ;-)
    The equivalent C64 version.

    Hello Mr Vulture - you look friendly today in the Arcade version

    The Megadrive/Sega Genesis version

    The C64 equivalent. Despite the simplicity of the graphics, C64 Ghouls and Ghosts still emanates a cool atmosphere, thanks to the brilliant music from Tim Follin. (see the C64 page for the top C64 music).

    The ZX Spectrum version.

    Here we see Arthur has ridiculously aged in the Arcade version

    Missing a few of the background details in this NEC SuperGrafx version.

    The Megadrive version.

    The C64 equivalent.

    "And here Sir, we introduce our new range - 'Precision Guillotino' (tm). On the left is our budget version, but if you want the best, go for the Deluxe version shown on the right. Decorated with genuine skulls and ornate 'Spiky twists' (tm), heads will roll - guaranteed! Each 'Guillotino' is equipped with our patented automatic blade lift mechanism.".

    "Hey I know, instead of simply going round the guillotine, let me try dodging under it, just for fun. If I survive - that'll be a bonus!".

    It was a dark and stormy night.... in the Arcade version

    ...more of a drizzle in the C64 version.

    This part in the game is unfair - thanks to the luck-based appearance of the 'creeping tree roots'.

    The C64 version

    The Arcade version has lush backgrounds not seen in any other version of Ghouls and Ghosts.

    The C64 version

    Midnight Resistance

    Arcade = Full screen, more colour, better music, better control (used a dial for the gun mechanism in fact)......

    The playable C64 version misses out the car at the beginning (even the humble speccy version manages that).

    Brilliant conversion for the speccy. It made the most of the Spectrum's capabilities and was darn fun to play too.

    "Pick a weapon" in the Arcade version

    On sale today - all at bargain prices! Compartment 1: Glow in the dark transfer stickers. Compartment 2: A number 1 specially for your front door. Compartment 3: Used sticky tape or banana skin - you decide

    The Spectrum version.



    I have a sneaking suspicion the Amiga version looks better than even this Arcade version.

    Hmm... one might think this pic comes from the Speccy version. (It's not - it's the C64)

    Just like most of the levels from Midnight resistance, the music here is enhanced here over the Amiga or 8 bit versions.

    The C64 version

    The final level from the Arcade version.

    The C64 equivalent


    The Arcade coin-op version and possibly the best sprite based car game ever! The screen used here is similar to the one used in the Amiga version, except with one subtle difference; This is in game, while the Amiga version uses it for the title screen. Well, what did you expect?

    Here is the equivalent C64 version. Just about everything about this conversion is worse - but that's not particularly surprising.

    Sporting the latest in 'skim-o-matic' (tm) technology, the car will happily drive over water. Watch out yachts!

    Wow, who wanted to see that sea shore anyway? (!). The C64 version of Outrun sure leaves everything to the imagination. And then some.

    The Amiga version. A travesty of a conversion this. See the humourous Outrun review from Lazarus magazine to see what's wrong with it.

    Fluorescent road markings in the Arcade version - Yay! Great contrast against the twilight stage.

    The C64 version Here's your sunset - lump it.

    Rainbow Islands

    One of Taito's finest, and more secrets than you can shake a stick at.

    The C64 version lacks the secret islands present in the Arcade version.

    The Sinclair ZX Spectrum. An excellent conversion as far as I know.

    Arcade spider looks half asleep to me.

    The Amiga and C64 versions suffer from jerky scrolling, and a smaller screen height, but are still great fun to play.


    The legendary R-Type. This of course is the Arcade version.

    The C64 version. Despite the poorer graphics, the music is enhanced over the arcade version!

    The Spectrum version. Lacking the colour of the other versions, but the resolution is still quite good. Apparently, this was an excellent conversion at the time considering the speccy's limitations.

    To come...

    These things don't actually rotate in the C64 version.

    They do rotate however in the Spectrum version.

    The Arcade version.

    The C64 version.

    The Spectrum version.

    To come...

    The C64 equivalent. Yes, that background really does move in parallax.

    The Arcade version.

    The C64 version.

    The Arcade version.

    The C64 version.

    The Arcade version.

    The C64 version.


    The original Arcade version of Wonderboy hosts some of the most finely tuned gameplay in a computer game... ever.

    More colorful, but not as subtle as the Arcade version. The gameplay is quite different too - slower paced.

    A great conversion of the arcade even if the design of the levels isn't quite the same.

    Bigger ledges, flying sharks, extra bonuses. These are just a few of the advantages over the C64 version...

    The NES version - which was renamed to "Adventure Island" for some reason.

    The C64 version

    It gets harder sooner in the Arcade version. There were two tumbling rocks at this point. You've just caught the one coming from behind.

    The NES equivalent

    The C64 version

    Here, the screen scrolls /up/ as well as right - something not present in the home versions

    The NES version gets the cyan look.

    The C64 version has less detail, but is faster paced than the NES version.

    The fourth area in the Arcade version. Spiders like this place =)


    A psychedelic colour scheme for the C64.


    Twice the height in the Arcade version. No doubt a rotated monitor is used for this.

    The C64 version. The music is only slightly worse compared to the original arcade.

    The Speccy version in all its monochromatic glory

    Wonderfully designed 'bevelled' type buildings and scenery from the Arcade version

    This however looks as though it came straight from SEUCK (shoot 'em up construction kit). Hehe, to be honest, C64 SEUCK was quite good for shooters (unlike the awful Amiga version of SEUCK).

    The humble Speccy version.

    Chase HQ

    Lush colour schemes in the arcade version of Chase HQ. As one of the greatest car games of all time, this is perhaps second only to the arcade version of Outrun.

    The C64 version was poor in comparison. The Spectrum version though was a brilliant conversion - at least in terms of playability.

    Here, the road splits in two - not an effect that can easily be achieved on the home versions.

    The C64 version.

    Don't you just love the way the sky is at night, but the road is so well lit? There's not even a streetlamp around. This is the kind of graphical variety that's lacking in the games of today.

    The C64 version.

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