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Revision as of 19:07, 27 April 2013

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Mountain King

CRV (talk) 15:44, 27 April 2013 (CEST) [permalink] [comments]

Despite being ported to numerous platforms, Mountain King isn't considered the classic I think it perhaps should be. A lot of people don't seem to remember it. But rather than try to write about it myself, I'll let others do it and do it better. Please read this and this, then come back.

I will say the animation makes a difference in gameplay. The original Atari 8-bit and 5200 versions are much smoother than the 2600 and ColecoVision conversions done by VSS.

The 2600 version contains something referred to as "Glitch Heaven," a glitchy "hidden level" up in the sky. Ed Salvo of VSS: "The secret level in Mountain King was a feature of the 800 game and I duplicated it." However, the 8-bit/5200 versions do not have a "Glitch Heaven;" they have a "Glitch Hell" (see video below).

Mountain King was originally written by Bob Matson. Jess Ragan (author of one of the posts above) e-mailed him and managed to get a response, which you can read here. Matson now works at Michigan State University.

Available for Atari 8-bit computers, Atari 5200, Atari 2600, ColecoVision, Commodore 64, and VIC-20

Laser Gates (Atari 2600, Atari 8-bit)

CRV (talk) 16:00, 26 April 2013 (CEST) [permalink] [comments]

Originally to be a sequel to VentureVision's Rescue Terra I called Inner Space, Laser Gates is one of Imagic's rarer and more obscure titles for the 2600. That's too bad because it's pretty good.

Your mission is to fly the Dante Dart through the Cryptic Computer and destroy its four Failsafe Detonators (marked "6507") before the Computer self-destructs. Watch out for forcefields, missiles, bats, and other obstacles, and keep an eye on your energy, shields, and time until detonation.

Even more obscure is the Atari 8-bit computer version, available only on the Imagic 1-2-3 compilation disk which also contains Quick Step and Wing War. The graphics are better, and the layout is a little different. No longer restricted to a single Computer, you travel from planet to planet (Computer to Computer?), each one containing a single Detonator. It's kinda like Gradius, or that's what people on the Internet say.

2600 version by Dan Oliver

TIP: To speed things up, fly to the right side of the screen.

REMEMBER: Pins on the Detonators may be booby-trapped!

Frogger (Genesis)

CRV (talk) 15:47, 25 April 2013 (CEST) [permalink] [comments]

The last licensed game for the Sega Genesis in North America. What better way to send off one of the all-time great consoles than with one of the all-time great arcade games?

Okay, so the Genesis didn't exactly go out with a bang here, but it's an exact replica of the arcade version, right? Well, not exactly. I talked to programmer Scott Marshall a while back, and he shared some information about the development.

Matching the Genesis Frogger to the arcade version was a lot of work and a long story, but I really enjoyed it. Here are a few details:
I started off with an arcade emulator of Frogger downloaded from the Internet, with images of the original ROM data. I ran the ROM images through a disassembler, printed them out, studied them, dumped them in hex and created a hex editor, and made videotapes of myself playing this emulator.
Although the Genesis has a complete Z80 system, it seemed impractical to port the arcade's Z80 code to run on the Genesis Z80 because of the specific screen-mapped display functions it used.
I did, however, locate the music and graphics data in the arcade image ROMs. The graphics were converted with a utility I wrote. The music sequence data was loaded directly into the Genesis version, and I wrote a sequencer in Genesis 68000 code to play it.
The game logic was controlled by a new program I wrote in 68000 assembly language. I was able to match the action by studying the video tapes and duplicating the positions, speeds, and sequences of all the sprites. Sometimes I was able to match motions of objects and rows by carefully timing them with a stop watch. Some functions were divined by studying the disassembled Z80 code from the arcade game. The sound of the frog jumping was duplicated by recording on tape the arcade sound, slowing the tape to half speed, figuring out the musical notes, then locating the sound chip register settings that played those notes.
I only had enough skill to play the first five or 10 levels of arcade Frogger, so I had to invent the patterns of the higher levels.

Marshall used the Genecyst emulator to develop the game. He also mentioned a backdoor, but I couldn't get it to work: at the player select screen, hold down C and press right nine times.

So it's not arcade perfect. So no new features were added. But if you want Frogger action on your Genesis/Mega Drive, this is it. At least the music wasn't butchered. (The GBA version on Konami Arcade Advance comes to mind.)

Tunnel Runner (Atari 2600)

CRV (talk) 15:37, 24 April 2013 (CEST) [permalink] [comments]

It is first-person, but it is not a shooter. It is an adventure where all elements work in unison to weave an interactive tapestry for the senses. A veritable feast for the mind, body, and spirit.

More to the point, Tunnel Runner is a first-person maze game in which you must find the exit while avoiding the Zots, ghastly creatures not at all like the ghosts in Pac-Man. Sound cues increase in volume as they draw near. You can play with random or pre-programmed mazes.

Of course, it's not enough to find "the" exit. You have to find the key and the right door, one of five kinds, all of which do different things.

I enjoy this game and it is technically impressive, but some might be turned off at first by the navigation. You don't move a step at a time. You run until you reach a corner or a door or stop to check the map, which you'll be doing often. And in later levels, you'll find that map isn't too helpful.

Honors. All those highfalutin words in the opening paragraph are completely justified as Tunnel Runner was a nominee for inclusion into the Smithsonian's The Art of Video Games exhibition. It lost out to Pac-Man in its category, but it's nice to see a relatively obscure game get some respect.

Development. Tunnel Runner was programmed by Richard K. Balaska Jr. at CBS Electronics. He also worked on the RAM Plus chip inside the cartridge that helped make this game possible.

Eggomania (Atari 2600)

CRV (talk) 15:40, 23 April 2013 (CEST) [permalink] [comments]

No, it's not the Eggo waffles video game - it's a "fowl" Kaboom! knockoff (which itself was a knockoff of Atari's Avalanche).

I'm probably one of the few people, even among 2600 fans, that think this is the better game. With the paddle controllers, you make a blue bear catch eggs coming out of a weird-looking bird hellbent on your destruction. After each successful wave, you shoot the eggs back at him. The game is over when you're drowning in yolk.

That slight variation in gameplay is one reason I prefer Eggomania. Also, games last longer. I find that Kaboom! gets too difficult too quickly.

The music and graphics are pretty charming as 2600 games go. The bird is well animated. If you miss an egg, he does a victory dance to a little ditty. If you shoot him, he's stripped down to his boxers and floats up to Heaven.

Eggomania was developed by James Wickstead Design Associates, one of the more prolific contract developers of the early 1980s. Wickstead Design is still around today, providing product design and development services.

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