Saturday, August 20, 2016

Atari Emulator -> Len Dorfman's 'Erg'

Now, surely there must be some of you out there who are thinking to yourselves "You know, I love that old Konami game called Tutankham, but I just think it's too easy.  What if there were a version of Tutankham where the walls kill you?"  Well, Len Dorfman's 'Erg' is just what the doctor ordered.  (Mushca disk 32)  It's also a grim reminder of the limited sound capabilities of those old Atari computers.  But for some reason, I found that typing 'SOUND 0,0,0,0' into Atari Basic was much easier than, say, learning how to play the piano.  Gruesome, huh?  Eighty-eight keys, my ass.
Now, if you go to the official Atarimania home for Len Dorfman's 'Erg', you might notice that its Atarimania community score is 3 out of 10.  For comparison, Boulder Dash has an 8.6; not to mention all the glowing comments from people who grew up with it.  Anyway, at first blush, 3 out of 10's not good.  Also, a '3' means 'Really mediocre,' according to the drop-down menu that lets you select a number.  But do bear in mind that only one Atarimania user even bothered to cast their vote for it.  Think of the hundreds out there who hate this in silence!  And '3' is surely much more preferable to '2' (Incredibly poor) or the dreaded and lonely '1' (Pathetic).  Yes, in the gamer's word cloud, the word 'pathetic' is probably one of the larger ones.  But I did just rewatch half of that Scorsese documentary about George Harrison, so I feel like I'm floating above this ethereal plane, asking the big questions.  Maybe all these video games with non-lethal walls have just made us soft gamers!  What if, say, Pac-Man had killer walls?  Berzerk certainly does!  We'd have a different kind of gaming world if it were full of hypervigilant Pac-Man players, being extremely extremely careful about guiding the big yellow softie in between the deadly, narrow walls, having to engorge on those hundreds of dots in constant fear of instant death by wall.  There's already a certain amount of dread in those last few dots you have to get, way on the other side of the maze.  But having to navigate through five hundred feet of electric fence to do it? ...actually, I'm kind of glad we live in the world we do with the softie Pac-Man we do have.  We've already got enough to be vigilant about in the real world as it is.  Maybe that's why Len Dorfman's 'Erg' is so unpopular.
Oh, and the bad guys fly above the maze, rather than being forced to navigate its walls.  Reminds me of Jens Woehrmann's "Labyrinth."  (Mushca Disk 43) Same principle, but with a page flipping maze instead of horizontal scrolling... oh, and "Andromeda." (Mushca Disk 108)

Official Atarimania home for Len Dorfman's 'Erg'

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Atari Emulator -> TwoMaze (Muscha disk 49)

You know, we've all got our little dreams in life.  Better home life, more money, better job, what have you.  But judging from the fever dream that is "TwoMaze", I think Frank Ostrowski's dream was something like this: I, Frank Ostrowski, will program a Pac-Man clone for the Atari 800, but instead of the same old maze, I'm going to generate a random maze with lots of dead ends.  And instead of Pac-Man's ghosts, I will have three ugly spiders, and a diamond that can breathe.  Also, there will be TWO Pac-Mans on the screen at the same time... but the typical user will be using a PC emulator to play, so this second Pac-Man will typically lie there, dormant, waiting for a keypress.  That is my dream.  That is the dream that I am having, and have had since I was but a wee tot.

But wait! someone cries.  That's SIX player-missiles you're talking about!  You'll have to make them glitter!

You're right.  Make that TWO ugly-ass spiders and a diamond that can breathe.  And the power pills, instead of being in each of the corners, they will all be in the lower half of the screen in an upside-down T formation.  The two Pac-Mans will occupy the upper left and right hand corners, respectively, like giant power pills that can move and eat other pills.

But will there be a box that the ghosts live in, and come out of when the game starts?

No, no.  No time for fancy-schmancy stuff like that.  Strictly no frills.  Also, I don't have time to program a decent A.I., so the ghosts will just move around randomly.  No rhyme or reason to it, just strictly random.  Mostly going back and forth, so you can't follow them too closely, lest they turn around and touch you.  Also, if they even touch you slightly, you instantly die and reappear in your corner.  No time for the whole disappearing act of quote unquote "regular" Pac-Man.  Harumph!  So much wasted time.

Will there be a fruit for each level, like cherries and peaches?

...what?  Oh, Lord no.  Nothing like that.  No, the action just gets faster and faster.  That's all the player really wants, really. 

But won't the action eventually be TOO fast, like the "Expert" level of Mataga's Shamus 1?

Oh, Lord no!  Atari computers aren't that fast.  This isn't an early MS-Dos text game (with no timer whatsoever) we're talking about, after all!

Then, go, the one they call Frank Ostrowski!  Go and make ALL our dreams come true!

And scene.  My One Act Play, ladies and gentlemen.  Revel in its glory!  Shower me with your applesauce... I mean, applause.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Atari Emulator -> Jawbreaker vs. Pac-Man

Welp, looks like you get a little bit extra maze with "Jawbreaker 1."  Neat!
 Okay, okay... time to use my old moldy copy of Flash

Atari Emulator -> Steeple Jack

English Software Inc. presents "Steeple Jack."  I do like their "Jet Boot Jack."  That was a fun game.  Also "Air Strike II."  But this one?  I hate to sound like Donald Trump, but... the hero in this is kinda fragile.  I prefer video game heroes that aren't so fragile.
I mean, everything kills you in this game.  A gap in the ladders kills you.  The diagonally moving Pac-Man reject kills you.  The dropping rainbow fireball from the sky kills you.  What's there to live for exactly?
...okay, the sound's pretty cool.  They should've done Ms. Pac-Man's sound for the Atari.  Also, if you go to the bottom of the screen, it doesn't kill you.  Unlike, say, "Diggerbonk."

Atari Emulator -> Attack of the Mutant Camels

This is the most insane game I've ever played... and yet, it's got something!  Nice variation on "Defender," I guess you'd say.  Gotta like... I mean, can't totally hate a game where you're trying to shoot giant, evil camels that can shoot homing fireballs out of their ass.

Atari emulator -> Lawkeeper

So before I go to bed, I feel compelled to profile yet another Atari game that I apparently haven't done yet.  It's called Lawkeeper and it's brought to you by the people who gave us the world renowned "Lode Runner."  It's very definitely not up to the quality of "Lode Runner," but somehow that didn't seem to matter much when I once had my Indus disk drive for 5.25 inch disks, and my old Atari 1200XL, I believe it was.  Every once in a while I'd give Lawkeeper the old test run.  You know, just to see if I had what it takes.
But now that I'm practically an old, grey-haired pensioner, I realize that it's actually a very, very cheap knockoff of Taito's classic Zookeeper, and as always, games like Lawkeeper showcase the deep limitations of the Atari 8-bit computers when it comes to games.  I believe it's Graphics 13 mode with the modified font; like Graphics 0 but with the more solid colors.  See, in Graphics 8, you have to space out pixels to get the reds and greens... I'll tell your grandchildren someday while they're using their virtual reality Google glasses to pay attention to something else.  ANYTHING else.
Once you get the youthful convicts inside the walls, they can't escape.  Hence the yellow balls that bounce rather predictably around to help break down said walls.  They bounce diagonally, then to the left.  Apparently, the emulator isn't able to show you, the brown circle that tries to reign in all the chaos.  I do kinda like those "Chomp Levels."  I remember now!  You have to get your reaching claw through the mouth to get it to disappear and not eat the walls of your prison.  Ugh.  What a mediocre game.  SOOO glad I didn't buy it for $39.99 way back when.

Friday, August 5, 2016

10,000 views and counting!

I'm never going to get this done anyway, so might as well post it now, in honor of passing 10,000 views.  As a gamer, the number ten thousand obviously has special significance.  After all, you get your bonus life in Mr. & Mrs. Pac-Man at 10,000 points, and you flip the score at 10,000 in Atari 2600's flatulent "Space Invaders."  So thanks to everyone who found me through Google and Yahoo search and bothered to stop by, and of course to the Russian click farms who have taken an unhealthy interest in my blogs in general.  Dasvedanya!