Thursday, March 23, 2017


Yeah, Asteroids is fun.  But do you ever get the feeling like you're just a speck in a petri dish, battling the giant anemones... or whatever?  Amoebas with flagellum and what not?  Well, you might get that feeling if you go to except, of course, for the cat's paws, and the giant douche-y targets you're supposed to scratch.  Apparently, the game is too libelous for certain lawyers, so the game might have to move to a different web site.  Stay vigilant, gamers.  As always, the party goes underground...

Monday, March 13, 2017

Frank Cohen's Scooter... back to Level ONE!!!!

OH NO YOU DON'T... I've got 36,000 points to score in other games, thank you very mutch.

Frank Cohen's "Scooter," Level 8

Wait a minute... is this the LAST level?  There's no level above us now!  The baddies from level 1 are back... I'm still trying to think of how to describe them.  Half robot, half gumball machine... from Hell.  Perfect.  Pardon me, rephrase... FROM HELL. 
And you can't kill them this time, so they're extra deadly, especially when you try to finish the upper left hand corner of the game board, because they can't seem to leave.
Oh, this is the everything level, no question about it!  You got a magnet, one of those transport thingies, a free pass back to Level 7 should you decide to take it, the wavy vents of Brewbiz, the bullet pipes... too bad probably a good thing that this isn't a Letterman bit, because there'd be a Pavlovian ding noise after each thing listed.

Frank Chloe's... Cohen's "Scooter", Level Seven

Ah, my lucky level.  The Ass Lightning Roombas from Hell are the enemy again.  Must be the designer's favourite or sumpthin.  Now, here's another detail that makes me wish I was playing Brewbiz again... the deadly wavy lines from the vents are back!  Why, I didn't even bother to see what death by them was like... yup, same stupid "Scooter" death.  I prefer the Brewbiz way.  When you get fatally killed in Brewbiz, aside from falling off the screen completely, you land on the closest ground, and sit there holding your giant gourd-shaped head.  The music that accompanies this fate better underscores the worry of it all... at least, for me, anywho.  The other new feature this level has to offer is a new type of transport.  As you can see, it's at the top of the game board and it transports you... TO THE PREVIOUS LEVEL!!! OH OH OOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!  Makes me wish I played this way back when on an actual Atari computer.  Why, I'm imagining right now what my reaction would be.  Shock at first, then trying to figure out what other games have such a feature.  This might be the only one!  As long as it doesn't cost you a Scooter life... nope!  Just the trauma of not getting ahead in the game of life, or the game of "Scooter."  Can't get enough of that.

Frank Choe... Cohen's "Scooter," Level 6

The Ass Lightning Roombas from Hell are back.  Love those things.  The new feature this time?  Why, magnets, of course!  Another video game mainstay.  Magnets, bitch!  Naturally, they have to have an antidote, and the game provides that, in lieu of those enemy-neutralizing keys.  They got a new theme song!  Help that hopes!  I mean... hope that helps!

Frank Cohen's "Scooter," Level 5

Whelp, there it is!  The purple-y level 5.  The balloons on wheels from level 1 are back.  The only new feature (visible) is that there's a transport that will take you from one isolated part of the level to another... I'm pretty sure it's a Fire Code hazard.  You know, only the movie Spaceballs seems to address the fact that non-Jason Statham-based transporters of matter might malfunction.  I mean, every thing man-made, made by men (and women) eventually breaks down, right?  Take our crumbling infrastructure, for one.  As Republican politicians often say, "Our infrastructure is crumbling... and getting crumbling-er."  But let's leave that aside for now, because there is a whimsical side to "Scooter"'s new-fangled transports.  When you step on one of these transports, well... my words fail to do it justice.  Probably.  Needles to say, these transports seem a lot less high-tech when you pass through them.  Good gaming tip: once you use them, you can't use them for a couple seconds, thereby giving you ample time to stomp on the dots inevitably near their entrance.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Candy Crush - Regular

...still?  Yes, still.  Well, I just wanted to take this opportunity to make an emergency appeal to d1s72spon8oqz4 at cloudfront dot net... Um, cut me some slack, will you,  PLEASE?  Is the local storage on my computer REALLY THAT IMPORTANT?  REALLY?  THAT?  IMPORTANT?

Francis Ford Cohen's "Scooter", Level 4 - Blue Level Blue

You disappoint me, Internet.  Not the content, just the lack of bandwidth I seem to have.  See, I can either download a 75MB album from YouTube or play Candy Crush (regular)... but I can't have both.  Never should've given up being a grad student.  Anyway, yeah.  Even the players of "Cohen's Towers" on YouTube are, like, I'll do it, but I'm not going to actually beat the game here.  Too much psychological torture.  Well, the mail room's tough!  It's not for the faint of heart!
Anyway, we're back to the Roombas that shoot lightning out their ass.  Especially frustrating when you get to the farthest quadrant of this particular game board.  We get the unbeatable combination of floor escalators and those damn bullet-shooting pipes again.  Well, the pipes need all the unfair advantages they can get, frankly.  They're kinda little to no good by themselves.  They benefit from distractions.  It's like when the Three Stooges try to multitask, or how you have three of the four Pac-Man ghosts going after you like a bitch.  Meanwhile, Clyde's just running around going Doop dee Doo dee Doo, like he's on the Weed, you know?  NOT explicitly chasing after you, and yet!  Who gets you every time?  That bastard Clyde!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Frank Cohen's "Scooter", Level 3

Oh well.  I've got seven days of vacation left.  This isn't exactly what I had in mind for it, but I'm a person what likes to finish what they start.  I mean, it ain't no way to treat a broken heart, but hey!  Looks great on a résumé, am I right folks?  Damn.  Looks like we need a new computer desk.  Anyway, I just realized!  Here's a glitch for ya.  Now, Scooter can duck, but only when he's against a south wall.  I'm assuming he's a "he", most of these video game avatars typically are.  Well, that's for another blog.  See, here's the deal... as with most games where a character can duck, you typically push the joystick down... um, we'll get into joysticks another time.  It's what we used to use to play games with at home, and in an arcade... we'll get into arcades later.  You'll see them in 1980s movies occasionally.  So, you press the down arrow key to move a character down, or if they can duck, to make the character duck.  I think "Jungle Hunt" comes to mind; at least, that one stage/level with the bouncy boulders and the hillside.  Here, you can't duck unless you're against a wall!  If THAT'S not some kind of glitch, well... I don't know what is.  Let's just say it's a runtime error that doesn't crash the whole game, let's put it that way.
The enemies of Level 3?  The birds from "Ghost Chaser."  I mean, why waste perfectly good animation?  I mean, why do it?  The power pills don't work against them, so keep that in mind.  Oh, and there's a new board feature: escalators on the floor.  Whatever you call them.  There's that one on Level 3 of Hard Hat Mack, for one.  It's a rich video game tradition.  Ooh!  They were also in Brewbiz to an extent, but they didn't seem to slow down that avatar by much... and he was obese!  No, seriously, just a Homer Simpson-lookin' fat motherf... a fat guy, basically.  All the fat guy that an 8-pixel-wide avatar would allow.  If Mr. Potato Head were a human fat guy, if you will.  Another anomaly for Frank Cohen, who usually has tall, lanky avatars.  Speaking of Cohen, why is Cohen's Towers so hard to play?  Anyone ever figure out THAT game?  Time to check Youtube for the answer

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Frank Cohen's "Scooter" - Level 2

...oh, I guess all the levels are the same size.  Not that the preview over your head will help much.  Or does it?  It's about 40% of the next level above your head, really, when you get right down to it!  I don't think Cohen was good enough, however, to have the next level baddies in play up there.  Okay, maybe he was, as he also seems to have mastered the art of having multiple player/missiles on different vertical stripes of the game board, as did Atari and Activision.  More Display Listus Interruptus, I'm afear'd.  But you gotta leave SOMETHING to the imagination, right?
Anyway, the baddies.  They're some kind of floating Roombas from hell here.  Sure, you got the power pills and all, but they're quite ineffective against these new threats to further game play.  And sure, you can duck under them... unless they fire lightning bolts out of their bottom.  Seriously, though, they do that.  Borrowing the lightning from his "Brewbiz," it's been re-born here as a disincentive to duck under the floating room-bots.  Reminds me of the flying saucers in Gubble 1.  Love those things.  They seem to be flying far above you, and then in the next instant WHAM!  Right on ol' Gubble's alien noggin.
Oh, and DON'T even get me started on those groups of four tubes.  They're kind of like the vacuum cleaners that suck up the marble in Atari's classic "Marble Madness," but without the personality.  These tubes in "Scooter" fire slow, pulsating bullets at you, one after the other, and they make a diagonal line.  It's an art to learn how to not touch them.  So far, I think they can brush you on your right side, but not on the left.  Anything bad touches you, and you make the Ollie's Follies / Ghost Chaser sound effect, but unlike those two where you fall completely off the screen, in "Scooter" you only get sucked down into the floor.  Strangely anti-climactic.  I should probably point out that they're not always in groups of four, but... I think that's it for this level in terms of surprises and features.  Each of these affairs seems to be a 16 long by 5 wide grid, wouldn't you say?  Well, you gotta remember... this is a 16 to 32K machine we're talking about here.  Every bit counts.  Quite literally.

Frank Cohen's "Scooter", Level 1

Always good to start at Level 5.... I mean, One.  Now, I've noticed something, and that thing is this: the older I get, the more I dislike certain types of randomness.  In this case, the case of "Scooter," there's the randomness of the noise made when you eat a dot... sorry, that's Pac-Man.  In "Scooter," you walk on dots.  With your feet.  For 50 points.  I forget how much a power pill... sorry, a key, is worth.  Yes, much like Frank's "Ollie's Follies," there are "power pills" that give you temporary superiority over your many, many enemies, allowing you to send them to the cornfield with impunity.  However, in "Scooter," they return quite quickly, often appearing just off screen right in front of you, like in the cartoonies for the tiddly-winkies.  One of the pleasures of 1990's PC classic "Dangerous Dave" by John Romero, which I can't easily play anymore... wait.  It might work on my Windows Vista machine.  Now if I could only get the CD player to work!
But back to the instant case.  Frank Cohen was one of the great, prolific video game auteurs.  One of the reasons for this was that he had a lot of tools in his toolbox.  Note the scoreboard from the ungainly "Brewbiz."  Note the sound effects from "Ollie's Follies" and "Ghost Chaser."  Note the lack of passwords allowing you to skip ahead... could really use one or two of those right now.  But there's one thing I haven't seen in his work before... note the use of many colors on the bad guys in level 1.  Did he have an Activision intern that week?  Giving the 256x8 player missile stripe many vertical ribbons of color is their stock and trade, damn it!  I believe they call it Display List Interruption.  More pushing of the 6502 to its very low breaking point.  Also, there's no pomp and circumstance when you finish a level.  There's a little celebration at the end of an Ollie's Follies level, no?

Atari Emulator -> Frank Cohen's "Scooter"

Three.  Words.  Period.  Anyway, when you get a programmer like the prolific Frank Cohen, you're bound to get some repeats... and when you've got a slow-ass modem like I do, you're bound to get really tired of it.  Reminds me!  I was supposed to install a new one!  I must visit the website of my ISP.  Better make a note of it and slap it to my fourhead.  Anyway, class, we are now going to take a look at his copyrighted 1985 effort, and it's called "Scooter," which is probably the nickname of a tall, thin guy he once knew.  The real-life Scooter was an interesting character: always getting in one form of trouble or another, usually able to use arbitrage to get out of most of it.  Unfortunately, the Scooter of Frank Cohen's "Scooter" leads a much more mundane existence.  He's trapped in a realm of mazes, the next of which seems to be dangling over his head like the Sword of Damascus... Damacleese... Damacleez?  ...the Sword of Gideon.  He can't jump, unless it's over an air vent.  He can duck, but a lot of good it will do him with certain enemies that seem to shoot lightning bolts out of their ass.  He can collect Pac-Man-like power pills, but a lot of good it will do him with certain enemies that seem to shoot lightning bolts out of their ass... and the birds!  There's birds on one of the levels.  Anyway, I have to go make a salad, so we'll look at the individual levels a little later on.
...oops!  Bad screen cap.  Here's just the intro screen and... boy, I tells ya.  Those were the days.  As any frequent user of Atari 8-bit computers, even slanted lettering like this was enough to push the already overheated 6502 to its breaking point.  And more than 4 colors?  And mixing Graphics 0 with... ANY other mode?  Next-level sh... stuff.