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HSC01 Round 6: Mazeman

Astrocade High Score Club

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#1 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 4:57 PM

Mazeman is the main game for Round 6 of the Astrocade High Score Club. Round 6 will last two weeks. The round ends on Sunday, May 1'st at 8pm MST.

"Mazeman"

"Mazeman" is a maze game, but it's not exactly a "Pac-Man" clone (like the officially unreleased, yet much more common, Muncher). This very rare third-party game was released by Dave Carson in 1984, but it was not programmed by him. Mike White, in the Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ wrote, "The programmer of this cartridge wanted to remain anonymous for fear of legal troubles." While on a phone call with Mike, in about 2001, he told me that the Mazeman was programmed by a man for his kids. To this day, I'm not sure who created Mazeman-- which is a shame, as it plays very well and is quite fun.

I'd be surprised if more than a handful of people have this original cartridge. That doesn't mean it can't be played on original hardware. I think all of the Astrocade multicarts have the game. If you don't have one of those, then Mazeman can be played in the Astrocade emulator in MAME.

 

On a side note, I consider Mazeman an early example of a homebrew game for a videogame console.  Yeah, that's right: the Bally Arcade had homebrew cartridges back in the 80s.  Isn't that cool?!?

 
Mazeman is Here (Ad)(May 1984)(Niagara BUG Bulletin)(Page 16)_tn.jpg

Mazeman (Level 01 - Start).gif
 
From the Mazeman advertisement (above): "MAZEMAN is unlike any "gobble game" you have ever seen! Each time you clear a screen, you find yourself beginning a different maze. There are 12 completely different mazes, each requiring changes in tactics."
 
MazeMan-(Alt_View).jpg

The Mazeman cartridge ROM image (called "mazeman.bin" -- not the prototype version of the game, called ""mazemanp.bin") is part of this archive:

http://www.ballyalle...deROMCollection

There is no proper manual for Mazeman, but the one created by Mike White, when he distributed the cartridge to me, is here:

http://www.ballyalle...ocs-mazeman.txt

Here is a review of Mazeman from NIAGARA B.U.G. BULLETIN, 2, no. 5 (June 1984): 22.

http://www.ballyalle...man Review.html

Here a video of the prototype version of "Mazeman:"



"Mazeman" play settings for the Astrocade High Score Club are:

# of Pacmen - 5
Skill Level - 5


As usual, 10 points can be earned this round (excluding bonus points):

"Mazeman" Bonus Points

There are two ways to score bonus points in "Mazeman:"

1) Complete all 12 Mazes - The FIRST person to complete all 12 mazes will get a bonus point.

2) Highest Score for One "Pacman" - The person who scores the highest using only one life will get a bonus point.

"Candy Man" (BASIC Bonus Game)

 

I have not yet decided on the BASIC bonus game for this round.  There are a few maze games written for AstroBASIC.  Among them are:

  1. Nap Cap by New Image
  2. Pack Rat by WaveMakers

I think that there might be others too.  I've played these and they're usually (always?) quite slow.  Can anyone suggest a fun BASIC bonus game that would compliment Mazeman for this round?

 

(If we can't find a bonus game that sounds interesting, then I'll choose one in the next couple of days-- maybe even just one of the above two games.)

 

Paul Thacker suggested a great BASIC bonus game: L&M Software's 1983 AstroBASIC game, Candy Man.  This fun game actually has a highly regarded cartridge sequel that will be a main game in a future round.

 

Candy Man (Bally Astrocade).gif

 

L&M Candy Man sealed (reverse, River City Gambler).jpg

 

Here is some information about Candy Man:

 

Candy Man advertisement:

http://www.ballyalle...r)(300 dpi).pdf

A review of Candy Man appear in The Game Player, #4 in ARCADIAN 5, no. 3 (January 14, 1983): 50.  Search for "Candy Man" here:

http://www.ballyalle...ade_reviews.txt

Here are the instructions for Candy Man and River City Gambler: (which appeared on side 2 of the original tape):

 

http://www.ballyalle...r)(300 dpi).pdf
 

Fred Olivas scored 31,780 points on Candy Man, as reported in the Scoreboard of "The Game Player, #11" in ARCADIAN 5, no. 11 (September 28, 1983): 165.  That will be a pretty-tough score to beat-- and it's part of this round's possible bonus points.

The AstroBASIC version of Candy Man has a rather amusing animated loading/title screen, which is worth seeing-- so that is the preferred version to play (if you can manage it).

 

"Candy Man" Bonus Points

  1. Playing Candy Man - Just for playing Candy Man, you get a bonus point.
  2. Candy Man High Score - You can earn another bonus point if you get the highest score for this game.
  3. Video of Candy Man - To continue to promote Astrocade BASIC programs, a bonus point will be awarded to the first person to upload a video of Candy Man containing a full game, plus the game's loading screen (which means that you'll have to load the tape version of the game).  No one was able to make a video of the BASIC bonus game in the last round.  Hopefully someone can make one for this round.
  4. Beating 31,780 Points - Anyone who can beat Fred Olivas' 1983 high score on Candy Man will get a bonus point.

Candy Man is available as a "BASICart" (a BASIC program that has been converted to run as a cartridge).  A BASICart can run under Astrocade emulation in MAME.  Be sure to play Candy Man ("candyman.bin") and not the sequel, Ms. CandymanCandy Man can be load into AstroBASIC and played on real hardware using this file:

 

http://http://www.ba...M Software).zip
 

Please post all of your scores for both games here. Scores posted on the Bally Alley discussion group will no longer be accepted. If you post a video score, then please note the score obtained in the video-- as this makes it easier for me to keep track of all the scores.

 

You'll likely be pleasantly surprised by the quality of Mazeman, but be aware that this game features no sounds at all (no music, no sound effects-- nothing)-- but it makes up for it by being a fun and fast-paced game that isn't available for any other system.


Edited by ballyalley, Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:29 PM.


#2 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 6:18 PM

I vote for Candy Man by L&M Software. A few of the later tape programs incorporated machine language routines and storing extra memory in screen RAM for very fast and sophisticated programs. This is one of the best examples.

 

I tried out Secret Of Pellucitor by L&M and it's got the maze aspect for sure, but damn those pixel width corridors hurt my eyes. Also, your score doesn't stay up for very long, which I'm sure would cause everyone to pull their hair out.



#3 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 19, 2016 9:15 PM

I vote for Candy Man by L&M Software. A few of the later tape programs incorporated machine language routines


I figured that when we eventually play L&M Software's Ms. Candyman (a cartridge game) during some upcoming round that I'd use the earlier tape release of Candy Man as the bonus game.  However, I really like Paul's idea.  I'm leaning toward this game heavily now, as this is one of my favorite Astrocade games that was released on tape.  There really was a reason that a sequel was written for it that was released on cartridge: it deserved it.
 

I tried out Secret Of Pellucitor by L&M and it's got the maze aspect

 

I never would have thought of this game-- but Paul's right: this is a maze game.  The ads for Secrets Of Pellucitor boasted that the game had incredible graphic details-- and the game certainly did have plenty of fine detail-- but the maze was so small that it made it hard to navigate.

 

Any other ideas for a bonus game that would fit with Mazeman?  I guess that WaveMakers' two games, Maze Race and Mazemaker I and II would qualify, at least because of their name (they're certainly not like Pac-Man-- uh, I mean Mazeman).

 

Adam



#4 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Apr 22, 2016 1:32 PM

L&M Software's 1983 Candy Man (as suggested by Paul) is the BASIC bonus game this month.  See the first post in this thread for the details about this game, including how to earn up to four possible bonus points for playing this game.

 

Adam



#5 nd2003grad OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Apr 23, 2016 6:52 PM

Mostly trying to just get an entry in due to impending baby coming up.  I'm terrible!  But, both these games are pretty good.  Candy Man is the best BASIC game I've played!

 

2016 04 23 19.26.53
2016 04 23 19.20.32


#6 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:31 PM

Mostly trying to just get an entry in due to impending baby coming up.


Congratulations!
 

both these games are pretty good. Candy Man is the best BASIC game I've played!

 

Candy Man is a fun game-- and it's extremely well done for a BASIC game.  I ran into an issue with Mazeman just now, which I'm going to post about in a separate post.

 

Adam



#7 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 24, 2016 7:46 PM

I have played a few rounds of Mazeman using emulation this week.  This evening, I played Mazeman on real hardware using a multicart.  The game crashed on me-- but not completely.  Here's what happened:
 
It was my first game of Mazeman.  I had cleared most of the dots on the first level.  I had about 7,000 points.  I was in the lower-left corner.  There was a grouping of three monsters coming into the area of the screen I was in.  They froze in place: they just stopped moving (the fourth monster kept moving about the maze as normal).  As I tried to go down the corridor toward the bottom of the screen, I got "stuck."  It was like I hit a wall of the maze.  I tried to go back the way I had come from, but I could only go a short distance before I ran into another "invisible wall."  Now I was pacing back and forth between these two areas.  Then, the ghost that was wondering around the screen "jumped" to the top of the maze.  He disappeared and reappeared.  Yeah, that's weird.  Then he started making his way toward me, but he could walk through the maze walls.  Uh-huh, I know: strange.  Eventually he reached me and killed me.  It was only the first life I lost. When I died, everything was reset and continued as normal: it was as though nothing weird had happened.  All the dots I'd eaten were still gone.  Everything was as it should be... except for the whole Twilight Zone-ish freak-out that had just happened.
 
Has anyone else run across any strange crashes like this?



#8 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Apr 24, 2016 8:17 PM

After that weird crash, I reseated the cartridge, and then I played another round of Mazeman.  I set a pretty good score on my first game:

 

Mazeman - 168,339 (Reached the 5'th maze-- or it might have been the 6'th maze)

 

Season 1 - R 06 - Mazeman (168339)(Cropped).jpg

 

This game awards points a-plenty for eating four monsters.  Since there are eight power pellets on the first four levels, there is plenty of opportunity to gobble-up the baddies and rack up the points.

 

Mazeman has surprisingly good control: you can maneuver your guy with ease around the maze.  What a fun game!

 

Adam



#9 nd2003grad OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 26, 2016 11:18 AM

I think this is as good as I'm going to get.  Second score is my five year old son, Orion.  He loved it, and loved that we could select separate difficulty levels!  

 

Candyman is pretty awesome.  I love the sound pitch change as you get further.

 

2016 04 25 17.51.13
2016 04 25 17.32.39


#10 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:37 PM

Second score is my five year old son, Orion.  He loved it, and loved that we could select separate difficulty levels!

 

That's awesome that your son is playing the Astrocade.  I love it when us classic gamers get our kids involved in these games.

 

Adam



#11 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 26, 2016 8:56 PM

I OCR'ed the instructions for "Candy Man." - Adam

 

Candy Man

By L&M Software

 

To load use :INPUT press GO and play tape completely. Candy Man begins automatically with 3 lives.

Use joystick #1 to control the Candy Man left, right, up and down (no diagonals). Pressing the PAUSE key will allow you to take an intermission, to resume play press GO.

You must eat the "life savers" (20 calorie points each) as quickly as possible while avoiding contact with the Jokers & Gremlins. During the first half of the screen the Jokers or Gremlins will try to catch you, at this time you must be evasive. During the 2nd half of a screen the Jokers or Gremlins will take up protective positions to keep you away from the life savers. Each contact costs the Candy Man 1 life and he will nose-dive head first down off the bottom of the playfield. If 1 or more lives remain he will then rise from the bottom and take up his normal starting position at the top, then the game resumes.

Calorie count score is updated each time you clear the screen or loose a life. The calorie points are displayed vertically at the upper right and the number of lives remaining is displayed at the lower right.

Each time you accumulate 2500 calorie points you become eligible for a bonus life and a chance to earn extra score. This happens as you finish clearing the screen you are on at the time, or you get killed after passing the 2500 calorie point. The screen will turn blue and the sound will intensify. This is your chance to get those pesky Jokers. Move quickly to run over as many as possible in the allotted time. Each Joker is worth 100 extra calorie points. No life savers can be eaten during the blue bonus round.

For each screen that is cleared a new one will appear and the game speed will increase. For each 2 screens you clear, the Gremlin that has been jumping up and down in the cage will be let loose to help the Jokers. This continues until a total of 6 animated characters are on the screen trying to catch you and protect the life savers. At this point additional screens will continue with added playing speed only.

Play will continue until your calorie points are greater than 31,000 or you have 0 lives left. When this occurs the screen will flash different colors and the sounds will change rapidly.

For a replay squeeze trigger #1.



#12 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue Apr 26, 2016 9:19 PM

It's been quite awhile since I've played Candy Man.  Upon revisiting it, I see that it's still quite a fun game.  There is a lot to the game, including some pretty good sound effects.  I really only had one proper go at this in MAME this evening (this was converted to a BASICart, so you can play it in emulation).

 

Candy Man - 6,120 (Emulation)

 

Season 1 - R 06 - Candy Man (6120)(Cropped).gif

 

I don't think I had read the game instructions for this game before this evening.  Or, if I did, then I didn't remember that the game ends when you reach 31,000 points.  Also, I think it's cool that the ad for "Candy Man" that was in the Arcadian gives the names of the two jokers as Tooter and Scooter.  The four gremlins also have names: Harem, Farem, Darem, and Scarem.

 

It's fun gobbling up the baddies when the screen turns blue.  I think it's a good gimmick, and a nice change from the power pellets in Pac-Man, that you can eat the baddies at a certain score, rather than when you eat something in the maze.

 

(You made a good game choice, Paul!)

 

Adam



#13 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Apr 28, 2016 9:56 AM

I played several games of Candy Man last night on my real Astrocade (as opposed to emulation in MAME).  It always amazes me how much better games look played on a CRT monitor.  While the graphics don't look as crisp as they do under emulation, the fuzziness actually somehow adds weight to the characters in the game.  Also, I think the intro loading screen that is only included on the tape version of the game is a really nice touch.  It adds about thirty seconds to the game's loading time, but it's worth it.

 

Candy Man - 8,940 (Tape version, loaded from CD on real a Astrocade)

 

Season 1 - R 06 - Candy Man (8940)(Cropped).jpg

 

Candy Man gets pretty hectic as more baddies are added to the screen.  I've only ever gotten up to four baddies on one level (so far), but there can be a maximum of two jokers and four gremlins on the screen at once.  I imagine that this game would feel really cramped once all the gremlins have been released from the jail.

 

Here's a hint that has helped me in nearly every game.  If you only have one life saver left on the screen, then you can move over it into a space where a joker or gremlin is located: you won't lose a life, but instead you'll proceed to the next level.  I like that touch!

 

Adam



#14 Chris++ OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 1, 2016 2:54 AM

[I intended to attach screen shots to the following message, but AtariAge isn't letting me for some reason. It might be due to my relatively slow wireless connection; I hop onto a neighbor's. I've sent Adam an e-mail with my Mazeman photo. He can vouch for my Candy Man score, as he was the one who took the picture!]

 

Mazeman (5 / 5 / played in MESS / no pausing): 215,449

 

I'm not entirely certain which maze I reached, as the "Game Over" screen doesn't display it. I'm reasonably sure that it was 14.

 

When you're concerned with scoring high, the trick is of course to wait until all four monsters are grouped together before you eat an Energizer. Unlike in Pac-Man, however, it doesn't matter if they're close to you. As long as they're not on the exact opposite side of the screen, you can always catch them.

 

One way in which this game is more difficult than Pac-Man is that monster-munching makes for a much longer pause than in the coin-op game. The eyes of eaten monsters don't stop moving during this slow digestion, though. This often means that by the time you're chomping your second adversary, the first has already made his way to their shared apartment and regenerated. (The game doesn't become truly difficult until you reach the maze in which half of the Energizers have been removed!)

 

By contrast, what makes it easier than the original game is that each monster switches rather quickly between random movement and player pursuit. None of them doggedly pursues you as, say, Shadow would. This leads to some comical back-and-forth travel when a monster "decides" to keep reversing.

 

I like the variety of mazes!

 

(When emulated, Mazeman has no sound. I'm not sure why.)

 

---

 

Candy Man (played on Adam's console / atypically little shit-talking): 6,880

 

 



#15 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 1, 2016 6:20 PM

Mazeman just doesn't have any sound, Chris. Congrats on getting through all the mazes! I tried, but kept getting trapped on the later mazes.

 

I managed to get 6980 on Candy Man. I'm still amazed at how fast this game runs, when I'm so used to BASIC games being slow.

 

0037.png



#16 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun May 1, 2016 7:46 PM

Mazeman's pretty cool, though it can be a little glitchy. I sometimes passed right through a ghost rather than eating it. At least once, I turned around for another go, and it happened again!

 

Another thing I realized, which could be a bug or a feature, is that you can chain together power pellets to get a lot more points. I'm not sure I completely figured it out, but basically, eat a power pellet, then eat up to three ghosts, then eat another pellet before the survivor turns white again. If the ghosts you ate had enough time to go back into the maze, you can go after them again, and keep the combo going. It's hard to keep up, but definitely helped my scores. At first, I wondered if you could keep the scores growing exponentially until you maxed out the score counter, but it seems like the most you can get is around 12000 per ghost. Still, not bad!

 

I got 270613 on five lives, and 61120 on one life.

 

0030.png

 

0034.png



#17 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 3:20 PM



[I intended to attach screen shots to the following message, [...] I've sent Adam an e-mail with my Mazeman photo. He can vouch for my Candy Man score, as he was the one who took the picture!]

 

Chris emailed me his MAZE MAN score before the HSC round was over.  I'm attaching it (and his CANDY MAN screenshot, which I took myself) here:

 

Candy Man - 6,880

 

Season 1 - R 06 - Candy Man (6880)(Chris)(Cropped).jpg

 

Maze Man - 215,449

 

Season 1 - R 06 - Maze Man (215449)(Chris)(Cropped).jpg

 

(Screenshot Tip:  Rather than taking a screenshot of your MAME window (which would include your Windows desktop), you can press F12 to take screenshot of just the Astrocade screen.  It gets saved in the MAME folder under a directory called snaps.)

 

It's nice to see that people seem to like MAZE MAN, despite the roughness of the game.

 

Adam



#18 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 3:39 PM

One way in which [Mazeman] is more difficult than Pac-Man is that monster-munching makes for a much longer pause than in the coin-op game. [...] This often means that by the time you're chomping your second adversary, the first has already made his way to their shared apartment and regenerated.

 

I noticed this too.  I figured that this was done on purpose to make the game more difficult.

 

Adam



#19 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 3:48 PM

Mazeman's pretty cool, though it can be a little glitchy. I sometimes passed right through a ghost rather than eating it. At least once, I turned around for another go, and it happened again!


I'd never played this game much before (despite that I used to own the original cartridge), so I had never noticed that it was glitchy until this round of the HSC.  Unlike Paul, I never passed through a "ghost," despite that I played quite a few games.  However, my glitch (which I mentioned in a previous post, where I got "stuck" in one area of the maze and the monsters walked through walls) was pretty disconcerting (I wish I'd caught that bug on video).

 

Chris, did you see any glitches under emulation?

 

you can chain together power pellets to get a lot more points. [...] basically, eat a power pellet, then eat up to three ghosts, then eat another pellet before the survivor turns white again. [...] I wondered if you could keep the scores growing exponentially until you maxed out the score counter, but it seems like the most you can get is around 12000 per ghost. Still, not bad!


Great observation, Paul!  I had not noticed that!  I does indeed beg the question of whether this is intentional (a feature) or is a bug (making it a "feature").

 

I'd really like to find out who programmed Mazeman.  If anyone has any leads, then let me know.

 

Adam



#20 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Tue May 3, 2016 4:29 PM

Round 6 ended May 1, 2016. There were four qualifying entries for the high score contest.

Final Tables

Mazeman

1st ranger_lennier  270,613  11 pts @ (One life: 61,120)
2nd Chris++         215,449  10 pts !
3rd BallyAlley      168,339  8 pts

4th nd2003grad       40,875  7 pts


Candy Man

Every player who played the BASIC bonus game gets a point. BallyAlley earned an extra point for scoring the highest on this (surprisingly fast-paced) BASIC bonus game.

1st ballyalley        8,940 2 pts #
2nd ranger_lennier    6,980 1 pt
3rd Chris++           6,880 1 pt
4th nd2003grad        6,860 1 pt


Total points awarded this round:

ranger_lennier   11 + 1 = 12 pts @
Chris++          10 + 1 = 11 pts !
BallyAlley        8 + 2 = 10 pts
#
nd2003grad        7 + 1 =  8 pts


Bonus Points Key:

Mazeman

@ - Highest score on one life
! - Completing all 12 levels


Candy Man (Bonus Points):

# - Candy Man High Score
$ - Video of Candy Man (No Point Awarded)
% - Beating 31,780 Points (No Point Awarded)


Please, check your scores. ;)

Congratulations to Round 6's winner, ranger_lennier!

In the the next round, we're going to play a game that requires two controllers at once: Bally Pin (also known as Astrocade Pinball. This one sports two different tables.  I've heard it's quite fun, but I don't have much experience with it myself.

The official start of Round 7 will be announced later today, but feel free to start flipping out while playing a few games of Astrocade Pinball.

Adam





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