I recently picked up the 2nd gen BASIC cart for my Bally
Congratulations-- you've just opened up your Bally Arcade to hundreds of more programs. These BASIC programs are not nearly the same quality as the cartridges, but quite a few of them are still quite fun. Not only that, but you'll see other programs (not just games) written in BASIC that never would have appeared on the Astrocade otherwise.
Does anyone have any recommendations on what some of the best BASIC games are on the console (that don't require RAM expansions)?
This topic has come up quite often over the years. Here are some links to get you started:
1) Top 10 Bally BASIC Games (Yahoo Groups Thread) - This thread didn't catch on like I'd hoped, but it will get you started. I did include many of the games listed in this posting.
2) Top Astrocade Games (Game Gavel Thread) - Mostly a list of cartridge games, but there are many BASIC games listed that were reviewed, which you may be interested in checking out:
In the "Top Ten BASIC Games" thread, Paul Thacker made a list of his seventeen Bally BASIC favorites (in no particular order):
WaveMakers--Obstacle Course Tournament, Tomb Pirates, Outpost 19 (especially the Blue RAM BASIC version I've played on the multi-cart)
L&M--Candy Man, Space Checkers
Esoterica--Super Slope, Ten Pins
Rex Goulding--The Pits (from the Arcadian)
The Bit Fiddlers--Chicken, Goldfish Demo
George Moses--Fifteen Two-Part Inventions, Scott Joplin Ragtime Classics
The Tiny Arcade--Quadron, Star Siege
Ken Lill--Whatzit? (Blue RAM BASIC, available on multi-cart)
That's it for Paul's recommendations. I have to second Paul's vote for The Pits; that is probably my favorite BASIC game on the Astrocade, which never fails to perplex me, as it's really simple and uses just boxes for graphics. Chris and I reviewed The Pits in episode 4 of the BallyAlley Astrocast podcast, which you can listen to here:
The Bally Alley High Score Club plays a BASIC game every round. If you check all the rounds that we've played, then you're sure to run into a few BASIC games that you'll like. Plus in the HSC threads, I always post screenshots of what the BASIC games look like. You can read all the past HSC threads here:
Some of my favorite BASIC games, in the order we played them in the Astrocade High Score Club rounds are:
- Astro Zap 2000! - George Moses (July 1982) - Played HSC Season 1, Round 2
- Candy Man - L&M Software (1983) - Played in HSC Season 1, Round 6
- Avalanche! - Steve Walters (1982) - Played in HSC Season 1, Round 7
- The Pits - Rex Goulding (August 1982) - Played in HSC Season 1, Round 10
- Outpost 19 - WaveMakers (1983/1985) - Played in HSC Season 1, Round 11 (I made a map of the game in this thread)
Just for the heck of it, I just took a quick look through the programs that are on BallyAlley.com and I came up with these other BASIC programs that are worth playing and/or investigating. They are not all great, but they're at least interesting. Remember, this list is right off the cuff, so I'm sure I overlooked some golden game. These programs are listed in alphabetical order:
- Dungeons of Dracula
- Gate Escape, The
- Guitar Course (with Tuning, Note Match and Chord Progressions)
- L.T. (Little Terrestrial)
- Lookout for the Bull / Lookout for the Bull II
- Monkey Jump / Gong the Kong
- Pack-Rat / Pack-Rat II
- Sound Effects
- Tournament Obstacle Course
Here are a few more that are not by WaveMakrers:
- Beep! - The Tiny Arcade
- Sloshed! - New Image
- Cavern Quest - Bruce Jaeger
- Collatz Conjecture, The - Jim Dunson (not a game, but interesting)
- Claim Jumpers - L&M Software
While using Bally BASIC or "AstroBASIC" programs, keep a few things in mind:
- Bally BASIC programs are limited to 1.8K of RAM. That's not much to worth with.
- Bally BASIC limits the amount of colors to just two on the screen at once. There are a few tricks around this, but even using these, you'll not find any games as colorful as the cartridge releases. The expanded BASICs for the Astrocade (i.e. Blue Ram BASIC and Vipersoft BASIC) removed these color limitations.
- Nearly all of the Bally BASIC programs were written by amateur programmers. This means that you'll often find (especially with the type-in games), programs that have a kernel of goodness that wasn't exploited to its fullest potential. This makes the BASIC games pretty quirky, which is something I like about them.
- Blinking and flashing graphics are the norm for BASIC games. Even those games that use machine language subroutines that are built into the 8K ROM tend to flash while there is movement.
With as much as Bally BASIC has going against it, it's a wonder that so many interesting programs are part of the Bally Arcade's BASIC library. I tried to highlight some programs here in this post, but there are many more titles to be explored.
Don't limit yourself to this list; jump in and try some games that aren't in this post. I'd love to hear feedback that you may have on any of these games. If you run into anything that you like that's not listed here, then please let us know about it. Also, there is a severe lack of videos of Bally BASIC games on YouTube. If you play some "AstroBASIC" games, then why not make a video of it and post it.
Have fun exploring the Astrocade's seldom-played BASIC games!
Perhaps this thread can be the "official" Best Bally BASIC programs list. If anyone has suggestions for fun programs for the Top 10 Bally BASIC Programs list, please post your comments here.