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HSC02, Round 7: Conan the Barbarian / The Crown of Zeus

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#1 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jun 24, 2017 2:04 PM

Season 2, Round 7 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, July 9'th at 10pm MST. The main game is an unreleased Astrocade, Inc. prototype called Conan the Barbarian. The BASIC bonus game is a 1982 Arcadian type-in dungeon-crawler called The Crown of Zeus by Todd Johnson.

Conan the Barbarian

Conan the Barbarian is a prototype 8K game that never had an official release on cartridge. There is quite a bit of information known about this cartridge, which was known by three different names during its development: King Arthur's Adventure, Conan the Barbarian and Quest for the Orb.
 
conan-title_screen.gif
conan-snake.gif
conan-minotaur.gif

Since Conan had no official release, the only cartridge label that is available is one that I scanned in black and white:

Conan (Cart Label).jpg

I used to have a version of this cartridge that was made for me in about 2001 by Michael White. I seem to remember that the label was printed in color on a dot-matrix printed.  I think that the background was yellow.

This game has a very long and convoluted background. The Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ has some interesting information on this game under its various titles:

King Arthur's Adventure
Astrovision Inc., #5005

Suffered the same fate as Roman Checkers. This time the number went to Artillery Duel. It was supposed to be a Dungeons & Dragons type game. (Cursor pg.73). It may be an early version of Conan the Barbarian, before the movie license was attached. (Brett Bilbrey, Astrocade Discussion Group, Message #7175)

Conan the Barbarian
Astrocade Inc., Strategy Series, #5005, 8K cart

AKA Quest For The Orb. This cartridge is not finished, but did see a limited release through Dave Carson Software in 1985 (about forty were made). (Michigan Astrobugs Newsletter JUL.82 pg.1, Arcadian vol.4 pg.33,75, vol.5 pg.16,36,46,66, vol.6 pg. 99, vol.7 pg.2,13,46,67,94) Hyped up to be one of the greatest games Astrocade players would ever see, and the first video game to spin off from a movie. (Astrocade press release) They failed to secure the rights, however, and the game continued development as Quest for the Orb.

Quest for the Orb
Astrocade Inc., #5004
 
AKA Conan the Barbarian. When Astrocade failed to secure the Conan license, the game continued development as Quest for the Orb.

According to a news item in Astro Bits that was published on page 11 of the August 1982 Electronic Games magazine, Quest for the Orb, like Conan, would also have also been a licensed property:

"Two major licensing agreements soon bring star characters from other media into the world of videogaming. Astrocade has concluded agreements for games based on Conan and G.I. Joe. The two titles, both reworkings of programs already in development, should be available quite soon. (Conan is based on the Quest for the Orb game which the game-maker had previewed at 1982 industry shows)."

I looked into this, and came across a few links about Orb Quest, a pen and paper role playing game based on The Fantasy Trip game system. Here is a picture of the book's cover:

Orb Quest (Book Cover).jpg

Here are some interesting links if you'd like to follow-up on this never-to-be released book tie-in.

This is an overview of the Orb Quest game, including some interesting pictures:

https://boardgamegee...18161/orb-quest

Here is a scan of the Orb Quest booklet:

http://www.mocagh.or...asytrip-mq8.pdf

Conan the Barbarian seems to have first been mentioned in a 1981 Astrocade, Inc. catalog.  I have extracted the Conan ad from page 30 of the catalog:
 
Astrocade Inc Cartridge Catalog (1982)_30 Conan.jpg
 
Here is a link to the complete catalog:

http://www.ballyalle...og-(150dpi).pdf

Here is the brief description of the game from the ad:

"Fearsome monsters give chase through a series of mazes as Conan, armed with his sword, battles them. Various levels allow you to play this adventure game with skills ranging from novice to professional. See how many monsters you can get."

The game, when it was known as Conan, was mentioned in a June 6, 1982 press release, which you can read here:

[url=http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Conan_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf]http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Conan_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf

Here is an ad for Quest for the Orb:

Page_06_(Quest_for_the_Orb).jpg

I have OCRed the text for game's ad:

Quest for the Orb

"Ancient scientists of the lost civilization Morte managed to extract the essence of the universe and fuse it into a single precise object-- the Orb. You must find the Orb, hidden in the castle's labyrinth, and return it to its owner, the White Magician.

"Demons, monsters and traps are threats along the way. Beware the powers of black magic, cursed items and other evil influence. In your aid are spells given to you by the White Magician, along with other magic items and weapons strewn along the way. Ancient treasures are hidden here also! Fare ye well, adventurer, in your quest for the Orb!"

After reading this game description, there is no doubt that this Astrocade game was meant to be based on the game Orb Quest.

You can view the full More Games. More Fun. More to Come... from the leader in video game technology catalog, which features nine cartridges. Four of these games were never released: Coloring Book with Light Pen, Munchie, Music Maker I, and Quest for the Orb.

http://www.ballyalle...th_9_Games).pdf

Since Conan is a prototype cartridge, there are no official instructions, but Mike White did write these very brief instructions and send them to people who bought the game cartridge from him:

CONAN THE BARBARIAN Cartridge

1. Insert cartridge and press [RESET]
2. Pull trigger #1 twice to start the play

This game is for one player only, and all control is on hand controller #1
The joystick moves Conan around inside the arena
The knob raises and lowers Conan's sword
The trigger exchanges the sword between Conan's left and right hand
To slay evil creatures, use the sword by turning the knob
If strength, stamina, or defenses fail, "FAREWELL WARRIOR!"


The Conan the Barbarian cartridge ROM image (called "conan.bin") is part of this archive:

http://http://www.ba...deROMCollection

I think that Conan is included on every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. This game is best played on real hardware.

Since there is so much that is unknown about this game, there are some fun ways to earn bonus points this round-- so make sure to give some of them a try.

Quest for the Orb - Game Review

Oddly, although Quest for the Orb was never released, it was reviewed in the 1982 book The Complete Guide to Conquering Video Games: How to Win Every Game in the Galaxy by Jeff Rovin. Here is the full review:

"This is a well-developed, multifaceted action game which crams a great deal of activity into a single cartridge. It is similar to Quest for the Rings [for the Magnavox Odyssey 2 system], though played without the aid of a game board.

"Long dead scientists of the lost civilization of Morte once unlocked the essence of life itself and encased it within the orb. This was sealed deep into the catacombs of a castle, which was subsequently invaded by an evil enchanter. He tried and failed to crack the orb. He perished years ago, but his demonic familiars live on. Making your way through the labyrinths and dungeons of the castle, you will be protected by magical spells and enchanted weapons belonging to your sponsor, the White Magician, who seeks to use the orb for good. You will also uncover ancient treasures along the way, as well as monsters, traps, and curses, any of which can slay you. Be prepared to dip into your bag of tricks for the power to induce sleep, hurl magic missiles, become invisible, confuse your enemies, launch fireballs, teleport and so on!"

Rating ****

There's a lot to learn in order to master this game, but it is almost without peer as engrossing, escapist, and entertaining videogames go."

Bilbrey's Suggestions for Conan the Barbarian

In the early 1980s, Brett Bilbrey, saw Astrovision's Conan cartridge at a "show." He didn't like what he saw and made suggestions at the time for what he thought would have made for a better game. You can read his handwrittten suggestions here:

http://www.ballyalle...tt_Bilbrey).pdf

The much-preferred method to read Brett's suggestions are in the above pdf document, but I have also re-typed Brett's handwritten notes. Note, that these lack his drawings, which add quite a bit to his suggestions:

"This would be better than what was at the show!"
Rooms (Type)
----------------------
Set Patterns for:
Open Plain
Tunnel
Stone Hall
Rough Room
Stone Room

Colors
------
Define Rooms better
10 or 12 color sets
(How about 256 colors in the game! Four at a time, but still 256!)

Things in Rooms
---------------
Chair
Table
Doors (Special Case) [This entire line is circled]
Chests
Treasure
Objects to get (Special) - Keep with you (swords) or objects of game)

Monsters
---------------
Easy, Dumb ---> Hard, Smart

A situation would (or could) be defined by:
(Room type)(Color Set)(Number of things in Room)    0 -> #
    1-?                         0 -> ?              (1)   (3)   (6)
                                                     "     "     "
                                                    Chair Door Chest
                     0 -> #
(Number of Monsters)( )( )( )
       0 -> ?

So that,

5,4,4,1,2,4,1,3

would define a stone room with brown floor, gray walls, black outlines, and light brown objects, a chair, a table and a chest and one monster.

Matrix for room connection:

Room 6 gets to 7,8,9 and 11, but room 11 only goes to 6!

[Example drawing of hallway to illustrate the matrix idea]"
 
For a prototype game, there really is a lot of information available for Conan, isn't there?

Conan the Barbarian (Options):

There are no options for Conan. You get one life, which you lose as your stamina wears down. Everyone playing this game starts on equal footing.

Conan the Barbarian (Scoring):

Up to ten points are awarded for playing Conan the Barbarian. Since there is no score in Conan, we will be playing for the highest level reached. On my test-run of the game today, I was able to reach level 20 on my first (and only) try. For available bonus points, see "Bonus Points" section below.

The Crown of Zeus

The BASIC bonus game is The Crown of Zeus by Todd Johnson. This game appeared in the November 1982 Arcadian newsletter.  This game "takes you to a dark decaying castle in the evil land of Sorom. You've been asked, as the best warrior in the land of Beekum, to retrieve the Crown of Zeus which the Scromites have stolen."
 
Crown of Zeus, The (Todd Johnson)(Astrocade Screenshot)_01_tn.jpg

According to ads in Arcadian 5, no. 1 (Nov. 5, 1982): 9. and Arcadian 4, no. 10 (Aug. 06, 1982): 103., The Crown of Zeus is the first in a series of four programs that take place on the planet Gibeleous. The other three games in the series are available only on tape and are called:


  • The Rescue of Catherine
  • Escape from Rantanam IV
  • The Tower of Machor

Regular and Expert versions of this game are included in the archive. I'm not sure what the difference is between the two programs.

Six issues after The Crown of Zeus was published, the Arcadian newsletter printed this small note about user maps: "Crown of Zeus castle floor plan - Have you determined what the castle looks like? We have one idea here and would like to get other opinions, so send in your version." (Arcadian 5, no. 7 (May 6, 1983): 106.)

As it turns out, two people sent The Crown of Zeus maps to Bob Fabris, but they were never published in the Arcadian. Luckily, there are part of the Bob Fabris Collection, and I was able to scan and archive them. You can view them here:

1) The Crown of Zeus Maps, Set 1 - Castle Map by Edward Mahoney (April 20, 1983)

http://www.ballyalle...apEdwardMahoney

2) The Crown of Zeus Maps, Set 2 - Floor Plans by Kent Brenden (July 9, 1983)

http://www.ballyalle...sMapKentBrenden

The original program submission letter from Todd Johnson to the Arcadian is available here:

http://www.ballyalle...IC Listing).pdf

The Crown of Zeus instructions, minus the parts on how to type in the game, from the Arcadian are here:

This program, for AstroBASIC only, takes you to a dark decaying castle in the evil land of Scrom. You've been asked, as the best warrior in the land of Beekum, to retrieve the Crown of Zeus which the Scromites have stolen. The crown, when worn, gives the wearer the awesome ability to cause anything he or she wishes to vanish. Apparently the Scromites have not yet discovered the crown's powers. But as you hid in the forest outside the castle, you saw a troop of orcs from the warring land of Machor slip in through the front gate. They surely know the power of the crown and will have to be dealt with...

[Detailed directions for typing in the game have been excluded here.]

Now rewind your tape and input the main program with :INPUT. Say RUN and you're on your way. The computer will print:

ROOM:
STRENGTH:
EXPERIENCE:
ENEMY:
EXITS LEAD:

ACTION?


Keeping strength above zero is the key to this game. You can survive a negative strength value as long as it's not too much negative and there is not an enemy in the room, but generally a negative strength value means you're dead. Strength can be increased to its maximum by resting. Finding a magic sword in the castle will also increase your strength and increase your maximum strength too.

The number after ENEMY: is a code number which tells you which enemy from the enemy list is in the room.

EXITS LEAD: Tells you which directions, (north, south, east, west, up, down), you can go. ACTION? prompts you to enter the number code for the action you wish to take from the action list.

When you reach a room that has no exit, you are at the entrance to level 3. If you wish to enter this level, press HALT then type:

R=R-24;:INPUT @(0),192 <GO>

Now press the play button on your recorder to load the array for the next levels. Then RUN the program and you're on level 3. If instead you want to stay on level 2 a little longer, type HALT then type:

R=R-24;RUN GO <GO>

You'll be back up the stairs.

This program must be reloaded after you are killed or find the crown since the data in the array gets altered. If you want to quit for a while during a game you can save it by halting it and loading it onto a blank tape. Also, you don't have to get any treasure at the time you are asked by the computer. If you wish to get it later Just press 1 when asked for an action and the computer will let you get the treasure.

Enemies
-------
0 Nothing
1 Orc(s)
2 Killer Bees
3 Rats
4 Skeleton
5 Ghost
6 Zombie
7 Bear
8 Wolf
9 Black Knight
10 Giant Viper
11 Giant Spiders
12 Minotaur
13 Goblin
14 Tiger
15 Evil Warlock
17 Evil Wizard
18 Mummy
19 Dragon (Small)
20 Dragon (Medium)
21 Dragon (Large)
22 Dragon (Immense)
23 Demon
24 Giant
25 Giant Slime Monster
26 Orange Blob
27 Fire Fiend
28 5-headed Hydra
29 Cyclops
30 Demon King


Actions
-------
1 Fight
2 Leave Room
3 Rest


Treasure
--------
1 Magic Wand (detects traps)
2 Magic Sword (increases strength)
3 Magic Helm (increases experience)
90 The Crown!
All other numbers refer to gold pieces.

Traps
-----
1 Needles shoot at you
2 Small rocks fall on you
3 A pit opens beneath you
4 Poisonous gas fills the room
5 Crossbow bolt hits you
6 You receive electrical shock from treasure


THE CROWN OF ZEUS is the first in a series of programs that take place on the planet Gibeleous. Others now available are:

THE RESCUE OF CATHERINE:

After you went to save the crown, the Scromites became angry with you and have kidnapped Catherine, the princess of Beekum, hoping that you will be sent to save her. They've set some traps so Watch Out!

ESCAPE FROM RANTANAM IV:

You've been captured by mechanical aliens who have come to Gibeleous for unknown reasons. You must escape and warn the leaders of Beekum.

THE TOWER OF MACHOR:

The orcs are after you again in this one with 8 levels. You must destroy the alien computer which has been leading the orcs in their quest for domination of Gibeleous.

You can get all three great programs on one cassette tape with complete descriptions and instructions for the low, low price of only $10.00! To add these programs to your Gibeleous series collection, send check or M.O. to:

Todd Johnson [Address removed]

You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of The Crown of Zues here:

http://www.ballyalle...usToddJohnsonAB

Bonus Points

There are many bonus points available this round for both games.

  • Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - Write directions on how to play this game.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - Listing the different monsters that you encounter.
  • Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - List the differences between this game and the prototype (called cononp.bin).
  • Conan the Barbarian (1 Point) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of Conan the Barbarian will get a bonus point.
  • The Crown of Zeus (1 Point) - Playing The Crown of Zeus.
  • The Crown of Zeus (1 Point) - Getting the Crown of Zeus in the game.
  • The Crown of Zeus (1 Point) - Video Review - Anyone who makes a video review of The Crown of Zeus will get a bonus point.

Summary

Obviously, much more was to be done for Conan the Barbarian before it would have been considered complete. What is finished are the fighting and level progression, which work okay. The game lacks any depth-of-play, which would have made the game much better. This game reminds me, in some ways, of one of my favorite games: The Temple of Apshai. Much more about this game can be read in the AtariAge "Temple of Apshai Map" thread that I started in 2011:

http://atariage.com/...i-trilogy-maps/

I wonder how Conan might have worked had it been completed, or was somehow actually based on an Apshai-type game?

I have no experience with The Crown of Zeus, but I love the deep concept of the game. It is amazing to me that there were three sequels to this game, none of which have been archived in any way.

Post your scores (i.e. level) as you play Conan the Barbarian over the next couple of weeks. If anyone finds any tips while playing these games, then please share them.

As we make our way through the Astrocade's tape and cartridge library, we're bound to encounter some usual games.  These two games probably aren't for everybody, but do your best to enjoy both games for what they are: a glimpse into the creative potential of two similar games in the fantasy genre that were represented in two completely different ways on a platform that didn't really have a chance to experience other games of this type.

Adam



#2 roadrunner OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 3, 2017 12:27 PM

Conan

level 6



#3 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 7, 2017 12:53 PM

I played a few rounds of Conan the Barbarian in preparation for making a video.  Here's my current high score for the game:

 

Conan the Barbarian - Level 31 (Astrocade, Real Hardware)

 

Conan the Barbarian (Astrocade)(Level 31).jpg

 

Reaching higher levels becomes easier once you realize that the faster you twist the knob back and forth, the quicker you kill a monster.  Also, the more monsters you kill, the more Stamina you get before the next round begins.  Once you reach around level 20, you get nearly full Stamina in-between each round, but this is tempered by more monsters appearing on each level (I've reached four per level) and each one getting much harder to bring down.  The monsters also begin moving much faster on the later levels.  On level 31, the level on which I finally died, I started the level with full health and only one monster, but even though I hit him over and over again, he wouldn't go down; I think this is because he was moving around so fast I wasn't hitting him as much as I thought that I was with my sword.

 

Conan had potential, but there isn't much too it, and combat really wears-out your fingers, as you must really move the knob back and forth all of the time.  One neat thing that this game has going for it is the sheer number of different monsters that I've seen in the game.

 

Adam



#4 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 7, 2017 5:53 PM

I played Conan and the Conan prototype and didn't see any differences aside from the obvious title screen change. Then, I decided to get a little more technical about it and actually diff the files. I can conclusively confirm that nothing is changed aside from the title screen. Dave Carson even kept the number of characters the same, which means you wouldn't need to worry about any GOTOs. The prototype text is:

 

"C  COPYRIGHT ASTROCADE 1982"

 

The release text is:

 

"DAVE  CARSON SOFTWARE  1985"

 

Including some extra spaces, each string is 27 characters long.

 

So, not much programing work on Dave Carson Software's part, but at least more people got to try out the game.

 

Another thing I noticed is that the last nearly 2K of the 8K ROM is just FF, so there was quite a bit of room left for development.



#5 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 7, 2017 8:19 PM

I played Conan and the Conan prototype and didn't see any differences aside from the obvious title screen change.  [...] So, not much programing work on Dave Carson Software's part, but at least more people got to try out the game.


Thanks for making this hex comparison between the two available versions of Conan, Paul.  I love to read about this sort of technical thing.

 

I suppose that if Dave Carson had not released Conan, then it might be lost today.  Then again, I guess Mike White would have had it.  I didn't figure that Dave changed much, but I am a little surprised to learn he only changed the title screen.
 

Another thing I noticed is that the last nearly 2K of the 8K ROM is just FF, so there was quite a bit of room left for development.

 
Considering how many different monsters I've seen in the Conan, I presume that the graphics must take up quite a bit of the ROM.  If there is about 6KB of total ROM storage being used on the 8KB cartridge, then probably about 2KB of that is bring used for graphics data.  That's just a guess, but if I'm right, then we're left with 4KB for program code that is already used on the ROM.  That leaves about 2KB of ROM storage available for program use.

 

Since the game isn't finished, my guess is that the program wasn't yet "crunched."  By "crunched," I mean that the programmer (whoever he was) probably wasn't yet fighting against the limits of ROM storage.  Therefore, he may have still been able to tighten the code.  If that's the case (and this game had been finished), then I bet using the 2KB of ROM space still available on the cartridge would have made it very possible to make a complete and fun game out of this almost-but-not-quite game.  As it stands, the Conan the Barbarian prototype for the Astrocade stands somewhere between a very neat-looking and playable tech-demo and an unfinished game.

 

If Conan had progressed further along and been completed, then it would have been a tragedy to release it with this control method of using the knob to swing the sword.  I played about eight or ten games this afternoon.  On average I reached between level 15 and 20.  After I reached level 31 and I was done playing the game, my fingers were too tired to play again to create the video review.  Hand fatigue is not a sign of a good game.  Well, maybe it is, in the case of one popular game in which you attack baddies from space.  Anyone here ever had "Space Invaders elbow" or "Space Invaders wrist" from playing that classic arcade game?  If Conan had been released, than maybe The New England Journal of Medicine would have coined the term "Conan the Barbarian Fingers."  If not them, then surely someone besides me would use that phrase.

 

Adam



#6 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Fri Jul 7, 2017 9:27 PM

Paul's post, where he compared the two versions of the game's ROM, inspired me to make my video for Conan this evening.  I tried something different this time.  I plugged the audio-out directly from my RF-to-composite jack right into my camera.  The plus-side is that there is no outside noise or other interference.  The bad-side is two-fold: I can't narrate the video while I play the game (this might be a blessing), and there is a noticeable "hiss" in the audio that is picked up by the camera.  The "hiss" is noticeable on my Astrocade too, but only if I turn the volume up: it doesn't show up when I use the camera's built-in microphone.

 

I might not be able to edit this video review together until next week, but I did capture a few games, including one where I reach my new highest "score:"

 

Conan the Barbarian: Level 37 (Astrocade, Real Hardware)

 

Conan the Barbarian (Astrocade)(Level 37).jpg

 

On level 37, the monsters are moving so quickly that they are able to practically leap across the screen.  They also are able to take much more damage: in order to kill them, you must frantically wiggle the knob left and right all-the-while moving around the screen trying to avoid the monsters.  By the time I was through with my few games, I had a serious case of "Conan the Barbarian Fingers" ™.

 

I doubt I'll play Conan anymore before this round ends on Sunday: my hand (mostly my index finger and thumb) just can't take this "abuse" anymore.  That hasn't stopped me from enjoying and delving into Conan; I'm glad that I picked this game for the current round.  I never would have played this game as much as I did otherwise.

 

I can't think of another game that uses a control scheme that works like this: it's not a good method to play the game, but at least Astrocade, Inc. was searching for a way to try to find something original to do with their unique controller.  The control scheme is nearly completely broken, but I applaud them for trying it out!

 

Adam



#7 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 8, 2017 11:19 AM

I played The Crown of Zeus last night so that I could make a video.  I enjoyed playing the game much more than I expected.  I was only able to explore five rooms.  I began a map, thinking that I'd get much deeper into the game, but I kept getting killed.  Here's a screenshot of the last room that I reached:

 

Crown of Zeus (Astrocade).jpg

 

In this room there is Enemy 14, which is a Tiger.  I'm not sure what the Tiger was doing wondering around the castle on another planet, but it must have been hungry, as it killed me pretty quickly.  I can only presume that it ate my mangled corpse.

 

I will probably not get a chance to upload my video review of The Crown of Zeus until I edit the video, probably, sometime next week.  If you have a real Astrocade, then I encourage you to try this round's bonus game.  It doesn't quite fit the typical console game released in the early 1980s.  It's always nice to see a game which is not another me-too shooter.

 

Adam



#8 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 8, 2017 8:40 PM

The Crown Of Zeus sounds interesting, but as I feared, is rather unplayable on my system.

 

IMG_20170708_223338772_HDR.jpg



#9 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 8, 2017 11:04 PM

I can't think of another game that uses a control scheme that works like this: it's not a good method to play the game, but at least Astrocade, Inc. was searching for a way to try to find something original to do with their unique controller.  The control scheme is nearly completely broken, but I applaud them for trying it out!

 

The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii? ;-)

 

OK, not exactly the same, but it did come to mind since you waggle the Wiimote back and forth the swing your sword. And I have heard people complain about getting "Wii wrist" the same as you could get "tennis wrist".



#10 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sat Jul 8, 2017 11:07 PM

billnewsome made it to level 25.

 

0065.png

 

I got to level 58. I'll try to write up some pointers in a little while.

 

0067.png



#11 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

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Posted Sun Jul 9, 2017 10:58 AM

Here are my instructions/tips.

 

Introduction:

 

Conan The Barbarian is an unfinished game developed by Astrocade, Inc. in 1982. Astrocade claimed that it would be the first video game based on a movie liscense. As it stands, you play as Conan, using your sword to clear rooms of enemies. Try to advance to the highest level you can, but once you die, you have to start from the beginning.

 

Controls:

 

Move Conan with the joystick. Swing your sword by turning the knob back and forth. Pull the trigger to flip the direction Conan faces, and thus the direction of your attack. You can play the game on MAME, but will probably need to use a different control setup than usual. I used an XBox 360 controller with the joystick mapped to the left analog stick, the knob mapped to the right analog stick (so you could swing your sword by pushing the stick up and down), and the trigger mapped to the right bumper.

 

Gameplay:

 

Your character has three stats--stamina (health), strength, and defense. As it is, your strength and defense never goes up, but at the end of each level, your maximum health will increase, and you'll recover your health. Each level is a single, rectangular room. The size and shape varies, but there are never any obstacles inside the room. After the level starts, one to four monsters will spawn. There are a variety of monsters with varying shapes and speeds. If you clear the room of monsters before you run out of health, you'll advance to the next level.

 

Tips:

 

The battles are more RPG-like than might be immediately apparent. You don't take damage simply from touching an enemy. They have to actually attack you. But monsters might charge at you from the other side of the room. As such, I found it most effective to concentrate on offense rather than defense. Fight like a barbarian. Rather than trying to avoid monsters, charge into battle swinging your sword as quickly as possible. If you see multiple enemies grouped up, you might be able to hit them all at once. Remember to turn to face the enemies so you don't have to move to the other side of them. The faster you can clear out some monsters, the less attacks you have to worry about, so start attacking whatever monster spawns closest to you. Once you start attacking a monster, you'll probably want to concentrate on it until it's dead. You have a little time at the start of a level before the monsters spawn, so you can use this time to move to the center of the room.



#12 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

ranger_lennier

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Posted Sun Jul 9, 2017 9:58 PM

There is indeed a wide variety of monsters, and they can get pretty creative. They do tend to mix and match the same parts, which can make some creatures a bit abstract. The ones with just a straight line at the bottom tend to look kind of ridiculous. I keep seeing alien pogo sticks and such. Here's a good sampling of what I found, and some guesses at what they might be.

 

 

Snake:

0064.png

 

Flying alien:

0065.png

 

Moth:

0067.png

 

Spiders:

0068.png

 

Werewolf:

0069.png

 

Seahorse, Alien:

0070.png

 

Slime:

0073.png

 

Jellyfish;

0075.png

 

Cthulu demon:

0076.png

 

Squid, mothman, snakeman:

0077.png

 

Stag, UFO:

0078.png

 

Pogo alien:

0080.png

 

Spidersnake, robot, hydra:

0082.png

 

Cyborg:

0083.png

 

Cthulu, dragon, antler pogo stick:

0084.png

 

Flying demon:

0085.png

 

Flying jellyfish:

0087.png


Edited by ranger_lennier, Sun Jul 9, 2017 10:01 PM.


#13 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 10, 2017 9:16 AM

Great postings, Paul.  You're gonna earn lots of bonus points!  I'll comment more about these elaborate posts later today or tomorrow when I post the final tables for this round.

 

I want to choose an arcade game that uses the Astrocade chipset for the next round.  I'd like to get some playtime in with Gorf?  Does this game suggestion sound okay with everyone else?

 

Adam



#14 ballyalley OFFLINE  

ballyalley

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Posted Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:15 PM

 

OK, not exactly the same, but [The Legend Of Zelda: Twilight Princess for the Wii] did come to mind since you waggle the Wiimote back and forth the swing your sword. And I have heard people complain about getting "Wii wrist" the same as you could get "tennis wrist".

 

When my son got this game for the Wii, I could never play it that well.  I just couldn't get the hang on the control scheme.  In fact, I never could quite grasp the Wii's controller, but some people loved that systems control method.  My son's friend got the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess.  It seems to me that it probably played better, but I've not experience with that version of the game.

 

Adam



#15 ballyalley OFFLINE  

ballyalley

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Posted Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:19 PM

Here are my instructions/tips [for Conan the Barbarian]

 

That's great work, Paul.  You make some great suggestions.  Maybe I'll try this game with the Xbox 360 controller and see if I can do any better at the game.  At the very least, it will allow me to not wear-out my thumb and forefinger when I play the game.

 

Paul, do you mind if I post these Conan instructions to BallyAlley.com in the game instruction area?

 

Adam



#16 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:26 PM

There is indeed a wide variety of monsters, and they can get pretty creative. They do tend to mix and match the same parts, which can make some creatures a bit abstract.


I did notice that it seems there are top halves and bottom halves that are used to create many more monsters than could normally be fit into the ROM.  I was trying to figure-out if there is any method to how the monsters are created, but the best I can figure is that they attack you in random order and that (maybe?) each monster is created randomly from a selection of the tops and bottoms of the baddies.  If this Conan was complete, I'd probably disassemble it enough to figure this out, but since the game is incomplete, I'll allow this question to go unanswered.
 

The ones with just a straight line at the bottom tend to look kind of ridiculous. I keep seeing alien pogo sticks and such. Here's a good sampling of what I found, and some guesses at what they might be.

 

That's a great list of the monsters.  I found your descriptions match somewhat with what I saw the monsters to be in my own mind.  Paul, you really did some fun-to-read work this round.  I'd also like to post these pictures with your descriptions to BallyAlley.com, if that's okay.

 

Adam



#17 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Mon Jul 10, 2017 3:56 PM

Round 7 of the Astrocade High Score Club ended on Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 10pm MST. Four people played Conan the Barbarian. One person played the bonus game, The Crown of Zeus, and one other person attempted to play the game, but it wasn't compatible with his version of the Astrocade 8K on-board ROM.

Final Tables

Conan the Barbarian

1st  ranger_lennier  Level 58
2nd  BallyAlley      Level 37
3rd  billnewsome     Level 25
4th  roadrunner      Level  6


Two people each earn a point for playing the bonus game, The Crown of Zeus, on the Astrocade. Nobody was able to get the Crown of Zeus, and I suspect it might not be possible, because I don't see any way to load levels 3 and 4 in the archived version of the game.

The Crown of Zeus

BallyAlley      Played the game
ranger_lennier  Attempted to play, but not compatible with system.

 
Total points awarded this round:

1st  ranger_lennier  10 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 13 pts !@#
2nd  BallyAlley       9 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 10 pts !
3rd  billnewsome      8 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 =  8 pts
4th  roadrunner       7 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 =  7 pts


Bonus Points Key:

! - Conan the Barbarian - Write gameplay directions.
@ - Conan the Barbarian - Listing the different monsters
# - Conan the Barbarian - List the differences between two versions of the game
$ - Conan the Barbarian - Video Review (No bonus awarded)
% - The Crown of Zeus   - Playing The Crown of Zeus
^ - The Crown of Zeus   - Getting the Crown of Zeus (No bonus awarded)
& - The Crown of Zeus   - Video Review (No bonus awarded)


Please, check your scores. ;)

Season 2, Round 7's winner is ranger_lennier, who won with 13 points!

I wouldn't call Conan a fun game, but it was fun and interesting to explore it. I've certainly played it before now, but I didn't really put time into the game until I played it this round. As for The Crown of Zeus, I really found myself enjoying it more than I expected. I recorded myself playing both of these games, but I didn't get a chance to post the videos before the round ended.  I hope to edit the videos and create video reviews by the middle of this week.

Next Round's Games

The main game for Round 8 of the Astrocade HSC is Gorf, a 1981 arcade game by Jay Fenton that uses the Bally Astrocade's chipset. I expect that most of us will have to play this game using the MAME emulator. The game may be available in some classic game collections for semi-modern hardware (i.e. the Playstaion 2), but I'm not sure of this. If anyone knows other ways to play Gorf, then let me know so that I can post alternate methods to play the game.

The BASIC bonus game will be Nuke the @&#%$*, also by Jay Fenton, a 1982 game that I have not played much before now. This game was released on cassette tape with Jay's version of Life.

I'll post the main game and bonus game, plus the full rules and links for Round 7 of the Astrocade HSC in the next few days.

Thanks to everyone who played in Round 7 of the Astrocade High Score Club. Gorf is considered quite a classic arcade game-- I think that we'll all enjoy it much more than the prototype that we played this round.  I've played Gorf on many different systems over the years, but I only semi-recently played it on real arcade hardware. It will be fun to play the arcade version of the game (even if only under emulation), plus there will be some incentives to play Gorf on other platforms like the Colecovision, Atari 2600/5200, Commodore 64 and Atari 8-Bit computers.

Adam



#18 ballyalley OFFLINE  

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Posted Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:43 PM

I have posted Round 8 of the Astrocade High Score Club.  The two games are:

  1. Gorf
  2. Nuke the #%@$*&!

Please ignore the round number in the post's title.  I accidentally named it round 7 again, and I can't change it.  You can view the new round here:

 

http://atariage.com/...-gorf-nuke-the/

 

Come join us and play Gorf, a classic arcade game from 1981, and a strange sort-of-non-game, also by Jay Fenton, for "AstroBASIC."

 

Adam



#19 ranger_lennier OFFLINE  

ranger_lennier

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Posted Thu Jul 20, 2017 6:42 PM

 

When my son got this game for the Wii, I could never play it that well.  I just couldn't get the hang on the control scheme.  In fact, I never could quite grasp the Wii's controller, but some people loved that systems control method.  My son's friend got the Gamecube version of Twilight Princess.  It seems to me that it probably played better, but I've not experience with that version of the game.

 

Adam

 

In fairness to Nintendo, there is a sort of visceral feeling to swinging the controller to swing your sword, even using a button would have been more precise. When they used Wii Motion Plus for Zelda: Skyward Sword, it was more interesting because the game actually reflected the angle you swung at, rather than just replacing a button.

 

Feel free add anything I posted in the thread to the website.





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