Season 2, Round 10 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, September 3, 2017 at 10pm MST. The main game is a prototype cartridge called Bowling. The BASIC bonus game is called Ten Pins by Esoterica.
Bowling is a prototype game that first became available for purchase in 1985 or 1986 as a 4KB cartridge. Bowling, which was to be released by Astrocade Inc. in about 1982, was supposed to be part of the Sports Series. It would have been cartridge #3006. The programmer(s) of this game are unknown.
Here is the cartridge's main menu:
Here are three screenshots from Bowling:
Here is what the Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ (version 1.82) says about this game:
"This cartridge, though never finished, is playable; it contains two games: "Regulation" and "Flash." It was created by Astrocade, Inc., but was never released. New Image released it in cartridge format in 1985 (between forty and fifty were made). Mike White owns the original prototype (the only one known to exist)."
The Bowling cartridge ROM image (called "bowling.bin") is part of this archive:
The prototype, Bowling, is a one-of-a-kind cartridge. Copies of it were made in the mid-80s until (probably) the early 2000s, therefore, it's possible, though not probable, to get your hands on an actual cartridge. If you don't have it, then it is included on, I think, every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. Bowling does require the knob, but it doesn't require precise control with it, so it should run okay using the MAME Astrocade emulator with proper setup. I suggest using an X-Box 360 controller for the knob, as this work well.
In about 1981 or 1982, Astrocade, Inc. published a 34-page color game catalog of the cartridges available for the Bally Astrocade. The catalog was called "The Professional Arcade: More Games... More Fun... and More to Come..." Among the 28 cartridges showcased in the catalog, five were never released: Bowling, Creative Crayon, Conan the Barbarian, Music Maker, and Soccer. The catalog listing for Bowling looked like this:
Here is the game description for Bowling from this catalog:
"It's like actually being at the alley. The game has all of the action and sounds of the real thing. Direct your ball with as much hook as you want. Make strikes, spares-- but watch out for splits and gutter balls! Keeps score according to official rules. Try your hand at a perfect game! Can be played alone or by up to 4 players."
In June of 1982, Bally released a press release for Bowling that looked like this:
The pdf of the press release is here:
I've OCRed the press release for Bowling. It says:
"For Release June 6, 1982 ---
"Astrocade unveils bowling video game cartridge at CES
"CHICAGO-Astrocade, Inc. (formerly Astrovision, Inc.) unveiled its BOWLING video game cartridge at the Consumer Electronics Show here today.
"BOWLING makes you feel like you're actually in a bowling alley. You can aim, control hooks, and watch the exciting pin action as the ball hits the pins with a bang. BOWLING keeps a running score on strikes, spares, and pins.
"With a game variation called "flash bowling," you can also rack up bonus points by rolling over a moving dot, as in the popular commercial bowling machines.
"BOWLING can be played only on the Astrocade home video game. It will be available this Fall at Astrocade dealers, priced at $29.95."
Of course, since Bowling wasn't released, there is no official box. That didn't stop an enterprising go-getter with quite some artistic talent to create an "official" box for Bowling over on Hyperspin-fe.com. Thanks to "Avar" in the AtariAge forums, and member of the HyperSpin dev team, for sharing this picture with me (note, he didn't create it; I don't know who did).
This is what the Bowling box may have looked like had it been released in 1982:
I don't have a picture of the Bowling cartridge copy that was released by Michael White starting in the mid-80s. The cartridge's label was probably based on this screenshot that Michael printed to his printer (that was hooked-up to his Astrocade). I think that this label was probably originally printed in color:
There is no manual for Bowling. Michael White did write some basic instructions for both versions of Bowling included on the cartridge ("regular" and "Flash"), I retyped these simple instructions back in 2001. Here they are:
1. Insert cartridge and press [RESET]
2. Choose #1 or #2 (from keypad or hand controller#1)
3. Set difficulty level (from keypad or hand controller#1)
4. Input number of players (1 to 4)
- Moving the joystick up or down positions the ball.
- Moving the joystick left or right aims the ball by moving the sight marker. The ball will roll straight towards (and over) it.
- Turning the knob puts a left hook on the ball (green marker below). The hook increases as the marker moves to the right. Sorry, there is no left hook for you left-handers.
- Pulling the trigger rolls the ball. Players use individual hand controls.
FLASHING BOWLING works the same as FLASH-O-MATIC that can be seen on the coin-op "Shuffle-Alleys" found in bars and taverns.
- The "Flasher" gives strike and spare awards by its location.
- When the ball touches a pin the flash stops strobing. It does not resume on the second throw either (no DUAL FLASH).
- The highest scores are given by "freezing" the flasher at "dead center." The center of the alley gives 700 for a strike and 350 for a spare.
If you can get any kind of score out of the upper three difficulties you are truly ready to BOWL FOR DOLLARS!!
Even with Michael's directions, I'm not exactly how to keep track of this game's score, or even how close the prototype Bowling cartridge is to being complete.
Here is a 30-second YouTube video (posted by "FunCade 64") that shows the basic gameplay of Bowling:
Difficulty level: Intermediate
Regular Bowling (Scoring)
Up to eight points will be awarded for playing "Regular Bowling." We're playing for the highest score. A perfect game should be 300 points.
Flash Bowling (Scoring)
I don't understand "Flash Bowling," nor have I played the mechanical versions of this game (although, I think I have seen them before). For this reason, "Flash Bowling" is being treated as sort of a bonus game. If you play "Flash Bowling," then you get one point. If you play it correctly (however that gets done), then you'll earn two points. It's okay if one person explains how to play "Flash Bowling" and then we all pile on and play it correctly.
Since Bowling is a prototype, it may be that all functions of the game don't work properly (which may just add to the fun-- whoopee!). If we discover some issues with this game, or if it's just not fun, then I may change the scoring to make this round more enjoyable.
This round's BASIC bonus game is a rather nice-looking, first-perspective bowling game called Ten Pins. The "AstroBASIC" version of Ten Pins was released by Esoterica on Tape 5 with Garbersville in 1982. Ten Pins is "an exciting game of bowling complete with hook ball, gutter balls, AMF style pinsetter and every spare situation found in real bowling."
Here are a few pictures of Ten Pins:
For this round's bonus game, I had originally picked Bowl by Edge Software. After trying it, I realized it is a two-player-only game. I needed to choose another game, so special thanks to Paul for recommending his favorite Astrocade BASIC pinball game, Ten Pins.
The cassette tape that contains Ten Pins looks like this:
The Box for Ten Pins looks like this:
The instructions for Ten Pins are here:
I'm not pleased with how the instructions for Ten Pins are laid out, so I OCRed them, reformatted and simplified them:
Ten Pins Instructions
Ten Pins from Esoterica is a realistic, fun game of bowling complete with strikes, spares, hooks, and even gutter balls, for 1 to 4 players.
To load the game, type:
- After the game load, you will see N: Now, input the number of players directly from key pad.
- Line the ball up by moving the joystick to the right or left.
- To throw a fast ball move the joystick forward, to throw a slow ball pull the joystick back.
- After the ball has been released you can hook the ball by moving the joystick to the right or left---Once for a moderate hook, twice for a sharp one. DO NOT HOOK THE BALL TOO SOON!
The computer will keep accurate score for all players. Some practice may be required before scores over 200 are achieved.
You can download the "AstroBASIC," 2000-baud version of Ten Pins here:
Ten Pins is just one of many BASIC bowling games released on the Astrocade system. Not only are there plenty of bowling games for the Astorcade, but there are BASIC programs written to keep track of your really bowling league scores. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, at least by Astrocade standards, the world seemed crazy for bowling!
The world of the Astrocade wasn't the only corner of the computer world that loved bowling. In about 1984, on my Commodore 64, I used to play a bowling game written in BASIC. It was given to me on a disk by a neighbor and, to me, was called "Bowling." I thought that I would try to find it today. To my surprise, I found it rather quickly. The game is actually called Bowling Champ by Joseph Ganci. It appeared in the December 1983 issue of Compute's Gazette. I had no idea that this was a type-in magazine listing! Bowling Champ looks very similar to the Astrocade game Bowl by Edge Software (the game we almost played this round). Here is a screenshot of the C64 game that I just made:
Compute! Publications had pretty high standards. I just found the issue that Bowling Champ first appeared in. Check out this cool artwork that accompanied the game when it was published:
There is nothing like this artwork in the Astrocade newsletters; that's too bad.
In comparison to this simple Commodore 64 game, Ten Pins seems a little more sophisticated, but I guess I won't know for sure until I play it during this round.
There are many bonus points available this round for both games.
- Bowling - Video Review - (1 Point) - Although I found examples of gameplay footage for this cartridge, I couldn't find any reviews. Anyone who makes a video review of Bowling will get a bonus point.
- Bowling - Multiplayer Game - (1 Point) - If you play a game with more than one person, than you'll get a bonus point.[/i]
- Bowling - Perfect Game - (1 Point) - If anyone manages a perfect game (300 points), then you'll get a bonus point. This seems really hard, but there may be a trick to it that makes it easy to do.[/i]
- Bowling - Documenting Bogs - (1 Point) - Since this game is a prototype, there may be some bugs in it. If anyone find any problems, and documents them, then you'll earn one bonus point. Just in case there are dozens of bugs, you can only earn one bonus point no matter how matter bugs are found.
- Ten Pins - Playing Ten Pins - (1 Point) - Yes, just for loading this game and giving it a quick in AstroBASIC will earn one point.
- Ten Pins - Highest Score - (1 Point) - The maximum points that can be earned are, of course, 300. Unlike bowling, there is no additional bonus for a perfect game of Ten Pins.
- Ten Pins - Video Review - (1 Point) - Anyone who makes a video review of Ten Pins will get a bonus point.
For such a late game in the Astrocade's history (1982), Bowling looks like it could have been released in 1978. Maybe Astrocade, Inc. didn't publish Bowling because it looked rather poor for the time. Or maybe its just not finished. I'm curious if anyone can figure-out a way to get the most out of this game. For instance, is it possible that "Flash Bowling" is more fun than the regular version of this game?
I was pretty shocked to see Ten Pins when it first loaded; it looks really good for a BASIC game. I'm surprised that this wasn't released under a title such as "Bowling 3D" to capitalize on the game's first-person-like effect. Ten Pins has two separate loads, so I suspect that it may be using some machine language graphic routines, but I'm not sure.
This round my strain us; I'm not sure I'm prepared to play one bowling game, let along two of them. However, this competition may make this round more fun than I expect. Please post scores early, as this will give us some scores to play against.
I'll be gone for some key days during this round, including the weekend that this round ends. If it seems that it is taking me a little while to wrap-up Round 10 once it's over, you can be sure that I'll get to it when I can at the beginning of the next week.