Season 1, Round 4 of the Arcadia 2001/MPT-03 High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, November 19, 2017 at 10pm MST (aka Monday, 2am GMT). The game being played this round is Funky Fish, an unreleased game (in the United States) for the Emerson Arcadia 2001. Funky Fish is a home port of a hard-to-find arcade game released in 1981 by Sun Electronics.
I was able to get high resolution scans of the Funky Fish box, manual, cartridge and overlays for the Italian GiG Electronics Leonardo game system (a member of the Arcadia family), so that's what I'm presenting here. Special thanks to Mark Canon for scanning his own material for this rare game.
Funky Fish was also released for Monaco Leisure's Tunix Home Arcade (New Zealand), Schmid TVG-2000 (Germany) and possibly also for a Hanimex system (but I'm not sure exactly for which console or country). Leonardo's cartridge #23, Funky Fish was also supposed to be released for the Emerson Arcadia 2001 game system as cartridge #4, but the game remained unreleased in America.
Here is a screenshot of Funky Fish being played on an NTSC Emerson Arcadia console:
Here is a three minute YouTube video of Funky Fish being played by "GuiasInfojuegos." He published this on March 3, 2013:
Here is the box for Funky Fish:
Here is the cartridge for the Leonardo version of Funky Fish:
Here are the overlays for Funky Fish:
Sometime in the (I think) early 2000s, AtariAge.com released an Atari 2600 version of Funky Fish that had been found in prototype form. It had been programmed in 1983. Here are the front and back of the Atari 2600 release of Funky Fish:
Funky Fish - Quick-Play Rules
Play Funky Fish for high score on real hardware (PAL, NTSC, and any Arcadia family systems) or use the WinArcadia or MAME emulator. Other than for a two-player game, Funky Fish has no gameplay options.
Visit the Emerson Arcadia 2001 Central website for cartridge images and Arcadia emulators:
Here is a direct link to the Arcadia 2001 ROM images ("FunkyFish.bin" is the filename for Funky Fish):
Post pictures of your Funky Fish high scores here. Use the right-hand controller to play the game. The fire button, or any button on the gamepad, shoots your weapon. You can "freeze" (pause) the game by pressing the bottom-most button on the left-hand column of keys on the left controller. You can "un-freeze" the game by pressing the bottom-most button on the right-hand column.
Funky Fish - General Overview
I'm using Ward Shrake's "Director's Cut" of his Arcadia 2001 section of the Digital Press Collector's Guide 7 (published in August 2002) for most of the information that is in this section.
Funky Fish - 8k cart. 1983. Tunix #28. Licensed port of an obscure arcade game. Emerson catalogs from 5/82 and 7/82 say this game was "coming soon" but the game was never released in the USA. It was released by a handful of companies in non-U.S. markets. Those catalogs said; "Copyright 1981 Sun Electronics Corporation, Licensed by Tehkan International Corporation". The Tunix cart we archived came in long cart form, with a front label similar to the catalog's artwork. There may or may not be a rear label; Tunix carts in general were never very consistent from batch to batch. There is a hidden message found inside the program at $0FBB - 0FFB: "GAME COPYRIGHT 1983 UA LTD; GRAPHICS COPYRIGHT 1983 CHRIS CAPENER". Michael Davidson tracked Mr. Capener down, and we managed to ask him a few questions just before press time. He says that he wrote this game on contract with "UA Limited". He had never programmed that console before. He was given a Signetics development system, some manuals, and some example programming routines. He had three months to learn how to program the console, and to write the game from scratch. He says he wrote all of the game; he was not sure why the hidden message was worded like it was. LANDMARK: This game was later ported over to the Atari 2600 game system. We know this because Bill Esquivel, an Atari 2600 collector, found a 2600 cart with this title on its label. He said in a May 17, 1998 Usenet post on "rec.games.video.classic" that the 2600 game's title screen says "funky fish, round 1, lic tehkan corp 1983 ua ltd." See also "Cat Trax" and "Pleaides" for more intriguing info on other games ported over from the Arcadia to the 2600 in 1983 by UA Limited. Chris Capener did not know anything about this port; we asked.
High quality scans of the Funky Fish box, manual, and cartridge are here:
For complete information about this game, visit the above link. I've included the important points form the manual here:
Cart #23 for the Leonardo
Video Game Instructions
Introducing Funky Fish
Don't be fooled -- at first glance Funky Fish may look like an innocuous creature from an uneventful environment, but look closer! Beneath the calm surface of the water a determined power struggle is in progress!
His underwater world is populated with fascinating organisms -- and all of them can paralyze him at a touch! Naturally, Funky Fish has to be armed to survive in this ecosystem, and he is -- he can spit a poisonous dart at will with deadly accuracy. The cast in this submarine drama reads like a biology lesson, but it's much more exciting than that! Funky Fish vies with pink Asymetra and blue Photogyra for water space, but don't worry -- you don't have to remember the names, just remember that they're deadly!
Now you no longer need be merely an observer outside the fish tank, with Funky Fish you can actually participate in the action! Your family and friends are going to enjoy the opportunity of being underwater without a bulky oxygen tank, too! It doesn't take long to become an expert, and when you are you can chalk up some really big points. Just read the instruction booklet and then have fun being in the swim!
How to Play
Funky Fish begins the conquest for mastery of the tank's ecosystem in the middle of five underwater sectors, the outside two of which are uninhabited in Round 1 only. You can see which sector you're in by watching the pink indicator in the top right of your screen -- white means occupied and blue means empty.
OK Funky -- start swimming! You're in the sector controlled by the blue Binaria species. Listen and you'll hear the noise of the adult Binaria pulsating as she releases lethal Microns into the water.
You can see that Funky has no ears, but he can hear vibrations in the water through his sensitive skin.
Spear those little Microns with your poisonous dart and eat them when they become cherries! You have to be agile and avoid contact with any of the organisms, because with one touch your flesh shrivels and only your skeleton remains!
After Funky devours six Binaria Microns, the adult Binaria transforms into a single cell containing a high concentration of energy. Swim in immediately and absorb energy -- watch it register on the horizontal indicator at the top left of the screen. Once your energy is renewed you start scoring for as long as the Binaria energy countdown lasts. Fix your beady eye on the countdown in the top middle of the screen and watch your score take off as soon as your energy is replenished!
Now you're full of pep for the next sector! You can go either way -- let's go right for now, and encounter the pink Asymmetra. Don't forget that all organisms are lethal, even though they look so cute. Do the same to the Asymmetra as you did to the Binaria, and when you see the energy cell, go for it -- because if you run out of energy you lose a fish!
If you've survived so far, well done! Now swim to the next sector, which is back to the left, and prey upon the pink Protozon Microns in the same manner.
If you make it through Round 1, the other six Rounds have an added challenge. Poisonous pink seahorses float up from the depths at random -- so stay alert! All the following Rounds have all five sectors occupied with organisms, and the two extra ones are the blue Photogyra in the far right area and the blue Cytozoa in the far left! Have a look at the table under "Variations of the Game" for more data, because the odds change in each Round as the level of difficulty increases.
So now you know what to do, you can concentrate on maximizing your score and have a lot of fun in the process!
Variations of the Game
Funky Fish can be played with one or two players at a time. The bottom line of the initial display tells you which version is in operation, and can be changed by pressing the SELECT button.
One Player Game
Use the right-hand controller for moving Funky Fish around. The present score is on the second from top line on the right hand side of your screen, and the Hi-score is displayed on the left side.
Two Player Game
Each player must complete the Round in turn before you can progress to the next one.
The second from top line on your screen displays the scores of both players simultaneously. A small fish next to either of the scores will indicate who the current player is. The number of fish remaining for each player is shown on each side of the top line on your screen.
In both versions of Funky Fish, the area between the scores shows the number of remaining Microns of the species just eaten. When an adult organism transforms into an energy cell, its countdown will take the place of the number of Microns until it reaches 0.
The table below will outline variations in the game as the Rounds progress -- not quite as easy as you thought, is it?
Round Number of Adult Number of Speed of
Organisms Microns Microns
1 3 6 x 1
2 5 6 x 1
3 5 8 x 1
4 5 10 x 1
5 5 10 x 1.33
6 5 10 x 2
7 5 10 x 4
Don't forget the deadly sea-horses from Round 2 onwards!
Starting the Game
- Press START and the game begins.
- If you want to see a demonstration of the game, press START and wait. After about ten seconds the Demo Mode will automatically take over and shows an example of Round 2 action, with Funky Fish firing darts at random. To stop the Demo Mode press RESET.
- For "Freeze" press "Clear" and for "Unfreeze" press "Enter" on the left hand controller, or refer to the overlay provided for the controller.
This is either a one-player or a two-player game. Press select to choose which game while the initial display shows on the screen. For one-player game use right-hand controller only.
Using the Controllers
Press the disc or move the joystick in the direction in which you want Funky Fish to swim. For instance, move it to the left if you want Funky Fish to swim to the left, or right for right, up for up and down for down.
Press any button the controller, including the red ones, and Funky will spit his deadly dart. He has a limitless supply of darts.
Freezing the Game
Rrrrrring -- rrrrring! Rrrrrring -- rrrrring! Oh no -- that's the telephone ringing right in the middle of a game! Don't worry, Funky Fish has a unique feature -- just press FREEZE (CLEAR) on your left hand controller and the game stops instantaneously and waits for you to deal with the interruption. When you're ready again press UNFREEZE (ENTER) on your left hand controller and the action and sound continues where you left off.
If necessary you can also reduce the volume on your TV until it's time for you to play again, but don't forget to turn it back on!
The computer will score for you automatically, and retain the highest score in its memory bank for you or your friends to challenge in the one-player game. To keep the highest score on the screen, just press the START button for the next game. If you press the RESET button all scores will be wiped out.
If you can get your score up to 30,000 a bonus fish is awarded.
Now see what the Microns are worth:
Round Points for Each Micron
Tips to Keep Funky Fish in the Swim
The quicker Funky can spear and eat the Microns the better -- he uses up less energy and then has more time to increase his score while in the energy cell.
Watch out -- sometimes those crafty organisms release two Microns close together! Shoot twice before getting too near in case you miss one and it wipes you out!
Eat up the cherries as fast as you can -- occasionally they just disappear!
While in the energy cell keep a lookout for seahorses -- you're still fair game as far as they're concerned!
Interview with Chris Capener, Programmer of Funky Fish
Ward Shrake posted this "interview" with Chris Capener, the programmer of Funky Fish, to the Arcadia Yahoo group on November 28, 2002. This is the entire text version of the interview, including Ward's introduction and comments.
The following is an edited interview with Chris Capener, who (among other cool things) programmed the game "Funky Fish" for the Arcadia 2001 family of consoles. The interview was originally conducted in April 2002 by two people (Ward Shrake and Michael Davidson) across multiple back-and-forth e-mails, making it necessary to edit the raw texts for clarity, space and orderly sequence, to become the interview below.
All of Mr. Capener's comments are included here; nothing was held back if it had anything to do with the Arcadia 2001's history. To keep this text on-topic as much as possible, much of the back-story about the Arcadia 2001 console group's history was intentionally left out. Interested readers can read up on that through other sources, such as the recently printed book -- the "Digital Press Collectors Guide" (version seven) -- or on the "Yahoo! Groups" message boards where we hobbyist game researchers meet.
Please note: often enough, it has been this game researcher's experience that a person's memory of long-ago events may at times be partially inaccurate, even if they had correct information to begin with, which is not always the case. I therefore mildly caution readers to take this interview as a good starting point for continued research, and not as finished "Gospel". For instance, Mr. Capener once says that "UA Limited" may have been a "contract manufacturer for Emerson". While UAL may have indeed been a contractor of some sorts, recent research makes it appear unlikely that Emerson was in charge of much of anything. Emerson was a (rather late) licensee in the United States, and that appears to be all. Philips, Signetics, and UA Limited were really the decision-making companies behind the global spread of this console and its game carts. But they may all have allowed or encouraged misleading information by various global licensees, making modern research difficult even when you are talking to a person like Chris Capener who helped write part of the console group's game software library.
Enjoy the interview! We continue to be grateful to Mr. Capener for talking to us.
-- Ward Shrake, November 2002 --
[Matt Reichert acquired an original copy of the hard-to-find cartridge game called "Funky Fish," made by Tunix of New Zealand for their local version of the Arcadia 2001 game console. He graciously loaned it to Ward Shrake for archiving purposes. Ward dumped the game's ROM image, then as is his habit, he looked through the ROM code for any hidden ASCII text messages. Such a message was found; it reads exactly as follows.]
"GAME COPYRIGHT 1983 UA LTD; GRAPHICS COPYRIGHT 1983 CHRIS CAPENER".
[Ward Shrake then passed this information to a small group of amateur video game history researchers he knew from the Internet. Michael Davidson then set out to see if he could track this named individual down, using the Google search engine and other resources. When Michael had successfully located the correct individual, he asked some brief initial questions. Mr. Capener's full response to Michael is as follows.]
"Yes, I worked on Funky Fish and Jumpman Jr. (ColecoVision). UA Limited was a Hong Kong based company. I think they did OEM electronics manufacturing for various companies. So, I believe they were the contract manufacturer for Emerson. Funky Fish was the reason I first came to Silicon Valley. I had a three month contract to write the game for the Arcadia console. I took a leave of absence from my current job and moved out to the San Jose, CA area. During that time I met a programmer at StarPath and took a job there when Funky Fish was done. StarPath was later bought out by Epyx, where I ported Jumpman Jr. from the Commodore to Colecovision. All these games were written in assembly language. So porting meant playing it on one console and then writing the code and re-creating the graphics for the target system. Once I was here in Silicon Valley, I never went back."
[Feeling he was not entirely sure what questions to ask next, Michael then turned the interview over to Ward. Ward introduced himself to Mr. Capener, noting that he was then writing the Arcadia 2001 section of the "Digital Press Collectors Guide" and would like to include whatever information he could get, in version seven of that printed book. The press deadline for that version was just a few weeks away, so Ward attempted to prioritize his questions and keep them relatively light. Ward first asked about the source materials that were supplied to Mr. Capener, during the conversion process from an original arcade game, to a cartridge game that would run on a home gaming console.]
"This goes back a long time. I remember having the arcade game and some notes to work from."
[Ward then asked about the specific hiring process, explaining that we researchers have only a very limited amount of knowledge about the currently mysterious "UA Limited" company, who seem to have been responsible for much of the Arcadia's game library.]
"A former college roommate was related to an officer (president?) of UA. He approached me with the contract offer."
[When asked about the hardware and software tools and training materials that were made available for writing the game, Mr. Capener responded as follows.]
"I had a development system from Signetics with manuals for the processor and chipset of the console. I did not have contact with any other programmers. It was pretty much learn as you go. I believe that some utility routines and sample code came with the development system."
[Figuring it was a long-shot but worth asking anyway, Ward asked if Mr. Capener knew anything about the overall licensing process itself, as it applied to other UAL games. Also, if he knew anything about the three games - Funky Fish, Cat Trax, and Pleiades -- that were later ported by UAL to the rival Atari 2600 machine, sometime during 1983.]
"Sorry, I have no information on licensing or other ports of the games."
[Ward asked for a clarification on the game ROM's hidden ASCII text message.]
"I am not sure why the copyright is stated the way it is. Certainly the graphics had to be re-interpreted for the different resolution of the Arcadia. Perhaps since this was a port, it was felt that the overall copyright covering the game concept and game play should remain with UA. But I do know that I was the only one working on the port and that I did also write the code. (Except for the supplied utility routines.)"
[Ward asked for a more specific date of creation, since most of the games for this home console were done in either 1982 or 1983, making a detailed timeline hard to create.]
"As far as I can reconstruct, the port was done in the late summer/early fall of 1982."
[Ward then asked for clarification on the actual hardware and/or software that made up the "development system from Signetics" mentioned above, but never got an answer on that. He was not overly surprised at its absence, given the way information about this console group was originally handled by those who were behind making it all. It seems that these secretive people-in-charge felt that "compartmentalization" was often a wise policy? In other words, sub-contractors or other non-insiders were rarely given much more information than they each really needed. Each separate outsider we meet seems to have been given a few pieces of the global puzzle, but they seldom had more. Some may be surprised, when they find out what consoles are now proven to be related to others, or to hear how widely these consoles managed to spread, globally. Modern researchers are only piecing things together as well as we have, because the Internet makes Global information-sharing much easier than it once was. In any case, at this point Ward felt that he ran a real risk of being a nuisance if he kept questioning Mr. Capener much longer. The book's press deadline was also rapidly approaching, so Ward decided to just leave Mr. Capener alone for awhile. Later, if and when we are able to uncover more raw information from other sources, maybe we will have additional good questions to ask? For now, it seems we're better off saving up for a "Round Two" when we have run out of sources like outside contractors to find more puzzle pieces. It is this author's opinion that until we compare notes from many such sources, we won't have enough new information ourselves, to be able to ask well-educated questions. An example of this is the three ported games that went to the rival Atari 2600 in 1983. It is still a mystery how "Cat Trax" ended up being included on an overseas, perhaps Atari-made "2600 Jr." console, which had 128 games built into it from the factory. The true relationships between the Elektor computer, the Interton VC-4000, and the Arcadia console groups are still cloudy, since people that worked on one machine rarely saw the others, thereby making things like identifying a "development system" difficult at best. So Ward now thanked Mr. Capener again for his time and answers, and left him alone.]
End of interview
Funky Fish Gameplay Options
Funky Fish has no gameplay options. Play it in either one or two player mode. Just insert the cart, turn on the system and press the Start button and you're ready to go. It doesn't get any easier than that!
Funky Fish (Scoring)
We are playing for the highest score. 10 points are awarded for first place, 9 for second, 8 for third, etc.
Funky Fish (Bonus Points):
There are quite a few ways to earn bonus points this round:
Funky Fish - Video Review - (1 Point) - I did find gameplay footage of this game, but I couldn't find any video reviews. Anyone who makes a video review of Funky Fish will get a bonus point.
Funky Fish - Documenting Bugs - (1 Point) - Arcadia games can be flaky. 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.
Funky Fish - Backstory - (1 Point) - Funky Fish, as presented in the manual for the Leonardo version of the game, has plenty of background material already provided. Remember when manuals weren't readily available on the Internet? Then we had to figure-out the games for ourselves and come up with our own ideas for why we were supposed to be doing. What's the deal with Funky Fish? According to you, what's his motivation?
Funky Fish - Atari 2600 Version - (1 Point) - Play the Atari 2600 version of this game and earn a bonus point.
Funky Fish - Arcade Version - (1 Point) - Play the arcade version of Funky Fish and earn a bonus point.
Though I have played Funky Fish before, I'm not overly familiar with it. During this round I look forward to learning its ins and outs. I'm also going to compare it to the Arcade version and to the 2600 home port. We didn't get any players for round three of the HSC from AtariAge.com, but I'm hoping that this round attracts a few additional players/competitors. Are you one of them?
As always, as you play Funky Fish, please post pictures of your scores as the round progresses. Not only does this help you not forget to play the game, but it gives other player's a challenge to try to beat your score.
If you've not played in a round before now, then now's the time to join in! Have a fun fourth round, everyone... and don't be worried if this is your first round of play. We've all got to start somewhere, right?