Okay, I've got it all figured out and here's the update!
Robot Zed is going to use 64K SuperChip.
This will allow me to keep the current playfield resolution of 22 lines (4x4 even playfield blocks).
I needed the 64K, which is why I made the jump.
Of course this means that I won't have multiple enemies on the screen at one time, but I'm okay with that because of the changes I made and it won't murder my CPU cycles trying to swap a lot of data between hardware.
Also the SuperChip option not only gives me the higher resolution, but also gives me more RAM to play with, which is a sweet, sweet thing.
The downgrade is, only one enemy on the screen at the same time, which actually works well with this new iteration. Also the sprites are back to their single color and double row heights (I wanted multi color playfield, background, with keeping at least one missile for the enemy's fire).
Now, with that, and Kevin I think you'll like this, I decided to bring back getting different powers from the enemies you defeat. This will make the game mechanics a lot like the original iteration of the game.
With this resolution, using a 256 byte data table (It's going to scroll two ways so I have to use the limited 8-bit data table). I can get almost 3 screens tall. Each line is 4 bytes of data. So 22x4=88 bytes per screen. Well 88x3 is a little more than 256, so I can do 20 for the top screen and 22 for the other two.
Now, each level is going to have this TIMES 4 screens wide. So 12 screens in total per level. Starting point and ending point are always random, keeping that Rogue Like element. Never the same game twice. In fact, I figured out all my configurations:
I got 54. So, does that mean there's only 54 possible levels? NOPE. There are also themes per row!
Each level you can divide into 3 rows. There are multiple possible themes that can be applied.
Maybe the top row will be the base theme, so they are rooms. Whatever the first row gets assigned will effect what the next two rows will be.
So there could be a stage that's all a building, or a building with a basement. Maybe it's a cavern stage, or a cavern stage with a lava bottom, or it's an outside stage with a lake at the bottom, etc. Lots of possibilities for level themes, especially when you divide it up by 3's. And each theme can have differently designed screen levels each as well (take advantage of that 64K space), so the game can be virtually different every time you play. And I would like to have at least 8 different levels, and boss battles as well. Also back is the soundtrack of course.
I know CDF is making strides, but I want to get this done, and this seems to be the way to go. In the future, I may be able to do something cool with CDF.
So, that's where I'm at right now with Zed, thought I would let you guys in!