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Everything posted by awhite2600

  1. Sorry that I am late to this thread. I was part of the group at The Personal Computer Museum when the original game was discovered. I was involved with the limited run of the reproductions. I designed the repro label based on the original label and also designed the repro box. I'd like to provide my input as I am one of the people with the most information about this game. I'll put everything in point form to make it easier to read. Until the OP discovered his copy, there were 5 copies known to exist: The prototype copy. This was the first copy donated to the museum. I am not sure of the exact origin. It was given to one of the museum volunteers who then brought it to the museum. This copy DOES work. The gameplay has some bugs and the music is different. There were plans to dump the ROM and make it available. A copy donated to the museum by Herman Quast, the original programmer. This is the copy that was dumped and used to make the reproductions. A copy that Herman kept. I contacted Herman fairly recently to let him know that he is in possession of a very rare copy of his game. A copy obtained by one of the museum volunteers from an owner in Kitchener, Ontario. This copy was also donated to the museum. A copy owned by a woman in Hamilton. A video showing this copy was posted on YouTube but seems to have been removed. I was supposed to meet this woman to "authenticate" her copy. Due to the illness of a family member I was not able to do so when scheduled. I contacted the woman again about a year ago. She indicated that she still had the game but did not wish to sell it. I was asked not to contact her again. Syd Bolton refused to sell any of the three copies owned by the museum. (One prototype, two released versions.) The museum is currently closed due to Syd's untimely death. The owners of Skill Screen Games provided some information when the first copies were rediscovered. They all wanted to distance themselves from the experience due to the fact that the game was a large money loss for the company. We were told that a box and manual were produced for the game. No copies of either are known to exist. The molds to produce the cartridge shells were last seen, wrapped in protective paper, at the parent company of Skill Screen games. If anyone has any questions, please ask in this thread or via PM.
  2. As a prefix, my family owned an Intellivision in the early '80s. I still have the system and *most* of the games with boxes, manuals and overlays. I didn't start collecting for other systems until I started working full time in the late '80s and had cash for my hobby. What I would change: I wouldn't have allowed a buddy to borrow 5 or 6 of my Intellivision games. I never saw them again. There is at least one (Safecracker) that I have yet to replace. I would have picked up 2600 games when they were clearing them out for $1.00 each after the crash. I would have kept the boxes, inserts and instructions for the various handheld games that I still own. I would have checked out the Value Village next to where my wife worked in the mid-'90s. At the time I just thought it was a junky clothing store. Years later I had many amazing finds at VV.
  3. Extra Terrestrials was literally sold door-to-door to consumers in the area where it was created.
  4. It's possible to race the beam on other systems. It's common for Demoscene and some newer games on systems like the C64 and Vic-20 to create effects that "normal" programming can't accomplish.
  5. I suspect it's some sort of pirate / dev cart. A couple of thoughts... You may need to jumper some of the pins together to get it to work. The internal EPROM may be either corrupt (due to age) or have been removed. Can you open the art and provide clear pics of the circuit board? That might help us to offer some better advice.
  6. I collect for lots of systems. I'm not a super serious collector. Virtually everything I have was obtained in the wild. I have close to 300 Atari 2600 carts. The only duplicates are a couple of label variations. I've been collecting since the '80s. I think I hit a point around the 150 to 200 mark on the 2600 where it became more difficulty to find something I needed from the common stuff that's out there. That's also when I found that I went from the $2 to $5 per cart up to $10+ per cart. Not sure if this answers the OP's original question. Just my own personal view.
  7. That won't happen with me. My 22 year old son appreciates my collection and is very familiar with classic gaming. He collects too, but mostly from the PS1 / N64 era and up. He has promised to take good care of my collection when I'm gone.
  8. The question as posted is very open ended. There are no right or wrong answers. You can apply more questions to the original question. The most advanced game EVER? The most advanced game based on the original limitations of the 2600 as designed - 4K ROM, no extra RAM or chips? The most advanced game using only bankswitched ROM? The most advanced game using more than 4K ROM and extra RAM? The most advanced game using custom chips, like Pitfall II? The most advanced game using the ARM processor technology found in the Harmony? Personally, I'd put some of the original Activision games in the 4K ROM category. For expanded ROM, there's things like Solaris (did it use Superchip RAM too) or even the recent 8K Pac-Man homebrew. Custom chips, Pitfall II was really the only example. For the ARM technology and the new programming techniques, Draconian, the work in progress Mappy, ...the list goes on. I suspect that the most advanced game ever is still to come. Every year I'm amazed at what the talented homebrew coders are able to squeeze out of the lowly 2600.
  9. There's a config file on the SD card that lets you select the device number. You can also select different ROM files (ie Jiffy DOS). I doubt that it can emulate more than one drive. The author has stated that it was tough getting the timing to work for a single drive. He had to use bare metal programming (no Linux) to keep the timing tight enough. I guess you could use multiple Pis to emulate more than one drive.
  10. As an old C64 guy I feel silly asking this question, but it's been bugging me ever since I read about Pi1541. I know that there are NTSC and PAL C64s with slightly different clock speeds and timing. Are there different variations of the 1541 to match the timing of the C64? If so, does Pi1541 support both? I remember some fastloaders and copy protections were region specific, but this may be related to timing on the C64 side rather than the 1541 side.
  11. Back in the day, I used to explain to "PC people" that the processor in my Amiga 1000 was similar to an 8 MHz 386sx. Of course the Amiga was more capable in the areas of graphics and sound, but that was the easiest way to "dumb it down".
  12. Remember, these plug and play systems are marketed at the average consumer, not retro gaming geeks like us. You need a device that would sell in large numbers to keep the per unit cost low. Selling a generic device with an SD card slot would be a nightmare. Most people would be clueless on how to download ROMs and put them on an SD card correctly. The end result would be lots of returns - which retailers don't want. There's also the legal issue of selling a device that basically says, "use me to pirate old games". An alternative might be a device with licensed content for multiple platforms. The various emulators would be built in. Joe Consumer could literally plug and play. Include an SD slot with simple details for the retro enthusiast. The only remaining catch is including a controller that would work with all supported platforms.
  13. A bit of follow up... I found an email address for Herman Quast from our correspondence with him a few years ago. I decided to contact him one more time to see if he could answer any of the questions regarding when the game was first sold and how many copies were sold. It took about a week to get a reply. Herman apologized by saying that he was just the programmer. He had no involvement in sales or distribution. He doesn't remember how many copies were sold. He thinks he was told when the company shut down, but doesn't remember any details. I will provide the quote below directly from Herman's email reply. Reading between the lines, it looks like the game may have been sold before Christmas 1983 with revised versions sold after Christmas. "What I do remember is that I intended to work over the Christmas holidays (I guess that would have been 1983) but I didn't get as much done as I had hoped. We had something before Christmas but I didn't think it was good enough. We sold some while I continued working on improving the game. I know that not all the versions that were 'rediscovered' were the same." So a little more has been uncovered. Now someone just needs to find another copy...and the box.
  14. Like many others, I was still buying new Intellivision and Atari 2600 games well into the early '90s. I would often find retailers (Toys R US, Zellers, etc) that had found games in a back room and put them out for $5.00. I picked up Diner, Dig Dug and some late release 2600 games around this time. I also purchased an INTV System III to replace my dead Intellivision I - which my family had purchased in about 1982. I still have both consoles. The original could be used for parts. Within a couple of years the 8-bit games were gone from retail and the bounty of thrift shop finds had begun.
  15. I'm going to guess that the system only supported 4K games. Does anyone know?
  16. There was a YouTube video showing the copy of the game owned by the woman in Hamilton. I can't seem to find it anymore. It may have been taken down. In the video you could clearly see the cartridge in at 2600 along with the game on a TV. The original cartridges were smaller than a "typical" 2600 cartridge - which made them every distinct. I have no reason to believe that the video was faked. Especially when the owner never attempted to sell the cartridge. The "friend's copy" was owned by a person in Kitchener, Ontario. Kitchener is about 40 miles (60 km) from the Burlington / Hamilton area where the game was produced. This person recognized the game from a segment that was shown on the local TV news. (I made an appearance in this news segment.) The owner of the cartridge contacted one of the museum volunteers that they were friends with. They were gracious enough to donate the cartridge to the museum. I don't think that the owner was told how valuable the cartridge might be if it were put up for auction. The museum refuses to sell any of their copies. The owner of Skill Screen games was interviewed by a few media outlets when the game was rediscovered. He mentioned that 200 to 300 copies were sold. We don't know if those copies were sold to retailers (and never sold to consumers) or sold direct. I have no doubt that Extra Terrestrials was officially released. Like a few other games (Air Raid, Red Sea Crossing, Birthday Mania) it was just sold in very small numbers. Sadly, very few copies survived to be in the hands of collectors.
  17. I spent quite a bit of time when I first bought the game. I think I completed a little over half within a couple of months. Then, I got stuck. I picked up the game on and off about a year later. Eventually I finished it. I never liked the graphic adventures. The graphics at the time were just too limited. Infocom's text was always descriptive enough to let you paint a picture in your mind.
  18. Finishing the Infocom text adventure Planetfall.
  19. I was part of the group involved in the initial rediscovery of the game and the creation of the reproductions that were sold. I spoke to Herman Quast, the programmer, for a few hours over two different occasions. Another member of our group spoke with the former owner of Skill Screen Games. Everyone seemed to have suffered a bit of a memory lapse. I think the failure of the project was very traumatic for the organization. Herman tried to remember as much as he could and was very happy to talk to me. I was surprised that nobody had a clear memory of the timeline, number of units produced / sold, what the box / manual looked like or what might have become of any related materials. To answer the original question, we were told that the game was not completed until after Christmas of 1983. A "best guess" would be that the game was sold in late winter / early spring 1984. There was mention that there might have even been door-to-door sales of the game to homes in the Hamilton / Burlington area of Ontario, Canada. Herman told me that it took time to reverse engineer the 2600 by disassembling other games and comparing what he learned to the play mechanics. He admitted that his addiction to playing River Raid was a factor in the delay in finishing Extra Terrestrials. To my knowledge, only five copies of this game are known to exist: The cartridge that was donated to The Personal Computer Museum. This started the "discovery". This cartridge turned out to be a prototype as there were some bugs and minor differences in the gameplay and sound. A cartridge that was donated to the museum by Herman Quast - the programmer. Herman told me that he kept a copy as a memento. One of the museum volunteers had a friend that owned a copy. This copy was also donated to the museum. A woman in Hamilton, Ontario has a copy. At one time she expressed interest in selling it. I offered to meet her to "authenticate" the cartridge based on my knowledge of the other copies. The meeting never happened. I contacted the owner by email about a year ago. She was quite cold and stated that she was not interested in selling the cartridge or having me look at it. She told me that she doesn't want to discuss the matter again. (This is upsetting to me as this is the only known copy that could potentially be sold to a private collector.) I don't recommend that anyone attempt to contact the people involved in the game's creation. The financial loss incurred by Skill Screen Games seems to have made this a difficult topic of discuss to those involved. Getting the information that we have was only accomplished by the amount of local publicity after the initial discovery. If anyone has further questions, feel free to ask here or in a PM. I'm happy to share anything that I know.
  20. I selected green as it reminds me of the Commodore PET. This was the first computer I actually got to program - in 1980. I also loved the orange gas plasma displays used on portable computers in the late '80s. I would have chosen this if there was the option.
  21. I started my son playing games when he was less than 2. He's 22 now. He watched me play my old systems (2600, Intellivision, NES, etc) but started playing games like Reader Rabbit on the PC. Once he became comfortable with gaming, about age 3, he would often ask to play "Daddy's Games". He's now comfortable playing anything from Pong to PS4. He's extremely knowledgeable about classic game systems and computers. Something about a Commodore 1541 came up in conversation recently. I turned to remind him what it was and got, "Dad. I know exactly what a 1541 is. He then went on to remind me that he even knows the different variations." So start 'em young. The next generation needs to carry on the AtariAge.
  22. There's a website devoted to games that were rumored or advertised but never released. They have a extensive C64 section. https://www.gamesthatwerent.com/gtw64/
  23. I would have loved to see more Activision games (original games or ports) using the DPC chip from Pitfall II or anything more advanced that David Crane was working on. I know that we have DPC+ available today. We all know that Crane would have likely created some masterpieces on the 2600.
  24. Have any screenshots ever been released from the 2600 version of Choplifter?
  25. Seconded. Would love to see a video of the game in action.
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