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Colmino

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About Colmino

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    Space Invader
  1. Ah. Come to think of it, I don't think I ever saw UFOs back in the day when I played the game, so I guess I always picked that mode one way or another.
  2. This feels like a casualty of limited ROM. Combined perhaps with a lack of engineering skill to pull off stuffing more features into said ROM. Similar to how the asteroids themselves only travel along certain vectors that are mostly vertical and slightly horizontal -- the result of an inability on the designer's part to envision a way of doing this better. Unlike the various Asteroids homebrews that came later. (Footnote: Asteroids was one of many games that served up an uncannily cheat-mode glitch if one undertook to "fry" their 2600 with it: It would result in a game mode where all asteroids came from the right side only, requiring the player to shoot in only one direction forever.)
  3. I recall watching a different interview in which he recalled being sheepish over being called out on his unnecessary visual reinventions with Space Invaders. (This was leading up to where he was explaining why he left Atari after subsequently producing the, as you point out, far more accurate Missile Command.) I admit to being unconvinced about needing to seek help in creating graphics for enemies whose total resolution was 8x8. If he were concerned about it as much as that, then even a cursory consultation of the arcade original would easily have resulted in something much closer, even with the same resolution, as illustrated here. I am saying that legitimate artistic skill should be a non-factor at such limited and easily-accessible levels of detail. And indeed, the aliens he came up with were creative enough to make it all the more easy to dismiss this thought.
  4. I thought about bringing up Pac-Man as a counterexample, but I figured everyone here would already be familiar with that effort's unique genesis. (In that it was basically a proof-of-concept which found itself being used as a final product by a hasty Atari.) But it would still be an interesting discussion. For example, we all know that the arcade Pac-Man played a two-voice jingle at the start of a new game. And we understand that the Atari 2600 Pac-Man was not originally intended to be what ended up on a cartridge. With those stipulations in place, it remains difficult to account for the very, very odd (unique in all of gaming) snippet of music that Tod Frye came up with. My headcanon explanation for its inexplicable quality is that Frye elected to reuse a short preexisting sequence of ROM, rather than attempt to hand-compose the actual tune or indeed any tune.
  5. Speaking of Space Invaders... I've always wondered when folks would get together and have a chat about a video game phenomenon I've always wanted solid answers on. And that would be the phenomenon of home ports of video games (prior to, say, the mid-late 80s) seeming to go out of their way to be different from the arcade originals. I don't mean "different strictly because the limitations of hardware or ROM dictated it so", but different, like it was some kind of cultural philosophy or unwritten mandate that game engineers adhered to almost without knowing it. Space Invaders for the 2600 is a prime example. Along with the usual needless inaccuracies of sound effects and other minutiae, the graphics for the aliens and the base are needlessly huge deviations from the arcade graphics. It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect to get if somebody were deliberately making a bootleg knockoff of an arcade game and wanted to skirt around copyright, as opposed to having the license to produce a port fair and square. Space Invaders is a solid case-in-point, but this phenomenon is 100% reliable during this era. Engineers going way out of their way to re-make the visuals and sounds of their ports in some personal vision of theirs, when in the same amount of ROM they could painlessly have produced something much truer (and made buyers happier, leading to better sales). Growing up during this era and after, when ports of games started to appear which had taken obvious pains to mimic their arcade counterparts, it was always conspicuous and exciting, like I was seeing the dawn of a new era. And now that we have modern homebrew efforts to point to, this trend from the early 80s is exposed all the more. Why? I admit I tend to hope the answer is something more elaborate than the obvious, arbitrary guess that "they literally cared so little about accuracy that they were effectively working from either a vague familiarity or a one-paragraph description of the arcade original".
  6. Heck yeah. I was going to suggest Draconian just because I'm interested in the digital samples. Mappy? Technically I understand how they did everything in that game. But that doesn't change the fact that it's the single most amazing thing ever created for the Atari 2600 by a factor of at least two. Literally the only two things I would change to make it even more perfect: 1: The sound of trampolines. Arcade used two higher-pitched tones slightly offset from one another; emulation uses single low tone. Since this is by far the most common sound effect in the game, it feels important that it be done justice. 2: A longer (arcade-accurate) delay after Mappy enters and before the game begins in earnest.
  7. I just realized that there actually is a game that has my favorite sounds (not my favorite music, as with Journey Escape). Realized it because I've spent my whole life imitating the sounds in question. Mousetrap. The simulated cat meow, and the odd lower-register noise it makes when you change into a dog (presumably the best attempt at a dog bark). The meow is rather remarkable, even if it definitely sounds like typical 2600.
  8. Every game? A few games with single-voice music that I can recall: Sneak 'n Peek: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZsCDIfyh6A&t=0m5s A potentially fun game as long as you actually have two people. Reactor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tn2hXDc5ZY&t=0m5s Also fun. Genuinely good arcade action. But mostly I remembered the music. I even recreated it on the Apple II at some point. Venture: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fvmEhlAJGww&t=0m2s The arcade version of Venture - a very rare beast that I only saw fully functional once - left a permanent impression on me, it being the first game I ever experienced that had a robust soundtrack. The hallway music was particularly enchanting because it was such an unusual chord progression. When the game became available on the 2600, I was already braced for a downgrade, but the great hallway music was reduced to a repeating two-tone "tune" lasting 0.5 seconds in total. Still, there is something hypnotic about it. Speaking of the arcade version of Venture, incidentally, the opening theme (upon starting the game) never gets to play in its entirety, as it is quickly interrupted by the hallway music. Some time ago, I undertook to isolate the opening tune and permit it to play in full. This makes me the only person on the planet besides the composer ever to have heard the full tune.
  9. If we're going to cite every 2600 game that used both voices (or more) for music, I may as well mention Strawberry Shortcake. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SYfPPlfJOZ8&t=0m31s I somehow owned this cart, and yes I did pop it in once in a while - a fact which underscores the boredom only made possible by the non-existence of the internet.
  10. Sound on the Atari 2600. This is actually one of my favorite things to think about. The inherent limitations - primarily meaning the fact that there are only two voices, but also the fact that the scaling of pokable values doesn't match well with 12-tone polyphony, especially at higher registers - meant that only a very small number of games bothered to employ music, and especially not during gameplay. (Pitfall II is a unique exception as its internal guts afforded a grand total of four voices.) This gave Atari games a reliable patina of stark impersonality. It's the console of bleeps and bloops and mechanical indifference, and often just utter silence - a phenomenon naturally helped along by its graphical limitations. Not a criticism; I personally relish that about the 2600. As for my favorite "sound", my answer has to be Journey Escape. The game has music playing almost 100% of the time, only taking short breaks for the (also musical) sound of colliding with an enemy. The main BGM increases in intensity the longer you progress without getting tagged. And even though the tune is very short and repetitive, I very much like it. It doesn't hurt that the game is also one of the few solidly playable games out there that can be legitimately beaten, and without excessive frustration or ease.
  11. Man, that tune. I have to say, when I finally saw Frye in an interview in One Upon Atari, all was made clear. No offense meant, but his visage seemed to be a case-in-point for avoiding mind-altering substances. It's really the only way to explain how the classic Pac-Man intro song got melted down into, well, let's call it "Pleading Insanity In Four Tones, for Television Interface Adaptor (TIA)". Granted, video game ports in those years were so completely assumed to be incapable of living up to the originals that the ports generally came in arbitrarily different clothing (Space Invaders), but there's just no reason for that blatant inaccuracy.
  12. The blip-blip-blip of Mario walking in Donkey Kong, primarily because this specific sound (well, sounds from the game in general) pops up in a lot of places where the facsimile of old-school gaming is being used, often sarcastically. For something more specifically emblematic of the 2600, though, I would go with the static white noise, which, uniquely for the 2600, is somehow a 0.5 second loop rather than strictly white noise. Heard 100% of the time in Starmaster, or when a hallway monster makes an appearance in Venture.
  13. I know it's a bit late to do anything about it for the first volume, but I reckon future volumes ought to include as much accuracy as possible as to the date of availability. Yes, such a thing would probably require somewhat more investigation than Google searches. Goodness knows I've tried. I eventually determined that the years 1982-1983 cover some 71% of every game released on the system, with a further 12% covered by the titles released in years prior, which are comparatively well-documented and easy to pinpoint for their simplicity. 71% is a heck of a lot of titles to have only the year of release; in my own list, it practically feels like unneeded data.
  14. Okay, yeah. It's just interesting to me that out of all the available categories - Sunnyvale vs. Taiwan, Sunnyvale heavy vs. Sunnyvale light, Atari vs. Sears - the unit I randomly found myself buying fits the three rare possibilities. Not that that necessarily makes it actually rare or desirable per se. There were probably, what, 100k of this particular flavor made? Still, that makes it one in 300. ;p
  15. It seems that this is what I have. So this begs some questions: Which iteration was produced in higher volume in Sunnyvale, between the heavy- and light-sixer? Which was more common in general, between the VCS and the Sears Telegames? I mean, not that it feels all that relevant, but I may have accidentally wound up with an atypically rare specimen. ... And the crying shame is that I used to have the entire box for it, but that was evidently one of the "mom" victims from who knows when.
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