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Pitfall Harry

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About Pitfall Harry

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    Stargunner

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    Male
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    Glendora, CA
  1. You can find a scan of the manual for Decap Attack here: http://www.segaage.com/index.cfm?FuseAction=Search.Results&Man_Rarity_ID=0# Upon clicking the above link, click on the M button ( M for manual) at the far right of the screen on the line for Decap Attack. You'll have to click on the navigation arrow to read one page of the manual at a time, but at least it's all there.
  2. I really like it! It's got a certain microgumby quality to it.
  3. Links? I dont think I have ever seen this happen.... I don't want to single anyone out, because it could be an honest mistake. But when I see a half dozen of them going on at the same time, whoah! That just ain't right. There out there. If you use the eBay search tool and type "Atari 2600 Frogger," you're bound to find one in less than 20 seconds.
  4. It really irks me how growing numbers of eBay sellers of Atari games are showing a stock photo of the very-hard-to-find Starpath release of The Official Frogger with their listings, but what they are actually selling is the common-as-dirt Parker Brothers version of the game. Some of them are so-called "power sellers," who really should know the difference. I wonder how many collectors who are still searching for the Starpath release at a good price (like me) get all excited when they see the Starpath stock photo of Frogger alongside a Buy It Now price of $7.99?
  5. There's only so much program you can squeeze into a 4K ROM. It was an astounding achievement at the time (1981) that a world with 255 jungle scenes could be created for an Atari 2600 video game.
  6. It looks great! But you really ought to correct the "We're be..." grammar error in Pitfall Harry's text greeting.
  7. I've beaten the game, on all its levels. But then, I've been playing 3-D TTT since before it even made its debut as a 2600 cartridge game. I dedicated the entire summer of 1989 to developing a computer program to play "unbeatable" 3-D TTT. I never quite achieved that goal, but I did come fairly close to it. The program I wrote does an exhaustive game tree search for "winning combinations," which is a succession of 3-in-a-rows that force the opponent's options down to a single move (the block) to avoid losing on the next turn. The computer immediately follows one 3-in-a-row with another, then another, until eventually, the computer finds a move that creates a 3-in-a-row in two different paths simultaneously, which forces a win on the next move. Sometimes the winning sequence of forced 3-in-a-rows is as much as 21 moves per side deep. But no matter how deep the search had to be to force a win, if it existed, then my program would find it. The forced-win search algorithm lies at the heart of my program, although other strategic elements were necessary to program. I had to rely on my own personal experience with the game to program solid opening game play, and I had to develop a game scoring heuristic to determine the computer's best move when no winning sequence was found. If you read the instruction manual for 3-D TTT, you will see that the Atari 2600 is capable of only 9 move lookahead on its most advanced level. With my program's ability to sniff out winning sequences 21 moves deep and beyond, the Atari 2600 version was no match at all for my program. To be fair about it, though, 1991 computer technology (a 10 MHz 80286, equipped with a 30 MB hard disk and a full megabyte of RAM!) is an awful lot of muscle to pit against a 1977 vintage Atari 2600 that wheezes along at 1 MHz on 128 bytes of RAM. Not megabytes. Not kilobytes. I mean, the Atari 2600 has only 128 measly BYTES of RAM! How anybody could have ever gotten this machine to do anything at all with only 128 bytes of RAM to work with never fails to astound me. Considering the limitations of the eras, Carol Shaw's 3-D TTT programming accomplishment far exceeds my own. Also, my program is not very special at all. The game of 3-D TTT is now completely solved and has been since as early as 1976 (Google search on Eugene Mahalko, Oren Patashnik, and Victor Allis, for more details). Then again, my 3-D TTT program will always be special to me, because what I learned about the game as I developed my killer program made me understand the game at a far deeper level than I ever had before. It was only after my programming project was completed that I had developed skill enough at the game to be able to consistently beat the Atari 2600, unaided, at its highest level of play. It's an unending source of personal pride for me to be able to demonstrate mental abilities that surpass that of a 4K ROM from 1979 and 128 bytes of RAM.
  8. Let me guess. The wife is saying something like, "So, a small child misplaced a grown man's toy that he couldn't be bothered with putting away for safekeeping." In the eyes of the small child, the cartridge is just a toy. In the eyes of the wife who "does not understand," the cartridge is just a toy. But in the eyes of the grown man who can accurately assess the developmental age of his grandson, it is the most important thing in his world. There's probably a lesson to be learned in there somewhere.
  9. I took a moment today to re-read my contest solution walk through with fresh eyes, having stepped away from it for some 14 months now. I laughed. Holy mind melt! What was I thinking?! My memory reeled to the 1960's, to the countless TV Batman episodes I found myself slapping my head in amazement over. Batman had an other-worldly knack for divining precise meaning out of utterly vacuous clues. For example: Batman and Alfred are in the Batmobile, where Batman has a handful of coins and a clue from the Riddler that reads, "Ask me no questions and I'll tell you no tales. It all makes sense when you add it up." Batman: Penny... Penny... Cent... Red cent... Copper! It's made of copper! Alfred: And 'copper' is another word for 'policeman'! Batman: And no tails means heads. Police... Head... Quarters! Alfred: [speechless now. In awe.] Batman: Four quarters and one penny equal 101 cents, so... Police headquarters, room 101! Let's go. There's no time to lose! My contest walk through is eerily similar. The question has been raised, "Could this contest possibly have been solved, without knowing the answer ahead of time?" It was my goal to make this contest self-contained, that it could be solvable by careful study of the image, dogged application of logic, and educated trial and error. Clearly, I failed to meet this objective. But I knew it was hard -- really hard -- even as I devised this puzzle. Some of the folks who have haunted this web site for a number of years may recall the "Pitfall Harry's Mystery of the Map" puzzle contest I created in 2002. It too, was intended to be a stand-alone puzzle that could be solved by careful study, dogged application of logic, and educated trial and error. My 2002 puzzle contest was solved (believe it or not), but may have gone unsolved had it not been for a parallel set of auxiliary clues I published as the contest progressed. The auxiliary clues were designed to steer the puzzle-solving collective clear of logical pitfalls and towards the solution. Solving the simpler auxiliary clues gave valuable insight into solving the larger, harder, map puzzle; the auxiliary clues made it possible for people other than Batman to divine solutions from seeming nothingness. Knowing all of this, I crafted a set of auxiliary clues for my Private Eye puzzle contest, too. The auxiliary clue set goes a long, long way towards narrowing the cavernous leaps of logic that are necessary for solving the puzzle. I published the first few of them, but nobody took them seriously. Or maybe so, but no one seemed to make any real effort to assimilate them. At the time, I took that to mean no one was interested in the contest whatsoever, especially since it was brutally difficult and no prizes were offered to compensate for time spent. So, I stopped publishing them. I naively thought there was a community of gamers who took on puzzle challenges for the sheer bloody fun of it. Now I must kick myself. Because the best part of this puzzle contest was the auxiliary clue set. If I find them, I'll post them. But after days of searching, it appears the auxiliary clue set is indeed lost. Without the auxiliary clues, I wonder if I can still solve this puzzle? Probably. But a month later I'd have to ask myself, "Was it worth the effort?" I set the bar too high. My puzzle contest was a failure, and rightfully so. I'll just have to do better next time. I'm sorry I let all of you down.
  10. Solution.pdf I wrote a puzzle game a year or so ago for the "Contests" forum. The puzzle is still there, but I don't believe anyone ever solved it. I spotted the solution walkthrough I wrote for it in the "Are You Sure?" eye-blink before clicking OK and vanishing it forever along with a directory of other old files. As long as it survived I thought I'd post it.
  11. Or somebody could whack you in the head with a 2x4 before you sit down to play. That'll make the quicksand harder to see.
  12. Gremlins is a fun game. Just remember: don't play it after midnight, and don't let the label get wet.
  13. There's another way to tell. You could invest a little money into a cartridge ROM dump setup, and then compare the dumped code to the code for each of the two versions. Granted, you can't take that sort of thing to a flea market, but it will save you time if you have to test a dozen or so carts before you get the version you want. Having a ROM dumper is cool for a host of other reasons, too.
  14. I have one. It's broken. I have forgotten the details of the extent of its malfunction. But if it's broken, it gets tossed onto the heap of dead consoles in my garage. It will stay there until I get around to fixing it in my retirement years, or until I come to my senses and throw it out.
  15. Just for the record, I never called myself an expert during all of this. I'm not sure where that came from. ..Al There are no "experts." That said, you are as qualified to authenticate an original Atari 2600 game box as anyone else has a right to claim. That makes you an expert, de facto. Deal with it.
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