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  1. It's Halloween... so I figured it was time to upload a few videos for this super-scary holiday. Here's the first one... Halloween Graphics with Flying Witch Demo By David Ibach and Steve Walters ARCADIAN 3, no. 12 (Oct. 05, 1981): 126-127. (BASIC Listing) ARCADIAN 4, no. 1 (Nov. 10, 1981): 3. (Loading Method Explanation) General Video Assembler Package (Flying Witch Sample) You can watch this video on YouTube, here: You can watch or download this video from Archive.org, here: https://archive.org/details/HalloweenGraphicsFlyingWitchDemoDaveIbachSteveWaltersBallyAstrocade Unlike most of my other videos, this program, to get it out in a timely fashion, doesn't have any background or an overview. It doesn't even have opening and closing credits. Maybe I'll make an overview of this program later. This program is for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade, a video game/computer system released by Bally in 1978. Halloween Graphics, written in Bally BASIC, and Flying Witch Demo, written in machine language, are two separate programs running together. Halloween Graphics is called "BOO" in the Arcadian. It runs with "AstroBASIC" and no expansion RAM. It draws a pumpkin, a haunted house, a skull and a witch. It runs for about two minutes and then repeats. The flying witch demo requires at least 4K of expansion RAM. A witch flies around a blank screen. When these two programs are combined, as in this video, then a witch flies around a haunted house. The program runs twice in this video. Enjoy this holiday program. Oh, and what's the deal with the pumpkin being yellow and not orange...? Adam
  2. I wrote these notes for myself this morning, since it took me a while (too long!) to remember how to clean a non-BASIC WAV file. I thought that the notes might be useful for other people, so I cleaned them up a little and I'm posting them here. This document presumes that you're familiar with process of archiving Astrocade programs already. If not, then I advise you to try archiving an "AstroBASIC" program first and then come back to this document. Cleaning a RAW Binary (Non-BASIC) WAV file with BallyBin and AstroWAV By Adam Trionfo Version 1.0 July 10, 2018 Summary: These are general instructions, written mostly so that I'll remember the process, on how to clean an Astrocade's RAW 2000-baud binary recording created with the Blue Ram Utility. I used the tape version of the Blue Ram Utility 3 by Perkins Engineering. I loaded the utility from a WAV file into my Blue Ram 16K unit. In this example, I converted the 2KB Machine Language Manager (MLM) cartridge by Bit Fiddlers to a WAV file that can be loaded with "AstroBASIC." Here are the steps to load the Blue Ram Utility: Load the Blue Ram Utility using Blue Ram BASIC using :INPUT. (Do not try to load it using :INPUT %(24576). This will not work.) 2) The version of the utility that I used is in the file: Blue RAM Utility (Perkins Engineering).zip This file is located here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/ram_expansion_required/perkins_engineering/Blue%20RAM%20Utility%20(Perkins%20Engineering).zip The file contains a zip file called Blue RAM Utility and Instructions (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM BASIC).zip The Blue RAM Utility files in that zip file are called: 1) Blue RAM Utility (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM BASIC)(Load 1 of 2).wav 2) Blue RAM Utility (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM BASIC)(Load 2 of 2).wav 3) Blue RAM Utility Instructions (1982)(Perkins Engineering)(2000 baud)(Blue RAM Utility).wav Load loads 1 and 2 one after the other into BRB. The program will run automatically after using :INPUT. My intent was to create a loadable WAV file of the Machine Language Manager cartridge. First, I loaded the Machine Language Manager cartridge into the Blue Ram Utility using the COPY command. Then I verified that the load was correct using VRFY. After that, I saved the 2KB MLM program to a "tape" (WAV file) using the Utility's SAVE command. I will not go into details about how I did the above steps. It's easy once you know how, but is beyond the scope of this document. If you are curious about how it's done, then the detailed instructions for how to use the Blue Ram Utility are available online here: http://www.ballyalley.com/perkins/docs-blue_ram_utility3.pdf After I had a RAW WAV file on my computer that was output from the Utility, I used Audacity to amplify the file. I saved this amplified file and then used Ballybin 2 on the WAV to digitally archive the file. Here are the general steps on how to clean a non-BASIC binary file saved in the Astrocade's 2000-baud WAV format using Ballybin and AstroWAV 2. First, there are two versions of BallyBin and AstroWAV 2. Make sure to use the following version of these two files: AstroWAV and Ballybin 2 (2004)(Bob Colbert)(beta)[Feb 27 2004] Once you have these files on your Windows PC, use the command line to clean the saved RAW WAV file. It is presumed here that the RAW WAV file is called input.wav. First create a BML file of the RAW file using the following command: ballybin -l3 -v2 -i1 -bcleaned input.wav Next, make a cleaned WAV file: astrowav -h3 -f1 -woutput.wav cleaned.bml This WAV file is stereo. I used Audacity to make it mono, but this step isn't required. This cleaned WAV file can be loaded into an Astrocade with expansion RAM by following these steps: 1) Insert "AstroBASIC" into Astrocade. 2) Make sure that you're Astrocade RAM expansion has the switches in the 6K area and is set to RAM. 3) In "AstroBASIC," type: :INPUT %(24576) 4) When the program is done loading, hold down Reset and keep it down. Switch the RAM expansion switches to 2K and ROM. Then release the Reset button. After releasing the Reset button, the cartridge (which was saved as a WAV file) should load perfectly. The "AstroBASIC" cartridge which is in the slot will be ignored. [End of Document]
  3. Astrocade fans and collectors sometimes ask me how many Arcadian newsletter subscribers there were in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This subject has been touched upon a few times on the Yahoo message board. Some of this information has been touched-upon on the Bally Alley Yahoo group: Subject: Arcadian Subscribers Date: March 3, 2005 Message #2067 Number of Subscribers to the Arcadian: 1979 - 915 1982 - 2,147 (sub) + 1,260 (No Mail) = 3,407 I gleaned this information from subscriber lists that Robert Fabris sent to me recently. I also have info for other years too, but I'm not about to count those addresses by hand. Adam ---------- Subject: Arcadian Newsletter Subscriber Statistics Posted by: Paul T. Date: April 25, 2006 Message #3015 I received the Arcadian mailing lists from Adam, and for the most part it's page after page of subscriber addresses and order sheets. This could be useful for finding unarchived programs and such, but at the moment there are easier avenues to explore. However, I did find something of historical interest. On November 16, 1979,and October 29, 1982, Bob Fabris made gigantic computer printouts of all the subscribers. These included cumulative statistics of the subscribers, breaking them down by state/territory/foreign country and by gender (male, female, both, non-person [like an electronics store], and unknown). I typed the statistics into a spreadsheet, so I'll upload a couple of CSV files to the group. Here's a few observations. Readership grew substantially between 1979 and 1982, from 915 to 2147, a %235 increase. It also became more regionally diverse. There was massive growth in the Southeast--1 to 22 in Georgia, 2 to 24 in Kentucky, and 1 to 16 in Louisiana, for example. Was the system initially hard to find in some areas? The subscribership was extremely skewed towards males. Ignoring non-persons and unknowns and counting 'both' as one male and one female, the male/female ratio was 712/16 in 1979 and 1862/151 in 1982. Using these figures, the female representation did grow from 2.2% to 7.5%. I do have one question. Most of the non-state state abbreviations I understand--PR for Puerto Rico, DC for the District of Colombia, VI for Virgin Islands, and CN for Canada. But what does FN stand for? Paul ---------- Bob Fabris, the Arcadian published commented on this posting April 26, 2006. He said: "Stuff comes out of the woodwork - Haven't thought about that mailing list in years.... To answer the question about 'FN' This does refer to ForeigN addresses. Post Office requirements. I had to have mail presorted by zip codes to get "publication" rates, and this would put the non-US mail into one pile which would go airmail. One of my subscribers paid for his subscription by sorting all the addresses I sent him, printing labels, and sending them to me for each issue." Paul added the two subscriber list summaries as CSV (comma-separated values) files to the Bally Archive group. The links no longer works, but here they are anyway: File : /FAQs/Arcadian Subscriber Statistics, 10-29-82.csv Description : Cumulative statistics about Arcadian subscribers, from October 29, 1982 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ballyalley/files/FAQs/Arcadian%20Subscriber%20Statistics%2C%2010-29-82.csv File : /FAQs/Arcadian Subscriber Statistics, 11-16-79.csv Description : Cumulative statistics about Arcadian subscribers, from November 16, 1979 http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ballyalley/files/FAQs/Arcadian%20Subscriber%20Statistics%2C%2011-16-79.csv I tried to find these CSV files elsewhere (I thought that I would have them on my hard drive), but I had no success finding them. It's pretty neat that subscriber records like this survived nearly 40 years! Adam
  4. Season 2, Round 9 of the Astrocade High Score Club will last about two weeks. This round ends on Sunday, August 20'th at 10pm MST. The two main games are on the cartridge Grand Prix / Demolition Derby. The BASIC bonus game is called Sideswipe. This very simple game was written in 1980 by Mike Peace and published in the Cursor newsletter. It was later re-printed in the "AstroBASIC" manual, and even eventually found its way onto a tape release by WaveMakers. Grand Prix / Demolition Derby Grand Prix / Demolition Derby is a 4KB cartridge released by Astrocade Inc. in 1981. It is cartridge #2014 and is part of the Action/Skills Series. There is a label variation called simply Grand Prix. These two games were programmed by Bob Ogden and Rickey Spiece. Scot L. Norris did the audio for this game. The Grand Prix/Demolition Derby cartridge ROM image (called "grandprx.bin") is part of this archive: http://www.ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/ROMs/astrocade_rom_collection.zip Grand Prix/Demolition Derby is a very common cartridge, but if you don't have it, then it is included on every multicart that has been released for the Astrocade over the years. Neither of the main games on this cartridge requires the knob, so both games play fine using the MAME Astrocade emulator. According to a letter sent to the Arcadian in January of 1979 by Glenn Pogue, the Grand Prix / Demolition Derby cartridge was supposed to be released by Bally on March 16, 1979, but I don't think that there is a Bally release of this game. You can read about the upcoming 1979 releases from Bally in Glenn's letter, here: http://www.ballyalley.com/newsletters/arcadian/letters/Glenn%20Pogue/Letter%20(Glenn%20Pogue)(Jan%2022%201979-).pdf Here is the description of the game from the manual's cover: "Four challenging courses in race car driving excitement! Jockey for position at Le Mans or go for broke on a dangerous Rally track! There's a constant trade-off between speed and maneuverability! Varying skill levels upgrade the challenge and the fun. Here is all the excitement of formula-style racing! The competition gets hotter as players improve their skills! 1 or 2 players." The game's manual cover looks like this: Here is what the cartridge looks like: Here is a label variant of the cartridge: Here is the cartridge's main menu: Here are Grand Prix's three different courses: Four-player games of Grand Prix are possible. Take a look: The winner of round of Grand Prix will see this announcement (sorry, there's no checkered flag!): In Demolition Derby, you can play with up to four players. If less than four people are playing, then the computer controls the extra cars. Here is how the derby begins: This is a game in-progress: Here are highlights from the Grand Prix/Demolition Derby manual: Grand Prix Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines! The starting gun fires, and you're off in a flash, careening around dangerous turns in the race for the finish line. Grand Prix gives you all the excitement of formula-style racing, with three different race tracks and two skill levels to choose from. Starting the Game Enter the number of players (1 to 4), then select the difficulty level by selecting 1 for pro, 2 for beginner. At the pro level, the race cars are able to reach higher speeds than at the beginner level. Select the number of laps (1-99). If you enter a number that is less than 10, press = to start the race. Playing the Game The hand control functions for Grand Prix are: Trigger - Accelerator for race car. Knob - Has no function. Joystick - In right position, race car will turn clockwise; in left position, it will turn counterclockwise. Up position will move car in forward direction. The object of Grand Prix is to be the first race car to reach the finish line. To check your racing time, watch the time clock in the upper middle part of the screen. Once the race has started, use the joystick to move your car around the track. But, be careful not to crash into the other cars or into the race track walls. Skillful driving maneuvers are as important for success as high speeds. The first car to reach the finish line after completing the specified number of laps is the winner. Demolition Derby (1 to 4 players) All the thrills of a live demolition derby! Contestants ram their cars into each other until only one car remains running. Starting the Game Enter the number of players (1 to 4). Computer-controlled cars are provided for more action in games with less than four players. Select the maximum number of points (1-99). If you enter a number that is less than 10, press the = to start the game. Playing the Game The hand control functions for Demolition Derby are: Trigger - Accelerator for car. Knob - Has no function. Joystick - In right position, car turns clockwise; in left position car turns counterclockwise. It automatically moves backward (to protect engine from being hit) unless the joystick is pushed forward. The object of the game is to be the last car remaining on the field with your engine still running. Points start at the number you specify, but one point is lost each time a car is hit in the front. When a car finally reaches 0 points, it is out commission. The last car with points remaining (and engine running) is declared the winner. You'll stay in the competition longer by protecting the front end of your car and backing into your opponent's. In this way, your car's radiator, engine, etc. will remain intact. Here is a YouTube video that shows the gameplay of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby. This video was created by "Highretrogamelord:" Gameplay Options Grand Prix Options: Difficulty level: Pro Number of Laps: 5 Demolition Derby (Options): Difficulty level: Pro Maximum Number of Points: 10 Grand Prix/Demolition Derby (Scoring): Five points will be awarded for playing each of the two main games. Grand Prix We are playing for lowest overall time for Grand Prix tracks 1-3. You can post each track score separately and I'll figure-out the math. Remember to complete 5 laps of each track. I presume all of our times will be very close; there may even be some ties. Demolition Derby This game does not keep track of the player's time. If you play a game and are the winner, then you'll receive five points. I don't expect that there will be anyone who can't win against the computer, but if there is anyone for some reason who can't beat the three computer players (how sad!), then that person will receive three "participation points." Yeah, yeah; that does sound a little like "everyone gets a trophy!" Sideswipe This round's bonus game is a straightforward "racing" game, one that I expect nearly every "AstroBASIC" owner played in the 1980s, as it was reprinted in the "AstroBASIC" Owner's Manual. The game is called Sideswipe. It's an early effort by Mike Peace, who wrote the WaveMakers games. Sideswipe looks very-much like an early BASIC game; that's because it is very early. Here are some screenshots of Sideswipe in action: Sideswipe was first published on page 69 of the October 1980 issue of Cursor: In 1981, it was reprinted in the "AstroBASIC" owner's manual on page 89: Eventually (in 1982, I think) it was included with three other programs program on WaveMakers' tape 12 called Four Famous Freebies. You can download the "AstroBASIC" version of Sideswipe here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/wave_makers/Sideswipe/Sideswipe%20(WaveMakers).zip This archive also includes a program modification by Lance Brisee that was submitted to the Arcadian, but never published. See his Lance's letter in the Arcadian area of BallyAlley.com for details: http://www.ballyalley.com/newsletters/arcadian/letters/Lance_Brisee_(1984)(Letter_to_Arcadian).pdf The difference that immediately jumps out in this game modification is that Lance added messages based upon your final score, like "YOU SHOULD BE DRIVING A WHEELCHAIR" or "YOU SHOULD BE DRIVING A RACING CAR". Here are the directions for Sideswipe as they were printed in Cursor: "Your goal is to steer your car through and around the other vehicles on the road at the same time making sure you don't hit the sides of the road. Your car is the one with the broken boxes at the top of the screen. The road moves up toward you from the bottom of the screen as shown in the photograph. Mike as usual has done a very thorough job using very limited memory. This program uses some interesting sounds, and a unique method of movement. Use Hand Control Knob #1." Here are the directions for Sideswipe as they were printed in the "AstroBASIC" manual: "The car appears on the top of the screen moving toward the bottom. Steer your car using knob (1) to avoid obstacles as they approach. Top score is 100 points. You lose 3 points for each sideswipe and 10 points for each collision." Don't be turned off by this game's primitive graphics. In the mid-eighties I used to play a type-in game very similar to this (probably even more primitive!) in typing class on a TRS-80 Model III. I had fun with the alternate TRS-80 version of the game then, and playing a few games of Sideswipe yesterday made me realize, that in some strange way the game holds up to this day. Maybe because it's so simple, or maybe because the game doesn't take long to play-- but I think you'll enjoy it for the brief period that you'll play it for this HSC round. Bonus Points There are many bonus points available this round for both games. Grand Prix/Demolition Derby - Video Review - (1 Point) - Although I found examples of gameplay footage for this cartridge, I couldn't find any reviews. Anyone who makes a video review of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby will get a bonus point. Grand Prix/Demolition Derby - Multiplayer Game - (Up to 3 Points) - This cartridge is a rarity in that up to four players can play at one time. For every additional player who you can round-up to play with you, then you'll earn an extra bonus point. Don't have any Astrocade fans nearby, then maybe it's time that you get your significant other into the incredible videogame system that is the Astrocade. That will be worth one extra point. If you can get that person, plus your trained dog, and possibly your Guinea pig, then that's three points right there! Easy! Sideswipe - Playing Sideswipe - (1 Point) Sideswipe - Highest Score - (1 Point) - The maximum points that can be earned are 100. Whoever gets the closest to 100 points gets a bonus point. If there is a tie, then multiple players can earn this bonus point. Sideswipe - Video Review - (1 Point) - Anyone who makes a video review of Sideswipe will get a bonus point. Summary Someday, I'd like to try a four-player game of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby at a large gaming get-together. I bet this game would be sure to please the crowd. Sideswipe is a very short, 29-line, BASIC program. For such a short program, I'd say that you get a lot of bang out of your buck. Is it a great game that you'll come back over and over again? Nope. Would Sideswipe have been worth the small time investment in time that it would have taken to type the program into BASIC in 1981. Certainly! Enjoy the two main games and the simple bonus game-- and, remember, post your high scores often. Adam
  5. iesposta

    IMG 3702

    From the album: Bally Professional Arcade

    1977 Bally Professional Arcade. eBay image of purchased console.
  6. I just posted this to the BallyAlley Yahoo groups, but I've decided to post this here too. I'm going to continue to post any updates about screenshots that I've added to BallyAlley.com here. Over the last two days, I've added 30 screenshots of "AstroBASIC" games to the Arcadian A-H program download section. It's actually be pretty fun loading some of these BASIC programs, some of which I don't think I've actually played before. It's nice that any "AstroBASIC" game loads in 20 seconds. I've recently been using the Timex/Sinclair and a few games take 10 minutes to load (that's not much fun!). You can see the screenshots of the BASIC programs here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/2000_baud_programs/arcadian/programs_a-h/programs_a-h.html I took many more screenshots of these programs (most of which are games). However, I'll probably not add these other full-size screenshots to BallyAlley.com anytime soon. Even though the quality is higher, I have no easy method to add these to the website. The screenshots that I've added so far are just thumbnails, but they will give anyone a much better idea of what to expect before trying a program. I used/played most of the 30 programs while taking these pictures. Here are ten that are worth noting: 1) 2-Letter Music Maker, by Ken Lill - Neat utility that allows you to manipulate AstroBASIC's sound registers via a sort-of graphical user interface. Very neat-- but you do need to understand how the registers work-- else you'll just get easy-to-create screech-like sound effects. 2) 4D2, by Rusty Blommaert and Dale Smith - Colorful and just plain weird. If you've never tried this one out, then give it a go. I think the art demo is a non-random 20-minute loop. If you're wondering why it is called 4D2, it's pronounced "42." The name was inspired by Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series of books. 3) Alien 2000, by Henry Sopko - There are some neat graphics in this program. 4) aMAZEd in SPACE, by Aquila and Richard Houser - This is a neat little maze game where you control a spaceship with inertia. More fun than it looks, and there are many options different sizes of mazes. I'd love a machine language update of this game released on cart. 5) Bagels, by Carl Morimoto - I finally read and understood the rules for this game. This one reminds me of Mastermind. I tried it a few times, but never solved it. I got close though! 6) Bally Christmas Card, by Ed Grobe (Edge Software) - This program very slowly draws a Christmas tree with shimmering lights. This is a pretty good use of colors for an "AstroBASIC" program... or maybe it uses machine language...? 7) Baseball, by Dave Martin - This Baseball game is really more than you should be able to do in BASIC. It is quite a neat idea on how to hit the ball; it's sort of random and sort of not. I'm going to have to try playing this two-player-only game against someone sometime, and that's say a lot, as I never play sports games. 8 ) Blackjack, by Dick Harris - I was pleasantly surprised when I saw the graphics for this one. Plus, it plays quite fast. Impressive! 9) Black Hole, by Ron Picardi - I tried and tried to orbit the black hole, but I could never do it, not even on the "easy" level. I think I remember Paul Thacker saying once that he had problems with this too. However, Ron wrote to the Arcadian and said that the game is meant to be hard. Yeah-- he's right; it's certainly quite difficult! 10) Bots, by Ron McCoy / Bots II, by Ron McCoy and Steve Walters - Bots game inspired the arcade game, Berzerk. Well, not the Astrocade version of the game, but the version in (I think) one of the Creative Computing's book of games. I guess there are some changes between these two "AstroBASIC" versions of the game, but I can't tell what they are, as they both seem to play the same; the changes must be subtle. I took screenshots of many other BASIC programs, too, but these are the programs that interested me the most! Next week I'll add some more screenshots. Adam
  7. Tim Duarte, of the Atari 2600 website (http://www.2600connection.com/), gave me a bit of news a few days ago concerning new Astrocades. Technically they are not new, but NOS (New Old Stock). When I read how much these systems were selling for, and (even better) what they were shipping with, I was pretty doubtful about this information (seeing what time of year that it is right now). I spent a few days following-up on this information, and to my delight and surprise, I discovered that Tim is absolutely right! Here's the information as Tim sent it to me originally: Astrocade Resurfaces and Releases the Astrocade with Pack-In Game The Incredible Wizard 2017 A recent Topeka, Kansas warehouse find of over 10,000 new-still-sealed-and-in-the-box Bally Astrocade video game systems has led to the restructure and start-up of a new company who has taken on the name of Astrocade to sell these systems to the general public. These systems are prone to overheating, so you are taking a chance if you purchase one. After all, all this hardware has been in a box just sitting there in a warehouse for over 35 years! The retail price of each system will be $45.99. Shipping rates will vary. Astrocade has stated they will ship internationally, so our international Bally Astrocade fans are all set (of course, all these units are NTSC-- no PAL Astrocade systems were ever made). So, the bad news is that you may end up with an Astrocade system that does not work, or works but overheats after a short period of time. There will be no refunds, but at this price... even a non-working NOS Astrocade seems like a fair deal. The newly-setup company, run by just two men, have done some spot checking of the units. They said that they're sure at least 90% of units work. The good news is that the package includes a new version of the Wizard of Wor game, entitled The Incredible Wizard 2017. It looks like it is the programming assembly language code from the 1982 game release from what can be determined from the screen shots, but that is okay. This is a great game and I am just happy to report that the Astrocade system is back! Take a look at the game box and packaging! It is just awesome! That's all the news that Tim sent to me. He promises to follow-up on it when he gets more information. As I said, since this news seemed so, you know, not quite right, I followed-up on this news using information that Tim sent to me. I contacted Astrocade to see if I could pre-order a couple of the Astrocade consoles. I was so happy when the man I spoke to recognized my name (from my http://www.ballyalley.com/ website). He decided to send me a new Astrocade free of charge. I'm supposed to get it at the beginning of this coming week. I already have the package's tracking number. I just check and the system is half-way here already. Now, was that nice of the guy or what?!? I can't wait to open up the box and let out some of that 1980s' air. Hooray for Astrocade! Hooray for us all! Adam
  8. This is an expanded post about the General Video Assembler for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. A just posted a much shorter version of this to the Bally Alley Yahoo Group. I was going to make a "quick" video review of the Centipede clone, Sneaky Snake. This is the main game cartridge that we're currently playing in the Astrocade High Score Club. It's a 4K game. I wanted to give some background for the game, so I looked into how it was programmed. It was created entirely using an Astrocade with expansion RAM: the source code was created and assembled using the General Video Assembler, a program that was available on tape. Even the Sneak Snake EPROMs were burned using an Astrocade . This intrigued me, so I skimmed the General Video Assembler manual... and then spent some time updating the Dave Ibach area on BallyAlley.com. Silly, Adam, now I probably won't have time to make a video for Sneaky Snake to get bonus points in the Astrocade HSC. Ah, well... You can read the updated description of the General Video Assembler here: http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/dave_ibach/dave_ibach.html#GeneralVideoAssemblerDocs This is an extended version of what's in the above link (minus the link to the manual): General Video Assembler. By General Video (Steve Walter and Dave Ibach). Arcadian 4, no. 12 (Oct. 07, 1982): 123. (First Advertisement) Arcadian 5, no. 4 (Feb. 18, 1983): 57. (Review) Requires: "AstroBASIC" and a minimum of 4K add-On RAM expansion. This machine language assembler cost $35. Here is an overview of it from an ad in the October 1982 Arcadian: Speak to your Astrocade in its native language! Uses standard Z80 mnemonics Has complete editing facilities Prints extensive error messages Provides symbolic access to BASIC's variables Create object programs of unlimited size Requires Astrovision BASIC with taping facility and 4K (minimum) of add-on memory switchable between 6K and 2K address ranges (like Blue Ram) The tape that this assembler was released on looks like this: Side 1: Side 2: The General Video Assembler is made-up of four programs: Collector, Pass I, Pass II and Text Editor. Also included are two sample programs: Flying Witch, and Logo. The software can be downloaded here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/ram_expansion_required/programs_a-h/programs_a-h.html#GeneralVideoAssemblerXB This assembler actually required a keypad overlay that looked like this: This 16-page manual is quite extensive. Here is the complete first page from the manual. It gives the user an indication of what the program can do on the Astrocade. Provided in this manual is a comprehensive description of the General Video Assembler for the Z80-based Astrocade. The General Video Assembler includes an editor for preparation of the source program, Pass I and Pass II which translate Z8O source statements into hexadecimal, and the Collector for joining together multiple segments. An assembler is different from [an interpreter]. Your Astrocade BASIC is [an interpreter]. It can execute a BASIC program directly by a RUN command, translating each BASIC statement before executing it. Consequently a BASIC [interpreter] is very convenient, but also very slow in execution since every statement must be translated before execution. With an assembler, the source program cannot simply be RUN. It must first be assembled. This is a one-time process, converting source statements to hexadecimal, and is completely finished by the time the object program is CALLed. A change in the source program requires a new assembly. Since no translation goes on during execution, the speed is greatly increased. It is not the purpose of this manual to teach Z8O machine coding. If you have experience with other assembler languages and understand hexadecimal, and need only a familiarity with the processor architecture and instructions, then you can get by with the Z80 Instruction Handbook by Nat Wadsworth (SCELBI Publications, 1978, about $6). Otherwise, get a more comprehensive textbook, like Programming the Z80 by Rodney Zaks (Sybex, 1980, about $12). Hardware Required An Astrocade game computer, Astrocade BASIC with taping facilities and add-on memory is required. The add-on memory must be at least 4K (hex) in size and it must be switch able from the 2K (hex) to the 6K (hex) address ranges (like the Blue RAM or Viper). Since there is no floppy disk capability, all intermediate files must be recorded on tape. Thus tape handling can be excessive at times, in spite of operational streamlining. This is true in particular of multi-segment programs. To facilitate this, the user is strongly urged to install an I/O switch for switching between input and output taping. Steve Walters explained how to do this in Arcadian 4, no. 2 (Dec. 07, 1981): 16. It's hard for me to believe that a Z80 assembler exists for the Astrocade; that's just crazy to me. According to the Paul's interview with Dave Ibach, about 100 copies of the program were sold; more than I would expect in the little Astrocade community. The full interview with Dave Ibach is here: http://www.ballyalley.com/ballyalley/interviews/interview_with_david_ibach.txt Has anyone here used this assembler besides Paul? I haven't used it, but revisiting the documentation makes me want to try it out. Maybe I'll make a video of me using the General Video Assembler; now that would bore some folks to death! Adam
  9. A few weeks ago I was testing and comparing all of the programs on Ken Lill's latest Ultimulti cartridge (version 3.0) against the listing of programs that he made for it. My method of testing the programs is to switch the cartridge's DIP switches while the machine is still on and then press the reset button on the console to bring up the new game. Sometimes, before I press reset, this causes some pretty weird effects on the TV screen. Most of the time this looks like garbage or a program crash (which, technically, is what is happening because I'm switching out part of the ROM while the program is actually running). On rare occasions, the crashes look a little artistic. Rarer still are programs that continue to run, but act very strangely. Take this weird mish-mash of both Treasure Cove and The Incredible Wizard; it's an insanely cool Treasure Cove title screen mixed in with the maze from The Incredible Wizard: This happened while I was switching from one game to the other. Note that that DIP switch positions have only one bit difference between them: Treasure Cove - DIPSwitch position $3B, or 00111011B to The Incredible Wizard - DIPSwitch position $33, or 00110011B I tried to duplicate this feat again with no luck. I want to mention that this unusual picture is not a fault of the UltiMulti cartridge. This results from normal operation of the Astrocade. This reminds me of the Atari 2600 technique of "frying" (turning the Atari system on and off very quickly) which can get some very strange, and sometimes predictable, results. Has anyone else seen strange effects like this? I'd love to see some pictures of other unusual occurrences. Adam
  10. I added an in-progress Z80 disassembly of Gorf to BallyAlley.com. You can download it here: http://www.ballyalley.com/ml/ml_source/ml_source.html#GorfArcadeDisassembly Here are some additional details about the game: Gorf, is a fixed space shooter arcade game with five different screens. Jay Fenton designed and programmed Gorf for DNA (Dave Nutting Associates). It was published by Midway in 1981. Like Wizard of War, The Adventures of Robby Roto! (and others), Gorf uses what has been dubbed the "astrocade chipset". In 2018, Jamie Fenton (formally Jay Fenton) donated documentation and hardware items to the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA. This included Gorf source code and other documentation related to the game. Gorf was not written in machine language, it was written in a Forth-like language called TERSE (Terse Efficient Recursive Stack Engine) that was developed at DNA. After the TERSE source code for Gorf became available, David Turner, an avid fan of the game, began to use the game's source code to disassemble Gorf and comment it. Details of his work, as well as his in-progress Z80 disassembly for Gorf is in this archive. In Dave's notes, he refers to TERSE and Gorf related documents which are available at the BitSavers archive, here: http://bitsavers.org/pdf/nuttingAssoc/ In July of 2017, I reviewed the Gorf arcade game: It's great that the recent archiving of the TERSE source code for Gorf is already bearing fruit. Adam
  11. It's rare that I find new-to-me Bally related items that I didn't know existed in any form. While looking on Archive.org today, I found a 24-page hand-written notebook that John Perkins wrote to "Bob" (I presume, Bob Fabris, the editor of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade Arcadian newsletter) when the Blue Ram was still in development (probably around 1980). The Blue Ram is a RAM expansion unit. You can read John's notebook here: https://archive.org/details/ballyalley_John_Perkins_Blue_RAM_Notebook This notebook was uploaded by "Sketch the Cow" on November 12, 2015. I wonder how he came about acquiring it? I have transcribed the first page of the notebook: "Bob - "This notebook is intended to provide you with a glimpse of the potential of our 'Blue Ram' accessory. The full potential is too vast to be adequately treated in a book 10 times the size. This is because the 'Blue Box' provides the Bally Arcade with many of the features of a normal personal computer about which volumes have already been written. What I hope to provide here is a sketch of what the 'Blue Box' can do as well as some sample "experimental" applications." The notebook provides quite a few details and sketches. This is a great find! Adam
  12. I came across a channel on YouTube called "Placelogohere." There are currently 126 videos of Astrocade titles, including (mostly, in fact) BASIC games and games/programs that require expansion memory. It looks like someone got the UlltiMulti multicart and a Lil' White Ram and had some fun going through many of the games on that cartridge. These videos were uploaded in September 2017, but hardly anyone has watched these videos. In fact, currently, most videos have less than ten views! None of the videos I watched had any commentary, which is too bad. These videos look pretty good and are worth watching especially if you don't have an Astrocade, because then videos are the only way to view many of these games, since the MAME emulator doesn't support loading tapes. Placelogohere created an Astrocade playlist on his playlist page: https://www.youtube.com/user/placelogohere/playlists To get you started, here are links to some of the more interesting videos: Arcade Golf, by Gambits (Ken Lill). 1983. Blue RAM BASIC, 2000-Baud, Requires Expansion RAM. From ad in "Arcadian" newsletter: For 16k & 32k Blue Ram Basic 1.1 Extended RAM. 1-4 PLAYERS. 1-4 HAND CONTROLS. No bang-bang shoot-em-ups here. Just your choice of 9 or 18 holes of golf!. Each hole is different -- each and every time!! There are trees, a lake, sand traps and an always changing wind! With the wind gusting up to 25mph, your ball can be blown off its course. Try to break par. It isn't as easy as you might think. Music Keyboard, by WaveMakers 1987. Expanded BASIC, 2000-Baud, Extra RAM Required. This is an enhanced version of the AstroBASIC program that was released on Tape 17 in December 1982. Pro Golf, by Henry Sopko. 1988. 2000 baud, Blue RAM BASIC (+16K). This game was converted into a BASICart. Ken Lill's instruction book for the UltiMulti Cartridge has these brief instructions for the game: This is similar to the "Links" games. The "Swing" power/slice box is controlled by to trigger. Let go at just the right time to get the maximum shot. The "right" time is when the moving box is in line with the line on the right side. Everything else is pretty much easy to figure out. Flying Ace 82, by WaveMakers 1982 AstroBASIC FLYING ACE is for 1 to 4 players. Try to gun down the enemy before your time runs out. Get the "feel" of flying a fighter plane. At first everything seems backwards until you get the hang of it, then you'll become a FLYING ACE. Avalanche!, by Steve Walters Tape 821, April 1982 AstroBASIC Paul Thacker comments, "It's kind of like a strategy Pachinko game--pretty unique. [...] Yes, I definitely interpreted it as lowest score wins." We played Avalanche! during season 1, round 7 of the Astrocade High Score along with Bally Pin (Pinball): http://atariage.com/forums/topic/252219-hsc01-round-7-bally-pin-pinball/?hl=%2Bavalanche 1-4 players drop blocks through a system of levers. Depending on the positions of the levers, the blocks will either get stuck or fall to the bottom. After a set number of turns, the player who let the fewest number of blocks fall to the bottom wins. Dungeons of Dracula, by WaveMakers Tape 16, October 1982. A real adventure game with mazes, doors, keys, and 7 different monsters. Can you get all the way to the top room (level 10) in time? Will you trap the terrible two-headed monster or the giant spider or Dracula himself? Find out how you will do when you play Dungeons of Dracula. You are the chain which enters the maze from the left. Your mission is to trap the monster by surrounding him with your chain. You cannot touch anything, including the key, until the monster has been trapped. When you trap the monster, you must grab the key which opens the door on the right to enter the next maze. Time is always running out so you must hurry. As the maze level gets higher it becomes harder to trap the monster in the maze. It may take a smaller box around the monster to trap him. You can go over your own chain to remove it and reposition your trap for the monster. Extra time can be gained by trapping the monster and picking up the key. You cannot go through the door until it is open. You can escape to the previous maze by going out the door on the right. If the monster escapes, you remain at the same level but you lose time and must rebuild your traps. If anyone else finds some videos that they like, then please post direct links to them here. Adam
  13. Over the next few months I'm going to be uploading to YouTube video art programs created on the Astrocade. I'll post all of the links to them in this thread; this is the first of them. I have uploaded a ten minute video of the Viper Test Pattern by Alternative Engineering. This is a video art program for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade that was released in 1981. It requires a RAM Expansion and an extended BASIC, such as Vipersoft BASIC or Blue Ram BASIC. I captured this video using my Framemeister setup, which is quite extensive and complicated. I plan to document it sometime in the next few months. For now, just know that this video was captured from an Astrocade with RF out. This video is one of about 60 video art programs that I've recorded over the last few weeks. The other video art programs were all written in Bally BASIC or "AstroBASIC." The extra colors of this Viper Test Pattern are neat to those who know the limitations of the original Astrocade BASIC cartridges. That's why I chose to upload this one to YouTube first. According to The BASIC Express newsletter, "The program puts up a gorgeous ever-changing complex pattern on the screen. You would swear that 32 different colors are on screen at the same time." This is a neat program that uses some of the features of extended BASIC (such as the CIRCLE command) and the additional colors that are not available without using machine language from Bally BASIC or "AstroBASIC." This video art program was released on a cassette tape with Viper 1 RAM Expansion. It also appeared in July/August 1981 The BASIC Express newsletter (Vol. 3, Pages 26-27) and the December 1981 Arcadian newsletter (Vol. 4, Page 19). As I said, over the next few months I'll be uploading additional video art to YouTube. For now, enjoy one of the precious few videos that shows-off extended BASIC on the Astrocade. Adam
  14. How to Trim Astrocade Third-Party Cartridges to Fit More-Easily (I posted this fix today to the Bally Alley Yahoo groups, but I figure I should post it here to, as there seem to be more readers on Astrocade AtariAge sub-forum than on the Astrocade Yahoo group.) The third-party cartridge cases for several Astrocade games, such as Sea Devil, ICBM Attack and the various UltiMulti cartridges from Ken Lill (among others) can be little tough to fit into the cartridge slot when inserting them into the Astrocade. Ken explained to me a few days ago an easy way to fix this problem. Here's what you need to do: 1) Trim the cartridge case with an X-acto knife. Trim about 1/16'th of an inch (don't trim too much!) of plastic from these two areas in this picture: That's it. In the above picture , the top cartridge is a third-party cartridge, and the bottom cartridge is a regular cartridge from Bally/Astrocade, Inc. (in this case, the cartridge is The Incredible Wizard). I tried this fix, and now my third-party cartridges insert into the cartridge slot much easier now. Give it a try; you'll be happy you did it. (Special thanks to Ken for his help with this simple, but clever, fix.) Adam
  15. The Astro-daptor is a USB interface for connecting Bally/Astrocade controllers to your PC/Mac, Raspberry Pi, or game console that supports USB HID. No driver is needed as the Astro-daptor is recognized as a USB HID (Human Interface Device) joystick. You can buy one here: http://www.2600-daptor.com/Astro-daptor.htm Michael Matte wrote instructions on how to get this astrocade hand controller adapter to work with the MAME emulator. SETTING UP THE ASTRO-DAPTOR FOR USE WITH A HAND CONTROLLER ON THE MAME ASTROCADE EMULATOR 1. Plug your hand contoller into the Astro-daptor and then the Astro-daptor into your computer. 2. Initialize MAME and display the Astrocade menu. 3. Press your keyboard "Tab" key. 4. The Tab menu will pop up. Point to "Input (this machine)", then double-click or press the "Enter" key. 5. The Inputs menu will pop up. You will see a listing of 8 parameters for each player input. Below is a listing of 6 parameters for use with an Astrocade hand controller showing the desired settings, plus 2 parameters for an optional keyboard paddle motion setting. P1 up Joy1 up P1 down joy1 down P1 left joy1 left P1 right joy1 right P1 button 1 joy1 button 0 Paddle analog joy1 Z rotation Paddle analog dec Z* Paddle analog inc X* * This input setting is for an optional paddle motion using the keyboard. 6. The desired input parameter to change must be highlighted in yellow. Use your keyboard down/up keys to point to the desired input parameter. 7. The current input setting must be deleted, unless you want to ADD your new setting to the current setting. Avoid double left-clicking your mouse to change the input setting, because you may experience setting problems. To delete the current setting and enter a new setting: A. Press the enter key to display left/right pointers. B. Press the Esc key so the input setting reads "None". C. Press the enter key to display the left/right pointers again. D. Move joystick, pot or pull trigger to display desired setting. E. If you make a setting mistake, go back to step A and repeat the procedure. Notes: If you can't set a joystick input setting, it is likely the Astro-daptor is not sensing that input. Confirm your hand controller is fully functional. This same procedure in above steps 6 and 7 can be used to change or add keyboard settings. 8. To exit this Inputs menu, move up or down to "Return to Previous Menu" and double-click, press Enter key or pull joystick trigger. 9. To exit first Input menu, move to "Return to machine" and select it. HOW TO ACCESS "DEAD ZONE" AND "JOYSTICK SATURATION" PARAMETERS 1. Go back to the Systems listing by pressing the "Esc" key. Right click "Bally Profession Arcade". 2. A "Configure Machine" menu will pop up. Point to "Advanced Options", if necessary, and double-click or press the "Enter" key. 3. Move down or up to the "Inputs Options" area within this menu. You will see within this area, Joystick Dead Zone Joystick Saturation. It looks like the default settings for these two parameters are 0.3 and 0.85 respectively. You do NOT have to change these settings. The default settings seem to work fine. The Astro-daptor recommendation is 0.0 for the Dead Zone and 0.85 or 0.90 for the Saturation. To change a setting, point to it and highlight it, so left/right pointers appear next to the setting. Use the keyboard left or right keys to adjust the setting. 4. To exit this menu, move down to "Return To Previous Menu" and select it by double-clicking or pressing the "Enter" key. End of document MCM Design Feb 2019
  16. I have added a 38-minute video of Ken Lill's Blue Ram Operating Guide to YouTube. The first eight minutes of the video are an overview of the "Guide," while the rest of the video is the tutorial that Ken wrote. You can watch it on YouTube here: If you're interested in downloading a higher-quality video (2.43GB, 720p, 10Mbs, MP4) to watch on your TV or computer, then you can get that at archive.org, here: https://archive.org/details/BlueRamOperatingGuidebyKenLill The Blue Ram Operating Guide by Ken Lill is a Blue Ram BASIC tutorial written for the Bally Arcade/ Astrocade in 1984. The Blue Ram Operating Guide loads using the Perkins Engineering Blue Ram RAM expansion for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The "Guide" is an interactive tutorial which starts out explaining the operation of the Blue Ram hardware-- how to connect it to the Astrocade, what the switches do, and more. This includes some images and animations. The later sections are mostly text explaining the new commands in Blue Ram BASIC. The Blue Ram Operating Guide requires 16K of expansion RAM and is used from four cassette tape loads (actually, each load is three separate loads). When the load is done, it tells the user to turn off the tape (i.e. stop playing the archived file). It also tells the user when to turn the tape back on again. Then the program automatically senses when the new load is started. It then asks the user to wait for the load and then goes through its explanation again. It took Ken Lill over three months to create the tape that shows almost all of the features of the Blue Ram BASIC 1.1 in "real time." The tutorial actually shows on the screen what each feature does and how to use it, rather than the user needing to go through the manual and look up how the new Blue Ram BASIC commands work. The video is split into three main parts: 0:00 - Narration and overview of Blue Ram Operating Guide 7:40 - Blue Ram Operating Guide (video of all four parts of the tutorial) 37:21 - End Credits If you're curious about the extra features of Blue Ram BASIC 1.1, then you will enjoy this tutorial for Astrocade users. This video makes a great follow-up to the overview that I made of the Blue Ram hardware last week. If you missed that video, then you can read about it in this post: http://atariage.com/forums/topic/278894-blue-ram-expansion-for-astrocade-hardware-overview/ The Blue Ram hardware is a mystery to many Astrocade fans. Hopefully this video helps to shed some light on this otherwise niche area of the Astrocade that few have seen before now. Adam
  17. The Bally Shrine was a web site run by Charles Taylor in the mid-to-late 1990s. Along with Lance Squire's Bally / Astrocade FAQ, The Bally Shrine is the first Astrocade-related website that I ever saw. It is quite difficult to find any references to this website, as it seems to have been gone since the early 2000s. I've uploaded a three-page print out of The Astrocade Sale/Trade web page to archive.org. The first page looks like this: This document was scanned from the Bob Fabris Collection. Of course, all of these items that are listed for sale are no longer available. Which is a true shame, as this was probably the last place where the Astrocade kiosk was sold brand new; they cost $100. This is the seldom-seen-except-in-pictures kiosk: Imagine getting this kiosk, brand new, for a hundred bucks?!? Charles was unable to get rid of all the kiosks; they took up too much space. I think he threw away the unsold kiosks. Curt Vendel build a homebrew Astrocade Kiosk that was displayed at the Philly Classic 3 in April 2002. You can read about that here: http://www.ballyalley.com/pics/hardware_pics/astrocade_kiosk/Homebrew_Astrocade_Kiosk/Homebrew_Astrocade_Kiosk.html It's strange that people claim that once something is added to the Internet that it is around forever, for The Bally Shrine website clearly shows that this isn't true. It's nice to be able to see this small portion of the website again, even if it is only a small detail of what was available there. You can download the printout of the website here: https://archive.org/details/TheBallyShrine1999AstroSaleTradeWebPage It's is both strange and cool to see this "website" again! Does anyone else remember The Bally Shrine website? Adam
  18. A while ago i stumbled over The Console Living Room at archive.org. You can play Atari 2600, Atari 7800, ColecoVision, Odyssey 2, Astrocade and SG-1000 games there directly via in-browser emulation (MESS). Very handy if you wanna play a few old games without downloading emulators and roms. Have a look!
  19. Took a chance, and overpaid for a 1977 Bally Professional Arcade (Astrocade). It did not say if it was working or not. Luckily it is working, and after removing the "switch box" (which gave an almost all snow picture) to going from the RF to Coax adapter, it is bright, rich and clear! It is so nice, I've abandoned looking for composite/s-video mods! This is the Bally Arcade with "Arcade" on a red background, and the screen says 1977. I think I will first add that resistor to the data chip. That is the one that gets hot and fails, right? A document on BalleyAlley says that there is too much voltage going to that chip, and that less voltage will run cooler and be more reliable. Anybody here done this? In doing this I will have removed the shielding, which I'll leave off. Besides a fan, any other tips or suggestions?
  20. ANNOUNCING!! NEW UltiMulti Version 2.0 cart. This cart is like Version 1.5.2 with the following changes: Still only $100.00 USD 163 unique programs War by Riff-Raff games is added Crazy Climber by Riff Raff games is added The Original Blue Ram Utility has been added A new RWB utility with a new command (CMPR) that compares 2 databases. The DIAG now checks All types of add on memory. The text describing where to set switches for multiple loads has been fixed to be easier to understand. This is going to be the last version of the UltiMulti carts. I will not produce any more after July 4, 2014. I need to give special thanks to some people that made this cartridge possible... Mike White who's Quarda program and Putt Golf, etc. plus all of his knowledge in making these carts possible. Mike Garber (Riff-Raff Games) who's programs War and Crazy Climber helped make this cart unique. Richard Degler who's programs and unrivaled knowledge of this system and it's machine language made it possible to make the RBW Utility possible. The late Leroy Flamm who discovered how to make the original BASICcart and other refinements. And lastly Adam Trionfo of ballyalley.com for his diligence in cross checking and finding errors as my Beta tester. I still will reprogram older UM carts for $25.00+S&H. Thanks, Ken Lill
  21. Has anyone here used the Music Maker cartridge for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade to create music or sound effects? I'm referring to this cartridge: The above picture is for the version of Music Maker with the built-in tape interface. However, this program can be used without the interface. Music Maker is included on, I think, all of the Astrocade multicarts. Here is the manual for this "game:" http://www.ballyalley.com/cart_manuals/pdf_manuals/docs-music_maker.pdf Here is a video of Music Maker: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzV7mS_lk1E The above video just shows the program being used, rather randomly, for a couple of minutes. I've never seen a video that shows the program being used to create music, which also requires, I think, use of the following keypad overlay: If anyone has experience with music, then I'd love to watch a narrated video of someone using Music Maker to create even a short piece of music (even Camptown Races would be fine!). Is anyone up for the challenge? Adam
  22. About last year, I fiddled on ePay and won an auction for a Bally Astrocade, with some games, and one joystick. Only now I got enough time to finally look on it, and check out the misfit of the console. When it arrived, it rattled inside. Never a good sight. Turn out it was just a penny, minted in 1981 However, one capacitor was snapped, and I discovered in horror the cooling system of the console - a cheap array of metallic madness. So I worked to make the console workable - note that I had pics of the console working before shipping, but Internet is filled with horror stories of those systems dying after shipping across the US... so a trans-oceanic shipping? Well anyway, today was the final day, where I got a new capacitor - the older one had a leg broken at the base, making it impossible to resold - the capacitor might have exploded from heating. With newspaper proof that it's THERE, and not anywhere else I know it's a dirty cut job, but I only had one drill, one plier and a hammer to do that so... hush I had to look into the attic to find an old travel TV, and THAT one only accepted NTSC-M RF video. I played with one hand to shot the vid, so yeah I suck
  23. Solar Conqueror is the main game for Round 1 of the second season of the Astrocade High Score Club. This game, which takes place in space with you controlling a ship that must shoot baddies, reminds me of Blast Droids, the last game that we played in season 1 of the HSC. However, the similarities are slight. Whereas Blast Droids was a chore to play, Solar Conqueror is fun! The BASIC bonus game, Space Gauntlet, is an another game that takes place in in the depths of the dark forbidden universe that teams with, you got it!, more baddies. This game, while released on tape for both Bally BASIC and "AstroBASIC," the program has only been archived in 300-baud Bally BASIC format. This means that you'll need the Bally Tape interface to load it. Season 3, Round 1 will last about three weeks. The round ends on Sunday, February 26'th at 8pm MST. Solar Conqueror Solar Conqueror is an 8K cartridge by Astrocade, Inc. released in 1983. This game is among the last official releases for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. This game was developed at Action Graphics by Scot L. Norris (design and audio), Thomas McHugh (programmer), and Julie Malan (graphics). In the Bally/Astrocade Game Cartridge and Hardware FAQ, Michael White says that this game "was called Solar Quest in some references in Astrocade newsletters." A game called Solar Quest was released for the Vectrex game system, but (other than taking place in space), this Vectrex game seems unrelated to Solar Conqueror. For emulation use in MESS, the Solar Conqueror cartridge ROM image (called "solarcnq.bin") is part of this archive: http://www.ballyalley.com/emulation/cart_images/cart_images.html#AstrocadeROMCollection In the October 24, 1983 issue of the Arcadian newsletter, in The Game Player column, Michael Prosise wrote a positive review of Solar Conqueror, which you can read here: http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/reviews/astrocade_reviews.txt A pdf of the Solar Conqueror manual is here: http://www.ballyalley.com/cart_manuals/pdf_manuals/Solor_Conqueror_(instructions)(astrocade)(color)(300%20dpi).pdf The Solar Conqueror announcement/press release is here: http://www.ballyalley.com/documentation/press/Solar_Conqueror_[Press_Release_06-06-1982].pdf On March 30, 2011, "Nice and Games" published a video review of Solar Conqueror: On February 2, 1999, Rob Mitchell retyped the Solor Conqueror manual. I've included it here: Solar Conqueror Instructions You are in deep space, test-piloting the latest in space technology, when your home planet Libnah learns of a surprise attack of the diabolical, war hungry DEMENS from the NATIS galaxy. A radiation death-ray threatens to wipe out your entire race. It's up to you to conquer the enemy solar systems! Solar Conqueror (1-4 players) As the dreaded DEMENS death-ray gets closer and closer, your computer has classified their solar systems from lightly defensed to almost invincible! It will guide you through harder and harder systems until you have conquered their entire civilization. Starting the Game Choose Solar Conqueror by pressing 1 on the keypad or by using remote game selection (pull the trigger on hand control #1, turn the knob until 1 appears on the screen, then pull the trigger again). Select the number of players (1-4). As the player proceeds from one solar system to another, the game becomes increasingly more difficult. Players can start at a more difficult level by choosing a higher number solar system to begin with. This serves as a handicapping for better players. Playing the Game The hand control functions for Solar Conqueror are: Joystick - Steers the ship and controls its speed Knob - Has no function Trigger - Shoots the bullets The object of the game is to score the most points by destroying enemy defenses, defeating their planets, and conquering their solar systems. Each player starts by selecting the number of ships on the menu. Ships have 8 possible directions and a maximum speed controlled by the joystick. A ship decelerates when no direction is selected, but it is always in motion. The trigger shoots 1 of 8 possible "in-air" bullets. You have defeated a planet once you destroy all its weapons. When you have conquered all the planets in a solar system, you advance to the next. Whenever a player is hit, he loses a ship and he gives up his turn to the next player. If a planet is defeated and the player dies, he still moves on to the next planet. Solar System Number of Planets 1 and 2 2 3 and beyond 4 Planets appear on the right side of the screen, numbered in decreasing order as you get closer to the sun, e.g. in Solar System 1, which has 2 planets, Planet 2 appears first, followed by Planet 1. The more gravity a planet has, the more difficult it is to control your spaceship. The larger the planet, the stronger the planet's gravity. The higher a planet's solar system, the better its defenses. As you fly closer to the planet, the effect of its gravity increases. The alien defenses have 3 types of weapons: Kamikaze combat ships Ground-to-air missiles Super fighting (killer) satellites Planets also have dangerous asteroids floating around them. All alien forces appear near the planet and travel toward the player. Kamikaze ships are essentially flying bombs. True to their name, they will try to crash into you. Missiles are fired from the planet's surface. If a missile launcher is left after all other weapons and asteroids have been destroyed, it will launch its last missiles and disappear. If there are alien defenses remaining, the launcher will rebuild. A timer appears in the upper left corner to time the rebuilding process. Rebuilding is quicker in higher systems. Killer satellites have minimal weaponry range but excellent timing and accuracy. And they change size depending on how close they are to the player. In higher systems there are two at once of every weapon! Whenever you are ready to enter the space vortex to reach your next planet, or to enter hyperspace to reach a new solar system, the pulsating aura near the left edge of the screen surrounds your ship and makes you invisible until you are in range of the next planet. The moment you become visible to each other, the fighting begins! Scoring The number of points you score depends on the type of enemy force you destroy: Type of Defense Points Asteroids (large to small) 4, 6, 8, 10 Kamikaze Ships 20 Missiles 10 Missile Launchers 50 Killer satellites (large to small) 10, 20, 30, 40 Conquering a planet gives you bonus points equal to the solar system number times 25. Conquering a solar system awards the player a free ship and bonus points equal to the system number times 100. When playing System 9 and beyond, the same scoring applies, except you are given 2 free ships instead of 1. Strategies for Winning Learning to control your spaceship against the ever changing forces of gravity is the most difficult aspect of the game. There is also a SLIPPER built into the ion drives of the ship, which enables you SLIP in one direction and face another without accelerating in the direction of the ship; e.g. accelerate up, then face right for an instant and let go of the joystick. The ship will continue to slide up while the player faces right and strikes a target. Becoming skillful at the SLIPPER will prove a powerful advantage over the enemy. If you begin at the lowest system, it will be easier to gain extra ships, but you will accumulate points slower and you risk losing ships. Starting higher gives you more points sooner, but be careful: they won't come easy! Playing Again To play Solar Conqueror again, press the RESET button, and follow the instructions for starting the game. As usual, 10 points can be earned this round (excluding bonus points). The play settings for Solar Conqueror are: # of Ships - 3 Enter System - 1 There is a hyperdrive-like sequence before every solar system. Watching the stars whizz by your "windshield" is neat a few times, but then it gets repetitive and seems to take too long. You can skip this "warp" screen by pulling the trigger. Solar Conqueror Bonus Points There are five ways to score bonus points for Solar Conqueror: 1) Highest Solar System and Planet Reached - The player who reaches the furthest in the game will be awarded a bonus point. If you can manage it, take a screenshot of your highest solar system (which is displayed prior to a level beginning). 2) Beating 89,588 points starting on level 1 - Chuck Hirsch scored 89,588 points with three men on the "Official Astrocade Scoreboard," ARCADIAN, 6, no. 11/12 (Oct. 31 1984): 111. Beat his score and you'll get bonus point. 3) Beating 136,742 points starting on level 9 - Thomas Wenzel scored 136,742 points with three men on the "Official Astrocade Scoreboard," ARCADIAN, 6, no. 11/12 (Oct. 31 1984): 111. Beat this impressive score starting from system 9 and earn a bonus point. 4) Spotting a Possible Bug at 10,000 Points - As noted in the December 22, 1983 The Game Player column in the Arcadian newsletter: "Solar Conqueror programming flaw? Maybe. When the score goes over 9,999, it changes to two digits instead of five, and six extra ships are awarded. Also, the sound effects become distorted. What's the story here?" The first person to document what happens at 10,000 points gets a bonus point. If you make a video of this "bug," then you'll earn another bonus point. 5) Documenting the Solar Conqueror Prototypes - There are three prototype versions of Solar Conqueror that are available in the Astrocade software archive. You'll earn a bonus point for each prototype that you play and document. Yes, you can earn up to three bonus points here. It is possible to earn up to eight Solar Conqueror bonus points. Wow, that's a whole lot of bonus points! Space Gauntlet (BASIC Bonus Game) Space Gauntlet is this round's BASIC bonus game. This game was released in 1982 by Tiny Arcade on tape 100 and Supertape 1. It was programmed by Tom McConnell. Space Gauntlet is pretty simple, and it controls quite slowly. I'm not sure how much fun there is to be had here, but I'm putting this game forward for others to try because I like the idea of this game. Unfortunately, I don't think that BASIC has the power to do this game justice. Perhaps the "AstroBASIC" version of this game plays a little better (since "AstroBASIC" runs a little faster than Bally BASIC). It would be double-plus cool to see a machine language homebrew cartridge based on this idea. Here is the tape that was sent to Bob Fabris of the Arcadian (there was probably a Tiny Arcade labeled version of this tape, but I've not seen it). You can read the game's instructions here: http://www.ballyalley.com/tape_manuals/tiny_arcade/tiny_arcade.html#SpaceGauntletTinyArcadeDocs There are two different BASIC listing for Space Gauntlet available: BASIC Listing (as printed on a printer): http://www.ballyalley.com/type-in_programs/Tiny_Arcade/Tiny_Arcade.html#SpaceGauntletPrintedBASICListing BASIC Listing (hand-written): http://http://www.ballyalley.com/type-in_programs/Tiny_Arcade/Tiny_Arcade.html#SpaceGauntletHandwittenBASICListing You can download Space Gauntlet for Bally BASIC here: http://www.ballyalley.com/program_downloads/300_baud_programs/Tiny_Arcade/Space%20Gauntlet%20(1982)(The%20Tiny%20Arcade)(BB).zip Here is a game description of Space Gauntlet from the Winter/Spring 1984 Sourcebook catalog: You're at the controls of an interstellar cruiser patrolling a remote sector of the galaxy when you encounter the local inhabitants. These denizens of deep space don't "cotton" to strangers and they arrange themselves into two columns, firing missiles and daring you to survive their deadly gauntlet. The longer you survive, the closer the two columns of alien nasties approach (making it more difficult to avoid their missiles). Exiting graphics and excellent play value. One player. Here are the full instructions (which I've OCR'ed) for Space Gauntlet: Space Gauntlet Instructions (One Player) You control a star cruiser patrolling a remote sector of the galaxy when you encounter the local inhabitants. These denizens of deep-space don't "cotton" to strangers and they arrange themselves into two columns, firing missiles and challenging you to fly between them and survive the deadly gauntlet. Your objective is to pilot the ship through the attackers, avoid their missiles (the small square objects) and score points by destroying as many of the hostiles as possible. To accelerate through the columns (down the middle of the screen) pull the joystick back; to slow down, push the stick forward. The engines of the ship work on an action-reaction principle, so it takes a short time to speed up and slow down. Use the ability to change speed to avoid enemy missiles and position the ship to fire at the attackers. (You cannot move "backwards"-i.e. toward the top of the screen, but you can come to a dead stop.) To fire at the right column of aliens, push the joystick to the right. To fire left, move the stick to the left. The right column fires missiles at random, while the left column fires missiles that tend to "home in" on your ship. The longer you survive, the closer the two columns of aliens will approach. At the start of the game, each alien hit is worth 10 points. At their closest approach, each is worth 50 points. You have a fleet of four ships with which to engage the enemy. The game ends when all four have been destroyed. Press any key for replay Space Gauntlet Bonus Points 1) Playing Space Gauntlet - You get a bonus point just for playing Space Gauntlet. 2) Highest Score for Space Gauntlet- You can earn another bonus point if score the highest on this game. 3) Video of Space Gauntlet - A bonus point will be awarded to the first person to upload a video of Space Gauntlet containing a full game. If the video is a video review, then you'll earn two points! High Score Club Rules Please post all of your scores for both games here. Scores posted on the Bally Alley discussion group will not be accepted. If you post a video score, then please note the score obtained in the video-- as this makes it easier for me to keep track of all the scores. It's time to conquer the combined power of this round's Solar Gauntlet. Tightly strap yourself into your ship and blast off into space to do battle with the Bally Baddies! Adam
  24. Hello all! I would like to know more about the Professionnal Arcade/Astrocade PSU. I found pictures on the net, of which give two different voltage (the first is for the Bally Professionnal Arcade and the second for the Astrovision Astrocade). So, what does it mean really? Can I replace a dead Bally Professionnal Arcade PSU with a simple 12V AC, as it seems to be what it is for the Astrocade ? If so, which wires will be paired as "live" and which as "neutral"? A more tricky question : can the PSU support 50htz? I know it's meant to, but I heard many time that most PSU made for 60 Htz are fine with 50 htz.
  25. It pays to revisit and scan the Bob Fabris collection once in a while. I'm currently scanning in the last box of material that I have in my garage. This box contains the cut and paste versions of the Arcadian newsletter. This box has been very low on the to-scan priority list, as (so I thought) everything in it was scanned already in another format. Well, I was mostly right. I have found a few neat tid-bits in the box so far: this is one of them. Today, I added to letter to Bally Arcade/Astrocade venders that Bob Fabris wrote on January 1, 1983. On December 30, 1982, Astrocade, Inc. declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bob Fabris wrote this letter, hopefully of opportunity, to many of the vendors who wrote software and created hardware for the Astrocade. Bob hoped to be able to carry the thousands of Astrocade users through the coming drought brought on by the declaration of bankruptcy. This one-page letter describes Bobs ideas on how to do this for Astrocade owners and distributors. You can read the letter here: http://www.ballyalley.com/newsletters/arcadian/arcadian_misc.html#LetterAstrocadeDistributors I OCRed this letter. Here is the complete letter (a few comments from me follow): ---------------------------------------- ARCADIAN 1-1-1983 OPPORTUNITY (?) Well, Astrocade bit the dust Thursday, asking protection from creditors under the provisions of the infamous Chapter 11. The latest news report from Nitron is attached - they stopped trading on Friday "pending news", and there is a possibility they may drop as well - see your papers. So where does that leave us? Well, of the various options, it seems to me that there is opportunity here for the third party vendors (TPV) to step in because the only game in town now is the TPV GROUP (pun intended). Only you fellows have material for the unit. There are lots of owners out there, and they will either be 1) left in the lurch if the whole thing collapses never to be seen again. 2) left in a hesitancy period while a Receiver is chosen and restructuring of the 'new' Astrocade company is completed. 3) same as 2) until a new company buys out the assets and starts up. Under any one of those three - or anything else, I would guess - there will be a void that can be filled by the T --- an opportunity to step forward and present wares to ... who? Timing - the CES is right now, who's there? All those distributor guys who know where dealers are - the ones still in step. The best time/place to get in touch with outlets. It seems to me that a best-foot-forward approach to the distributors, etc., that will be there is the only thing to do. Dick Houser and I plan to function as your collective agent, essentially representing everyone in the Sourcebook. We will be pushing the Sourcebook to the distributors - whoever is left - with the message that we can be the bridge of available stock that can tide the dealers over until the reconstructed Arcade is back in production. This representation scheme is only temporary, to take advantage of the opportunity presenting itself. We've been noodling about in this area in a sort of wishy-washy way - now we can be definitive and make those contacts that are available. Who else? Well there are thousands of machines in owners' hands and we can get at a few of them through advertising in the game publications. What have been the replies from the Electronic Games ad? This kind of advertising should be looked into as a possible on-going thing. And also, we can make contact with 8 or 9000 owners that I have from mailing lists, for direct mailings. These are not subscribers, so they are not normally contacted. Also, I'm sure a number of them are no longer interested or owners. Anyway, a package of literature can be shipped to alert these people to TPV existence. OTHER STUFF------ Game Production: The Alternative Engineering people are now geared up to produce cartridges for the Arcade unit, utilizing EPROMs. They will also handle distribution - contact them if you have a program that you would like to have prepared in the cartridge format-- certainly a better way to get a program into a machine than tape, and there's more capacity. ---------------------------------------- To me, this letter exemplifies the ways in which the Astrocade community pulled together to keep software and hardware available for users of the, soon-to-be, defunct Astrocade game console/computer system. Adam
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