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Galaga For Atari 2600

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GALAGA WIP UPDATE!

 

ZeroPage Homebrew is back to play stream some more of Champ Games' Galaga TOMORROW (Sunday) at 11AM PT on Twitch!

 

Twitch Stream: https://www.twitch.tv/zeropagehomebrew/

 

We'll be playing head to head the Arcade vs 2600 versions of Galaga hunting for bugs and gameplay accuracy. John Champeau has just sent over a NEW WIP version of Galaga to ZeroPage that updates a number of things including the ship capture bug. He's also added in Savekey support so we'll be able to retain our high scores!

 

Join us LIVE tomorrow (Sunday) on the ZeroPage Homebrew Twitch livestream at 11AM PT | 1PM ET | 6PM GMT for some more Atari 2600 Homebrew Gaming!

 

(note: not the official cart artwork)

post-37205-0-31811800-1558217823_thumb.png

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The demo will run in Stella (you need the new version that runs CDFJ, currently in beta) or on a standard Harmony Cart.

 

 

Or, alternatively, in Stellerator.

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Wow, this looks great. I have just seen this now.

 

"Galaga" is a cult-game, which i still play alot in different versions. The original game in M.A.M.E., the great ports of the game for the Atari-7800 and the NES, "Galaga 88" on the PC-Engine and the Arcade, "Galencia" on the C-64, "Deluxe Galaga" on the Amiga, or the great Galaga clone "Warblade" on the PC and and and .... There exists really alot of good ports and clones of this game.

 

And now this great looking version comes for the Atari VCS-2600. I am really looking forward to this !!! :thumbsup:

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The game does run on a standard harmony cart (encore version not needed) using the ARM processor programmed with the new CDFJ driver..

 

Driver needed? Do we need to reflash our harmony to support cdfj?

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Driver needed? Do we need to reflash our harmony to support cdfj?

 

 

BIOS: Version 1.05, uploaded May 23, 2010

  • Support for Sega Genesis controllers in the menu (hold down button B during power on)
  • 3F bankswitching now works with files up to 32k (e.g Andrew Davie's dancing baby demo)
  • Support for new bankswitching (such as DPC+) without requiring future BIOS updates
  • Certain F6 games that didn't work on version 1.04e should work now
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3. Support for new bankswitching (such as DPC+) without requiring future BIOS updates

 

 

Great! Now my Harmony can`t wait to play the game. :) "ZEROPAGE HOMEBREW", give me the PAL60 version! ;) :party:

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Great! Now my Harmony can`t wait to play the game. :) "ZEROPAGE HOMEBREW", give me the PAL60 version! ;) :party:

We'll be releasing an NTSC and PAL60 demo this weekend! :)

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Posted (edited)

Played it about 1,5 hours today. This game is a hard competitor now for "PHOENIX" as my personal number-1-shooter on the Atari VCS-2600. Maybe i have two number-1 shooters now. :)

 

Good color-choice for the PAL60 version by the way. Looks very good on my PAL-Atari console and looks also very close to the colors of the NTSC version, at least in STELLA, i have no NTSC-console to compare.

 

And this game with all his nice colors of the enemies, also proves, that the newer Stella PAL-palette, which find it's way as the standard-palette in emulator version V6.0, really is much better than the old PAL palette and really close to the colors on my PAL console.

Edited by AW127
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A friend of me asked, if it's possible to run the game on the "MiST" or the "MiSTer". Maybe not everybody knows these hardware, it's a FPGA hardware which can run different cores of retro computers or consoles and a Atari-2600 core also exist for it. I suppose, that a support for such games like GALAGA could be integrated somehow in the Atari-2600 core, right? When it's possible to integrate it in software-emulators like STELLA, it should be possible to integrate it in a FPGA-core too. Or i am wrong?

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Just tried the demo... this might be the most insane thing I've ever seen pulled off on the 2600!  😮

And there's a lot of insane homebrew for ye olde VCS!  How did you manage so many sprites on a horizontal line?!  Even with flickering and the phosphor fade effect, it's still absolute madness!

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On 6/16/2019 at 1:20 AM, Fragmare said:

Just tried the demo... this might be the most insane thing I've ever seen pulled off on the 2600!  😮

And there's a lot of insane homebrew for ye olde VCS!  How did you manage so many sprites on a horizontal line?!  Even with flickering and the phosphor fade effect, it's still absolute madness!

Amazing game for sure.  It's using a significant "hardware accelerator" in the form of the Harmony cart.  Stock 2600 could obviously do nothing close to this.  I don't mean anything negative by this.  I'm buying a copy when available, and I have had a Harmony cart since it came out.

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Been playing the Atari a bit as I haven't in weeks... PacMan, E.T. Galaxian, Frogger... I don't play long honestly, but the idea of playing Galaga on this hardware is fascinating.  I have always enjoyed arcade games ported to a system this "low end" as it is interesting what sacrifices are chosen to allow it.

I will certainly be buying the physical form of this game when available.

While I don't program for the Atari and have no idea how they actually work, I do work as a software engineer for some (non-gaming) systems... but still, having read all of this thread, and considering some of the methods described to get this running, I can compare what was done with original Atari programs and have a good idea of the inventiveness it took to get something like this running so well.

 

Thank you guys again for doing this.  Amazing job.

 

MrBlackCat

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Posted (edited)
On 6/16/2019 at 1:20 AM, Fragmare said:

Just tried the demo... this might be the most insane thing I've ever seen pulled off on the 2600!  😮

And there's a lot of insane homebrew for ye olde VCS!  How did you manage so many sprites on a horizontal line?!  Even with flickering and the phosphor fade effect, it's still absolute madness!

 

2 hours ago, Stephen said:

Amazing game for sure.  It's using a significant "hardware accelerator" in the form of the Harmony cart.  Stock 2600 could obviously do nothing close to this.  I don't mean anything negative by this.  I'm buying a copy when available, and I have had a Harmony cart since it came out.

Like Stephen says, we are using the ARM processor in the Harmony cart to do a lot of the data preparation for the 2600 kernels that draw the sprites and for game logic.  However, the 8 multi-color sprites on a line with no flicker has nothing to do with the ARM; this trick was done in Atari's Galaxian released back in 1983.  With the fast fetch mode of the CDFJ driver we do have more cycles to update more TIA sprites; we use this extra time to draw the stars and an extra missile to reduce flicker on the other objects.  The biggest advantage to me with ARM programming is the time that it saves me since I have developed a pretty robust sprite engine that I tweak for each game based on the requirements (playfield, multiple missiles, multi-color vs. single sprites, ).   The extra ROM and RAM allows us to add in all the eye candy and extra features that we wouldn't be able to squeeze in 8 or 16K.  I mentioned in another post that I believe a very good Galaga game could be made without the ARM using the technology from the 80's, but of course with the ARM the game can be much more polished and have more features, etc. :)   However, I don't think a decent Mappy, Scramble or Zoo Keeper could be done without the help of the ARM, mostly because of the scrolling which would take up most of the processing time.

 

Hope that helps!

John

 

Edited by johnnywc
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Posted (edited)

More sprites in a line without flickering would maybe also make a "Dr. Mario" version possible on the Atari VCS-2600? That would be fantastic. Or "Puzzle Bobble (Bust a Move)" maybe? I could imagine that Puzzle-games, which often have alot of different tiles to handle, could profit alot from ARM-support. Or a game like "Puyo Puyo"? Wouuuu i am dreaming, cause i really like such kind of puzzlers alot! And the Atari VCS-2600 misses some of the best puzzlers, therefore it would be great when supoprt of the ARM-chip could bring movement in this? Or boardgames, for example a better-looking and especially STRONGER "Chess" game for the Atari-2600? Should be possible with such a strong chip like the ARM, i suppose? There are alot of possibilities.

 

The thing which some people maybe could fear a little bit (and i know that some people do, cause they told me in other forums) is, that "normal" Atari-2600 games, which are in the limits of the normal, unsupported console, could maybe not get that many attention in the future anymore, no matter how good they look and play. Because users getting used to ARM-supported, and because of this, better looking games on the VCS.

 

In this point, i am also a little bit torn, the more i think about it. But in my case, the positive aspects dominates when thinking about ARM-chip using. Such games as "Mappy", "Super Cobra Arcade" or "Galaga" are really superb and i am very happy, that i can play them on my real console with the Harmony and ALSO at no additional charge. You only need something like the Harmony, sometimes you even don't recognize that a game supports the ARM. To be true, when it comes to "Mappy" for example, i also didn't knew first, that this game also supports ARM. I just thought to myself, when i saw those superb animated sprites, how is this possible on a Atari-2600? Now i know.  :) 

 

I have no problem with that, cause i like to play good games and hope that both - good new normal games and good new ARM-supported games, will come out in the future. But i can also understand the fear from some people a little bit, that those better looking ARM-games could maybe suppress the "normal" Atari VCS-games in the future. I personally don't think and don't hope that this will happen and one thing let's me think positive in this aspect. About 35 years back in the past, also some games gets support from special-chips, which were inside the game-moduls. "Pitfall 2" on the Atari-2600 for example, but especially in the 90's this was often the case on the SNES. And nevertheless, still new good "normal" games came out for the Super-Nintendo in the years afterwards. Hope, that on the Atari VCS-2600 this will also be the case and i think it will. Therefore i think positive in this point and enjoy these new, superb looking ARM games. And this "Galaga" here, maybe is even better than the VCS-7800 version of the game.  :)

Edited by AW127

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10 hours ago, AW127 said:

The thing which some people maybe could fear a little bit (and i know that some people do, cause they told me in other forums) is, that "normal" Atari-2600 games, which are in the limits of the normal, unsupported console, could maybe not get that many attention in the future anymore, no matter how good they look and play. Because users getting used to ARM-supported, and because of this, better looking games on the VCS.

 

 

It's a valid point. I guess what concerns me the most is that I realised quite a few years ago that anything I wrote would have a very hard time "competing" with the ARM-based games with which it would inevitably be compared. And that took some of the satisfaction out of pushing the machine to the absolute limit without coprocessor assist. I have little/no interest in developing for the ARM, but I still have interest in developing for the base hardware (+extra RAM). However, the reward for doing this (satisfaction/kudos) is being minimised especially when you compare the development effort required between the two systems.

 

I am not trying to belittle the ARM-based developers. What they are doing is remarkable and impressive. But in response to the quoted section above there is definitely that feeling that it's not quite worth it anymore.  Maybe one more base-hardware game for me before I wander off into the sunset, and that will be it.

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19 minutes ago, Andrew Davie said:

 

It's a valid point. I guess what concerns me the most is that I realised quite a few years ago that anything I wrote would have a very hard time "competing" with the ARM-based games with which it would inevitably be compared. And that took some of the satisfaction out of pushing the machine to the absolute limit without coprocessor assist. I have little/no interest in developing for the ARM, but I still have interest in developing for the base hardware (+extra RAM). However, the reward for doing this (satisfaction/kudos) is being minimised especially when you compare the development effort required between the two systems.

 

I am not trying to belittle the ARM-based developers. What they are doing is remarkable and impressive. But in response to the quoted section above there is definitely that feeling that it's not quite worth it anymore.  Maybe one more base-hardware game for me before I wander off into the sunset, and that will be it.

I certainly understand the sentiment, but I'm kind of sad that you feel that way.  I think that there is room for both kinds of development and that people respect the achievements in each, but what do I know.  I know that for me, even though the Champ Games are awesome and I have bought some of them, I do feel that they are a bit of a cheat because they rely on technology that wouldn't have been available back in the day.  That's why I wouldn't feel discouraged that anything you develop using more period-appropriate hardware would have to necessarily be measured against these ARM games and found wanting.  I think that it's really 2 distinct schools of thought and approaches, and that talented developers will emerge with great games for each.

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2 hours ago, NostAlgae37 said:

I certainly understand the sentiment, but I'm kind of sad that you feel that way.  I think that there is room for both kinds of development and that people respect the achievements in each, but what do I know.  I know that for me, even though the Champ Games are awesome and I have bought some of them, I do feel that they are a bit of a cheat because they rely on technology that wouldn't have been available back in the day.  That's why I wouldn't feel discouraged that anything you develop using more period-appropriate hardware would have to necessarily be measured against these ARM games and found wanting.  I think that it's really 2 distinct schools of thought and approaches, and that talented developers will emerge with great games for each.

 

Maybe so. But consider the screen draw/scroll system in Boulder Dash. That took several years to get working and perfect. Literally. I could almost have it written in an afternoon, certainly well inside a couple of days, with an ARM speedy microprocessor to do the work. The ARM changes the whole architecture of a game, not just the timing. I look at Galaga and pretty much think "alas, I can't do anything that good" and that's disappointing.

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