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HSC02, Round 9: Grand Prix/Demolition Derby and Sideswipe

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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:




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:




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!"





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:




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:




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.


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.



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Chris++ came over on Friday night and we played Grand Prix / Demolition Derby for about twenty minutes. As you would expect, both of these games are much more fun with more than one player. I had not given any thought to how to score Grand Prix when two people are playing the game. I've decided that you're playing together, rather than in competition. Therefore, these two Grand Prix scores are for both Chris++ and me:


Grand Prix - Track 1 - 36 seconds

Grand Prix - Track 2 - 36 seconds

Grand Prix - Track 3 - 22 seconds


Total time for all three tracks: 94 seconds


The three Grand Prix finish-line pictures follow:






Chris++ was able to beat the two computer players and me in Demolition Derby:




I couldn't beat Chris and the two computer players (the computer beat both of us!):




If I get the chance, then I'll try to earn more than just three "participation points" for Demolition Derby. Hey, you three computer opponents-- I've got my eyes on you!


I did record video of the several games that Chris++ and I played on Friday. I hope to finish editing that so I can upload the video to YouTube by the end of today so that I can earn the bonus point.


I still have to play Sideswipe, the BASIC bonus game.




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I have uploaded a video review to YouTube of Grand Prix/Demolition Derby. Thanks to Chris++ for playing this Astrocade game with me. You can watch the review here:



This is a fun game when played with multiple people!



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I finally managed to beat three computer players in a round of Demolition Derby. Here is my screenshot:




The computer players are actually tougher than I expected. As you can see from the above picture, it was a close match. I only had one more hit left to take before my engine died.


I sunk a little bit of time into Sideswipe, the BASIC bonus game. My top score is 88 points out of 100 possible points:


Sideswipe - 88 Points




Sideswipe looks deceptively simple. I kept expecting to be able to beat my personal best of 88 points (which seems to be about three crashes). However, after about four games I finally gave up, as I was crashing more not less with each new game. Sideswipe is certainly more fun than you might expect from an ultra-short BASIC game.


Here's a tip for Sideswipe. Though the Bally's hand controllers' knob is analog, this game doesn't seem to make use of that at all. It doesn't matter how far, or how quickly, you turn the knob: it seems to have basically three directions of movement: left, straight and right. The control for the game could have been handled without the knob, but I guess using it makes the game more "realistic."



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billnewsome and I played a few multiplayer races. I also won a two-human game of demolition derby.








We mostly did single-player races to go for the high scores, though. Of course that's probably easier, since there's one less thing to run into and slow you down. Here are our best scores.



Track 1: 32s

Track 2: 43s

Track 3: 25s









Track 1: 29s

Track 2: 36s

Track 3: 21s







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Sideswipe ended up on several WaveMakers tapes, IIRC. It's a pretty good game, though frustrating when it generates a gap you can't seem to fit through. I'm not sure if it's ever literally impossible to avoid a sideswipe/collision, but there were definitely some I had trouble with. I was scoring in the 50s for awhile, but then the stars aligned and I got a 97. Not sure if I'd ever manage to repeat it.



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I made a video of Sideswipe this evening. I just happened to get my best high score while I was recording the video.


Sideswipe - 97 points




I'm hoping to finish editing the Sideswipe video before the round ends tonight, but (as usual), I bet I end up posting it after the round is over.



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Demolition Derby is a cool idea, but it seems kind of finicky what exactly qualifies as hitting the front of a car to damage it. Maybe with more practice I'd get a better feel for it. I did manage to beat the computer players, at least.



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It's still before 10pm CST so I'm hoping these are acceptable. Might try a few more rounds to better my scores if possible. Didn't get around to trying the Wavemakers game although it looks like fun.


As a suggestion for the website, if you had embedded audio for the Basic files instead of download of Lyme, it would make it even easier to load those into an Astrocade from a mobile device.


So happy I finally got my Bally up and running to join in the fun!


(Edit: improved scores)

Edited by ianoid

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I'm nearly done editing the video review of Sideswipe. I'm not going to be able to finish it tonight. Are there any objections to me still earning a bonus point if I upload the video tomorrow?


(It's really nice to see a couple of people jumping into this round at the last minute!)



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That was really fun. I look forward to participating in future HSCs. Maybe I'll go back and add my score on some other games you've already done just for enjoyment.

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That was really fun. I look forward to participating in future HSCs. Maybe I'll go back and add my score on some other games you've already done just for enjoyment.


I'm glad that you joined us!


We have periodic catch-up rounds, so you may want to wait for that round, which is usually at the end of the year. Maybe I'll do one sooner than that...


Of course, you can play Astrocade games anytime that you want-- there's no reason to play just during the high score club round. The HSC just gives me an excuse to play cartridge (and especially) tape and type-in BASIC games on my Bally Arcade. Lately, I've also been using the HSC as an excuse to create video reviews.



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Here is my video review of Sideswipe. It's about 10 minutes long:



I'm not a verified member of YouTube or Google+ (what do they need my phone number for?), so sometimes I get terrible thumbnails for the videos I upload. Of the three automatically generated thumbnails, this was my "best" choice-- yes, the other ones were not nearly as "good." It's almost like I got the three worst choices available to me.


It's a shame that YouTube will accept my video content, but won't let me add my own custom thumbnails without me giving them additional personal information.



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With dozens of systems and thousands of games to choose from, collectors like me are always looking for an excuse to play their systems. We suffer from option paralysis. A little competition is a good thing for arcade style games.





I'm glad that you joined us!


We have periodic catch-up rounds, so you may want to wait for that round, which is usually at the end of the year. Maybe I'll do one sooner than that...


Of course, you can play Astrocade games anytime that you want-- there's no reason to play just during the high score club round. The HSC just gives me an excuse to play cartridge (and especially) tape and type-in BASIC games on my Bally Arcade. Lately, I've also been using the HSC as an excuse to create video reviews.


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Round 9 of the Astrocade High Score Club ended on Sunday, July 20, 2017 at 10pm MST. Five people played Grand Prix / Demolition Derby. Two people played the bonus game, Sideswipe.

Final Tables

Grand Prix / Demolition Derby

Since only five points were given for Grand Prix, I awarded points in pairs of two. The top two places get five points each, while the next two places get three points, and so on. Although five people played, there was a tie for third and fourth place, so three people earned four points.

1st ianoid 79 5 points
2nd ranger_lennier 86 5 points
3rd Bally Alley 94 4 points
3rd Chris++ 94 4 points
4th billnewsome 101 4 points

Demolition Derby

The points that were earned playing Demolition Derby were either 5 points for winning against all other players (person or computer controlled) or three points for playing in a derby. Winners are listed first in alphabetical order.

Bally Alley Won a derby 5 points
Chris++ Won a derby 5 points
ianoid Won a derby 5 points
ranger_lennier Won a derby 5 points
billnewsome Played in a derby 3 points

Two people each earn a point for playing the bonus game, Sideswipe, on the Astrocade. Finally, Paul's Astrocade allowed him to not just try to play the bonus game-- he was able to play it without garbled graphics!


Only two people played the bonus game this round. That's too bad, for although it looks simplistic (okay, it even is extremely simple!), Sidewipe is an okay game for what it is: an early BASIC game that was taken from a newsletter and used as an example program in the "AstroBASIC" manual.

BallyAlley Played the game
ranger_lennier Played the game

Total points awarded this round:

There was a tie for the highest score (97 points) on Sideswipe, so both players have been awarded a bonus point for highest Sideswipe score.

G D ! @ # $ %
BallyAlley 4 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 14 points [email protected]#$%^
ranger_lennier 5 + 5 + 0 + 1 + 1 + 1 + 0 = 13 points @#$%
Chris++ 4 + 5 + 0 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 10 points @
ianoid 5 + 5 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 10 points
billnewsome 4 + 3 + 0 + 1 + 0 + 0 + 0 = 8 points @

G = Grand Prix Score
D = Demolition Derby Score

Bonus Points Key:

! - Grand Prix/Demolition Derby - Video Review
@ - Grand Prix/Demolition Derby - Multiplayer Game (Up to 3 Points)
# - Sideswipe - Playing Sideswipe
$ - Sideswipe - Highest Score
% - Sideswipe - Video Review

Please, check your scores. ;)

Season 2, Round 9's winner is BallyAlley, who won with 14 points.

I didn't expect to like the two main games, but they were fun to play once I had someone to compete against. The tracks in Grand Prix are a little too simple. I wonder if the game could be easily modified and hacked to include different tracks


I agree with Paul that in Demolition Derby, it seems "finicky" for what qualifies as damage to the front of the car. However, it does seem consistent, so I guess if we played the game longer than we'd get used to it.

I didn't know what racing game to pair with Grand Prix, so I chose Sideswipe almost by default as the bonus game. I wouldn't dig Sideswipe out to show-off the capabilities of the Astrocade to anyone who has never seen the console before now, but I did enjoy the several games of Sideswipe that I played during the course of the round. Since the Astrocade is primarily a game system, then I'd call having fun playing Sideswipe a win!

Next Round Games

We've played quite a few of the games in the Astrocade library since the Astrocade High Score Club began. The cartridge picking are getting thin. Here's what we have left to choose from:

Cartridges Still-To-Play
Amazing Maze / Tic-Tac-Toe (1979)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Black Jack / Acey Deucey / Poker (1979)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)

Bowling (198x)(Astrovision Inc.)(Proto)
Checkers (19xx)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)(Proto)
ICBM Attack (1982)(Spectre Systems) (Special Controller)
Pirate's Chase (1982)(Astrocade Inc.) - w/ The Gate Escape
Seawolf / Missile (1978)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Soccer (1985)(Astrocade Inc.) (Proto)
War (2012)(Riff Raff Games)(Homebrew)

Two-Player Only
Artillery Duel (1982)(Astrocade Inc.)
Dog Patch (1980)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Football (1978)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Red Baron / Panzer Attack (1978)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Tornado Baseball/Tennis/Hockey/Handball (1978)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)

Non-Game Cartridges
Biorhythm (1981)(Astrovision Inc.)
Coloring Book (198x)(Astrocade Inc.) (Proto)
Letter Match/Spell 'n Score/Crosswords (1978)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Life (1985)(Richard Degler)
Machine Language Manager (1982)(The Bit Fiddlers)
Music Maker (1985)(Astrocade Inc.)
Speed Math/Bingo Math (1978)(Bally Mfg. Corp.)
Video Story Book (19xx)(Unknown Author) (Proto)

The main game for Round 10 of the Astrocade HSC is the cartridge prototype game, Bowling. I think that this is available on all the multicarts. The BASIC bonus game for round 10 is Bowl, by Edge Software. There are a few bowling games written in BASIC. I've never played Bowl before now (nor any other Astrocade bowling game, for that matter), so I hope that I picked a bonus game that will provide us with some entertainment.

I'll post the main game and bonus game, plus the full rules and links for Round 10 of the Astrocade HSC in the next few days.

Thanks to everyone who played in Round 9 of the Astrocade High Score Club. I suspect that round 10's games might be duds... but perhaps we will all be surprised at how great it is to play bowling on a game console from the 1970s.


One last thing: Round 11 will have a main cartridge that is not a game. I'll probably chose Life or Music Maker. If I don't start mixing these non-traditional cartridges into the HSC rounds, than we'll be playing them all at the very end.


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Bowling was quite a popular genre for tape games--almost as popular as slots, perhaps. My personal favorite is Ten Pins by Esoterica.


As I was going through the Bowling games yesterday, looking for documentation on Edge Software's Bowl, I came to the same conclusion Paul: there are a ton of Bowling games on the Astrocade! Not only are there Bowling games, but there are BASIC programs written to keep track of your really bowling league scores. I've never tried any of these BASIC bowling games before now (not even the Bowling prototype cartridge, really, has been played by me). Since I don't think that we've played an Edge Software game before in the Astrocade HSC, I'm gonna stick with that one how now; however, if Bowl is just terrible, that maybe we'll switch over to the Esoterica version halfway through the next round.



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My personal favorite [Astrocade Bowling game] is Ten Pins by Esoterica.


I was going to stick by Edge Software's Bowl, but I just played Bowl and Ten Pins and it turns out that Bowl is a two-player only game. That not too fun. I've never played Ten Pins before today-- this game gives a first-person perspective of the game and looks really neat. Thanks for the suggestion of Esoterica's Ten Pins, Paul. I'm going to go with that game instead of Bowl.



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Round 10 of the Astrocade High Score Club has begun. You can join us and play Bowling and Ten Pins, here:




Don't miss out on your opportunity to play the two most exciting games in the Astrocade library! Okay, maybe not-- but we'll still have fun playing these games together.



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