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pixelpedant

Did a fully playable version of Imagic's Wing War for the TI-99/4A survive?

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There seem to be two versions of TI-99/4A Wing War commonly referenced (and referenced by Toucan here).  Namely, a version with a two-colour, unanimated dragon sprite, but in which some areas appear incomplete or corrupted, and a version with a black, animated dragon sprite, in which all areas appear complete.  Some other differences exist.  The crystals are animated in the earlier version, but not the later, and the status bar is different.  I've got ROMs for both versions have been linked here in the past (for which, see attached) and which exist in identical copies on the WHTECH FTP. 

 

However, both seem to have problems.  Namely, in the earlier prototype (attached here as WINGWAR8.BIN), as I mention, the "world" seems simply incomplete, while in the later version (attached as phm3223), at least for me, it seems to be impossible to deposit crystals in the dragon's den.  They can be picked up and flown back to the den, but the game doesn't seem to register their presence (compare: in the unsurprisingly very similar Colecovision version, a sound effect plays, the crystal falls to the den floor, and the status bar updates). 

 

Does anyone know if there is a fully playable version of the game which survived? 

 

phm3223G.BINphm3223C.BINWINGWAR8.BIN

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It should be complete. I've deposited the crystals many times in the den. You have to wash them in the fountains though first before you can deposit them, assuming you're doing that (you're not taking dirty crystals to the den are you? Clean crystals are happy crystals). I've had it speak to me, "The Super Crystal is yours" when I've gotten all the crystals to the den. You have to get them in the right order as well.

Edited by Toucan
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Yeah, this seems to be part of it.  I was wondering what the deal was with the fountains (which seem to be unique to this version).  The crystals do seem to need to be "washed" in all three (the two blue fountains and the one green fountain).  They also aren't detected and automatically deposited on entry to the den, so it seems as if you need to bonk yourself on something (take a  hit) in order to "drop" them, at which point they are collected.  Descending the dragon to the floor (or the pedestal where it starts) seems often to be insufficient, as it can result in their simply dropping through the geometry.  So bonking the ceiling in order to drop them seems to be the consistent method. 

 

Also noteworthy that seemingly you can't collect more than one of a given crystal before collecting other crystal types (as you can in the Colecovision version).  You seemingly have to progress by constructing super crystals. 

 

There still seem to be some bugs, too.  Like, collecting a fire and a water crystal resulted in a fire crystal making itself a permanent fixture near the right side of my screen (instead of on the status bar), and a water crystal appearing nowhere (though it's the same colour as the status bar, so maybe it's there?)  But it may indeed be playable.  In the later version that is.  Not the earlier prototype. 

 

I do really want this game to work.  It's bringing a lot to the table.  It's a cool design, with a pretty big, detailed world, and some good voice synth.  Though I think I'd still lean towards Fathom providing a better overall package, in this genre. 

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I know this is off-topic but this seems like a good place to ask -- does the Ti have any hardware similarities with Intellivision, or did Imagic just happen to port a lot of its stuff to different platforms? 

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The latter.  Colecovision used TI graphics and sound processors from the same lineage and generation as the TI-99, so there's every opportunity to share design assets between the two.  Hence the Coleco and TI-99 Wing War versions having exactly the same background graphics.  But Intellivision has nothing in common with either one.  Different sound, graphics and CPU family. 

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About the only thing the TI and INTV have in common is they both used a 16-bit processor(though by no means related ones) and have an optional speech synthesizer.

 

I assume, without checking, that the 16-bit thing is why they both got Microsurgeon and not a single 6502 or Z80 machine did.

Edited by JB
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Well, lack of documentation or videos showing gameplay progression made it tricky to figure out how (or if) this variation on the game can really be played.  But having sorted all that out, I couldn't leave it that way. As it feels like this is a game which really deserves to be played.  And it seems like the absence of a manual for this sort of game is a major hindrance to its enjoyment.  The Coleco and 2600 manuals exist of course, but are mostly inaccurate with respect to the TI-99/4A version. 

 

So here's a video demonstrating (and explaining) the essential progression mechanic, for posterity:

 

 

There are questions I have which remain, however.  Namely:

- Can dragon's eggs be found anywhere in the world?  Not that I can find.  But perhaps I've just not found them yet.

- Is the diamond hidden somewhere?  It could be.  But I have not found it either.

 

My quest shall have to continue. 

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4 hours ago, pixelpedant said:

Well, lack of documentation or videos showing gameplay progression made it tricky to figure out how (or if) this variation on the game can really be played.  But having sorted all that out, I couldn't leave it that way. As it feels like this is a game which really deserves to be played.  And it seems like the absence of a manual for this sort of game is a major hindrance to its enjoyment.  The Coleco and 2600 manuals exist of course, but are mostly inaccurate with respect to the TI-99/4A version. 

 

So here's a video demonstrating (and explaining) the essential progression mechanic, for posterity:

 

 

There are questions I have which remain, however.  Namely:

- Can dragon's eggs be found anywhere in the world?  Not that I can find.  But perhaps I've just not found them yet.

- Is the diamond hidden somewhere?  It could be.  But I have not found it either.

 

My quest shall have to continue. 

You missed the hidden passage. Blast through the lower right of the cavern (lowest right screen) and you can fight another enemy and there's ghosts. You can earn different prizes this way. The diamond might be one of those prizes, I forget. I stumbled upon the passage by accident actually. Would love to see that in a video since I don't think anyone else found that, at least from my experience in talking with people who played the game on the TI.

Edited by Toucan
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I'll have to give that a try.  That certainly makes sense, as the Coleco manual references a secret passage to the treasure room.  Thanks again for the pointers.  But for "Toucan's Trivia" I probably wouldn't ever have gotten interested in this game in the first place. 

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1 hour ago, pixelpedant said:

I'll have to give that a try.  That certainly makes sense, as the Coleco manual references a secret passage to the treasure room.  Thanks again for the pointers.  But for "Toucan's Trivia" I probably wouldn't ever have gotten interested in this game in the first place. 

Also, I believe if you land on the platform (where you hatch in your den), the crystal will be deposited without having to knock into anything.

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I definitely tried that a bunch of times without success, earlier on.  But given how finicky the collision detection is, I can well believe it might be the case that it's possible to use certain areas of the platforms above the cave floor to reliably cause the crystal to "drop" without taking a hit or having it drop off the screen.  Since landing on a platform, does cause the crystal to drop, broadly speaking.  Landing on the den floor itself doesn't seem to work, as it tends to just drops through the geometry.  It seems like it has to drop from above the floor level.  But I should experiment with the platforms some more.  Because it does make sense they could be used in this way. 

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9 minutes ago, pixelpedant said:

I definitely tried that a bunch of times without success, earlier on.  But given how finicky the collision detection is, I can well believe it might be the case that it's possible to use certain areas of the platforms above the cave floor to reliably cause the crystal to "drop" without taking a hit or having it drop off the screen.  Since landing on a platform, does cause the crystal to drop, broadly speaking.  Landing on the den floor itself doesn't seem to work, as it tends to just drops through the geometry.  It seems like it has to drop from above the floor level.  But I should experiment with the platforms some more.  Because it does make sense they could be used in this way. 

Also, if I recall correctly, the other items you get have to be washed in the fountains as well. I guess the dragon keeps a tidy lair.

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Thanks to this thread and videos, finally know how to play this game! Actually has quite a bit of depth to it and love the speech. What a gem!  :)

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On 1/28/2020 at 5:45 AM, Toucan said:

Would love to see that in a video since I don't think anyone else found that, at least from my experience in talking with people who played the game on the TI.

 

So I finally got around to recording a new video/commentary which explores not just the super crystal collection mechanic, but the treasure collection mechanic as well (and the secret treasure room).  That's now available here:

 

 

 

 

At this point, the only aspect of the other documented versions which seems to be missing from the TI-99/4A version is collectible dragon eggs.  But who knows.  Maybe they to will turn up, in time. 

 

Though it's hardly necessary that they do, from the point of view of the game's playability.  Given that extra lives doesn't really add much to the gameplay, from my point of view.  Might be neat to have as an extra feature.  But it's not necessary to the core gameplay. 

 

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On 1/27/2020 at 1:44 AM, pixelpedant said:

The latter.  Colecovision used TI graphics and sound processors from the same lineage and generation as the TI-99, so there's every opportunity to share design assets between the two.  Hence the Coleco and TI-99 Wing War versions having exactly the same background graphics.  But Intellivision has nothing in common with either one.  Different sound, graphics and CPU family. 

The Colecovision even used the same power supply as the TI99

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And just to put a cap on this "obsessively documenting Wing War" thing, here's a video of gameplay and some observation of the proto version, since I can't find any recordings of it on the web, outside of Toucan's content and screens seen here of course. 

 

 

Observations (some of which Toucan has already made) are: 

 

- Dragon's eggs exist and can be collected (where they seemingly do not, in the later version). 

- The "springs" which are in (and are unique to) the later TI version are absent. 

- Crystals can be collected successfully, and are detected immediately on entry in to the den (where they are not, and are only detected once dropped due to collision, in the later TI version)

- The treasure room and volcano areas are incomplete/unplayable. 

- No speech is present.

- Turning operates differently.  You need to flap while pointing the joystick in a given direction, to turn in that direction. 

- The crystals are animated in the manner of the Colecovision version. 

- Sprites for those enemies that exist appear to be the same as those in the Colecovision version. 

- The dragon is a two-sprite/two-colour version of the same shape as the later TI version.  Perhaps poorly chosen colours, though, as one of the two colours is lost or nearly lost on both sky and cave backgrounds. 

- The dragon cannot take damage, either from impacts or enemies. 

- Collisions with enemies are not detected. 

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Incidentally, a secondary implication of all this would seem to be that, on the surface, Wing War (in its final version) looks like a viable game for the monthly high score competition, to the extent that score is cumulative, life is finite resource (as there are no extra lives as far as we can tell), but opportunities for score accumulation within that limited supply of life are non-finite (treasure and crystals respawn).  Though finding opportunities to break the game seems relatively likely.  There are many opportunities to pursue presumably unintended paths from one area to the next, for example, due to the destructible environment.  But it would be quite fun to see what people come up with.

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