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Champ Games - Turbo Arcade (2600)

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UPDATE: The first public demo ROMs for Turbo Arcade (NTSC and PAL60) are now available for download on the Champ Games ROM Demo Download page.  Have fun!

 

Hi all!

 

Last night on @ZeroPage Homebrew's Twitch stream, Champ Games revealed the "secret game" that we've been working on the last few months:  Turbo Arcade for the 2600!

 

Turbo is a 3D racing game from the early 80's (1981 to be precise) that featured state-of-the-art scaling graphics.  @Nathan Strum has done an amazing job bringing these images to life on the ol' 2600, including full screen four-color scrolling backgrounds (inspired by @cd-w's Zeviouz kernels) and managed to capture all of the iconic scenes from the arcade game, including the city, tunnel, wall, bridges, snow forest and many more!  Nathan also stepped out of his comfort zone and provided the sound effects :music: , but if anyone is interested in 'checking his work' we'd appreciate the help! :D  

 

The game currently supports joystick for control but we are hoping to add in driving controller support.  There are two modes of shifting supported:  automatic (the game automatically shifts from high to low and vice versa when necessary) and manual (the player manually shifts to low or high gear).

 

Due to the large number of data needed for the 150+ scenes and 300+ frames of animation in Turbo Arcade, the game uses the new 64K CDFJ backswitching scheme.  Currently this is not supported by the Harmony or Harmony Encore but Fred aka @batari was gracious enough to send a loaner development 128K Melody board to myself, Nathan and James so we could develop, test and reveal the game on real hardware.  Thanks Fred! :thumbsup:   The game does run on the latest version of Stella; I will need to test the ROM on other emulators to confirm whether it works or not.  

 

A demo ROM is expected to be made available in the next week and will be available on Champ Games ROM Demo Download page.  If you haven't already, be sure to check it out for the latest demos of RobotWar: 2084, Lady Bug Arcade and Gorf Arcade (all expected to be released in 2021), as well as final demos from the released versions of Galagon, Wizard of Wor Arcade and Mappy.

 

The full version is not expected to be released until sometime in 2022.

 

We will post updates here, on our FB site and on our webpage as they become available; in the meantime, here are some screenshots from the current build of the game (which we estimate to be about 70% done):

 

Title screen:

champ_games_2021_secret_game_old.thumb.png.498e768b308833faf65d2472c492ca2d.png

 

Start of race in the city:

champ_games_2021_secret_game_old_2.thumb.png.531c5e8bad6900ccabc9522f6e0f70c2.png

 

Limited visibility in the darkened tunnels:

turbo_arcade_passcode_2.thumb.png.27d339402c66efe57eabdc94f5299724.png

 

Be careful on the slippery surface in the snow / forest scene:

turbo_arcade_passcode_11.thumb.png.940f60cfe9729a171b9de46ca64f1ac8.png

 

You lose sight of the opponent cars as they dip behind the oncoming hill:

turbo_arcade_passcode_7.thumb.png.b552e8296c84a60189299121b5a308fb.png

 

Slow down around the sharp curve overlooking the ocean!

champ_games_2021_secret_game_old_4.thumb.png.87e3474020926cf247cf6a048ce2b31a.png

 

Avoid the ambulance as it travels through the streets with it's sirens blasting!

turbo_arcade_passcode_9.thumb.png.d41598cb6471a7071c3840315e94755b.png

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The stream last night was great, despite the crash.

You and Nathan have done an amazing job with this. And the info of how Nathan did the graphics. Amazing.
Looking forward to this one. You both did it justice for the 2600.

Looking forward to the demo release and all the other things you have planned for it.

High five!!

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Great, great stuff! 👍

 

After watching last night's ZPH show, I have a few questions:

  1. Why did you chose to do the horizon with PF graphics too? Overall consistency?
  2. I noticed that some scenes have transitions and others not. Is that work in progress?
  3. Have you tried making the hill brighter instead of darker? I think that might be more realistic.
  4. During the video, I noticed a little glitch in the the progress bar. Are you aware?
  5. During the show, you mentioned some links to old variations. Did I miss them?
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9 minutes ago, Bomberman94 said:

Will the demo rom be playable on the PlusCard?

Harmony/Encore and PlusCart/UnoCart are not compatible. I suppose the game would have to be recompiled for the latter and probably a new driver has to be developed too. 

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5 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

Great, great stuff! 👍After watching last night's ZPH show, I have a few questions:

  1. Why did you chose to do the horizon with PF graphics too? Overall consistency?
  2. I noticed that some scenes have transitions and others not. Is that work in progress?
  3. Have you tried making the hill brighter instead of darker? I think that might be more realistic.
  4. During the video, I noticed a little glitch in the the progress bar. Are you aware?
  5. During the show, you mentioned some links to old variations. Did I miss them?
  1. Some scenes (the city, tunnel entrance and curved wall) use the PF above the horizon. The city was the first one done, so I never considered not using it. That's how I was drawing everything when those were designed, and I do like the consistency of it. We could throw some sprites in there for extra detail, but we're already using that space for the warning flag, and we may end up putting other sprites up there.
  2. There are different transitions: pre-rendered (tunnels, cities, curves); and ones done on-the-fly wiping from one scene to the next. At some point, everything should have one transition or the other (or a combination of the two). We're mostly trying to match what the arcade game does, but have made a few improvements like lengthening the transitions in and out of the curved roads to give you a bit more time to react, and adding a cleaner transition out of the curved wall. Not sure we'll add one into the curved wall or not (there is none in the arcade game). Anything pre-rendered like that comes at the expense of ROM, and we ran out. :) But as we have the time and space to clean up the transitions, we will. When John first showed me the transition wipes between scenes, I told him, "Okay... you're just showing off now!" ;) I really wasn't expecting to see that.
  3. Most of the arcade hills are darker in the distance (the lower elevation): 
    675737426_arcadehilldark2.thumb.jpg.a154f589d5d6bd335353364d3c22b0fa.jpg

    There are a few that are the other way:
    638737576_arcadehillsortoflight.thumb.jpg.8cb9e107392ceb7b3669d508aff96bd0.jpg

    I suppose either could be correct - it just depends on if you think the crest of the hill (where the car is) is in the sun or the shade. I think having the darker color in the distance helps it feel like it's at a lower elevation.
    In the arcade game, the hill scrolls all the way off the bottom of the screen. Ours does too (in terms of road width) but the upper-half color does not. The standard color replaces the darker one as the hill scrolls off the bottom. This is what our hills look like now (this is what my Photoshop files look like, BTW):
    crest-mockup.thumb.gif.0503b1df06f4f7b75821edee19ceb21c.gif
    You can see the narrower road being "pulled" all the way to the bottom of the screen. It's really kind of a cool almost "wave" effect.
    I did suggest that we pull the darker color all the way to the bottom, along with the narrower road:
    revised-crest-mockup.thumb.gif.6cecf01d141dc28e99ee8f7cf0e7c3fb.gif
    But this was really, really late in development, the display engine didn't support it, and we were trying to get some gameplay in there before the reveal ;) . Also, we'd be "stuck" at a darker color set until we could throw in another transition to get out of it (as shown above). But it's something we'll likely revisit later. I'm still completely amazed John managed to stuff everything into the game that he did, in the amount of time we had. The hills were a pretty late addition (although we had always known we wanted them).
  4. I didn't notice the glitch at the time, but I wasn't watching the video much since it was so far out-of-sync with the Zoom call, and I was also trying to read the chat. But it could be James' system (again). It's not there on real hardware (on my systems).
  5. The only older Turbos out there are your April Fools version, the prototype (which I don't believe has ever had a ROM release), and the mockups in my blog that I did while the prototype was being worked on. I posted links to those, which I'll post below in another response. :)
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23 minutes ago, Nathan Strum said:

The only older Turbos out there are your April Fools version, the prototype (which I don't believe has ever had a ROM release), and the mockups in my blog that I did while the prototype was being worked on. I posted links to those, which I'll post below in another response. :)

I believe it's this one, just not the enhanced one.

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I posted these links in the chat last night when James' computer decided it could no longer handle the awesomeness of what the 2600 was doing ;) . I had sent these to James to show/link during the stream as a kind of history of Turbo on the 2600, but that never materialized. So here they are now for your perusal/bemusement. :)

 

Turbo arcade game (video) :

 

I threw this video together really quickly, since a lot of the other YouTube videos either use cheats or are of poor quality, or have too much talking. :roll: (I didn't make it to the red bridge though...)

 

Coleco catalog listing Turbo for the 2600:
https://atariage.com/catalog_page.php?SystemID=2600&CatalogID=18&currentPage=5

Anyone who ever bought a Coleco game has probably seen this. Along with Cosmic Adventure and Lady Bug, Coleco never actually released Turbo for the 2600. Promises, promises. But Champ Games will have done 2 out of 3 after Turbo Arcade is finished. You're welcome, Coleco! ;) 

 

Intellivision version (video) :

 

Avert your eyes! Well, at least they got a version. It did come in handy for one thing: when we were putting the box together for the AtariAge prototype reproduction, we bought a CIB Intellivision copy off eBay so we could scan it. :D 

 

ColecoVision version (video) :

 

This was the only game I ever would've considered buying a ColecoVision for.

 

Electronic Games Magazine "review" of Turbo:
https://archive.org/details/1983_Software_Encyclopedia_Number_1_1983_Reese_Communications_US/page/n31/mode/2up

From their 1983 Software Encyclopedia. They probably saw it at CES that year. Maybe Coleco sent them a WIP version. Who knows? But this ruined my life because I kept waiting for Turbo to show up for the 2600 for years. Resellers even listed it in their ads in the back of the magazine. But of course, they'd probably just gotten a list from Coleco saying "Coming soon!" Maybe even a flyer...

 

Coleco promotional flyer (at AtariMania) :
poster_turbo.jpg

"Actual game screen may show variation from illustration above." Indeed. :roll: 

 

2003 April Fools version (based on flyer):

 

Thomas Jentzsch (and others) conspired to pull off this April Fools prank, based on the above flyer.

 

2006 Discovery of the actual prototype:

 

Just three years later, the real thing finally appeared. There's a link to the original prototype ROM in this post.

 

AtariProtos write-up about the Turbo prototype:
http://www.atariprotos.com/2600/software/turbo/turbo.htm

Essential reading if any of this has been of interest to you so far!

 

AtariAge release at CGE2010:
https://atariage.com/features/shows/cge2010_preview/new_games.html

The prototype (and an enhanced version) sees the light of day in a boxed release. Hard to believe this was over 10 years ago...

 

And finally...

 

The Turbo that never was:

 

My blog write-up about my involvement with the prototype project, my desire to make a better Turbo, and some concept mockups from 2009 that eventually led to, well, this! :D 

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27 minutes ago, McCallister said:

I believe it's this one, just not the enhanced one.

Yep - I also found it while typing up the above post (here's the specific post).

 

That's the original, un-fixed prototype. To make it work in Stella, you may need to change the controller to Joystick. I think it defaults to Paddles, which do not work.

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Mind blown again.  You guys have become quite the dynamic duo. 

Dynamic Duo.JPG

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I am impressed with the graphics, I thought when I saw the game on the ZPH it was a version for the 7800. The snow phase reminded me of the classic Enduro. 

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For those of you who missed the live broadcast of the premiere of Turbo Arcade last night and the interview with @johnnywc @Nathan Strum on the ZeroPage Homebrew Twitch stream, it's now up on YouTube!

 

Thank you again to John and Nathan for making an truly astounding game and blowing everybody away with incredible innovations that are sure to change the landscape of what we thought possible on the 2600 (once again)!

 

- James

 

(SET VIDEO TO 1080P60 FOR FULL QUALITY)

 

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1 hour ago, sramirez2008 said:

Mind blown again.  You guys have become quite the dynamic duo. 

Dynamic Duo.JPG

Not gonna wear the little green hot pants.

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5 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

That's the original, un-fixed prototype. To make it work in Stella, you may need to change the controller to Joystick. I think it defaults to Paddles, which do not work.

There is some non-working paddle code in the prototype. I think they originally had planned to use paddles, but soon found out that this would affect their kernel too much. Stella detects the remaining paddle code, and assumes this is paddle game.

 

If I got you right during the stream, paddles was never an option for you. But you have ideas regarding the driving controller. Will that be used for absolute or relative positioning of the car? The latter may allow finer horizontal movements, but the missing auto centering might become a problem. Also the center might not stay constant, when the code doesn't pick up 100% of all controller movement.

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Still picking my jaw up off the floor.  I cannot believe how you pulled off the huge scaling graphics.  I mean just can't believe my eyes!  I thought this was a 7800 review.

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Here's a YouTube video showing the first couple of rounds of Turbo Arcade (be sure to watch at 60fps):

 

 

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5 hours ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

If I got you right during the stream, paddles was never an option for you. But you have ideas regarding the driving controller. Will that be used for absolute or relative positioning of the car? The latter may allow finer horizontal movements, but the missing auto centering might become a problem. Also the center might not stay constant, when the code doesn't pick up 100% of all controller movement.

The original arcade game doesn't have return-to-center steering - it uses an encoder wheel, so it just steers from wherever it happens to be. You can see it in the lower illustration on this page from the arcade manual (#16 is the encoder disc, #17 is the sensor):

turbo-arcade-manual-38.thumb.jpg.c735bd92b8e7c691dc0323642321e848.jpg

 

You can also see it (for real) at 1:02 in this video:

(Note to self: add deep bass sounds for the tunnel sequences)

 

Hopefully, we can get enough resolution out of the 2600's steering controller to make it work, without having to spin it around a half-dozen times to move the car across the screen. :roll: 

 

Here's a pretty decent video of another arcade cabinet in action:

 

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3 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

(Note to self: add deep bass sounds for the tunnel sequences)

Yes!!! and hold onto that thought for if/when you gentlemen get back to Luner Lander.  Deep bass (for when the ship thrusts) is one the defining features of LL. 
 

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4 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

Hopefully, we can get enough resolution out of the 2600's steering controller to make it work, without having to spin it around a half-dozen times to move the car across the screen. :roll: 

 

IIRC it only has 16 positions for a 360° turn. And if you compare the sensitivity with a paddle, you only want to use a fraction of it (e.g. +/- 45°). Else turning would become painful soon. That's why I asked for relative positioning, e.g. turned left one step, move slowly left, turned left two steps, move faster left.

 

BTW: You could use the footpedal for accelerating and breaking.

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16 hours ago, Nathan Strum said:

I didn't notice the glitch at the time, but I wasn't watching the video much since it was so far out-of-sync with the Zoom call, and I was also trying to read the chat. But it could be James' system (again). It's not there on real hardware (on my systems).

You can try to emulate glitched system with TIA settings in developer options.

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4 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

BTW: You could use the footpedal for accelerating and breaking.

Ohh, now that would be the “cherry on top”!  Really cool idea.👍 

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8 minutes ago, sramirez2008 said:

Ohh, now that would be the “cherry on top”!  Really cool idea.👍 

That would work out of the box if they use a 2nd joystick for this. You only would have to adjust the footpedal's mapping accordingly.

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19 minutes ago, Thomas Jentzsch said:

That would work out of the box if they use a 2nd joystick for this. You only would have to adjust the footpedal's mapping accordingly.

And for anyone without a footpedal, there are now 3D printed joystick couplers available too. Btw, this game is already quite the achievement.🙂

Joystick Coupler.jpg

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Wow, I was blown away watching the ZPH stream! What an amazing graphics and great racing gameplay. And that 'hilly road' effect is really good and adds another dimension.

 

I've never played Turbo arcade before, so I felt that the transition from & to the curved wall level (with the ocean view) was very abrupt. But then I checked out the original arcade game, and found that the transition is the same there.

 

Looking forward to playing the first official demo!

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18 minutes ago, Dionoid said:

Wow, I was blown away watching the ZPH stream! What an amazing graphics and great racing gameplay. And that 'hilly road' effect is really good and adds another dimension.

 

I've never played Turbo arcade before, so I felt that the transition from & to the curved wall level (with the ocean view) was very abrupt. But then I checked out the original arcade game, and found that the transition is the same there.

Thanks!

 

Yes - that wall transition is very abrupt. If you step through the video I posted of our version, you'll see we did add an exit transition to it. It's very fast, so it's more visual than functional, but it's a lot cleaner looking that what the arcade game does (which is apparently just turning off different layers of graphics as you leave the scene). The wall scene is always preceded by a curved section of the road facing the same way, so at least you aren't doing something horrible like suddenly jumping from a right-hand curve to a left-hand wall. :roll: If I can figure out some way to bring that curved wall into the scene (without gobbling up tons of ROM) we may add a transition there at some point. But we don't want to "fix" too many things from the arcade game either, because those are all gameplay elements that have been baked into the history of the game for 40 years now.

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