Jump to content
MattPilz

Happy to be part of the Bally community!

Recommended Posts

Posted (edited)

I first learned of Bally last year while searching Z80-related podcasts and stumbled across Bally Alley Astrocast. Despite being a longtime enthusiast of 70s-80s computers and consoles, I had never heard of it. That sent me down the rabbit hole of discovering the wealth of materials archived and preserved online, a feat that tops any other obscure system that I'm aware of (Bally Alley even got a special shout-out in a recent Archive.org special with John Carmack). It was fun reading the original home-grown newsletters and advertisements as well as more of the sporadic and mostly forgotten history of this console. Recently I got a working physical device and couldn't be any happier with it!

 

The technical specs are very impressive compared to anything from that era, even in comparison to some home computers made half a decade later. I say that as a fan of the equally obscure Mattel Aquarius from 1983, which lacks almost every feature and capability already seen with the 1978 Bally. In particular I'm astonished with how versatile Bally BASIC is despite the unusual way of coding for it using the calculator keypad. To be able to interface with the uniquely awesome controllers (rotation, trigger, direction), graphics and multi-voice sound all from integrated BASIC syntax makes it a powerful platform for fast development. By contrast, Aquarius BASIC (which is fixed to 80x72 draw resolution, no GPU and a static character ROM) does not include any commands to interface with the multi-voice sound chip or controllers without using machine language POKE/PEEK.

 

I am only just starting on game discovery. I will say I had a blast playing the integrated Gunfight game and even my mom enjoyed a few rounds, one of the first times she played a game since Stampede of the 2600 era. The graphics and sound really excel beyond what I would've expected for a system of this age. I have also enjoyed playing The Incredible Wizard, which I understand is one of the stand-out titles of the system.

 

Anyway I just wanted to introduce myself and thank everyone who has helped to keep this platform alive!

 

GQtKCnN.jpg

Edited by MattPilz
  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 minutes ago, MattPilz said:

Bally Alley even got a special shout-out in a recent Archive.org special with John Carmack

 

That's neat!  Could you please post a link to the Archive.org special to this thread?

 

Also, be sure say hello on the Astrocade discussion group on group.io.

 

I like your comparison between Aquarius BASIC and Bally BASIC.  Another sad comparison is between BASIC Programming for the VCS and Bally BASIC.  With a bit of added RAM (4K-32K), the extended versions of BASIC (like Blue RAM BASIC) give access to more colors, commands and storage space.

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, ballyalley said:

Could you please post a link to the Archive.org special to this thread?

Sure! https://archive.org/details/game-not-over

 

Starting at 15:30 they talk about how much of history is lost and John discusses how amazing it is to rediscover ancient artifacts for old systems. The Bally mention is at 18:05.

 

Host: Some of the real stand-outs to me include Bally Alley, where people have been just extravagantly trying to get every last piece of information about some of the home systems that Bally did. Like correspondence and discussions about how to do the game design, like down to notes that you'd get...about how they're going to put this code vs. that.

 

Carmack: Yeah it's interesting look at the absolute deepest levels of obsession about things like that. Where, I care deeply about all of this preservation, but I see people that just blow right past me wondering about "what was the deal with the bug in Doom v1.37 whatever where something behaves strangely" and it's like "I don't remember it, honestly I don't actually care that much but it's great that you do and I hope you find the answers you're looking for."

 

5 hours ago, ballyalley said:

With a bit of added RAM (4K-32K), the extended versions of BASIC (like Blue RAM BASIC) give access to more colors, commands and storage space.

I do have the Lil White RAM expansion so I am really looking forward to this as well!

 

Edit - I also have two versions of the Bally BASIC cassette hardware but not really sure if one is superior? One is just the port directly on the cartridge itself, while the other is a full cassette interface. I remember reading something about the earliest being 300 baud but an update supporting like 1000 baud.

Edited by MattPilz

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, MattPilz said:

 

Thanks for the link and the transcription.  I expected it to be audio-only; I didn't expect it to be about an hour and a half long.  I probably won't be able to make time to watch it for a week or two.

 

10 hours ago, MattPilz said:

I do have the Lil White RAM expansion so I am really looking forward to this as well!

 

Edit - I also have two versions of the Bally BASIC cassette hardware but not really sure if one is superior? One is just the port directly on the cartridge itself, while the other is a full cassette interface. I remember reading something about the earliest being 300 baud but an update supporting like 1000 baud.

 

The Lil' White Ram won't allow you to use Blue Ram BASIC, but you will be able to use ViperSoft BASIC.  These two languages are very similar, but the technique used to save are different (for BRB has its own 2000-baud interface built into the RAM expansion).

 

The external tape interface for Bally BASIC is a 300-baud serial interface.  When you load a tape using that interface, it acts very similar to typing in a program using the keyboard, but the data comes form the tape.  The Bally BASIC cartridge with the internal tape interface, usually referred to as "AstroBASIC," loads data at 2000-baud and uses a different technique.  It reloads ALL of memory (including strings and variables).

 

Adam

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...