A blog about tabletop hobby and or strategy games, with a side order of electronic turn based goodness here and there. Now with tons of retro gaming content both electronic and tabletop. Also with 20% more self loathing douchebaggery!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Retro Computing: Why Bother? Atari 8 Bit Update 1

It has been a while since I last did some Atari 8 bit computer fun hasn't it?

Well, in between seeing horrible things on www.somethingawful.com and working I have finally gotten around to getting a few more goodies over the last few months.

(And losing a lot of bids because I both lowball things as a cheapskate with a sense of self loathing and an understanding I have too much stuff already and really need to lower my purchasing even if I am paying off bills well ahead of schedule like a boss.  Oh yeah, and last 10 second snipers.  Lots of sniping.)

Over the next few weeks as I have time and desire I am gonna show my recent pickups and even take a few pictures describing them and my thoughts.

Just for fun, you know?  PLAY THE GAMES.

Don't hoard.  Don't get them graded.  They are meant to be played and enjoyed.

(Even if I still haven't taken Mail Order Monsters out of its wrapper.  It just feels bad.  I mean I will but I dunno.)
(As usual if in doubt click for bigger.)
Most of my haul from the last few months.  Necromancer  is sealed so when I open it I am destroying yet more collectible collectibleness I got cheaper than loose copies go for anyhow.  Adventure Creator is a game creation tool I had back on my C64 so I kind of wanted it again.  I had played Jungle Hunt on my friend's C64 as a kid that was also then a cartridge.  Mountain King I somehow had as a kid on the Atari 2600 but had no idea what I was doing.  (Glad to have it with manual as it is.. complicated.)  Kaboom! is something I am very happy to have as I have finally gotten my own set of Paddle controllers and now have it to play with them!  K-Razy Shoot-Out is a nifty Berzerk clone.  Field of Fire is both another SSI game which makes it a want, and its a Squad level strategy wargame which is kind of my jam.

The most I paid for any of these was 15 bucks for Necromancer.  It, Adventure Creator, Mountain King w Manual, and Kaboom!  Were from one seller.  I bid on more stuff, some of which he relisted and I got sniped on most of it, though I WILL have two more loose but with manual cartridges to go with these titles.

First I plug in my untested paddles.  For those not in the know, Atari paddle controllers were 2 controllers to a single DB9 socket.  Which is why the old 2600 had some of the first 4 player games on a programmable game console.  (And the Atari 8 bit computers originally came with 4 DB9 ports.  I am unaware of any 8 player games sadly.  Not that in this day and age I could get people to even try games on a computer from the late 70s.)

Yes it is sitting on top of my NES Advantage joystick.  Both could use a good cleaning.  Its amazing the kind of mung a 12+ megapixel camera can pick up!  

Also the paddles still work after however long they were owned by whomever then ending up in a Connecticut retro games store.  They do need a little refurbishing to deal with the "jitters" paddles sometimes get as the years go on.

 The game in motion which is the only way to get a shot as it has no pause function.  In Kaboom you have to stop the Mad Bomber above from having his old timey bombs hit the ground.  In between waves you get to rest until you press the fire button.  Every 1000 points you get another bucket down at the bottom.  

To make your life harder, when you miss a bomb, the bottom most bucket is removed first.  When you lose a bucket it slows back to the previous wave's speed.  However you get points per bomb based on the wave.  Yet you cannot store extra buckets at all.

There are a lot of things neat about this version over the 2600 original.  For one you see a simple city backdrop up top.  The bombs themselves have slight differences with the lit wick being on the left or right.

Plus as you catch bombs a simple version of The 1812 Overture's famous bit that happens around the 13:50 mark on the full arrangement happens, with it sounding more "correct" if you catch the bombs via your paddle controlled buckets in the right order.

It is not exactly a MAJOR change from the 2600 version but.. its nice.

I have never owned the 2600 one but on emulation packages but I can say controlling Kaboom with a paddle is so much better and playable than touchscreen, gyro, analog stick, or any other way.  The symbol by the score up at the top shows me using a paddle with wide buckets.  You can also have thin with paddle, and the same two options with joysticks.  

There are alternating two player modes, and a nice versus mode where one player controls the Mad Bomber and the other the buckets and you duel it out, switching sides if you miss.

 The biggest high score I recall getting is around 2500 or so which is "Badge Score" with a joystick, but 3000 is paddle.  These scores here are my normal so far.  On other formats even with a mouse I can't get even HALF of this.

The Epyx 500XJ is plugged back in and it's time for some CRAY-ZEE MONEY!
 Actually no.  Its K-Razy Shoot-Out.  It is a Berzerk clone.  Unlike that game this one has your enemies teleport in, sometimes right on top of your head.  You can also hold the fire button and aim in any direction.  One odd bit I have noticed is that you and the monster robots only are allowed a single bullet on screen at a time.  Also you have a timer bar that counts down with the obvious timer bonuses.

 It is a fun little game.  Here are some robots roaming about the randomly generated maze while my latest death has a nice little animation of my man dying at the bottom.

 It is fun but I need some more practice time with it.  If you like Berzerk it is well worth trying though.

Now it is time to go on a hunt.

A Jungle Hunt.

(As opposed to a hunt for my life.  I have none regardless of my attempts otherwise.  I do not game to escape life, but to have something to do that is enjoyable.  And affordable.)
 Based on the arcade game, in Jungle Hunt you have 4 stages with a countdown timer.  In the first one you have to take your WHITE MAN'S BURDEN guy and jump from vine to vine with the one you are about to jump to mostly obscured till you jump.  It is a mixture of timing both when the vine will be towards you enough to catch it.  You have some leeway though if you jump too late you will end up lower and lower on the vine if not miss it outright.

 Part two has you swimming a river, with nasty bubbles bringing you to the surface out of control in the middle, plus alligators and a nasty air bar if you spend too much time underwater.  You have a VERY short ranged knife that can stab said crocs.  Unlike the arcade version it seems pretty easy to hit them in this port.

 The third part has you jumping and ducking boulders as they roll and bounce down the mountain.

 Most obstacles you conquer give you points which they turn into.  Here we see a big boulder coming our way.  Do we wait till it lands and push up and fire for a big jump forwards? Stand still and duck and let it fly over us?  Run under it?  You have control.

 And in a final stage these fine (old) cannibals are preparing the blonde chick for a tasty stew.  You have to time jumps over both the offensive stereotypes while evading their movement, then jump up to catch the girl.  I need more practice at that part.

And finally, Mountain King!
 This is a game you NEED the manual for otherwise it wont make a bit of sense.  You have a man on a mountain.  Pressing fire works his flashlight.  Diagonally up makes you jump in that direction.  

Collect 1000 points of gems to earn the special fire.  Look for a tiny blinking light and you can find it.  Use your flashlight (which when using doesn't allow you to collect gems) to find it.  Press down to grab it.  The chest on the far platform on the light either makes bats or gives you 260 points.  Bats will steal your next goody.  To help you, there is a tune that plays louder or quieter to let you know if you are getting closer.  (In the Hall of the Mountain King.)  On higher difficulties you have limited time to find the item.  Jumping is VERY difficult in this game which can make things tricky.

Then you have to bring the flame down here, also avoiding the Spider that can web then kill you if you fail to escape (also like the bats will steal your two items based on difficulty level), then press down in the correct spot to raise the ladder.  Climb up, align yourself properly with the crown, push up, then pull down with the crown on your head.

 Now run and jump back up the mountain to the SACRED FLAAAME.  I in my limited time have yet to do this part.  Bats keep stealing my crown.  The only real nicety is that the stages are wraparound.  It is kind of hard and like I said, jumping is awkward at best!  But it is pretty fun.  I can totally understand why kid me with no manual couldn't make sense of the Atari 2600 version at all.

So there we have it!  The first three of my new pickups played and talked about.

So far I have enjoyed and spent the most time with Kaboom! but I do want to spend more time playing all of them.  I haven't gotten Adventure Creator to work yet, so I need to check it out and also see if it simply is not compatible with the XL/XE series of computers or if it requires the disk drive to be active merely to play even though that is just used to save games.

So next time perhaps I shall be able to show that title.  And defile a sealed Necromancer.  And hope Field of Fire has working disks.

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