Issue 92
www.commodorefree.com
Free to download magazine dedicated to Commodore computers
Available as PDF, ePUB, MOBI, HTML,
TXT, SEQ and D64 disk image

Editor
Nigel Parker
Spell Checking
Peter Badrick
Bert Novilla
TXT, HTML & eBooks
Paul Davis
D64 Disk Image
Al Jackson
PDF Design
Nigel Parker
Website
www.commodorefree.com
Email Address
commodorefree@commodorefree.com
Submissions
Articles are always wanted for the magazine. Contact us for details. We can’t pay you for your efforts but you are safe in the knowledge that you have passed on details that will interest other Commodore enthusiasts.
Notices
All materials in this magazine are the property of Commodore Free unless otherwise stated. All copyrights, trademarks, trade names, internet domain names or other similar rights are acknowledged. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without permission.
The appearance of an advert in the magazine does not necessarily mean that the goods/services advertised are associated with or endorsed by Commodore Free Magazine.
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 Commodore Free Magazine
All Rights Reserved.

Contents


Editorial

Welcome to another issue of Commodore Free.

Although real life has been getting in the way of releasing issues and playing with Commodore related items, I am still hopeful of maintaining the monthly releases (time permitting).

A little plea for help goes out this issue:

You will no doubt be aware we have the magazine released as a Disk image or d64 that is readable on a real Commodore 64. The original disk version of the magazine was coded with the help of dot basic and the magic coding of Al reed. However, after nearly 100 issues we seem to be coming to a number of problems. The first problem is once we hit issue 99 we have no way (in the magazine) to code the issue to display Issue 100, so it will go back to Issue 01! That will be confusing and is also messy. Readers have also called for extensions to the original magazine design, and I know the printing future is less than successful.

It would be great to add the following options to the magazine

Of course you may think of other items to add and feel free to contact me with your suggestions to add to the disk magazine. I have been trying to contact Al Reed as at one time he was keen to evolve the magazine into something more to Commodore Free’s needs. However, after a while the emails dried up and I haven’t been able to contact Al for some time!

The original specification of the magazine that Al created was spot on, but times have moved on and needs not thought about in the early days are now a real problem.

Think you can do better!

Please contact me if you feel you could code a skeleton magazine that we can use each month to distribute the disk to the many Commodore readers who prefer to use the real machine rather than paper or onscreen PDF files. Indeed, many readers still only own Commodore hardware and so reading the issue is either via text only or by the disk image.

Of course it goes without saying that text or articles for the magazine are most welcome; contact me if you think you have something that other readers would like to read about! Maybe you have some rare item that others may not know about, or maybe a new piece of software or a hardware project you would like help with or just advertise to other like-minded Commodore Users.

Thanks for reading -- enjoy the issue.

Regards,

Nigel (Editor)

www.commodorefree.com


General News


Retro gaming high score archives

High scores from retro computer games. The archive contain results of all kinds of computer games on Atari, Commodore, PC, Sega, Nintendo, Apple, MSX, BBC, Sinclair and more.

http://cbm8bit.com/highscores/home/c64


Stripefixer C64

Bwack is working on a "stripefixer". This is an electronic circuit to counteract some of those vertical bar interferences that the C64 screen is known for.

https://www.youtube.com/user/bbytew/search?query=Stripefix


VirtualC64 v1.1.3

Dirk Hoffmann has released a new version of his VirtualC64 emulator. This emulator runs on a Mac (OS X) emulating a Commodore C64. Changes in this version are: Improvements for the internal texture buffers (blur, sepia and simple CRT). VirtualC64 now uses Metal; the old OpenGL code has been removed.

http://www.dirkwhoffmann.de/virtualc64/


CBM PRG Studio v3.5.0

Arthur Jordison has released an updated version of CBM PRG Studio. Changes in this version: Fragment assembly, Debug directive, easier label exporting, custom character mapping for TEXT directive, and overlap detection when building mixed BASIC and assembly sources.

http://www.ajordison.co.uk/


C64SD v3 Princess FLC

New version of the C64SD v3 Princess is under development. The new version "FLC" can control the Datassette motor making it possible to create .TAP files automatically from tapes with multiple files. And a new menu (v2.0) for all versions.

http://www.manosoft.it/


Ray Carlsen's New C64/128/VIC-20CR/Plus4 Power Supplies

All of Ray's various Commodore and Amiga power supplies are now on online at this website

http://personalpages.tds.net/~rcarlsen/custom%20ps.html


Minecraft fan finds a way to program BASIC code in-game

Just in case, like millions of players, you had a yearning to start coding within the game using BASIC, well now you can!

http://www.engadget.com/2016/01/18/minecraft-basic-programming/

'Minecraft' add-on helps you learn programming while you play

http://www.engadget.com/2014/08/18/learntomod-teaches-coding-via-minecraft/


Retro Commodore

The web page retro-commodore.eu has scans available of Commodore magazines and books. The latest additions are: COMputer Issue 18 - 1987 Sep, RAP Diskcover, Weird Diskcover, Defence Diskcover, CUC Diskcover 2, Arachnophobia votesheet (Spiders), U-Turn Unplugged votesheet, Spiders Diskcover, U-Turn diskcover, Basic Computer Spil (Danish), SOFT (Danish), Computer (Danish), Y-C-Genlock (German), VLAB YUV Video Digitizer manual (German), DiskMaster manual, CrossDOS v4.0, User’s Guide Amiga Hard Drive (A4000), User’s Guide ARexx (A4000), User’s Guide AmigaDOS (A4000), Christmas-Party ’89 Invitation, Horizon Party Invitation 1990, Bullet Proof, Business, Adventure Town and Bogen om Commodore 64 (Danish).

http://www.retro-commodore.eu


Chicken Lips Radio 3

Chicken Lips Radio is a podcast for Commodore users. In this latest episode we have : Commodore Flyer Modem, CommVex 2015, Blake Patterson, C64 keycaps, PixelWizard, cOS, DOS65 CP/M, EBay: Commodore 65, MEGA65, c64p Commodore laptop, Commodore 128 VGA Adapter, PLAnkton, C128D Disk Drive, Amiga HDMI and the SFD-1001.

http://www.chickenlipsradio.org/2015/11/show-003-october-2015.html


The Games-Coffer

The website "Games Coffer" has games, demos, animations, slideshows, diskette magazines, history, FAQ, emulators, reviews and advert scans. New additions to the site are: Creep Show, Dark Lord No.9, Freddy’s Dead, Friday The 13th, Horror Slideshow, Nightbreed, Art I, Art II, Color Crime, Termination Zone 92, Tora Cora, Zombie Boys 3, Chainsaw Death, Dragons Pyramids, Magic Ball (DE), Missile, Star Fleet 1, Wet Beaver Games, Boulder, Budbrain Megademo #3, Deep Core, Disorder Megademo 2, Gate Megademo, Gate Megademo II, Hit The Road, Hydrocephelus II, Hypnosis, It's Tricky, Space Alien Vampire, Wicked House and Wild Copper.

http://www.gamescoffer.co.uk/


FS-UAE Upgraded

FS-UAE is a multi-platform Amiga emulator that can be run on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X, and is based on UAE/WinUAE. Changes in this version: More compatibility for A1200 Blizzard CPU board models, more gamepad controller configurations, updated translations, and improvements in the FS-UAE Launcher.

http://fs-uae.net/


MUIBase 3.2

MUIBase (Magic data BASE with User Interface) is a relational, programmable database with a graphical user interface for Amiga, Linux, Mac and Windows. The recent changes are: New names for the use of a project (Changed, Locked, or Old), quick search in select-from-where lists, MIN / MAX for arbitrary data types. Update for the manuals and many small errors are removed.

http://muibase.sourceforge.net/downloads_amiga


Britsoft

Britsoft is a book documenting the history of the early British games industry. In the book are interviews with Peter Molyneux, David Braben, Archer Maclean, David Darling, Jeff Minter, Charles Cecil, David Perry, Geoff Crammond, Julian Gollop, Julian Rignall, Dino Dini, Mo Warden, Rob Hubbard, Martin Kenwright, Fred Gray, Martin Galway, Mel Croucher, Mike Montgomery, Rod Cousens, Sean Cooper, Malcolm Evans, Steve Turner, Tim Tyler, Nigel Alderton, Jon Hare, Gary Penn, Eugene Evans, Oliver Frey, the Oliver twins, Peter Stone, Richard Leinfellner, Chris Anderson, Shahid Ahmad, Andrew Braybrook, and Geoff Brown.

http://readonlymemory.vg/shop/book/britsoft-an-oral-history/


Farewell Betamax

Farewell to Betamax tape. We always liked you better than VHS anyway, tape production ceases after 40 years! Read more by clicking the link

http://go.reg.cx/ml/a16a3/566b637f/8063e7b1/2hPw


C64 News


Spiceworks Website Pays Homage To The C64

Amongst other items

(Spiceworks is a system used by companies for managing IT support, call ticketing and hardware inventory. They also have a support forum, available as a free or paid for service.)

1982 – Commodore 64 unveiled

Believe it or not, the $595 Commodore 64 is the best-selling computer system of all time, with sales of about 17 million systems. The original model featured Datassette cassette recorder storage and data transfer rates at 300 baud. The eight-bit computer ran the Commodore KERNAL operating system.

http://community.spiceworks.com/topic/1370157-this-week-in-tech-history-bitcoin-iphone-and-the-best-selling-pc-of-all-time


LostTurboCard64

Egretz is working on a modern version of the TurboCard64. The original was released in 1987, and was a hardware extension for the Commodore C64 with 4 MHz 65816 CPU and 256 KByte RAM. You can follow his progress (German language).

http://www.telecomm.at/egretz/LostTurboCard64/LTC64.html


Memwa2: World's Smallest C64 Emulator

Staring Lizard is a Kickstarter launched to create world's smallest C64 emulator. This project is the successor to the Memwa project. The specifications of the Memwa2 include: A stronger MCU, microSD, USB keyboard, HDMI output, and a SID chip or a substitute like Swinsid

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1524339386/worlds-smallest-c64-emulator


HerMIDI v1.0c

HerMIDI is a MIDI interface for the Commodore 64 made by Hermit. The device only has a few components and you can build it yourself. Changes in this version: Commodore Plus4 and C-16 support, update for the documentation, better initialization, and improvement for asynchronous mode.

https://sourceforge.net/projects/hermidi/files/HerMIDI-1.0c.zip/download


Time of Silence v1.0

Claus released Time of Silence V1.0 for the Commodore C64. The game reached second place in the Forum64 Game Competition 2015. The game is an adventure game and is available in English and German. Claus is already working on a sequel.


C64 Endings

The web page c64endings.co.uk, dedicated to showing game endings, has been updated. Most recent additions are: Dr. Jackle & Mr. Wide (Mastertronic), Die Hard 2: Die Harder (Grandslam), Dragon's Lair 2 (Software Projects), Drelbs (Synapse Software), and Deviants (Players).

https://c64endings.wordpress.com/


Glenn Holmer GEOS Fonts

Glenn Has summarized what he has been learning about GEOS fonts. You can find out more on his website

http://www.lyonlabs.org/commodore/onrequest/geos-fonts.html


Quod Init Exit v1.5

Released by: Saimo, Retream

Another update to the Pig-inspired platform game, with music by Richard Baylis. Many have commented that this would be a great Phone style app, and I agree. Very colourful graphics and superb looking toilet rolls.

http://csdb.dk/getinternalfile.php/143265/QUOD_INIT_EXIT.d64


U91306 - Eidothea - The Daughter of Protheus [SEUCK]

Game design Errazking
Graphics Errazking
Music Richard Bayliss

Errazking's third entry in the SEUCK 2015 competition sends a sub into the body of a human. You must battle through various levels inside the game. You'll find the player actually going behind the scenery at some stages. There are 4 stages in all and an end boss to encounter.

DNA warrior meets SEUCK :) Okay, maybe not. However this game is a pretty smart idea.

http://tnd64.unikat.sk/seuck/Sideways2015/Eidothea.zip


VChar64 V0.0.8

Released by: riq

Another update to his Character set creation tool

Features include

https://github.com/ricardoquesada/vchar64


DurexForth V1.4.3

Released by: Hack n' Trade

Released with a D64 image and even a PDF manual to download. I could make the usual jokes about Go FORTH and code, May the FORTH be with you... and I think I have done these before, so let’s just say an update is available.

This is a Modern C64 version of the Forth programming language.

The application includes a vi clone (written in Forth), a high-resolution graphics library, plus MML music support

Goals:

CSDB release information

http://csdb.dk/release/?id=142561


SIDin PDF Magazine Issue 15

Released by: Ice Team

Commodore pdf magazine featuring an interview with Matt Gray

Other items include:

General Index, Editorials, News, CGSC v1.30, HVSC #63, XSIDPlay 2.1.7, Project Sidologie, Tel Me More, Back in Time Symphonic Collection, Matt Gray interview!, Inside Matt Gray Serpent Demo player, Sample

Source, Conclusion, JSIDPLAY2, Beginning Actually

http://digilander.iol.it/ice00


Arc64 V2.8

Released by: Graham

Arc64 is a small tool to deal with D64, T64, LNX and ZipCode archives.

It can be used to edit D64 images, run D64 images in the WinVice emulator, run PRG files via CodeNet, convert T64, LNX, PRG, ZipCode and other formats to D64.

A key feature is the drag & drop support. If you drop a D64 image, it will be opened in place of the currently opened D64 image. If you drop any kind of other file, Arc64 will try to add it to the D64 image. Formats like T64, LNX and P00 will be automatically extracted into the D64 image as PRGs.

Any changes to a D64 won't be saved automatically; you either have to drag the header of the directory into an explorer window, or you have to use the Save option from the menus.

Arc64 may also be called via command line with a file name as argument.

http://csdb.dk/release/?id=142396


Tronowo

Released by: Tom Rain at the Mixed Game Competition at RetroKomp/LOAD ERROR 2015 http://retrokomp.org/?page_id=1610&lang=en_US where it came 6th place in the mixed games section.

Based on 'light cycle s', you make your enemy hit into your vehicle trace. You can play alone or with a friend.

It's a keyboard-controlled game:

player 1 player 2
{w} {i}
{a}{s}{d} {j}{k}{l}
{space} - cover {return} - cover

other keys used :

{p} pause
{b} barriers on/off
{q} quit
{.}{,} barriers time slower/faster

Keyman64

The Keyman64 is a programmable keyboard interceptor and hardware control system for computers equipped with a simple 64-key matrix keyboard. It is installed between the keyboard and the computer, continually scanning the keyboard matrix and relaying the keyboard state to the computer using a crosspoint switch. To the computer the crosspoint switch matrix looks just like a physical keyboard, while the Keyman64 gains the ability to intercept keystrokes and control the matrix seen by the computer.

http://www.henning-bekel.de/keyman64/


Athanor - The Awakening

Erik Safar released a new game for the Commodore C64. The game is an adventure game with vector graphics.

The features are:

A VIC20 version with 32k ram pack is also planned.

You can follow the thread and get details of how to purchase the game from here

http://www.lemon64.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=58363

A preview of the game is available to download from here

http://csdb.dk/release/?id=142447


Retro Gamer CD News

New game releases on the near horizon (both modern and retro), our annual competition

http://www.rgcd.co.uk/2015/07/c64-16kb-cartridge-game-development.html

and RGCD have completed work on an enhanced version of Tiger Claw for the C64 in Pixels Kickstarter.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/47744432/the-story-of-the-commodore-64-in-pixels

RGCD have also restocked some of the more popular C64 cartridges!

RGCD Cartridges Back in Stock / Upcoming Releases

Out of Print Titles

RGCD has released over 30 games on cartridge for the C64? Not including the many releases that were for competitions, RGCD say they have been playing with the idea of using the larger cart sizes we have now to perhaps re-release some of the older games alongside new and never-released stuff.

If you're up for re-releases, RGCD have created a super-simple Google form

http://rgcd.us4.list-manage2.com/track/click?u=f348430ec1f78fe2e7382cfdb&id=d40fa00070&e=200826c10f

for you to complete (will take about 30 seconds).


VIC 20 News


Mini Mine Sweep

Shaun Bebbington has released a version of the classic Minesweep game for the unexpanded VIC 20

In the game you can select a skill level to start; this will determine the number of flags that you are able to place. When you have placed all of your flags, the program will auto-check whether you are a winner or not. The game allows for more than 10 flags, and there is the ability for the player to check on easier levels by pressing F7.

Name Mine Sweep Mini
Author Donkeysoft
Requirements Unexpanded/+3K VIC-20
Description Mine Sweep Clone

Discuss here:

http://sleepingelephant.com/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?f=2&t=7120

Download:

http://sleepingelephant.com/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/download/file.php?id=110&sid=10c2ed06bc978b5ad5539c3a1bb5894b

Download Contains .tap and .PRG file, as well as the read me.

Tiny URL version

http://tinyurl.com/jczsn3e


R'zos VIC Collection of 2015

A collection of programs written by R'zo in 2015

Requirements: A VIC-20 (some programs are unexpanded, some are 8k) or VICE. One game requires a joystick.

Author: R'zo

The games in the collection are: The Call of the Vicious, Drone X, Vicious Access / Enter the Vic, and Vicious Synths.

Download:

https://onedrive.live.com/?cid=f3f054871a5ea4cd&id=F3F054871A5EA4CD%211290&ithint=folder,d64&authkey=!AK1M8QQLJxFxBj0

Tinyurl:

http://tinyurl.com/j6qtouf

Discussion Links:


Péter és Pál and Winnetou

Miklós Tihor & András Laczi have released two games for the Commodore VIC20. Péter és Pál is described as an action game for two people and Winnetou is listed as a jumping game (a little like). The games were originally written in 1985 and can (so the authors say) be played on a VIC 20 with a 3k RAM expansion.

Péter és Pál
Winnetou

Download:

http://gator3293.hostgator.com/~sleeping/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=7787

Denials main website

http://sleepingelephant.com/denial/


ColorRun Retro

Tokra has released a game called ColorRun for the unexpanded Pal VIC20. The VIC game is a version of the browser and mobile game of the same name. All you do in the game is just pick the lighter colour, and although this sounds easy, you will quickly find it isn't. The game was an entry for the Global Game Jam 2016. http://globalgamejam.org/2016/games/colorrun-retro

Created in under 48 hours at the University of Bremen Jam Site.

Download:

http://www.tokra.de/vic/colorrun/colorrun.prg

Discuss:

http://www.sleepingelephant.com/ipw-web/bulletin/bb/viewtopic.php?f=10&t=7812


C16 and Plus/4 News


Ghost 'n Goblins Arcade Music Box

Chronos/Absence have a release based on the game Ghost 'n Goblins, with a new music box, featuring 5 tunes and graphics. On the diskette you will find other bonus material.

http://plus4world.powweb.com/software/ghost_n_goblins_arcade_musicbox


Amiga News


Nazghul - AROS

Nazghul is an old-school RPG clone modelled after those made in the heyday of top-down, 2D tile-based graphics. It is specifically modelled after Ultima V, so if you've played that game then this should be familiar.


Amiga 30th Birthday - California

Robert Bernardo created a video of the 30th birthday of the Amiga meeting in California. In the videos: RJ Mical, Dave Needle, Joe Decuir, Ron Nicholson, Jim Mackraz, Peter Cherna, Spencer Shanson, Colin Proudfoot, Allan Havemose, Trevor Dickinson, Arne Blix, Hogne Titlestad, Bill Bosari, Zach Weddington, Jason Scott, Joe Torre, Steve Solie, Perry Kivolowitz and Eric Lavitsky.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2jVJHlP_6zzVwz6hUw95lg


XoXo - Amiga

XoXo is a program, developed by Andreas G. Szabo, that can help you with ripping, decrunching, decoding, virus checking, and debugging. Changes in this version: Improvements for reading the directory and assigns in the file manager. More ToolTips and OX system upgrade from library version 0 to 2.7.

http://aminet.net/package/util/misc/XoXo


Sum firmware update

A new firmware upgrade is available for the Sum USB (A1200) and the Sum A600 models. Changes in this version: Apple USB keyboard support, F10: displaying selected keys codes, F12: displaying device settings and a new short-cut for adapter settings.

http://retro.7-bit.pl/


Calimero v1.00 - MorphOS

Calimero is a powerful DTP program for MorphOS. The program can import and export many different formats, with support for multi-page, columns, header, footer, separators, hyperlinks, text warp, table of contents, background texture and more. Changes in this version are: Export EPUB, Support of HOME and END button, Drag 'n Drop of all possible files, and a new Shortcut for rescale objects with aspect ratio.

http://aminet.net/search?query=calimero


Potrace v1.13 - Amiga

Potrace is a utility for tracing a bitmap image by transforming the image into a smooth, scalable format. The input is a bitmap and the output is a PostScript file. Changes in this version are: Improvements for processing of BMP files and the portability was improved for C99 and for MSVC++.

http://potrace.sourceforge.net/


Boingsworld Issue 69

A new issue of Boingsworld (German language) has been released, You can listen to the following articles: Neuss, Tabor A1222, X5000 A-EON, X5000 - MorphOS, A.L.I.C.E., Hyperion, Cinemaware, Kryoflux, Amiga 30 Merchandise, Amiga Racer, AEROS, Amiga Future, Mega 65, Alinea Computer, Return Magazin, Factor5, Blue Metal Rose, Cloanto, G-Data, Marcom, Amistore, Golden Code, Viva Amiga, Chris Huelsbeck, Dave Haynie, RJ Mical, Turrican Live, and Yesterchips.


New A1200 Cases Kickstarter Successful

The Kickstarter to create new moulds and new A1200 cases has passed its goal 840 backers pledged €156,310 to help bring this project to life. Congratulations, and best luck with production!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/a1200housing/new-amiga-1200-cases-made-from-new-molds


Call For Amiga Developers

Kickstarting PowerPC and 68k software development

A-EON Technology Ltd http://www.a-eon.com/ is pleased announce a new initiative for Amiga software developers.

In the past year they launched the AMIStore app store http://www.amistore.net/ which has been enthusiastically supported by both Amiga developers and users.

AMIStore performance update:

They have created a dedicated SVN resource for all developers working on our applications. They also implemented a Mantis bug tracker together with a developer mailing list and Wiki to aid software development. They are now looking for experienced Amiga developers to work on existing applications and create new content for both the 68k and PowerPC platforms. So, if you are an existing or former Amiga developer and want to help create new software applications for the 68k or PowerPC platform, please visit the website for more information :

www.amigadeveloper.com


Review: Slime and Slime Deluxe

For the C64

Code Mr. NOP
Original Idea Jim Summers
Music Richard Bayliss
Sound Effect Engine N. Higgins

History

The year was 1982, the arcades were filled with teenagers transfixed on video games and pinball machines. In the classrooms, teenagers were learning how to program BASIC on the Commodore PET.

One day in 1982 three games appeared for the PET: Astro-Rescue, Star Spores, and Slime. There was something different about these games. They were written in machine language with great attention to detail. Star Spores and Slime contained animated intro screens and featured a high-score table with the top 10 scores. Slime was a concept not seen before in an already flooded video game market. Growing slime and cells that chased after you made this game a challenging one. The player explosion effect meticulously keeping track of each diamond so as not to pass through the game's border.

Programming a conversion

The games c64 remake was coded from scratch by Mr NOP observing how the PET version played. There were two of Jim's original routines that were ported into the C64 version: the cells that chase after you and the explosion effect.

Gameplay

Use Joystick in Port 2 to move ship and the Q and W keys to rotate.

Keyboard: Use I,M,J,L to move and SPACE to fire. Q and W keys to rotate.

Run-Stop will pause the game.

Slime will be dropped randomly from above by various creatures dropping down the screen. Use your ship to destroy this slime before it grows out of hand. The outer membrane consists of two layers. Slime growth will create internal spores that will chase after you. These spores will not destroy you but will reduce your score if they make contact with you. Random aliens will move horizontally, changing the slime membranes. Higher levels will bring out the chaser who will destroy you upon contact. You will die if you're cornered on all sides – this includes the game border.

Slime Deluxe

This is an improved version of the original Jim Summer's Commodore PET game, and the original Mr NOP remake on the c64. Improvements made to the original Slime C64 game release that include:

Original version PET
Remake on the C64
Deluxe Commodore 64 version

Having never seen the original PET version the first thing I did was to try YouTube and found this game play

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nvhIVm9q6fs

The gameplay and detail in this game really shows through, and while the Commodore 64 version was quite a faithful remake, it did remove some of the title animations and game fades that the Pet version seemed to do so well. However, I was later sent the deluxe edition that feels more like a Jeff Minter psychedelic remake. It’s the same game just moving forward in time, although it still feels like that time line is somewhere in the 80s. Nothing of this detracts from the game and the gameplay itself (which is fast-paced) seems to have a nod towards various other games of the era, and yes, other newer games ripped off this style.

Loading the remake or the “Deluxe Edition” features some enhanced graphics and music by Richard Baylis along with a bashing soundtrack, that I am still wondering if it fits the game! Gameplay features a scrolling background with some sound effects (but no music) where the players and enemies seem to float on top. It’s a great effect, although it been used a number of times before. In-game characters are small, but any bigger and the game just wouldn’t work.

I can see the historical interest in the game, as even now it still feels fresh, and I would love to play the original on the PET version just to see how the gameplay compares with Mr NOP's, although looking at the videos it does seem to be very closely emulated. The ship's explosion is very impressive, as can be said about the game's speed and level curve, as you feel you need just one more go to beat your last high score.

Scores

Gameplay 7/10
Overall
7/10
solid
Sounds 6/10
title music and spot fx
Graphics 6/10

Summary

I would love to see the original wash between levels that the PET version had; I am still unsure that the deluxe version adds anything (other than graphics). The game seems so solid, but the PETSCII version would and indeed does work just as well.


Review: Rhythm King

Digitally sampled sound drum machine for the C64

Specification:

Is this the Clash of the Cymbals?

What we have here is a cartridge for sound output and piece of software for any commodore 64 or 128 (40-column mode supported, more later). The package allows playback of digitally recorded percussion sound (drum sounds to you and me).

I Played My Drum for Him pa rum pum pum!

The software was created by S.N Clarke and A.J Tarott and distributed by the “Supersoft “ software company. My version’s stamped as being “Version 1”, which I do find interesting, so tell me – do people really make software that works the first time or first version? Well, it would seem they did in 1986! How many applications do you have now that work and are at Version 1.

Hit me with your rhythm stick!

This software is as near to perfection (in my opinion) as is possible. Rhythm king is uncomplicated, very easy to use, and seems very logically laid out. Rhythm King has to be one of my favourite pieces of software of all time for these reasons! It shows with the care and attention to detail that has been put into the programme. Maybe I am lucky but Rhythm King has never crashed, locked up, or misbehaved while in use. The supplied programme cartridge allows adjustment of the sound output or sound trimming as the manual says to a hi-fi or mixing desk. I am not sure if the cartridge is some sort of digital filter; one thing I can say for sure is that the quality the cartridge produces is superb (we must of course remember these are 8 bit samples!) as would be expected from 8-bit samples. The sound quality is let down a little on the cymbals and hi hats due to the frequency ranges of these percussion sounds. The sounds are more of a watery noise than a crisp ring of a cymbal. On the plus side the base gives an almighty thud! And the snare hits hard.

Click click boom sh sh shake the room!

The software came supplied on disk or cassette; my version is on disk with side 1 for the Commodore 64 and the flip side is for Commodore 128 (taking full advantage of the 80-column mode and adding support for the recording of longer patterns and songs).

Here the drummer get wicked!

The manual says the drum sounds have been digitized with the MICROVOX PRO sampler. I haven’t seen one of these units (except for a failed bid attempt by myself on E-bay), but I do remember the units were at one time used in professional recording studios. Although this is now years ago, it’s nice sometimes to look back. Navigation in the program is by function key and the RETURN key acting as a confirmation action. You can also use a joystick, the joystick option really makes life easy.

Break it down boyeeeeeeee!

Live Play turns your Commodore machine into an electronic drum kit with number keys 1 to 8 all having sampled sounds assigned to them. When a key is pressed a sample is played (the screen is blanked the whole time you are in live play). The manual says this is for best performance – it does make a vast improvement to the quality by blanking the screen. This mode is often very useful to use as a mode to TEST a rhythm before recording a song or pattern or to PLAY at being drummers.

Boom Boom Boom take me to the moon!

The recording studio allows you to edit “patterns”, which are sections of the song that can be joined together to produce an entire song. I like to think of them as sentences, 3 or more sentences will produce a paragraph (or song!). With this software it's possible to have 65 patterns and 16 songs (more on the Commodore 128).

Pattern editor (knitting needles are not required!)

The pattern editor allows “sections” of your song to be created in step time on the usual drum machine drum grid. Pressing a key 1 to 8 will insert a blob on the grid; this blob shows when a sound is played.

Clap hands stamp your feet banging on a big bass drum!

The recording studio also allows patterns to be set to your desired number of bars, beats per bar, quantisation steps, and finally and most importantly, you can set the tempo. This seems to be a pretty inclusive set of options to me.

The only two changes I would make are to have an option of tuning or pitching the sample, because even on drum sounds I personally find that tuning the sound can give unexpected and exciting results. Also, an option of setting volume or accents on individual notes would be nice, and while we’re criticizing, an option to reverse the sample on certain notes would be nice, although I am not sure the machine would be powerful enough for real-time effects.

We will we will rock you!

The programme also allows patterns to be erased or renamed, or to listen to patterns. Now we come to the best bit: recording patterns. Rhythm King can provide a timing click, commonly known as a click track, so you can enter the rhythm just by tapping the appropriate number key 1 to 8. The click track is played via the SID chip so this is on your monitor and not through the external amp or hi fi that the cartridge is plugged into. Again, it's well-thought out so you can keep the click track running and record your creation.

R r rock me Amadeus!

Playing in this mode allows a pattern to be built up, with the pattern looping at the end of the section back to the beginning. All you need do is keep adding drum sounds until you pattern is tweaked and tuned as you desire. Another useful feature of the programme is STEP time recording. With step time recording the programme allows “manual” insertion of a drum trigger on the grid, by scrolling along the grid and pressing a key again 1 to 8 when you wish a note to played or triggered. This leaves a blob on the grid when the pattern is played back, and the blob triggers the sample to be played. I find this useful for difficult-to-play sections, or timing critical sections. Also, using this function can give a rhythm that is not possible for a single human drummer to play, creating a more electronic feel to your music .

Don’t get Brahms get lyst!

One final part of the programme is a file menu allowing you to see disk directories or directory listings, whilst also giving the options to delete and save files on disk. As can be seen from the screen shot, this is 100% better than some of the lesser quality software produced for the machine, with the usual method being to select load and then being given a box to enter the filename! If you can’t remember the filename, you have to close the programme, restart your machine, list a disk directory, write down the names... a lovely feature to have. Again, showing the quality of the programmers.

The synth drum that time forgot!

Incidentally, I have used this software in a semi-live and live setup. I remember playing in a band (you don’t want to know the name, we played more for fun than anything else) that had a temperamental drummer – sometimes he turned up for rehearsal, sometimes he was stuck in the pub. After a night of careful programming I was able to create the drummer's actions with the application, allowing the rest of the band to rehearse with or without the drummer. In the end he was sacked and we just used the machine.

Music is my first love and it will be my last, music from the future and music from the past !

During rehearsals in this manner I was asked to play in another band. The band were doing a cover version of “BLUE MONDAY”, the sounds from the Commodore were so close to the original recording of the track that the band thought it would be a nice feature to have a machine play the drums as in the original recording. Now, both bands have folded and we managed to produce no money from our efforts, but it did seem cool at the time and a little piece of history (that should be) confined to the bin.

Feel the bass as the baseline hits your face!

As a final note, the software runs without the cartridge but produces no sound (as would be expected) from the Commodore, I would be interested how the sound is output from the programme to the cartridge, and also if any new kits have been produced. Maybe you are using a custom-designed kit yourself, or you may have a nice demo you would like to share with someone, to show off your drum programming skills.

I found this YOUTUBE video showing the software in use

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6Jwtgc2T5s

Overall: 10/10

Great !


Copy And Paste From WinVICE

Sometimes you need to get text into an emulator or real machine in the quickest way possible, and although other methods (some would say better methods) exist, did you know you can copy and paste text to and from the VICE emulator?

Let’s assume we have a BASIC program (incidentally, it doesn’t matter on the length of the programme) and we want to put this into VICE to run, you could type it all in for a real old school nightmare – or if it’s a webpage or pdf listing or even text file, you can copy and paste the text straight into VICE (well, almost).

First off, the BASIC program will need editing to remove custom control characters (you know, the custom Commodore characters). Personally, I tend to use CRSR left and CRSR right, SCNCLR for clear screen, or even print chr$(147) – you can then go back and tidy these up on the emulator or real machine.

Then you need the code or text in the right case. Most word processors have an option to change case. For example, the version of Microsoft Word I use at work has this option:

Let’s take this BASIC program (printed in Commodore Free)

The first few lines are

1 REM ***************
2 REM ** MAIN MENU **
3 REM ***************
10 SCNCLR
20 PRINT:PRINT"TEMPERATURE CONVERSION PROGRAM"
30 PRINT:PRINT"1. CONVERT FAHRENHEIT TO CELSIUS/KELVIN/RANKINE"
40 PRINT"2. CONVERT CELSIUS TO FAHRENHEIT/KELVIN/RANKINE"
50 PRINT"3. CONVERT KELVIN TO CELSIUS/FAHRENHEIT/RANKINE"
60 PRINT"4. CONVERT RANKINE TO FAHRENHEIT/CELSIUS/KELVIN"
70 PRINT:PRINT"5. END CONVERSION PROGRAM"
80 GET A$:IF A$="" THEN 80

The above pasted straight in to vice would result in

Therefore we need to change case, so paste your text or program into your favourite word processor and change the case:

1 rem ***************
2 rem ** main menu **
3 rem ***************
10 scnclr
20 print:print"temperature conversion program"
30 print:print"1. convert fahrenheit to celsius/kelvin/rankine"
40 print"2. convert celsius to fahrenheit/kelvin/rankine"
50 print"3. convert kelvin to celsius/fahrenheit/rankine"
60 print"4. convert rankine to fahrenheit/celsius/kelvin"
70 print:print"5. end conversion program"
80 get a$:if a$="" then 80

You can copy the text from the word processor and from within the VICE emulator select Edit, then Paste

The result pasted into VICE would be:

Get the case wrong and you get very strange looking text (as shown in our first example), so it’s easy to know you got it right. Now edit the lines with the control characters by typing the line number and moving over the text with the cursor keys and inserting characters as needed. Remember to save the application before running it, just in case it crashes and messes up your machine's memory and potentially corrupts the listing (you only forget to do this once).

Of course, you can copy from the VICE screen using Edit/Copy. Go into your word processing application and select Paste. However, from the Commodore to the PC will only copy the text “on screen” in the emulator. Here is an example of what the text will look like copied directly from the emulator.

    **** commodore 64 basic v2 ****

 64k ram system 38911 basic bytes free

ready.

commodore free vice copy text example

So with a little tidying up, and of course if the characters are custom fonts or character sets – you will just see a lot of strange characters when pasted into you word processing application.

Not perfect, but a quick tip, this works on all emulation under VICE, so the c16, VIC, Commodore 128, and PET models all support this paste and copy feature


Review: Pulse

For the unexpanded VIC 20

Adding extra memory enhances features in the game like the synthesised speech that says

“GET READY”

I know a lot of work has gone into this release with Pixel adding features and suggestions, and I have played with very early versions right through to the final release (I think it was back in 2014). I know Commodore Free always pushed for a real or physical tape release, sadly Pixel was overlooked, despite myself writing to various people to help make this a reality. In the end Pixel managed to release the title himself!

Not content with the game itself, during the loading or intro various animations are featured, and you have to buy the cassette. I don’t want to spoil these, they don’t really add to the game, but...

One thing I haven’t seen before is loading music on the VIC, although technically it’s not loading music as the game is already loaded, albeit still compressed in memory... and speaking of memory, you don’t need any extra memory for this feature to work! The music plays sampled audio from the tape, you can even rewind or fast forward the tape (when you see the splash screen displays and the music kicks in), and the music will continue to play. The music is by Boray and suitably fits the game; it’s also surprising how loud and clear the music seems to play!

Pressing Fire takes you into the game's title screen

Although the story isn’t inspiring, it’s the game we are reviewing, and to some the spaceship looks like a stuffed turkey (for some reason), but we can overlook these things!

The game itself is familiar to most: you fly a ship, shooting everything while trying to avoid the landscape and collect the bonuses that appear for extra power ups like fire power and a very special smart bomb that you would think could only be possible on something like the c64! Not only is the speed of the game itself impressive, but the amount of characters on-screen can seem overwhelming. Pixel mentioned he actually ran out of characters, having to pinch them from the screen to keep the game moving along, most noticeable when the stars start disappearing. All of this is featured with a parallax multi-level star field and evolving, unpredictable enemy flight paths.

The game isn’t without some, should we say, odd features! But cramming such a fast passed game into the VIC isn’t going to be easy and every byte needs to be accounted for. Still the features don’t detract from the game, and with the speed more than making up for any small on-screen glitches that can happen from time to time. Technically it’s an incredible achievement, and I have a personal assurance the tapes are virtually bullet-proof and should load on virtually any datasette.

Scores

Music 10/10
Overall
10/10
Gameplay 10/10
Graphics 10/10

Summary

The first every perfect 10 for a VIC game reviewed in Commodore Free, I suggest you show support and buy a version on physical tape. As you see, the more memory you add, the more features that become available, although the core game itself remains the same.

Requirements

Pulse requires a joystick.

No memory expansion will load a slow version that runs continuously.

+3K or +8K RAM will speed up the game and provide title screens as well as a hiscore table.

+8K RAM also adds speech before the game starts.

+16K RAM adds a hiscore table tune – the full version.

Boray's music created on professional synthesisers is available for purchase. A demo of the in-game music is available from here

https://pollyphony.bandcamp.com/track/no-syrup