We would like to welcome our new “team” Alex Leonardi. Alex, along with Peter Badrick, will be proofreading the issues. I am hoping the quality of the magazine will improve somewhat with this extra member of the team.
If anyone else feels compelled to help, feel free to contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to hear from anyone interested in helping, especially technical writers and some of you “artsy” type people. The next issue, the first of a new year, I wanted to have a nice, revamped magazine, but I can only do this with your help.
Thanks to everyone who emailed in about the format of the News section. Although I received a lot of emails from people who didn’t like the news grouping, I received more from people who did! One thing is for sure. The grouping seems to have a positive effect on the magazines compilation, as it makes the D64 image easier to work on.
Well, sidestepping the question a little…
I have been watching the 50th Anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who. It’s all really exciting at the moment with reruns and Doctor Who look-backs, interviews and how the show all started. BBC has gone all-out. This “all-out” is slightly different from when they tried their best to kill off the show a number of times in the past.
In this issue, I have a catch up chat with Boray, and find out about his new VIC 20 music player and his new album he has simultaneously released on the VIC. Could this be the first album released on the VIC? We have a look at 2 games, one for the VIC; it’s a port of the classic “pitfall” game on the Atari 2600. This is a very classy version, carefully crafted to be as close to the Atari version as possible. Not only does it retain all the looks of the original. It has the game play to go with it! We also see a port of the spectrum game Sgt. Helmet Zero; again, another excellent conversion closely matching the original. Both games are a fitting end to the Retro Commodore year.
And so, from me, I just wish to thank you for reading and hope you have a happy new year, I will rejoin you in 2014.
Seasons Greetings readers. Welcome to a very special festive edition of the Commodore Free E-Cover tape #9. There are a series of Christmas programs; randomly picked from the demo / game scene. All of which are Public Domain. There's also an unofficial sequel of Frosty the Snowman. However if you are fed up with Christmas, then we have some non festive programs for you to enjoy as well. One of which is a fun platform collect 'em up, a couple of SEUCK games. Enjoy.
(C)2013 Carl Mason
|Programming||Carl Mason (Using Sideways SEUCK), Richard Bayliss (Enhancements)|
Controls: Joystick in Port 2
To start this issue's cover tape, we have the SEUCK Compo 2013 entry which made second place. Graphically is is very nice.
It is the 17th century on the island of Mauritius and you are the last of the Dodos. Sailors carrying harpoons and blunderbusses are on the hunt and have set traps all over the island which you must traverse in order to find any eggs which may be stashed away. A map is shown at the start of each area to help you remember where they were hidden:
Each dot on the mini map represents a pile of leaves or some other potential nesting site, the light dots are the locations which contain an egg whereas the black dots are empty or could even hold a trap. Also on your travels you may come across mounds of dirt, simply press fire on these and a dodo tree sapling will sprout from it, do this 4 times and you will gain an extra life, some are easier to find than others.
Can you get to safety, avoiding booby traps and the elements with all of the eggs?
(C)2006 Achim Volkers
Controls: Joystick in Port 2
Walking on the Moon, is one you may probably enjoy, if you like games that involve jumping on to platforms and picking up objects.
You jet off on to various sections of the moon, and your mission is to pick up all a limited number of stars withing a time limit, before moving on to the end of the level (So that you can reach the next level). The trouble is that on each section of the moon. There are alien life forms. If one touches you, then a life will be lost. Some aliens will be simple enough to watch out for. Others can be tougher to avoid, but of course it is possible.
(C)2012/2013 Violation Entertainment
|Programming||LD Ash (Using SEUCK)|
Controls: Joystick in either port
AquaVile is an ocean-themed game in which the players control futuristic mini-submarine-like vessels and venture into a high-tech complex to destroy nefarious and hostile biological and technological abominations.
It's a typical scrolling arcade shooter, slow-scrolling with plenty of enemies to shoot and fast-scrolling navigating around solid obstacles, moving in 8 directions and firing missiles at various opponents such as fish, crabs, octopi, urchins, starfish, little clams and big clams, robotic vessels, armed troopers and mines, as well as some bosses like a huge crab, a submarine and a giant ugly robot toward the end of the game.
We have also included the full diary about the making of this game, on this issue's E-cover tape as well.
Links from the author about this game:
If you like AquaVile, please check out our other projects on our website and feel welcome in our forum:-
Credit also goes to LDAsh for the full instructions and information about this game.
Now on to some festive treats
(C)2006 Polygon Software
Controls: Joystick in either port
Who remembers “Frosty the Snowman” on the first ever Commodore Power cover tape?. Joe Dixon has come up with a nice tribute game sequel called “Frosty the Snowman 2”.
Christmas is around the corner and Santa and his elves have hit the bottle. They are too drunk to go into the cave and pick up Christmas presents. So it is up to Frosty to pick them up and return them to the cave. Unfortunately, there is a problem for the poor dude. He has to run a long distance and jump over various hazards in which roam around each scene. Can Frosty or a friend, return presents to drunken old Santa before Christmas Day launches?
(C)1987 Reptillia Design Team (Public Domain)
Controls: Joystick in Port 2
This is a festive PD game in which you have to control an airborne sleigh in the sky. You must pick up snowballs during your quest. You can shoot snow balls at the enemies using the snowball cannon, but the enemies can also fire back as well. As soon as you pick up your snowball from the ground. You must fly your sleigh over to a rough patch. To build a snowman. Keep repeating this phase until a full Snowman has been built. You will then move on to the next stage. Good luck!
(C)1988 Ash + Dave (Public Domain)
Controls: Joystick in Port 2
This is a real classic festive demo by Ash + Dave. It is a Christmas Card in which you can throw snowballs at other people. The demo features some really nice tunes in the C64 Christmas Card by Hagar. Pull down on the joystick in port 2, to pick up a snow ball, then chuck it at someone. Enjoy.
(C)1988 Centauri (Public Domain)
|Programming||CMG / Centauri|
|Graphics||Wolf / Centauri|
|Music||JB / Centauri|
This is a classic demo written back in 1988. It doesn't really have any special effects but it is quite festive. JB has done a funky Christmas mix, and the effect of Santa jumping on the Centauri logo is pretty clever too.
(C)1993 Slash Design (Public Domain)
|Programming||Axe / Slash Design|
|Graphics||Axe and Axodry / Slash Design|
|Music||Hithouse / TRC, Drax|
To end the festive cover tape, we have an old style demo from Slash Design called “Its Snowing”. This demo is split into 3 parts. The next part of the demo can be activated using the space bar. The demo features some colourful logos, a space effect, a snow effect and of course plenty of music and scroll text to enjoy.
Some of the demos on this issue's E-Cover tape consist of swear words, mainly on the scroll texts. Please avoid loading those programs in if you are offended with the use of swearing.
As you may have discovered. Commodore Free's E-Cover tapes have been Commodore 64 only
However, Commodore Free welcomes non-c64 users to submit their own stuff. So if you have anything for the VIC20, CBM 16 (Plus 4) or C128 as well as Commodore 64. Then please email Nigel, and he'll send the files over to me.
One more thing …
Hope you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Marq released a new program to make PETSCII pictures on your PC, The program is available for Windows, Linux and Mac and has the following features: Select colour and char, conversion to Plus/4 colours, flood fill, grid, horizontal and vertical flip, rotate, undo, invert, horizontal and vertical shift, export file as asm data, BASIC viewer, PRG or PNG image.
Xlogical is a game for AROS ;based on the Amiga game Logical! by Rainbow Arts. Use the mouse to turn the spinners and move the balls around. You must fill the spinners with balls. If the spinners are full they will stop glowing, when all spinners stop glowing you can go to the next level.
£13,814 pledged of £12,000 goal
The book is by Andrew Hewson & Rob Hewson
Hints & Tips for Videogame Pioneers is a new book by Andrew Hewson, founder of Hewson Consultants, 21st Century Entertainment and the founding Chairman of UK videogames trade body ELSPA (now UKIE). After Hewson shut its doors, company founder Andrew Hewson went on to setup 21st Century Entertainment which revitalised a whole gaming genre - the Pinball simulator.
Andrew Hewson was also the founding chairman of ELSPA, the original industry trade body in the UK. ELSPA responded to concerns about violent videogames by establishing a movie-style age ratings system for games and continues to represent the UK games industry today under its new identity as UKIE.
A fairly comprehensive history of computing both hardware and software and yes commodore are actually mentioned in the list (that makes a nice change)
Stian Søreng, working in a spare afternoon, developed a 3-chip computer. This small computer is made up from a 6502 CPU, RAM chip and a ATmega16 micro controller. You can read more about this 3-chip computer on his blog.
he is also working on some Commodore 64 projects
Payton Byrd released a new version of CBM Command, a disk manager for Commodore 64, Commodore 128, Commodore VIC-20, Commodore Plus/4, and Commodore Pet/CBM computers. It is written in the vein of Norton Commander or Midnight Commander; Each Commodore model has its own native version of the application.
Work has begun on a USB interface that connects to the Commodore user port. From the information on the website it seems to be advancing quite quickly, and there is already a prototype version available.
The interface can be used on the Pet, VIC and c64 the device connect to the datasette port for power the interface features both host and client connections
The music band; Bedford Level Experiment have created a song and video about retro computers, in the video; you can see classic computers; such as the C64 (with Cynthcart) and the Commodore PET.
Jose Zanni from Retro invaders has finished the 2014 retro calendar; this year is about SEUCK games. By the time you read this it should be available from the website by clicking the Calendars link.
The RetroKomp / LOAD ERROR party was held way back on the 26th and 27th of October 2013 in the Polish town of Gdansk. Although the party is over you can at least still view the entries:
Load Error 2013 is a multiplatform party for 8-bit to 32-bit computers and emulators. Entries came for machines such as Commodore 64, ZX Spectrum, Amiga and Atari.
you can download the files from here
Retrogaming Times is an English pdf and html magazine; all about retro gaming computers the following articles were in the current issue at the time of writing
Davenunez has made a mini Commodore C64 complete with 1541 disk drive using his 3D printer! The commodore disk drive uses 1" floppy disks. Davenunez Has also made necessary stickers as pdf files to print out and stick on the machines, and the Box. He has also created a polystyrene and cardboard box so you can un-box the machine and have the joy of your youth all over again. You can download the 3D printer files to print out your own.
This website has details about an S-Video connector for the Commodore C64. The modification includes a resistor to adjust the chroma signal. It also shows how to disconnect the RF sub-circuit to improve picture quality. You are warned to check the revision of your Commodore 64 before just blindly following these instructions. Full information is given on the website.
c64 has interviewed The Papillons Inc. who were a cracking group from Denmark; they were active from 1986 to 1988. Alpha and The Catman talk about cracking and swapping games in the interview; the group have released over 150 cracks.
A video made a video with 236 audio samples from various Commodore 64 games; and the question is “can you guess them all?” The Youtube link also has a link to download the video as a high-resolution 720p file in mp4 format. It also lists all the music so you can check your knowledge or even just cheat!
The video on youtube also has the following information
Rules are simple: Guess the game titles.
All the audio samples come from commercially released Commodore 64 games (so no previews, homebrews, or demos).
The website MyCommodore64 has an interview with Paul Koller;
Paul has made a number of conversions from popular games onto the Commodore C64. A few of his examples are:
Currently Paul is working on a Commodore 64 version of Micro Hexagon from Terry Cavanagh. The plan is to complete the game for the RGCD C64 16KB Cartridge Competition.
Also on the site are other interesting Commodore items. There is even a look at Miami Vice & Crockett’s theme with a selection of downloads for the game
c64Intros (a website of Commodore 64 Crack intros from various programmes) has updated their database, adding another batch of intros for you to enjoy. You can view static images on the site or download the PRG file to view the intro. If nothing else, it’s an interesting piece of Commodore history! Some of the Demos were better than the applications that accompanied them.
Can’t get through a Commodore 64 game; but curious as to how a game ends? Then the web page c64endings.co.uk could be just what you need. They have hundreds of game endings to view; you can see then as a static webpage of images or download the game with the vice snapshot for use in the emulator
They have added the following new Commodore C64 games endings: Avoid the Noid (Blue Sharedata Inc.), Beyond the Ice Palace (Elite), Championship Jet Ski Simulator (Codemasters), Cannonrider (Ariolasoft), Danger Mouse in Double Trouble (Creative Sparks), Echo Hawk (New Edition), Flintstones (Grandslam), First Starfighter (Orbeus), Ghost Hunters (Codemasters), Hektic (CP Verlag), International Speedway (Silverbird), Jocky Wilson's Darts (Zeppelin), Ruff and Reddy (Hi-Tec Software), Sentence (CP Verlag) and Space Towers (CP Verlag / Game On).
The Games That Weren’t 64 is a web page trying to locate games that were never fully finished or released, recently there have been a number of updates.
Debs & Errol released a new song about the Commodore C64. The song is from the album CTRL + ALT + DUET.. Debs & Errol is musical comedy duo from a Toronto, Canada and have been performing together since 2011.
C64 Studio, The assembly development environment software package for use with the Vice Emulator, has received another update . You can write assembly code and test it quickly via an emulator.
Luigi Di Fraia is working on two new Commodore C64 projects.
A Real Time Clock that keeps the time Even if you switch the C64 off.
The second project is an internal SD memory card interface for.
Real time clock youtube video
SD memory card interface for the Commodore C64.video on Youtube
BitJam is a Podcast. This episode features music from Jeroen Tel.
The following music is included : Cybernoid, A as Addiction, International Karate, Fanta in Space, Cybernoid II, Turrican II, Sanxion, Lazy Jones, ACE II, Turbo Outrun, Delta, Monty on the run, Arkanoid, Last Ninja, Plastic Pop, Unreal Superhero 3, Last Ninja 2, Commando, R-Type and Synth Sample. Total playing time: 1:30:19.
Reslain is working on a game called Ultimate Quest: Catacomb for the Commodore 64. Work on the game was started in 1989, but the game was never finished. The game is a role playing game and features a city map, wilderness areas and a dungeon to explore. The version from 1989 was improved by replacing the slow BASIC routines with faster machine language routines. The game will be released by Psytronik.
|Name||Ultimate Quest: Catacomb|
|Released||October 14, 2013 (originally created in 1989)|
|Requirements||Commodore 64 + Disk Drive|
Description: Vintage CRPG from 1989 that was almost finished is now finally available.
The Fantastic Italian Research Enterprise (FIRE) have released an updated version of Plus Graph from Tri Micro for the Commodore Plus/4. Apparently The Plus Graph program was one of the programs that was supposed to be included in the Plus/4, but the program was never built in to the 3+1 ROMs.
Sgt. Helmet Zero is a recently released game for the Commodore Plus/4. The game is an accurate conversion form a ZX spectrum game of the same name. The game involves you as sergeant Helmet; you must try to free the prisoners from the complex automated prison.
Reviewed later in this issue of Commodore Free!
The Programmer TLR has released a brand new version of his custom paint program supporting a PAL cis 20 with 32kb memory expansion. The application is an editor for as TLR says “a special software defined graphics mode”.
He goes on to say
“The mode has 168*192 pixels with 8x4 char-colour and inline-colour splits. The editor and viewer is a little rough around the edges but fully usable. Currently PAL only.”
You can read the Forum posting here
Or download the software form here
Real AmiKit is a 16 colour version of AmiKit adapted to work with a real Amiga AGA computer. Recent Changes in this version: Added: MMULib, Enforcer, Wallpapers (256 colours), AmigaParachute, NetSurfAGA, TinyMeter, Custom Magellan Taskbar and preferences for MorpheuZ. Update: Menu icons, patterns, skins (SilverBlue / SilverGreen, PicShow, bgui.library, Themes and Icon.library 46.4.326.
Hyperion Entertainment has recently released an update for the OS4 Software Development Kit (SDK). This SDK includes all the usual includes and autodocs you need to use all of the latest released AmigaOS features..
MiniHollyEdit V2.0 has been released. The program is an ARexx based editor for Hollywood.
The website Amigatronics has interviewed games designer “Simon Phipps”. Simon is a developer who worked on games for the Amiga, such as Rick Dangerous (Firebird), Rick Dangerous II (MicroStyle) and Switchblade (Gremlin Graphics). You can download the interview from there.
Thomas Wenzel has released yet another update to his music player for the Amiga. AmigaAMP is a GUI based MPEG audio player. It can also play AIFF, WAV and FLAC files.
Changes in this version:
KVM Switch, Asgard met Vikings, Archon, Battle Squadron, Metro-Cross, Magic Ball, FS-UAE Net Play, DigiBooster 3 Beta 26, Scriba, aTunes, Sketchblock, qOrganizer, Quickly Translate, SMTube, QSimpleSheet, AmigaMonkey Teil 1.
Amiga Scene, Classic Reflections (12) Great Valley Productions Part 1.
Programming AmigaOS 4 Part 3.
Showreport AmiJAM, Showreport Classic Computing, Interview Martin B. Pedersen, Interview Andreas Pinhead" Streu, Editorial, Content, News, Imprint, Content CoverCD CD, Letters to the editor, Preview.
Archon, Archon 2, Swords of Twilight, Amplifier
amc, atunes, clipgrab, cso2iso, ctlg2ct, cutereport, fastview, fracplanet, mixer, nemo_led_p31, netup, qpdfview, qtweb, quicklytranslate, resid_tnplug, set68kcpu, smtube, stellarium, sysvipc, xsane,
Comics.i386-aros, MCE-OS4, ReportPlus-OS4, WormWars-AROS, WormWars-OS4,
amiganitzusrc, AmiQuake2, AmiSpear, AmiWolf, AmiWolf_ECS, AMV, apccomm, Arrowz, AssaultCubeReloaded259, Aye_Q, beobachte-ebay, Blokop, Bloksters, Bobarr, bomber_68k, CDPlayer371p, Charset2-AmIPlug, Commander, Crossik, CTLG2CT, daa2iso, Eclairium, eis, exobius0_68k, Format64-m1, GooglePlus, GridBlock, hexgem_68k, HoloH, IS_68k, iView, Kaleido, kapooka_68k, kulki, MCE, MorphEnc, mousemeter.sbar, netpbm-10.26.63-bin, ronda_68k, rtmpdump, SFcave_68k, sopa_68k, SpamFryerPatch, SpamFryerSMRX, SpamFryerTHOR, SpamFryerYAM, syasokoban_68k, Tanglink, Triom, TunnelsAndTrolls, twittAmiga, uif2iso, ulsata2-source, wakkabox_68k, WormWars, WormWarsSP, xgalaga_68k, ZoomitSP,
MCE-MOS, ReportPlusMOS, ulsata2-morphos, WormWarsMOS,
BoingsWorld Podcast Episode 42, BoingsWorld Podcast Episode 43, BoingsWorld Podcast Episode 44
aMiGa=PoWeR is a French newspaper issued by AFLE (French association) Created in 1998, and became the 1st French-speaking Amiga newspaper; Each issue is Entirely laser printed, aMiGa=PoWeR is distributed throughout the whole world.
ECX is an E Compiler that supports 68020+FPU and PowerPC's, AmigaOS3, MorphOS and AmigaOS4 operating systems.
The key file is no longer required. Removed some errors in default values for globals in modules, JUMP .locallabel and the minstartup module.
Why not take a look at Ahoymagazine.com. On their web page, you will find:
You can also follow Ahoy Magazine on Twitter and watch Commodore videos on the Ahoy Magazine YouTube channel. Various adverts and Worlds first are there like the Premier of the Amiga very interesting!
AmiWest 2013 is an meeting for Amiga users in Sacramento, USA.
On this youtube website You can watch videos from past meetings, Topics as you would expect are varied
The Company is a group of Amiga enthusiast from Poland which makes .exe versions of Amiga games. You can download the .exe file that contains the game and a preconfigured version of WinUAE ready to go. The games are searchable either by clicking on the letters or by title / author etc.
A new episode of Boings Worlds (the German language podcast) is now available. In this new issue are the following articles: Alinea will become a X1000 distributor, Atunes, ACA500 for the A2000, Exodus as download, A3000 Mediator, Cyrus motherboards, Prisma Sound-card, Scriba, Open Pandora, Anachronia and EntwicklerX.
The web site Flashtro.com has many cracker intros you can view with your flash enabled browser. The website converts original intros from the Amiga, Atari-ST, Dreamcast, PC, Playstation to name but a few to Flash. The most recently added at the time of writing were: Skid Row - Magic Lines, Taipan - Interphase, Taipan - Another World Import, Fairlight - Sim Life and Clique - Import.
The Prisma Megamix released by A-EON Technology is a multi-format sound card for the Amiga. The card will works in a Zorro slot or the clock-port (A2000, A3000, A4000 and A1200). The card can encode: MP2, MP3, WMA, OGG, LC-AAC, HE-AAC, FLAC, IMA and WAV PCM. The cards developeers are: Michael Böhmer (Hardware), Ian Gledhill (Software) and Matthew Leaman (Concept).
Press release PDF
Oricutron (formerly known as Oriculator) is an emulator for the Oric series of computers. This emulator is available for AmigaOS 4, MorphOS, MacOS and Windows.
XRoar is an emulator for the Dragon and Tandy computers. The Dragon and Tandy are eight bit home computers based on the 6809 CPU. With XRoar you can experience the Dragon and Coco computers and tinker with the software available for them on your Amiga.
The Mediator PCI 3000Di daughter board is designed to enable expansion of Amiga 3000 desktop with a wide range of high-performance, low-cost PCI cards.
|Machine:||64K only (Plus/4 or expanded C16)|
|Region:||PAL / NTSC|
|Original by:||Mojon Twins|
Following the success of ‘Uwol: Quest for Money’ three years ago, KiCHY is back with another port of a Mojon Twins game. Sgt Helmet Zero, originally released for the 128K Spectrum back in 2009, is now available for the Plus/4 (or C16 expanded to 64K).
Uwol was notable, at the time, for managing to squeeze a 48K Spectrum game into the humble C16, while still retaining all the elements of the original version. The result was a great game, albeit an obvious Spectrum port.
So this time, with Sgt. Helmet Zero, the 16K restriction has been lifted, allowing the developers the freedom to create an enhanced version especially for 64K machines.
In the desolated moors of Khartadmocia, the behated ghost of war is still present. Two evil landowners who used to practice slavery and human trafficking had long since fallen in battle ’cause they stepped over a banana peel and broke their head. But all the war refugees were still there, guarded by automatic security turrets and the evil Grunge Wizards.
Khartadmocia’s government, finally free from the tyrants, is aching to free their refugees. But as every soldier from the two parties died in the civil war, they have to resort to the yellow pages to look for a nice, not very expensive mercenary. Luckily enough, Sgt. Helmet only fights for honor and duty, and while someone pays his vices, everything is alright. So, with no second thoughts, he flies to Khartadmocia, to the aforementioned moors, which he’ll have to pass through while recovering each one of the forty refugees still wandering around there…
The game loads to a nicely pixelled logo then, after some credits, the title screen appears complete with an accurate rendition of the original AY chip tune. Quite an achievement given the TED’s limited two channel sound capabilities.
A word of advice here, if you want to play this game with an emulator, I would recommend using YAPE rather than VICE. The C16 and Plus/4 emulation in VICE isn’t as fully developed as the C64, and can sometimes be glitchy, particularly with modern games.
Upon starting the game you are thrown straight into the action. Your character descends right into the path of a turret and enemies begin to spawn almost immediately, barely giving you any time to admire the gorgeous graphics.
The visuals are much enhanced over the Spectrum version, with a good mix of multicolour and hi-res tiles. The characters are clear and well animated with very little colour clash. This game looks far more like a native Plus/4 title than previous Mojon ports for the C16 or C64. The playable area is a little small, but this is to be expected with Spectrum conversions, given the limited size of the display on that machine.
The action takes place over four different levels of flip-screen platforming and frantic shooting. The aim is to advance through each area towards the exit, freeing all ten refugees on that level. Meanwhile, the Grunge Wizards and automated turrets will do their best to make sure your mission does not succeed.
The placement of some of these refugees is a little tricky, requiring deft movement and accurate timing. Fortunately, Sgt. Helmet can be controlled mid-jump, useful for getting out of tight spots and negotiating some of the harder to reach platforms. The controls are fluid and responsive, reminiscent of KiCHY’s previous game, Adventures in Time, which is certainly no bad thing. The original Spectrum version feels slightly wooden in comparison.
You start the game with 100% life which is depleted whenever you are hit or make contact with an enemy. As the life counter diminishes, a Doom-like face in the status panel changes to reflect your current state of health, gradually turning from normal into a skeleton. When your health reaches zero you lose one of your four lives.
The screen can often get very busy. At any one time there are usually four or five hostiles shooting at you, with each hit draining your life by 5%. It might not sound like a lot but, with so much happening on screen, you can easily see your life drained to zero in a matter of seconds.
Every enemy takes multiple hits to destroy, during which time you are vulnerable to their attacks and, if you stop moving, you are as good as dead. Thankfully, downed enemies and turrets will sometimes release a pill that resets your life back to 100%. Collecting these pills is essential to making progress through the game.
Killing all the enemies on-screen isn’t necessarily the best strategy (unless you’re aiming for a high score). Wizards quickly re-spawn and it is all too easy to lose more life trying to kill them than you would by ignoring them. A balance needs to be found between shooting enemies to get the extra health and avoiding them so as to reduce the amount of damage taken. Sgt. Helmet might look like a simple game, but it is far from easy.
The music is excellent throughout and changes between levels. A very upbeat military sounding tune pounds away during levels 1 and 3, while a mellower tune plays on levels 2 and 4. An option for sound effects would have been a welcome addition.
Now onto a couple of minor niggles. Firstly, while the level design is good overall, it does have an over-reliance on ‘leaps-of-faith’. Luckily, the tight controls allow recovery from a bad jump so, in practice, this doesn’t hinder progress or cause an unfair loss of life.
Secondly, when you die you can sometimes find yourself re-spawned in the middle of a swarm of enemies or falling back down into a pit. There is no invincibility period, so this can result in taking a lot of damage or even losing another life. It doesn’t happen often enough to be a major problem though.
Not quite perfect but nevertheless a highly enjoyable game. One of the best releases this year.
Pitfall was originally released on the Atari 2600 by Activision way back in 1982. In an interview the original developer David Craine, explained he had; “created a realistic running man; but didn’t have a game to put him in”, after a little doodling on paper; the game started to form, and “the rest was history”. A detailed history on the game is available from Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pitfall!
The technical achievement of the game can’t be underestimated, smooth animation and flicker free graphics; and all on such limited hardware, the developer had to be congratulated, And so he was; with the original game quickly became a smash hit. The game was converted to a number of formats, and a version even exists for the Vic 20, (System 3 released a conversion; and to its credit the game does work on an unexpanded Vic, but it looks like it was written in basic http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-09Nt4HoHo it’s very flickery and unrealistic to the original,) so was it possible to convert a more realistic version of the game to the Vic? is that why no one had ever tried; because they knew it couldn’t be done?
You are Pitfall Harry; you must progress your way through the jungle; you have to negotiate numerous hazards; these include; pits, quicksand, rolling logs, fire, rattlesnakes, scorpions, and crocodiles. Your only skills are; jumping, climbing and swinging on vines. You need to also collect Treasure on your way. Of course because you are not a celebrity; you can’t yell; “get me out of here”, and you are up against the timer, so will need to move accurately and quickly. The game allows the player to move both left to right and even back again with a flip scrolling screen, there is even a secret cave to move through missing out some of the “harder screens” you can then back track, a technique that seems to work well through the game.
The game play may sound simplistic; however technically the game is complex; and causes many challenges for the programmer. Obviously one man hadn’t been listening to these challenges and as to why an accurate version of the game couldn’t be converted to the Vic; although fitting 255 the screens into a vic wouldn’t be difficult; using the same bi-directional polynomial number generator that David Crain used on the original. The programmer also says that “the Imagic games; Dragonfire and Atlantis, used similar raster effects on their games back in 1983; and were an inspiration to use these techniques, as well as the various new 'graphics modes' developed by Mike and Tokra as chronicled on the Denial forum”
So Achieving flicker free game play; wouldn’t be impossible on the machine, the game could be made to work on the vic. Enter the programmer Victragic; who started working on a conversion of the game . Now today; with a more or less completed version; and a file available to download; we have Vic pitfall or is that Pitfall for the Vic.
The game looks vastly superior to the Commodore 64 version of Pitfall! and looks just as good if not better than the Atari 2600 version; the backgrounds and creatures; have been extremely well crafted from the original; animation is as slick as the Atari version. Indeed looking at the games side by side; the conversion is superb! The programmer says that “work really stated on a version in 2012 but was abandoned because it didn’t look right” then he created another version from scratch taking only 2 to 3 months to complete, all in his spare time!
Not only does the game look good and accurate; it’s the game-play that seems to win it the well earned 85% score here. Although the sounds are minimal; they are accurately converted from the Atari version.
I can’t really fault the program; other than the fact, it would be nice to have some sort of splash screen; but the programmer is already working on that! And a commercial release would be the icing on the cake for the game. However I presume copyrights would prevent this from ever happening which is a real shame.
A very convincing version; with superb technical and programming knowledge of the vic, the game looks and plays well; and is very accurate to the original Atari 2600 version. If it were a commercial release with nice printed cover; and splash screen then it could even reach the dizzy heights of perfection!
Reviewed by Nigel Parker
The SCPU or “Super Central Processing Unit”; was released by the now-defunct company “CMD” (Creative Micro Designs). The device was released for sale in 1996, however CMD stopped selling its products in 2001, after which the distribution and manufacturing was taken over by Maurice Randall from Click Here Software Co. Sadly, Maurice hasn’t fulfilled many, if “any” orders for these units, and he now seems to have closed his site. Instead, you are redirected to another website where he appears to only be producing software for tablet devices now.
The SuperCPU converted the standard c64 into a veritable powerhouse; with a 20Mhz processing unit using a Western Digital W65c816s processor. The unit also had the capability to add more memory to the c64, taking it to a massive 16MiB with the installation of the SuperRAM card. The SCPU also added the ability for Commodore 64 users to code in 16-bits.
The SCPU comes supplied as a cartridge that plugs into the expansion port of the machine. The device is angled at 90 degrees, so it doesn’t take up too much desk space behind the machine. Installation is simple; With the c64 “turned off”, plug in the SCPU, flick the switch to “enable” the device and then power on. The c64 boot screen will show the change instantly. First, you will notice the SCPU animation zoom across the screen. Then the c64 reports SUPERCPU DOS. If you have more memory installed, then this will also be shown and you are, as they say, “good to go”.
The SCPU Mark1 accelerator card was originally only available for the Commodore 64. Very soon after its launch however, CMD released a much improved Mark II version, this would be available in two variants:
The C128 version could function on both the C64 and the C128 (in both 128 and 64 modes). The Mk2 version provided improved stability of the device. This stability was a major problem over here in the U.K. and Europe; however, it didn’t seem like much of a problem in the USA. Personally, I am convinced that these stability problems were all power related. Now, after a lot of personal experience, I always recommend that users purchase the C128 version of the SCPU, even if you will never use the C128 mode! At least you'll have the benefit of better reliability and stability on a C64.
I personally think that practically all UK & Europe PSU’s were inferior and could literally burn out, or stop functioning whilst running the SuperCPU. CMD would later sell you an upgraded PSU, should you feel the need to spend more money. There were briefly a couple of other suppliers of larger PSU’s, and if you got hold of one of those, then all power problems disappeared. A relatively low cost fix, if you have a C128 PSU, is to make a small adaptor plug. This allows you to run your c64/SCPU with the boosted power of the C128. This adaptor makes for a very capable PSU on a c64, and I highly recommend it for anyone with any type of REU attached. You would know if you needed a power boost, as once the SCPU was connected to the C64 the commodore would display “SUPERCPU INITIALIZATION ERROR”, that generally meant the power supply was not powerful enough for powering both the c64 and the SCPU. Other errors included freezing programs, system crashes and strange read/write errors.
Although other accelerator cards had been released, such as the Schnedler Systems Turbo Master CPU (4Mhz) and the Flash 8 (8Mhz & 256KiB ~ 1MiB internal RAM), the compatibility of these other cards with standard Commodore software seemed to be an issue. In the majority of cases, the software failed to even load, which of course was a shame and a problem!
The SCPU also catered for one more particularly important market. That market was full of the GEOS users (a graphical operating system for the Commodore64). It also made financial sense for CMD to release the SCPU because CMD were also the distributors of GEOS, and one would sell the other. With the high level of compatibility from the SCPU, GEOS was not only fully compatible but the SCPU would also add new features and enhancements. CMD had hoped for this to be a perfect partnership. Sadly, the SCPU was released a little too late for the market, with many (but not all) GEOS users leaving the platform, and from there moving to the Amiga or PC. Those Hardened GEOS users, still sticking with their faithful machines, were extremely well catered for. Indeed, the new SuperGEOS experience was a wonder to behold. A very good example of this is the vast geoPublish desktop publishing software. With goPublish in its standard 1Mhz form the c64 ‘full page’ redraw was abysmal. However, in SCPU 20Mhz mode it was a joy to use and, later on in the life of geoPublish, when a full colour laser printing and full JPEG processing version was implemented, the SCPU made these features a breeze to use. It is worth pointing out that the Turbo Master was also very stable with GEOS and gave superb running results. However, these were nowhere near as good as the SCPU’s massive 20Mhz.
To add to the benefits of GEOS, users would have to install GEOS specific enhancements that came supplied with the SCPU on a disk, adding things like:
However, even with the patches installed, GEOS will run normally, even if the SCPU is removed from the system. As long as the GEOS programmers stick to the programming conventions of GEOS, their software should run as normal without modifications!
Other benefits of the SCPU were compatibility with an REU that could be plugged into the SCPU, and of course the biggest of these is the 16MiB CMD RAMLink. In fact, a special cable from the CMD Hardrive to the RAMLink improved data transfer to quite a considerable extent. The SCPU made it that little bit faster too! This cable can increase the transfer rates of large files and even entire partitions! This, of course, made the process of backing up large chunks of data a doddle (you could think of this function like the introduction of DMA access on the PC to the hard disk). The only downside to this was that some applications didn’t like the cable, and would freeze up GEOS mid task! The only way to get around this would be to remove the cable completely, and that means turning off the Commodore and rebooting. You could see how this is not really ideal, but you get to know what does and doesn’t work, and then remember not to use problem software in future.
Of course, not all standard non-GEOS software would run with the SCPU; disk access that didn’t use the Kernal Rom loading routines for example would fail, as would software using its own turbo disk loading routines! Software that needed precise timing for the graphics routine would also fail, and other timing-related software that was expecting a 1Mhz processor would also fail to run due to said software being confused that calculations were ruining 20 times faster!
Of course many programmers tried to patch these titles to be SCPU compatible, but you did have the option on the SCPU “switch” to switch back to 1Mhz mode. I suppose you had to "suck it" and see, dig out an old slow title; and plug it in. You may be surprised how playable it now is. Some of these titles, especially old BASIC games, could be given a new release of life. Some would even be playable!
One particular commercial game that springs to mind is Hard Drivin’. this game on a stock C64 was disastrous. However, plug in the SCPU and you were dragged around the track at break-neck speed! Other games to benefit were the 3D Freescape range of games. These worked incredibly well on the SCPU, with the card speeding up the screen redraws to a “playable” level. In fact, there were quite a few games that performed admirably well with the SCPU and it breathed new life into them – albeit briefly.
The SuperCPU had another feature; an optional daughter board. This board could be added internally, and could house extra memory (from 1MiB to 16MiB). These modules were 72pin fast page SIMMs dram and seem hard, although not impossible to obtain, especially now. A problem with all this extra hardware attached to your humble c64 was heat! To alleviate the heat problem; it is quite acceptable to run your SCPU without its metal casing on, and most users did just that. Many tried to fit internal fans to the SCPU to try and dissipate the heat from all this power. Also featured as standard in all SCPU’s is the now famed JiffyDOS speed loader and commodore toolkit. With a compatible device (ie. another device with JiffyDOS installed), you could load programs at break-neck speeds.
The compatibility of the SCPU device was enhanced by the use of toggle switches on the top of the unit; these were:
On the rear of the machine is a pass-through port, so should you need to use a cartridge or even a CMD RAMLink, you can plug this into the device without having to unplug the SCPU. However, should you desire to freeze a game with an action replay style freeze utility, you would need to disable the SCPU altogether or, even worse, unplug the device!
What’s the use for all that memory then?
Well GEOS users would make the most of the SCPU`s extra memory power, and most users installed the full 16MiB of ram. You could load applications into a ram disk that ran instantly, as no disk access was required! Nothing much else really came out for the SCPU except for a few demos, and very much later in its life the only real game specifically (actually ‘required’) to use the SCPU was Metal Dust by Protovision.
One last thing for all you lucky SCPU users out there, make sure you strip and clean your SCPU’s connections every once in a while. You’d be amazed how much better it runs when the SIMM mounting and other electrical connections are clean!
Written by Nigel Parker www.commodorefree.com
With Additions and checking By Allan Bairstow www.commodorescene.org.uk
Users of PC, Amiga and Macintosh spend several thousand (1000) dollars to have speed increases of 3-7 times in best cases. The SuperCPU gives you a 20 times faster machine! And this for a price of $199... Excellent. The SuperRAM card is $79, but the best way is to get a SuperCPU with SuperRAM card installed - for $259
Commodore Free took some time out to chat again with Boray; we thought it would be nice to catch up on new developments; after the initial interview in Commodore Free magazine. The first interview is still available to read online; it was “printed” in issue 40. The first interview was mainly about his software application called PRG STARTER; to read more head over to here, http://www.commodorefree.com/magazine/vol4/issue40.html#ARTICLE9 and by the way; I can’t recommend this software highly enough; Once you used i;t you will wonder how you managed without it, but remember to click the paypal donate button. So with a couple of biscuits and a nice cup of tea we sat down for our chat
Q. Hi Anders (boray) can you give the readers of Commodore Free a quick update on the fantastic PRG starter application. For example have you managed to add any new features; or updated the software since out last chat.
A: Hi Nigel! It seems you wrote about PRG Starter 1.4.3 last time we chatted in issue 40; the current version is 2.4.5; so wow yes, there have been a lot of developments since then. Most importantly for the program is a disk image directory window; this pops up when you start a disk image; so that you can start any file in the disk image. There is also a disk image disk tool, a text viewer, a “save as” button, also support for displaying picture files, real TAP support and TAP->PRG file extraction and more.
I'm currently moving my whole web site, so
In time, I will have to move PRG Starter's update server as well, which means I will have to make a new PRG Starter version or it won't find the new server.
Q. Gosh I need to download the new version then as I am missing out on the new features! I wanted to ask about your recent Vic 20 software programming; like the SD2IEC music player, can you briefly explain what this is.
A: When I realized I couldn’t use my XE1541 cable any more, I bought myself an SD2IEC card reader. This is a very cool device; using an SD memory card as a disk drive. The first thing I did was to adapt my “Vic Menu” disk browser program for the SD2IEC. I put SJLoad in the application too for really fast disk access. On start-up you put the turbo in a memory block of your choice; and if you reset and restart, it will be found and started automatically the next time. With SJLOAD (which actually is a software version of JiffyDos) you will load an 8K game cart image in about 1.3 seconds. Then I thought – why not make some use of this speed and massive disk space..! As music is one of my biggest interests I naturally came to think of playing long samples.
My first version of the player was not very sophisticated, It just used a delay loop between every sample played. Or two different delays; actually because the routine first reads a byte, puts 4 of the bits in the volume register, waits, then puts the other 4 bits in the register and waits again. (As most people probably know, playing a sample on the Vic-20 is basically changing the volume of the vic chip rapidly and in that way create a sound wave.) Anyway; this first version probably broke a couple of records: The longest sample ever played on a Vic-20 and the largest Vic-20 application ever made. (The two next versions were even bigger though!)
I worked a lot more on the second version (V2). It had many new features, several playback routines you can choose from, improved timer synced playback, better encoded music data etc. I also includes my converter program.
V1 and V2 included a collection of my own music; as well as a bunch of authentic Vic-20 commercials. The third version; (always the same - never the same) is instead; a complete new music album that I was working on while developing the SD2IEC player. It's also more "demoish"; in terms of what's happening on the screen..
Q. Can it play music from readers collections then , do you have software that can convert; say a MP3 to play with the software
A: Yes, on the web page for V2 there is a description on how to convert music and there is also a youtube video demonstrating how to.
Q. So with the software what is the longest sample the music player can play, and can it play long files pulling information from SD cards for example
A: I don't think there is a restriction actually, It reads 2000 bytes per second, so an 8GB SD card should be able to hold a 49 DAYS long sample but I could be wrong.
Q. Wow thats would be some album! What is the quality of the sample playback, and is there something’s or some sounds that sound better than others
A: It plays 4 bit mono audio at 4 kHz. That doesn't sound very good of course, but starting with V2, I've done everything I could to make it sound as good as possible, for example, I worked a lot on different dithering algorithms; making it sound like a higher dynamic range than what normal 4 bit playback can offer. The conversion process includes cutting off all frequencies above 2 kHz which means high pitched sounds like hi-hats and crash cymbals more or less disappears from the music. So I guess you can say that sounds mainly containing lower frequencies sound the best. Normal speaking or singing is around 1 kHz and comes through well which you can hear in the Vic commercials. Why frequencies above 2 kHz are cut away in the conversion process is just because with a sample rate of 4 kHz, you can’t reproduce sounds above 2 kHz anyway, so NOT cutting that away first would just add a lot of noise instead. Much of this noise is still in there in the V1 music data.
Q. Can you tell our readers about some of the problems or obstacles you had to over come designing the player
A: The biggest problem is that JSLOAD uses more cpu time; periodically and turns off interrupts, while doing it, so increasing the sampling frequency just made this disturbance greater, so I decided to stay at 4 kHz. You would have to go way below that for no disturbance from SJLOAD at all, but then the sound quality would decrease from the lower frequency instead.
Q. Would it be possible to improve the sound quality I know you have said that you use SJload to pull data from the cards, do you think its possible with a different loading system this could be improved
A: Yes, running it on VICE for example, it would be possible to increase the frequency a lot, with no interference. It's possible that a different turbo system on real hardware would get a better result than SJLOAD, but that's really just a guess.
Q. do you have any plans to develop further on this software
A: No. My Vic-20 has gone to sleep in it's comfortable wardrobe for now (after 67 days on our living room table :-)
Q. Interestingly, you have also released some music that has been sampled and plays back on the Vic, not just that but an unexpanded Vic (although you need an SD card reader to listen to it) could you give our reader some information on this, it does feature your nice menu system to select the song
A: Yes, for the record, I'm all FOR memory expansions on the Vic-20. Almost everyone had ram expansions back in the early 80's; so I don't like it when people say, ram expansions are cheating etc. Commodore sold ram expansions for the Vic-20 when it was released, it was supposed to be an expandable system; with a really low entry price. That said, I can see how a small memory environment can be an extra challenge. In this case, SJLOAD took 1413 bytes; so I only had a little over 2KB of RAM to work with. Luckily, the huge space of a SD card kind of makes up for it. ;-) I'm streaming both music and a text file from the card, and I split up the program into parts as well. The main reason why I didn’t use expansion RAM; was because I suspected many "new" Vic-20 users don't own a ram expansion.
Q. Your new “album” features some graphics what are we actually seeing here on screen?
A: While the music is playing, you see the actual waveform of the music being played. It's like an oscilloscope but vertically. I did this simply by setting the vic screen to be very narrow (1 or 3 characters wide) and then change the screen position according to the samples played. (This wouldn't be possible on a C64 by the way, but there you could probably use sprites to do something similar instead). At the same time, the border color is constantly changing into a nice pattern. That is actually part of the playback routine, a timer interrupt is changing the color according to the sample rate, and the player detects it and plays the next sample. You can use the joystick to change colors and you can also change speed with the joystick or skip to the next tune or go back to the menu.
Q. Nice its almost like being at a Pink Floyd concert; erm well almost. So what made you think of releasing your music this way!
A: The Vic-20 has always been a dear hobby of mine, and making music is even closer to my heart so it was very natural to me to combine the two, especially now when I already had developed a player and had a new album to release.
Q. Is the music available to buy or download from anywhere else in a higher resolution versions?
A: Yes, it's available at
http://boray.bandcamp.com/album/always-the-same-never-the-same in 24 bit 44kHz
stereo, which is 23 millions times more detailed than the Vic-20 version! The cover art is 100% made from screen-shoots of the Vic-20 version. The music has in no way been adapted for the Vic-20 when I made it - I've aimed for it to sound as good as possible on modern hardware. The idea of releasing it on the Vic-20 came very late in the whole process. The feel of this album is a lot more synth and computer oriented compared to my previous recent albums. In a way, I feel that the old Boray Amiga tracker mod guy is back ;-)
Q. Yes the music does feel more “retro” but the quality of the recording is very high, Do you think you would release a real VIC album I.e. composed entirely on the Vic rather than replaying samples
A: No, the only musical idea I have for the future involving a Vic-20, would be to program a couple of sounds/instruments on the Vic-20 and then sample them on the PC; and then use only vic-20 sounds in a tune using modern sampling software. Then you would be able to create something that would sound like a number of interconnected Vic-20s playing together. I think that could be cool.
Q. Hmmm interconnected Vics now that sounds like a project, Do you have any other software you would like to plug for our readers at the moment
A: I'm sure most Windows users will find something they like at http://www.boray.se/software/ I'm actually using 7 of my own programs all the time, always running on my computer. My goal when making a program is always to offer something unique. I mean, what's the point of making the 10000'th implementation of Tetris? ;-) The most downloaded of my programs are "Boray Power" and "Average CPU Cycles" with about 9000 downloads each.
Q. Well the teas gone cold and the biscuits are finished, so I would like to Thank you for the catch up, please contact me again; to tell me how many downloads you have had on the Vic music; and also how many paid downloads you received
A: For now, there has been 82 downloads of V1+V2+"always-never" put together, and there has been 7 downloads of the hi-fi album but only one paid ($7). For some reason, I don't expect these numbers to rise much. I'm very satisfied with my work and the music, it's not that, but people just don't seem to want to PAY for music these days. That's all.
Thanks for the tea! I would prefer coffee by the way