Author Topic: The Atari 8-bit thread  (Read 14679 times)

Offline Havantgottaclue

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2012, 09:18:11 AM »
First of all, Merry Christmas!

It's interesting to note from your list of games that they're all 3D in some way. Add to that one of the ones I mentioned - Yoomp!, and the recent conversion of Space Harrier, and a picture is beginning to emerge. It seems as though the Atari is really good at quick, responsive games in 3D. My educated-ish guess as to why that is is that it has that really useful 2x2 pixel mode which, while a little disappointing for 2D games (such as Draconus and Zybex), does wonders for 3D games where you're effectively halving the amount of screen real-estate the machine has to handle, improving speed.

Bearing in mind that my knowledge of the Atari comes not from programming but from what I've learned from books like De Re Atari and from a programmer on TMR who posts (very occasionally nowadays, sadly) on RetroGamer, I can only really speculate as to whether Arkanoid or Gauntlet could've been done better.

With Arkanoid, you have the 5-colour limitation as mentioned, and you can see this from Round 2, where you have a light green and a dark green, yellow and black as your main colours, with either grey or white. The programmer has done a colour split for the bottom line. Both the player and enemies are done in software too, with only the ball and power-ups being done with PMGs. And that's where I think the programmer has missed a trick. You could potentially do nice player and enemy sprites with PMGs; albeit that the bat is "long", which is tricky with your 8-pixel width limit, but you could just do a super-chunky plain PMG and use a missile each end to smooth off. You could do enemy sprites using 2 players - if you mask two player PMGs you can get a third colour where the pixels overlap, so they could have been done quite nicely. You could do more than one enemy with 2 PMGs so long as they don't overlap horizontally. That could be tricky to manage but not impossible.

You can see multiple colour splits elsewhere - Round 1 has sky blue, royal blue, yellow and black as its main colours, with the 5th colour being either pink, purple or grey depending on the line. The main problem is that you've got the background using up colours that might be better used on bricks, to make it look a bit more colourful. You could dispense with the background pattern altogether (maybe replace it with a nice starfield on a black sky or something?) and make the sides of the arena out of PMGs, and then you've got all 5 colours available per line to play with for bricks; the bat can be character graphics too and it can have its own colours too as it's on its own row. I suppose then it wouldn't look like Arkanoid.

As for Gauntlet, well the mind boggles. The problem is that with games where the whole screen moves, using colour splits makes life more difficult; besides, you need the colours on a character by character basis really, as the Spectrum shows - it's perfect for the Spectrum's colour attribute system, as it happens. TMR once explained to me that you can use PMGs to colourise parts of the screen - I think this is a masking operation not dissimilar to the PMG to PMG masking used to create 3-colour sprites. TMR uses it for colouring the status display in his game Reaxion, and a similar thing is done in another homebrew game, Flowers. Those are both puzzle games on static screens, however; whether you have enough PMGs to do it in an action game is not something I can comment on - I reckon it would be pretty complex in any case. If only we had TMR over here to discuss it. I reckon he'd like this forum, too.

Dark Chambers is an impressive-looking Gauntlet variant: I think I have the cartridge for the 7800, actually. This video of the A8 version evidences the same colour limitations as Gauntlet, but as the backdrop is black, it's considerably less garish.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=00DliQ3J9mE

Offline Havantgottaclue

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2012, 09:25:46 AM »
Quote from: "The Laird"
I believe that the 8-bit range did well in Poland because the Tramiels were Polish and they made a big deal of that. They even made a model specifically aimed at the Polish market.

Ah, so he was. I didn't know about the special model either. Very interesting.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2012, 09:38:17 AM »
:-) Well, you'd already mentioned Dropzone and Crownland, guess i could have also gone with Bombjake and thing's like Ninja on A8, had more characters on screen than C64?.

But, no, reason i mentioned the 3D games:these were my fav.games on the Atari and when i moved onto the C64, i purchased them again and were quite surprised by the differences.A8 really did seem to come into into it's own often with 3D and colour potential etc.

Elktra Glide seemed very murky by comparison, but then C64 versions of things like Beach Head 2 had the speech, Thrust looked messy on A8, but lot sharper on C64.

Lot of the A8 games i'd buy would be budget fare, know Zzap 64 slagged the C64 versions, but i loved Red Max at the time, Ninja was fantastic, big fan of Ghost Chaser, Blue Max.

Seemed so few software houses really 'bothered' with the A8, Red Rat, English Software, Codemasters, Sparklers?, Mastertronic, Firebird, U.S Gold, Zepplin and Microprose seemed to be the ones i was buying games from the most.

Offline Havantgottaclue

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #33 on: December 25, 2012, 10:16:51 AM »
Oh, don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that it's a simple case of 3D good, 2D bad, and in any case I don't have the depth of experience with the A8 that you do - I didn't have one back in the day, I'm just a recent convert to the system who has dabbled a bit. It's just that there are specific problems to resolve on the Atari with respect to colour, and developers had to account for it cleverly. When they did, the results were very effective indeed.

Dropzone is a good example. There, you've got a simple colour split between the main playing area, where you've got blue, white, grey, green and black for the enemies. I think the player is two 2 PMGs, or possible a player and a missile. The ground is a totally different set of colours - yellow, orange, brown, grey and black. I suspect (though I don't know for sure) that Archer used PMGs to colour the status bar.

You mention Ninja as well - a really good game that I enjoyed on the C64 but is undoubtedly superior on the A8 due to the amount of enemies and the use of colour. With Ninja, because there's no background in the same horizontal row as the enemies, all the colours - grey, yellow, black and pink (and there is probably a fifth that I've missed) can be used on the sprites, whereas for the backdrops they can just go crazy with colour splits. With Crownland, one colour is split several times down the screen to create colourful backdrops.

Sorry I've gone way off topic now, but it's fun :)

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #34 on: December 25, 2012, 10:48:35 AM »
Please keep the technical explanations coming, i find them fantastic.Knowing what limitations faced someone trying to bring a C64 or Arcade game to the A8, really does help explain why things turned out the way they did.

Rampage was another game that looked awful on A8, always wondered IF more could have been done with it.

Laird:IF you can find the video for comparisons, i'd love to see following games covered on 8 Bit formats, as be interesting to see how the A8 versions stack up:

Elktra Glide, Thrust, Zybex, Joe Blade, Spy Vs Spy+Boulderdash games, Draconus, Rampage, Druid and IF we are talking U.S Only A8 releases:Pitstop 2, Master Of The Lamps and Infiltrator.

Plus, think things like Star Wars would be good, 2 versions released on A8? Original by Parker Bros on Cart, then Zepplin released a ver. years later?

And..IF possible, i'd love to see Tiger Attack, which i'm led to believe IS A8 conversion of Flying Shark!

2D games wise, things like Winter Olympiad'88 and Phantoms i seem to recal were pretty good.

Trouble with the software support on A8 was piracy was rife, slow tape loading (disk drives far too expensive) and publishers would often say they wanted to put out more A8 games, yet were struggling to find high quality games to release, yet things like Hawk Quest struggled to find a publisher!.

Offline Havantgottaclue

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #35 on: December 25, 2012, 11:16:08 AM »
I've rooted out Tiger Attack:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPnT0l1U6S8

Interesting video, this. I've never played the game but it looks like it's fairly responsive. Judging by eye alone, I'd say the four player PMGs are used by the player aircraft and enemy aircraft. The player aircraft is two PMGs, one next to the other, each 8 pixels wide. The enemy aircraft are essentially constructed the same way, using two more PMGs, again side-by-side - but of course, there are three of them! This is possible because each PMG is the height of the screen, so if you can imagine the enemy PMGs are plotted on two invisible vertical strips sat side by side, and using the ANTIC chip to adjust the horizontal position of the strip between planes. As you can see, at no time do any of the enemy planes cross horizontally - if it's as I explained above, that would cause total havoc (possibly flickering or maybe some other kind of glitch, I'm not sure).

The use of colour splits is very effective, obviously having to move with the scrolling at points. To start with, you've got greys and greens to draw the ground and trees with. Notice that when you get the enemy tank along, there are no trees or any other features on the same horizontal stripe - that's basically so that all the colours available in that stripe, apart from the grey colour which is retained for the ground, can be reserved for the tank itself. If you wanted to put trees either side, the tank would probably have to be green as well (which wouldn't be a major problem, but it does at least introduce a bit of variety). Of course, the water works well, because there's a clear vertical cutoff point again where the colours can just be changed, and of course the greens aren't needed any more.

It looks good actually, I must try it out at some point.

EDIT: typos

Offline TL

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #36 on: December 25, 2012, 11:23:12 AM »
Quote from: "Rogue Trooper"
Rampage was another game that looked awful on A8, always wondered IF more could have been done with it.

Laird:IF you can find the video for comparisons, i'd love to see following games covered on 8 Bit formats, as be interesting to see how the A8 versions stack up:

Elktra Glide, Thrust, Zybex, Joe Blade, Spy Vs Spy+Boulderdash games, Draconus, Rampage, Druid and IF we are talking U.S Only A8 releases:Pitstop 2, Master Of The Lamps and Infiltrator.

Plus, think things like Star Wars would be good, 2 versions released on A8? Original by Parker Bros on Cart, then Zepplin released a ver. years later?

I have actually done Rampage, go check the thread listing for 8-bit wars. There is also a Star Wars one too but I think it's a Let's Compare in the main games forum with every version featured. I will look up the others in due course.

I moved this discussion into the Atari 8-bit thread as it was so A8 focused it makes more sense hereĀ  :)

Offline Havantgottaclue

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Re: Re: The 8-Bit Wars: Green Beret
« Reply #37 on: December 25, 2012, 11:24:49 AM »
Quote from: "The Laird"
I moved this discussion into the Atari 8-bit thread as it was so A8 focused it makes more sense hereĀ  :)

Funnily enough I had a very similar thought practically at the same time! LOL

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #38 on: December 25, 2012, 15:53:04 PM »
Apoligies for de-railing any threads, and as i explained in other thread, think i must have missed the earlier A8 versions in comparison vids done early on, as i was with Talk Talk then, watching youtube vids was a no-no, sadly.

Anyway, fantastic to see the Tiger Attack video, seems to have smooth, fast scrolling, some odd colours used for enemy aircraft (Gay Pride wing-pink planes? lol) though this may have been for technical reasons, seems more like a remix version rather than true arcade conversion, but never seen anything on it until today, so great result.

Music appears to be A8 version of Hubbards Phantoms Of The asteriod, nice track, but odd choice for this game.

Offline TL

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #39 on: January 02, 2013, 16:47:31 PM »
Has everyone here seen the early prototype of Shadow Of The Best for the A8? Such a shame it was never finished as it shows real potential.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzWEpMl_kro

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #40 on: January 02, 2013, 19:55:48 PM »
Nice to see this one again mate.

Looked really promising, never saw anything more on it-Know why it was never finished? too demanding or people/person behind it just not have the time/resources etc?.

Offline TL

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #41 on: January 02, 2013, 20:03:23 PM »
Quote from: "Rogue Trooper"
Nice to see this one again mate.

Looked really promising, never saw anything more on it-Know why it was never finished? too demanding or people/person behind it just not have the time/resources etc?.

The company that were making this and a load of other conversions like Pac-Land and Ghost 'N' Goblins went bust.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #42 on: January 02, 2013, 20:56:20 PM »
Thanks for the heads up.Crying shame that.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #43 on: January 12, 2013, 18:01:03 PM »
Quote from: "The Laird"
Quote from: "Rogue Trooper"
Nice to see this one again mate.

Looked really promising, never saw anything more on it-Know why it was never finished? too demanding or people/person behind it just not have the time/resources etc?.

The company that were making this and a load of other conversions like Pac-Land and Ghost 'N' Goblins went bust.

Would the company be:

Harlequin (The Entertainments) by any chance?

Seen page ad.in old Page 6 magazine proclaiming SOTB+Meance as coming son.

Plus news snippet on them, talked of them and Last Ninja 2 and Paperboy, coming to A8.

Offline Rogue Trooper

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Re: The Atari 8-bit thread
« Reply #44 on: January 12, 2013, 18:03:05 PM »
Anyone know how A8 versions of:

Infiltrator+Joe Blade fared next to the C64 versions?.Owned both on C64, but never tried on A8.

Also, Bop 'n' Wrestle, Mindscape, 1 of the only commercial releases to use the extra Ram on the 130 XE (for smoother animation)?.

 

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