NEO Zone

NEO Zone

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Doctor Who (Atari 2600)

Rise Of The Cybermen

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The Doctor murmurs, "It's happening again. CYBERMEN!"

The Cybermen crash through the windows surrounding the Doctor. They tell him that they have been upgraded to "Human.2", the next level of mankind. Every citizen will receive a compulsory free upgrade and become like them. The Doctor asks what would happen if he refused. A Cyberman replies that if he would not be made compatible, he will be deleted, and reaches for the Doctor.

The Cybermen surround the Doctor and he raises his hands, fists clenched. He tells the Cybermen that he surrenders and will submit to the upgrade, but the Cybermen ignore him. A Cyberman declares the Doctor as incompatible and inferior: Man will be reborn as Cyberman but the Doctor will perish under "maximum deletion."

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I have been playing a lot of Malagai lately. It is a really good Atari 2600 game that a lot of people don't even know about. You should give it a try. You are trapped in a maze with some really weird Aliens and the only way out is thru 3 locked gates/airlocks. Guess who has the keys?

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As I play games I usually come up with a few ideas about making changes and Malagai was no different. The first thing that I wanted to change was the enemies. The original Aliens were just too similar and the game is hard enough without chasing the wrong keyholder. So I changed them all to Robots that each had a distinctive look. Next I wanted to change the player sprite. In Malagai you are a floating spaceman with a jetpack. It is a cool looking sprite but doesn't really fit the maze theme. I changed it to a running man sprite. As I was play-testing the changes I noticed that the original sprite sizes overlapped the mazes so I clipped them by a few pixels to square them between the maze walls. At this stage I already enjoyed the game more then the original.

So, That's it then. Another finished hack. Not quite. Why leave things alone when you can change them? I decided to change the three maze level colors. I prefer primary colors so the new maze colors are Blue, Red, Bright Green. Next up the Title screen. I think the name Malagai actually hurts a game like this. What does Malagai mean? Malagai is actually the name of the race of Aliens in the original game. Malagai is a good name for Aliens but a bad name for a game. Most people don't know what a Malagai is or how to pronounce it. How do you tell your friends about this great new game when you can't even say the name? So lets see, We have a game with Robots in a maze and the Robots can go into an attack mode. A few titles I came up with:
Robot War
Robot Maze
Robot Riot
They are all OK but they don't quite do it. Then I started thinking about movies with Robot type enemies:
Daleks?? Hmmmm. Always wanted a Doctor Who game for the Atari 2600. So Daleks it is. After a few minutes of trying to make three distinctive Daleks I decided not to use them. Wait a minute, Doctor Who also has CYBERMEN!!! That's it. And it just so happens that there was a revival of the Cybermen on the new Doctor Who show on SciFI Channel. So now  I have the name of the hack, RISE of the CYBERMEN!

I use Hack-O-Matic for most of my hacks and in the description of how I made this hack I leave out a lot of the tedious trial and error of searching for code that controls graphics, colors, etc.. Sometimes the smallest detail can take the longest to add or change. I am amazed at how a few changes and a tie-in to a show I like really increases the enjoyment I have playing the game. So there you have a rough overview of how I hack a game. I usually don't have a plan other then to make a few changes and it just evolves into something. Give it a try with one of your favorites.


  1. Hey, are you going to do another run of these carts? :) I'm just getting into homebrew and hacks and I feel like I need this one.

    1. There will be something later in the year. Any new information will be posted here.

  2. Thanks for sharing this quality information with us. I really enjoyed reading. Will surely going to share this URL with my friends.
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