NEO Zone

NEO Zone

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Dragster: The Duel (Atari 2600)

Dragster: The Duel
 Dragster: The Duel

Dragster was the first video game developed by Activision for the Atari 2600 console, and released in 1980. Designed and programmed by David Crane. The object of the game is to either beat the player's opponent across the screen, or to race against the clock for best time. Dragster is an unauthorized adaptation of the 1977 Kee Games coin-op, Drag Race.

 The world record on Dragster is currently held by video gamer Todd Rogers with a time of 5.51, yes it is possible.

Dragster: The Duel is an update of the original game.

Original Dragster
      The original Dragster had two rail cars racing against each other. Each car was the same color and design. For Dragster: The Duel, the game program was expanded to allow each car to have it's own graphic and color. Initially I had two stock cars racing against each other but then put back the classic dragster car as one of the opponents. It is old versus new.                                    

The game play is unchanged from the original game. All of your old tips and tricks will still work. Most of you will have played Dragster but for the few that have not, here is how the game works.

The tachometer (tach) shows how fast the player's engine is turning over. A dark green line that starts at the left side of his television screen for each car and turns red at about the middle is his tach. When it turns red, the player is in high power - but danger!- area. The player will find that he gets his best speed in each gear by red-lining his tach close to the maximum . But watch out! If the player revs his engine too much, it will BLOW. So be careful. Once the player blows his engine, the race is over for him . The way to build maximum speed is to quickly clutch shift and accelerate through all four gears WITH MAXIMUM POWER AT EACH GEAR LEVEL.
Once the player starts shifting gears, he can't downshift. But if the player shifts too soon, his engine will lug (work heavily); he will accelerate slowly and lose some time. It's tricky and takes practice, but the player's patience and perseverance will be rewarded with good times.

Most players first experience with Dragster goes like this, Countdown clock starts, GO!!! the player pushes the gas and BAM!!!, blows their engine. After a few tries they discover how the clutch works.  They then alternate between blowing the engine or crawling down the track. At this point the player will either give up and say that the game sucks or they persevere and learn how to get the most speed. Beating your own time is very compelling and can be the ultimate just one more try game.

The best way to play the game is with a friend. Two players racing against each other can not be beat.

Dragster: The Duel cartridge
Dragster: The Duel is being made for a competition cartridge to be used at various video game conventions across the U.S.A. and no plans to release it at this time. If there is enough interest in a cartridge release it is certainly possible.

Car colors and graphics can be changed.

If you want a copy of Dragster: The Duel then let me know .
Stock vs Stock

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fat Albert (Atari 2600)

JELLO Presents
FAT ALBERT for the Atari 2600

Fat Albert is a hack of the Atari 2600 game Fast Food that was done way back in 2000. I set out to brush it up a little and fix a few things that I never liked.

It bothered me that Fat Albert's head was left as several shades of purple and knowing that it is an easy fix I went ahead and corrected it it. As most people know a typical Atari sprite can only be one color per horizontal line. That left a problem with the original head sprite since his hair goes down the back of his head. In order to have his face and hair different colors they can't be on the same horizontal line. With a little optical trick it looks like we have two colors on one line, but as you can see in the detail below it is still only one color per line. I added an ear to fill up the big blank space.

I always have to start tweaking other things once I start on something. The next thing I did was change the title graphic at the bottom of the screen. I added Jello Presents to do a tie-in with Jello Pudding Pops. A What If back in the day Fat Albert was really made for the Atari 2600 instead of Fast Food and it was sponsored by Jello.

The original game you had to avoid a Purple Pickle, I guess it was spoiled. With Fat Albert it seemed better to have something else. How about a dog?  The dog was quickly added but something was missing, it was not animated. Now it is. Don't get chomped!!!

 In the original game you lose a life/chance every time Fat Albert eats a Purple Pickle. You get 6 lives before the game is over. Each time Fat Albert eats one it is displayed under the score so you can keep track. I added a line of 6 hearts that are replaced one by one with a dog as you lose lives. Not really needed but I thought it was cool. Also changed the color from purple to red.

The next thing was to try to improve the items that Fat Albert eats. Here are the original items and my changes.

Fast Food:                              Fat Albert:
Purple Pickle                           Dog
Green Pickle                           Coke
Root Beer                               Hamburger
Cola                                        French Fries
Soda Pop                                Pizza
Hot Dog                                  Ice Cream Cone
Hamburger                              Coffee
Ice Cream Bar                         Pineapple Cake
Milk Shake                              Pudding Pop
Ice Cream Cone                      Astro Pop
French Fries                            Banana
Pizza                                       Cherry
Cheese Burger                         Roasted Pig

 The Intermission screens were already pretty much perfect and basically unchanged. I did do a few tweaks here and there but nothing of note.

 There is a possibility that voice may be added for the intermission screen and the Game Over screen. It would be "Hey Hey Hey" and "Game Over" in Fat Albert's voice.

To go with the Jello Pudding Pops theme I made up a fake comic book advertisement for the game from 1985. Where for 5 UPC codes from Jello brand Pudding Pops and $19 you could order a cartridge of Fat Albert for your Atari 2600. I will post an update with any changes in the future. Remember, Buy Jello Brand Pudding Pops!!


Sunday, May 17, 2015

Malaysian Death Beetle

Malaysian Death Beetles can be yellow, brown or orange and have stripes or blotches instead of dots. The Death Beetle is often mistaken for harmless Lady Bird Beetles (Lady Bug) but the Death Beetle is more oval then round and the stripes are a good indicator of a Death Beetle. They can be found in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

This tiny little killer from Malaysia is a tiger in the insect World. Measuring less than a centimeter in length, the Malaysian Death Beetle incapacitates its victim then injects them with a venom that liquefies their insides. Once the bug has sucked out all those delicious innards, he discards the carcass exoskeleton by dropping it to the ground. The carcass pile can be several inches deep on the ground whenever a Death Beetle is living in the area.

When bitten or stung by a Death Beetle, a person will feel a sharp pain at the site, followed by redness and swelling of the area affected. It causes swelling in the face, breathing difficulty, nausea, abdominal pain, an itchy body rash, and loss of blood pressure and circulation (shock). This is a life-threatening situation and requires immediate emergency medical attention. Without medical attention the mortality rate is over 20%.

This is for my daughter Britteny who hoped this was a lady bug that landed on her. Yes Britt, it was a lady bug. It was completely harmless but it probably taste bad so I wouldn't eat one. The Malaysian Death Beetle does not exist.