Bally Alley

Accurately Dumping an Astrocade ROM "Accurately Dumping an Astrocade ROM."
By Adam Trionfo.
April 23, 2007.

This process describes how to dump the Astrocade ROM using only an Astrocade and software (no EPROM/ROM reader needed). This technique can be used to archive versions of the Astrocade ROM that have not been dumped or for dumping the ROM for use with an Astrocade emulator (such as MESS).

Astrocade Arcade Games "Arcade Games Based Around Astrocade Chipset."
By Adam Trionfo
March 21, 2006.

This list covers the arcade games that use the Astrocade chipset in high-res mode:
  1. Seawolf II (1978)
  2. Extra Bases (1980)
  3. Space Zap (1980)
  4. Wizard of Wor (1980)
  5. Gorf (1981)
  6. Robby Roto (1981)
  7. Demons and Dragons (1982)(Unreleased prototype)
  8. Professor Pacman (1983)
  9. 10 Pin Deluxe (1984)(Electro-mechanical bowling game)
  10. 10 Pin Champ / Strikes and Spares (1985)
Astrocade Cartridge PD Release "Two Astrocade Cartridges Released into the Public Domain."
By Adam Trionfo.
May 10, 2001.

This article is about the public domain release of two Bally Arcade/Astrocade cartridges by Spectre Systems: "ICBM Attack" and "Treasure Cove." These games were created by Brett Bilbrey, Marion Nelepa and Mike Toth."

Astrocade Screen Operations
Bally Astrocade Screen Operations.
By John Perkins.
ARCADIAN, 1, no. 6 (May 1979): 40.

This article describes how Bally BASIC uses 4K of screen RAM for text, video and the BASIC program.
  1. "Astrocade Screen Operations" - Text Format
Bally Arcade "Retro Astro" Handheld Unit by ToyMax! "Bally Arcade "Retro Astro" Handheld Unit by ToyMax!"
By Adam Trionfo.
April 1, 2006.

An April Fools Day article about the supposedly new handheld Bally Arcade (called "Retro Astro") by Toymax, makers of the Atari Classics 10-in-1 TV Games. This "article" was first posted to the unsuspecting readers of the Bally Alley Yahoo discussion group.

Bally's Blitter "Bally's Blitter."
By Lance Squire.
November 17, 2002.

This article is a collection of posting from the Bally Alley Yahoo discussion group. The Bally Arcade's 'Magic' functions are compared to a primitive blitter (Bit Block transfer device) chip.

Bally Cassette Format "Bally AstroBASIC Cassette Tape Format."
By Adam Trionfo.
February 3, 2001.

This article is based on two email exchanges between Jamie Fenton (formally known as Jay Fenton). The information helped to persuade Bob Colbert to port his Atari 2600 archiving utility called "MakeWAV" so that it could be used with AstroBASIC. The Bally version of "MakeWAV" became "Ballybin" and "AstroWAV."

BASIC Demo Cart "On the Bally BASIC Demo Cartridge."
By Adam Trionfo.
September 29, 2001.

The official 1978 "Bally BASIC Demo" is an 8K ROM cartridge. The main program is actually written in "Bally BASIC." This would have been the very first BASIC program to be included on a cartridge-- a feat that was not duplicated until about 1985.

BASIC Differences "Differences between Bally and AstroBASIC."
By Adam Trionfo (with some comments by Lance Squire).
July 24, 2002.

This article includes a listing of many of the differences between "AstroBASIC" and the original "Bally BASIC."

Bob Fabris Letter From Adam Trionfo "Bob Fabris Letter From Adam Trionfo"
By Adam Trionfo.

Bob Fabris was the editor on the "Arcadian" newsletter from 1978-1986. In 1994, Adam Trionfo (who later started in 2001) wrote Bob a much-belated letter.

Homebrew Game Ideas "Astrocade Homebrew Game Ideas."
By Glenn Saunders and Adam Trionfo.
November 14, 2001.

A few ideas about what would make good homebrew games for the Bally Arcade. These ideas were put forward on the Bally Alley Yahoo discussion board.

General History and Background of Astrocade, Inc. "General History and Background of Astrocade, Inc."
February 10, 1984.

This general history of Astrocade, Inc. is an excerpt from the Astrocade, Inc. bankruptcy plans filed on February 10, 1984 in Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division. The case number is 2-82-04677.

How the Wavemakers 'Masters' Update Come About "How the Wavemakers 'Masters' Update Come About."
by Paul Thacker.
March 10, 2007.

The Astrocade community is fortunate to have been able to contact Mike Peace, the programmer of all of the Astrocade games by WaveMakers. He sent his master tapes to Paul Thacker to be archived. This article describes how this tape archiving task was accomplished.

Identify the Astrocade's On-Board ROM "How to Identify the Astrocade's On-Board ROM."
By Adam Trionfo.
August 5, 2001.

There are at least three different versions of the Bally Arcade/Astrocade On-Board ROM. This can pose some possible compatibility problems (not with cartridges, but with some tape software). This article describes how to identify which version of the ROM is in your Astrocade.
  1. "How to Identify the Astrocade's On-Board ROM" - Microsoft Word Document
Official Astrocade Scoreboard The Last "Official Astrocade Scoreboard."
October 31, 1984.
By Michael Prosise.

Michael Prosise kept the official high-score table up-to-date for his "The Game Player" column that was published in the "Arcadian" newsletter. This last "Official Astrocade Scoreboard" appeared in ARCADIAN, 6, no. 11/12 (Oct. 31 1984): 111. Notice that not all of the titles on the list are cartridges (some are tape games).

This is scoreboard is meant to be a start toward a list of games that could be played against each other using the Bally Alley Yahoo groups discussion board.

"Playing ICBM Attack Using the MESS Astrocade Emulator."
By Paul Thacker and Adam Trionfo.
December 28, 2010.

"ICBM Attack" by Spectre Systems is a third-party game for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade game console. This Missile Command-type game was released in 1982. It is one of the most difficult cartridges to find for the Astrocade system. It is unique because the game does not use the regular Astrocade "hand controller" that every other cartridge game uses. Each "ICBM Attack" cartridge came with an analog controller that is absolutely required to play the game.

In order to play "ICBM Attack" using the MESS emulator, it is absolutely essential to setup MESS correctly. This article explains how to go about doing that.

The default article includes screenshots and pictures. This is the preferred method of reading the article. However, it can also be read in plain text format.
  1. "Playing ICBM Attack Using the MESS Astrocade Emulator" - Text Document
  2. "Playing ICBM Attack Using the MESS Astrocade Emulator" - Microsoft Word Document
Poor Man's RAM Expansion "Poor Man's RAM Expansion."
By Craig Anderson.
CURSOR 2, no. 3 (October 1980): 67-68.

When is a cassette not a cassette? When it's used as RAM!

We all know that the Astrocade (1977) computer and any computer from today (2002) are similar in name only. Computers still work using the same idea (ones and zeroes) and do the same thing (freeze-up, breakdown, lose our data, make us curse), but a store-bought computer today really means (at least) a complete set-up of items to make us curse: computer, monitor, printer, memory, hard drive, CD-ROM drive, floppy drive, keyboard, and mouse. The Astrocade, with BASIC, is about as rudimentary a home computer as you can have; the memory storage device (cassette) is serial- the user uses a common (for the time) household audio-cassette recorder. What those users would not have given for a fast Random Access floppy drive- like our modern, much beloved, floppy drive.

I'm not knocking this early computer arrangement; it works. Even then users were always looking for something more, something better, something to make the system have bragging rights. Who wanted to go around saying, "I have a 4K Astrocade," when one could brag with something like, "I have an expanded Astrocade, I made a 1K RAM expander myself. Imagine what I can do now, the possibilities are endless!" Nowadays memory and storage have somewhat lost bragging rights (everyone's got lots of it).

The article, Poor Man's Memory Expansion (Anderson, C.J. "Poor Man's Memory Expansion," CURSOR 2, no. 3 (October 1980): 67-68), has always been a personal favorite of mine. I've retyped it so that it can be shared- and make us all feel bad; it will make you think twice again about complaining about your current computer set-up.

Sneak Up and Bite Ya "Sneak Up and Bite Ya."
By Hoover Anderson Research and Design (H.A.R.D.)
ARCADIAN 5, no. 3 (Jan. 14, 1983): 49.

By the time that volume 1, number 6 of ARCADIAN had hit the streets (May 1979), it was apparent that there were two configurations of on-board ROM. Calls to some ROM subroutines worked on some machines but not on others.

This article, by Craig Anderson, is one of the first descriptions of a way to differentiate between the Bally Astrocade's on-board ROMS.
  1. "Sneak Up and Bite Ya" - Original article submission to the "Arcadian." (pdf)
Top Ten Astrocade Games "Top Ten Bally Arcade/Astrocade Games"
By Adam Trionfo.
May 1, 2006.

In 2006, Adam Trionfo posted a list to the Bally Alley Yahoo message board of his favorite Bally / Astrocade cartridge games. He asked for others to reply, giving a list of their own favorite games. In 2010, the original posting (and most of the replies to it) were gathered together to create an unofficial "Top 10" list of good games to play on the Astrocade system.

Astrocade and Its Relation to the UV-1 Computer "Overview of the Astrocade and Its Relation to the UV-1 Computer."
By Adam Trionfo.
April 18, 2001.

The DataMax UV-1 computer was based on the Bally Arcade's chipset. Compared to the Bally / Astrocade, the UV-1 had more RAM, disk storage, RAM disks, and more more-- plus it ran the Z-GRASS programming. It was also about ten-thousand dollars as opposed to a few hundred bucks for the Astrocade. This article contains some of the first investigations into the UV-1's history made on the Bally Alley Yahoo discussion group.
  1. "Overview of the Astrocade and Its Relation to the UV-1 Computer" - Text Format
  2. UV-1/ZGrass Documentation
Xonox and Perkins "Astrocade, Xonox, Atari and John Perkins."
By Adam Trionfo.
July 9, 2002.

John Perkins was one of the most prolific hardware and software programmers on the Bally Arcade/Astrocade in the late 70s/early 80s. He designed the popular third-party Blue Ram products such as the RAM expansion, keyboard, modem/printer interface and much more. He also programmed "Artillery Duel" for the Bally Arcade. This short article explores the little-known fact that John Perkins wrote four Atari 2600 games for the company Xonox.

Z-80 Books "Z-80 Books - Here's a List of Four."
By Adam Trionfo.
September 26, 2002.

A short list of four recommended general-use Z-80 CPU programming books that are applicable to Astrocade programmers.