Bally Alley

Astrogames, Tapes A1 and A2

Review by Kevin O'Neill

(December 1983)

This is a review of seven games for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade that are on tapes A1 and A2 from Astrogames. This review first appeared in the Outlet, Product Review Column in NIAGARA B.U.G. BULLETIN, 1, no. 7 (December 1984): 25-26.
Astrogames Ad from Arcadian
 Astrogames advertisement from
ARCADIAN 6, no. 4 (Feb. 23, 1984): 32.

Tape A1: This multi-game tape is one of the first such tapes we have had the chance to view, and I must say, although there are more programs on multi-game cassettes, I can say as a rule that the quality of each one is lower than on single game cassettes. You get what you pay for, in other words.

In all, the software by Dale Low seems to be well-thought out, and quite imaginative.

Wah's Revenge is a revision of the Space Invaders game format, only a simpler version. The graphics and animation are quite good, for a BASIC game, and the sound effects are well done, also. The skill level is selectable, as are the number of bases. The "wahs" float about the upper portion of the screen, and try to position themselves right overhead. The game play is rather simplistic, but fun.

Super-Pac is an overstatement if I ever heard one. Not to say that this attempt to simulate Pac-Man in BASIC is any worse then I've seen, but it is certainly not much better. Graphics and sounds are good, and the random-maze idea was good, but the slow action just kills the game play. The single ghost is sluggish and "stupid". A good try, anyway.

Defence Pro is the best Defender simulation I've seen in BASIC so far. Machine language routines are used to create smoothly scrolling land, but the response of the ship to joystick control is a little delayed. You couldn't expect any better in a BASIC game, though. In my opinion, the extra money spent on a cartridge would be well-founded (Cosmic Raiders).

Metro Attack. Three cheers for Dale Low! This is a game I could really get excited about! It is the best Missile Command simulation I have ever seen. It contains selectable levels, turns, players, bonus energy points, whew! In short, this game has it all! My personal favorite.

Peter Piper is a great three-voice music program, and as the manual says, a good change from action games.

Astrogames Ad from Fabris Collection
 Previously unpublished Astrogames
advertisement from Bob Fabris Collection

In all, the tape was good, but these simulations didn't stand up to the arcade classics they were based on. I think Dale should concentrate more on original game formats. This is what he has done with his latest release, the multi-adventure tape.

The game loads each separate game portion from the tape, as the player toggles the recorder on and off.

The Forest! would be, on its own, a very good buy. The player moves his man through as many screens as possible given 1000 time units. Each screen is different. Some screens have small pits that you must hop over, rocky gorges that must be traversed by "swinging" from ropes that appear at the top of the screen, while other screens contain many small platforms that you must hop onto, to travel to the other side of the screen. There is also a special screen, that only requires one, skillful hop to get across. The small platform will then proceed to carry you across the screen. Your score is saved at a specific memory location, to avoid being destroyed by the next tape load, once you have used up all your time.

The next game segment contains three mazes. The first two are constantly changing, to make them tougher to solve. You can "eat" through the right-hand wall by squeezing the trigger. The shortest time gets the highest score. This segment is repeated twice. The next maze is an invisible one that you try to maneuver through by hitting the walls, to see where they are.

Also included, and not part of the adventure, is...

Night Bombers. This game is right after the adventure on the tape. This is not well explained in the instruction sheet. Night Bombers is a tough game to play, but it is quite fun. The graphics are really excellent, and the sound is good. Two versions of the game, one tougher, are included on the tape.

In all, I found the tape to be of high quality. I think Dale is a much better original game programmer, than he is at making copies of other games.

I would also like to see what Dale could do with Zgrass. Such an innovative and creative programmer would be able to do magic with one of these super-powered game creation machines.

Good luck in the field, Dale, and keep up the good work!

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