Posts Tagged ‘arcade game


Spectre for DOS

First Level

First Level

Spectre was released by Velocity inc. in 1992. It is a 3d tank battle game very much like battle zone and its descendants. It had numerous ports for systems such as the Macintosh and even a console version that was on the super Nintendo. I have only ever played the shareware version as I have never found a commercial copy of the game.

I played it originally on our old 20Mhz 386 when I was a kid, and the performance was actually pretty good considering the capabilities of the machine. Under dosbox I’ve found it works well if you have the cycles set high enough, but you can experience slow-down when you are close to some of the texture mapped objects if you haven’t set it high enough.



The game supports VGA, and has some simple 3d texture mapped graphics. If your machine doesn’t work very well you can turn off texture mapping to gain a little extra performance. The landscape is however very sparse and dark. There are a number of objects strewn around each landscape most of them geometric shapes such as cubes, pyramids and some flat surfaces in the form of billboards. The object that is the most complicated and animated are the windmills that you find in the levels. Strangely all the objects that are textured use the one texture, which changes each level.

Sound comes in the form of either PC speaker, Adlib or Sound Blaster, but oddly in the demo version of the game I could only ever get the PC speaker to work, which is reasonable, but nothing spectacular.

Level 3

Level 3

Game play is relatively simple and very much like battle zone. You’re in an arena like space with obstacles, enemies, and some flags. To complete a level you have to collect all the flags and preferably kill as many of the enemies as you can. In the demo you only get the first three levels which are frankly a bit boring. The enemies aren’t all that clever and pretty much just come straight at you. From what I’ve read online there are many more levels that are much more difficult and have more interesting enemies.

Windmill in level 3

Windmill in level 3

As a kid the demo was pretty impressive, but I had played games that had 3d graphics and better gameplay. I found the demo was a nice demonstration of the technology, but didn’t really have a lot of good game play in it. The technology in the game itself was kinda impressive, but was over shadowed very quickly by games that came out even that year, such as Wolfenstein 3d. Perhaps the commercial version is a bit more fun and interesting, but that unfortunately seems to be difficult to find.


Turbo for DOS

Turbo was created by Doug Ross back in 1987 and is a CGA game written for early IBM PCs. It is much like many old school arcade games such Outrun and Pole position. It is a driving game on a perfectly straight road, where you have to dodge traffic going towards you and in front of you. The game has some very simple CGA graphics which use an often unused colour palette with yellow, green and red. The sprites are quite reasonable for the time being quite large and detailed. There is no sound to speak of. Control is via the keyboard and is pretty simple, but the way your car responds is kinda slow, and often results in crashes that I felt like shouldn’t have happened. Turbo unfortunately hasn’t really stood the test of time very well, it is interesting as a piece of history but not something you’ll spend any time playing.


VGA Leaper for DOS

VGA Leaper is a Frogger clone written for DOS by Lee Chapel in 1992. We got this game on a shareware magazine cover disc in the mid 90’s, and never having played the original Frogger in the arcades we thought it was pretty good. If you’ve played Frogger in the arcades this game will be very familiar.  The basic elements of Frogger are all there:

  • The highway with different speed vehicles that you have to cross.
  • The logs and turtles flowing up and down the river (or lake) that you use to get to the end zone.
  • The female frog you can get for extra points and the other creatures that are obstacles throughout the levels.

As I’ve said I have never really played the arcade version myself, although I have seen footage of others playing. So I can’t make much in the way of a comparison between the two gameplay wise. What I have noticed from watching the footage is that the original Frogger is much faster paced, and the snake may appear on a log as well as the middle (safe) area of the screen. VGA Leaper starts out much slower, and is fairly easy to beat on the early levels. It does quickly get harder however but I suspect not as difficult as the original. This is to be expected really as arcade games were always notorious for being very hard, and ports to other systems usually are easier by quite a margin.

The graphics for this version of Frogger are quite good, and compare well to other clones on the PC and other systems. It doesn’t support any modes other than VGA from what I can see, but the documentation states that there was a CGA version available upon request. There is very little in the way of sound, with it only supporting PC speaker. There is no music which may be a blessing and there are also very few sounds, which all sound ok for what they are.

Playing this as a kid before I knew anything about the original, I thought this little game was pretty alright. It wasn’t something we ever spent a lot of time playing, but it was a nice quick distraction that could be finished pretty quickly. The graphics are nice, and the gameplay is reasonably challenging without being impossible, so I’d encourage anyone looking for a Frogger clone for PC to try this.


Wizard of Wor on the commodore 64

In recent years I got a commodore 64 micro computer in my efforts to begin collecting old computer hardware and software. I never had one of the machines when I was a kid, and thus did not know much about the software on the machines. I was a bit worried about getting software for it on tape or disk as both those mediums are decaying, and many disks and tapes no longer function. So I decided that I would concentrate on getting cartridge games, of which I have about 20 odd of them now. One of the games that has become one of my favourites is Wizard of Wor.

The game was made by midway in 1980 in the arcades, and shortly after for the commodore 64. You control a Worrior who travels around maze like dungeons trying to defeat creature summoned by the Wizard of Wor himself. There are three main types of creatures and two that may appear later. The creatures travel around the maze occasionally shooting some kind of lightning bolt. The Garwor and Thorwor can make themselves invisible when they are out of a direct line of sight from a player. As the game progresses the creatures speed up making it significantly harder to avoid them. If you manage to kill all the creatures the Worluk may appear and start travelling around the dungeon quickly. If you manage to kill it, you will get double the score rate for anything you kill in the next dungeon. You may also run into the Wizard himself after the Worluk is killed or escapes. The Wizard teleports around the level and also moves quite quickly, but if he catches you no lives are lost. The mazes also have the path leading off-screen like pacman does, where you can cross from one side to the other. The path is blocked for a short period after someone uses it however.

You can play with a second player as well, and you can choose to play cooperatively or against each other. It is much easier to survive longer with a second player helping, but you do need to be careful as your shots will kill your friend as well as the monsters.

The commodore version is very similar to the arcade original, in particular the sound is pretty much spot on. The gameplay is pretty good on both, with the arcade version understandably being slightly harder. The c64 version gets pretty hard quickly as well, it is just more forgiving, and does not put in an AI player as player two when playing on your own. Control via the joystick is very good and responsive. I have a couple of competition pro joysticks that I have found to be quite good.

I have found the game to be quite addictive, and it takes a good bit of practise to get high scores. I was recently able to get about 76000 on my c64 with a bit of practise. I enjoy the game enough that every time I play with my old commodore 64 I usually play some Wizard of Wor.


Xmris on NetBSD

I had not heard of Xmris before I installed NetBSD on my sparc. I found the game when looking through package source for games that I could install and test out. It turns out that it will work on pretty much any Unix that has X windows installed. I played it and found that it was very similar to the DOS game Digger , and found upon looking into the manual page that they are actually both a clone of the arcade game called Mr Do! Xmris was written by Nathan Sidwell back in 1992 originally, but updated until 1999 at version 4.05. Luckily for us Nathan seems to have put the code up on sourceforge here for all of us to enjoy. You seem to be able to run it on any Unix system that has X windows installed and was very easy to compile. I ran it on NetBSD on my sparc, and found the performance quite good on old hardware and using X across the network. From what I have seen Xmris is a much more faithful clone/port of the arcade game. From the games man page…

You control a gnome, who can walk around a garden, along paths  already
marked,  or  create  new paths wherever you wish. You also have a ball,
which can be thrown in the direction you’re facing, towards the gnome’s
feet.  Points  are scored for collecting cherries (if you collect eight
cherries without stopping or  pushing  an  apple,  you  get  a  bonus),
killing monsters (by squashing them, or throwing the ball at them), and
collecting the prize left when all the monsters have come out of  their

Much like Digger the level ends when you collect all the cherries or kill all the monsters who do not seem to re-spawn. The game play is slower and a bit less frantic than Digger, and seems to be a bit easier in the early levels. In later levels you get more monsters and the game appears to speed up increasing the challenge significantly. It can be very difficult to get a high score as strategies that help you survive do not help you score points. If you are on a system with many other users on it you will notice that there is a shared high score table that everyone can compete to get to the top of. You also have a separate personal best list, so if you do not make the system wide table you can still see how well you are doing. I quite enjoyed trying to beat my own scores and trying out different strategies to survive longer or get more points.

The graphics in game are quite pleasing but also functional. If you are unfortunate enough to not have a colour X terminal it will also run in monochrome. Playing from a XDMCP session is quite good, and does not seem to over use the network bandwidth or resources on the X server. Unfortunately there is no sound to speak of, but given that most X terminals do not support sound this is not surprising. This game also has some nice features, like customisable controls and a level editor. I found it was a good idea to customise your controls as the default ones did not make much sense to me. The level editor is pretty easy to use and lets you add comments and names to each of your levels. You can play custom levels by using command line options to load them.

In conclusion Xmris is a good arcade action clone, and if you have a linux or unix system I would recommend you give it a try.

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