Two Programs From The VIC 6 Pack
Harvey B. Herman
This is a clever game which my kids rated 8 (out of 10). There are two cars (the blue one is yours) traveling in opposite directions in a square, four-lane track. The object of the game is to score the most points before you crash into the other car. You can change lanes or speed up or slow down to avoid a collision. Points are scored by riding over dots (and later diamonds) on the tracks. This game is very similar to the PET program NAB sold by Cursor magazine.
We (my kids and I) particularly liked several features of the BASIC game. Color and sound are integrated into the program. Effective use of a custom character set makes the track layout much nicer than if only the standard characters had been used. The other car is smart and you must be on your toes to avoid a crash. To score well you must change speeds at appropriate times or you're stuck in the wrong lane, headed for disaster.
The one feature I did not like (and this did not seem to bother my kids) is that the keyboard is used as the car controller. I prefer a joystick or the number pad on the old PETs. The "J" and "K" keys used to change lanes are close together and I was forever confusing which was "move in" and "move out." You don't have to think as much with a joystick.
A helpful hint: the instructions say not to use Car Chase with any memory expansion in place. Bullfeathers! If you have added the 3K memory expansion a special load sequence is necessary. Type:
POKE 44, 16 POKE 4096, 0 NEW LOAD
Before loading other programs, POKE location 44 back to normal or turn the VIC off and on.
Blue Meanies From Outer Space
This is an Invaders-like game which my kids rated 6 (out of 10). The blue meanies (frowning faces) are dropping from the skies trying to knock out your protected power cells inside your starbase. You are able to blast them with fixed laser guns as they fall erratically. Points are added when you kill a meanie or deducted if you hit your own supply ship which is coming to recharge your energy. You must have energy to fire your weapons. Energy is lost when shooting and for various other operations. If the supply ship makes it, you get an energy bonus. It is possible to repair damage (holes in your starbase) using a robot, but at the cost of energy. When the meanies reach the power cells, the game is over.
This BASIC game, like Car Chase, is considerably enhanced by good use of color, sound, and a custom character set. It was fun to shoot the meanies, but it would have been even more fun if they were a little smarter. (However, the instructions do promise "meaner meanies" after 20 are shot.) Again, I prefer a joystick to the use of the keyboard for game control. I get confused if the required actions are not reflexive. My kids commented that the instructions for the repair robot were not clear and they did not care for negative energy or a suspended robot. I believe they have been spoiled by playing Invaders on the PET. Blue Meanies is a good program, but it doesn't quite match up to that very good simulation of the video arcade game.
Note: if you have added a 3K memory expansion, use the same trick as above for Car Chase to LOAD Blue Meanies.
Commodore Business Machines
681 Moore Rd.
King of Prussia, PA 19406
$43.95 (for all 6)