TRS-80 arcade action. (evaluation) Owen W. Linzmayer.
In the Dark Ages, coin-op arcade magicians conjured up magnificent new video games and the population rejoiced. It seemed as if a panacea for boredom had been found. But, lo and behold, a select group of computer-bearing citizens rose to their feet and shouted "We want Pengo. Give us Moon Patrol. Burgertime belongs to the people!"
The game lords were annoyed. They did not want to bother with such a small sect, and they turned their backs on the poor souls. Risking the wrath of the game lords, courageous individuals began to produce the computer games that were so much in demand.
Today these highly skilled professionals are still hard at work, slaving over keyboards into the wee hours of the morning.
It is because of these programmers that TRS-80 owners can enjoy fine games such as Penguin, Martian Patrol, and Hamburger Sam. Penguin
I would be lying to you if I said that Penguin is an exact replica of Sega's coin-op hit, Pengo. There is simply no way that the TRS-80 can emulate the colorful, hires graphics of a multi-thousand dollar arcade machine. Penguin is, however, similar to Pengo and although the two can't really be compared, Penguin is almost as whimsical and enjoyable.
Penguin is played by one or two people who either take turns at the keyboard or swap a joystick back and forth. The object of the game is simple: kick blocks of ice to kill the enemy while avoiding contact with the deadly icicle monsters. If you kick an ice block when it is up against another object, it crumbles and disappears. Otherwise, the cake of ice slides along in a straight path until it hits an obstacle.
When you begin a game, the blank screen fills with a pattern of ice blocks, and your penguin flashes momentarily to signal a warning that the action is about to begin. Moving quickly, you must rely on both strategy and luck to squash your opponents. The monsters wander around in almost random patterns, which makes it difficult to plan ahead. The only way to kill these guys is to crush them with ice blocks.
You can be sent to the big ice cap in the sky if you touch an icicle monster, destroy all of the ice blocks, or let the timer run out. At first the game is rather easy, but as you progress, it becomes much more difficult.
I especially like the fact that each round offers a different board set up. Sometimes the field of ice blocks resembles a skull and crossbones, and at other times, the blocks are positioned to form words. Each different pattern presents its own secrets and challenges, and learning these in half the fun.
The graphics in Penguin are cute, and the gameplay is light-hearted, but the sound effects are definitely lacking in intensity and complexity. With this minor deficiency taken into consideration, Penguin is still a quality game that deserves a place in any software library. Martian Patrol
H G. Wells's "War of the World" undergoes an ironic twist in Martian Patrol. Instead of green beings from Mars invading Earth, we humans are overrunning the red planet. Martian Patrol is modeled after williams's coin-op game, Moon Patrol.
You man a sophisticated land rover that just happens to be well armed and highly maneuverable. Land rovers can accelerate, propel themselves into the air, and simultaneously fire missiles forward and straight up. If things becomes a bit hectic, limited shield power is provided. All of these functions are controlled either with a joystick or via the keyboard.
The object of Martian Patrol is to explore various sections of the planet surface. The ground is broken into small strips called sectors. As you bounce alone the surface you must avoid large craters, out-croppings of rocks, and land mines. All of these can be safely jumped, but only the rocks may be destroyed with rocket fire. Combine all of these hazards with concentrated air attacks from enemy ships, and you have one heck of a game.
The graphics of Martian Patrol are very nice. The surface, background and sky all scroll at different speeds which simulates depth of field. This gives the planet setting a very realistic quality. As you reach different sectors, the background scene changes from desolate mountain ranges to populated cityscapes and then back again.
TRS-80 users have come to expect professionally written programs from the people at Melbourne House. Martian Patrol is no let down. The sound effects are extremely well done with much attention paid to detail. The documentation, both external and internal, is thorough. Don't hesitate to buy another program by Rick Maurice sight unseen. Hamburger Sam
Another recent release from the team of Dubois and MCNamara, authors of Penguin, is a gem called Hamburger Sam. Very much like the coin-op game Burger-Time, the game requires that you guide your chef on a complex mission to build hamburgers. Aggressive, anthropomorphic comestibles attempt to defeat you, but you can defend Sam by using a limited supply of pepper.
A maximum of two people can play Hamburger Sam, by alternating turns at the keyboard. The game begins with Sam at the bottom of an empty multi-tiered building. On the first screen, you must build a total of three hamburgers to advance to the next round.
To build a burger, you must walk over the food parts. This causes them to drop to the platter waiting at the bottom of the screen. Since the parts are positioned one below the other, walking over one piece makes it fall onto the part below it. Thus begins a chain reaction with each part dropping one level closer to the platter.
Each burger consists of a top bun, lettuce, cheese, meat, and a bottom bun. When all of the burgers have been assembled, a new round begins with more burgers to build.
Also writhing on the ledges with Sam are hot dogs, pickles, and fried eggs. These are to be avoided. Touching any of these walking foods kills you and begins the round anew. You have one defense: pepper. If a pickle is coming at Sam, he can destroy it by tossing a handful of pepper at it. Also, the enemy food monsters are killed if you drop a burger part on them from above.
I have spent a considerable amount of time playing Hamburger Sam and have conquered the first three boards. The more advanced rounds require that you complete more burgers and defend yourself against increasing numbers of aggressive victuals. I don't know how many different screen configurations there are, but I doubt whether I shall ever pass the fourth level.
There is no on-screen scoring in Hamburger Sam--the score and bonus points are displayed every time a board is completed or a life is lost. The amount of pepper remaining and the number of surviving chefs are shown in the bottom corners of the play screen. With a smorgasboard of features, Hamburger Sam has all the makings of a TRS-80 video game feast.
Products: Penguin (video game)
Martian Patrol (video game)
Hamburger Sam (video game)