By JAMES HAGUE
Most players can't take it for more than 45 seconds!
Current Events is a two-player game that's likely to drive you crazy if you attempt to play a round lasting longer than 45 seconds. Do you have the guts to go a nonstop two minutes? This BASIC program works on all 8-bit Atari computers having at least 32K memory, disk or cassette.
It's another Sunday night and a familiar episode is about to take place in the basement of the multi-billion-dollar corporation Ice Cubes International (famous for its line of monogrammed cubes). The two masterminds behind this highly successful conglomerate, Mikey and Chuckie, are once again having their weekly argument-Who gets to use the company computer system?
Soon enough, Mikey and Chuckie once again decide to solve their weekly disagreement in a logical manner. The two billionaires begin yanking circuits out of of their computer. The one who ends up with the majority of parts gets to use the machine, if he is able to put it back together.
Current Events is a two-player game that lets you and a friend simulate Sunday nights in the basement of Ice Cubes International. Type in Listing 1, CURRENT.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy.
If you have trouble typing in the special characters in lines 9025-9030, 9080-9100, 9120 and 9180-9186, don't type them in. Listing 2 will create them for you. Type Listing 2, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy. When you RUN Listing 2, it creates these hard-to-type lines and stores them in a file called LINES.LST.
To merge the two programs, disk users LOAD "D:CURRENT BAS" and then ENTER "D:LINES.LST." Cassette users: CLOAD Listing 1, then insert the separate cassette used for Listing 2 and ENTER "C:".
Remember to SAVE the completed program before you RUN it. Now you're ready to play. Plug a pair of joysticks into ports 1 and 2 and RUN the program.
When the title screen appears, press [SELECT] to choose the length of the game-from a fast-moving 15 seconds to a grueling two minutes. About 30 to 45 seconds seems to be as much as most players can stand. Press [START] to begin.
The main playfield is a white, grid-like circuit. Player 1 is a Blue Thing that starts in the lower left corner. Player 2 is a Yellow Thing that starts in the upper right corner. The object is to change more of the circuit to your color than your opponent does, before the timer reaches zero.
To move, push the joystick in the direction you want to go. Once you're in motion, you can't stop until you hit the edge of the circuit. And you cannot reverse your direction. Instead, you must go "around the block." As you move, you fill the circuit with a pulsating trail in your color. Anything you move over will change to your color, even if it's currently in your opponent's color.
The first complication is the transporters-red arrows on the left and right edges of the circuit. If you drive into an arrow, you'll be transported to the opposite side of the circuit and the transporter will disappear. There are only four of these, so use them wisely.
Second, when the two "Things" collide, each will be sent back to its starting corner-and started off again in a random direction!
Finally, those red blocks branded with question marks are event boxes. They're positioned at random locations on the circuit. There are five at the start of the game, each of which affects the electricity in the circuit differently when hit-or, in other words, causes "Current Events."
Each box makes something different happen. But since the boxes all look alike, there's no way to tell which Current Event will be triggered until you ram a box. However, each event happens only once per game.
NULL BOX: Nothing happens. Surprised?
BLUE SPLATTERER: Explodes when hit, covering the surrounding area with blue. Great for player 1, but not for player 2. Note that the blue splatters more horizontally than vertically.
YELLOW SPLATTERER: Same thing, but splatters yellow instead.
POSITION SWITCHER: Instantly swaps not only the positions of both players, but their current directions as well. Needless to say, this could drop you into a far from ideal position.
Disrupter: Ouch! Causes the entire circuit to short out for six seconds, during which it's impossible to determine the color of anything. You'd better be aware of what the entire circuit looks like at all times so you'll know what to do when the lights go out.
The simple goal of Current Events is to maximize the amount of circuitry covered with your color while minimizing the color territory of your opponent. Obviously, moving over either the untouched white circuit or your opponent's color is a lot better than repeating a path over your own color. Hitting an event box can be either good or bad. You'll just have to play the odds. In certain situations, even the disruptor can be beneficial-as can ramming your opponent. In short games, the event boxes can make or break you, while in a longer game you may have time to make up for your mistakes.
James Hague is a Computer Science major at North Texas State University. He has published two impressively demented Antic games-the memorable Uncle Henry's Nuclear Waste Dump (December 1986) and Rockslide (May, 1986) as well as the powerful Rainbow Screen Customizer utility (March, 1987).
Listing 1: CURRENT.BAS Download
Listing 2: LINES.BAS(not needed)