The old game sawbones is primed and ready to provide the answers to your toughest questions. So get out those medical insurance cards, show ‘em to the Game Nurse, and we can get on with the show.
I see there are lots of good queries this month, but the T-shirt definitely gets hung across the shoulders of Steve Haubner. He was not only our first reader to find the “Easter Egg” in Atari’s Yars’ Revenge, but also sent in some first-rate puzzlers. To whit:
Q: Lately, I have seen many strange things in arcades, such as a Donkey Kong game in a Berzerk cabinet and a Galaga in a Galaxian casing. Is this what you meant in your second issue about interchangeable games?
Also, will Coleco be making an adapter to allow it to play Intellivision games? I’ve also heard about a computer attachment for ColecoVision to be released at the beginning of next year (1983). Do you know what it will cost when it’s finally available?
(Steve Haubner, Cloquet, MN)
A: Regarding those videogames you found in the non-compatible cabinets, Steve; that wasn’t what we meant by “interchangeable” games back in the second issue. They’re an example of “rip-off” games of the type discussed in the October issue of EG! Any time you see a game in any cabinet other than its own, you can bet you’re looking at a bootleg coin-op. These pathetic specimens frequently don’t even correctly position the joystick.
The Game Doctor was shocked during a recent business trip when, after arriving at Kennedy Airport, I encountered a row of ten “Super Invader” cabaret-style housings. The only problem was that none of the games inside were Super Invaders. Instead, there were miserable copies of Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Frogger and Galaga!
As to your second question, Coleco has no immediate plans to produce an Intellivision-compatible emulator, but an add-on keyboard peripheral will indeed appear in early ‘83. No price has yet been determined for the keyboard, but the Atari conversion module will probably list for $89.95.
Q: I am planning to buy a home computer, the new VIC-20. I have heard that the Atari-compatible videogame cartridges fit the VIC and I would like to know if this is true, or if you must first purchase an adapter.
I would also like to know if any other company makes VIC cartridges?
(Chip Preacher, Kettering, OH)
A: Sorry, Chip, but not only don’t VCS cartridges fit the VIC-20, but there isn’t even a conversion module available to perform that function. What is compatible, however, are the Atari VCS joysticks—and any other controllers that work on that system, including the gourmet joysticks, command consoles and paddles.
Several computer software companies have begun producing games for the VIC, but they’re all on tape right now, at least until Commodore makes a disc drive available for their computer.
Q: I own an Intellivision game system and I saw in EG that Mattel is producing several cartridges for the Atari system—such as Lock ‘N’ Chase and Frogs & Flies—that are not in the Intellivision catalog. Will these games be made available?
(Matt Newsome, Williamsburg, VA)
A: Both those titles will be available for Intellivisionaries before long. Frogs & Flies will be released under the title Frog Bog and features extra graphic finery while Taito’s coin-op maze-chase will be sold under its original monicker.
Q: I own an Atari VCS (2600) and I was considering selling it to buy the ColecoVision. Would the Coleco system improve the graphics on the VCS games? Also, is it possible for Atari to make a memory expansion unit for the VCS? Will Imagic, Activision, Apollo, etc. produce games for the Atari 5200? One more question—would the three software companies mentioned above make cartridges for the Atari 400/800 if I was to buy one?
(Frank Marcella, no address given)
A: To be honest, Frank, I think another 999,999 friends making a simultaneous 400/800 purchase would have a lot greater impact on those companies’ decision about whether or not to make software for them! But if you do buy one, we’ll be sure to let them know, just in case they were waiting to hear.
Seriously, though, to answer your questions one at a time: No, playing VCS games on a ColecoVision will not enhance their graphics. All the VCS expansion module is, actually, is a tiny 2600 without controller boards—the ColecoVision sticks take over that function—that is overriding all other functions of the main console. Regarding a memory expansion unit for the 2600-doubtful, but don’t forget the RAM-powered Supercharger, which is essentially just what you’re asking for!
Games by Apollo, meanwhile, is already producing cartridges for the 5200, and at least one title should already be in the stores as you read this.
Q: I own a Mattel Intellivision and I’m planning on getting the keyboard. I would like to know if I could program my own games on it.
(Allen Johnson, Mevada, IA)
A: To be perfectly honest, I can’t really prescribe the current Mattel keyboard for would-be game designers. It just does not have the raw materials to produce first-rate action games and high quality audio-graphics.
A little bird, however, has whispered a rumor in our ear to the effect that Mattel will soon be producing a smaller, but totally compatible, version of the Master Component, for which they may design a brand new type of keyboard . So sit tight for a month or so, Allen, and let’s both see what transpires.
Q: As a sports enthusiast, I enjoy playing the sports games on my Atari VCS, but I’m somewhat disappointed in the graphics and play quality of games such as Home Run and Football. Why hasn’t a software company such as Activision or Imagic tried to upgrade the line up of sports cartridges? Will I see new, improved sports games in the future?
(Brian Colter, Dearborn, MI)
A: Actually, Brian, in addition to Atari’s strong Pele’ Soccer, Activision offers such excellent sports games as Tennis, Skiing and Ice Hockey. Not only are all four of these games excellent, they can even be played solitaire. Still, for fans of the more traditional team sports, the brilliant M-Network cartridges for the VCS should more than calm your fevered brow. So insert those carts and play ball!
Q: Is the amount of memory in “K” comparable in both coin-op and micro-computer games?
(Tom Yanichko, Monroeville, PA)
A: Good question! Up until about a year ago, the vast majority of commercial arcade games were a “mere” 16K—8K for the game itself, with an equal number of K for the so-called “attract mode”, the automatic play that’s on screen when the game is not in play.
Today’s coin-ops commonly use a full 48K of program, just as today’s top home micro computers also boast a 48K capability. There are differences, however. Coin-op games, as we’ve said many times, are designed to play one game. They can employ special transparent screen overlays, special voice chips and even tape recordings.
Computers, on the other hand, are, well, computers, and they have to do everything from balancing the checkbook to monitoring the stock market—all in addition to being able to play super videogames. The point where home-generated rasterscan graphics reach coin-op quality, however, seems very close indeed.
Q: I am an Intellivision owner and I would like to know if you have to shut off the computer before putting in or taking out a cartridge. If you don’t, what happens?
(John Robel, Chicago, IL)
A: When a game cartridge is inserted into the slot on a system which is turned on, a circuit has been completed. Breaking that circuit by removing the cartridge without shutting down the power first, causes a shock to the entire system. A series of these-shocks could eventually damage the unit, while simply cutting the power first should indefinitely prolong the life of any microprocessors that might otherwise get thrown out of whack.