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This text is from the magazine from Parco Electric in Honiton, Devon, - issue 4 - undated but 1985. A magazine for owners of the Texas TI-99/4A Home Computer, still relevant for anyone with one of the TI99/4a emulations such as MESS. The lengthy four column listings have been omitted.

Jump to:    Programming: Using DEF function
Joystick not responding? |    Review: Module: Tunnels of Doom |    Cassette: Oldies but Goodies 1

TI99/4A - Parco Magazine - Issue 4 - 1985

Editorial from Issue 4.


Most of us probably thought that the decision of Texas Instruments to cease production of the 99/4a was a clear signal that the Beginning of the End was nigh.

Well now, here we are - a year and a half on - still going strong, and as far as this publication is concerned, on the increase. Perhaps it was just the End of the Beginning!

What is clear is that YOU have fallen hopelessly in love with your computer. Just what it is about the TI that grabs you so completely is hard to say. Obviously it has its good points; dare I say it also has its weak areas. What IS interesting is that the real pulling power of the 99/4a probably can't be defined in terms of tangible features.

Whatever the attraction, one fact is sure - it is strong enough to have persuaded many thousands of users that it still deserves pride of place in the home. Strong enough to have thwarted the attempts of a myriad of other 'current' machines to usurp its rightful place.

Just in case you need reminding, not only does this wonderful computer regard itself as a relatively permanent fixture, we also are STILL HERE! Even though otner comrades have yielded to the misconception that the days are over, we would need a lot of convincing that they are anything more than slightly numbered.

The future has more to do with mentalities rather than practicalities, and we should know better than anyone right now.

For the sake of those who tend toward pessimism, we have saved some bad news. The price per issue has had to he increased to GBP 2.25 (due to rising costs), but having said that, we do encourage you to take the popular option of ordering a subscription, which is now at a special rate of GBP 12 per annum.

Well, finally we want to thank all of you for supporting this magazine to date. We hope you enjoy it, and that you will remember to provide plenty of feedback in the days to come.


Look out for the June issue of Computer and Video Games. It contains a 'Texas Reviews Special' which comprises no less than THIRTEEN rave reviews of TI software. Each item is marked out of ten on four counts: Graphics, Sound, value and Playability. Nice to see that there is nothing less than seven to be found here, and one module even gets the Torvill and Dean treatment!

I was informed by a member of C/VG staff that they are considering a change of name to 'Computer and Parco Games', since they cannot remember one supplier ever commanding an entire section of reviews before.

Joystick problems GUILTY: ALPHA LOCK

Have you recently had your joystick movement blighted?

Have you been afflicted in such a way as to have upward motion prevented?

Well, we believe that this may be the culprit. Yes, this harmless looking character - Alfer Lock - has the power to ruin the prospects of any unsuspecting reader, if he is not kept under control.

For your information, we will describe nere the events that usually occur when he is threatening, so that you may see the tell-tale signs, and so avoid failing foul of him.

Firstly, he is moody. He will get depressed. In fact this is usually the case, and under normal circumstances one would worry if he were not down. Since his last release he has been in a more or less permanent state of depression and has had little or no effect on events around him. But get your joystick out and he really puts the mockers on things! He simply does not want people using them while he is down.

There seems to be no compromise folks. If you desire to use your joystick, you have no choice but to ensure that he is not depressed at the time. If he is 'up' he will allow you all the freedom of movement you desire but its worth remembering that when you are not using it you are better off when he is depressed.

Don't be fooled citizens. He may appear harmless, but he has caused untold misery and frustration in many homes across the nation, and we simply cannot tell where or when he will strike next.

You have been warned

Using the TI99-4/a We all know that the 99/4a is a great computer for game-addicts, but also we know for a fact that many of you nave put your machine to other, more serious and varied uses. We really would like to know if yours is a case in point. Perhaps you use it for business purposes, maybe it controls a burglar alarm, could it be that you have rigged it to wake, wash, shave and dress you in the morning? Please let us know of any interesting ways that you have used your TI, no matter now trivial.

Our thanks go to Andy Cory for getting the ball rolling in this issue. Read on and find out how the TI has become a LIFE SAVER!

- You may well wonder what on earth is the basis for such a remark. As a District Staff Officer at Brixham Maritime Rescue Sub Centre (H.M. Coastguard Rescue HQ for S.Devon and SE Cornwall) and an owner of a Tl 99/Aa for two years, l have been keen to see how computers can be applied within an emergency service like ours. As well as being the sole coordinators of all maritime and coastal search and rescue measures for UK waters, we expend considerable effort at Boat Shows etc. encouraging safer actions from the public when they visit our coasts or venture afloat - prevention being so much better than the cure.

Along with one or two other Coastguards and micros, l was able to help demonstrate the potential computers have in planning operational searches - a manual operation which may at present take hours can he done in minutes with computer help. In fact I still use my original demo program for training and practical purposes.

Interestingly as a large proportion of this program negates the need for chart plotting, it lends itself to numerous navigational and position fixing applications for yachtsrnen etc...

On the PR front my Rescue Game program (TI 99/a ExBas) not only saved our publicity department considerable funds but, initially at Southampton Boat Show and latterly at London International Boat Show (Jan 85), proved one of the star attractions of H.M. Coastguards display stand. So effective was tne game that we are now considering putting the original package into our mobile display vehicles and providing an enhanced (+32k RAM Disk) and more adaptable game for our larger more prestigious events.

I am at present using my TI to look into Database possibilities and now tne TI's powerful string handling capabilities may be of assistance on our administration front with storage and retrieval of statistics and calculations for control of all Coastguard resources.

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[2016 note: Firstly Parco was a retailer - these reviews were to sell goods. They may not be entirely objective!]

Tunnels of Doom TUNNELS OF DOOM - review

[2016- Despite Tunnels of Doom only receiving 3/5 in an independant review, it has stood the test of time and is a great favourite.]

Eric Seablade squared up to the Zombie. With sword in hand he chose to fight rather than to negotiate or run. Time was running out, and he still had to rescue the King. A check on the monster status report revealed that his adversary had a weakness - a low mobility factor. A walkover it was not, though. A battle of wits and strength ensued, and only after using his Lightning Rod did Eric emerge triumphant. He used one of his special powers to check for secret doors in the tunnel ahead, and having found one, used another special power to listen for hidden dangers. Who could say what lay behind the door ...... ??

We are often asked to describe new modules as they appear. TUNNELS OF DOOM is one that frequently crops up - the truth is that it is hardly new. It appears that a combination of spasmodic scarcity, comparitively high price, and lack of publicity has left this rather brilliant work out of the public eye. The funny thing is that these elements have now contributed to the modules' belated fame, and we find what amounts to a cult following.

To capture on the written page the essence of the game is well nigh impossible, so here I am - prize mug - trying to do just that.

Imagine 10 floors (that is the maximum option), each with a maze of corridors and rooms to explore. Down there - somewhere! - are the objects of your quest, and on the way there will be a variety of challenges and surprises to cope with. Not such an unusual scenario, maybe, but the sheer complexity in the structure of the game, and the spectrum of options available to you are guaranteed to keep you totally absorbed.

Appeal is increased by the fact that this is NOT just a text adventure. Certainly choices must be made, and strategy IS crucial, but at all times there is graphic representation of what is happening. 3D views of corridors (movement here is not sluggish as in some TI Basic '3D mazes'), status reports, maps, plan views of rooms; all maintain interest and bring you into the situation. Monsters and adversaries appear on the screen, and battle scenes are enacted with moving characters, weapons and missiles.

Right from the start there are choices to make - your 'party' may comprise up to four, and there is a range of character types to select from, each having their own unique characteristics and abilities. I will not provide here any more in the way of detail regarding the focal points and personalities of the game. This is partly to let you find out for yourself, partly because having begun I would not know when to stop.

Suffice to say that Tunnels of Doom Compares to Invaders in the same way that a T-Bone Steak does to Corned Beef - to be taken seriously, to be savoured, and so much more to get your teetn into!

[2016 update- the module used an external database on tape or disk which contained the "scenario" of characters and objects. This permitted users (using a third party editor) to create their own adventure skins, based on their favorite cartoon or tv character or legendary story. Many of these third party datasets have been secured for use in the TI emulators. So popular is the game that a java version has been written with new symphonic music.]

Oldies But Goodies 1 [2016- the product name was actually OLDIES BUT GOODIES 1]


In this day of snappy-titled and fast-action games, we are tempted to ignore the cheaper, less attractive sounding software. Often a wise policy, but you know there are some bargains around, and some bear looking at. Because atthough novelty value is minimal, the games have very often stood the proverbial test of time as popular family favourites.

OLDIES and GOODIES - a case in point. This comes as five programs on a cassette complete with manual up to Texas Instruments usual standards.

The first game to load from the cassette goes by the name of WORD SCRAMBLE. This is a one or two player game, the object being to unscramble the word being displayed. There are various options to choose from including the number of letters in the word, entering your name, and the speed that the counter counts down. As you have probably guessed this game is against the clock and does get rather frustrating when you are 'racking' your brain to try to find the correct vvord.

Next on the tape was, guess what, NUMBER SCRAMBLE. This is similar to the old favourite, the 15 puzzle, where you have to slide tiles about to place them in order. However, the computer version has two games: a match game where the numbers are prearranged or a random game where the numbers are located randomly. There are options for two players and with the different options not a bad implementation.

Next was BIORYTHYM not quite a game, but is supposed to tell you what your emotions, intelligence, and physical fitness factors will be on the required day. This was quite good fun today - I should have stayed in bed. The graphics reminded me of three thermometers and display a month's results at one time. [2016: Quite a fad in the 70's / early 80's, this was a pseudoscience, the concept came from Fliess, a patient of Freud. You can still find websites to give your readings. Slightly wilder than horoscopes...]

FACTOR FOE- the next game- could be called more of an educational game. In this one the computer lists a series of numbers and you get points for the number and the factors of that number. If you can't remember what a factor is it's a number that will divide evenly into another number. Not only have you that, but this game requires quite a bit of thinking about otherwise the computer of your opponent ends up with all the numbers that don't have factors.

Lastly, probably the most famous game around, TIC-TAC-TOE. This of course needs no introduction, a quite good representation of O's and X's. As I found out this is one game where a draw is the usual outcome of the match, except perhaps for the younger folk. The graphics are large and chunky and would make a good introduction to the young un's, or for just passing some time.

Although none of the games are entirely original there are 5 games of good standard, and most of them can be played by one or two players. This is a perfect cassette for those rainy days and should provide a good few hours of entertainment. I think for 5 games at a low price you can't go wrong, can you?

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Using DEF What is the advantage and purpose of the DEFine function? e.g. suppose I want to define PI as 3.149 etc
Why should I define it, rather than simply create a variable with it?
eg. 100 PI=3.149

Well, we thought that this function was fairly well covered in the User Guide, albeit after some serious head-scratching.

The fundamental principle to understand is that DEF really has its purpose where your program has variables that are interdependent, and where you want to DEFine a specific relationship between them, even though their own values may change during the running of the program.

Looking at the following two short routines you will see the difference.

In the first, we start be saying that A=B+C. but because A has a zero value at that point, so it remains. However, in the sécomd instance. we DEFine that whatever values B and C subsequently have in the program, A will always hold the value of the sum of them.

If you run the two programs you will see the results printed, yet that little DEF is the only difference between them!

100 A=B+C
110 B=1
120 C=2
130 PRINT "A=";A
140 B=2
150 C=3
160 PRINT "A=";A

100 DEF A=B+C
110 B=1
120 C=2
130 PRINT "A=";A
140 B=2
150 C=3
160 PRINT "A=";A

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