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Basic: Maintaining variables between programs and after break
Report on: 1990 Chester Workshop   ||   1989 Alternative Micro Show
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This web page contains the text of articles for owners of the TI-99/4a from Issue 28 of TI*MES. It is of use to users of the TI-99/4a emulators.

Items from TI*MES Issue 28, Spring 1990

Passing Variables between programs Console Only Corner by Peter Walker. EXTENDED BASIC.

Passing Variables between programs / Keeping Variables after BREAK

Many "console-only" members do possess Extended Basic and in this issue I will be giving some tips for those members. Apologies for those of you without ExBas: I can only encourage you to purchase this extremely useful module.

The technique I will be describing here can solve two related problems. Whenever a program is started, or CONTINUED after a BREAK, all variables are reset.

Also variables cannot be passed from one program to another it has RUN.
To overcome this, we can exploit character definitions which are not reset between programs and in some cases are not reset at a break.
Consider the two programs below. We wish to pass a character string A$ from PROG1 to PROG2.
If A$ is less or equal to eight characters long, each character can be coded by a pair of Hex characters
within a character definition string DEF$.

This is because each character can take one of 256 ASCII values and two Hex characters (0 to F) gives 16 x 16 = 256 combinations.

DEF$ is always 16 Hex characters long. The loop 120-200 takes each character and converts it to a pair of Hex values B1 and B2.
Subprogram HEX1 converts each value to its Hex equivalent. Line 220 stores the definition as Character 127.
When PROG1 runs PROG2 the CHARPAT sets DEF$. The loop 120-180 converts each of the eight pairs to a single character.

Subprogram HEX2 converts each Hex character back to its decimal value. Longer strings can be handled by splitting over 2 character definitions.
Numbers can be transferred by converting to a string, although some of you might be able to find more efficient ways of coding numbers within the Hex string. For example, the 16 Hex characters in DEF$ could be used to code, say, 13 significant numerics and two exponent characters.

This technique could be used to protect vital data against loss due to an unforeseen break. When the program is restarted, you can include an option to recover data from the character definitions.
Peter Walker

PROG1- the initial program:
100 A$="STRING!"
110 PRINT A$
120 FOR A=1 TO LEN(A$)
130 B$=SEG$ (A$, A, 1)
140 B=ASC (B$)
150 B1=INT (B/16)
160 CALL HEX1(B1,C$)
170 B2=B-16*B1
180 CALL HEX1(B2,D$)
190 DEF$=DEF$&C$&D$
200 NEXT A
210 DEF$=SEG$(DEF$&RPT$ ( "20",8), 1,16)
220 CALL CHAR (127, DEF$)
230 PRINT DEF$
240 RUN "DSK1.PROG2"
1250 SUB HEX1(A,B$)
1260 H$= "0123456789ABCDEF"
1270 B$=SEG$ (H$, A+1 ,1)
1280 SUBEND

PROG2- the routine to extract the string:
100 CALL CHARPAT(127,DEF$)
110 PRINT DEF$
120 FOR A=0 TO 7
130 B1$=SEG$ (DEF$,A+A+1,1)
140 CALL HEX2(B1$,B1)
150 B2$=SEG$ (DEF$, A+A+2, 1)
160 CALL HEX2(B2$, B2)
170 A$=A$&CHR$(16*B1+B2)
180 NEXT A
190 PRINT A$
200 STOP
210 SUB HEX2 (B$,A)
220 H$= "0123456789ABCDEF"
230 A=POS(HS, B$, 1)-1
240 SUBEND



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February Chester/Wrexham Workshop - report WREXHAM/CHESTER WORKSHOP report by MIKE GODDARD
The second Wrexham/Chester workshop was held as promised on Saturday 24th February 1990 at the Plas Madoc Leisure Centre at Wrexham and I think it is fair to say that all those who attended enjoyed themselves.

Stephen Shaw did us proud in demonstrating version 4.23 of Funlweb the latest in the excellent series of utilities by Will and Tony McGovern of Australia.

Mark Wills THE British programmer (well has anyone heard of anymore?) from Shrewsbury demonstrated some very good games he has written: well done Mark keep it up! and yours truly had a Zenoboard working on a caseless console so all the workings can be seen: so far only the clock and memory are in action but they do work very well and its nice to switch the console off and find the clock still running on switch on.


Rambles by Stephen Shaw
The UK version of Computer Shopper gave such a lovely description of the fourth Alternative Micro Show (held in Nov 89) that I must share it with you... "...should have been a hit but it was poorly publicised and held somewhere between Valhalla and Oblivion, Staffs. ... the crowds stayed away... well off the beaten track". And yes, the fifth one is scheduled for the same venue. What started life as a very good idea has been lost- and the next AMS will have the machine it started off as being an alternative to! Yes the IBM PC will be there... pity. It WAS a good idea, just badly put together and terribly publicised.
Mark Wills is interested in hearing from all our members to find out WHY they still use such a vintage computer. (He is also amongst our dwindling number of ACTUAL PROGRAMMERS, take a bow Mark...).

Me first:
Way way back, when I first thought of buying a computer I had a very good think about what I wanted one for, what I might need one for, and so on, prioritising everything. There was only one choice then available- the TI99/4, which at that time had not yet been released in a UK version! I waited for the UK version, and bought a fully expanded system- one of my prime uses was for data and I saw no uture in trying to use a cassette for data!

Many years later, looking back to my original requirements, I still find the TI99/4 (now with an A) to be the best suited to my requirements-
A friendly operating system.
Good educational software.
Very rugged construction.
Good choice of languages to learn and use.
Capable of everything I want! in games and utilities.

The competition is actually very thin on the ground in 1990- Atari ST, Amiga and PC seems to be about it. The PC in many ways would be a very retrograde step, and the ST and Amiga require a dedicated monitor for worthwhile results, and are by no means so friendly or easy to program as the TI.

I really don't fancy trying to write a 500k program, or prepare 256 colour graphics! And a slow machine with limited ram makes you learn to program effectively, to do in 16k or less what other people might take 200k for!

I have a stack of things still to do with this vintage computer, books to read, programs to convert or write, languages to learn and experiment with, many commercial utilities to come to grips with. About another twenty years worth I guess...

Why move on to fresh pastures when this one still has so much to offer!

[That was written in 1990. This is added to the Web in 2013 and my TI99/4a and its Epson FX80 printer continue to function! even if most of my computing is now on a PC - including the use of emulators of the TI99/4A].


A magazine recently commented on crossover of technical words into general use, and mentioned a usage my own 6 year old makes use of... the concept of "rewinding" your memory - rather more effective and positive than simply forgetting (if you don't play back) and an interesting way of remembering something (if you play back).

The magazine also mentioned the verb "flame" which refers to a simple innocent comment generating a massive overkill in verbal response- a destruction (verbally) of the poor offender. This form of somewhat anti-social behaviour is apparently common on bulletin boards - possibly as a result of the rather tenuous link between individuals.

I have commented lightly on some rather yucky comments made in various user group newsletters in the past, and checking back I find that those who have lashed out have in ALMOST every case been heavy bulletin board users. So perhaps using a bulletin board creates conditions liable to generate undue touchiness and once generated this form of behaviour spills out into the real world... perhaps bulletin boards should carry health warnings....

There is an interesting correlation- the nicest, friendliest, helpfullest TI users I have come across have absolutely nothing to do with bulletin boards.

Before I get flamed may I add that I am not knocking bulletin boards merely commenting on something which IS happening, and your comments are welcome, especially if you use bulletin boards and have been flamed- or have flamed someone else (did you realise how severe you were being?).


Long before 800x800 pixel animated colour graphics arrived I queried the connection between computers and pornography and was totally ignored... so does anyone have any comment on this new topic!
Educational Modules EDUCATIONAL MODULES

Trying to decide which educational modules to buy is made a little difficult as the US educational system differs from ours a little (what is 5th grade!) and also some modules cover a very wide age range.

The following is indicative only, and in general, ages quoted are POSSIBLY a little older than they might be. For reading titles, a fairly basic grasp of reading is required, and the starting age will vary from child to child, perhaps more so than for the math titles.

UP to age FIVE, you can start with EARLY LEARNING FUN and EARLY LOGO LEARNING FUN. For the second module- which requires no expansion and no Logo, you will find it useful to make up some "cue cards".

If you have or can find the MBX Expansion unit, three other modules are suitable, but these REQUIRE the MBX Unit- Terry Turtles Adventures, I'm Hiding, and Honey Hunt. If you can find it, SUPER SKETCH goes down well, and to a lesser extent in this age range, TI ARTIST(Disk).

From Age FIVE:
EARLY READING, READING FUN(Requires speech synth), READING RAINBOWS, STORY MACHINE, and SOUND TRACK TROLLEY(Requires MBX Unit).
HANGMAN. SPEAK AND SPELL(not a module, a disk, requires speech synth); NUMBER READINESS, NUMBER MAGIC, NUMERATION 1, ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION 1 AND 2. ALIEN ADDITION. LOGO II (Requires 32k ram).
VIDEO GRAPHS. PICTURE PARTS., FACE MAKER. STORY MACHINE
TI Artist (Disk) is also highly suitable, as is Super Sketch if you can find it. A-MAZE-ING is popular in the age range.

From Age EIGHT:
BEGINNING GRAMMER, READING ROUNDUP, READING FUN, READING TRAIL, SCHOLASTIC SPELLING 3 AND 4, MULTIPLICATION 1, ALLIGATOR MIX, METEOR MULTIPLICATION, MINUS MISSION (last three could be used earlier).

From Age TEN:
READING RALLY, READING CHEERS, READING POWER, READING ADVENTURES, READING FLIGHT, READING WONDERS, SCHOLASTIC SPELLING 5 & 6, WORD RADAR, WORD INVASION, DIVISION 1, DEMOLITION DIVISION, NUMERATION 2, FRACTIONS 2, DRAGON MIX, PYRAMID PUZZLER, STAR MAZE, NUMBER BOWLING, SPACE JOURNEY. MUSIC MAKER. BEGINNERS BASIC TUTOR. Most of these could probably be used earlier.

From Age 14 (or much earlier!):
VIDEO CHESS; TOUCH TYPING TUTOR; PHYSICAL FITNESS (Not before 12); HEIGHT CONTROL AND NUTRITION; TEACH YOURSELF BASIC, TEACH YOURSELF EXTENDED BASIC

For most ages- say 5-14:
ADDISON WESLEY COMPUTER MATH GAMES 2 AND 6. (There were no others!).
ALL MILLIKEN MATH SERIES: Percents, Decima1s(req speech); Addition,Subtraction,Laws of Arithmatic, Multiplication, Equations, Numeration, Division, Fraction Measurenent Formulas, integers - NOTE: A lot of these titles are VERY similar to other TI titles listed above! but are QUITE different.
Some of the READING ... titles were released privately by the company that wrote them, AFTER TI pulled out, and are thus very hard to get hold of. The MBX Unit similarly was released after the pull out and is fairly hard to obtain.

Good games of strategy are Yahtzee, Mancala(Disk), Othello, Connect Four

Stephen Shaw Dec 89.


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Module descriptions / reviews by Stephen Shaw MODULE Reviews

As many modules remain available, and it has been some considerable time since reviews of modules appeared, I am taking up a little space to look at some modules.

A few modules are going to be very hard to find, but may appear from time to time as second hand items- which you may pass up if you don't know about them. The first module comes into this 'rare' category...

MODULE REVIEW- DRIVING DEMON - FUNWARE MODULE. Driving Demon, like most Funware modules, starts off fairly easy and gets progressively tougher as you go along.

Your task is to drive a car, which is at the bottom of the screen, and can be driven left or right. Speed is controlled with joystick up/down, and fire changes gears upwards (auto-down).

Perils to avoid are: Cars to overtake- you NEED to overtake cars in order to extend the limited time you have available! These have a habit of wobbling around the screen a bit- and when two come down screen side by side, you need to think fast! Cars come down the screen towards you at varying speeds. but you can control that speed by speeding up or slowing down yourself using joystick up/down.

Oil spills- these can make you spin off the track.You have a warning beep before these appear- first the beep, then a car to overtake, then the oil patch.

Overheating- failing to change up despite the red marker and warning squeals

And of course driving off the track!

You have a time limit, which goes down with time and up with each car passed You have a limited number of cars to write off which are increased with super high scores!

This is an enjoyable game. Not too demanding, but requiring fast reactions for those really high scores. Graphics are slightly blocky but adequate, and control is good.


MODULE REVIEW- JAWBREAKER Jawbreaker - TI MODULE PHM3194

Written by Sierra On Line- then just starting, now famous for PC Adventure games such as Leisure Suite Larry.

Jawbreaker is very nearly a variant on that old favorite Pacman, with just a touch of humour thrown in! The screen is divided into horizontal passages, divided by lines which have open doors which slide backwards and forwards. Thus to pass from the top row to the next you must move to (or wait for) a moving door before you can pass down.

YOU are a set of teeth, eagerly munching on boiled sweets, dead easy so far huh! Pity about those tooth despoiling baddies who roll along trying to make your teeth fall out!

Your defences are to avoid them! and Go to one of the four power points in the four screen corners, then you have a limited time to eradicate the baddies (temporarily) and roll up the score (see, just like pac man!).

If you manage to clear a screen, there is personal hygiene to be taken care of and on screen comes a tooth brush which will give your teeth a rub before you move on to a slightly faster screen!

There are also bonus items which appear for a little while in the middle of the screen. The pac man cherries would be more appropriate perhaps than gulping an umbrella and what have you...

Not too original, graphics are adequate but not mind blowing (apart from the opening title screen, music can get tedious! - this module is made more effective I feel by that toothbrush!

It is fun lo play, and given rather fewer pills to eat than pacman, is probably easier for younger players. Still a challenge to get a really high score though!


MODULE REVIEW- MINER 49er Miner 2049er - TIGERVISION.

Another rarity. this one was a sideways module which plugged into the RIGHT HAND SLOT of the console.

This one is a platform game- Bounty Bob has to cover every bit of floor while avoiding the perils of the mine- apparently radioactive mutants whose touch is death!

He can however eradicate them by first touching a variety of treasures with with the mine is littered (for a limited period the monsters can then be wiped out, when they look to me very like walking floppy disks!).

There are ladders to go up and down, slides to slide down- not always deliberately!- even LIFTS (to use a lift, enter it and press a number button, 1 is ground floor while 4 is top floor).

There are a large number of variations on how to move around! You can jump across small distances, but trying to jump down too far tends to be fatal.

Positioning of the character for some jumps is pixel precise, which is how some of the later screens become very hard indeed. You score for each element of floor covered, and for each treasure taken, and there is a counting down bonus awarded at the completion of each screen.

Graphics are reasonable, control sometimes seems a little too precise! and action is fast enough. When you hit a problem area it can be VERY frustrating as you must solve the problem before you can go any farther.


MODULE REVIEW- MUNCHMOBILE- Munchmobile - TEXAS INSTRUMENTS PHM3146

This module is relatively unknown but still available, and is one which I personally find rather cute to play.

The basic idea is that of scenery scrolling down the screen while you drive along it...

Your car is MOST unusual- it has hands! which you operate to pick up a number of treasures, including extra fuel to keep you going! You MUST keep to the road. At cross roads you must move the car not only left and right, but up and down in order to avoid hitting traffic going across your road! Jump the traffic lights at your own risk.

To pick up an item- not easy- the car has two eyes, only one of which is open at a time. Press fire and an arm comes out of the side with the open eye. Hold fire down until the arm is extended far enough, and when over the item, press again to retract the arm.

To make the are come out on the opposite side of the car, press fire to extend the arm a little, then press fire to retract it and hold fire down until are is extending on opposite side!

Your arm can collide with bushes and waste bins, this delays matters a little but is not fatal. Watch out going over the covered bridge, there are a couple of cars coming the opposite way to avoid.

The graphics on this game are blocky, but adequate. The car is CUTE. There are several different roads to traverse, getting harder as you go along. And of course you must watch your petrol! I like this one. (Driving into the garage at the end of the road can be tricky!)


.
Module Review - Sneggit SNEGGIT - TI MODULE PHM3145

Released in the second half of 1983 - the final year- this is an odd module which generates some very mixed feelings indeed- either satisfaction or total derision. The name does not help, being derived from "snake eat", yuck.

In essence you operate a chicken which has the job of collecting eggs, scattered all over the screen, putting them inside cosy nests, and waiting for them to hatch- when they do a little chick flies out (very advanced chicks) and promptly metamorphoses back into an egg somewhere else on the screen.

There are a number of obstacles on the screen which you have to go around. Picking the egg up and placing it in the nest does require a little care as regards positioning, and you can smash an egg if you are too heavy handed.

On to that title... you are fighting a losing battle with a snake, slithering around the screen, eating eggs, whether they are in a nest or otherwise. The snake will generally avoid you and you can use the hen to direct it away from a nest or an egg- but beware, you can trap the snake into eating YOU!

A very strange game indeed with fairly static and unimaginative graphics, and fairly limited strategic play. However, the concept is fairly unique (I can't think of anything like it!) and if you can find it at the right price it is worth taking a look at!


Module Review - St Nick ST NICK- FUNWARE MODULE (Fairly rare).

Lovely anmlated opening sequence, and a pretty difficult game, played out on a layout of several rooms (a simple maze I suppose!). Two goblins wander around dropping toys, then when they have finished it is your job to pick the toys up. Easy huh?

Two difficulties: There are two witches trying to catch you. And there are four different types of toy which MUST be collected in a specified order (eg pick up all the trumpets first, then all the balls...) and if you pick up a wrong one, all action stops while the goblins come out and drop MORE toys.

There is also a clock running against you! The goblins also drop the letters S A N and T from time to time, and if you can pick up enough to spell SANTA's name, the witches freeze for a while, and you can pick up ANY toys regardless of order.

As the game progresses there are more and more toys to pick up, and it really does get very very hard indeed!


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Module Review - VIDEO CHESS MODULE REVIEW- VIDEO CHESS- TI MODULE - PHH 3008

(Note- I am not a chess player!)
A fairly difficult module to get hold of, this is an early module, based upon ideas by British Chess Master David Levy, who found working with TI so inspiring he vowed never to touch them again, and went on to make his own home computer, the Enterprise (remember it?).

The module operates, at its HIGHEST level. at about the level of a mediocre county player, and as such is more suited to more inexperienced players.

The board display is clear, and clocks are provided for each player. Optional hints are available and will be given at the level of play the computer is then using. You may also swap sides, and if you wish two players may play together (eg using the computer as a display and clock).

Castling is supported. It is possible to set up a board position instead of the standard start positions. and you may save and load gases to/from CASSETTE ONLY.
(A disk utility BEYOND VIDEO CHESS is on sale to allow disk storage, Epson printouts and joystick use).

This is really the only practical Chess program for the TI99/4A, TI owners who play chess occaisionally will find this module of some interest if they can find it!


Module Review - AMBULANCE AMBULANCE- FUNWARE MODULE

(Hard to find). This is a two-screen game in which you drive an ambulance around town to pick up casualties and deliver them either to the hospital or to a casualty station (which may only be used once per screen).

The hospital is on the other side of a fairly busy railway! and there are other cars on the road you must avoid.

Pulling up to pick up a casualty can be tricky but is quickly mastered. Once the alarm sounds you have a time limit to get the injured to medical treatment.

The game ends after either you run out of ambulances following collisions, or you lose too many patients due to being too slow!

In common all Funware modules the game becomes faster and faster as you go along. Quite an interesting game, original in concept, and interesting to play. If YOU can find it, go for it!


Module Review - Barrage BARRAGE- DATABIOTICS MODULE

A newish module, not easy to find (Tex Comp have it at $17). This is an EXCELLENT copy of an old arcade game you may have seen.

From above fall meteorites which you must blast before they hit various vehicles below. You move a cross-hair on the screen and from one of two laser bases a laser beam shoots out- not instantaneous so you have to fire in front of your target. Action is fast and gets faster and faster and faster.

Points are awarded for each meteorite shot down, with bonus points for each vehicle left at the end of each round- and bonus vehicles are added as the score mounts.

Bonus points are awarded for getting more than one meteorite with one shot- as they explode, they can trigger other meteorites which are within explosion range!

If you can find a good trackerball you can emulate the arcade game even more closely! This is a first class fast game which will keep you on your toes. Highly recommended at any price.


Module Review - Anteater ANTEATER- ROMOX MODULE
Another newish and hence scarce module which you will enjoy.

You operate an anteater who must collect eggs from screen top left, and transfer then to your nest at screen bottom right. Easy.

Pity about the anteaters which are chasing you - more of them with each level. The screen starts as solid earth which you must tunnel through, gaining points for each bit of tunnel.

There are a few rocks as well. The anteaters will ONLY run through tunnels. You can trap then by creating dead ends for them to run into. You can also tunnel under stones so that the stone falls just as an anteater passes underneath (bye bye anteater!).

A fun game which gets progressively harder as the number of anteaters keeps increasing.


Module Review - Burger Time BURGER TIME- TI MODULE PHM3233

What an excellent module this one is! As master chef in your favorite fast food joint all you have to do is bake a few burgers. Dead easy.

Pity about those rotten (salmonella active?) pickles and eggs that are out to get you. Once they touch you, you meet a very nasty animated end!

Your weapons are a limited supply of pepper which allows you to pass them without harm (only efiective for a limited time once thrown), and the possibility of dropping bits of burger on to them, or for a really good bonus, getting then to step onto a bit of burger just as you drop it down.

The baddies in this game walk all over the place to get you, along platforms and up and down ladders!

Burgers are built up in columns, as you walk over each bit it falls down- if the space below is empty. From time to time bonus objects appear on screen which you can collect for more pepper. The coffee cup appears to be invisible in the module version.

There are several screen layouts for you to work out how to drop all the bits without being trapped by the creatures, but after a time it does become a little monotonous. Great for initial play but not really a long term player. Get it if the price is right, the animation is fun, and being attacked by a fried egg is a different experience!


MODULE REVIEW- BURGER BUILDER BURGER BUILDER- DATABIODTICS MODULE.

A different burger builder game with the same essential idea but simpler graphics and no animation to speak of. Try TexConp at $17.
The baddies here just move at random along the various platforms, and are not overtly hostile, just don't touch one!

You move from level to level by going up and down ladders and can be totally safe by staying on a ladder exactly midway between levels, as the wicked pickles can't get you there!

You must of course clobber them by dropping bits of burger on to them. Really only one screen on this game, so a little less fun than Burgertime, and not as long lasting pleasure. Originally disk based game at $10- this User Group has purchased copying rights to the disk version.


MODULE REVIEW- BIG FOOT BIG FOOT- MBX/TI MODULE

Try LL Connor at $l5+post. This is one of the modules produced by Milton Bradley for use with their MBX Expansion Console.

If you have a speech synth there is good speech. If you have an (optional) MBX unit, you have the speech, and can use the special MBX joystick. The MBX unit really IS optional with this one!!!!

In Big Foot, you have to climb a mountain, collect treasures, and cage a Bigfoot, who is chucking snowballs at you! There is also an eagle ever ready snatch you from your rope ladder...

You must climb up rope ladders, which you throw, and can climb down them or jump down one level only. You alternate picking up food and gold until all are gone, then head for the mountain top, and once there lower a cage onto BigFoot by moving the joystick forward (or pressing E, keyboard can be used too!), then lift it off screen by pulling back.

You lose a life by being hit by a snowball- you can shelter under some ledges, on a rope if required.

You lose a life by being carried off by an eagle- you can avoid this by noticing that the eagle will carry away the leftmost rope on the level you are on, so just throw up a dummy rope, then another to its right, and use that.

You lose a life by falling more than one level

There are six mountains, each with their own pattern of ledges, offering different strategic problems. Sound effects are good if you have speech synth OR MBX Unit.


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MODULE REVIEW- BUCK ROGERS PLANET OF ZOOM BUCK ROGERS - TI MODULE

This is a license from Sega. In this game which can be played using joysticks or keyboard, there are four screens.

The first two screens involve flying over a planets surface, with good 3D effects which make it unwise to play the game after a large trifle, as all that high speed swerving may overcome you..

In screen one, the task is simple, just fly between two posts as they come towards you, growing from tiny dots on the horizon. Easy. Just don' collide with any.

After flying through enough, the hoppers come to get you, and you must shoot them without colliding with them or the still present posts. The hoppers move left and right AND up and down, and you must be in the right position and at the right height to get them- NOT too easy with an angled view of a 3d world.

Pass this test and zoom up into space for some target practice with the alien saucers. DO NOT collide with these shifty blighters! Get them all (and if you have enough fuel left!) have a go at the Mother Ship, which is relatively easy to blast.

Then do it all again but faster and with the posts closer together.


MODULE REVIEW- CENTIPEDE CENTIPEDE - ATARISOFT MODULE

A SUPER copy of an old arcade game. Blast away the obstacles AND those creepers coming down the screen and the bugs which sometimes run across the screen...

You move around the bottom part of the screen, and fire and fire away!

Screen action is fast and furious. This one really is a classic, and will probably give many hours of totally frustrating play. My top score is a quite appalling 19694, which I am sure you can beat (let me know!).


MODULE REVIEW- ALPINER ALPINER- TI MODULE PHM3056.

The fore-runner for Bigfoot in someways. in Alpiner you have several mountains to climb, of ever increasing size. It is better to have a speech synth to enjoy the effects of bumping into a skunk. and to receive due warning of various perils, which include snakes, bears, skunk, snakes, falling rocks, fires and so on. easy peasy for an experienced mountain climber...

Unlike BigFoot which has the whole mountain on screen, in Alpiner the screen scrolls downwards, allowing for really chunky graphics. You can incidentally hit the bear- there is a tiny FLASHING target on his paw, and if you hit it when it is on you score highly (and deserve to. Hit it when off and its down the hill you go!). Fun for a while!


MODULE REVIEW- CAR WARS- CAR WARS- TI MODULE PHM3054

This is a fairly good copy of what was once a favorite arcade game. The track you drive along is made up of concentric squared rings, scattered with dots which you must clear by driving over them. YOU race anticlockwise, and your computer competitor(s) drive clockwise trying to collide with you. You must use your skill in changing tracks and speed (two available) to avoid these collisions.

Your initial selection is from three different starting speeds for your car and three choices of how early the computer car's speed doubles.

JOYSTICK IS REQUIRED for this module. After each screen is cleared it is on to a different set of opponents, starting in different positions- I have only made it to clear two screens so I don't know if there is more than three different starting positions! An excellent simulation of an arcade classic you will like or not.


MODULE REVIEW CHISHOLM TRAIL CHISHOLM TRAIL- TI MODULE PHM 3110

I've read the manual, I've played the game (sort of) and still I don't really know what is going on with this one, or how to play it.

Nevertheless I have managed a high score of 2700, I just don't know how! Running around the screen there are things to shoot at which shoot back. It is all very obscure and symbolic, not at all my sort of game. Perhaps someone out there understands and enjoys playing this game and could write to tell us about it? It isn't one I enjoy.

[I revisited this in 2013, it is a very fast shooter not unlike Tombstone City but much faster and much harder and no obvious strategy. I still find it rather mindless! The manual says you control a steer with a limited number of shots to shoot wranglers and rustlers, who shoot back. The screen display seems to have little to do with this description except that different blocks shoot continuosly whilst moving. I obviously cannot play the game - while I can kill some baddies, they always destroy my four gun toting cows before I kill all of them].


MODULE REVIEW- CONNECT FOUR CONNECT FOUR- MB-TI MODULE- PHM3038

Can anyone be unaware of the Milton Bradley game of the same name? In which players take it in turns to drop counters down columns to try to get four in a row?

This is the classic MB game, with one or two variants thrown in, especially for two players. You can happily play against the computer, which at the highest level is relatively hard to beat!
If you like the game, why not try the module? If you have never played it, it is slightly harder than noughts and crosses, but is otherwise very similar- this module version even marks the pieces 0 and X for you!
Good quiet game for those relaxing moments and worth it if you can buy it cheap!


MODULE REVIEW- ESPIAL- Espial - TIGERVISION MODULE.

This is a rarity. It is a sideways module which plugs into the right hand port of the console rather than the usual module port. Espial is an excellent game with two major drawbacks- it insists on joystick 2, which is difficult if you only have one which cannot be reconfigured, and the colour choices are appalling, resulting in a lack of contrast in both colour and monochrome which makes the game fairly difficult. As far as I can tell there is nothing actually rendered invisible...

You control a spaceship at screen bottom, and shoot alien ships coming from screen top before they shoot you. You must also blast alien bases by dropping bombs on then, which you do by placing a cross hair over then and firing.

The fire button both fires at approaching alien ships AND bombs bases. Quite a number of screens and fairly difficult in play, but once you get used to so little screen contrast it is fairly playable.


MODULE REVIEW- FACE CHASE FACE CHASE - ? MODULE.

If you see this one, which is fairly rare, don' bother too much, there is a basic flaw in the game design which enables you to clock up very high scores without any risk at all.

The basic idea is good- you collect treasures and return them to your base while avoiding nasty things. You score by collecting treasures but ALSO merely by moving. Just move back and forth a space or so and watch the score mount...


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MODULE REVIEW- FACE MAKER FACE MAKER TI MODULE PHM3177.

Not too sure if this one belongs here, as TI listed it in the EDUCATIONAL section. By Spinnaker, the TI version (of several) seems to have been the best, with better graphics and more choices.

In essence you build up a face (like Potato Man!) from selections of hair, eyes, ears, nose, mouth- and two skin colours- and then select from ....

Program face- an interesting introduction to the notion of programming! Using listed abbreviations you animate the face which can smile, frown, wink, cry, stick its tongue out, waggle its ears, and just wait!

PLAY A GAME!!! Which is why I list it here- the game is a SIMON type echo-game, using the face and its various animations. Start off with one element and if you get it right go on to two then three and so on. For example, the computer winks, winks, cries, frowns- then you press the appropriate keys to do the same. Not too hard with four items, but as it gets longer, can you keep everything in mind! Definitely the best SIMON-type program ever. Not sure if you can train your short term memory to be more retentive, but ii you can try this program for the job!


MODULE REVIEW- FATHOM FATHOM TI MODULE PHM 3222

One of the very last modules TI released, this is quite a hard one, which makes you work very hard indeed to get to what I feel is a distinct downer of an ending. _

You play the part of a seagull or a dolphin.

As a seagull, enter clouds and pick up treasures to make up keys.

As a dolphin go for those seahorses for more keys.

Got them all? OK now find your way around a seaweed maze to discover and free a mermaid. If you have a speech synth you are lucky to get a very offhand 'Thanks mortal' as your entirely ungrateful mermaid swims off.

Now I know it had to be a U-cert module, but is that really the best ending after all that work? You then go round again at a higher level to set the silly creature free again.

Provided you don't worry too much about the game end, the actual game is quite different, as you press FIRE to fly, trying to stay on the screen and avoid various hazards.

You need to go through three clouds on a screen to collect a key - fly off the screen and if you haven't flown through the three clouds, you start that screen again.

The seaweed maze- a downward maze for a change- can he hard. As you know, dolphins are air breathers! so time is limited. Nice for a change but not one that interested me for more than a couple of days.



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