Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Archive for the ‘1985’ Category


Posted by Tracy Poff on April 19, 2014

Today, a look at a game I’ve just added to MobyGames: Archery by Brian Blankenship.


Archery is a very simple shooting game. A target descends along the right side of the screen, and you have to push the spacebar at the right moment to let fly your arrow, with the aim of hitting the target as near the center as possible.


You get three shots (in a row) from each of five different starting locations, and shots that hit closer to the center score more points. You can play alone (for high scores, one assumes), against another player, or against the computer.


Interestingly, if you play against the computer, the computer can get a high score, too. Embarrassingly, the computer seems to be rather better at this game than I am.

The author, Brian Blankenship, wrote this game in 1985. On December 31, 2013, he posted the BASIC source code to the game on SourceForge. He posted a few comments on abandonware sites around the net. Here’s what he had to say:

I am honored to find sites like this still showing this game from so long ago. I wrote this while bored, waiting to be laid off from a law firm that was splitting up. I was playing “Track and Field” occasionally at arcades, and could barely make it to the archery part, which inspired me to make this game.

Yes, it is very lame by today’s standards, and in hindsight I could have made a lot of improvements. I tinkered with it while it held my interest, and released it to a few BBS’s in the Indianapolis, IN area. Had no idea it would see somewhat large distribution.

Even if Archery is “lame by today’s standards”, I found it to be quite a fun (though simple) game. I imagine it’d be worth playing with a friend, at least for a few matches.

Posted in 1985, Action, Archery, Decent, DOS, Freeware, Full Review, Shooter | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Towers of Hanoi (1985)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Towers of Hanoi by Daniel Miller is a 1985 Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64.

This is just your standard Tower of Hanoi game, with a couple of differences: first, it doesn’t seem to be able to tell when you’ve won, instead requiring the player to press F1 to quit; second, pressing F1 during play will offer the option of having the computer solve the puzzle.

The animation of the discs moving is quite slow, making it rather boring to solve–it takes fully seven seconds to move a disc from the bottom of the left stack to the bottom of the right stack.

This would just be a rather poor Tower of Hanoi game, worthy of no particular notice, if it weren’t for one thing. Towers of Hanoi was published in the June 1985 issue of Ahoy!, a magazine for Commodore users–in fact, it was mentioned on the cover–and the writeup for the game is really great. It gives Lucas’s story about the priests in the temple moving discs about, counting down to the end of the world; it discusses the number of moves required to solve the puzzle; and it also describes some programming tricks the game uses quite lucidly. It’s a lovely little article, the sort that I really enjoy reading. It’s just a pity it wasn’t attached to a better game.

Posted in 1985, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »


Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Stack by Glenn W. Zuch is a 1985 Tower of Hanoi game for the Commodore 64 with stunningly bad design.

I’ve opened this on a rather strong assertion, but it’s really deserved. For all the games I’ve reviewed so far, the worst thing you could really say about them was that they were unoriginal, boring, and ugly. Certainly flaws, but totally common ones and not entirely the fault of the authors.

Stack takes badness one step further–or a dozen. Behold:

Both the bars and the stacks are numbered, and rather than, as with every previous Tower of Hanoi game, selecting the source and destination stacks, you first select the bar you want to move, and then the stack you want to move it to. So solving the two-bar game, involves moving bar 9 to stack 2, bar 11 to stack 3, and then bar 9 to stack 3. Why weren’t the bars numbered 1 to 5 instead of 3, 5, 7, 9, 11? Who knows. But that’s not even the worst of it. Observe the game when a few moves have been made:

Each time you make a move, Stack redraws the stacks below the old ones, but it doesn’t tell you what the numbers are. So, you’ve got to keep in mind that in this case the medium sized bar is number 9, when you want to move it. How much worse it would be with five bars.

This is a horrible design choice with really no excuse. It’s a poor decision even if you’ve never seen a Tower of Hanoi game before, but by 1985 there were plenty of better examples.

This was a type-in game in the December 1985 issue of RUN (Issue #24), and the description there is priceless. It was written, I presume, by the author of the game, and repeats how easy the game is to play, while the underlying puzzle is difficult–not quite. Best of all is the one-sentence blurb introducing Stack: “Moving a few bars from one pile to another sounds easy, until you try this game.”

Yeah, that sounds about right.

Posted in 1985, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Pharao’s Super Nadeln!

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 31, 2012

Pharao’s Super Nadeln! by Logicre is a 1985 Tower of Hanoi game.

This one’s another simple Tower of Hanoi game, but it’s got some nice features–a timer, selectable number of discs between two and nine, pretty colors, animation, and simple sound effects.

This one takes the crown from Pharaoh’s Needles–the best Tower of Hanoi game so far. Of course, its title is ‘Pharaoh’s Super Needles’, so that’s to be expected, isn’t it?

I realize that, by this point, I’ve been doing little more than briefly comparing games to earlier games, but there’s only so many times I can review the Tower of Hanoi puzzle without simply repeating myself, so please forgive the less-than-self-contained reviews.

Posted in 1985, Commodore 64, Decent, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

First Impressions: 10-Yard Fight

Posted by Tracy Poff on September 24, 2006

It’s an American football game. I don’t know the rules of the game, but, honestly, I doubt that matters for this game.

10-Yard Fight (U) [!]_01

We start the game running down the field, and quickly meet the opposing team:

10-Yard Fight (U) [!]_03

This scene repeats, with the referee running out every few seconds, since I’m tackled every time I move. I don’t think there are any controls except ‘throw ball before running’ and ‘run.’ Once I mastered this fiendishly clever control scheme, it was just a matter of seeing whether my patience or the field ran out first. It turns out that my patience won, so I got the joy of getting to the end–then starting again! Pathetic.

A little searching tells me that if I had been willing to spend a half hour playing this game, I’d have gotten to play defense as well as offense. Fortunately, everyone seems to agree that it’s be stupid to waste that much time on this one, so I’ll bow to the wisdom of the internets.

Verdict: Don’t play this one.

Posted in 1985, American Football, Bad, First Impressions, NES | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »