Too Much Free Time

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

Posts Tagged ‘type-in games’

Space Lanes

Posted by Tracy Poff on June 6, 2012

Space Lanes is a Commodore 64 and VIC-20 collect ’em up by Robert Alonso.

In the future, Earth is in dire need of fuel, and it’s your job to pilot your spaceship through the space lanes, collecting fuel while avoiding laser fire from the invisible KOPEC robots.

Like Pac-Man, you move around a maze collecting dots for points while avoiding dangers. Unlike Pac-Man, the ‘maze’ is just a grid, and the dangers are lasers that randomly fire across a row of the grid, left to right.

You get five points for each dot you collect, and three lives to collect them in. If you are hit by lasers three times, the game ends.

I’m not sure what happens if you manage to collect all of the dots without losing. I assume that the game will reset, probably with your current score intact, and allow you to continue collecting points.

Unfortunately, I never managed this, because I had great difficulty with the controls. The game is controlled by joystick, and it seemed that occasionally it completely ignored me moving the stick, and other times it’d move the spaceship several times very quickly. This made it very difficult to navigate the maze, since it’s crucial that you not loiter too long in the rows without barriers, lest you be cooked by incoming laser fire.

Incidentally, Space Lanes was a type-in game, published in Ahoy! Issue #03 in March 1984. You may notice that there appears to be some misalignment of the columns at the top of my screenshots. I suspect that the copy of the game I downloaded may have been typed incorrectly. I began to type it in myself to see if this was the case, but when I realized that I’d typed in several lines of the VIC-20 version rather than the C64 version, I rather lost the motivation to find out. Sorry for that.

Space Lanes is fundamentally similar to Pac-Man and a hundred other collect ’em ups, but its poor controls make it far inferior. If you’re looking for a good diversion, I’m afraid Space Lanes just doesn’t measure up.

Posted in 1984, Bad, Collect 'em Up, Commodore 64, Full Review | 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 »

Hanoin Tornit

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 30, 2012

Hanoin Tornit is a variation on the Tower of Hanoi puzzle, published as a type-in game in the March 1984 issue of the Finnish magazine MikroBitti.

Hanoin Tornit is a little different from the usual Tower of Hanoi puzzle. It’s got an additional restriction: the discs may only be moved to adjacent stacks. This makes the solution much more drawn out; thankfully, the game only has four discs.

As usual with these early games, there’s no sound nor animation. Unusually, it is possible to ask the game to show you the correct solution, a good addition. There is only one solution, though, up to reversible mistakes, so there’s not much else to do, once you’ve seen it.

Since this review is working out to be quite short, let’s see how many steps it takes to solve this variation. To solve the puzzle with n discs:

  1. Solve the (n-1)-disc puzzle with all but the largest disc.
  2. Move the largest disc to the center.
  3. Solve the (n-1)-disc puzzle in reverse.
  4. Move the largest disc to the right.
  5. Finally, solve the (n-1)-disc puzzle again.

Adding these moves up, that means that if Hanoin(n) is the number of moves required to solve the n disc puzzle in this variation, then Hanoin(n) = 3*Hanoin(n-1) + 2. Clearly, it takes 2 moves to solve the 1-disc puzzle. So, applying a little math, we find H(4) = 80, quite a few more moves than the 15 required by the traditional Tower of Hanoi puzzle. In general, Hanoin(n) = 3^n – 1, while Hanoi(n) = 2^n – 1–quite a huge difference. In fact, solving Hanoin Tornit requires you to move the discs through every possible position–it couldn’t possibly take any longer to solve.

Since the math was more fun than the game, I’d recommend against playing this one.

Posted in 1984, Bad, Commodore 64, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Hanoi (1984)

Posted by Tracy Poff on May 30, 2012

In 1984, a final (to my knowledge) update to Glen Fisher’s Hanoi was released, also called Hanoi.

The gameplay is identical to its predecessors from 1978 and 1980. The only difference is that this 1984 version includes color–quite a bit more than the 1980 version, and in contrast to the monochromatic 1978 version.

I suppose that this version is the best of this lineage, which isn’t really saying much. Of course, for a Tower of Hanoi game, there isn’t much to say.

This version was released as a type-in game in Commodore 64 Fun and Games by Jeffries, Fisher, and Sawyer.

Posted in 1984, Commodore 64, Decent, Full Review, Tower of Hanoi | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »