Archive for the ‘TI-99/4A’ Category


Friday, November 16th, 2007

We only had 3 games for our TI99/4A (and some personal datebook thing, but that barely qualifies as a useful tool, much less a game), so it kind of goes without saying that what games we did have got quite a bit of playtime.

Parsec is a game about a ship shooting enemy ships. You constantly fly to the right and have to kill everything in your way. You fight alternating waves of ships that try to crash into you and ships that fire back at you, eventually having to navigate through a field of asteroids that appears on the planet’s surface, and then you get to start again, with slightly harder enemies. You also have to keep an eye on your fuel consumption and laser temperature. Run out of fuel, and you get a nice closeup of the terrain from your cockpit. Overheat your laser and your ship lights up the night sky, costing you a reserve ship.

Periodically, when you’re running low on fuel, the game takes a break from all the genocide and forces you to do some ridiculously precise flying through a tunnel to get more fuel. You can use the lift settings (which determine how fast your ship moves vertically) to make it somewhat easier, but those tunnels get a bit tougher as the game wears on.

One of the coolest things about this game, and one of the things I never got to experience, is the speech synthesizer. We got our TI second hand, well after they were no longer available in stores, so we never could get one. But thanks to videos like the above, I can finally hear what my computer sounds like, and for being on such a dated system, doesn’t sound half-bad.

One thing to notice is that the ships are all composed of outlines, and are easily distinguishable. Contrast this to something like Red Alarm that came out years later with a similar visual style and is virtually unplayable, to see just how far ahead of the curve this game was.

Now all I want is this game on the Wiiware channel.


Saturday, April 7th, 2007

Anyone that’s had a crappy cell-phone in the late 1990s is familiar with the old Snake game. The game where you control an ever-lengthening line (a.k.a. the ’snake’) with the ultimate goals of: eating all the food (which makes you longer) and not crashing into yourself or the edges of the screen. Hustle is, essentially, this very game.

Hustle puts you in charge of a snake-like thing that meanders around the screen. Your goal is to get the highest score possible by colliding with the boxes that randomly appear on the screen. These boxes will have a point value on them, granting you the amount of points shown. The points might be positive, negative, or the triple question mark, which you won’t know the actual value of until you collect it.

Sounds pretty boring, right? Granted, single-player isn’t all that fun. That’s why we have multiplayer. In multiplayer mode, the game is exactly the same, except that you go head-to-head with another person controlling another snake-like thing in a competition to get the highest score while simultaneously not crashing into the yourself, the edges of the screen, or the other player. It actually made for some decent competition, as there was skill, strategy, and a little bit of luck involved.

You just have to look past the public-domain songs that they chose for the music. Either that or turn the television down.

Radar Ratrace

Sunday, March 11th, 2007

Way back in the 80’s you would be hard-pressed to find a video game with a plot. What passed for a plot in those days was usually no more than a line or two explaining some improbable situation, and if you were lucky you would get some instructions. Case in point: Radar Ratrace.

Radar Ratrace is a game of cat and mouse. You, a mouse, must navigate a maze and collect cheese while avoiding the cats. Get all the cheese, clear the maze. Touch a cat, lose a life. Utilize the ‘mouse holes’ in random corners of the maze to elude your pursuers. Oh, and the radar. You can only see the immediate area around you in glorious detail, but you can see the entire maze on a smaller mini-map. It’s a simple game with pretty good execution.

In searching for information about this game, I keep finding references to some kind of magic mouse dust that your character can litter the maze with to confuse the cats, making this an almost direct rip-off of the Namco arcade game Rally-X. For the life of me, I don’t remember that, and my TI is mothballed somewhere. We also had a copy of the game for the Commodore 64, and I don’t remember seeing it there, either. I suppose it’s not inconceivable that I didn’t know about some features. We never had any manuals or anything. But it’s tough for me to imagine that it didn’t occur to me to press the joystick button at some point. Of course, when I was playing it I was about nine years old. It was about that time I willingly slept in a closet for a couple of months.