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I added a review, by Kevin O'Neill, of the cartridge game "Blast Droids." This review was originally published in the newsletter NIAGARA B.U.G. BULLETIN, 1, no. 5 (October 5, 1982): 13. "Blast Droids" is the second independently-produced cartridge game by Esoterica Ltd. for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The review is short, but interesting. I've spiced it up with some pictures and four screenshots from the game.



You can read the review here:


Kevin had a semi-regular column called "Outlet" in the NIAGARA B.U.G. BULLETIN. I'll probably add some more reviews from this column over the next few weeks.


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I added a review, by Kevin O'Neill, of the Astrocade cartridge game "Mazeman." This review was originally published in the newsletter NIAGARA B.U.G. BULLETIN, 2, no. 5 (June 1984): 22.




This game was released in 1984 by Dave Caron (but, according to Mike White, was not programmed by him). Rather than quote the review, here is some information from an ad for the game:

"MAZEMAN is unlike any 'gobble game' you have ever seen! Each time you clear a screen, you find yourself beginning a different maze. There are 12 completely different mazes, each requiring changes in tactics. [...] The four bad guys get slightly faster and a bit more aggressive with each new maze. The mazes cycle after 12, but the increase in difficulty goes on and on. From level one through nine there are eight "Jekyl to Hyde" transformers per maze. After level 9 there are only four. MAZEMAN has challenge enough for the serious gamer, but will provide hours of satisfaction for the beginner."


You can read the full review, here:


I spent some time this morning playing this 4K game to get some screenshots for the review. The game is quite fun-- I recommend it. I may even end up choosing it for the Astrocade High Score Club next round.


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I added a 1982 review, by Al Rathmell, of the "Z80 Mini Course" by Larry Simioni. This review was previously available only as a handwritten article on BallyAlley.com. I retyped it today-- which should make it much easier to read. Plus, now there are helpful links to the manual and its software. The review is interesting, as it points-out a few errors in the manual.




The review can be read here:




If you find the review interesting, then certainly take a look at the "z80 Mini Course."



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Paul Thacker has archived the "Plotter Drive Program" (with Space Shuttle and Robo data) by LeRoy Flamm. This Blue Ram BASIC program as published in ARCADIAN 7, no. 2 (Dec. 20, 1985): 28-29.




Here is what Paul says about his work to archive the program:

"I managed to archive LeRoy Flamm's Plotter Drive Program for Blue RAM BASIC. I'm sure I don't get the full effect without a Penman, but it did have the data to draw the Space Shuttle and Robot to the TV. It's always neat to see what people got their Astrocade to do. To use it, type ":INPUT; RUN" in Blue RAM BASIC and play loads 1 and 2 in order."

You can download the program here (but it does require a Blue Ram expansion unit to work on real hardware):



Paul archived the program because of a post that I made to the BallyAlley Yahoo group on January 31, 2016. I've summed up that post here:


R2-D2/Space Shuttle and the Penman Plotter Program

LeRoy Flamm wrote a BASIC program called "Plotter Drive Program" in 1985 that used a Penman plotter to draw a detailed space shuttle and a "robot" (really, it's R2-D2). The plotter was connected to the Bally Arcade via an RS-232C serial input connected via the old Bally tape interface with a printer jack connection. The program was printed in ARCADIAN 7, no. 2 (Dec. 20, 1985): 28-29:


The plotter program also can draw to the screen. Paul took a couple of pictures of the Bally's screen when the space shuttle and R2-D2 were displayed:





The printed BASIC listing in the "Arcadian" doesn't contain the data required to draw the space shuttle or robot, but the archived tape does have the two drawings.

Here is a video of the Penman plotter in action (it's not connected to a Bally).

Watching the Penman draw is almost a work of art, isn't it? The Penman plotter doesn't look anything like I suspected it would look. I thought it would be big and clunky, like the plotter that was available in my high school drafting class in the 1980s.

Here is a review of the Penman plotter from "Electronic Systems News" (Autumn 1985): 19-20.:


Ken Lill, an active member in the Bally Arcade scene in the early-to-mid-80s actually saw this plotter hooked up to a Bally Arcade. Here's what Ken said about that experience, "Leroy actually did use it when he visited me in Chicago, about 6 months after the AstroBash in Michigan [in the mid-80s]. It was fun to see it run around the table and to see the results. I sure miss Leroy. He was a great guy!"


It's programs like "Plotter Drive Program" that scream out, "That Bally is unique!" I love the fun/bizarre uses that the system was used for by it's fairy unconventional users in the 1970s/80s.



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I updated the Machine Language Manager review by Bob Fabris and Al Rathmell. This review was originally published in ARCADIAN 4, no. 3 (Dec. 24, 1981): 29. Previously, it was only available as a scanned pdf, but now it has been OCRed and made into it's own webpage with several images have been added to spruce-up the review, plus there are related links now available.



The Machine Language Manager (MLM) cartridge was released by The Bit Fiddlers (Andy Guevara). The MLM is a machine language monitor that allows an unexpanded, 4K Bally Arcade/Astrocade to program in machine language using hex digits instead of the clumsy decimal method that is required by Bally BASIC and "AstroBASIC."



Lance's renewed effort to program "Balzerk" (plus his continued work on the disassembly of "The Incredible Wizard") inspired me to take another look at the review of this utility cartridge and and the manual. They are book a good read, and anyone interested in assembly language programming should check out the review, and probably even (at least) skim the documentation for the MLM.


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I added a review, by Kevin O'Neill, of seven games for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade that are on tapes A1 and A2 from Astrogames. This review first appeared in the "Outlet, Product Review Column" in NIAGARA B.U.G. BULLETIN, 1, no. 7 (December 1984): 25-26.




The review of the games can be read here:



Have fun!


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I have updated the Bally Arcade/Astrocade ROM set. I haven't added any new files, nor have I renamed any of the files in the TOSEC directory. However, at some point in one of the updates of MESS/MAME, the names of the expected ROMs have changed for some of the programs. I have renamed these ROMs to reflect what MAME now expects them to be when it loads them.

Also, the MAME ROM files have now been individually zipped. This means that you can now simply rename the directory in the ROM archive called "mame" to "roms" and then place the newly renamed "roms" directory into your MAME directory. Now, you'll be able to load up all of the ROMs from within MAME without any hitches.

As always, the Astrocade ROM collection is available here:


Hopefully, this new ROM set will allow people to use the Astrocade emulator in MAME a little easier.


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I added a review by Al Rathmell of 1982's "3x5 Character Set," published by HARD (Hoover-Anderson Research and Design). This document was previously available online at BallyAlley.com as a scan of the original handwritten review. This tutorial, by Craig J. Anderson, explains how to create a small character set for BASIC. This previously unpublished review from the Bob Fabris Collection was sent to Bob in October of 1982.



You can read the review, here:


I've added links and pictures to the review. It's pretty neat unearthing these previously unpublished reviews.



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I added "Extended Memory Products Review #1: Do You Need Extended Memory?" by Dave Carson. This was first published in Arcadian 5, no. 11 (Sept. 28, 1983): 166-167.

This is an overview of whether an Astrocade owner should or should not purchase a memory upgrade for their system. This review first appeared in the Extended Memory Products Review column. You can read the article here:




This article didn't originally have any pictures. I've added a picture of the Blue Ram unit, Blue Ram keyboard, and the Viper 1. There are seven articles in this series. I think I'll add all of them to the website over the next few weeks.



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I added Extended Memory Products Review #2: The Gate Escape and Wack-A-Mole by Dave Carson. This set of reviews of two Bally Arcade/Astrocade games by WaveMakers is from Arcadian 5, no. 12 (Oct. 24, 1983): 178-179. These two games require extended memory and Blue Ram BASIC.




You can read the reviews here:




Special thanks to Paul Thacker for taking pictures of the Blue Ram BASIC version of Wack-A-Mole, which can only be loaded via the Blue Ram tape interface.



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I added Dave Carson's Extended Memory Products Review #3: Quadra. This was first published in Arcadian, 6, no. 1 (Nov. 29, 1983): 2,1.



This is a review of Quadra, a game by Mike White Software for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. Quadra is made up of four main-games (some with separate parts). The games that are part of Quadra are: Brick Buster, Land Slide!, Laser & Slide, Safe Cracker, Smash Up and UFO Attack. This game requires extended memory and Blue Ram BASIC.

You can read the Quadra review here:


This is one rather ambitious BASIC game!



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I added Dave Carson's "Extended Memory Products Review #4: Collision Course." This was first published in Arcadian, 6 no. 3 (Jan. 27, 1984): 28.

This is a game review of WaveMakers' Collision Course, for the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. The game requires extended memory and Blue Ram BASIC. Collision Course is a clone of Sega's 1979 coin-op arcade game Head On. The review can be read here:

I just played this game (against the computer) today. I only wanted to take some pictures so that I could add them to the review, but I found myself enjoying the game and wishing that there was another person around for me to challenge in this Road Rage, Collect-the-Dots themed game.

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Loving the updates! :thumbsup:


I'm glad that you like the updates here-- they sure look more impressive here than in the "What's New" area on BallyAlley.com. It's nice that the Bally Arcade now has a sub-forum on AtariAge. It may not be really active, but it's still a good resource-- and I hope to see it grow.


I'll be out of town this week, so there will be no updates during that time. (Plus, currently, BallyAlley.com is moving to a new server, and the site is temporarily down). Next week, I'll be adding the final three Extended Memory Products Reviews. A couple of them cover the R&L 64K RAM board, which doesn't have any pictures online. That RAM upgrade had a very limited release. I asked someone who owns the hardware for pictures of it, and he sent me some the other day. Hooray!



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  • 2 weeks later...

Treasure Cove and Cosmic Raiders
By Kevin O'Neill (July 1984).
Niagara B.U.G. Bulletin, 2, no. 6 (July 27, 1984): 29-30.




This article has reviews of two Bally Arcade/Astrocade games released in 1983: Treasure Cove by Spectrecade and Cosmic Raiders by Astrocade, Inc.




I added this set of reviews because one of the current games for the next few weeks in the Astrocade High Score Club is going to be Treasure Cove.



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  • 2 weeks later...

I typed-in the AstroBASIC program New 2-Voice Music (Frogger Theme) by Mike Peace. This program hasn't been found on a tape yet. Since it was short, and it's the last program by WaveMakers/Mike Peace to (I think) not yet be archived, I spent some time typing it in on a real Astrocade. This program was printed in Arcadian 5, no. 3 (Jan. 14, 1983): 53. You can download it here:



I recorded the Frogger theme as a WAV file. It can be downloaded here:


I don't understand how this quite-short program works Also, there is a strange "beeping" in the background of the Frogger theme that sounds almost like a metronome. I thought that maybe that "beeping" was caused by my Astrocade s-video/audio board that I used to record from my console . However, I get the same results on two different consoles (one console is connected to a TV via a standard RF jack). Can anyone explain this program, and why it's got the strange metronome-like beat in the background of the theme?


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  • 4 weeks later...

I added the complete source code for the homebrew version of Crazy Climber, released by Riff Raff Games in 2011. This game was programmed by Michael Garber.




Michael gave permission for me to release this source code on June 11, 2016.


You can download the source code here:




The source code assembles to the final version of the game cartridge. Special thanks to Michael for allowing the release of this game's Z80 source so that others may learn from it.



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I added various documentation for several arcade games that use the Astrocade chip set. This chip set is formally known in the Software and Hardware for the Bally Arcade (aka "Nutting Manual) as the "Midway Custom Circuits." I think that all of the arcade games (Gorf, Wizard of Wor, etc.) use the Astrocade chip set. The three custom chips are:

1) Data Chip (0066-116XX) - Component U18 in the Bally Arcade/Astrocade. This is the chip that gets very hot and is a common failure in the Astrocade console. This chip doesn't overheat much in the arcade games because the custom data chip isn't locked-up tight inside RF shielding. Here are a couple of examples of what the data chip look like:


This is a very early version of the Data chip:




This is a typical example of the Data chip:




This data chip has a piece of metal glued to the top of the chip. The idea was that the RF shield would then connect to the metal, which would allow the RF shield to act as a heat sink:




2) Address Chip (0066-115XX) - Component U17 in the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.


Here is the Custom Address chip:



3) I/O Chip - (0066-117XX) - Component U19 in the Bally Arcade/Astrocade.


Here is the custom I/O chip:




These chips are all from my personal collection. I've meant to add them to BallyAlley.com, but I've not done it, so this is the first time that many people will have had the chance to see these rather rare chips.


In a future episode of the Bally Alley Astrocast, I'm going to cover these custom chips and explain what each one does for our little Bally Arcade units. Most tasks that the custom chips are capable of performing will work on the consumer unit (the Astrocade) except for the Rotator function, which only works in commercial mode (the arcade games).

In this post, I'll mention the documentation that I uploaded for the 1980 arcade game, Extra Bases, which is a sequel to the 1976 game Tornado Baseball (which was ported to the Bally Arcade).

1. Extra Bases - General Instructions - One sheet of paper describing in general terms: Installation, Line Voltage Safety Switch, Voltage Control Pots, Volume Control, Service Control Panel and Align Ball Control Sensors.




2. Extra Bases - Schematics - Four schematics saved in TIFF format.




3. Extra Bases - Parts and Operating Manual




Here is the Table of Contents for Extra Bases - Parts and Operating Manual:

  1. General Instructions - Upright
  2. General Instructions - Cocktail
  3. No. 761 - Extra Bases Upright - Front Picture
  4. Extra Bases - Rear Picture
  5. Ball Control Assembly
  6. Fluorescent Fixture Assembly
  7. Push Button Assembly
  8. Double Entry Coin Door Assembly
  9. No. 889 - Extra Bases Cocktail - Front Picture
  10. Extra Bases Cocktail-Interior Access Picture
  11. Ball Control Assembly
  12. Single Entry Coin Door Assembly
  13. Transformer Board Assembly
  14. Commercial Card Rack Assembly
  15. Power Supply Component Layout
  16. Power Supply Schematic
  17. Wiring Diagram - Upright
  18. Wiring Diagram - Cocktail
  19. Game Board Component Layout
  20. Game Board Schematic
  21. RAM Board Component Layout
  22. RAM Board Schematic
  23. CPU Component Layout
  24. CPU Schematic
  25. PC Boards parts list
  26. Wells-Gardner Monitor Schematic
  27. Wells-Gardner Replacement Parts List
  28. Wells-Gardner Monitor Schematic-Cocktail

I didn't scan this arcade documentation (I find it in various places online), but I've wanted to add this information to BallyAlley.com for quite a few years. Call me a sucker for hoping that someone converts an Astrocade to hi-res mode-- what a neat project that would be to see!

(Yeah, I'm still waiting for Bally to release the add-under/ZGRASS unit too!)


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I added a 1981 document called Kludge Board Installation and Modification by Barry Ellerson. These are the instructions on how to install the "Kludge" board were sold by Barry.



If your Bally Arcade/Astrocade unit has these symptoms: screen tearing, loss of horizontal sync on warm-up, unit goes dead (or keeps resetting after warm-up), the following modifications will correct them. If you unit went completely dead following symptoms these modifications will probably repair it.


The ad for this kit (ARCADIAN 3, no. 9 (Jul. 09, 1981): 100.) reads, "Clock Mod Kit $9.00. Assembled and tested, $11. ppd. Attention!! Experimenters, Serviceman!! Quality, double-side Kludge boards, $4.25 ppd."

References to this document were originally made in the Arcadian newsletter:

Ellerson, Barry. "[bally Arcade 'Kludge Board'] Motherboard Modifications." ARCADIAN 3, no. 7 (May 08, 1981): 72-73.


Ellerson, Barry. "[bally Arcade 'Kludge Board'] Motherboard Modifications [Correction]." ARCADIAN 3, no. 9 (Jul. 09, 1981): 94.


An alternate version of this document, which seems to pre-date these instructions, is here:




Both versions of this document are probably of interest to anyone who has a dead or flaky Bally Arcade.


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I added two Nitron catalogs. For a time, beginning in, I think, 1982, Nitron built the Astrocade units for Astrocade, Inc. These catalogs are part of the Bob Fabris Collection.

Some of the topics included in the catalogs include: Nitron Overview, Nitron's Place in the Industry, The Nitron Difference, Semi-Custom Design Concept, Nitrochip Design - Getting Started, Designing a Nitrochip, Questions and Answers, and much more information about the company and its products.

Nitron Catalog (November 1981)





Nitron Catalog (1982)





In "An Introduction to the BPA" by Bob Fabris, there is some background on Nitron:

"Early in 1982, Nitron of Cupertino, California became another player in the Astrocade group. In June, it became the principal supplier of hardware to Astrocade. In a rather unusual arrangement, Nitron bought Astrocade's entire arcade, cartridge and component inventory, contracting to purchase component parts (the major chips were sole-sourced from American Microsystems). Nitron then assembled the gear and sold it back to Astrocade. The purchase gave Astrocade some needed cash but made it highly dependent on Nitron's performance. Some Bay Area subscribers and I visited the facility and were impressed to see that Nitron apparently had all of the necessary equipment and capabilities to complete all of the required work under one roof (although the Garner and Sacramento plants were to continue their efforts, with Nitron as overseer)."

Maybe these Nitron catalogs can be used to help piece together the history of the manufacturing of the Astrocade in the 1981/1982 era.


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  • 3 weeks later...

I've been making regular updates to BallyAlley.com, but I've not been posting them here. I suppose I need to start doing that again.


I added a previously unarchived program called Message from the Lost Tribe by Gregg Cattanach to BallyAlley.com. This program appeared in BASIC Express, The 3, no. 2 (May/June 1981): 14. I typed this short program in last night using various Astrocade archiving programs and have digitally archived it for both Bally BASIC and "AstroBASIC."


Here are the brief "instructions" from the newsletter:

"Long, long ago and once upon a time... there lived a tribe on a lost island. The tribe and the island have both disappeared, but they left a message for all mankind live by. Key in this program, found by Gregg in a floating bottle, and read the message for yourself!"

You can download the program for Bally BASIC, here:


You can download the program for "AstroBASIC," here:


The newsletter doesn't really explain what the program does. After you RUN it, the program prints a series of random letters and punctuation. However, the program uses simple rules that makes the randomness seem almost like a language that might be spoken on this mythical "lost island."



Take a look at this screenshot, and you'll see a typical screenshot of the program in action.




The "language" almost does look like you can read it, right?

Paul didn't help me archive this particular program, but he's been a true inspiration. Also, he has been helping me try to archive some programs on "tape" lately... which is a pretty bumpy road.

Enjoy this weird program that is an amusement that you won't find on any other platform. Anywhere. (Now that I've said that aloud, as with many Bally BASIC programs, this one probably was converted from some type-in listing in a computer magazine or book of the 70s/80s-era.)


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I added Diamond by Richard Sonnenblick. This program was published in BASIC EXPRESS, THE 3, no. 1 (April 1981): 7. I typed-in this program today. It was converted to Bally BASIC and AstroBASIC using two Bally Arcade/Astrocade archiving utilities: txt2prg and KCS.




Notes from THE BASIC EXPRESS newsletter:

Editor's Note: This is a Video Art Program. We publish only the best of those we receive. Invariably, such programs make extensive use of For-To-Next loops and can be valuable to the budding programmer as a learning device! The author, Richard Sonnenblick, is a junior high school student. Congratulations go to Richard for a very excellent program. I hope you adults reading this are sufficiently chagrined.

You can download the 300-Baud program here:


You can download the 2000-Baud program here:




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  • 5 months later...

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