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HSC01 Round 8: Treasure Cove / Castle of Horror

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Treasure Cove is the main game for Round 8 of the Astrocade High Score Club. The bonus game is Castle of Horror. Like Round 7, I'll be out of town when a two-week round would normally end, so this round will last an extra week. For this reason, Round 8 will last three weeks. The round ends on Sunday, June 19'nd at 8pm MST.

Treasure Cove








"Treasure Cove requires your scuba diver to descend to the sea floor and bring treasures back to your diving boat, slowly circling above, before his air runs out. Simple enough, except for the killer fish, squid, crab, etc., that roam about - and the ever present octopus that guards the treasure! As you clear each treasure-laden area, you move to a new spot, with more valuable treasures - and more denizens of the deep. Twenty screens in all. Tournament Level for uniform competitive play with up to four players. Features continuous music."

Treasure Cove is an 8K game, originally released in 1983, by Spectre Systems. This cartridge was released into the public domain in 2001 by Brett Bilbrey, Mike Toth and Marian Nalepa (Spectre Systems). Written by Brett Bilbrey. Sound by Marion Nelepa. You can read more about the game's PD release here:


The Treasure Cove cartridge ROM image (called "treasure.bin") is part of this archive:


The Treasure Cove manual is here:


I've OCRed and edited the Treasure Cove manual:

Treasure Cove

Ship's Log

March 27
7:30 P.M.

You are anchored in a small boat off a small island in the Caribbean. You are in "El Bayo del Matta Fisha." Bay of the Deadly Fish! You have come in search of the treasure of the lost Spanish Galleon (shown on title page). Squeeze trigger or press any key.

March 28
5:30 A.M.

The captain wakes you early and instructs you to go on deck to check for any boats that may have followed you into the bay. For many know of the treasure but only your captain has the map. (Enter the number of players 1-4 from your hand control or keypad) squeeze trigger.

6:00 A.M.

The captain sounds "all hands on deck." He asks for volunteers to swim to the bottom of the bay and bring back the lost treasure, a task for which you are promised a share of the wealth. (Enter the number of divers 1-9 from your hand control or keypad) squeeze trigger.

Later the same morning

All systems are ready. The water is clear and it is possible to see all the way to the bottom. A deadly octopus with glowing eyes guards the treasure. Timing is of the essence as the first diver jumps overboard (squeeze trigger). The going is slow at first. It is early and there are not many fish in the bay. But you must avoid even the smallest at all costs. Of course, you may swim faster (squeeze trigger), but be careful-- expending this energy means using your oxygen more quickly. You discover the treasure lying at the bottom of the cove. As the boat circles above, you hover directly over one of the encrusted treasures and with arm extended snatch it from its sandy tomb. Do not attempt to return to the boat empty-handed. Little did you know that the captain is greedy and will not let you back on board without his share of the wealth. Each time you successfully clear the bottom of the cove your score will be displayed as the boat sails to a new location (squeeze trigger). Each new location means an increase in the value of the treasure, not to mention an increase in the number of fish. How much treasure will you be able to collect?


Each piece of treasure is worth 100 points x the number of the round. In addition each diver begins each dive with 100 units of oxygen. The amount of oxygen left is added to your score only after each board is successfully cleared. So be frugal and swim faster only when absolutely necessary.

Special Features

El Bayo del Matta Fisha contains more than 20 species of sea life. All of these are extremely dangerous and must be avoided at all costs. Somewhere in these treacherous waters lies a fleet of deadly yellow submarines whose nuclear emissions have poisoned the fish. Each round brings a new species of aquatic life. The unique, continuous music may be stopped by pressing (MR) on your Astrocade keypad while the title page or scoring routine is displayed. Play continues as usual. Restart music by pressing (MS). The designers of this game have also provided a Tournament level playing mode. To enter this mode, select 0 divers. Each player will automatically be provided 4 divers. The score display screen will then indicate "Tournament Level." Use this mode when mailing screen image for high score verification.

Treasure Cove is the exciting new creation from Spectre Systems. Spectre is a new company dedicated to developing exciting, innovative games for your enjoyment.

The crew here at Spectre includes our Engineer/Programmer/Game designer Brett Bilbrey; Programmer/Musical conductor/Keeper of the crow's nest Marion Nalepa; and our Captain-at-Arms Michael Toth. We hope that Treasure Cove will give you many hours of enjoyment, and we will be working hard to bring you more and better games in the future.

Here is a video review of Treasure Cove by "Nice and Games:"

Treasure Cove was never submitted for review to The Game Player column in the Arcadian newsletter. Also, the Scoreboard, which printed high scores from Astrocade players, never had anyone submit a high score for this game. I'm only aware of one classic-era review for this game. The review was printed by Kevin O'Neill and it appeared in Niagara B.U.G. Bulletin, 2, no. 6 (July 27, 1984): 29-30.:


Treasure Cove play settings for the Astrocade High Score Club are Tournament level playing mode (entering 0 Divers will automatically select Tournament mode).

As usual, 10 points can be earned this round (excluding bonus points).

"Treasure Cove" Bonus Points

There are several ways to score bonus points for Treasure Cove:

1) Reach all 20 levels - 1 point for each player that reaches all 20 levels.

2) List all 20 treasures - The first person to list all 20 treasures will get a bonus point.

"Castle of Horror" (BASIC Bonus Game)












This month's BASIC bonus game, Castle of Horror, was released on Tape 12 in 1982 by WaveMakers. The back of Tape 12 contained Four Famous Freebies (which we're not playing this round).

"You will find yourself in a castle. Surrounded by monsters whose only mission is to kill and destroy. You are the target. Your only defense is to build a barricade around yourself before the monsters can get to you. The monsters will die if they hit your wall, however some monsters have more power than others and can destroy your barricade, allowing remaining monsters to pass through. You must destroy all monsters in the room to go on to your next challenge. As game progresses more monsters enter the battle.

"This game has all the quality of a cartridge and the challenge of an arcade. Uses one joystick, machine graphics, and excellent sound. Side two contains Four Famous Freebees. This cassette is in Astro-BASIC only."

Here are the instructions for Castle of Horror in pdf format:



I've OCRed and edited the documentation for the game:

Starting the Castle of Horror

Using hand control #1, turn the knob until the desired number of players appears on the screen. Pull the trigger and play will begin.

The screen will display the five levels of monsters and point values of each.

Playing the Game

You will find yourself in a room surrounded by monsters whose only mission is to kill and destroy: you are the target. You have been armed with the skill to zap out blocks and build barricades to protect yourself against the relentless onslaught of the monsters. You are given 5 lives, use them wisely. Each monster has its own strengths and weakness; learn them to use against them.

Hand control functions are:

Knob - No function

Joystick - Moves you in desired direction

Trigger - Zaps blocks into position based on the position of joystick.

It will take some practice to learn to "ZAP" blocks in the position you wish to prevent the monster attack. Once you get the hang of it you can destroy them. If a monster hits your wall or crashes into a follow monster he is destroyed and you receive points. Beware; higher level monsters can destroy a block if they hit it. You cannot replace a block once it has been destroyed, nor can you "zap" a block on top of a monster. If a monster finds himself in a block which has been zapped on him he can turn it into a shield which he can pass through but you cannot. If it looks like all is lost you can pass through the escape door on the bottom if it is open.


Clanky - 10 points - If not moving you can pass through him, leaves blocks intact.

Claws - 20 points - You can pass through his shield, destroys blocks.

Rabbot - 30 points - If not moving you can pass through him, destroys blocks, aggressive.

Flator - 40 points - if not moving you can pass through, destroys blocks, more aggressive.

Bonzo - 50 points - Cannot pass through him, destroys blocks. Known as Killer Pumpkins.

An extra life is awarded for completing all five levels. Intensity increases as score gets higher.

Castle of Horror was the first game reviewed by Michael Prosise in The Game Player column in Arcadian 4, no. 12 (Oct. 07, 1982): 120. You can read the review here (search for "Castle of Horror"):


Since the review is short, I've decided to include it in its entirety here:

Danger! Beware! Death and destruction await the bold adventurer who dares enter the Castle of Horror. [This is] a fast-paced and exciting game by Mike Peace of WaveMakers.

Similar in concept to the coin-op arcade games Berzerk and Frenzy, this one-player game of skill pits the player against five different gangs of monsters in five successive "castles," with each new castle representing a higher level of difficulty.

A wall on all four sides of the T.V. screen comprises the castle [sic], with one door that opens and closes alternately about every second. This is the only escape. If you run into a wall, or a monster pounces on top of you, you will quickly disintegrate with a flash of colors, a flickering screen and great sound effects.

Unique about this game is that you do not shoot at the monsters and they do not shoot at you. Instead, your defense is the ability to quickly build a wall out of blocks by using a combination of the joystick and trigger. For when a monster walks into a block, he will disintegrate, awarding you his point value.

A new castle automatically appears after all the monsters or you are destroyed, complete with appropriate organ music of the "haunted house" variety.

In each new castle, there are more monsters than [in] the previous castle. They look different, and they are also a little more intelligent than their predecessors. Whereas some monsters are stupid and will walk straight into a block you have placed, the smarter monsters will go around and try to pounce on you from behind. If you can last through all five castles, you will be awarded an extra man. You have five men to begin with.

The graphics in Castle of Horror are superb, and there is literally never a quiet moment during the game, for there is always either music or background sound effects entertaining you.

This is a game of strategy and quick thinking. Although it is somewhat hard to get the hang of it initially, one needs only [to] play it a few times to understand how to play fairly effectively. But most important, Castle of Horror is fun to play. It is well designed, creative, and definitely better than a few of Astrocade's cartridge games.


Here is a video review of Castle of Horror by "ArcadeUSA:"


You can download Castle of Horror for use with the AstroBASIC cartridge, here:




Several different versions of the game are included in the archive. Be sure to play to play the version called "Castle Of Horror (1982)(WaveMakers)(2000 baud)(PD)[single player version][From Master Tapes].wav."


Castle of Horror Bonus Points

1) Playing Castle of Horror - You get a bonus point just for playing Castle of Horror.

2) Castle of Horror High Score - You can earn another bonus point if you get the highest score for this game.

Please post all of your scores for both games here. Scores posted on the Bally Alley discussion group will no longer be accepted. If you post a video score, then please note the score obtained in the video-- as this makes it easier for me to keep track of all the scores.

Enjoy your swim in Treasure Cove and getting the chills from Castle of Horror.



Edited by ballyalley
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These sound like fun! Adam, do you have a running tally of current points?


No, I haven't been keeping a running tally of the points for the HSC. "The Real Bounty Bob," who runs the Atari 8-Bit High Score club, sent me some spreadsheets that I can tinker with to help keep straight the running totals; I have not used them yet. If you're interested in where you stand, then I'll try to come up with that information by the beginning of the next round.



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Good luck to everyone on the Treasure Cove competition.

I myself never got all the way to the last level. I'm looking forward to seeing who does.


In case anyone doesn't make the connection with the AtariAge username, "Bilbrey," Brett is the programmer of Treasure Cove. I asked him to come take a peek at this thread. Thanks for dropping by, Brett! If you happen to get some time in the next few weeks, then play along with us on real hardware or in MAME. Maybe you'll be able to make it to the end of your game after all these years. There wouldn't be any cheats built into the game, would there?



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In case anyone doesn't make the connection with the AtariAge username, "Bilbrey," Brett is the programmer of Treasure Cove. I asked him to come take a peek at this thread. Thanks for dropping by, Brett! If you happen to get some time in the next few weeks, then play along with us on real hardware or in MAME. Maybe you'll be able to make it to the end of your game after all these years. There wouldn't be any cheats built into the game, would there?




I did not design in any cheats to Treasure Cove. I was too busy understanding drawing lots of colors, three tone music, and flicker free animation. :D


When we were developing Treasure Cove, the 8 year old girl next door could get all the way to the end of the game. So I figured it was too easy. Yet I was never able to get to the last level... In fact, I missed by a few levels...


But I do know that it can be done. You just need to play like an 8 year old! :D

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No, I haven't been keeping a running tally of the points for the HSC. "The Real Bounty Bob," who runs the Atari 8-Bit High Score club, sent me some spreadsheets that I can tinker with to help keep straight the running totals; I have not used them yet. If you're interested in where you stand, then I'll try to come up with that information by the beginning of the next round.



No hurry on the points! Thanks for all you do here.

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What a stunningly gorgeous game. I have not seen any others like it. And what fantastic music! Where there any other games of this quality graphically and musically?

Treasure Cove is probably the best looking game on the Astrocade. The only other game that really matches its graphics is the homebrew game War (which has a fantastically well-drawn dragon that spits fire at the beginning of each game). As for other games that have great music comparable to Treasure Cove--- I can't think of any at all. It's a shame that Treasure Cove wasn't a first-party release: it probably would have been one of the system's best-selling games and would be fairly common today. Instead, it's quite rare. Luckily for us, the developers of the game donated their two games into the public domain.


Brett Bilbrey loaned me the his Astrocade printed-material in 2009. Among the items were the concept are for the Treasure Cove, which you can view here:




Also in Brett's collection was an early version of the source code for Treasure Cove. I disassembled the Treasure Cove 8K binary image, added Brett's comments from the preliminary source code and created a version of the source that matches 100% with the final version of the game. If you're interested in Z80 assembler, then you can view that source code here:




Heck, even if you're not interested in assembly language programming, then it's still neat to take a peak at it. Scroll the source down near the end of the file and you'll see the graphics for the game. Pretty neat, huh?



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I played a few games of both of the HSC games this evening:


In Castle of Horror, I managed to clear the five castles (i.e. the five levels). Then the game loops back and you play the first castle again, but (as you'd expect) it's much faster the second time around... but the point values don't increase-- which really bugs me. Chris++ and I reviewed this game for the Bally Alley Astrocast podcast #2 (which will be released in the first week of July).


Castle of Horror - 2,100 (Real hardware)


A gameplay technique about Castle of Horror that Chris and I used while we were playing the game last week (and that I used today). If you get a few castles into the game, then the baddies speed up. When your game ends, and you begin again, the baddies remain at the last speed that they were set to when you died. This is not only unfair, it's downright mean and takes quite a bit away from the game. Chris figured that the speed variable wasn't reset when the game restarts. We resorted to pressing the HALT key to end the programs from running after each round. After the game is halted, any music playing will continue. When you type RUN, then everything gets back to as if the game was loaded freshly from "tape." This worked fine, and it is not considered cheating-- it just makes the game fair.




Treasure Cove is an easy game... when it starts-- then it gets quite hard. I'm not sure how I overlooked the Frogger-like gameplay as you make your way down to the treasures. This is a good game, which I'll continue to play through this round (and afterward). So far, I've managed to reach (I think) the fourth screen (with the crabs). This game has really great graphics and animation!


Treasure Cove - 3,476 (Real hardware)




What a fun little round!



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  • 2 weeks later...

Castle of Horror always restarts on me as soon as I finish a game.

That's weird. I don't think my game restarts until I press the trigger.


As it is, I haven't gotten a fantastic score, but I did capture 1120 on camera.

That's not a bad score, considering it's not an easy game to play. Castle of Horror has some issues, which Chris and I discuss in episode 2 of the Bally Alley Astrocast (which will be "published" on July 1'st).



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Round 8 ended June 19, 2016. There were four qualifying entries for the high score contest. One person (billnewsome) is new to this round-- welcome to the Astrocade HSC, Bill!

Final Tables

Treasure Cove

1st ranger_lennier 13,115 (Level 7) 10 pts
2nd billnewsome 3,544 (Level 4) 9 pts
3rd BallyAlley 3,476 (Level 4) 8 pts

4th roadrunner 2,766 (Level 3) 7 pts

Every player who played the BASIC bonus game gets a point. BallyAlley earned an extra point for scoring the highest.

Castle of Horror

1st BallyAlley 2,100 2 pts $
2nd ranger_lennier 1,120 1 pt


I'm not sure why there were only two people who played the bonus game this round.


Total points awarded this round:

1st ranger_lennier 10 + 1 + 0 = 11 pts #
2nd BallyAlley 8 + 1 + 1 = 10 pts #@
3rd billnewsome 9 + 0 + 0 = 9 pts

4th Roadrunner 7 + 0 + 0 = 7 pts

Bonus Points Key:

Treasure Cove

! - Reach all 20 levels - 1 point for each player that reaches all 20 levels. (No Point Awarded)
@ - List all 20 treasures - The first person to list all 20 treasures will get a bonus point. (No Point Awarded)

Castle of Horror

# - Playing Castle of Horror!
$ - Castle of Horror High Score

Please, check your scores. ;)

Congratulations to Round 8's winner, ranger_lennier!

I'm not sure what the next main or bonus game will be for round 9 of the HSC. Chris++ and I are going to try to discuss the current High Score Club game on a regular (or at least semi-regular) basis on the Bally Alley Astrocast podcast. We're going to do this in reverse: that is, we're going to pick games we want to discuss, and then those game will be up next for the HSC. I'll post round 9's games tomorrow.


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