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Duel-Shmup: Or, I Gave Atari 2600 Programming a Shot...


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Well, I took a chance at Atari 2600 Programming using bAtari Basic.  Overall, an interesting experience.  I am by no means a professional programmer, though have done programming on my own for longer than I care to admit to the younger generation.


I wanted to make a somewhat simple game, so I hereby introduce (with no fanfare) Duel-Shmup (Test).




I was always fascinated by a concept in a Japanese game called Senko no Rondo, which was a competitive shooter where the participants could turn into a "boss mode" once specific criteria was reached.  While I borrowed that concept, it's not as grandiose as that game.


So, the specifics of Duel Shmup, in no particular order, are:


  • It's a competitive game with two players.  Two players only.
  • Press the Game Switch button to cycle through the four available ships for both players.  Press either fire button to start.
  • All base ships behave the same.
  • Move with the joystick, and press fire to... well, fire a projectile.  Players can't move past the middle divider.
  • The leftmost digit of the score is the "hits" value of Player 1.  The second leftmost digit is its "power" value.  The second to rightmost digit is the "hits" value of Player 2.  The rightmost digit is its "power" value.
  • When a player is hit, its "hits" value is reduced by 1, and is invulnerable for a moment.
  • The player that reduces the opponent's hits value to 0 wins.
  • During the game, an "energy charge" (i.e. ball) will appear at a random location on the playing field.  Collect the energy charge, and your power value will go up by 1.
  • Once your power value hits 5, your ship will automatically change into a larger "advanced" ship.
  • Each of the advanced ships have different attributes: larger projectiles, firing faster, moving faster, etc.




  • It uses the standard kernel -- thought it might be best for the first "shot" (pun intended) at Atari 2600 programming.
  • Only four sounds in the game: shot, hit, pickup energy, transform.
  • It was interesting trying to keep to a specific size limit of the compiled game.  As an anecdote, I was programming it at one point, and had just over 90K remaining.  Then I did a little optimization, and then found I had a little over 320K left...
  • I used every variable from a to z.  There was probably a better way to do it, but it is what it is.
  • It could use a rudimentary A.I. for one-player games.


All in all, I think it's a valiant first attempt.


bas and bin files are attached.  Comments welcome.


DuelShmup.bas DuelShmup.bas.bin

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