Playing Wunda Walter (VIC 20)

The planet Plato is in chaos, nasty little energy-based creatures called Fuzz Balls have invaded through a hole in time and need to be stomped on; only one creature can save the day in this manner, the loveable and rotund Wunda Walter needs to take out as many of the little… darlings as possible whilst avoiding the patrolling “manic depressive mutants practising body popping”. This was written in 1984 when video game scenarios were weird at the best of times and prolific Interceptor freelancer Keith “Howlin’ Mad” Harvey wrote the game so probably had a hand in the storyline as well.

Our hero starts each stage running along on a flat patch of ground but will need to take flight almost immediately to avoid death; this is done by holding the fire button down which causes Walter to inflate and float upwards with left and right on the joystick controlling his flight and releasing the button letting him drift downwards,. Since the majority of Plato’s surface will pop an unwary balloon-like creature, only the flat areas or Fuzz Balls should be considered safe to stand on and even then care must be taken since stepping halfway off a ledge will prove fatal.

The graphics are good but the VIC doesn’t have a hardware fine scroll register like later Commodore machines or the Atari 8-bit so the background shifts in character steps – one VIC character is about twice the width of those on the C64 for reference – with the software sprite movement being similarly chunky, but this doesn’t get in the way so Wunda Walter is still a playable if somewhat difficult game. Despite the emphasis in the storyline, splattering the Fuzz Balls is actually optional so merely avoiding the flight path of those body popping mutants and keeping clear of the landscape as it loops past a couple of times is enough to progress to the next level. There are four areas in total, each with their own distinct graphical elements and enemy attack pattern so learning both the lie of the land and how each nasty moves is essential for long-term survival.

I found out whilst writing this piece that Wunda Walter is considered a rare VIC 20 game these days, which is probably down to a combination of it arriving late in the VIC’s life cycle and requiring a 16K RAM expansion, both of which will have limited it ‘s potential audience. I still have my copy from the mid-1980s which I think was originally purchased from Interceptor themselves at a Commodore show in London, it’s currently tucked away in a storage box, sports the lurid green clamshell case and is apparently worth a few quid due to that aforementioned rarity… but don’t tell the wife, okay?

Refix 2017 (C64)

Well, we’ve finally got through 2016 and my first bit of code for the new year is Refix 2017 on the C64, a developed from scratch, expanded remake of an intro that Cosine used on games and tools during the 1990s. The original version looked like this…

…and here’s a video of the new version with a brilliant cover of the Amiga module Macrocosm handled by Andy Vaisey, the box around the screen being pushed into the upper and lower borders, a high resolution bitmapped logo and some quite frankly bonkers colour splitting on the text…

This was my third and, for this instalment, final release for the CSDb Intro Creation Competition and, although it was initially quite painful to actually get going – the colour effect was a tricky little bugger to get timed up – and needed quite a bit of late in the day optimisation to make the music fit, this really was a blast to code!

There’ll be another post about my second piece of code this year in the extremely near future, mainly because it’s another NYD contribution for the Atari 8-bit and should turn up online a little later today!

Koalatro (C64)

I’ve been almost worryingly quiet for a few months – according to others rather than myself I hasten to add, I worry about me all the time – due to a mixture of illness and… well, more illness really. Normal services will hopefully be resumed once the “festive season” is out of the way and I cheer up a bit! In the meantime, I’ve been working on entries for the Intro Creation Competition at the C64 Scene Database where the primary rule is that the releases must use a single block of 16K at all times. I’ve already put out one called Clonetro on the C64CD label and today has seen the launch of the second, this time from Cosine and sporting some music from aNdy.

Koalatro is a somewhat masochistic exercise in cramming a multicolour bitmap, music, scroller (with unrolled colour splitting code that takes over five hundred bytes on it’s own) and some text into just 15K. Using a Koalapainter format picture in an intro that small whilst executing doesn’t sound too complicated, but the 10,001 bytes of data would normally eat through two thirds of the space before any code or music is included! So, whilst all the data that a Koala picture would normally require is still present, 1,000 nybbles of $D800 colour data have been rather unceremoniously packed into 500 bytes. The double speed music (the player is called twice per frame) was supplied by aNdy who originally created it for a CSDb competition a few years ago, fortunately it was pretty short because the intro needed it to be.

The scroller started out as a reasonably straight copy of one in Contribution by Super Swap Sweden – the sprite colours are split on each scanline rather than the background colour, so it only just has enough time to load two values, write to all eight and keep the side borders open if the entire loop is unrolled and all of the LDAs are absolute! As is now usually the case, I’ve pushed the source code to Github for people to prod around, but it’s not exactly the cleanest thing I’ve ever written!