May 1984 - Props, Mind Boggle, and SuperSprite

Welcome to the inaugural entry of Gazette Galore... because of laziness, we're kicking off when C!G started putting out a disk version of its software, saving readers the hassle of typing things in. An ad on page 33 announces the launch, with a six month subscription costing $39.95 and a year for $69.95 - about $90 and $160 in 2015 dollars.

Features This Issue: Interview with Will Harvey - his "Music Construction Set" was an impressive piece of software, especially consider its author was still in high school. The article "Speedscript Revisited", going over C!G's signature word processors mentioned an embarrassing bug, with the [n]ext page command getting caught in an infinite loop.  "Sound Sculpture" is a sound editing program, interesting that it features standard Character Graphics (and colors) but a joystick operated mouse pointer. (You actually have to follow the instructions in the magazine, or else you won't hear much.) "Ski Physics" is a kind of stupid math "physics" game - the Commodore 64 seems to have impossible rounding issues.

The Games

Props - Philip I. Nelson
I have to give this "innovative and non-violent" game its... err, props, it's kind of cute! You maneuver a tiny character-graphic pigeon to its mate, tucked into one of the walls, dodging the spinning propellers, each rising or falling in its individual column - kind of like a more vertical Frogger. The twittering sound of flight is pretty cool, though points off for the relentless "swish swish swish" of the propellers. (Some of those points for the kind of amusing "thwack thwack thwack that happens when your bird gets hit by a propeller and is kind of stuck for a second... low-rez literal slapstick!) More points off for not really having an ending, you just play until you get bored. I really liked how the article of instructions for the game went deeply into the programming of it, including how to trigger the machine language subroutines from BASIC. That's so emblematic of the era, where computers weren't just passive entertainment devices, but devices that encouraged kids and adult hobbyists to make stuff.  

Mind Boggle - Jame E. Rylee 
A not particularly inspired version of "Mastermind". The interface is kind of poor, even taking the era into account, when you start it doesn't tell you how many colors there are, they should always show the color with the number that hits it, and "right color wrong space" "right color right space" is ambiguous.

SuperSprite - Nick Sullivan This game suffers a bit from not being played original hardware, since it requires quick use of the function keys. A very wobbly Superman-- err, SuperSprite, is descending to earth, and you have to use the function keys to shove the... "Spritely Gate" bars of kryptonite? What?

So having to hold the Mac "fn" key, along with not having the keys lined up vertically with the bars, is a real distraction. Also the weird wobbliness of the flier is frustrating. Kind of like a proto-escort mission, but the game gets some credit for originality overall.

1 comment:

  1. Via Email, Adam T writes:

    The May 1984 issue of Compute's Gazette was my very first computer magazine. I have fond memories of typing in "Super Sprite" with my step-father when the magazine was first published. It wasn't the first program I ever typed into the Commodore 64, but it was the first LONG one. My step-father and I took turns reading the BASIC statements to each other and then typing the program into BASIC. It was not efficient, but it allowed us to try to understand (in our very limited way) what we were doing.

    We were new computer users back then: neither of us understood BASIC, and we typed with the hunt-and-peck method. Needless to say, when the program eventually ran for the first time, it ended quite quickly with a SYNTAX ERROR. Our program had MANY errors when we were done. We printed the BASIC program out on our MPS-801 printer and then compared the printed BASIC listing the listing from the magazine. This worked rather well.

    The program mostly-worked when we were done fixing our error.. We could control the gates, but sometimes the program would randomly crash. It worked well enough that we could play it in short bursts. I guess that I didn't read the game's instructions too well, as I expected to control the flying man, but that was not the case. I lost interest in the game before too long, but the game never left my memory, maybe because it never worked 100% right for us. When I started using emulators in the 1990s, "Super Sprite" was one of the first type-in games that I tracked down to play. Finally I had a working version. I was able to scratch an itch that I didn't even know that I had!

    For some strange nostalgia purpose, I still will play "Super Sprite" once in a while. It's one of the few games that time has completely managed to rub away any rose-tinted "greatness," and yet there is still some good fun to be had here.