Set phasors to “Zap”

Here is Programma’s Phasor Zap cassette, another game of the “shoot alien spacecraft in space” variety.

Phasor zap tape

Here are the audio files. I have not tested the WAV files but the AIFF file loads fine in Virtual II. I have also put it on a disk.

Phasor zap splash

The premise of this game is pretty simple. You control the aim of a phasor, and space is full of enemy ships that you must destroy. You only have a certain number of shots to do it in, before you run out of energy.

Phasor zap instructions

One thing that makes this game particularly difficult is that you don’t actually have any kind of crosshairs that show you where you’re aiming. So you operate mostly blind, the only way to know where you are aiming is to fire and see where it goes.

Phasor zap fire

Even given the no-crosshairs handicap, sometimes you can still hit the enemy ships.

Phasor zap explosion

And in case you were worried that maybe we should have tried diplomacy instead, they do shoot back. If you leave an enemy on screen long enough for it to reach the middle of the screen, they will shoot you, which you are alerted to via a big “ZAP” screen flashed up overtop the play field.

Phasor zap enemy hit

Even without the crosshairs, I was able to get an intuitive feel for where the aim was going to be pretty quickly, and in the end I think I did ok. My current high score after only playing it a couple of times is 390, taking 6 hits. My guess is that will stand as my high score for some time to come.

Phasor zap gameover

A dazzling display of purple and green

I got two copies of Programma’s Kaleidoscope, which seem to straddle the point in time when their tape packaging changed, and for the better I’d say.

Kaleidoscope 347 tape

Kaleidoscope 435 tape

I took audio images of both tapes, but there do not appear to be any differences. I didn’t do a byte-level analysis, but they look the same when running. I found that my audio image for both of them had the property that the first load failed, and the second load worked. On pretty much all the Programma tapes I have that I’ve looked at, the program is included twice on the tape, probably for just this reason. So I have more audio files than usual to share here. First, just the actual audio images I took, which will load on the second try in Virtual II, and I haven’t tried the WAV files, but the AIFF files work. Then I have a reconstructed version of the newer one in which I just copied and pasted the second audio overtop the first, so that it will load on the first try. Finally, a DSK version that will load the program as if from tape.

The audio is actually kind of interesting to listen to, I wouldn’t normally recommend listening to the audio files, but this one is pretty groovy.

Kaleidoscope splash

As for the program, it’s pretty simple. You can choose a couple of different types of mirroring, and then it draws. Until you tire of it.

Kaleidoscope instructions

You also have the option of controlling the speed with the paddles, or pressing R to restart the pattern or C to change the colors (where the colors are chosen from among white, green, and purple). That’s it. To start it in motion initially, just press R.

Kaleidoscope running

You can list the (Integer BASIC, with some support calls in machine language) program if you like. Just press Ctrl-C to get out of the program (Reset will reboot).

Spoiler: A happy home life in the making

Old cassettes continue to show up at my door, today we’ll look briefly at Ancient Tarot from Programma International.

Ancient tarot tape

In the Spring 1980 Programma catalog on the Brutal Deluxe Programma site, this is listed as “Tarot Cards” (AP122), which matches the splash screen, but on the tape itself and in the running program, it calls itself “Ancient Tarot”.

If you wish to join in the enlightenment, I have created AIFF and Wave files, though I have only tested the AIFF file. The AIFF file loads without incident in Virtual ][. Since this is written in Integer BASIC, the DSK version (designed to be run on a 64K II+ or later) will load the language card, then load the Ancient Tarot program as if it had been loaded from tape.

I don’t have any materials for this apart from the tape itself. I have no reason to think that there ever was much else, though perhaps there was a tape cover once. Long gone if so, I’m sure.

This is actually quite large for a cassette tape program, occupying almost 24K on the tape, but it contains a lot of uncompressed text. As is common, the procedure for loading it is to drop to the monitor and load starting at the keyboard buffer, 200.6000R. This allows the tape to “autostart”—the keyboard buffer is stuffed with “220G”, the splash screen loads into the screen buffer, the rest of the program loads into the BASIC area, and then execution begins at 0220. This program is essentially just written in Integer BASIC, and it can be listed if this is interesting to you.

Tarot splash

Once the program starts up, you are asked whether you’d like instructions. We would, thank you, yes.

Tarot intro

Then follows two screens of text, which really aren’t instructions at all, but more of a justification of how a computerized tarot reader could still give you accurate results.

Tarot instructions1

Tarot instructions2

Once the instructions have been displayed, you are taken to the screen where you wait until you feel the time is right. The random number generator is (I am presuming, but probably correctly) seeded based on the number of microseconds it takes you to press a key.

Tarot randomize

When I felt the time was right, I pressed a key and my unique results were displayed:

Tarot result 1

After this summary, each of the past, present, and outlook were interpreted, based on the cards that came up. In my past, apparently, unexpected good luck came my way, and my accomplishments are admirable (but lest I get caught up in them, I am reminded that further such accomplishments will require work). There was that one time I found a $20 bill in a parking lot, maybe that was the unexpected good luck to which it refers.

Tarot result 2

Presently, I seem to be undergoing some changes in my way of life. Perhaps I’m sleeping more?

Tarot result 3

My outlook tells me I can look forward to a new beginning, a breakthrough in spiritual understanding, with wealth, prestige, prosperity, and a happy home life in the making. I’ve recently discovered that most of the things I’ve scanned using my scanner’s default settings were compressed more than I wanted them to be and show artifacts, and I’m on the verge of deciding that I need to scan basically everything over again. A new beginning indeed! And scanning does provide lots of time for contemplation. And it keeps me at work a bit longer, where I prosper and gain wealth, and that’s not always completely detrimental to the happiness of home life. This thing may be on to something.

Tarot result 4

You can if you like, continue to gather information about your past, present, and outlook, without limit. But I’m happy enough with the results I got, so I’ll stick.

Softalk’s historical scoop: Apple joins the Dark Side

Prompted by discussion on the Softalk Forever!!! Facebook group, itself prompted by the initiation of an ambitious data mining project (The Softalk Apple Project) using Softalk as its base, I present the one full scan I’ve done since the last round at the beginning of the summer.

It’s a nice one to have, though, it’s issue number one, September 1980, which started it all. My copy is not perfect, but it’s not bad. It is, however, a bit aged and quite brittle. So, although the issue is not particularly long compared to what issues would become, it was a challenge to get it to look even as good as this does.

Softalk1980 09

Welcome to Softalk. Whether you’re a hobbyist or a businessperson, a programmer or a nonprogrammer, Softalk is designed for you, because each of you has chosen Apple for your computer; and so did we. (Straightalk, Softalk Sep 1980, p. 3).

Addendum: actually, I’m seeing a lot of compression artifacts in this scan at high magnification. Though it might destroy this issue to go through the scanning process again, I might try once more to see if I can get a cleaner scan. I don’t really think it’s a dpi issue, since my 600dpi version of this has similar artifacts. Might require some experimentation. This version will stay here for now.