2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

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2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby VideoGameCritic » September 8th, 2009, 6:08 pm

Here are three Atari 2600 reviews for you to leave comments about.

Dumbo's Flying Circus is new.  Gangster Alley and Video Chess are updates, since their old reviews were short and lame.  I tried to inject more details, along with some humor.

Finally, if you're looking for a bonus review, I also updated the Atari 2600 Tutankham.  


Edward Nigma

2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby Edward Nigma » September 8th, 2009, 6:36 pm

It can take 10 hours for the computer to move in Video Chess????? Please tell me you're exaggerating, or did you actually time it? Crazy.

Michael R.

2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby Michael R. » September 8th, 2009, 7:40 pm

Your Dumbo's Flying Circus picture doesn't work. Can you fix it? Oh and I'm glad you extended your Video Chess review! Much better!

NAC1
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2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby NAC1 » September 8th, 2009, 7:56 pm

With all of the flaws you mentioned in video chess, wouldn't an F be more appropriate? A cheating opponent that takes up to ten hours to make a move sounds like an F game in my opinion. Is there a redeeming factor?


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2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby VideoGameCritic » September 8th, 2009, 8:02 pm

As for Video Chess, level 3 kept me challenged, and the CPU only takes a few seconds to calculate a move on that level.  So if you're a beginner/intermediate player, you can play a game in a reasonable amount of time.

And by the way, it's the manual that mentions the 10 hours!

Guy

2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby Guy » September 8th, 2009, 11:10 pm

[QUOTE=Edward Nigma]It can take 10 hours for the computer to move in Video Chess????? Please tell me you're exaggerating, or did you actually time it? Crazy.[/QUOTE]

I have Intellivision Chess and I think it takes just as long when the computer is losing. I never had the patients to wait over 30 minutes , so I just shut it off and play it on a newer system.  It is not an intellegent choice to wait that long for an Intellivision game.


Crimefighter

2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby Crimefighter » September 9th, 2009, 12:46 am

Well you should keep in mind, this is 1979 and they had to use some clever programming tricks to get all those pieces on the screen.

http://www.atariprotos.com/2600/software/computerchess/computerchess.htm

Did you ever notice how the chess pieces are made up of lines?  This is because of a special trick created by Bob Whitehead to display more than six sprites per line (which wouldn't have been enough for Chess).  This trick called "Venetian Blinds" allowed the 2600 to display up to eight sprites per row (instead of the normal six) by alternating them between two sets of scanlines (four on one set of scanlines, and four on the other).  It was the development of this trick that made a chess program on the 2600 possible.




Lucky Man

2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby Lucky Man » September 9th, 2009, 2:50 pm

Alright!  More 2600 reviews!

Nice reviews as always.  Thanks VGC!

Adamant1
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2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby Adamant1 » September 9th, 2009, 6:17 pm

Also, here's an ercept from a Digitpress interview with the programmer:

[QUOTE]DP: According to Larry Wagner, Video Chess was developed as a direct result of a customer who complained that the (original) VCS system box showed a picture of chess, but that no chess game existed. Did this person actually sue Atari over that (and if so, did they win?). How difficult was the development process, and where did the idea for the “Venetian blinds” technique originate?

 

Bob Whitehead: Box art has always been a problem in our industry. How do you communicate to a consumer what’s inside, at the same time sell an image and make it “pop” on the self. Combine that with a marketing group who’s not experienced in consumer electronics and you’ve got trouble. Consumer electronics, unlike many “Procter and Gamble” type products, is a business selling to a very savvy bunch of patrons. Plus at the time, the computer chess game segment was an important genre in the very early stages of the home computer gaming business. Atari felt they had to address it. Unfortunately, those games at the time were simple text driven interfaces with no graphics, and putting “chess pictures” on the box didn’t strike the powers-to-be how difficult a task it would be to pull off. I do remember discussions in the lab of how “stupid” it was to assume we can do a chess game and how “impossible” it was to do. And that’s all I needed … you see the word “impossible,” it seems, has always been one of my “igniters” - it gets the puzzle solver in me going.

 

As for lawsuits, I don’t remember anything like that. Venetian blinds came about like any other programming technique. Building and improving on the previous technique with some insight is my first answer to your question. But a better answer is, “just being driven to want more visually,” a distinctive motivator, I think, of the gamer’s mind. A very critical feature of the architecture of the Atari 2600 was the hardware designer’s decision to put the graphic display power in the hands of the programmer. Really, once the programmer understood that almost everything in the graphics chip could be “changed on the fly,” techniques began to evolve as the necessities of invention drove the process. It usually is the case even today, the software guys know more about a system’s capabilities than the hardware guys could ever dream of knowing. And there is the programmer in me who misses the direct access to the hardware in today’s machines.
[/QUOTE]

Video Chess' history is far more interesting than the game itself is.


ajsmart1
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2009/9/8: Atari 2600: Dumbo's Flying Circus (Prototype), Gangster Alley, Video Chess

Postby ajsmart1 » September 9th, 2009, 8:24 pm

[QUOTE=Adamant]Video Chess' history is far more interesting than the game itself is.[/QUOTE]

Thanks for the link Adamant, the whole interview is a good read.   I Love that sort of stuff.  Video Chess may get a D-, but the story behind it gets an A



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