Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

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scotland
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Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby scotland » June 18th, 2018, 10:57 am

Jelly Monsters for the VIC-20

Programmer: HAL laboratories
Release Year: 1981
Current Cost: $80 for the Penultimate Cartridge, but you get a more than just the game
Variations/AKA Pac-Man in Japan
Size: 8K

jellymon.gif
jellymon.gif (4 KiB) Viewed 584 times


Pac-Man was released in Japan in May of 1980 (a few months before it was in North America), and the VIC-20 in Japan also in 1980. The VIC 20 was the first really affordable home computer, and it quickly became mostly a game playing machine. HAL Laboratories got the home computer rights to several NAMCO games in Japan, including Pac-Man. This game is the result.

Now, there is a story that Satoru Iwata - yup, the former President of Nintendo - may have had a hand in creating the game. Iwata was an intern at Commodore Japan and knew the VIC-20. While at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, he began working for HAL laboratories part time, and was already pretty expert in using the 6502. He worked there full time beginning in 1982. Iwata would then go on with HAL making Famicom games, beginning with a port of Joust. Did he make "Jelly Monsters" for the VIC-20? I can't find anything to really point at Iwata personally for this game, but he was probably around as a part-timer when it was being made. "Cart-zilla" by Will Shrake has the author being unknown.

Atari got the home computer license for Pac-Man outside of Japan, so HAL renamed their Pac-Man to Jelly Monsters. Atari still sued. A story is that Tramiel knew full well Atari would sue, but that Jelly Monsters would still help sell the VIC-20.

As for the game itself, its crisp and has four different color ghosts that do more or less what they should. The game is fast, and difficult. The second Pac-Man you see on the screen is an oddly placed counter for number of lives left. The maze is simplified, but a larger maze would be even harder.

There is some flicker, but on a CRT it is not as bad as some youtube videos make out. The sound effects sound like Pac-Man. There are keyboard controls, but good luck using those. Pick a good stubby joystick, but you will still have to lead turns or the lag will get you - and I still often end up being a Pac-Man sandwich.

The game is on the Penultimate Cartridge by thefuturewas8bit, which houses about 35 useable games, but also has other features such as the many RAM expansions on the system. Also, use the cursor keys to help center the image on the screen. I also get a posted high score that is unreasonably high, so not sure if that is just an artifact of the ROM in that cartridge.

pacman000
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Re: Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby pacman000 » June 18th, 2018, 4:53 pm

And this is the real reason for the Great Video Game Crash of '84: Computers had finally become cheap enough for the average person to afford, & they could do as good a job (better!) than video game systems.

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scotland
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Re: Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby scotland » June 18th, 2018, 11:01 pm

pacman000 wrote:And this is the real reason for the Great Video Game Crash of '84: Computers had finally become cheap enough for the average person to afford, & they could do as good a job (better!) than video game systems.


Jelly Monsters is a pretty amazing arcade experience, but there are many reasons cited for the decline.

Oversaturation of small businesses, buying units on credit that never make enough money before its not the newest thing is one. I do wonder why we didn't get consolidation, as in the video tape rental business.

Redemption machines were an answer to keeping a single machine for years, instead of one of the video games that were coming out too rapidly. There were new shiny games all the time - four players, laser disc, etc - its like big summer blockbusters competing for the same movie goers. There was a split into making either harder games like Defender that the hardcore arcaders would obsess over, or continuing to go for easier mass appeal games. The market might have supported both, as it does now, but there was a feeling this was all just a fad.

Another is a shift in parenting away from free range kids to always supervised kids. Kids and teen only places were seen as dangerous places to adults. I don't know why this happened, but it hurt teen hangouts like arcades or skating rinks.

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VideoGameCritic
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Re: Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby VideoGameCritic » June 18th, 2018, 11:35 pm

This game looks amazing. So this Penultimate cart actually runs on a Vic 20 machine?
I might need to get one.

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scotland
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Re: Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby scotland » June 19th, 2018, 6:28 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:This game looks amazing. So this Penultimate cart actually runs on a Vic 20 machine?
I might need to get one.


Yes. The VIC 20 had very limited RAM, and RAM expansions (either via a cartridge or as a stand alone) were common but created isues. You had to have the correct RAM expansion, as a bigger expansion might map key memory locations differently. The Penultimate Cartridge has a menu system for selecting a RAM expansion, as well as 40 of the systems defining games (5 are text adventures) that work no fuss about selecting RAM and no loading times. It works along with the SD2IEC floppy drive emulator they also make, for other games, such as homebrews and the other commercial carts. Together they make a good system. You can use the same SD2IEC for a Commodore 64 as well.

mbd36
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Re: Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby mbd36 » June 19th, 2018, 7:53 am

pacman000 wrote:And this is the real reason for the Great Video Game Crash of '84: Computers had finally become cheap enough for the average person to afford, & they could do as good a job (better!) than video game systems.


Computers factored into it. The glut of bad console games was another reason.

Still, not everybody could afford or wanted a computer back then. The Colecovision played games better than the Vic 20 and was less expensive. The Atari 2600 wasn't as powerful, but was also much cheaper. I remember we got a 2600 at the time of the crash for $40.

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scotland
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Re: Jelly Monsters (VIC-20)

Postby scotland » June 19th, 2018, 8:11 am

VideoGameCritic wrote:This game looks amazing. So this Penultimate cart actually runs on a Vic 20 machine? I might need to get one.


I know the VIC 20 is outside the console wheelhouse, but the number of game cartridges is not huge - maybe 175. Many are short arcade games that you might enjoy reviewing.

mbd36 wrote: Computers factored into it. The glut of bad console games was another reason.

Still, not everybody could afford or wanted a computer back then. The Colecovision played games better than the Vic 20 and was less expensive. The Atari 2600 wasn't as powerful, but was also much cheaper. I remember we got a 2600 at the time of the crash for $40.


Computer prices had dramatic shifts, as companies got into price wars. The Colecovision came out about when the Commodore C64 did, and the VIC 20 price would have dropped alot. By the time you could buy a Colecovision, a VIC 20 was probably a cheaper choice. We could check magazine ads of the day to see.

I don't dispute that not everyone in the US wanted a computer, no matter the pricing though.


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