A Radio Shack Color Computer Lover's Best Friend?

  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
  • warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/buckman/public_html/neo/modules/advanced_forum/advanced_forum.module on line 492.
Bill Loguidice's picture

Thexder for the Color Computer 3 (Sierra On-Line)Thexder for the Color Computer 3 (Sierra On-Line)As fans of Tandy's venerable and mostly underappreciated Radio Shack Color Computer (CoCo) line of computers know, finding much information on the Web about their beloved system line - particularly in regards to games - is a tough proposition. As opposed to the more popular home computers that were the CoCo's contemporary competition, like the Atari 8-bit and Commodore 64 (C-64), it seems that much of the focus these days on the systems is more from a hacking/programming perspective (thanks to the ability to use the powerful "OS-9" operating system) than from a gaming standpoint. This also is no doubt due to the simple fact that the early CoCo machines - the Color Computer 1 and Color Computer 2 - weren't particularly conducive to great gaming, with a rather garish 4 color pallet for most games and single channel sound (though there was limited support for speech/sound expansion cartridges and of course the usual programming tricks to get more out of the stock system). While the backwards compatible Color Computer 3 had mostly rectified the situation by becoming a "super 8-bit" (faster processor, more memory, more colors), with performance similar to the early Apple IIgs and Atari ST computer lines in many cases (though still single channel sound!), it was never a premiere entertainment platform.

With this in mind, we here at Armchair Arcade feel it's important to point out good resources when the opportunity presents itself. While we've used the "Tandy (TRS-80) Color Computer Games" Website for our own reference before, L. Curtis Boyle, the site's proprietor, wrote in today to not only mention that (and coming updates and upgrades), but also to point out some interesting factoids and the latest happenings in the CoCo scene.

In reference to Matt's review of The Dungeons of Daggorath, L. points out a few other "innovative" titles for the CoCo, including Grabber, which was a maze game that switched between two mazes at will, Photon, a strategy/arcade game by Sundog, Phantom Slayer, a real-time pseudo 3D shooter (L. also has an interview up with the author on his main site, so check that out as well), and Varloc, which is like a 3D Archon (board game/arcade hybrid).

L. also mentions that he's working with some gentlemen in Australia (a CoCo haven of sorts back in the 80's) to port some unique Dragon 32/64 (a partially compatible competitive system that had little impact in the US but was somewhat popular in Europe and elsewhere) titles to the CoCo, amounting to perhaps a dozen "new" games. He also mentions what he refers to as "backports" of the popular Sierra adventure games (I think only Leisure Suite Larry I and King's Quest III, the latter of which I own, was actually officially released), including:

Goldrush
Black Cauldron
Manhunter 1
Manhunter 2
Kings Quest 1
Kings Quest 2
Kings Quest 4
Police Quest 1
Space Quest 1
Space Quest 2

L. also mentions another site, this one from Steve Bjork, to check out: http://coco.etechwds.com/

Thanks to L. for the tips and heads-up!

Comments

adamantyr
adamantyr's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/28/2007
Tandy did some odd things

Tandy did some odd things with their CoCo systems. My favorite, I think, was the hidden memory expansion. At some point, 64k RAM chips dropped in price to the point that they were actually cheaper in bulk than 32k RAM chips. So they started releasing CoCo 2 machines with a 64k RAM chip installed, but the upper 32k was disabled! Why, I don't know for certain, I think the running theory is that the 32k CoCo's sold better.

There was some trick you could do to access the added RAM in an indirect fashion, but since it was only a particular run of CoCo's that had it, it was dangerous for software developers to rely upon it.

lcurtisboyle (not verified)
Actually, there was a

Actually, there was a hardware issue with accessing the 64K... especially on the earliest revision "C" or "D" boards. One had to solder a certain pin on all 8 4164 RAM chips together, and then to the CPU, plus cut some traces on the circuit board, to make it work. Later revisions ("E" and "F" or 285) were much easier to upgrade, with the "F" basically being replacing chips and moving a couple of jumpers. The BASIC ROM's unfortunately never did access the "extra" 32K... but an machine language program (or some BASIC add-ons) could.

lcurtisboyle (not verified)
Are you more thinking of AGI

Are you more thinking of AGI vs. SCI? KQ4 was released in 1988 under AGI, and then re-released the next year under SCI. While KQ4 did use the v3 interpreter, it does mostly work with the Coco's v2. To quote the author who ported it:

"NOTE: There are some minor glitches with object priorities
due to the fact that this game was designed to run on a more
recent version of the AGI interpreter and make use of commands
not available on the coco interpreter."

I have tried it, and it does work, but I haven't played the game enough (yet) to see how bad the issues are.

yakumo9275
yakumo9275's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/26/2006
"NOTE: There are some minor

"NOTE: There are some minor glitches with object priorities
due to the fact that this game was designed to run on a more
recent version of the AGI interpreter and make use of commands
not available on the coco interpreter."

Hi L, your "note" about kq4 basically tells me the graphics were converted from agi v3 to agi v2 format and the code scripts were left in v3 format. All the v3 games will probably have glitches of some kind, but kq4 would probably have the least.

-- Stu --

n/a
lcurtisboyle (not verified)
Yes, probably true (I

Yes, probably true (I haven't tested them). There were also several sub-versions of v2, and I am not sure which of the those the Coco engine was based on. One of these days, I will have to finish disassembling the SIERRA, MNLN, etc. modules to figure out how they work (I have to fix SIERRA anyways - it "cheats" on setting up MMU registers, and will not work properly on OS-9/NitrOS-9 systems that recognize >512K RAM).

lcurtisboyle (not verified)
Just to mention a small

Just to mention a small update to the Tandy / TRS-80 Color Computer games site - I added the "Graphic Mars" entry (from Aardvark), and a legal copy of Wizard's Den (from Novasoft/Tom Mix Software) is now available for download).

briza (not verified)
A Radio Shack Color Computer Lover's Best Friend

Hi everyone.

I'm the guy mentioned earlier from Australia porting Dragon based games over to the Coco platform. Been meaning to sign up for a while. But once I saw Curtis Boyles name mentioned. I just had to sign up.

So far I like what I have read in here. Very nice. Very informative.

Until I can think of something to add to this topic I'll just keep reading until something comes up. That I have some answers for.

laters

Briza

Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
TRS-80

Both me and MrCustard went to the same highschool and had computerclasses in a TRS-80 based computerlab. I remember programming on those B&W (green and black) systems. Rather nice keyboard (with the white enter keys) and a solid build. The science department bought an early c64 and thought it would function as an oscilloscope right out of the box with the attached interface. It turned out that they needed my services in 6510 assambly programming to actually create a program that would function as a rudimentary oscillioscope on the c64 with the interface. Cool!

========================
Mark Vergeer - Editor / Pixelator
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
Xboxlive gametag
========================

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Something about the

Something about the oscilloscope and C-64, Mark! My first programming classes in school here in the US (New Jersey) were on TRS-80 Model III's and later IV's. These were obviously no match for my C-64 at home, but I still had a fondness for the build quality, keyboards and screens (they were just flat-out cool systems). That's why I made an absolute point of getting that line as part of my collecting. As I progressed to High School, they standardized on the Tandy 1000 series. I have fond memories of that as well, but not quite as fond as by that time computers were beginning to lose their unique identities.

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
(A PC Magazine Top 100 Website)
======================================

n/a
Mark Vergeer
Mark Vergeer's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
The TRS-80 series has a special place in my heart....

The TRS-80 looked like it could last forever. There´s nothing like playing Zork I to III on a TRS80! (Now I truly sound like a drewling geek). I would love to get a functioning system, provided I have some room to set one up. My first programming was on the school TRS-80 systems. I remember I quite surprised my teacher with some cool ascii animations and some games that I had come up with. Saving was done over the NETWORK!!!! or on Compact Cassette. The `SERVER´ housed two 5.25" floppy drives and I remember a classmate trying to get his dad´s MS-DOS software to work in vain which I told him, but stubbornly tried anyways.

========================
Mark Vergeer - Editor / Pixelator
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
Xboxlive gametag
========================

n/a

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.