7th Link CoCo (Color Computer) CRPG

15 replies [Last post]
adamantyr
adamantyr's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/28/2007
Clone software

I think the main reason you find a lot of clone software of this nature on platforms like the CoCo and TI was that they were orphaned systems. As a result, they had the disadvantage of a smaller audience and no direct support from their parent companies, and the advantage that most of the big software companies really had no interest in pursuing litigation... Maybe if someone had pointed it out to them they may have, but likely they'd have shrugged and said "Why bother? That company doesn't have any money anyway."

As much as I love my TI, it's not an easy platform to write games on. It's radical CPU architecture meant there was a distinct shortage of assembly programmers in the rather vital 80's-90's era. And those that did exist were older engineering types who preferred utility software. (Of which the TI had some impressive stuff.) So a lot of games are Extended BASIC with machine language extensions. Some good assembly work came out of Europe, but no CRPG's to my knowledge.

Interestingly, the MSX line of systems used the TI video chip, and even made an upgraded version of it for their MSX2 platforms. (A lot of 99'ers use that chip for an 80-column upgrade.) Unfortunately, porting's not that easy, because the MSX used an 8-bit Z80 processor, and it doesn't have the nasty bottleneck to the video that the TI has. A fellow recently tested the TI's CPU-to-video speed and found it was lagging quite a bit behind the engineering specs of 2 kilobytes per 1/60 second. (More like 510 bytes, or nearly twice that if you do register-to-register.)

Calling the CoCo abandoned is a bit cruel, I suppose, but Radio Shack/Tandy really stopped support shortly after the release of the CoCo3. It lingered on for years, but they basically were just waiting for sales to drop low enough to cut the line entirely. The CoCo3 games from Tandy direct were ports of titles from other systems with fair to middling quality... although "Koronis Rift" and "Rescue on Fractalus" were very well done for the platform.

The CoCo had some really sharp assembly programmers in the old days... I found an interview of the writer of "Donkey King" and "Sailorman", a Donkey Kong and Popeye clone. The guy was a brilliant programmer, he could do stuff people didn't think was possible on the machine. Unfortunately, a lot of that assembly talent disappeared by the time of the CoCo3. Sundog Systems released a lot of commercial clone titles, but Diecom and Tom Mix seemed to drop off the map about then.

There was also a nasty sundering of the users due to OS-9, a disk-based operating system that was incompatible with the basic disk OS that was built into the CoCo. It was even worse because OS-9 between the CoCo2 and 3 were totally different, and Tandy charged full price for the upgrade. A well known 99'er, Bruce Harrison, dabbled with a CoCo for awhile but he packed it up after he got burned by the OS switch.

It makes me wonder, though, what other machines may have a lot of rich software titles that escaped notice because of obscurity and the overshadow of the 6502 systems and their descendants. (Apple II and Commodore, respectively.)

Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
Clone CRPGs for the Affectionately-called Second-Tier Systems...

I think it's fair to say that the best thing that these clone games bring for their intended platforms is to make elements of the classic mainstream CRPGs that were made for the first tier platforms available for enthusiasts of these affectionately-called second tier platforms. In many ways, even with the clone aspects, it's an admirable accomplishment. Even 65% as good as Ultima III or Phantasie II or whatever the clone is inspired by, is still better than 0%...

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
======================================

n/a
yakumo9275
yakumo9275's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/26/2006
7th Link looks more

7th Link looks more interesting than Gates of Delirium, but its written for a Coco3 vs Gates for a CoCo2...

I dont think GoD brings anything, and 7th Link was written in 1989, a year after ultima v, phantaise iii, pool of radiance, wasteland, times of lore, dungeon master, return of ishtar...

now for a coco game, its pretty awesome, but compared to others of its time.. shrugs...

-- Stu --

n/a
Matt Barton
Matt Barton's picture
Offline
Joined: 01/16/2006
No Kidding
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Thanks for that. That whole page of software looks tremendous, particularly the CoCo 3 stuff. It's funny, even though the Color Computer and TI lines are second-tier classic systems, they have a very interesting showing for CRPGs that was most certainly not from the usual developers/publishers.

No kidding! Man, some of these clones are so blatant it's almost painful. Still, just because it's a clone doesn't mean it's not a good game, in and of itself. I always thought Great Giana Sisters was a fine game, though it's obviously a SMB ripoff.

I just wonder to what extent these CRPG clones are really innovative. Are they just direct, unimaginative clones, or is there "value add" that might be worth noting in the book?

n/a
Bill Loguidice
Bill Loguidice's picture
Offline
Joined: 12/31/1969
CoCo and Ti - CRPG machines?

Thanks for that. That whole page of software looks tremendous, particularly the CoCo 3 stuff. It's funny, even though the Color Computer and TI lines are second-tier classic systems, they have a very interesting showing for CRPGs that was most certainly not from the usual developers/publishers.

======================================
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director
Armchair Arcade, Inc.
======================================

n/a

Comment viewing options

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