Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Megaroids


Asteroids is a true arcade classic and one that has been converted to just about every home computer ever made. Not to be left out, Megamax released Megaroids for the Atari ST in 1985 which was developed using their own C programming tool. If I'm honest, initially I expected a crude take on this old game with poor graphics and pathetic gameplay... Come on, it was made in 1985 the same year Atari gave birth to the ST. Well, how wrong I was...


I can just imagine business users in the 80s playing this during their lunch hour!

The visuals are different, gone are the vectors in favour of nicely drawn bitmaps sweeping across the screen like butter from a hot knife. This game is smooth and looks wonderful in high resolution. Don't worry, colour systems haven't been forgotten and look just as unique using medium resolution which has been interlaced to 640x400 (4 colours). Wow, this doesn't hurt the eyes and looks gorgeous - I wish more game developers used interlace!


Interlace can be rather cool and Megaroids proves there actually was a legit use for it after all...

Megaroids not only looks gorgeous (well, for Asteroids!) but it plays with an authentic touch I liked. It feels like the real deal and plays extremely well to offer a bucket load of retro action. In fact, a part of me still doesn't grasp how this so good for a 1985 release. Overall, a superb clone that offers tons of fun blasting chunks of rock to smithereens.

Both AtariMania and Old Games Finder have access to the downloads. Enjoy and tell me what you think!

3 comments:

  1. Nah, it wasn't interlaced in med res. Straight up 640x200. However they did a good job of remaking the graphics for the halved vertical rez and getting as close to vector as you can on a 15khz raster screen. Plus it running in colour did mean you got a slight bonus... as I recall, the aliens came in different colours (including that ^%$&!!! little one), and as you moved through the levels the rocks became tinted differently as well. So basically against the flat black background, all of your ship (and shots/score), the rocks, and the aliens were painted in a unique colour. Not the most sophisticated approach to using a 4-colour palette but a very effective one.

    And it remains one of the tightest versions of Asteroids I've ever played, and amazingly good value for what was, for us, a bit of magazine coverdisc freeware. We got *hours* of play out of it.

    (seriously, they made it in 1985? hardly anyone was making good use of the ST hardware at the time. let's give them a 33-year-late pat on the back...)

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    1. look closer, it's interlaced alright. Hey, thanks for all the comments, really appreciate you popping over and browsing through what's here :)

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    2. I think I replayed it after leaving that comment but couldn't find my way back. It looks like (at least in emulation) it uses that strange not-actually-interlaced double buffer flickering technique which is often mistakenly called "interlace" on the ST (unless you can somehow convince the hardware to generate a half-line before the active screen area on half the frames and after it on the other half, you're not going to get true, 400-line interlace, but instead a Photochrome / C64 / Spectrum Hi-Colour like persistence-of-vision extended colour set).

      So it's admittedly at least half right, even if the ultimate effect is more one of flickeringly-applied anti-aliasing than true interlacing. It still works to improve the image quality I guess, allowing the full resolution of the original mono graphics to be used even in medrez, just producing an intermediate shade of grey (or colour tint) where a pixel was white on one line and black on the other instead of increasing the sharpness.

      (Given the variable line lengths produced by some demo effects that are useful for sync-scrolling etc, it should be possible to create a kind of true interlace on the ST with sufficient tweaking of the length over several lines, just without much or anything in the way of upper-border overscan... or at least, without increased resolution in the upper overscan. But I don't think anyone's actually done it yet ... any so-called "interlace" thing I've seen is actually just hi-colour flickering. It's one of the key differences between the ST and the Amiga - the latter can easily do interlace in hardware, as it can insert syncs halfway along a scanline, whereas the former can't do it at all, other than the aforementioned concept which subtly alters the timing of *many* lines...)

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