VGT – More Fun with the CoCo2

Seminary classes have started for me again, so I will be spending more time with Plato and less with Mario.  Before things get too crazy,  I wanted to share some more thoughts and pictures as I’ve been re-discovering the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 2.  Of course, I wouldn’t have been able to play any of these games on my modern television set without an adapter.  I want to be sure to include a picture of it.  Again, it is just a small piece of metal that I can plug in a composite (RCA) cable into, then I screw the other end into the back of the TV where the cable box would go.  I wonder sometimes where I would go if all the Radio Shacks went out of business.  Ebay or Amazon I guess.

RCA to Coaxial Adapter

RCA to Coaxial Adapter

What is it actually like to play games on the CoCo2?  I took a few shots of my friend Squiggly when he was playing Demon Attack.  You can see that playing games on the Color Computer is similar to how we play games on PC’s today.  He is relatively close to the monitor and the the immersion.  It is not like playing a console game in the living room.

Gameplay on the CoCo2

Gameplay on the CoCo2

I also wanted to get a close up of the joystick “in action”.  The analog joystick is small and boxy with a single button.  It is relatively comfortable to hold and play games, but it makes me appreciate the modern joysticks of our current gaming era.  They are much more ergonomic.  I would probably rate the XBox 360 game controller as one of the best designs ever.  This Radio Shack joystick is it’s great grandpa.  Sort of like the Ford Model T before the Corvette.

Holding the Joystick

Holding the Joystick

One of the features of the CoCo2 was color.  It arose from a generation of TRS-80 computers that were monochrome only.  Now, I have great memories of playing games with huge white pixels on a black screen.  The color computer’s ability to display 8 colors at the same time was pretty amazing.  The screenshot below is from the boss battle screen in Demon Attack and I think it does a great job of demonstrating the color capabilities.  Try to count the number of colors!

Look at all the pretty colors!

Look at all the pretty colors!

I have a new game that I want to share called Canyon Climber.  It is a 2D platformer much in the spirit of the Donkey Kong arcade game.  It was released about one year later than Donkey Kong.  In the game, you are a little person and it is your job to climb out of the canyon.  For Level 1, you have to plant charges at the end of each bridge and then plunge the detonator to destroy the bridges.  There are antelopes or mountain goats trying to stop you.  This level has the feel of the Donky Kong level with the fireball where Mario is jumping over rivets to make the girders fall.

Things are gonna get blowed up real good

Things are gonna get blowed up real good

Level 2 for Canyon Climber looks almost like a direct ripoff from the initial Donkey Kong screen.  It just needs a giant gorilla at the top left.  There are no barrels, only American Indians or Native Americans shooting arrows at the main character.  He jumps over the arrows and climbs the ladders

A little like Donkey Kong

A LOT like Donkey Kong

The third level involves climbing the canyon and avoiding the bird droppings.  It reminded me of Donkey Kong Jr.  Getting up the last ladder is difficult because the birds are so close.  I died here and played no longer.  This leads to the question, “Is there a level after this one?”

Level 3 - more canyons and climbing

Level 3 – more canyons and climbing

Another game I played is called Temple of ROM.  It is a top down dungeon crawler in the classic sense.  I found that it reminded me of playing Rogue on the PC back in the day, but with better graphics.  It’s not really a compliment to the CoCo2 when I say that it has better graphics, because Rogue had no graphics.  I played Rogue using only ASCII characters and my imagination.  However, I think Rogue generated random dungeons and Temple of ROM does not.

A scene from Temple of ROM

A scene from Temple of ROM

The little person is trapped in a monster filled dungeon and he must use his sword (or is it a laser?) to vanquish the fiendish beasts.  But there are rewards for his actions with treasures such as diamond rings.  This game was pretty good until the bat showed up.  It’s hard to run from the bat, and it seems impossible to kill the bat.  I couldn’t get any pictures of the bat because there was too much running and dying.

Fire and a blurry thing that I think is a monster

Fire and a blurry thing that I think is a monster

I have to give a shout out to the game, Springster.  I’m sure that it’s a great game but I was never able to get it to work.  I even blew on the cartridge like I do with my NES.  However, playing no game at all would have been better than playing Spidercide.  Spidercide is an example of game designers taking two good game concepts and making a bad game out of it.  Some asked the question, “Hey, what if we took all of the puzzling fun of the arcade game Qix and combined it with the great spaceship controls of the arcade game Asteroid?”  The end result was not pretty.  The spaceship is virtually impossible to control with joystick, so you find yourself constantly flying in circles.  Meanwhile, the line producing enemy speeds around the screen with a zig here and a zag there.  Eventually it runs into you and you die.  I felt like a fish out of water, flopping around an electrical torture chamber.  Fun!

Qix and Asteriods produce a monster love child

Qix and Asteriods produce a monster love child

Before I put the Color Computer 2 away in it’s box, I would like to try some of these games again.  I would like to find out if there is a level four in Canyon Climber (I’m sure I could find the answer to this question on Youtube.com, but it’s just not the same as finding out for myself.  I would like to put in Temple of ROM one more time and perhaps play more patiently than I did.  But most of all, I would like to play Demon Attack.  That was hands down the best experience for me on the CoCo2.  Thanks for going on this short journey into computer and gaming history with me.

5 thoughts on “VGT – More Fun with the CoCo2

  1. Pardon my ignorance, but the screens remind me alot of Lite Brite art..now that I can understand and not have to chase any bad guys. I must say though that video games have improved greatly.

    • You are not far off when you compare the screenshots to Lite Brite. A graphic is made up of pixels, and back then – the games we played were almost made up of pixels the size of Lite Brite pegs. As computers grew more powerful, the pixels became smaller and smaller. Now, in many cases they can almost duplicate reality. Thanks for leaving a comment….and thanks for being my mom too! I think you should send me a write-up of some of your favorite games. People would love to read it.

  2. I had a great time talking to you on the podcast last night! I’m so stoked for the world to hear your rendition of Don’t Stop Believing! I apologize for hogging a lot of the podcast. I wanted to hear more from you and Yann especially. I’m sure we’ll all get better at interrupting one another more eloquently as we develop better rapport. Quite stoked about it all.

    You’ve got me interested in Demon Attack and Temple of the ROM (best name ever). I’m gonna go see if I can find some videos of those right now!

  3. Those games are quite interesting to play. They don’t make them like that anymore and actually that might be a good thing.. 🙂 However there is a bit of entertaining value going back and playing something like this, I would recommend it if you haven’t. If not just to see how far games have come. I do enjoy arcade games from the 80’s and 90’s still. So much so that I have an arcade machine with many of my favorite games on them. I always seem to go back and play them. Strangely, I like them just as much as I did back then.

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