Alpha Run is a race,or chace, run over letters or numbers in sequence without exploding the bombs that also lie in the way. A simple game, it teaches the alphabet order and the number sequence 1 through 9. The little blue race car is controlled by a joystick in port One. When the car runs over a number or a letter in proper sequence, the number or letter disappears. If the car runs over a bomb, hits a wall, or touches a number out of sequence, everything explodes and the game starts over. If the sequence is completed, the bombs are rendered harmless. Run over them to end the game. You final score equals the time elapsed during the run.
There are two games possible - the alphabet run that uses the capital letters A-Z, and the number run with the numerals 1 through 9. Each game has two versions, a timed version and a countdown version. The timed version is open-ended, and most suitable for beginners and young players. The score is simply based on time, no matter how long it takes. Players of unequal ability can be handicapped. The countdown version sets a running time limit that decreases as the player gains skill at the contest.
One way to increase speed is to jump over unwanted letters or bombs by pressing the firebutton while moving the stick. Only one such obstacle can be jumped at a time, however.
In the countdown version the object is to run down the numbers or letters and explode the bombs one at a time before the set time expires. Each round gives less time to accomplish the objective, but you will never have less than nine time units for numbers or 35 for letters. Each successful round of numbers will give you ten points plus one point for each unused time unit.
A successful round of letters scores 30 points plus one point for each time unit left. Needless to say, if the time runs out before you accomplish your mission the bombs will be set off and the game will end.
Alpha Run is a great game for children in that it can help teach them numbers and the alphabet. At the same time it will help develop hand-eye coordination. Adults will enjoy it because it is a challenge.
Stephen Groll is a parent and a clergyman, self-taught as a programmer. His game Microids appeared in ANTIC, May '83. This clever little educational game shows what can be done with simple techniques and an ATARI.
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