Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 41 / OCTOBER 1983 / PAGE 56


David Berdan

In this fast-action adventure game, your mission is to maneuver through the countryside until you reach the castle and save the princess — if you I can. There are all sorts of dragons you must first conquer and a wily, evil wizard in steady pursuit. The game has four difficulty levels. Written for the unexpanded VIC, versions are also included for the 64 and Atari. Joysticks are required.

This game involves three courageous knights who have returned home from war only to find that the countryside surrounding their castle is infested with dragons that were placed there by an evil wizard. Trapped inside the castle is the beautiful princess, who anxiously awaits the first knight who can rescue her. One at a time the knights try to slay all the dragons and enter the castle to save the princess.

The knights quickly discover the many dangers of the hunt. A dragon will eat anyone who comes near its head. The only way to get rid of one is to zap it in the stomach. Guarding the castle is a phantom dragon that can only be eliminated when all the others have been overcome. (The castle drawbridge will remain closed until he is conquered.) At times a dragon will appear from nowhere, and occasionally a dragon you thought you'd disposed of will reappear to have another try at the knight. And last, but certainly not the easiest of the perils, is the evil wizard himself, who chases the knights as they hunt the dragons. If the wizard catches a knight, the knight is destroyed.

How To Play

Maneuver your knight through the countryside with a joystick. You are allowed three knights at the start, but watch out – the knights can be consumed very quickly by a dragon.

When you encounter a dragon, you must act quickly. Using your fire button, aim at the dragon's stomach. This is its only vulnerable point.

You have no defense against the evil wizard except speed. You must be constantly aware of his distance from you. Remember – if he catches you, your knight is destroyed.

VIC Dragonmaster

The original VIC version of "Dragonmaster" utilizes a programmable character set. Since 232 numerical values were needed to create the 29 characters used in the game, it was necessary to create a data containing the numbers and read them in at the beginning of the program to build the custom characters.

Program 1 is the main game program. Program 2 is the data file needed to establish the character set used in the game. (Please note that due to the need to protect a block of memory for the character set, the VIC version will run only on the unexpanded VIC. Please remove any RAM expansion cartridges.)

Carefully type in Program 1, check it for accuracy, and SAVE it on tape. If you try to RUN Program 1 at this time, it will want to input the data from the data file which has not yet been made. Next, type NEW and then type in Program 2. Be careful while typing in the numbers here, as any slip up will result in ill-formed characters. When you are certain that everything is right, RUN Program 2. Your VIC will ask you to press Record and Play before it starts writing the data on the tape immediately following the copy of Program 1. After a minute or so the screen will display DATATAPE CREATED and the tape will stop. It would be wise to save a copy of Program 2 a little farther down on the tape so that if you need it again you won't have to retype all those numbers.

Rewind the tape to the beginning of Program 1 and type LOAD. When the program has been read in, type RUN.

Difficulty Levels

The first thing to appear on the screen is the instructions. You are asked to choose any of four skill levels by pressing the appropriate function key. The degree of difficulty is determined by how fast the wizard pursues the knight. The EASY level (F1) presents a real challenge to the newcomer. You can expect to be defeated quite often while you are learning the finer points of the game. The next levels, HARD (F3) and VERY HARD (F5), are progressively difficult. The IMPOSSIBLE level (F7) is only for the expert. You must be exceptionally alert and skillful with the joystick to get into the castle at this level.

A dragon turns to dust in "Dragonmaster," VIC version.

Dragonmaster For The 64 And Atari

Chris Metcalf, Programming Assistant

The Commodore 64 version of "Dragonmaster" runs much the same as the VIC version. However, the colors are somewhat different. You will find that you are a flashing figure in shades of gray, a feature which could not be implemented on the VIC due to the memory shortage. The pursuing wizard flashes all the colors of the rainbow (magic!) and, by his mystic powers, pursues you by always halving the distance between you. If at any point his leap brings him to within one square of you, you're finished.

The dragons are the main obstacle in your chivalrous adventure. To eliminate a dragon, you have to move directly in front of his stomach and press the fire button. The dragon will disappear. The phantom dragon guarding the gates must be dispatched last. You will find that the dragons do move about and change color now and then, but this is only restlessness. In addition, a dragon will occasionally appear from nowhere to test your mettle.

The programming techniques involved in this version, as in the VIC version, are fairly straightforward. Programmable characters are used for dragons, castle, walls, knights, wizard, etc. The data for these characters is stored from 14336 to 16384, although the program uses only a part of this. The characters are put on the screen by POKEs, as are their colors (the color screen on the 64 is from 55296 to 56295). Simple sounds are created using two voices of the SID chip. Voice one controls dragon and the knights elimination as well as drawbridge noises; voice two maintains the movement noise.

The Atari version also employs programmable characters (the same data, in fact), located in the block of 512 bytes below the top of your available memory. The colors used are somewhat different. The castle and outside walls, the dragons, the wizard, and the knight each use different color registers. Graphics mode 1 is used to simulate the VIC's 22-column display as closely as possible. The sound used is simple Atari sound. However, the program is basically the same as the VIC version in terms of play.

A Knight zaps a dragon in "Dragonmaster," 64 version.

"Dragonmaster," Atari version.