Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 56 / JANUARY 1985 / PAGE 61

"Paratrooper" is a game of high responsibility—you control the destiny of ten parachutists, giving the go signal that ejects them from the plane. Their safe landings depend on your ability to judge weight factors, windage, and the all-important crucial moment when they should leap. Originally written for the T1-99/4A (with 16K and Extended BASIC), the program has been adapted for the Commodore 64, unexpanded VIC, Atari (with at least 32K), Apple, IBM PC (with color /graphics adapter and BASICA), PCjr (with Cartridge BASIC), and the Commodore Plus/4 and 16.


John Goetz

Almost everyone has seen a parachuting exhibition. Perhaps you've wished that you, too, could fall from the sky on the wings of the wind. The plane drones on, cruising at the proper altitude. You peer out the hatch through wispy remnants of clouds as you decide where to land. You can barely see three tiny squares, far below, surrounded by water. These must be the landing pads, your drop zones. An aquatic landing can lead only to disgrace and severe embarrassment, so you know that you must jump at just the right moment.

There are three different-sized landing pads: The smaller pads promise the greatest honor and reward, but allow less room for error. Nearby, graceful sailboats ply the water. You know that soon these tiny features will grow at an alarming rate. You consult with the pilot and estimate the perfect moment for your jump by carefully considering your altitude, the speed of the wind, and your own body weight.

Too many late-night pizzas coupled with a low wind speed, and you'll drop like a stone. But if you're a featherweight, and the wind's kicking up, you'll find yourself drifting quite a way. With all the facts in, you wait for just the right mo­ment. Then you leap out into the cold, crisp wind—with fingers crossed, of course.

If even reading this description makes you nervous, you'll be glad "Paratrooper" is just a computer game. Rarely is such a simple game so fun to play. The single key (or joystick) control and adjustable difficulty levels makes this an easy to learn, yet challenging, game for young children too.

Let Your Fingers Do The Jumping

The various versions of Paratrooper differ slightly, but the concept is the same. Your plane continuously flies across the screen at an altitude which changes randomly for each jump. The paratroopers' weights and the wind speed change for each jump, too. All this information is displayed on the screen. You have ten paratroopers: ten chances for glory, or ten chances for dripping disaster. To drop a trooper, press any key (on the TI-99/4A, press Q or the fire button on joystick 1). The three landing pads are worth 25, 50, and 75 points, depending on their size.

All versions have more than one difficulty level. The TI version lets you choose between Novice and Experienced at the start of the game (you must rerun the program to change the level). The plane always moves at the same speed, but the landing pads are smaller in the Experienced level. Versions for the IBM, Atari, Plus/4, Commodore 16, and VIC-20 let you choose between Novice and Expert—again, the plane travels at the same speed, but the landing zones get smaller. The Commodore 64 version adds an Intermediate level. The Apple version has Easy and Hard levels, and the plane flies faster on the Hard level while the landing pads remain the same size.

Special Instructions

After typing in the Atari version (Program 5), it's important to save it on tape or disk before running it for the first time. Before loading the game, clear the computer by turning it off, then on again, and type POKE 128,0 : POKE 129,64 : NEW and press RETURN. This rearranges memory to make room for a machine language subroutine.

The VIC-20 version is broken into two parts so it works on an unexpanded VIC. Type in Program 3 and save it to tape or disk. If you are using tape, be sure to change the 8 to a 1 in line 40 of Program 3. Type in and save Program 4 as "P2" (for Part 2). Save Program 4 immediately after Program 3 on the tape.

A paratrooper leaps for the landing pads in the TI version of "Paratrooper."

Commodore 64 "Paratrooper" has three levels of difficulty; this is the hardest level with the smallest landing pads.

Sailboats glide over the water while the plane passes overhead in the VIC-20 version of "Paratrooper."

Atari "Paratrooper" uses player/missile graphics, a display list interrupt, and machine language to smooth out the action.

The landing pads Are always the same size in Apple "Paratrooper," but the plane moves faster in the harder level.

A Chutist plunges downward in "Paratrooper" for the IBM PC/PCjr.

"Paratrooper" is one of COMPUTER!'s first programs for the new Commodore Plus/4 and 16.