Classic Computer Magazine Archive CREATIVE COMPUTING VOL. 9, NO. 12 / DECEMBER 1983 / PAGE 126

Large scale fun for small scale computers. David Grosjean; James Grosjean.

Large Scale Fun For Small Scale Computers

Keystroke Management

Keystroke Management is just one tape in a line of software from 2-Bit Software geared to the 2K TS1000. This tape has four games, all with business themes.

The first, Musical Desks, is an action game in which you play musical chairs with vice-presidential desks; when the desks stop moving, you must be next to one of the six desks or else you are out of the game (and out of a job). Of the 100 skill levels, 1 is the fastest and 100 is the slowest. Level 1 is extremely difficult. Musical Desks has remarkably smooth and rapid graphics for a 2K game. This is probably the best game on the tape.

The next program, Corner Office, is a maze-type game in which you try to get through the invisivle corporate maze and arrive at the corner office. You control the direction of movement up, down, right, and lfet. An interesting facet of this game is the fact that you can go only one way down some of the passages. The graphics in this game are also quite smooth.

The third game, Office Automation, is fast-paced. You must avoid voice mail, desktop computers, and satellite teleconferences that are out of control. If you run out of time before you get to the end or if you hit one of the hazards, you lose. The keys L and R turn you left and right. This hectic game will challenge you for quite a while. Although it is basically the same every time, it poses some difficulty because the controls are difficult to master.

The last game, called Go to the Top, is a very different kind of adventure game. The reward is a key to the executive washroom. This is attained by climbing up the ladder of success using several commands including Kiss Up, Tred on Toes, Fire, and Hire. You start with ten years and gain a year every time you are promoted; if you are demoted, you lose a year. Of course, when you are out of years, you lose. Sometimes certain moves are not allowed on a given level, and the message CAREER PLATEAU appears. This game is very complicated and will stump you for a long time. I recommend that as you play you make a map of what moves get you where at which levels.

Of the four games, Musical Desks is the best because of the random element and the fast action involved. Considering the memory limitations of the TS1000, this pack of programs is outstanding. All 2-Bit Software packages are well-documented. They are best for people who are using the TS1000 as an introduction to computers and who do not plan to expand the TS1000 at all and for those who want to press the 2K machine to its limits.

TS Destroyer and Space Raid

TS Destroyer and Space Raid are two outstanding 2K games in one package. The excellent graphics and fast action are matched by only a few of the best 16K games.

TS Destroyer is a Defender-type game: you fly over an enemy planet with a two-line terrain moving very rapidly from left to right under you. Attacks come from three quarters: warships, which shoot unavoidable guided missiles at you (you must shoot the warship or the missile); meteors, which you can avoid or shoot; and a robot ship behind you, which you cannot shoot but which is constantly homing in on you and shooting at you with deadly accuracy. You can choose your skill level from 1 (fast) to 30 (slow). The keys 6 and 7 move you up and down, and 1 or 0 fires.

Requiring an adroit combination of reflexes and strategy, TS Destroyer is a game that will not bore you easily. The hazards--especially the robot ship-- keep you moving constantly. The strategy involves making your various enemies destroy each other, temporarily allowing you to focus your attention on the warship.

One of the best features of this program is that it is a hybrid Basic/machine code game. This allows you to modify the program to your own specifications. The directions give you all the information you need. You can even add a score if you have 16K. Because there is some Basic in the program, you can break out of the game at any time.

The second program, Space Raid, also has excellent action. After you have chosen a skill level from 0 (fast) to 9 (slow), you are confronted by the alien spaceship with the alien inside. The object is to shoot through his defenses and destroy him. Using only five laser bases, you must avoid his laser cannon (which is deadly accurate) and blast through the two defense rings rotating in opposite directions under his feet. You must hit him in the left foot, his only vulnerable spot. Your laser beses can move left and right and fire from any position.

Space Raid is fast and exciting. Ten skill levels and a dangerous enemy laser can keep you challenged for hours. Since this is also a hybrid Basic/machine code game, you can break during play and make modifications. Unfortunately, the modification documentation for this game is not as complete as for TS Destroyer.

Although both games can be modifed by the user, extensive modifications require 16K. Nevertheless both are superb as they are.


Millepede is a simple version of the type of game represented by Centipede, Atari's popular arcade game. The millepede consists of ten segments which are represented by > or < depending on which direction it is going. The playing area is a 20 X 20 square. On the right of the screen is displayed your score, the high score, and your remaining lives.

You are at the bottom of the screen; you can move only left and right. The object of the game is to destroy all the millepedes before they get you. You start shooting when the millepede enters the playing area in the middle of the top.

As in the arcade game, hitting a segment of the millepede changes it to a mushroom. When the insect hits a mushroom and advances, it changes direction. These mushrooms drop things on you that are indestructible and lethal. This is the limit to the hazards of the game. As the game progresses, everything gets faster, and the mushrooms get more accurate with their bombs. Even though the familiar hazards of fleas, scorpions, and spiders are missing and the game lacks the complexity of arcade style games, it is more than challenging because of the speed later in the game.

Since the game is written in machine code, it is fast and the graphics are smooth. By not using the whole screen, the vertical orientation of the arcade style is retained--a definite plus. The fact that your movement is limited to left and right is not a big hindrance since the millepede does not wiggle back up the screen when it hits the bottom; you simply lose one life. Another positive point is that, when you lose a life, the screen quickly goes inverse twice and play resumes immediately.

Also included on this tape is a game called Road Runner. This is a weak version of the Carnival type of arcade game. There are no pipes, animals, or bonuses; only inverse numbers traveling in three rows across the screen. Although the action picks up as the game goes on, the overall slowness of the game is a serious shortcoming.

The documentation for these games is quite complete.

In short, Millepede is an excellent game because of its smooth, fast graphics and the quality of fun it offers. In comparison Road Runner is slow and unexciting.


Meteorites is a simple version of the arcade game type represented by Asteroids, Atari's immensely popular game. Your objective is to destroy the meteorites shown on the screen before they destroy all three of your ships. The playing area, made up of inverse spaces, takes up the entire screen except for the top line where your score and ship indicator are displayed.

At the beginning of the game your first ship is already in position. It is represented by a number 0 through 7, depending on the direction it is facing: zero shows up; 2, right; 4, down; 6, left. The odd numbers represent diagonal positions. This system for showing the ship position is easy to get accustomed to.

The controls allow you to rotate clockwise and counter-clockwise, thrust, and fire. The first two meteorites appear, and you begin firing. Your ship may fire only six shots at a time. When you release the thrust button, your ship stops immediately. This gives good control. Your ship may fly off the screen, but it wraps around to appear on the opposite side.

If you crash, there is no explosion. The game just pauses for a few seconds and then resumes. But be careful when you crash into a large meteorite; when it breaks up, one of the smaller fragments may hit you.

Meteorites are represented by 2 X 2 clusters of graphic characters. When you shoot one of them, you get 100 points, and it breaks up into four smaller meteorites, each worth 200 points and represented by a letter O. There is no high score indicator, and there are no flying saucers either.

When all of the meteorites on the screen are destroyed, the next screen begins with one more large meteorite (up to a maximum of four). When your score reaches 10,000 points, you acquire another ship. When all your ships are gone, the game ends. Pressing 0 starts another game.

The graphics in this game are fast and smooth, due to machine language. The cassette loaded well. In extended play, however, the program seemed susceptible to crashes and some display distortion.

The game is challenging and always different. This program lives up to Softsync's standard and will not disappoint you.

Merchant of Venus

In Merchant of Venus, you are a representative of the Galactic Trading Corporation. Your aim is to make a profit by buying and selling at the different space stations. You start out with 200,000 Solari.

First, you must buy a ship; you have ten freighter classes to choose from. The ship is inspected, and the number for damaged units, if any, is shown.

Next, you are given four options: trade, effect damage, transfer Illyrion (fuel), or commence launch.

If you choose to trade, a list of the ten items is shown. The buying and selling prices at that trading base are given along with your cash reserve and an inventory of your cargo.

After buying fuel and other cargo, you may repair ship damage. If your ship has too many damage units, launch clearance will not be given. The last crucial decision before launching is to decide how much of your Illyrion goes into the reactor and how much into the store.

Each of the five bases has its own name and number, docking facilities, appearance, and prices for buying and selling. The docks are very complex. Along with an intricate view of the launching pad, towers, and other structures, the display shows other important data, a fuel gauge, and velocity indicators. Figure 1 shows the starting base Chryse and the data. When you are out of the range of the base, a wider view of the skyline passes, and you must watch for the next base. When you attempt a landing, the screen enlarges again. If you are going too fast, you can land, but your ship will suffer damage. After buying and selling, you are ready to launch to the next base. Soon you will learn which bases have the best prices.

At the end of the game a performance rating and repeat option are given.

The documentation is good, but lacking in some points, all of which can be cleared up by experimenting, e.g., it does not tell you that you should fly left unless you want to hit the hardest base first. The tape loaded well once the correct volume was found.

Merchant of Venus really combines two games into one: a lunar lander and a trading game. The lunar lander part alone is worth the money; I have not seen a more challenging TS1000 lunar lander game. The graphics are excellent and are not too slow, because there are many machine code routines. Add to this the merchant part, complete with unusual names to bring the game to life, and you have on of the best games on the market.

This program is an excellent value for the money. It is very complex but easy to play. The authors paid incredible attention to detail whithout making the game too complicated.

Products: 2-Bit Software Keystroke Management (computer program)
Softsync TS Destroyer and Space Raid (computer program)
Axis Software Millepede (computer program)
Softsync Meteorites (computer program)
Timex Computer Merchant of Venus (computer program)