Classic Computer Magazine Archive START VOL. 4 NO. 3 / OCTOBER 1989

Bounce to the Beat with an Old Friend


Pull up your comfy chair; you'll be in it for hours. From the creator of Clowns & Balloons -one of the first Atari 800 arcade-style video games-comes BOINGO, Frank Cohen's addictive strategy- and fun-filled bouncing game. Plays on a color monitor.

Big fun, bouncy style. Files BOINGO.ARC and BOINGSRC.ARC on your STARTdisk.

Boingo's origins lay in an area far away from arcade games. It began as an enhancement that adds binary trees to a commercial database system. Binary trees - the computer equivalent to the proverbial fork-in-the-road problem - are used to index a set of records in a database. Imagine the binary tree turned upside-down. With the root of the tree on the top of an ST display, each node might appear to be a platform in a pyramid. The computer program to map out the tree becomes fairly simple, the program continues to plot nodes until it reaches the bottom of the display. Watching the binary tree program create the playfield provided the impetus to create Boingo.

Boingo is similar to the old arcade game Q * Bert, in which a likeable yellow and orange-snouted character bounced around a pyramid of tiles. Bouncing on a tile changes the tile color. Once all the tiles color were changed, Q * Bert received a bonus and advanced to the next level. Colored dots gave Q * Bert more energy. Standing in Q* Bert's way were a coiled snake that chased him, a red-legged animal that recolored the tiles, and large pink and green toxic dots that cascaded down the pyramid.

The characters in Boingo were developed as simple pencil drawings. They have three poses: standing, stretching and falling. While not moving, a character is displayed in the standing position. A jump is preceded with the stretching position. Shortly before landing, the falling position is displayed. When shown in quick succession, the human eye combines the three positions, and the character appears to jump.

I loaded the pencil drawings into DEGAS Elite, an excellent development tool whose many features (Circle, Box, Line, Text) helped in creating Boingo graphics. If you have DEGAS Elite, you can easily change or enhance the graphics to suit your artistic talents. Try creating pencil sketches of funny characters. Next, draw the three positions of each character. Now load the picture file BOINKMEN.PC1 into your copy of DEGAS Elite.

The character drawings have been placed within rulers marking height and width limits- in other words, cels. Provided your characters fit within the cels, any animation may be substituted. Each character is drawn several times: Facing forward, rear, left and right. These are needed to show a character moving in a certain direction.

When Boingo is started, the drawings are loaded into the ST computer's memory. The cels are located and used to plot the characters to the screen. Since the cels are of a common size, one subroutine is used to plot the characters.

Game Play
Copy BOINGO.ARC from your START disk to a blank, formatted disk and un-ARC it following the Disk Instructions elsewhere in this issue. The files BOINK.PC1, BOINKHLP.PC1, BOINKSCR.PC1 and BOINKTTL.PC1 must be in the same directory as BOINGO.PRG. Double-click on BOINGO.PRG from a low or medium resolution Desktop. The assembly language source code to Boingo is in the archive file BOINGSRC.ARC.

Boingo uses the following keyboard commands:

[Undo]: quits the program
[Help]: displays instructions
[Escape]: pauses the game
Numeric keypad [1]: moves Wormy diagonally down and left
Numeric keypad [2]: moves Wormy diagonally down and right
Numeric keypad [4]: moves Wormy diagonally up and left
Numeric keypad [5]: moves Wormy diagonally up and right
Wormy starts at the top of the pyramid and has four lives. The pyramid is nine tiles high and nine tiles wide at the base. Don't let Wormy fall off of the pyramid- he'll lose a life - unless he lands on one of the power discs next to the pyramid. The power discs whisk Wormy to the top of the pyramid and give you bonus points. (But don't use up the discs until you need a quick escape.)

Your goal in Boingo is to move Wormy around on the pyramid, turning all the tiles. Once a pyramid is completed, Wormy graduates to the next level. The level number is displayed next to the score.

Wormy at his best: before the action starts. Soon he'll be
breathlessly avoiding those flamingos with the wraparound
shades and trying to wriggle out of the grasp of the
voracious Coily.

Watch out for the pink flamingos with wraparound shades-they single-mindedly bounce from the top of the pyramid to the bottom. Don't get in their way, or they'll beak you to death. And beware of Coily-his grip is deadly. The good news is that bonus lives are awarded for every 5,000 points scored.

Frank Cohen has been an avid supporter of Atari computers since his first commercial product, Clowns & Balloons. He later co-founded Regent Software, an independent developer of business and productivity software packages for the ST. You can find Frank on CompuServe (76004,1573) and GEnie (FCOHEN), or at Regent Soft ware P.O. Box 14628, Long Beach, CA 90803-1208.