The Atari Program Exchange (APX) offers perhaps the widest variety of programs for the ATARI computers of any software vendor. Among APX's wide selection of educational, entertainment, utility and business programs are several that make good use of the computers' exceptional sound capabilities.
Salmon Run is perennially one of APX's most popular game programs. Its author, Bill Williams, started his career as a synthesizer player with a rock band in his native Michigan. But three months after his father bought an ATARI 800, Bill had completed Salmon Run, which was written in machine language with the Assembler Editor cartridge. The object of the game is to maneuver your salmon upstream past waterfalls and a variety of enemies (bears, seagulls ,and fishermen) to the spawning grounds where your fish finds true love. Salmon Run features some of the most realistic sound effects Iíve ever heard, particularly the sounds of rushing and falling water.
APXís most musically accomplished programmer, Lee Actor, has two programs in the firmís product line. You may be familiar with Advanced Music system, sophisticated musical development tool. The program allows you to compose, play, and store extremely complex musical compositions. Its built-in features permit synchronization and the creation of eight-voice (or more) compositions on tape. For those who prefer to appreciate rather than create good music, Lee has also written Juke Box #1. Perhaps the worldís only classical juke box, the program offers renditions of Beethovenís "Fur Elise" and Mozartís "String Quartet in E Flat," among others. And an automatic play feature will run through all eight pieces in turn, if you wish. Not just an entertaining program, Juke Box #1 is an excellent demonstration of the ATARIís sound capabilities.
Ringmaster is Gregor Novakís latest educational game for young children. The child must find the correct answer to a mathematical question from among the numbers written on the backs of circus animals (camels and elephants) moving back and forth across the screen. Different circus tunes play throughout the game, and help sustain the childís interest.
Musical Pilot, by Charley Kulas is a new educational game that helps teach a child the relationship between a noteís position on the musical staff and the way the note sounds. The child pilots an airplane (vertically, at center screen) and tries to hit all the notes as they enter the screen from the right and move to the left. In the early levels there is a significant time delay between the sounding of the note and its physical appearance on the screen, but in later levels the note appears almost as soon as it is played.
Insomnia is a sound effects program. Using a graphic depiction of pitch, distortion and volume, you can edit each of four voices to create a wide range of effects, from a train whistle to an exploding bomb. You can combine voices and incorporate the sound routines in your own programs. Insomnia is excellent for beginners who are experimenting with ATARIís sound, because it eliminates the need the deal with confusing numerical data.
Piano Tuner was written by R. J. Morgan, a professional piano tuner. Although it is not a professional tool, the program does let you perform a basic tuneup on your piano. One section shows you how to tune the strings on the piano in sequence, by depicting the correct method of blocking off (or dampening) the individual members of each trio of strings. A second part allows you to choose any individual frequency, either for the tuning of one string or of another instrument. The third section tests the accuracy of your hearing. You pick a note for testing. The program then plays two tones, and you must match the second to the first with your joystick. This exercise is good practice for the actual tuning of your piano or other instrument.
Magical Melody Box is a rarity: an educational program that is a lot of fun! First, you select one of twelve rhythm patterns; then you use your joystick to "draw" a melody on the screen. Once youíre finished, the program creates a one-minute sequence of harmonized music from your input. The program thus permits a musical novice to create a finished tune without the slightest knowledge of the technical aspects of composition.