Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 5, NO. 7 / NOVEMBER 1986



Mars open-pit mining: No picnic!

Cliffhanger is a frantic attempt to defy Martian gravity. With your mechanical catcher, you must grab debris as it hurtles-sideways-before it collapses the cliff you're standing on. This BASIC program works on all 8-bit Atari computers of any memory size, on disk or cassette.

(It was a dull afternoon at the Antic Submissions Department-until we opened the unusually bulky envelope from Canada. Heath Lawrence's cover letter explained that he'd been working on a book of type-in Atari games that publishers kept turning down because "Atari products are not marketable anymore." Now he had seven completed games to offer Antic. Were we interested? Well since Heath's games were clearly right up there with the best we have ever published here, we were more than interested-we delightedly accepted most of the collection! The current plan is to put all our Heath Lawrence games into print by the end of 1987, publishing one game approximately every other month.-ANTIC ED)

The year Is 2010. Advancements in space technology have made it possible for Earth-based companies to establish mining operations throughout the solar system. A research team on Mars has uncovered rich deposits of vital minerals deep beneath the planet's surface.

Wasting no time, the enormous industrial firm of Hugopolis Inc. has set up a mining colony on the Red Planet. But the mining has created instability in the Martian crust, constantly causing huge chunks of rock and debris to hurtle from the excavation into the sides of the open mining pit-which threatens to bury the whole operation.


You must capture chunks of debris before they demolish the side of the pit. Your only equipment is a speedy Catcher Cage. To activate this Catcher Cage: Type in Listing 1, CLIFF.BAS, check it with TYPO II and SAVE a copy before you RUN it.

Heath Lawrence's 8-bit
games rank with the best
ever published in Antic

The Catcher Cage consists of two parts. There's a grabber that can be raised and lowered by pressing or releasing the joystick button. Attached to this is a pulley that moves sideways when you push the joystick left or right. You cannot move the Grabber vertically and the pulley horizontally at the same time.

Any debris touched by the moving Catcher Cage will be caught and conveniently disposed of in a nearby acid bath. The lower down in the pit you catch the debris, the more points you get.

Further complications? You bet! Mining on Mars releases highly explosive Radon gas bubbles into the atmosphere. Should your Catcher Cage touch one, the gas within will be released and destroy you instantly.

Also lurking in the pit are harmless blue creatures called Gruds. Offworld protests by wildlife preservation groups have made destroying these creatures illegal. Killing a Grud results in the loss of five points.

Each time a chunk of rock strikes the cliff face, the danger level (shown in the bottom right corner) increases by one. When the stress reaches five, it makes the cliff collapse, destroying the mining operation and you. The Catcher Operator's booth is stationed at the top of this cliff. So when it collapses, you are buried.

The key to Cliffhanger is anticipating where the next chunk of debris will hit and getting there first with your Catcher Cage. Another useful method is the "fishing technique." Just press the joystick button and let the Catcher Cage descend a little way below the debris. When the rock is directly over the grabber chain, release the button. Also, the Catcher Cage moves twice as fast as the debris, so you'll probably get another chance if you miss the first time.

Heath Lawrence lives in Port Elgin, Ontario, and has been programming on his Atari 800 for four and a half years.

Listing 1: CLIFF.BAS Download