Beam Me Up!
Stuck inside the radioactive caverns beneath Mars - With your transporter going nuts
By Steven Ginzburg
Struggle your way back to the surface of Mars in this game that combines challenging BASIC action and easy-to-create Micro illustrator screens. This BASIC program works on 8-bit Atari computers with at least 48K memory and disk drive.
Your one-man shuttle craft streaks through the upper atmosphere of the mysterious planet. As you watch the red surface glide past, you wonder if you'll die of radiation poisoning or return to Earth a hero. Suiting up, you ignore the computer's constant warnings of dangerous radiation levels. Radiation can have strange effects on radio transmissions and transporter beams, not to mention humans, but you'd rather die a hero than survive as a coward.
The transporter painlessly disassembles you, atom by atom, and reassembles you ...somewhere. After several minutes your eyes adjust to the dark. Patches of radioactive mold provide an eerie, dim illumination. Oh no, you're not on the planet's surface, but miles below, in a string of caverns.
Your sensor tells you that gravity is weak and air is almost non-existent - the radiation is very strong. Your suit will protect you, but one touch of the mold would be fatal.
Radiation makes contact with your ship impossible, and your transporter is going crazy. If you don't keep moving, you will be zapped somewhere else. You'll never get back to your ship unless you reach the surface.
Type in Listing 1, BEAM.BAS, check it with TYPO II, and SAVE a copy to disk.
If you have trouble typing the special characters in Lines 30, 310, 336, 810-840, 860-870, 910, 1020-1045, don't type them in. Instead, type in Listing 2. When RUN, this program creates these hard-to-type lines and stores them in file called LINES.LST To merge the two programs, type NEW, then LOAD Listing 1, "D:BEAM.BAS" and then ENTER "D:LINES.LST". Be sure to SAVE the completed program.
Listings 3 and 4 contain Micro Illustrator game screens, in BASIC loader formats. Type them in, checking them with TYPO II. When RUN, these listings will create files named LEVEL1.PIC and LEVEL2.PIC (make sure you don't already have files by these names on disk).
Antic Disk users will find nine complete screen files already on their disk. The program will work with anywhere from one to nine screens, as long as the names have the numbered format above. When the program can't find the next screen in order, it will go to the ending routine.
PLAYING THE GAME
You start in the lower-right corner of the screen, and try to move to the hole on the left, maneuvering the little man with a joystick in port 1. In most places you will be able to move freely, left and right or up and down, following the terrain. Just be careful not to touch any of the glowing stuff!
To avoid the patches of color-shifting mold, you can jump or climb on ropes and ladders. To jump, press the button on your joystick, and move the stick left, right or up. Because of the light gravity you will jump far and fall slowly. If at any point you get stuck, press [OPTION].
This game uses screens created with Micro Illustrator software. You can easily matte your own screens for the game. (Other picture formats can be converted to Micro Illustrator using the Rapid Graphics Converter in the November 1985 issue of Antic.)
Anything made in the first color (the default is gold) is the regular ground. If you come to a wall of this color the little man will climb right up it, automatically.
The second color (green) is used for climbable objects, such as ropes or ladders. Don't make a border in this color or your man could climb right off the screen!
The third color (blue) is the deadly material. The program makes this color glow automatically.
Save your picture as you would normally, but use the filename D:LEVELx.PIC. Be sure to replace the x with the level number you want. level numbers can go from one to nine. The program starts with LEVEL1.PIC, then moves to LEVEL2.PIC, and so on. When the program can't find the next picture, then the game is over, and you escape.
When making your levels, there are a few things to remember. You should put a border on the screens. If you don't, the man might climb or fall out of existence. You need to leave room for the man at the lower right corner of the screen, where he begins each level. Also, be sure to leave a hole in the left border for the man to go through to finish the level.
Keep the little man's size, jump height and distance in mind. You might want to make an almost empty level to test the man's capabilities. Remember too that you only jump as long as you hold down the button. Short jumps can be useful, and as challenging as the longest jumps.
When playing, you may note that the man's feet sometimes seem to sink below the top of the ground. This effect is caused by the program's move routine. Make your ground at least four pixels deep.
Let your creativity run wild. You can make levels in fun shapes, such as animals or words. The deadly third color can take any shape - spikes, spiders, snakes or anything else you can think of.
For that matter, don't limit yourself to just gold, green and blue. These are only the default colors. Make your levels, including the backgrounds, any color you want. You can even make some things the same color as the background, so they appear invisible. Just remember that the third color will flash no matter what you do.
In creating this game, I used many of my favorite programming tricks, including Player/Missile graphics, string manipulation, a machine language screen loader, and many other ideas.
10-70 Title Screen
100-260 Initialize P/M graphics
300-450 The heart of the program: reads joystick, moves the character, determines character location, and flashes the deadly stuff
500-580 Loads the screen600650 Subroutine that moves A$ to P/M area
700-749 Death routine
750-880 Set up MAIN$ - screen load routine
900-990 Subroutine - Beam me up!
1000 - end Win routine A
Steven Ginzburg is a budding 12-year-old programmer from Aptos, California, and is an honors student at Aptos Junior High. He bas been using Atari computers since he was five and currently owns three of them. This is his first appearance in Antic.
Listing BEAM.BAS Download
Level Data LEVEL1.PIC Download