Classic Computer Magazine Archive ANTIC VOL. 8, NO. 7 / DECEMBER 1989

Game Of The Month

The Nerve Game

Countdown on your crossword skills.
By Jason Strautman

Challenge your brain with this tricky BASIC word game requiring speed, spelling skills, and a bit of Nerve. This BASIC program works on 8-bit Atari computers with at least 48K memory and disk drive.

The object of the Nerve Game is deceptively simple. You must complete eight different word-puzzle cards by placing letters on them to spell words -- and do so in the fewest turns. Each player rolls 12 dice, each with one letter per side. Then you place the letters on the cards, completing words in a crossword fashion.

Each player plays the same eight cards in a different order. Spaces that must be filled are represented by a large dot. Spaces that are part of the same word are either touching or connected by a line.

Now for the nerve part of the game: after you complete a card, you have two choices. First, you can just stop your turn. You will be credited with all the cards you finished and you won't have to do those cards over again, no matter what. However, going on means that you risk all the cards you have finished.

If your time runs out before you finish the card you're on, you must re-do _all_ the cards that you completed during that round. But since you're playing to see who can finish the cards in the fewest turns, sometimes it's worth the risk.


Type in Listing One, NERVE.BAS, check it with TYPO II, and SAVE a copy to disk before you RUN it.

When you RUN the Nerve Game you will be asked for the number of players. As few as one person or as many as eight may play. Then you will be asked for the players' names and the number of seconds they will have per turn. Each player can have their own time limit -- between 15 and 99 seconds. This gives younger players (and bad typists) a fair chance.

The playing screen shows the player's name at the top, as well as the number of cards the player had finished at the end of the last turn. On the line below that are the available letters (from the dice) and the time remaining. In the center of the screen is the card. The number on the card is simply a reference number. It has nothing to do with how many cards the player has finished. Then at the bottom of the screen are the commands:

A-Z: Typing a letter will place it on the square where the cursor is, as long as that square currently has a dot and that letter is available from the dice.

[DELETE]: This removes the letter under the cursor and places it back in the dice section.

SPACEBAR: This re-rolls the dice and clears all dice from the card. You are allowed to re-roll as often as you like.

[ARROW KEYS] without [CONTROL]: The move the cursor around the card in the appropriate direction.

[SHIFT] [CLEAR]: Use this key combination to go to the next card without ending your turn. The program checks the card to see if it is complete and then proceeds on to the next card, if there is one.

[ESCAPE] or [RETURN]: The card is checked. If it is complete, the player's turn will be ended and the computer asks if there are any challenges to the words because of misspellings or other errors.


The computer only checks that each card is complete, not that the words on each card are acceptable. At the end of each turn (when players press [ESCAPE] or [RETURN]) the game then asks if there are any challenges. It is up to the players to check each other's words.

A word is unacceptable if it is hyphenated, a proper noun requiring capitalization, or is not an English word. If any word is not valid, type Y and that player will not be credited with any cards for that turn, and will have to do them all over. Be careful -- even if the other player disagrees with your challenge, there's no way to undo a challenge. Once you press Y the turn is lost and the cards have to be redone. If all the words are valid, press any other key to continue.

At the end of each turn, the timer is reset and the same player continues until all eight cards have been filled. Only then does the next player begin. This continues until all of the players have finished.

At the end of the game the scores will be printed (with the place in parentheses). The person who took the least number of turns to finish wins.

Jason Strautman lives in San Antonio, Texas. His program AUTORUN Selector appeared in the June 1989 Antic.

Listing 1: NERVE.BAS Download