Retrogaming Times Monthly
Formerly Retrogaming Times
Issue #2 - July 2004

Table of Contents
01. Press Fire to Start
02. The Many Faces of ... Track & Field
03. Collecting in Australia
04. Newsbytes
05. MAME Reviews
06. Retrogaming Commercial Vault
07. The Many Faces Of...The CoCo
08. 8-Bit Face-Off
09. Vic 20 Reviews - The Mysterious Missing Genre?
10. Hitting A Six On The Commodore 64
11. The Challenge Will Always Be There
12. Video Games Lyrics to Pop Songs
13. Game Over

Press Fire to Start
by Adam King

Greetings, gamers, and welcome back to Retrogaming Times Monthy. First off I want to thank all of you who sent in e-mail praising our work. Looks like everyone enjoyed the first issue, so we hope to keep it up for as long as we can.

Down to business. It's summertime again and that means spending lots of time inside playing your game collection. But this year isn't just any summer, it's time once again for the Olympic Summer Games, which comes around once every four years. And that means Olympic video games. Throughout the years just about every system has been blessed with a couple of Olympic-style video games. For the next two issues many of our articles will focus on Olympic and Summer sports games. We'll tackle just about any type of Olympic or Summer sport game for many of the great systems of yesteryear. The great things about these games is that you can have your own version of the Summer Olympics on your old game machines whenever you want, and you won't have to travel to Athens to do it.

Also, we're debuting a pair of new writers talking about other systems that don't get much coverage. First we have Mark Sabbatini, who's going to write about the Radio Shack Color Computer, which some of you probably have memories of. Plus every month Gary Pierce is going to review a game for the Sega Master System.

With that out of the way, LET THE GAMES BEGIN!

The Many Faces of ... Track & Field
by Alan Hewston

This month we begin our tribute to the Summer Olympic Games, beginning with the 1983 arcade hit "Track & Field" (outside the US it is known as "Hyper Olympic"). This game will surely give you a workout and make you tired. Interestingly it was the first arcade game to combine multiple sporting events into one machine. Even better, for every event, it tracks all the player's scores and the top three scores (World Record's) using three letter initials. Up to 4 players (2 are simultaneous) can play the same game, bashing away at those "run" buttons AFAP (as fast as possible). This made an awful lot of noise - easily heard across the arcade floor. Good quotes to acknowledge - from The Arcade Classics Museum "The game became the sweatiest arcade title since Atari's Football in 1978, as players would literally pound on the "Track & Field" control panel like a crazed bongo player on No-Doz. While operators might not have liked arcade patrons beating the heck out of their machines, they couldn't argue with the tremendous earnings the machine produced."

Each game begins by players entering their 3 letters or initials to distinguish them from other opponents. Each of the six events are played in sequence, but only by those players who qualify in the preceding event. The game ends once you fail to qualify for any event. After completing all 6 events, the requirements to qualify become more difficult for the next round. Contestants only get one attempt (heat) for the track (running) events, but in the field events your best score of three attempts counts towards your score or qualifying. You view the action slightly elevated and from the side of a stadium that is filled with fans. As you run, the track, the stadium walls and fans will scroll providing some depth perception. The walls have flags from several countries.

Here's an arcade shot of the Long Jump.

The panel has controls for two players, whereby each player has a pair of "run" buttons and one button for a combined "jump/throw" action. 1) 100m Dash: great warm-up event, alternate hitting both "run" buttons repeatedly AFAP, 2) Long Jump: build up your speed as in the 100m and maximize it just before the foul line, then hold the "jump/throw" button to jump, then release at desired angle [~45 is optimal], 3) Javelin: same as Long Jump [~42 is optimal], 4) 110m Hurdles: "run" AFAP & time each "jump/throw" to hurdle. 5) Hammer Throw: a close-up top view of the contestant who rotates faster & faster on his own, simply time the release (when he's red) and hold the "jump/throw" button [~45 is optimal], and once released we see an aerial view, 6) High Jump: runs up to bar on his own, hit "jump/throw" button to begin jump before hitting bar, hit/hold "jump/throw" button to decrease angle of climb [start straight up - i.e. 90 deg].

The crowd instantaneously applauds every effort that equals or betters the qualification requirements. World Records are also recognized the same way. Conclusion of each event/game shows the winner & scores.

Initially the timing of when you hit the "jump/throw" button is the most critical element, but at higher levels you'll need to max the speed, angle and timing of the "jump/throw". Judges will shoot starting pistols, wave flags if you foul, and measure and record your performance. There are some hidden easter eggs - i.e. a Javelin throw off the top of the screen brings down a 1000 bonus point bird; the High Jump: Fail the first two jumps and then clear on the final leap and a mole burrows up for a 1000 bonus; Long jump: Three jumps with same result earns a 1000 bonus; 100m dash: same time for both players awards 1000 bonus each. BUG: In Javelin, throwing over 100m will cause a counter to wraparound - thus a 100.12m throw will be logged as 0.12m (and will not qualify you)!

Arcade: 1983 Konami licensed and distributed in the US by Centuri
Home versions unless noted, all in 1984 by Atari or Atarisoft: Apple ][, Atari 2600 (Jacques Hugon & Seth Lipkin [General Computer Corp], Atari 5200 (Bob Merrill), Atari 8 bit (possibly Bob Merrill), Commodore 64 (Joe Simko, Dan Daghof & Matt Decker), MSX (Konami '84), Sinclair Spectrum (Ocean, '88 Ali Davidson & P. Knecht [Graphics])
Rumor Mill: Atari 7800 [General Computer Corp] for Atari
Arcade Sequels: Konami '84 Hyper Sports, & '88 '88 Games

Home Version Similarities: Except those in <> all home versions have: 3 letter initials & keep World Records for each event <2600> and for the final score <2600, 8 bit>; 2 players run simultaneously in the same heat ; all six arcade events are included in the correct sequence; the screen displays player 1 as a character, their initials, score, qualification or foul indicators, their current speed, a speed bar, and results from the current event; these are all repeated for player 2, who has a slightly different appearance; spectators cheer and wave frantically each time you qualify; World Records are immediately recognized; a message display shows the current time and/or the score or angle; the requirements to "qualify" are displayed for the current event; measurement numbers or at least hash marks are placed along the track & field. There are 3+ starting settings for difficulty, and more throughout the game. The original Atari title was "Los Angeles 1984 Games". No version appears to have the easter eggs.

Track & Field Controller
We cannot start this event without first mentioning the rugged Track & Field home controller. This item came packaged with every version (unsure of Apple ][) and thus made for a higher price tag. This was probably well worth it, as it not only saved you from destroying your favorite joystick but also added to effect that you were at the arcade - bashing the controller. Granted, the home controllers were not big enough to satisfy everyone, but they were twice the size of the standard 2600 controller. This controller can be used on many games, but is most useful on games like Activision's "Decathlon".

Gotta get yourself 2 T&F controllers for multi-players.

Disqualified: MSX & Sinclair Spectrum (N/A)
DQ is only because I do not have these systems but here is some info on the Sinclair version.

The instruction manual verifies that all six events and the sequence match the arcade. There are 4 levels of difficulty: Easy, Normal, Difficult or Awesome; plus select either the whole game or single event - an option to repeat the same event over and over. Keyboard or Joystick options.

Have Nots: Apple ][ (36)
My first reaction was confusion as to how to jump & throw. It took many tries but finally I discovered that moving the joystick left activates this function. Using just 1 joystick button or 1 Apple key will increase your speed (i.e. the "run" buttons) but using any 2 like you do on other versions will ALWAYS will make your speed decrease. Thus, the controls are a little bit awkward, but still sharp (8). Now that I am writing this review, my diskette will no longer load the Javelin. I do not recall any problems or differences in gameplay that would make me change these scores. The Gameplay is all there and outstanding (9), including 4 skill levels, 4 players, and even a choice of 3 "handicaps", where 1=arcade. This is the only version with judges waving a flag, but also the only version that has no event name on screen. Instead, the event name is displayed just prior, during the disk loading. Addictiveness is respectable (6) where the pause button helps, but all activity (displaying scores, world records and music) is slow between every attempt/event. This also seems to be the hardest version to qualify for events in general, but that might be the controls problem. The final straw - frustration - is that there is disk access before EVERY event (yawn) subtract 2 pts. The Graphics are effective (7) with all the elements in place, but there's not that much color, detail, or animation. The scrolling is quite good and does not lead to problems. Sound is decent (6) with some music (chariots of fire played on the high score page) and there's a pseudo crowd cheer along with pretty much all the effects. But as usual - the internal sound takes away from all audio effects. It's somewhat hard to find this title, and is on Diskette only. I could not confirm if Atari made and packaged a Track & Field controller for the AP2.

Have Nots: Atari 2600 (40)
My First reaction - quite amazed the 2600 can field and track everything required from this very demanding arcade game. It does it all & more, by including all 6 events, with 3 different levels and just about everything graphically from the arcade is displayed on-screen. There's even a brief demo of the first 2 events. The Gameplay is remarkable (9) with everything in place - unfortunately limited to only 2 players - but they run simultaneously. Despite no pause, the Addictiveness is very enjoyable (8). The game moves right along so you will not be bored, nor take too long to play a round. The ending is blindingly fast - in 5 seconds it's over - but after the demo, you can see your score again. Graphics are good (6), just a little bit blocky. This was a tough one to score and I wanted to give it a 7, since all 11+ graphical displays & areas items are all there from the arcade. But most of the text is out of proportion or misplaced a bit. Overall it's bright, colorful, fast, has some detail, adequate animation and the scrolling is effective. Sound is very good (7) with nice music when the game starts and an OK crowd cheer. footfalls, gun sounds and most effects are in place. Controls are perfect (10) with either a Track & Field controller or a standard 2600 controller. This cart's a bit rare fetching around $25 & about $17 for the T&F controller.

Silver Medal: Atari 5200 & Atari 8 Bit Computers (42)
My first reaction is too bad a 5200 cart was never released as the game appears to be complete in every way, sadly it was scrapped before production began. Grab a 5200 multi-cart or ROM and an emulator to play this version - or just play the 8 bit version as these two are identical. All scores and nearly all comments apply to both versions. The Gameplay is fantastic (9) with everything in place including a full demo. The Apple and Commodore versions have slightly better options. Here you are limited to a choice of 1 or 2 players and that is it. There are no starting skill settings, but the default setting is a fairly easy game with qualification levels varied, but ranging somewhere between skill levels 1 & 2 on the 64. You do get simultaneous two-player action, but the track events have a minor difference in the starting sequence so be careful. Also of note is the power bar has no defined maximum or any hash marks, so you are never quite sure what level you are at. I guess one could put a piece of tape up there at the assumed maximum position, so you have something to shoot for. This power bar problem is minor, but helps to drop the Addictiveness score down to (7) very fun. There is a pause [space bar] or [pause], and you get some help if playing 2 players, and sometimes even when playing one player as the game does not always end when you fail to qualify. For two players, as long as one player qualifies, both players move on to the next event - this is actually more fun this way. There's no need to steal our quarter and be stringent like the arcade - after all, this is a home version. Bad news is that there is one huge gameplay difference from the others that makes these versions much harder to play and quite frustrating. Instead of the running action ending as soon as one hits the "jump/throw" button, the running activity is not completed until the angle is finalized - i.e. the "jump/throw" button has been released. This is terrible as you now have to guess where to start your jump/throw well before you hit the foul line. That distance in front must be guessed as the distance traveled from the time you press the jump/throw button until you release it at the desired angle. ARGGGGGG! This is really cruel, but at least it affects everyone equally, and on every such event, even the high jump. Yep the high jump you have a shimmy/shake in the scrolling as the point that you hit the button is not where you plant and takeoff. There's just no way for you to "stick" a jump/throw - so clearly you'll quit playing this version sooner and move on to the gold medal winner - if you have it. Then there is the Hammer throw. Where am I supposed to release the hammer? I tried everything and it is not consistent and is not when the athlete turns red, as is the case on the other versions. I've fouled three times when in the red and got no points, but still advanced to the next event - possibly the programmer feeling sorry for me that the event is so poorly done. Graphics are all there and beautiful (8), but there is less detail and less color than the 64. The scrolling is weak and particularly crummy for the Hurdles, the event where smooth scrolling is most critical. About 10 to 15% of the screen is all the warning you get for the next hurdle. Sound is all there and very fine (8), but they did not add in any music after each round, nor any high score screen and music. Controls are perfect (10), but see below.

For the 5200 - the T&F controller works great with the Masterplay Interface, but this is probably not going to work for 2 players. How many collectors have 2 Masterplay Interfaces? Anyhow, using analog (standard 5200) controllers is NOT an option here, so you better at least have a Wico controller.

For the 8 bit computer, this version is available on disk and cart (but a bit rare at $18).

Finally, maybe the disk version that I have is the 5200 ported over (and it is not complete) and the 8 bit cart version is different and more complete, and better. I dunno, but if so, the 8 Atari Bit version could gain back a couple more points lost to the above bugs.

Gold Medal: Commodore 64 (45)
My first reaction was this deserves a higher score. But compared to all other Many Faces titles, it ranks about where it should, if anything maybe a point too high. The graphics are nice, but there's really not a lot of fine detail or lots of animation, or many objects moving simultaneously. The music and effects are nice but limited and there's no pause, and then high scores are NOT saved to disk like other Olympic type games. Gameplay is all there (9) missing only a demo, and there's no handicapping like the Apple.

A quirk in this version is that after completing the first 4 difficulty levels (rounds) you move on to a 5th qualification set, and at that point, despite higher levels, you do not need to meet them to move on to the next event. If you place a score (even a low one) that may be good enough. If you foul 3 times or fail to qualify on a track event, then the game usually ends. This 6th qualification level is the same as the 5th, and probably ad infinitum. Looks like a game that can be marathoned. I've only made it this far on this version, so the others may be flawed as well. Addictiveness is fantastic (9) enhanced by a unique practice mode, where you can select an individual event and skill level. The game moves along quickly and the music and in between event activity is fairly quick. Graphics are wonderful (9) and clearly a step above the Atari, but probably more like an 8.5. Sound is the best on this version with all the music and effects - quite pleasant (8) - but still not a step above the Atari. Controls are perfect (10). Available only on diskette. Suggestion: The C64 version CIB may be the cheapest way to get a T&F controller - for use on any of these systems.

Other notes:
There was both a stand up and cocktail version of the arcade machine, with later versions being fitted with a track ball - making the action much quieter than smashing the 2 Run buttons. I wonder if the home versions could be modified to use the track ball as well?

Come back next month for another Olympic tribute in the Many Faces of "Summer Games" and if I find enough time, "Summer Games II" on the Apple ][, Atari 2600, Atari 8 bit computer, 7800 and C64. Contact Alan Hewston at: or visit the Many Faces of site:

Collecting in Australia - THE BIG TWO
by Tonks

In Australia during the early 1980's there were really only two consoles worth owning according to the majority of teenagers - the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64. Sure we still had other consoles such as the Colecovision, Intellivision and Vectrex, but their popularity was very small compared to the Atari and Commodore machines. In my high school the vast majority of kids had either an Atari 2600 or a Commodore 64. A few others, such as myself, had Vic 20s. But I honestly didn't know a single person who owned an Intellivision or a Colecovision. While everyone wished they had a Vectrex, I only knew of two people who had one back in the day.

Today the popularity of the Atari 2600 and the Commodore 64 continues strong with the retro gaming collectors. These are by far the most collected classic systems. I have lived in 4 different cities or towns, in three different states, since becoming an avid collector. In that time I have rarely missed getting around to the garage sales or markets. By far the most common classic gaming items I constantly find are Atari 2600s and Commodore 64s.

The popularity of the Commodore 64 is nothing unique to Australia. It seems like this brilliant machine was incredibly popular just about everywhere in the world. But one of the biggest differences, particularly between the Australian scene and the US scene, is the amount of games that came on tape. Tape software was certainly the prevalent format for a long time throughout the mid 1980's. Disk drives were very expensive here in Australia, costing as much if not more than the computer itself. So the majority of owners of Commodore 64's simply settled for the trusty (and extremely slow) C2N dataset.

The price of games on tape were quite a bit cheaper than disks. Full price games from the big software houses were cheaper on tape by around a half. But it was the budget scene that really drove the popularity of tapes. Companies such as Mastertronic and Kixx released heaps of games priced at a very low $8 to $15. This was well within the range of many teenager's pocket money. You could easily save up for three or four weeks and buy a new game.

However, it was the huge popularity of tape software that initially turned me off the Commodore 64. As a Vic 20 owner I was used to games loading in 2 to 5 minutes. My cousin had a Commodore 64 and a copy of Pitstop 2. It would literally take over 20 minutes to load. I just didn't have the patience. Well it seems that collectors today don't have the patience either. Tape software is considered just about useless. Every Commodore 64 collector that I personally know only collects disk or cartridge games.

During the reign of the Commodore 64, Australia received a lot of excellent magazines from the UK. Some of these magazines are now very collectable. The most popular and most sought after magazine by collectors is the mighty Zzap 64. Zzap 64 is a great magazine. At one stage it became the most popular computer games magazine in the UK. It helped set standards that are still followed today. Mint condition Zzap 64 magazines can fetch a very handsome price on eBay. Later in the magazine's life they came with a cover-mounted cassette. The cassette had a mix of demos and full games. Mint magazines complete with the cover-mounted cassette fetch premium prices. This could be the only example of cassette software being collectable - but I think it has a lot more to do with having a complete magazine collection. Two other very popular Commodore magazines are Commodore Format and Commodore User.

In the "olden days", simple Pong units were reasonably popular, but people seemed to grow bored of these pretty quickly. When the Atari 2600 was originally released it was just too expensive and only very rich kids owned one. The Atari was seen as being pretty cool, but the games weren't all that much better than the Pong units. But when Atari wised up and began releasing games such as Space Invaders, Asteroids and Defender, well everyone just had to have an Atari 2600. Owning an Atari 2600 was a huge boast and sent you straight to the top as "coolest kid in the class".

Around 1982 a big price drop and a four game bundle (Space Invaders, Asteroids, Berzerk and Missile Command) sent sales of the Atari 2600 through the roof. It was at this time that one of my cousins bought one of these packs. I was in my first year of high school at the time. My cousin was a lot older than me and was unemployed at the time. Every lunch time I would ride my bike to his house and we would spend way too long playing the Atari. Often I just wouldn't return to school after lunch. Of course the teachers caught up on this and I spent quite a few lunch times in detention. This was agony considering I could have been using my lunch time for much better things, such as being around at my cousins trying to beat his high score on Asteroids.

The Atari 2600 remained very popular in Australia throughout the 1980's. The introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Sega Master System didn't seem to dent the popularity of the Atari 2600. Everyone knew the Nintendo and Sega consoles had much better graphics and sound, but the Atari was just so much cheaper.

By the end of the 1980's some excellent box sets and multi-carts were being released by HES (Home Entertainment Supplies). Four or five excellent games from companies like Activision, Parker Bros and Imagic were bundled together by HES and sold for around the regular price of a single game. This was an excellent value and they sold by the truck load.

By the early 90's most people had moved on to 16 bit consoles and computers. But Atari had one more move up their sleeve. The price of the 2600 jr. was dropped to an incredibly low $49. It certainly didn't seriously challenge the new SNES or Megadrive, but it was surprising to see how many Atari's were still sold.

The Atari 2600 is arguably the most collected system of all in Australia. The majority of collectors I know name the Atari 2600 as their number one system. A boxed six switch woody can regularly fetch around $100 on eBay. Any model Atari 2600 with a good selection of games can also fetch up towards $100.


Sources:, Atari Age

• If you have fond memories watching the cult Disney film Tron, then get ready for some handheld Tron action. This fall Buena Vista Interactive is releasing Tron 2.0: Killer App for the Game Boy Advance. This cart features 30 levels of action from the original movie, with disc-throwing, tank driving, light-cycle riding and more, plus several multiplayer modes. But the best part is (wait for it) this game will feature both Tron arcade games included. That's right, both Tron and Discs of Tron can be unlocked for play on your GBA, making this the first ever home version of both arcade coin-ops.

• For those of you readers in the mid-America area, get ready for the second annual Oklahoma Gaming Exhibition, which will be held on September 18, 2004 at the Marriot Southern Hills Hotel in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Much like other classic gaming shows, the OKGE is a gathering of collectors, video game enthusiasts, and vendors coming together in one place to show, trade, buy, sell, and have a great time! They promise an even bigger show than last year's successful expo. For all the info including times and admission, visit the OKGE Website at

• The organizers of the Classic Computer and Gaming Show have announced that the 4th annual CCAG show will be held at St. Paul's Presbyterian Church in Mentor, Ohio on October 23rd. The show runs from 4:30 PM to 10:30 PM, and admission is free for everybody. Dealer space is also free, but space is limited. More information can be found at the CCAG website at

MAME Reviews
by Brett "smsforce" Burnell

Time to do some more MAME reviews! This month, being dedicated to the Olympics, I will be reviewing two of my personal favorite games, Konami/Centuri's Track & Field and Hyper Sports. Hopefully next month, I can squeeze in one of the other two "free" games as well. Now, on to the show! The first game I will review is Track & Field.

Track & Field (copyright © 1983 Konami/Centuri)

The original Track & Field arcade cabinet

These guys make Mario's moustache look normal

Track & Field is an Olympic "event" game following in the footsteps of the Epyx great, Summer Games. In this game four players (two simultaneously) can compete in six events for the Championship. The six events are 100m Dash, Long Jump, Javelin, 110m Hurdles, Hammer Throw, and High Jump. The controls are 2 buttons to "run" (hit them as fast as you can) and an action button (to jump or throw). Later versions of the game came with a trackball for running. The cocktail versions allowed all 4 players a spot to watch the action. The screen would "flip" when players 3 and 4 were up.

Some secrets to the game are as follows:

Strategies that have helped me in the game are as follows. In the Long Jump, jump off of the foul line (without fouling) and aim for a 45-degree angle. The angle for throwing in the Hammer Throw is 45 degrees as well. The optimal angle in the Javelin is 42 degrees. In the High Jump, be sure to continue to run after you jump to increase your player's height. There is also a known "bug" in the Javelin event. If you throw farther than 100 meters, the distance will reset to 0. For example, if you throw 100.12m, the game will credit you with 0.12m and you will not qualify.

I love this game. Between this and Hyper Sports, I think I may have single-handedly kept Konami in business. The background graphics are pretty generic and all four of the contestants look exactly the same other than hair, clothes, and skin color. The sounds are very good and I give Konami credit for getting the rights to the "Chariots of Fire" theme song. It works very well in this game. Playing this game will get you a lot of blisters and get you very tired. To make the game more fun, set the dipswitch to continue at the end of the events. The only thing that happens is the qualifying distances and times become harder. If you want to make the game a lot easier, use the "Run Like H***" cheat in MAME. I won't tell you how to bring it up, but it sure is fun. Overall, I'd say it's a blast to play and only gets better with 2, 3, or 4 players.

Track & Field Trivia:
This game was licensed to Centuri for U.S. manufacturing and distribution. Outside of the U.S., the game is called Hyper Olympic, but the board is the same. Sequels to this game are Hyper Sports (below) and '88 Games (next month's issue).

Hyper Sports (copyright © 1984 Konami/Centuri)

The original Hyper Sports arcade cabinet

Swimming isn't a sport; it's what keeps you from drowning!

Hyper Sports is not only an Olympic "event" game in the same vein as Track & Field; it's the sequel to it! As in Track & Field, four players (two simultaneously) can compete in seven events for the Championship. The seven events are 100m Freestyle (Swimming), Skeet Shooting, Long Horse, Archery, Triple Jump, Weight Lifting, and Pole Vault. Controls are 2 buttons to "run" (hit them as fast as you can) and an action button.

Some secrets to the game are as follows:

Strategies that have helped me in the game are as follows. In the Triple Jump, jump off of the foul line (without fouling) and aim for a 41/43/45-degree angle(s). In Archery, you can press a button to get the wind to stop. To get a good shot, shoot about the time the bulls eye gets to the bottom of the close up box and aim for 5.0 to 5.4 degrees. A 9,800 is possible!

I really love this game. The background graphics are slightly better than Track & Field but still suffer from the "generic" look. Once again, all four of the contestants look exactly the same other than hair, clothes, and skin color. The sounds are very good and I love the audio snippets included with this game. Once again, they used the "Chariots of Fire" theme song. Lots of credit goes to Konami for the intermissions between the long horse/archery events and at the end of the game/restart of the events. To make the game more fun, set the dipswitch and the "Run Like H***" cheat in MAME like I stated above for Track & Field. Overall, It's hours of fun and a great party game.

Hyper Sports Trivia:
This game was licensed to Centuri for U.S. manufacturing and distribution. It is also called Hyper Olympics '84. This game and Track & Field have interchangeable boards. The sequel to this game is '88 Games (next month's issue) and the prequel is Track & Field (above).

Brett Burnell is an Applications Developer for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In his free time he can be seen programming video games, being a referee for Twin Galaxies, going to Retrogaming shows, or just playing with his kids. His official website is at He can be reached at

Retrogaming Commercial Vault
by Adam King

Welcome back to the Retrogaming Commercial Vault. With our focus on Olympic Games this month, I tried to find some sort of sports commercials. Unfortunately I nearly came up empty; for some reason I couldn't find any 80s Olympic and Sports commercials that I haven't already done. Fortunately I did find one commercial about Atari sports games. This month will only have one commercial, so don't worry; you'll still get your monthly Commercials fix.

This month is a general commercial for Activision games, one of only three companies to make sports games for the 2600. This ad features a game player enjoying the Activision titles Skiing, Tennis, and Grand Prix. As he's playing, we get glimpses of him doing those sports for real. Talk about getting into the game.


"Make way for THE Atari Athlete"

Whee! We're skiing now!

"Cool! It's snowing in my room!"

"Whew. Beating the CPU in Tennis is hard."

Don't hold the button down too long, or you'll blow the engine.

I actually did real sports with my Atari. This is awesome!

I should mention the tagline at the end of this ad is "We put YOU in the game." This ad has shown they can do just that!

Sorry for the short 'Vault' this month. Hopefully by next month I have some more Sports game commercials for your viewing pleasure. Don't forget the Retrogaming Commercial Vault is still available for purchase. E-mail me at for all the details. If you've e-mailed me and I haven't responded as of yet, I may have lost your e-mail, so try contacting me again.

The Many Faces Of...The CoCo
by Mark Sabbatini

(Author's note: This is a look at the relatively few officially licensed arcade and other games for the Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer, along with some thoughts on how they stack up against versions on competing computers and consoles. Because there were so few, a separate article will look at the best - and a few pitiful - "unlicensed" versions and how they stack up against the licensed competition. Perhaps that's a bit unfair since other platforms also had unlicensed games that clearly were better than the licensed versions, but what does anyone have to lose except time? And speaking of losing time, you can play many of the games mentioned here and other CoCo titles for free online at Brad Grier's Mocha site at

Anybody wondering why Radio Shack's TRS-80 Color Computer never gets mentioned in all those "Many Faces Of" comparisons? I didn't think so.

That, of course, is one of the main reasons there aren't a lot of officially licensed "Trash-80" titles - it spent most of its life in the shadows of the heavyweights such as the Commodore's, Apple's and Atari's. I suffered a pretty consistent stream of joystick envy as a youth watching everyone else get titles from Robotron to Wizardry. The list of games I missed - Miner 2049'er, Castle Wolfenstein, Zork, Lode Runner, Defender, Choplifter!, the entire Pac family, etc., etc. - I couldn't even begin to complete here.

That's the price you pay for remaining loyal to a computer outsold 30-to-1 by the Commodore 64.

Those kind of numbers aren't going to appeal to gaming companies with an eye on the bottom line, something I suffer through nowadays as a Mac owner. Programmers also probably were less than thrilled with the idea of cranking out attractive games for a machine whose graphics and sound capabilities trailed much of the competition. Tandy didn't help matters by trying to keep CoCo software development in-house as much as possible, a disastrous concept that helped sink Texas Instruments and other less notable home machines as well.

Still, a handful of officially licensed titles did eventually make it into stores and catalogues. Figuring the CoCo at least deserves the chance to run the race, the following are reviews of the CoCo's licensed titles using an A through F grading system from my reviews Web site (, along with my best SWAG (Scientific Wild-Aft Guess) of where they might have finished in the "Many Faces Of" competition.

From the start I'll admit the CoCo doesn't have a prayer of knocking any gold medal winners off their thrones. In fact, the primary suspense is whether it wins any medals at all. Surely the Trash-80 must have been able to shine or at least bypass a leader who stumbled at least once...

Dallas Quest Adventure (D-)

UGH! Look up the phrase "this stinks" in any dictionary and there's a good chance you'll see a screenshot of this game next to it. This easily is one of the worst and most overrated adventures of all time. How on Earth did this ever manage to become a popular game - across several computer platforms no less? Nothing except the OK-for-the-times graphics works in this so-called comedy-mystery adventure. Instead of wandering around exploring, you basically get stuck in a horribly stupid linear plot where you don't go more than a screen or two without solving some puzzle that makes absolutely no logical sense at all. At least half of the time the solution is the same - offer a monkey who accompanies you some tobacco from a pouch and he'll do some utterly ridiculous thing to save you (if your boat is leaking, he'll use his tail to block the hole; if you're stuck in a certain room he locates a trap door for you - it's like some horrible "Bonzo" movie I saw where the chimp started off rescuing little Timothy from the edge of a cliff by screeching and eventually ends up rescuing the family at the end of the movie by flying them out of a war zone in an airplane he steals). No thought at all spent on the puzzles.

And when it's time to move on, often a single innocent "misstep" puts you in a trap you can't get out of. In other words, if the story says "obvious" paths go north and south, and you choose south, you may end up stuck in a jungle with no means of escape - not the result of a bad decision, just INSANELY BAD PROGRAMMING to try to make a pathetic game more "challenging." The ending is totally ridiculous and frankly I can't believe I played it that long. I think I was irked at the $40 price tag and felt I had to get my money's worth. Don't go near this one unless you're the type that also uses to figure out what you shouldn't be putting on your Web pages.

"Many Faces Of" ranking: Have Not - but are there really any winners when it comes to a game like this? If I gave it a number grade it'd probably be in the low teens, but I dislike it so much I don't feel I can even do that objectively.

Demon Attack (B)

This is one of those rare home video game classics where the CoCo actually got an official conversion. I remember being blown away by it when it came out on the Atari 2600 - it's nothing but a basic space shooter, but was incredibly well done for a VCS title - and I was ready to buy it on sight when the RAM pack showed on the shelves of the local Radio Shack. Except the box said 32K was required and at the time I was stuck with a measly 16K. So it wasn't until many months later, after getting a 64K machine, I was able to try the game out. And guess what? The actual requirements are a 16K machine (the sticker on the outside was incorrect). I wonder how many sales Radio Shack lost with this screw-up, which was never corrected.

The game can't be any simpler: Guide your ship along the bottom of the screen and destroy waves of aliens shooting at you from above. Starting with the third wave they split in two when hit and start diving toward you when one of the "split" enemies is hit. And every third screen you get a chance to take out a massive mother ship that keeps spewing out little demons - a feature first included on the Intellivision and preserved on most later versions for the more "advanced" platforms.

This is a long ways from the most advanced or sophisticated game on the planet; it's just simple, well-executed fun. Too bad that's a concept that all too often gets lost in the desire to be flashier, bigger and (not really) better.

"Many Faces Of" rating: Bronze Medal (43). Wow - this came a lot sooner than I might have thought, but a lack of competitors leads to an early medal. The CoCo version won't knock the Atari 8-bit or 2600 versions from their platforms, but is strong enough to replace the Vic-20 incarnation for third. It's pretty much better in all aspects, although there might be some legitimate discussion of graphics quality due to the CoCo's limited color scheme, but the addition of the mothership level is the decisive factor.

Dragonfire (C+)

Lots of people rave about this Imagic game in its various incarnations, ranging from the Atari 2600 to the Commodore machines, but I simply have never found it all that interesting. There are two levels: On the first you run across a bridge dodging fireballs along the way, in the second you gather treasures from a room while avoiding the flames of a fire-breathing dragon. The screens progress rapidly and I find it rather repetitive, but it's probably not fair to be too hard on a game just because it doesn't suit my tastes.

This conversion is fine if you're a fan of the game and it even has one notable CoCo achievement: Due to some clever split-screen programming, it manages to get eight true colors on the screen at once. Basically half of a color set is used in the upper half of the screen, while another appears in the lower half. This may be the only title able to claim this, but if I'm wrong I'm sure somebody will set me straight.

"Many Faces Of" rating: Have Not (36). This might have been another CoCo victory over the Vic-20 for the bronze, but in the end the Vic gets the nod, since it has random gameplay elements the CoCo lacks, thus making the former more interesting to play.

Frogger (C)

This enormously popular arcade game has been ported to just about every platform imaginable, generally with excellent results. Oddly, the most negative reviews seem to come from versions on the so-called latest and greatest machines like the PC and Playstation, as programmers take a delightfully simple game and try to turn it into a 3-D extravaganza with horrible results. On retro machines, even the humblest machines shine - the Atari 2600 version is one of that system's best conversions of any of its arcade games and even the incredibly humble ZX81 has a pretty interesting version, even if the ultra-low-res, black-and-white, totally silent game has to be split into two screens to fit everything in.

All this preamble is for a reason: With so many great versions, it's an utter shame that the CoCo folks put out such a lame version. It's in lower-res graphics, a bit pokey and just doesn't feel as much fun as other versions. It's not bad - most of the arcade elements are there, eventhough the background music that plays such a big part of the original's charm isn't possible here. But a lot of phrases like ho-hum, mediocre and so on come to mind. Luckily there are better, non-official versions out there.

"Many Faces Of" rating: Have Not. Almost certainly would trail way back in the pack...if this game had actually been featured. But unless I missed it (always possible), I didn't see a comparison of this game. But figuring a large number of versions from the Commodore 64 to the Atari 2600 managed to turn out games that looked and played better, there's no way the CoCo would come near a top-three rating.

Gwana Bwana (C+)

When even the instructions make a game sound tedious, that's not a good sign. This scrolling platform/shooter has the distinction of getting officially ported to about as many computer and video game platforms as any title in existence - and in virtually every case the reviews range from mediocre to awful. I have no idea why this game was pushed so hard, but like Canyon Climber, Dallas Quest and a few other mediocre Datasoft titles it apparently managed to achieve some level of commercial success simply through persistent marketing.

You navigate your guy through eight stages (misleading really, since half of them are basically the same screen repeated over and over - one of the many frustrations with this title). In some you're trying to get through a pseudo 3-D environment to some location on the screen; in others you need to shoot or avoid stuff coming at you on a Zaxxon-like scrolling field - but with nowhere near the graphics, speed or playability of the more-esteemed space-shooter. In theory, the game might have had promise. In reality, it can be interesting for a while to see what the next screen is - and some of them are interesting (hence an overall passing grade) - but in the end it has no real staying power.

Every version seems to have its flaws, ranging from terrible 3-D portrayal to awful gameplay. The CoCo suffers from tepid graphics, slow movement and almost no sound. And having every other screen repeat itself is a terrible idea when it's perhaps the most boring screen of the game - even the cartoon character in the instructions complains about having to navigate the canyon so many times. Like I said, bad sign.

"Many Faces Of" rating: Have Not. In truth, there seem to be no winners when it comes to this game - almost every version seems rather awful. In this case, the CoCo gets bypassed for the odd reason that it offers more than some of the medal finishers - but because those extra screens are so dull they actually detract from the game.

8-bit Face-Off
by Adam King

Welcome back to the ongoing Nintendo vs. Sega battle I call the 8-bit Face-Off. With our focus on Summer Sports this month, I decided that this month will be dedicated to California Games. This game, created by Epyx, was the latest in the "Games" series, which included Winter Games, Summer Games, and others. Orignally released on the Commodore 64 in 1987, California Games was a big hit, so it was ported to a number of platforms. It was even made into one of those VCR Board Games. Both the NES and Sega systems received ports of the game in the US, with both having almost the same features.

This game is a sports competition set in California (hence the title). You can tell because when you start it up the title screen starts playing "Louie, Louie." Up to eight players can play on either system, taking turns one at a time. There are six events to go through, each in a different California location. You have the option of going through all or some of the events, and you can practice them. Before you can compete, though, you have to first register your name and pick a sponsor of some well-known surfing brand.

The first event is the Half-Pipe. You ride a skateboard back and forth on a u-shaped ramp and try to do tricks at the top of each side. You have 1 minute and 15 seconds to score as many points as you can. Be careful about making your turns, or you may accidentally fall off your skateboard. The event ends when you suffer three falls, or you slow down to a stop.

The second event is the Footbag. For 1 minute and 15 seconds you need to juggle a small ball with your feet and head and you need to do as many kicks and stunts as you can. The more tough the stunt, the more points you score. Occasionally a seagull will fly by, and nailing it with the footbag will also net you some bonus points. Don't forget to also mix up your tricks. At the end of the event you get a variety bonus, so don't just do half-axles for the full 1:15.

Event #3 is Surfing. You have to ride the waves for 1 minute and 30 seconds while staying ahead of an approaching tidal wave. During your ride you can try to catch some air and do some aerial turns. If you land incorrectly or go off the bottom of the screen, you'll wipe out. Your run ends if you wipe out four times or you reach the time limit. After you finish, a panel of five judges will grade your run, and the average becomes your score. Beware about wiping out, Jaws just may make an appearance!

Next is Rollerskating. You have to skate down a boardwalk just crawling with various obstacles, such as beach balls, cracks in the sidewalk, sand, banana peels and others. As you skate you can duck, jump and steer around anything in your path. You score points for steering around every obstacle in your way, you get more for jumping over them, and if you do a spin jump over them, that's even more points. You can fall three times, but your run ends after the third fall.

Following that is BMX Bike Racing. You have 2 minutes to ride your bike to the end of a BMX course, which also has obstacles. As you ride you have to avoid the obstacles while performing various stunts for points, such as flips and turns. When you perform stunts, you need to remember to land in a centered position or you'll crash. You're allowed three "easy" falls or one "serious" fall before you're out of the race. If you flip and fall on your head, it's a serious fall! Usually the game says "Too Bad Hotshot" if this occurs. Finishing the course in time will net you bonus points for every second left on the clock.

Finally the last event is the Flying Disc. You basically throw a Frisbee to your partner. When you begin you have to use a gauge to set up your throw. Once you launch the disc, your partner has to catch it for you to score points. You get points for both the throw and the catch. Accuracy counts; you get the most points if your partner can catch the disc right where he's standing. If he has to run toward the disc, you won't get as many points. You get three throws.

After each event, the top three finishers are awarded trophies, earning them place points. Obviously 1st place gets you the most place points. At the end of the game, the person with the most place points is the California Games Champion! At least until you play again.

Now for the breakdown between the NES and Sega versions:

California Games NES (1989 Milton Bradley)
This is a very good port of the C64 original. The graphics are pretty good. The backgrounds are okay, and the sprites are large with decent animation. The background music is pretty catchy, especially during the Surfing event when you hear a rendition of "Wipeout." The sound effects are minimal but you won't really miss them. The controls take some practice, especially since each event requires a different skill, but for the most part they work really well. The big thing about this game is that there's no computer opponents; if you play by yourself, you're competing alone, and that's not much fun. It's better to play with two or more players for some real competition.

California Games SMS (1989 Sega)
Sega's version is also a respectable port. As good as the NES's graphics were, the Sega version totally tops them. All of the backgrounds and characters have a bit more detail to them, plus this version has some stuff you won't find in the NES version, especially in the surfing event (you actually see the judges holding up scorecards, while the NES version just shows a billboard with the scores). However, once again the sounds knock the Sega carts down a few pegs. The background music sounds watered down and is not as enjoyable as the NES version. The controls are a mixed bag; they're easy to use in the skating and surfing events, but the others take a LOT of practice to get down, especially in the footbag event. Again there's no computer opponents, so playing alone there's no challenge. The Sega cart has two other options not found in the NES version: Compete in One Event and View Title Screen, but both don't seem to be of much use.

Another close contest. While it's easy to simply say that the NES version won hands down, both ports are top notch and very close to the original. The Sega version is a good port, if you can live with the somewhat frustrating controls. But the NES version will once again take home the trophy this round.

Winner: NES

But again both games are worth adding to your respective collection(s). Just remember to always play this game with friends, and not by yourself. It's no fun winning a one-man competition; you have no one to brag to.

Vic 20 Reviews - The Mysterious Missing Genre?
by Tonks

When Alan first suggested doing a "Summer Games" themed issue of RTM I instantly started looking through my extensive VIC 20 collection for a heap of sports games to review. So imagine my surprise when I couldn't find one single sports game. I have just over 100 carts and dozens of tapes, but no sports games. The closest to a sports game I found was a pretty bad Scuba Diving game called "Sharks", and an extremely simple text based golf game, but I just don't think these really count.

So I turned to the mighty "Cartzilla" to see if Ward Shrake has a sports game mentioned within his enormous list of Vic 20 carts. Again I came up empty.

I have exhausted my limited resources and have found no sports games for the Vic 20. This has left me with the question, "are there any sports games that were made for the Vic 20?" So I am sending out a call to all Vic 20 fans who read RTM - do you have any sports games in your game collection? Drop me an email and I will make mention of the games in an up-coming issue of RTM.

So, with no Vic 20 sports games to review, I did the next best thing...

Hitting A Six On The Commodore 64
by Tonks

In Australia the most popular Summer sport is Cricket. Terms such as "Hitting a six" or "Bowling a maiden over" may seem like mumbo-jumbo to many, but to those readers of RTM who come from Australia, England, New Zealand or South Africa, cricket isn't just a summer sport, it is a way of life. For Australians there is nothing better than beating the Poms in the Ashes. There is nothing better than chanting out "Come on Aussie - come on!" There is nothing better than seeing Warney bowl his flipper. There is nothing better than hearing "No ball" when Muralitharan "chucks" another ball down the wicket.

Over the years there have been quite a few cricket games made for various consoles and home computers. When it comes to the classic era, the Commodore 64 is the machine that can boast the most cricket games (with the possible exception of the ZX Spectrum). So put some zinc cream on your nose, slap on your terry-towelling hat and get ready to learn a little about cricket games on the Commodore 64.

ALLAN BORDER'S CRICKET, Audiogenic, 1993
This is possibly the best cricket game available for the Commodore 64. It features very good graphics with great animation of the players. You would expect this game to look good as it came out very late. There are lots of options and you can even create your very own cricket team. An added interest to Australian gamers is that the game also features the PURA Cup fixture (This is the Australian domestic series played by all the states. It goes by its old name, the Sheffield Shield). In England this game is also known as "Graham Gooch's Cricket". Allan Border was the captain of the Australian cricket team, while Gooch was the captain of England.

IAN BOTHAM'S TEST MATCH, Arm Chair Entertainment, 1986
Ian Botham was one of the most colourful cricketers to ever play the game. Plus he was also a brilliant player - or at least as brilliant as an English player could ever be [J]. This game has all the features you would expect, but is mainly let down by some average graphics. This is understandable due to the game coming out fairly early in the Commodore 64's life (1984), but it just makes it seem nowhere near as good as Allan Border's Cricket. Being an older game it might be fairly difficult to find, but it was re-released as part of the compilation "Game Set and Match 2" put out by Ocean.

Allan Border's Cricket
Ian Botham's Test Match

WORLD CRICKET, Zeppelin Games, 1992
World Cricket is a cricket management game. Instead of actually controlling the batsmen or bowlers, you play the role of team "coach" or "manager". It is a more statistic based game with some good elements of strategy. As the game progresses all the players are given statistics based on how well they played. This enables you to know who is playing well or poorly so you can ensure you select the best team for the most important matches. The best option in the game is the ability to save your game. A whole Test Series can take a long time, so you can save the game and continue the series at another time. Graphics are very good, with everything well presented.

ONE DAY CRICKET (aka World Cup Cricket), International Software, 1985
Actual One Day Cricket revolutionized the game of Cricket. Instead of waiting five long days for a game to still end in a draw, One Day Cricket gave a faster and more entertaining spectacle with a guaranteed winner by the end of the day. Sadly the same can't be said about this game. The main letdown is the very bland graphics. Most things are well defined, but very limited colour (purple pitch???) and monochrome sprites make the game look dull. It makes me think this game was originally made for the ZX Spectrum and simply ported to the 64.

World Cricket
One Day Cricket

CRICKET 64, CRL Group PLC, 1984
This is the oldest cricket game for the Commodore 64 I could find, coming out just a year after the C64's release. This probably explains why Cricket 64 looks just so bad. The game is so basic, from the tiny monochrome graphics to the very simple gameplay. As far as I can tell, it was programmed in BASIC.

CRICKET CAPTAIN, Hi-Tech Software, 1990
Cricket Captain is another management game where you play the role of Captain of a cricket team. I don't own a copy of the game, so I can't make too many comments. The game seems to be based on the England Domestic competition. Graphics have a Spectrumesque look about them, right down to the colour clash.

Cricket 64
Cricket Captain

CRICKET CRAZY, Alternative Software, 1988
Cricket Crazy surely must win an award for the most bizarre sports game ever. In fact it shouldn't really called a sports game at all. Cricket Crazy is in fact a text adventure based around the theme of a cricket tour. Some simple graphics illustrate the adventure while you type in commands such as "get bat", "get ball", "hit Botham over the head". If you like text adventures you might really enjoy the game.

CRICKET INTERNATIONAL, Alternative Software, 1988
A fairly basic game that lacks the options of many of the better cricket games. Team options are limited to making up your own team or playing as England against a world eleven. Graphics are very blocky and reasonably ugly. One funny aspect of this game is that you can make your bowler run into the umpire. This obviously results in a no ball, but it always puts a bit of a grin on my face.

Cricket Crazy
Cricket International

A brief look at some Commodore 64 sites may reveal a few more cricket games, but these are just the ones that I have in my collection. For more information on these cricket games and a few more, as well as dozens and dozens of other sports games for the Commodore 64, check out the brilliant web site, Stadium 64 (

The Challenge Will Always Be There
by Youltar

Hi everyone!! I'm new here to Retrogaming Times Monthly. My name is Gary Pierce and most of you might know me as Youltar. I'll be doing reviews every month on the Sega Master System and have been a Sega Master System addict since about 1988 when I received my first one for Christmas. Double Dragon, Ghostbusters and Thunderblade were the first games I owned, so I am a bit partial to liking those. I've massed a fairly big collection over the years and the reviews I will be doing are on games I actually own and have beaten. I will also be using a simple 5 star rating, with 1 star being poor and 5 stars being being perfect. Anything rated 4 or better is a definite must have for the Sega addict inside of you! So on with the review!!! This month I will be reviewing Reggie Jackson Baseball, which is a game I used to play A LOT in my youth. There's nothing better than beating the pants off your best friend and his precious Minnesota Twin's.

The graphics used in Reggie Jackson Baseball are some of the best there are on the Sega Master System. The batter is drawn great, as is the pitcher and the little animations between innings. The crowd is drawn kind of poorly, they look more like flashing colors than people.

The sound is very well done. The voices in the game are very clear and understandable which adds quite a bit to the environment. Although, when you hit a homerun you get the same sound over and over which tends to get a bit tedious when hitting out of the park a lot. The music is ok, but like most video game music it grows on you.

This is where the game really shines through. There are 4 different modes of play along with American and National League teams. There is a fantastic tournament mode where, if you're good enough, you can play in the World Series. You can even send in relief pitchers and pinch hitters! I'm also very pleased with the batter control. You have a lot of control over the amount of swing the batter has. You can step in or out and bunt or's all here! The pitching is ok, you almost have too much control though. Once the pitch is off you can move the D-pad in any direction and the ball will move accordingly on its way to the plate. This can make for a very different style of gameplay, depending on who you may be playing. Once the ball has been hit the outfield takes over. The control is very cut and dry for playing defense, hold the button in and press the D-pad in correspondence to the diamond and that's it.

At least a few more sound effects for home-runs would have been nice. With the solid gameplay and fantastic graphics I still believe it to be one of the best 2 player games the Master System has to offer. A definite must own for your SMS collection! 4/5 Stars!!

Video Games Lyrics to Pop Songs: "Track & Field"
by Alan Hewston

Bang The "Runs" All Day
New Lyrics by : Alan Hewston
where "Runs" = Run buttons

I don't want to work
I want to bang on the "Runs" all day
I don't want to learn
I just want to play Track & Field all day

Ever since I was grade school slick
I don't want no track ball
Don't need no joystick
I pressed all the buttons at my local arcade
and then I bang on the "Runs" 'til I got
Blisters on my hand because

[Refrain repeats]

Every day when I have bad grades
I feel so frustrated
There's no more arcades
So I turn on my Atari or my 64
and then I pound my Track & Field controller & roll up the score

[Refrain repeats]

When I got older took my Game Boy to school
The teacher told me I should stay after school
She caught me pounding those buttons with my hands
But my scores were so hot
I made the teacher wanna dance
And that's why

[Refrain repeats]

I can bang that Track & Field controller
Hey, you wanna take a bang at it?
I can do this all day

Game Over

Time to bring this issue to a close. We're not done with our focus on Olympic video games, this is just the end of Part 1. Next month the festivities will resume, and we'll have plenty more articles on summer sports gaming. Until next month, remember to keep banging on the buttons and always go for the gold!

- Adam King, Chief Editor

Copyright © 2004 Adam King & Alan Hewston. All related copyrights and trademarks are acknowledged.