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Bally Alley Astrocast

This podcast covers the Bally Arcade videogame console released in 1978. This system was also called the Astrocade and the Bally Professional Arcade.
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Now displaying: December, 2019
Dec 16, 2019

In episode 10 of the Bally Alley Astrocast, Adam and Chris++ review the modified version of the "AstroBASIC" game Gobblers. They also discuss just a few of the many updates to the BallyAlley.com website since March 2017. Finally, they talk about some of the recent occurrences in the Astrocade community. This is the first full-length episode in over 2 1/2 years; thanks to all those Astrocade fans who kept pestering Adam for another episode.

Recurring Links 

Some Astrocade News/Updates

  • Astrocade Video Art - BallyAlley's YouTube Playlist
  • Astrocade Video Art - Archive.org
  • MOD 2 by Dan Sandin - "MOD 2," a Bally BASIC video art program, that appeared in an article called "Pix-Art" by Frank Dietrich and Zsuzsanna Molnar. This article, which appeared in "Computer Graphics and Art," 1980-1981 Yearbook 5, covers the Bally Arcade as a low-cost solution to create graphics using Bally BASIC and the ZGrass language. It specifically talks about several pieces of art that were written using the two languages. Some of the video art pictures are included in the article, as well as some source code for a few programs.

  • Astrocademo - By Genesis Project. Demo for the Bally Astrocade (1978). Code by Shadow. Music by MCH.

  • 2000-Baud "AstroBASIC" Tape I/O Support Missing - Summary of Missing Feature at MAME Testers
  • Bounty: $100 for Astrocade Tape Support- Thread at bannister.org requesting tape support be added to MAME's Astrocade emulation.
  • Bally Arcade / Astrocade Real Hardware Timing Test - This video was created using real Bally Arcade/Astrocade hardware. Two programs are run that use clocks which can be used for timing real Bally Arcade hardware versus emulation. One program, Goldfish Demo, is written in machine language. The other program, Grandfather Clock, is written in BASIC. This video can be used to test how the emulation speed is for Astrocade emulation. Each program is run for three minutes.

  • Bally BASIC/AstroBASIC Differences - The "Bally/Astro Basic" section of the html version of the Astrocade FAQ.
  • Bally Alley Astrocade Discussion Group - There is an active Astrocade discussion group at Groups.io that has its roots dating back to 2001 at Yahoo Groups. You can browse the over 16,000 messages that were moved from the original Yahoo groups to the Groups.io site in the fall of 2019. In addition, the Groups.io site is now the current place to talk about the Astrocade today.
  • Palo Alto Tiny BASIC, Version 3 - By Li-Chen Wang. This article is excerpted from PCC's Reference Book of Personal And Home Computing, Edited by Dwight McCabe. 1977. Pages 58-88. Bally BASIC (and "AstroBASIC") are a superset of the original Palo Alto Tiny BASIC. This version of Li-Chen Wang's Palo Alto Tiny BASIC will run on either the 8080 or Z-80, and only uses 2K of core memory. It contains a number of nice features including command abbreviations and error messages. At the end of the listing is a cross reference table for symbols used in the program and also the object code for the program. For further information on Tiny BASIC languages, see Dr. Dobb's Journal, Volume 1.
  • Gunfight: A Z80 Instruction by Instruction Breakdown- By Michael Matte - 198x. In the 1980s, Michael Matte, a passionate Astrocade user, used the Z80 source code listing for the 8K ROM, available in the "Nutting Manual," as a basis for his detailed breakdown of Gunfight. Michael created the breakdown "to provide beginner assembly or machine language programmers an inside look at the game Gunfight. The documentation will reveal how on-board subroutines in the System ROM can be used to execute particular tasks. The 'special routines' listing can be used as a reference source for programming demos or games." The archive includes Michael Matte's complete, 42-page breakdown of the Astrocade game Gunfight. This breakdown will be most useful if used with the source code for the Bally's 8K system ROM, which is available in the "Nutting Manual."
  • Astrocade High-Resolution Upgrade - By Michael Matte (Circa 1985/1986/2019) - These five in-depth "packages" (documents) were created by Michael C. Matte in 1986. These documents explain how to upgrade a Bally Arcade/Astrocade from the "Consumer Mode," which uses the low-resolution display (160x102 pixels), to "Commercial Mode," which uses the high-resolution mode (320x204 pixels) used in arcade games such as Gorf and Wizard of Wor. There are pictures of Michael's hi-res unit and screenshots here too.
  • Hi-Res Bally Arcade/Astrocade Correspondence and Hi-Res Project Updates - I have added correspondence from 1985 and 1986 between Michael Matte, Don Gladden (who edited volume 6 of the Arcadian) and Bob Fabris. Michael wrote the documentation on how to upgrade the Bally Arcade to hi-res mode. His letters primarily deal with this matter, but he also drops some wonderful tid-bits, such as that he made a BalCheck II for his hi-res unit. He also upgraded the Machine Language Manager cartridge so that it could take advantage of hi-res mode.
  • SetScreen 2: An Upgraded Bally Arcade/Astrocade Troubleshooting Utility- By MCM Design/Michael Matte. October 2017. Setscreen 2 is a visual troubleshooting tool that can be used to help diagnose a failed Astrocade motherboard producing a blank TV screen at power-up.
  • GitHub Astrocade Code Repository - Rachel Weil's (aka "hxlnt") GitHub annotated Z80 assembly source code, binaries, and dev tools for the Bally Astrocade.
  • A Power Transformer Substitution for the Bally/Astrocade Computer System- By Michael Matte (MCM Design). April 2018. If your original Bally power supply fails, and you have experience in electronics, then these instructions explain how to build a substitute power transformer.
  • "Treasures of Cathy" - By John Collins. 1982.This adventure-style game has 49 locations with 18 treasures. You can only carry six treasures/items at a time. Each treasure gives additional points. Each move subtracts one point. Try for a score greater than 1,000 points. There are four keywords: IN, UP, DROP and GET. On September 7, 2018, this game was played by Chris++ and Adam Trionfo. A rough, incomplete map of the game was created to help figure-out the game's layout. To answer Paul's 10-year-old question: to enter the house, climb one of the trees in the game (type UP), and then GET the key from the bird's nest. With the key, the player can enter the house by typing IN.

Feedback

  • The Astrocade Turns 40! - AtariAge Thread. - The first Bally Home Library Computer Arcade finally shipped and arrived in people's hands in late January 1978. Many of these people who got their units had ordered their system from a three-page JS&A ad that appeared in the September 1977 issue of Scientific American. Happy birthday, Astrocade! The Bally is now 40 years old and we're still fiddling around with it. Good for us! If anyone has any stories to tell about the Astrocade (especially if you got your system in 1978 or for your birthday!), then I'd love to hear your tales!
  • Private Screenings: The GAMES Guide To Home Video Games- By Phil Wiswell - From December 1982 GAMES magazine - "Mezmaron" mentions this article in his feeback to the show. Page 38 of the magazine (page two of the article) has the Astrocade system on it.
  • History Panel: "The Arcadians: Exploring the history of homebrew for the Bally Astrocade"- For any enthusiasts who are going to Magfest or live on the east coast, Rachel Simone Weil and [Kevin Bunch] will be running a history panel all about the independent developer/enthusiast scene that cropped around the Astrocade! There is also an AtariAge forum thread on this topic.

Gobblers (Mod) by Bob Wiseman and Klaus Doerge

The original version of Gobblers is from Arcadian 3, no. 12 (Oct. 05, 1981): 125. The modified version, with updates by Klaus Doerge, is from Arcadian 5, no. 4 (Feb. 18, 1983): 56, 70. "This is a two-player game played on a 10x5 field. The object of the game is to have your Gobbler gobble-up more squares than you opponent. When play begins, use the JX and JY to direct your Gobbler around the screen. Each printed square is worth 1, 2, 3, or 4 points, depending upon how many dots are there. The game ends when the last square is eaten."

Gobblers by Bob Wiseman)(Screenshot)

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