Tales From The Code Front Stories in words and pictures

Well, here's another nice mess you've gotten me into!

10 dim a$(2)
15 def fn a(x) = x * 2
20 a$(0) = "abc"
30 input a$(1)
40 if a$(0)=a$(1)then print sin(1), fna(2)

This piece of code doesn't make any sense, but it's a nice test case for #Genesis64's pre-parser. And now you ask yourself: "Why a pre-parser (and what is it)?"
When I first started to work on this, the Genesis64 parser actually was an interpreter, you entered #C64 #BASIC code and ... interpreted it using a boatload of RegExes (because, hey, BASIC looks like it's so easy, you could parse it with Regular Expressions alone - boy was I wrong).

Because I used RegExes to parse the code, it seemed like a good idea to make finding arrays easier, by using the C-like [ and ] instead of ( and ). I used the same reasoning for =, thinking that simple compare operations should be easier to find when I use == instead of =.

Here's the result of the (very first) pre-parser used:

10 dim a$[2]
15 def fn a[x] = x * 2
20 a$[0] == "abc"
30 input a$[1]
40 if a$[0]==a$[1]then print sin[1], fna[2]

Using this nice RegEx to detect the "start" of an array in code:

It will find everything that looks like an array up to the opening bracket, so just run this over each line, find the closing bracket and replace ( and ) with [ and ].

Almost .... correct.
Let's start with line 10, obviously a$[2] is wrong, as we're not accessing the array, but DIMing it. So it needs to check if the array variable is used in a DIM statement.
Line 15, wrong, DEF FN is followed by a "name" rather than an array
Line 20, wrong, it's a LET command, without LET, as we don't need it in BASIC v2.
Line 30, wow, correct.
Line 40, almost correct, but SIN is a function, so not an array and thus has to keep its ( and ) intact, and FN A is a function as well.

So 3 out of 5 lines that needed further testing, and I've not even really tackled comparison.
First check for DIM and DEF FN / FN, then filter out the BASIC functions (SIN, ABS, ...), oh and deal with nested things like a$(b(2)), or SIN(a((ABS(3))) ...

Nonetheless, I kept using that idea throughout three (or 4?) iterations of the parser, adding conditions for DEF FN, functions and what not, to the point where it perfectly converted C64 BASIC to "G64"-BASIC. It just took a few hundred lines of code and conditions to arrive there. With the current rush of motivation (I just released v. of our e-learning suit WideBight), I re-read the code for the pre-parser and decided to drop that idea and just make sure the parser can deal with BASIC the way it is written instead of jumping hoops to convert it to something else first.

One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.

Since I missed last week's post, this week is a bit more elaborate.

When I found this game on the tapes that came with my C64 I was hooked. I think it was on one of the later tapes, because I played the games one after another, and it must have been well over a half year after Christmas that I stumbled upon:

The Sword of Fargoal

Title screen (from a cracked version) and the original "main menu"

Originally released on the VIC-20 in 1982 the C64 version made it to the stores in 1983, it is what I might call now a Rogue-lite (or Roguelike, but quite reduced, so "lite" might be more appropriate).

Our nameless hero has to venture down randomly generated dungeon levels until he (we) find the magic Sword of Fargoal, and then go all the way back up (along with a hefty time limit, more monsters and fewer stairs up).

Generating the map and showing some stats.

You gain XP by collecting gold (and sacrificing it in temples) and slaying a varied cast of monsters. With each new level you get some additional hit points, can carry more gold, and deal a tad more damage. There are healing potions, magic sacks (to carry more gold), beacons (teleport to thingies), and some spells to keep you alive - and you better uses these as you only got one try.

The spells make you invisible, regenerate HP, teleport (random location), summon a shield, let you drift and widen your light radius.

You also may find enchanted weapons for more oomph against monsters.

A cleared map and a level for which we have found a map.

You start with a covered map, and each step uncovers a 3x3 area around the player (or some more using the light spell). You make same steps, then the monsters move until you've complete cleared the map or took the stairs down to the next level. The checked spots on the map (that look like the covered pieces) contain something random: helpful things like: spells, potions, sacks, maps (that uncover later levels) and weapons OR unpleasantries like: traps, holes ...

Traps may make you lose your orientation (thus coving up the map) and holes can be used to skip levels (although not knowing where you end up).

Level 15, where the sword can be found, and made it out again.

I'd say this game was the first real killer for my (not very big) enthusiasm for going to school. It killed it right on the spot. For a few weeks (and some abysmal school tests) it was all I wanted to do. I came home, dropped my bag and played Fargoal (well, until my parents took away the C64 ... "You get it back when you can concentrate in school again").

I'd give it a 5/5 for replayability.

You've got to ask yourself one question: 'Do I feel lucky?' Well, do ya, punk?

If you made it this far, I'll reward you with another early C64 game I loved playing - even though it was released on the dreaded Apple II first, but I didn't know that back then.

I'm talking about


You're flying a heli and collect people and return them to the base. That's about as much as I knew about the game after the first round.

Title screen and on the way to rescue the first batch of hostages.

Pressing fire on the joystick in port 1 starts the game, press up to go up and left / right to fly into that direction. Pressing fire lets you shot into the direction the heli is facing. Notable was the fact that the heli kept its orientation. You could change that by pressing fire and a left / right to turn the heli around OR facing the screen, which alows to shoot straight down and hit those pesky tanks.

Landing, eyeing the damn tank. Returning to the base and "unload".

Sooner or later you'll notice people on the ground, so land and let them get into the heli and lift fast enough to avoid getting shot by a tank. Then head back to the base and release them. Repeat. Once you've got 20+ of them to safety, you start the next level.

I hated the plane. ...and it hated me.

If you found the tanks annoying, wait for the first contact with the plane.

Overall, it's a nice little game, but tbh. I never made it "that" far, I'm not even sure if I ever managed to get beyond the second level (and I didn't try hard enough to get there this time).

I'd give it a 3.5/5 for replayability.

Open the pod bay doors, HAL.

Welcome to another week of "Oh what fun I had with early C64 games."

This week's game is ...

Wizard of Wor

You are about to enter the dungeons of the WIZARD OF WOR!! [...] As a "noble warrior", your mission objective is to descend deep into dungeon mazes, battle visible and invisible monsters, evil demons, and even the Wizard of Wor himself! Go as far into the dungeons as possible, beat the Wizard and his monster babies, while scoring as high as you can.

(from the game's manual)

Title screen and one of the basic dungeons.

First thing I noticed is that the dungeons are semi-random, and the manual confirms that there are 25 combinations, it also informs that the difficulty takes place on two levels: basic dungeons and Worlord dungeons (plus "The Arena" and "The Pit").

Ignore all the yadda-yadda, and it boils down to "shot everything that doesn't look like you".

The one thing that made this game one of my favourite games from the early tapes is that it also is a two player game, and boy, did we play it. For hours on end - sometimes when friends stayed overnight, for some hours more.

After you've killed the 6 blue things, you go for a yellow and orange one and then a giant ... fly?

We usually played as a team, but had a healthy competition when it came to the scores.

Another blue thing to shoot at.

Interestingly, it is a game that still works for me, even as single player game. A quick round from the couch (with the TheC64 mini or using Vice) is good for "wasting" some 20 minutes and with a second player around for some more.

I'd give it a 4/5 for replayability.

Soylent Green is people!

After last week's post, I decided it would be fun to replay some of the very first games I played on my C64. Thinking about it, though, "fun" isn't always something that hits you when you look at the early C64 games.

This week's game is ...

Warren Schwader's "Sammy Lightfoot"

Again, this game "came" without a manual, so no backstory to explain what's going on.

"Sammy Lightfoot follows the travails of a circus worker who jumps and climbs through a number of perilous situations."

Once you connected the joystick to port 1 and selected a one or two player game, you'd be thrown into fun. The game's goal is to cross a succession of "Scenes" and advance to the next one. Each "Scene" takes place on a single screen.

Let's start with some screenshots:

The title screen and Scene 1 in progress ...

In scene 1 you need to get to the top by using the trampolines at the bottom right, cross the gap with the swinging rope, use another trampoline, hit the button beneath the red platform and finally jump onto the last swinging rope.

Scene 1 done and Scene 2.

Scene 2 looks a lot more straight forward than scene 1, get your timing right to go from right to left jumping over the bottom row of platforms, to make this a little harder, the yellow things start to move. After this, the two outer platforms move halfway up the screen, and you go from left to right using the (moving) yellow platforms. The last step is getting to the right side again, after using what I assume is a flying carpet ... or something.

Scene 3 - by now you should know the drill ...

Scene 3 makes you go left to right, up, right to left, up, swinging ... and ... I gave up here.

I don't remember getting that far back then or playing for very long (not as long as I played "Burning Rubber", that's for sure). I checked a long play and there only seem to be 3 screens, which start over after this one, adding a few more perils, so it's not like I missed a great deal quitting here.

I'd give it a 0.1/5 for replayability.

Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore.

[I posted this over at mastodon, but figured it might not hurt here as well.]

When I got my (used, from one of my mum's co-workers) it came with a and 4 or 5 60 minute tapes full of games (turbo tape format). With it came a printed list of what was on them.

As I didn't have a clue about any of them, I just played the first game that loaded from tape.

Here it is, the very first game I played on MY C64 [drumroll]:

"Burnin Rubber"

Title and help screen

It sported some fairly basic rules I could deduce without knowing a single word of English:
You scored points for:
- bumping other cars off the track
- jumping and landing on them (the only way to crash the "tanks")
- getting bonus points after each round (track)

The tracks were simple, straight "roads" changing in width and the occasional piece of water you'd have to jump over.

Ingame and level end.

I replayed it a few times, but always had to turn down the volume, as the track playing along is a 100% annoying and maddening.

I'd give it a 2/5 for replayability.

By the way – is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

Let's do this.

Q: "So, is Genesis64 dead yet?"
A: "Heck! No."

Q: "Why isn't there anything to see?"
A: "Heavy rewriting, new parser, lack of time (and sometimes motivation)."

Q: "Are there still news about it on twitter?"
A: "Nope, I'm not going to visit the church of moronic Elon worshiping anymore (except for deleting)."

Q: "Where then?"
A: "Mastodon of course, see: https://oldbytes.space/@nGFX"

Q: "Sooooo .... any news?"
A: "I ported my MiniFSM class over to typescript and added it to the 'boot' process, and it'll be used for running the whole thing as well. I'm also working on the memory map, so it uses the same values as the real C64. After that, it's back to adding more C64 commands and functions, right now there are only poke and peek are really working."

And that's it.

Until next time (in a year or so :| )


Another one I got via GamePass and I'm quite undecided about what to make of it. It's word free, so no messing with tiny subtitles (I see a rant coming), but it pushes the needle towards "unfinished" with its controls.

Place with a view.

The controls are annoyingly fidgety at times and there are spots where you have to hit a spot on-the-pixel (see image below where you need to position yourself in the shadows of the umbrellas in order to cross the screen).

Don't go towards the light.

On the plus side ... I haven't rage-quit yet, but I'm also not sure if I really want to go on after 5h.

graphics and style 7/10
fun playing it 7/10

I haven't found a homepage with a quick search, so here's the link to the Xbox page:


In favor of the game, I have to admit that I don't like survival/horror games, making Signalis an odd choice. What made me try it, was that it came with GamePass and the retro look.

(Screenshot nipped from the Signals page, I didn't get that far)

The first hour or so was really enjoyable (more puzzle/exploration and less survival), then came the shooting and the dying and time for me to say "goodbye".

I had a quick look at a walkthrough to see where the shooting and dying might lead me and if I should just swallow my dislike of "not enough of everything" (including inventory space). But reading a few chapters into the guide I found a shitload of things I would have forgotten and would have made me reload/restart that chapter, resulting in a rage-quit.

graphics and style 9/10
fun playing it (1st hour) 8/10
fun playing it (after 1st hour) 3/10


Signalis Homepage

A clean start ...

... sort of.

I've been working on Genesis64 a lot last year - and then I hit a wall when I needed to decide where this is going. The decision to put everything in a GEOS-like UI worked pretty well entertainment-wise. It did nothing to get G64 near the finish line, though.
This dragged me down so much that I decided to abandon G64 and let it die on its arse.

Now, 3 months later, I noticed that I don't want to let it die this way.

So I deleted the whole project (backup'ed it first, of course) and set up a clean and empty one, and even put it on git (link coming soon, maybe).

While at it, I also want to try to get this blog up and running and focus on toot-like posts instead of novels.

We'll see if it worked in a few months.

-- nGFX