|First runner-up... Omega Race.|
Back in the day, every game console had its system-sellers; games with quality so good, they justified the purchase of a whole system just to play them. Omega Race (documentation) is my pick for first runner-up.
The VIC-20 had a lot of good games, and its hardware features were well-positioned to be a leader amongst console manufacturers of the day. Lacking the power of today's Dolby-Digital THX enhanced photo-realistic multimedia powerhouses, it took some exceptional developers that focused hard on game-play to really develop a truly great game. Andy Finkel was one such programmer. I had the opportunity to speak with Andy on November 12, 1996.
|Omega Race on the Commodore VIC-20.|
"There's a secret key sequence in Omega Race to get the hidden credits. While the title sequences are displaying, hold down the Control, Shift, and Commodore keys, and press the RETURN key. The game makes a sound, and you'll get an extra page of title screen." - Andy Finkel
On the VIC-20, Andy also did some tape programs, like the Loan-Mortgage calculator and Car Wars. He ported miscellaneous tools from the PET, like the VICMON machine language monitor. Aside from Omega Race, he also did the VIC-20 Music Composer, Sargon II Chess and worked on the Gorf cartridges. Gorf was fairly straightforward, he recalled. They worked on it right after Omega Race, and reused a lot of the same code and concepts. Some of the later Bally games didn't hold up to their standards for play, so they passed on them. For instance, there was one called Domino Man that was basically an exercise in frustration. You tried to set up a line of dominoes, and things wandered through trying to knock them over. Not much fun, so they didn't take that one. As for Wizard of War, also from Bally Midway, and why it was never released for the VIC-20, Andy said it was kind of late and Commodore was heavily involved in the C64 by then, so the game just kind of fell by the wayside.
Ron was the founder of Arcade Engineering which was later sold to Midway. He also worked for Atari as a consultant in 1985, when they were suing the state of California for tax reasons. Ron was called as a witness regarding payments received for the pinball game he was designing called, "Big Foot." He would later go on to invent the flashing / vibrating guest beepers customers receive in restaurants while waiting for tables to become available.
Omega Race was in all of the arcades, which were very popular hangouts for teens back in the early 1980s. More than 35,000 machines were created, with the average machine taking in over $180 per week in 1982. Licensed versions of Omega Race were released for most of the home video game consoles of the early to mid '80s, including the Atari 2600 and ColecoVision, as well as the Commodore 64 and VIC-20 home computers. The best remake for modern systems (OSX and Windows) was developed by S. Borgquist, in 2006.
|Omega Fury (2009)|
The VIC Software Sprite Stack is a significant development, because the 6560 video interface chip does not support hardware sprites like other video controllers. For more information on the 6560, which I find quite fascinating, I have a blog entry devoted to its story. For more information on the Commodore VIC-20 home computer system, please check out my other blog entry: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 - Turning Japanese...
Mike Maginnis and Carrington Vanston recently reviewed the original arcade version of Omega Race in Episode #14 of the No Quarter: classic arcade game podcast. Head on over and give it a listen! For more in-depth information on the original arcade version of Omega Race, check out the “Killer List Of Videogames” (KLOV).
Are you interested in computer history? Join the irregular regulars Earl Evans, David Greelish, and Carrington Vanston, plus surprise guests, in the show where everything old is news again. Gather 'round a virtual table where today's talk is about yesterday's computers. Get the skinny from the world of vintage computer hobbyists, collectors, enthusiasts, and old school geeks. They cover modern day vintage tech events, new developments for old hardware, the revival of retro tech, the best of 8 bit culture, and take many strolls down memory lane. Head on over to http://rcrpodcast.com and explore podcasts, review show notes and be informed of upcoming episodes. You'll be glad you did!