Friday, November 29, 2013

King Kong and Frankenstein's "Other" Appearances in Japanese Sci-fi Films

Toho, the Japanese film studio and king of Japanese Giant Monster films, made two fully licensed movies with King Kong, King Kong vs. Godzilla in 1962 and King Kong Escapes in 1967.  It also made two films about Frankenstein's monster, Frankenstein Conquers the World in 1965 and War of the Garguantuas (Japanese Tile : Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira) in 1966.  For the former, Toho studios licensed the character from RKO Studios and for Frankenstein Conquers the World it licensed the distinctive Jack Pierce designed Frankenstein's Monster look from Universal.

While Godzilla had been introduced to the world in 1956, two years after his Japanese debut, King Kong and Frankenstein's Monster were of an earlier generation of movie monsters.  King Kong was released in 1933 and Universal's Frankensteinin 1931 (the latter appearing in six subsequent Universal films).  The films were highly regarded in the 1960s and 1970s and the characters were far better established in much of the movie-going world than Godzilla and other Japanese movie monsters.

Godzilla and other Japanese films were released in different countries at different times.  While Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again were generally released with those or similar titles across the world, when it came to Toho's later films, all bets were off when it came to the naming game.  West Germany, in particular, rarely gave Godzilla the title credit the film itself intended.  Instead, the distributors came up with a variety of creative titles for the films released in that country.

Japanese Title (Translation) U.S. Theatrical Title German Theatrical Title (Translation)
Gojira Godzilla, King of the Monsters Godzilla
Godzilla
Godzilla



Gojira no gyakushu Gigantis the Fire Monster Godzilla Kehrt Zurück
Counterattack of Godzilla
Godzilla Returns



Kingukongu tai Gojira King Kong vs. Godzilla Die Rückkehr des King Kong
King Kong vs. Godzilla
The Return of King Kong



Mosura tai Gojira Godzilla vs. the Thing Godzilla und die Urweltraupen
Mothra vs. Godzilla
Godzilla and the Primeval caterpillars
San daikaiju: Chikyu saidai no kessen
Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster
No Theatrical Release
Three Giant Monsters: The Greatest Battle on Earth




Kaiju daisenso Monster Zero Befehl aus dem Dunkel
The Great Monster War
Command from the Dark



Gojira-Ebira-Mosura: Nankai no dai Ketto Godzilla Versus the Sea Monster Frankenstein und die Ungeheuer aus dem Meer
Godzilla, Ebirah, Mothra : Big Duel in the North Sea
Frankenstein and the Monsters from the Sea



Kaiju shima no kessen: Gojira no musuko Son of Godzilla Frankensteins Monster jagen Godzillas Sohn
Monster Island's Decisive Battle: Godzilla's Son
Frankenstein's Monsters hunt Godzilla's Son



Kaiju Soshingeki Destroy All Monsters Frankenstein und die Monster aus dem All
Attack of the Marching Monsters
Frankenstein and the Monsters from Space



Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Oru kaiju daishingeki Godzilla's Revenge No Theatrical Release
All Monsters Attack




Gojira tai Hedora Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster Frankensteins Kampf gegen die Teufelsmonster 
Godzilla vs. Hedorah
Frankenstein's Battle against the Devil's monsters



Chikyu kogeki meirei: Gojira tai Gaigan Godzilla on Monster Island Frankensteins Höllenbrut
Earth Destruction Directive: Godzilla vs. Gigan
Frankenstein's Hellspawn



Gojira tai Megaro Godzilla vs. Megalon King-Kong - Dämonen aus dem Weltall
Godzilla vs. Megalon
King Kong - Demons from Outer Space



Gojira tai Mekagojira Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster King Kong gegen Godzilla
Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
King Kong vs. Godzilla



Mekagojira no gyakushu Terror of Godzilla Konga-Godzilla-King Kong - Die Brut des Teufels
Counterattack of Mechagodzilla
Konga, Godzilla, King Kong – The Spawn of the Devil



Sora no daikaiju Radon Rodan The Flying Monster Die fliegenden Monster von Osaka
Rodan the Giant Monster of the Sky
The Flying Monsters of Osaka



Chikyu Boeigun The Mysterians Weltraum-Bestien
Earth Defense Force
Space Beasts



Bijo to Ekitainingen The H-Man Das Grauen schleicht durch Tokio
Beauty and the Liquidman
The Horror creeps through Tokyo



Uchu daisenso Battle in Outer Space Die Bestie aus dem Weltenraum
The Great Space War
The Beast from Space



Mosura Mothra Mothra bedroht die Welt
Mothra
Mothra threatens the World



Sekai daisenso The Last War Todesstrahlen aus dem Weltall
The Great World War
Death rays from Outer Space



Yosei Gorasu Gorath Ufos zerstören die Erde
Suspicious Star Gorath
UFOs to destroy the Earth



Kaitei gunkan Atragon U 2000 - Tauchfahrt des Grauens
Undersea Battleship
U 2000 – Submarine Voyage of Horror



Uchu daikaiju Dogora Dagora, the Space Monster X 3000 – Phantome gegen Gangster
Space Monster Dogora
X 3000 – Phantoms vs. Gangsters



Furankenshutain tai chitei kaiju Baragon Frankenstein Conquers the World Frankenstein - Der Schrecken mit dem Affengesicht
Frankenstein vs. the Subterranean Monster Baragon
Frankenstein – The Terror with the Ape Face



Furankenshutain no kaiju: Sanda tai Gaira The War of the Gargantuas Frankenstein - Zweikampf der Giganten
Frankenstein's Monsters: Sanda vs. Gaira
Frankenstein – Duel of the Giants



Kingu Kongu no gyakushu King Kong Escapes King-Kong, Frankensteins Sohn
Counterattack of King Kong
King Kong, Frankenstein's Son



Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Kessen! Nankai no Daikaiju Yog: Monster from Space Monster des Grauens Greifen An
Gezora, Ganime, Kameba: Battle! Monsters of the South Seas
Horror Monsters are Attacking



Wakusei daisenso The War in Space Der große Krieg der Planeten
The War in Space
The great War of the Planets



Gojira Godzilla 1985 Godzilla: Die Rückkehr des Monsters
Godzilla
Godzilla: The Return of the Monster



Gojira vs. Biorante Godzilla vs. Biollante Godzilla, der Urgigant
Godzilla vs. Biollante
Godzilla, the Primordial Giant

You may notice that King Kong and Frankenstein appear very frequently in this list of German titles, more often than the name Godzilla.  Apparently for King Kong Escapes, the distributor felt free to add the Frankenstein name to the title for even more marquee value.  However, not until Godzilla vs. Megalon did the German distributors find the courage to use the King Kong name for a movie without King Kong in it.  Thus Jet Jaguar and Mechagodzilla are renamed King Kong in the last three Showa Godzilla movies.  Continuing with the reappropriating of the names of monster movie apes, in Terror of Godzilla, Titanosaurus is renamed "Konga", presumably from the 1961 British film of the same name.  The remake of King Kong by Dino De Laurentiiis was being made and shown around the time when these films were being released in West Germany, which may explain the change from Frankenstein to King Kong.  These "King Kong" and "Frankenstein" films were released by Constantin Film.  

The Germans were not the only country to use the King Kong name when the real King Kong was not in the movie.  The Italian title for Destroy All Monsters was Gil Eredi di King Kong, or The Inheritors of King Kong.  This actually does make a kind of sense, as Godzilla and later films owe a large creative debt to King Kong.  The movie posters do show King Kong, however.  Again, for Terror of Godzilla, the Italians distributed "Distruggete Kong! la Terra e in Pericolo" or Destroy Kong!, Earth is in Danger.  King Kong is the only monster featured on the contemporary film poster.  Titanosaurus is renamed "Titan Kong" in the dubbing.  

For Godzilla vs. the Thing, the Italians renamed the film Watang! Nei Favoloso Impero del Mostri, Watang! The Fabulous Empire of Monsters.  Godzilla is still called Godzilla in the film, "Watang" refers to Infant Island.  Godzilla has been renamed Gorgo in the title when Italian distributors re-released Son of Godzilla in the late 70s to coincide with a showing of the British classic Gorgo.  Also, for Spain the film Godzilla vs. Megalon became Gorgo y Superman Se Citan en Tokio, Gorgo and Superman Fight in Tokyo.  According to my source, Jet Jaguar was dubbed Superman and Gigan became Gorgo.  Like in the Italian case above, the distributors also had the rights to the real Gorgo film and some episodes of Super Giant, which was renamed Superman in Spain.  At least the European distributors had enough sense not to try and rename Godzilla to "Gorgo" or "Watang" or something else.  In the United States, the distributors renamed Godzilla to "Gigantis" for the second movie and the box office rewarded them in an appropriately stingy fashion for that blunder.  

My original inspiration for this article was the recent Blu-ray release of Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster in Germany.  This movie is the only Japanese Godzilla Film Blu-ray release in 2013 anywhere in the world.  The movie apparently was never released in West Germany theatrically.  The current German distributor has given the title "Frankensteins Monster im Kampf gegen Ghidorah", Frankenstein's Monsters in a Battle against Ghidorah.  Either Frankenstein's name is still often used for monster or horror movies in Germany, or the distributor is trying to evoke memories of the old films, as the West Germans may have remembered them. In this film, according to the title at least, apparently Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra were all created by Dr. Frankenstein.  The Blu-ray is subtitled and not dubbed and presumably faithful to the Japanese, where Frankenstein is not in the dialogue.  Otherwise, Frankenstein may be a generic word in German for fantasy, at least when the word Monster follows it.  It is curious that while Frankenstein may have been a German scientist, the book which introduced him was published by Mary Shelly, an Englishwoman.  (Also compare the embrace of Dracula in post-Communist Romania by Irish author Bram Stoker).

Frankenstein was often, via dubbing, inserted into the plot.  For a movie like King Kong Escapes, it was easy enough to rename the villain from "Dr. Who" to "Dr. Frankenstein."  For other films the connection becomes a bit more tenuous.  In Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, in the German dub the Red Bamboo are working for Frankenstein.  In Son of Godzilla, the Kamacuras and Kumonga are said to be Dr. Frankenstein's creations.  Similar conventions may occur in later films.  Godzilla vs. the Thing was released very late theatrically in West Germany, in 1974, so by that time Godzilla's name apparently had sufficient marquee value to displace Frankenstein's.  I guess no one thought to rechristen Mothra.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The 8-bit Home Computer Bait and Switch

Back in the early 1980s, home video game consoles and home computers were competing for consumer dollars.  Home computers, Commodore's in particular were advertising that they could do so many more things than just play games, which they could do very well.  Dad could do the home finances, mom could keep her recipes, and the kids can learn with educational programs and write out their reports on a word processing program.  Thus the consumer saw home computers on retail shelves.  The most consumer friendly in terms of features and price included at first the Atari 400 and (barely) 800, the Commodore VIC-20 and 64, the TI 99/4A and the Tandy Color Computer.  Apple's expensive computers were mainstays of the hobbyists, educators and some small businesses, while IBM's even more expensive computers were almost exclusively purchased by business users and software development companies.

Even home consoles began getting into the act.  The Odyssey2 had a full set of keyboard keys.  The keyboard was a membrane keyboard and utterly useless for serious work.  The Intellivision and Colecovision and 5200 had numberpads.  Mattel developed two keyboard peripherals but failed to market them properly.  Mattel also released the underpowered Aquarius computer, which had little success.  The 2600 gave some lip service to programming by releasing a pair of programming controllers and a BASIC carrtridge.  The results were unimpressive due to the severe limitations of the 2600 hardware.  Coleco also released the Adam computer, which was a Colecovision upgraded with a keyboard and cassette drives.  It was not a success.

Unfortunately, the idea never of the all-in-one computing device quite meshed with the reality.  All of these systems were designed to display on home TVs.  None had an 80-column text mode, making it difficult for people to do serious word processing.  All IBM PCs had 80 column text and Apple's machines either had it built-in or was upgradeable.  The keyboards on many of these machines were far from typewriter quality, and none had a built-in numberpad.

Once the novelty of typing a book report wore off, little Johnny probably went back to handwriting them.  It must have been no joy to have to type a report on these mushy keyboards connected, via an RF switch, to a fuzzy TV.  As this took time, his work would probably have been relegated to the small secondary TV if the family had one.  Back in the early 80s, having two color TVs in an average American family was something of a luxury, so he would have to do his work on the smaller B&W TV.  Often this would occur on the kitchen table or on a small desk not designed for a computer.  Printing the thing in quality sufficiently legible for the teacher would often be a slow, noisy and frustrating effort with the dot matrix printers of the day.  If he got a disk read error or the power went out, his draft report would be gone in an instant!  Did I mention the slow speeds of the disk drives and tape drives available for the 8-bit machines?

Business software of any quality was slow to be released on these machines.  VisiCalc and WordStar were seldom seen.  RAM expansions beyond 48 or 64K was unsupported due to the lack of a standardized method   IBM's PCs could expand themselves naturally to 640KB, and once Lotus 1-2-3 became popular this became very important.  The Apple IIe could officially expand itself to 128K and unofficially (but simply) could enjoy much more RAM.

One great advantage that many of these computers had over IBM and Apple were in their graphics and sound capabilities.  Apple's graphics were born of the 70s and IBM's CGA didn't impress anyone. The Atari machines could produce 256 colors, and Commodore and Texas Instruments computers produced sixteen solid and distinct colors.  For arcade-like games, these machines also supported hardware sprites.  With these 8-bit CPUs, having hardware sprites really improved performance in games with moving objects on the screen compared with the more business oriented computers.

Another advantage was that these machines had sound chips built in.  The sounds of the arcades, including background noise, sound effects and short themes could be reproduced much better than the internal speaker of the IBM and Apple machines.  Lengthy music in computer games only became widespread in the late 80s, but music teaching and composing programs like Music Construction Set and Bank Street Music Writer were very popular.

Finally, these machines usually shared some peripheral compatibility.  The joysticks of the Atari 2600 worked in all Atari machines and in Commodore's VIC-20 and 64 and the TI 99/4A.  Except for the CoCo, which used analog joysticks, joysticks were a well-supported and easy to program for interface.  IBM and Apple did not release standard joysticks for most of their systems, and they were analog when most games released at that time preferred digital controls.

Even if the promise of the computer as a the universal appliance remained elusive, the more affordable computers were great for playing games.  Companies like Activision survived the home video game crash by turning their development efforts from video game consoles to computer systems.  Electronic Arts fully embraced the Atari 8-bit machines and later the Commodore 64 and were very successful.  Most companies had ports for most of their games for the Apple II, Atari 8-bit, Commodore 64, IBM PC, and later the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and the Apple Macintosh.  In the United States, however, by the late 1980s all the game developers knew that the IBM would be the future and devoted their development efforts firmly or solely on that platform.

Killer Computer Gaming Apps

There are many successful games, and many great games.  Some games are so successful that they helped establish the gaming suitability of a particular home computer, were extremely influential or have withstood the test of time.  For each home computer system, I have selected one game which fits the following criteria :

The system had to have some measure of success

The game was successful game that sold many units

The game was widely acknowledged to be a groundbreaking game or one of the best available for that system

The game was ported to many systems, remade or has fan sites or is still remembered today

Most of these games were original to the computer indicated.  All were released fairly early in the computer's lifespan.

Apple II - Wizardry: Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord

This game really helped bring Role Playing Games to home computers.  Programs were made how to hack this game and beef up your characters.  Sir-Tech released a program called Wizprint to print out your character's statistics.  Defeating its copy protection was frequently the subject of computer magazine articles.  

TRS-80 - Zork: The Great Underground Empire

Separate versions of Zork were released for the Model I and Model III , but this system was the first home microcomputer to receive a version of the mainframe game Zork.  All subsequent interactive fiction games would be judged in relation to this game.  

Commodore PET - Temple of Apshai

Although Apshai was originally released for the TRS-80, this platform has so few notable games that I decided to put it here.  Mainframe-style dungeon crawling brought to the home computer.  

Atari 8-bit - Star Raiders

No more advanced looking or sounding game was released in the 1970s.  This is what stores displayed when demoing the Atari computers.  

Commodore VIC-20 - Gridrunner

Jeff Minter's brand of game, the frenetic paced arcade-like game, begins here.  

Sinclair ZX-81 - 3D Monster Maze

A groundbreaking 3D maze game, notable especially for a system with no color and no dedicated sound hardware.

IBM PC - Microsoft Flight Simulator

Showed that there was some advantage to using an 8088, as this version ran much faster than the versions on other home computers.  Also famous as a compatibility tester for PC clones.  

TI 99/4A - Tunnels of Doom

While the TI software library is rather limited, this gave a first person maze perspective for exploring the dungeon and a third person perspective for fighting monsters before Ultima III.  

Commodore 64 - Impossible Mission

"Another visitor...Stay awhile, stay FOREVERRR..."  One of the best non-sidescrolling action adventure games ever made.  

Sinclair ZX Spectrum - Jet Set Willy

According to the BBC TV Movie Micro Men, this game gave Sir Clive Sinclair fits because it seemed to him that people weren't taking his cheap computer seriously.  Did it really matter when the game helped him sell sold millions of his little home computer?

BBC Micro - Elite

Pioneered the 4x Space Exploration Genre, one of the very few British or European computer games to cross the pond stateside in the 1980s.  

TRS 80 CoCo - Dungeons of Daggorath

Oh be still my beating heart.  Real time 3D dungeoneering providing some extremely intense gameplay.  
IBM PCjr.& Tandy 1000  - King's Quest

Graphical adventure games are invented, helping to keep Sierra Online from bankruptcy.  

Apple Macintosh - Dark Castle

Very popular adventure game for this platform, showed that even the monochrome Mac could play games.  

Atari ST - Dungeon Master

Most Atari ST owners had a copy of this game.

Commodore Amiga - Defender of the Crown

Another "Wow" game, the sort of software that Commodore should have included with every Amiga sold.  
Apple IIgs - Will Harvey's Zany Golf

The IIgs had very few exclusive games, but this one is superb and was widely ported.  

PC Clones - King's Quest IV & King's Quest V

The first was a very persuasive in persuading people to buy or upgrade to the 286, EGA, a sound card, and a hard drive, the second helped drive 386 sales and VGA cards.  KQIV originally came on an insane, for the time, nine disks.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

M.U.L.E. - The PC Port on Real Hardware

1985 was the last year that IBM was known to have published any games for its IBM PC family.  It had seen games as one of the things that consumers could do with their PCs, and had released Microsoft Adventure at the launch of the original IBM PC Model 5150.  However, by 1985 IBM no longer looked to the home consumer market as a primary market, and thus the number of games it published dwindled to nothing.  One of the last titles it published was a port of Electronic Arts and Ozark Softscape's classic M.U.L.E.  This port was ported by K-Byte Software and released very quietly.  In fact, until 2012, no one had probably played it for 15 years.  It remained a mystery and completely unavailable until someone opened up a box of old IBM games, found it, became aware of its significance and allowed it to be cracked and distributed.  The story is recited here : http://www.worldofmule.net/tiki-index.php?page=IBM+PC  Others have analyzed it for differences between it and the Atari 400/800 original and Commodore 64 port, read here : http://bringerp.free.fr/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=166  In this port I will discuss how it actually plays on the systems it was intended for.

Speed

M.U.L.E. for the IBM PC requires 128KB of RAM and a CGA card.  It only supports PC speaker sound and music and one physical joystick.  The cover explicitly lists the IBM PC (Model 5150) IBM PC/XT, IBM PC Portable and IBM PCjr. as supported systems.  Note that it does not mention the IBM PC AT, which was released in 1984 and used a 6MHz 80286 CPU.  This game is speed sensitive and the game will probably run to fast on the AT, which is roughly three times as fast as the PC or XT.  Running on more modestly upgraded or faster systems, like a V20 IBM PC, XT or PCjr. or a Tandy 1000EX, SX or HX at 7.16MHz will not give such a noticeable effect on speed to make the game unplayable.

On the packaging, there is no explicit mention of the IBM Personal Computer AT.  This is probably not an oversight, as some other IBM released games from 1984-85 explicitly included the AT in the list of supported systems on the box.  The AT was released in 1984 and thus its omission was almost certainly intentional.  (K-Byte does not seem like an outfit that could afford an AT).  The game adjusts its speed for a PCjr., so if you have an exotic speedup method in your PCjr. (V20 is fine), the game will probably run too fast.

Graphics

IBM PC with CGA on an RGB Monitor



On an IBM PC, XT or 100% compatible system with a CGA card, the game will use the 320x200 Mode 4, Palette 0 (cyan, magenta, white) in low intensity with a bright white background/border.  While the game is playable on an RGB monitor, it was clearly meant to be connected to a TV or color composite monitor.  Instead of stripey cyan and magenta graphics for the four players and their plots, composite color gives brown-gold, orange, red and light blue.  It seems clear that a late CGA card was intended because the text (white/light gray against bright white) on a real color composite monitor or TV is almost totally illegible with an early CGA card (without adjustments to the brightness and contrast).  EGA and VGA cards probably will not display the intended colors.

IBM PC with Old CGA on a Composite Monitor 



It was a long-standing myth that this game was either released solely for the PCjr. or took advantage of the PCjr.'s advanced graphics and sound capabilities compared to the IBM PC with CGA and PC Speaker.  The sound is exactly the same on either the IBM PC or PCjr.

IBM PC with New CGA on a Composite Monitor



On an IBM PCjr., the game uses a 320x200 resolution four color mode with colors similar to CGA.  The bright white background is the same, but the RGB colors are now light cyan, light magenta and white.  The pixel patterns are not the same as with a non-PCjr., but still show that the game was meant to be displayed on a color composite monitor or TV.  The PCjr. artifact colors the programmers chose are not as distinct as on a CGA card, there are two shades of magenta or purple and two shades of cyan or blue-green to choose from.

IBM PCjr. with an RGB Monitor



Control

This section requires a digression.  When M.U.L.E. was released for the Atari home computer systems in 1983, officially it could only run on the Atari 800 with 48KB of RAM.  The Atari 400 was not easily upgradeable to 48KB (but when upgraded was indistinguishable from an 800 to software) and the 1200XL, 600XL, 800XL and later machines only had two joystick ports.  For the Atari original, there was no keyboard control of the characters.  At least one joystick was required, and a pair of paddles could be used by two players in the auctions.  If there were fewer joysticks than human players, the players had to share the joystick for each player's main turn.

IBM PCjr. on a Composite Monitor



The Commodore 64 only had two joystick ports, and its port of MULE did not support paddles.  Thus, players three and four had to use a pair of keyboard keys during the auctions, and the joysticks had to be shared during the player's main turns.

The IBM port only supported one joystick, notwithstanding the IBM Game Control Adapter could support two joysticks with a Y-splitter and the IBM PCjr. had two distinct joystick ports.  Unlike the Atari and Commodore versions, it did not require a joystick to play the game.  If you did not have a joystick, the arrow keys could be used to control the player during his or her main turn.  Only the main four cardinal directions could be used, the "diagonals", 1, 3, 7 and 9, do nothing on the PC keyboard.  The PCjr.'s keyboard has no numberpad, only dedicated cursor keys.

For the auction phase, the keyboard controls for each player on the IBM PC are as follows :

Player -  1  2  3  4

Up     - F1  W  O  

Down   - F5  X  .  

On the PCjr., the keyboard controls are different, due to the differing layout of the PCjr.'s keyboard :

Player -  1  2  3  4

Up     -  W  Y  [  

Down   -  Z  B  /  

There is a game crashing bug when selecting joystick control with four planeteers.  The Alt key is pressed to determine which player will use the joystick.  However, if players 1-3 use the joystick, the game will not allow you to press key to select player 4.  Player 4 must use the joystick in this case.

This game was designed for the IBM PC 83-key keyboard.  On the 83-key keyboard, Player 1's auction up key, F1 is above the down key, F5, by one key, just like the keys for Players 2-4.  On a 101-key keyboard, F1 is three keys to the left of F5.  This arrangement simply does not work well with three other people.

The keyboard handling takes some getting used to.  The Enter key corresponds to the joystick button.  When doing anything requiring a button press like selecting a land plot, beginning your turn or installing a M.U.L.E., it is best to hold the button down until the game acknowledges the input.

The Alt key functions essentially as a speedup key in the game.  It can end auctions after everybody has bought and sold what they can.  It can bypass the summary screen and the chance animations.

The Esc key acts as a pause key.  Unfortunately, it will cause the game to freeze on a Tandy 1000 90-key keyboard.  If you are going to play M.U.L.E. on a Tandy 1000, I would advise using the joystick and setting the speed machine to slow (if an EX, HX, SX or faster) at boot time.  On the Tandy 1000 90-key keyboard, the Esc key is right below the F1 key, making it too easy to press if you are controlling Player 1.  The composite colors on a Tandy with an RCA video jack (TX or earlier) will look different than on an IBM PC with a CGA card.

Finally, the game can be saved in progress by pressing Ctrl-Q.  This does not appear to be a feature of the earlier versions.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Playing King's Quest and King's Quest II Booters

The original King's Quest and its sequel, King's Quest II : Romancing the Throne were originally released for the IBM PC platform as self-booting copy-protected disks.  They could not be read by DOS, did not require DOS to run and could not install themselves to a hard drive.  Sierra released King's Quest in 1984 and King's Quest II in 1985.  They were the first games to use Sierra's Adventure Game Interface (AGI) engine.  Eventually with the releases of King's Quest III : To Heir is Human and Space Quest : Chapter One : The Sarien Encounter, Sierra allowed its games to be copied to and run off hard drives.  Each game would need the original first floppy disk, the key disk, to pass the copy protection check and decrypt the executable.

King's Quest - IBM PCjr. Copyright Screen
King's Quest - IBM PCjr. Title Screen
King's Quest - IBM PCjr. & Tandy 1000 In-Game Screen


The booter versions of King's Quest I-II and The Black Cauldron did not use drop down menus or status bars.  To check your score, you go into the inventory screen.  The Escape key pauses the game.  They have a certain minimalist charm about them that their later DOS conversions lack.  They are also friendlier to older hardware since they only require 128KB of RAM.  The DOS conversions require 256KB of RAM.  King's Quest came on one PC booter disk but two DOS disks.  This wouldn't be much of an issue for owners of most PCs in 1987 when the conversions were marketed, but users of 128KB Tandy 1000s and PCjrs would be in need of an upgrade.  Sierra's disk routines are probably faster than Microsoft's.

King's Quest - IBM PC Copyright Screen
King's Quest - IBM PC Title Screen Composite Color Mode
King's Quest - IBM PC In-Game Screen Composite Color Mode
Another issue is with drawing the graphics.  With the booters on a slower machine, the game draws the vector outlines of shapes then fills the color and finally draws the objects.  This was changed for the DOS conversions as this gave some clues to the puzzles.  In the AGI DOS games, the screen draws itself fully then copies itself into the video buffer.  This may look, on a slower machine, as though the image were drawn from the top down.

King's Quest - IBM PC Title Screen RGB Color Mode
King's Quest - IBM PC In-Game Screen RGB Color Mode
King's Quest was released four times in the booter format.  The PCjr. version was released first, and the first release came with a full keyboard overlay for the chiclet keyboard.  A second release was only released with a strip for the "function" keys, as the replacement keyboard no longer had space in between the keys for the overlay.  Since the PCjr. was not the great success Sierra and IBM hoped for, Sierra converted it to the IBM PC.  The manual was much more ornate, the goofy illustrations from the PCjr. box and manual were gone, the story was more serious and more clues were given.  Finally, once the Tandy 1000 was released, Sierra released a version that would work with that system, which had graphics and sound capabilities virtually identical to the PCjr.  A separate reference card would accompany the PC and Tandy 1000 releases.

King's Quest - Tandy 1000 Copyright Screen
King's Quest - Tandy 1000 Title Screen
Each release is only supposed to be run on its own system.  The Tandy 1000 version may run on a PCjr., but there may be graphics errors at the command line.  The PCjr. version probably will run on a Tandy 1000/A, but only those with 128KB of RAM.  The PC version requires a CGA card and looks best when displayed on a color composite monitor or TV.  It will only switch to the RGB mode on startup, so you will always see the Sierra logo in black and white on an RGB monitor.  The sounds are downsampled for the 1-voice PC Speaker.  It will run on a Tandy 1000, which has excellent CGA compatibility, but the composite colors will not look correct.  It probably be playable with an EGA or VGA card, but palette will probably use light cyan/light magenta/high intensity white and a black background instead of green/red/brown and a blue background.  Use the DOS version instead.  The PCjr. will probably show major graphical errors if it tries to run the PC version.

King's Quest - DOS Title Screen
The PCjr. and PC versions of King's Quest allow the player to use the joystick at any time after starting the game.  The Tandy version requires the player to press a button on the joystick at the title screen to use it in game.  The PC and Tandy versions were programmed when 4.77MHz was the only speed available, so joystick calibration may be difficult or impossible when playing the game at a higher speed.  However, Graham's walking speed does not really increase when the game is run at a higher speed, but he will walk less slowly when walking on a screen with animated objects on it.  The PCjr. version is very sensitive to system speed, and eventually (in theory) the machine may be so accelerated that the game will play too fast.  Considering the slow speed of the 128KB PCjr., a slight uptick in the system speed would not be unwelcomed by most players.

The joystick was a very useful method of control for the AGI engine.  With the keyboard, one press of the key would make your character move until he hit an obstacle.  A second key press would be required to get him to change direction or stop.  With the joystick, the character will only move when the stick is manipulated in the direction past the dead zone.  When the stick is stationary, the character will not move.  This is extremely useful when crossing screen boundaries, as your character will not proceed blindly into a chasm, river, lake or into the hands of a monster.

Diagonal keyboard movement was added to the PC version via the number pad.  (The PCjr. has no number pad on either of its keyboards.)  This is especially convenient with the stairs leading up to the land of the clouds.  The original PC keyboard did not have dedicated arrow keys, so the character moved in eight different directions by the numberpad.  The Tandy 1000 version requires you to use the inverted-T arrow keys to move in the four cardinal directions (Up, Down, Left, Right).  Keys 1, 3 and 9 on the numeric keypad of the Tandy 1000 keyboard work to move your character diagonally, but key 7 does not (at least on my Tandy 1000SX).  Also, numeric keypad keys 2, 4, 6 and 8 do not move your characters in a cardinal direction.

In order to save with the booter versions, you will need a separate disk.  You must type the command "copy disk" (without quotes), which will make a play disk.  The game will allow you to save up to 26 games on the play disk, and each save is identified only with a letter.  The DOS conversions allow you to type in a description for your save, but for the booters you should keep a sheet handy.

King's Quest - Booter Interface
King's Quest - DOS Interface
King's Quest - DOS Menus
There is no "Greensleeves" in any of the booter versions, just an unremarkable fanfare tune at the title screen.  The enchanter uses a different graphic in the booter versions, in the DOS conversion he uses the King's Quest II graphic.  The monster theme from King's Quest II is reused in the DOS conversion for all the monsters in King's Quest DOS conversion.  The alligators in the booter versions are green but cyan in the DOS conversion.  The in-game sound is mostly sound effects or repeating notes when a monster appears on the screen.  The copyright screens and the "Grahame" name for the character in the PCjr. version are about the only noticeable visual differences between the three versions.

The PCjr. did not have separate function keys, so the number keys were pressed into service (without pressing Fn).  The PC and Tandy versions also use the number keys above the letter keys for the functions. King's Quest II used the function keys instead of the number keys (Ctrl + number for the PCjr.)  The numbers are a bit different from the eventually conventions which the DOS conversions and other DOS AGI games used :

Key    Function      (DOS Conversion Key)
1/F1 - Sound on/off (F2)
3/F3 - Save Game (F5)
5/F5 - Restore Game (F7)
7/F7 - Restart Game (F9)
9/F9 - Repeat Last Command (F3)

King's Quest only required one 360KB disk but the DOS conversion requires disk swapping with two 360KB disks.  You use Disk 1 for Daventry, inside King Edward's Castle and climbing up the Golden Egg Tree.  You use Disk 2 for the inside of the Woodcutter's Hut, Witch's House, after you enter the well and until you exit the cave, in the Land of the Clouds including the beanstalk and stair climbing screens, and the Land of the Leprechauns underground screens.

Its sequel, King's Quest II always came with two disks.  King's Quest consisted of a total of 77 rooms, but King's Quest II boasted 93 unique rooms.  King's Quest II supports the PCjr., PC with CGA and Tandy 1000 with one single version.  King's Quest II had three booter versions, 1.0W, 1.1H and Tandy v1.00.00, the latter two presumably including bugfixes.

King's Quest II - IBM PCjr. & Tandy 1000 Title Screen
King's Quest II - Credits
When the game is first booted, it will ask for Disk 2 just after asking whether the user wishes to use a joystick.  It will use Disk 2 for the introduction and the whole of the Kolyma overworld, including building interiors (Grandma's house, Dwarf's house, Hagatha's cave, Church and Shop) and the exteriors of Dracula's castle.  Disk 1 is used for Under the Sea, on the Mountain Top, inside Dracula's castle and for the Enchanted Land.  This cleverly minimizes disk swapping.

King's Quest II - IBM PC Title Screen Composite Color Mode 
There is no Space Quest Easter egg on the Mountain Top in the booter version, and the sign in the forest just south of where you find the stake discusses the Black Cauldron, not King's Quest III and Space Quest. King's Quest III - To Heir is Human is mentioned at the end of the game.

King's Quest II - IBM PCjr. & Tandy 1000 In-Game Screen
King's Quest II - IBM PC In-Game Screen Composite Color Mode
King's Quest II - IBM PC In-Game Screen RGB Color Mode
King's Quest II requires you to prepare a save disk using the "init disk" or "format disk" commands.  If you have a two disk drive system, it will save to drive B:.  Drive B: can be a 5."25 Double Density or 3.5" drive Double or High Density drive, and the game will have no problems saving to a Double Density disk.  I do not know if a high density 5.25" drive or high denisty 5.25" or 3.5" disks will work, but I have doubts.  This save disk cannot be read by DOS.  Again twenty-six saves using letters are allowed.

One welcome innovation in King's Quest II is the addition of walking speeds.  By typing "slow", "fast" or "normal" at the command prompt, your character's speed will increase or decrease.  "Slow" is very useful for stairs.  Fast helps you traverse across the land with very acceptable speed.  Slow and normal walking/animation speeds are not system speed dependent, but fast is.  Thus if you play this game on a Tandy 1000TL/3, which uses a 10MHz 286 CPU, you may find it a bit too fast more often than on a 7.16MHz 8088 Tandy 1000SX.  The DOS conversion adds a "Fastest" speed, which is not constant with the system speed, unlike slow, normal and fast for that version.

Compared with the DOS conversion, the music in the King's Quest II booter is very loud and much slower in tempo.  On a Tandy you may want to boot to DOS first, disable the internal Tandy 1000 speaker, reboot using Ctrl-Alt-Del and use the external speaker where you can control the volume if you do not have a headphone jack (Tandy 1000/1000SX).

When played on a PC or generic clone, you can switch between the composite and RGB modes in-game with Ctrl-R.  However, the game will not respond to that until you begin a game, so the introduction will always show in black and white for RGB monitor users.  With a generic PC using an EGA or VGA card, the RGB mode should work properly.

The need to wait for the disk to load each screen brings a different kind of playing style to these games. Unlike playing the game on a DOS computer or DOSBox that offers instantaneous loading times, the disk accesses force the player to try everything they can think of in each room.  It also allows the player to take in the scenery of each room, low resolution it may be.  Sometimes waiting, sometimes paying attention to detail may be the key to solving a puzzle.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

IBM PC Color Composite Graphics

In one of my recent posts, I discussed artifact color composite graphics as demonstrated by all computers which were intended to use them.  In this post, I want to focus on artifact color composite graphics as available on the IBM PC and compatible systems.

IBM PC CGA Color Composite Graphics

First, I would like to address some myths.  The first myth is that only a few games used composite color. Well over 100 games have been confirmed to use composite color.  The second myth is that virtually all of them used the 640x200 graphics mode.  In fact, many, many games used composite color, although many looked acceptable on an RGB monitor, and just as many games used 320x200 graphics mode and color composite graphics as those that used the 640x200 graphics mode.  Here are a list of games that are known to use composite artifact color graphics and the type of graphics they use :

Game Title Composite Color Type
Adventure in Serenia 320
Agent USA 320
Alphabet Zoo 320
Ancient Art of War 320
Archon: The Light and the Dark 320
Battle of Antietam 320
BC's Quest for Tires 640
Below the Root 320
Beneath Apple Manor 320
Black Cauldron, The 640
Blue Angels: Formation Flight Simulation 640
Borrowed Time 320
Boulderdash 320
Boulderdash II 320
Bruce Lee 640
BurgerTime 640
Buzzard Bait 320
California Games 640
Championship Baseball 640
Championship Golf: The Great Courses of the World - Volume One: Pebble Beach 320
Chuck Yeager's Advanced Flight Trainer 640
Crossfire 320
Demon's Forge 320
Dino Eggs 320
Donald Duck's Playground 640
Drag Race Eliminator 320
Dragon Wars 320
Exodus : Ultima III 320
Fooblitzky 320
Football 640
Freddy's Rescue Roundup 320
Frogger II: Three Deep 640
Gamma Force in Pit of a Thousand Screams 320
Gertrude's Puzzles 320
Gertrude's Secrets 320
Gettysburg: The Turning Point 320
Gold Rush 640
Indianapolis 500: The Simulation 640
J-Bird 640
Jumpman 640
Jungle Hunt 320
King's Quest 640
King's Quest II : Romancing the Throne 640
King's Quest III : To Heir is Human 640
King's Quest IV : The Perils of Rosella (AGI) 640
Lane Mastodon vs. the Blubbermen 320
Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards 640
Lost Tomb 320
M.U.L.E. 320
Manhunter : New York 640
Manhunter 2 : San Francisco 640
Maniac Mansion (Low-Res) 320
MasterType 320
Mean 18 640
Mickey's Space Adventure 640
MicroLeague Baseball 320
MicroLeague Baseball II 320
Microsoft Decathlon 320
Microsoft Flight Simulator (v1.0) 640
Microsoft Flight Simulator (v2.0) 640
Mindshadow 320
Mixed-Up Mother Goose 640
Mr. Cool 320
Ms. Pac-Man 640
Murder on the Zinderneuf 320
Night Mission Pinball 640
Night Mission Pinball (v3.0) 640
Oil's Well 640
Pits & Stones ?
Pitstop II 640
Roadwar 2000 320
Roadwar Europa 320
Robot Odyssey 320
Rocky's Boots 320
Shamus 320
Sierra Championship Boxing 320
Solo Flight 320
Space Quest : Chapter I : The Sarien Encounter 640
Space Quest II : Vohaul's Revenge 640
Spy Hunter 320
Starflight 640
Strip Poker: A Sizzling Game of Chance 320
Sub Mission 320
Super Zaxxon 640
Superbowl Sunday 640
Tales of the Unknown: Volume I - The Bard's Tale 640
Tapper 640
Tass Times in Tonetown 320
The Bard's Tale II: The Destiny Knight 640
The Bard's Tale III: Thief of Fate 640
The Fourth Protocol 320
The Oregon Trail 320
The Seven Cities of Gold 640
The Tracer Sanction 320
The World's Greatest Baseball Game 640
Think Quick! 320
Transylvania 320
Troll's Tale 640
Ultima II : Revenge of the Enchantress 320
Ultima IV : Quest of the Avatar 320
Ulysses and the Golden Fleece 320
Wasteland 640
Where in the U.S.A. is Carmen Sandiego? 320
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? 320
Wilderness: A Survival Adventure 320
Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood 640
Wizard of Id's WizType 640
Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders (Low-Res) 320
ZorkQuest: Assault on Egreth Castle 320
ZorkQuest: The Crystal of Doom 320

The advantage to using the 640x200 graphics mode is that a good color palette is available using white as the foreground color.  White or light gray, rather than high intensity or bright white was used because the brightness level was more tolerable on composite devices.  The disadvantages are that the game must support two completely different sets of graphics, otherwise users of RGB monitors would feel left out. Additionally, most games used an algorithm that requires extra coding and CPU time to implement for either the RGB or color composite mode.

The advantage to using 320x200 graphics is that only one set of graphics, or in a few cases two sets of very similar graphics, need be used.  Both users of composite monitors and RGB monitors can be satisfied, although the result may not be as impressive as tailoring graphics to either RGB or composite monitors.  The disadvantage is that the graphics designer has to cope with both direct and artifact colors, often giving a fuzzy image.  With the green/red/brown palette, the results often look somewhat garish and it was seldom intended to be used for composite color graphics.  Often that palette, many times with a blue background, would be used for the RGB graphics selection.  The colors choices available in the 320x200 modes are not as flexible as they would be in the 640x200 mode.

320x200 Palette 1 High Intensity Composite Color Graphics from L to R : RGB, Old CGA, New CGA, PCjr., Tandy
320x200 Palette 0 High Intensity Composite Color Graphics from L to R : RGB, Old CGA, New CGA, PCjr., Tandy
The above palettes do not quite give the full array of color combinations which the CGA card is capable. Although the palette choices in the 320x200 modes are limited, the background & border color can be freely selected from the full 16 colors which the CGA can display.  Similarly, the foreground color in the 640x200 mode can be set to any of the 16 colors CGA can display.  These color choices will affect the resulting artifact colors available.

640x200 Color Composite Graphics from L to R : Old CGA, New CGA, PCjr., Tandy
While color composite graphics may appear to be one way to display graphics, in reality there are three major types of color composite graphics.  First there are those generated by the IBM PC Color/Graphics Display Adapter and 100% compatible adapters.  Within this type there are two subtypes, early cards and late cards with minor differences between them.  Second, there are those generated by the IBM PCjr.  Third, there are those generated by the Tandy 1000 computers.

IBM CGA cards, Catalog Part Number 1504910 come with Card and PCB numbers

Card           PCB
1804456
1804464
1804472
1501486     1501453
1501981     1501982
6278550     6133807?
6447058

Cards 1804456 to 1501486 are early CGA cards.  1501981 to 6447058 re late CGA cards. The 180xxxx cards have the black brackets on them which the very earliest IBM PC cards had.  Later cards use a silver bracket appropriate for an IBM PC, XT or any compatible machine.  The major physical differences between the two versions of these can be seen here :

Old CGA vs. New CGA, note the increased number of resistors on the New CGA card (courtesy of minuszerodegrees.net)
An old CGA card will have either 7, 8 or 12 resistors, a new CGA card will have 15.  Note also in the above photo that the old card has a Motorola MC6845 and the new card has a Hitachi HD6845.  While the two work identically for typical software, demos may require one or the other.  The party-version of the 8088MPH demo only looks correct with an MC6845.  The final version looks correct with either chip.

Old cards seem to come exclusively with MC6845s, while new cards will use either chip.  Old cards always seem to use a green PCB color, but new cards almost always use a brown PCB color.

One of the chief differences between these cards is the number of shades of gray it can produce when connected to a monochrome composite monitor or B&W TV set through an RF modulator.  Old cards can produce two shades of gray plus black, while new cards can produce 15 shades of gray plus black in black and white modes.  Many computer users had to use monochrome green, amber or white monitors back in the day, and the increase in shades of gray meant that more detail could be seen in the graphics.  With the old cards, you had black for black and gray, white for white and bright white and gray for all other colors.  This is found in CGA Mode 5, which on an RGB monitor gives a cyan, red and white palette but on a color composite monitor will give either black and white (2 colors) or black, dark gray, light gray and white (4 colors).

Colorwise, new CGA was adjusted to more closely adhere to the NTSC standard.  It will appear more consistently across different monitors than old CGA.  There are differences between the saturation and brightness between the colors output by old and new CGA.  Newer monitors may make the image too dark with old CGA, requiring the user to increase the brightness level of his monitor.  There is a test program that can tell you which type of CGA card you may have.  Here are the screenshots of it showing how it informs you of the type you may have :



Old CGA has a raster bendiness issue with certain computers, and the black and white modes may not always eliminate all colors.  Running the signal through a powered RF modulator like the Recoton Video RF Modulator V647 should eliminate the bendy horizontal sections of the picture without reducing the video quality (assuming you are not modulating an audio signal with the video.)

Unlike the Apple II, where the pixels being output in the high resolution and double high resolution modes were either white or black, on the PC the pixels being put out have direct color.  The six colors in between black and white, without accounting for intensity, are generated by adjusting the phase of the 3.58MHz color burst signal for the hue and the amplitude of that signal for the brightness.  Unlike on an RGB TTL monitors from IBM, color #6 is dark yellow, not brown, because a color composite monitor or TV does not have circuitry built inside it to detect color #6 and turn it to brown.

For direct or chroma colors, both the old and new CGA cards look similar to the RGB colors, but there are minor differences between them.  The PCjr. and Tandy 1000 show direct or chroma colors identically with the new CGA cards.  Here are the 16 direct or chroma colors :

Rows 1 & 4 : RGB CGA Colors, Rows 2 & 5 : Old CGA Direct Colors, Rows 2 & 6 : New CGA, Tandy and PCjr. Direct Colors
For at least two games, Microsoft Decathlon and Championship Golf, the earlier card makes it much easier to read text than the later card.  Championship Golf may require the brightness controls to be turned down on the monitor.  Other games designed for old CGA are Sorcerer of Claymorgue Castle. Tournament Tennis, Quadrel and Willow look better with new CGA.

320x200 Palette 1 Color Composite Graphics Example - Adventure in Serenia New CGA
Some games like Donkey Kong, Boulderdash II, I, Damiano: The Wizard of Partestrada and Turbo Champions look like they support color composite graphics due to the vertical striped pattern graphics seen in some screens or tiles, but they really do an overall poor job on a color composite monitor. It is suspected that the ports did not convert the graphics with a great deal of thought.

320x200 Palette 0 Color Composite Graphics Example - Jungle Hunt (Note the Diving Bar, New CGA)
Pitfall 2 is an interesting piece of software when it comes to color composite mode support.  If you press 1 at the text screen, you will see 640x200 graphics with green as the foreground color on an RGB monitor.  I know of no game other than this that uses any foreground color other than white for 640x200 color composite graphics.  Obviously, this gives the graphics a greenish hue on a color composite monitor.  If you press 2 at the text readability screen, you will get 320x200 graphics with intense palette 0.  However, the road and the mountains have vertical stripes, which suggest that this mode is also intended to be used with a color composite monitor.  However, the stripes are there as a crude dithering effect, as using this mode on a color composite monitor makes the text very difficult to read.  The Fourth Protocol allows the user full control over the CGA card, and has a stripey pattern for 640x200 graphics that make them look tolerable with a color composite monitor.  It may be limited to the title screen, however, because the in-game graphics appear to always be 320x200, with the pixels doubled in a 640x200 mode.

640x200 Color Composite Graphics Example #1 - Pitstop II, New CGA
Color composite graphics were not limited to booters.  Sierra supported it in every AGI engine game it released, from King's Quest to Manhunter II : San Francisco.  Interplay supported it in The Bard's Tale 1-3, Dragon Wars and Wasteland.  No doubt their Apple II origins contributed to this.  Interestingly, in Wasteland you must select the graphics adapter in the install program, which then converts the graphics from 16-color to composite color as it installs.  To use another graphics adapter, you have to reinstall the game.  Considering its support for every other type of graphics adapter on the market, the color composite support in Lucasarts' Maniac Mansion and Zak McKracken is uncharacteristically poor.

640x200 Color Composite Graphics Example #2, - King's Quest, Old CGA
Tandy 1000 Composite Color Graphics

Tandy can only show the same direct or chroma colors as CGA, but the Tandy 1000 artifact colors are different.  Changing the hue adjust will be sufficient to change Tandy colors to late CGA colors in DOSBox, and vice versa, but only in the 640x200 mode.  A hue adjustment in the 640x200 mode of 120 degrees will give a good Tandy palette.  You can only approximate the palette colors for the 320x200 modes.  Games that are not "Tandy-aware" with their color composite graphics will show different colors. This occurs either with either 320x200 or 640x200 graphics.

Blue Angels: Formation Flight Simulation is the only game known where the color composite graphics look correct on the Tandy 1000 but do not look right on the IBM CGA cards.  It also apparently was developed on a system with a comb filter.  For a 1989 game, this would not have been difficult to find, but comb filters were not used on the composite color monitor and TVs of the early 1980s when most of the composite color CGA games were developed.  Many early 1980s games look better on monitors without comb filters.  Compare these two screenshots :

IBM CGA Composite
Tandy 1000 Composite
In the Tandy extended modes 160x200x16, 320x200x16 and 640x200x4, you will see color on a color composite monitor or TV.  In the 160x200x16 mode, there is no real artifact color since the pixel clock and the color burst frequencies are the same, 3.58MHz.  The graphics look blocky in this mode, but reasonably sharp.  Maniac Mansion on the Tandy 1000, using the Tandy graphics setting, would look very similar to how it looks on the Commodore 64, although there are color differences and the text is blockier.

Indianapolis 500 specifically supported both IBM and Tandy color composite graphics with different command line arguments so that the colors would look correct regardless of system.  However, the colors in each mode are not identical.  The command line switch /c1 will give colors appropriate for a CGA card, and switch /c2 will give colors appropriate for a Tandy graphics adapter.

Indianapolis 500 - The Simulation 640x200 RGB CGA
Indianapolis 500 - The Simulation 640x200 RGB Tandy
Indianapolis 500 - The Simulation Color Composite Early CGA
Indianapolis 500 - The Simulation Color Composite Late CGA

























In modes using true 320x200 graphics (the AGI games use the 320x200 16 color graphics mode, but the effective graphics resolution is 160x200, at least for graphics above the command line), you can see color, but detail is lost, unintended artifacts that look like Hanover bars appear, and the game usually looks bad.  As far as 640x200x4 graphics go, no game is known to use that graphics mode.

Indianapolis 500 - The Simulation Color Composite Tandy (Simulated)
On a monochrome composite monitors or B&W TV sets, 16 shades of gray are always visible with Tandy 1000 or PCjrs.

IBM PCjr. Color Composite Graphics

The PCjr. does support color composite artifact colors, but the artifact colors are different from the CGA cards and the Tandy 1000.  Again this is due not to differences in the phase of the color burst but the pixel clock delay compared with the CGA cards.  In the 320x200 mode, there is a pixel clock delay of 120 degrees compared with the CGA cards.  PCjr. color composite graphics can appear quite different to CGA color composite graphics.

Below the Root sounds best (at least the opening song does) when run on an IBM PCjr. and the direct colors when the game is run on a PCjr. were tweaked to look very appropriate for a color composite monitor with artifact color.  Ditto for The Seven Cities of Gold, except it uses 640x200-based color composite graphics.

IBM PC CGA RGB
IBM PCjr. RGB
























IBM PC CGA Old Composite


IBM PC CGA New Composite
IBM PCjr Composite
As explained in the prior blog entry, the PCjr's default 320x200 palette is not identical to the CGA's default cyan, magenta and white palette.  The PCjr. intentionally uses high intensity white instead, causing brightness and saturation differences.

Below the Root 320x200 Color Composite Late CGA
Below the Root 320x200 Color Composite Early CGA

Below the Root 320x200 Color Composite PCjr.











































Wilderness : A Survival Adventure may show the best composite color results using the PCjr., but the underlying patterns are not changed for the machine.  Frogger II is PCjr. aware and shows good composite or RGB colors either with CGA or PCjr.  A late version of Pitstop II has direct support for the PCjr.'s 160x200x16 mode, so it will always look better than the CGA with or without color composite graphics.  Ditto for Murder on the Zinderneuf, all versions use 160x200x16 on the PCjr.  Several other games just use 160x200x16 on the PCjr. because it looks excellent on an RGB or color composite monitor.

BC's Quest for Tires uses 320x200 composite color graphics on the PCjr. but 640x200 composite color graphics on the PC.  Microsoft Flight Simulator 2.xx uses 640x200 composite color graphics for the PC and PCjr., but the patterns are different for each.  There was a version of Ultima II for the PCjr. that uses appropriate composite color 320x200 graphics.  M.U.L.E. also uses 320x200 composite color graphics.

Current SVNs of DOSBox emulate old and new CGA with the cga machine type, 640x200 and 320x200 color composite graphics but does not emulate color composite graphics with the tandy or pcjr machine types.

Other computers may have inaccurate CGA artifact colors.  The Columbia Data Products 1600 (one of the very first PC clones) came with a CGA clone card that is almost as off as the Tandy or PCjr.  A hue adjustment of 315 degrees will get something like its palette in 640x200 mode.  Here are the games that intentionally support composite color on an IBM PCjr. with the type of composite color they use :

Game Title Composite Color Type
BC's Quest for Tires 320
Below the Root 320
M.U.L.E. 320
Ultima II : Revenge of the Enchantress PCjr. Version 320
Frogger II: Three Deep 640
Microsoft Flight Simulator (v2.0) 640
The Seven Cities of Gold 640

Lode Runner : Support for All Composite Color Types

Lode Runner for the PC always looks best in composite color mode, despite using the 320x200 resolution. Only the in-game border and certain objects on the screen really take advantage of composite color, but the solid objects always look appropriate regardless of monitor.

When first released for the PC, the game only supported the IBM PC and CGA.  A second release added PCjr. support by adjusting the patterns for the composite color objects.  A final release under the Tandy label retained the PC and PCjr.'s respective patterns but adjusted the patterns again when it detected a Tandy 1000 machine.  Here are correct screenshots for the CGA, PCjr. and Tandy both in RGB and Composite :
IBM PC CGA RGB
IBM PC Old CGA Composite
IBM PC New CGA Composite
IBM PCjr RGB
IBM PCjr Composite
Tandy 1000 RGB
Tandy 1000 Composite

Limitations of the Tint Control

NTSC color TVs and monitors have a tint (hue) control dial, buttons or function.  The tint control is intended to adjust for phase errors in a transmitted broadcast signal.  The tint control adjusts the phase of the TV's reference color burst signal slightly toward the green or red end of the spectrum.  The color burst is intended to have a phase of 180 degrees, and by using the tint control, you can adjust the TV's phase by about 40 degrees from the official phase.  This was important during the era of broadcast TV before cable became ubiquitous.  Here is an NTSC color wheel to give you an idea of where the colors fall by degrees :


Unfortunately, for Tandy and PCjr. display adapters, 40 degrees is not sufficient to turn Tandy or PCjr composite colors into CGA colors.  Relative to late CGA, assuming its color burst is near 180 degrees, 640x200 Tandy is at 300 degrees and 640x200 PCjr. is at 120 degrees.  In the 640x200 mode, you can get somewhat close to the CGA colors at the extreme end of the tint control (green for PCjr, red for Tandy), but in 320x200 mode, you really won't.  In DOSBox, F11 and Alt F11 emulate the function of the tint control.

This blog entry gives a very readable overview of how composite CGA works : http://8088mph.blogspot.com/2015/04/cga-in-1024-colors-new-mode-illustrated.html