Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Atari 2600 -> Super Breakout -> Progressive Level

I guess I haven't blogged about this before, but here goes.  Apparently no one on the web cares about this but me.  But I write about this now because I'm trying to extract some of the music from Super Breakout via YouTube, and these videos aren't as numerous as cute kitten videos.  Go figure.
Now, what usually happens when you've played the Progressive level (Atari 2600, Super Breakout, that is) for any considerable length of time, you'll eventually find yourself almost hopelessly surrounded by a virtual forest of bright green bricks.  Well, gotta eat your vegetables sometime!  Some nice broccoli stalks clean out the ol'... anyway, these bricks are worth one point apiece... but every once in a while, you hit a green brick that makes the game GO COMPLETELY CRAZY!  The ball speeds up, and you start earning hella points... crazy mad points?  This doesn't happen all the time, and not very often at that, but it's happened enough to consider it an easter egg.  What I think happens is this: a brick is chosen at random to make the phenomenon happen.  And what happens is, instead of adding a one to the point accumulator... which, in Super Breakout, as you should know, if it's full of points to be accounted for, the game takes rather a long time to count them out, but provides some nice musical accompaniment while doing so.  Now, for all you computer nerds out there, the Atari 400, 800 and 1200, and a couple others like 800XL or 600XL that we really don't care that much about... they were 8-bit computers, which means they mostly processed integers from 0 to 255.  So I think what happens is, you hit the magic brick, and the point accumulator gets subtracted by one, thereby making it 255.  And of course, if you've got more than about 32 points in the point accumulator, they get counted down by 4 instead of by 1.  And of course, when the brick is hit and the ball speeds up, usually what happens in that panic and frenzy is that I QUICKLY MISS THE FREAKING BALL!!!  But that's that tightrope you walk in Progressive Atari 2600 Super Breakout, as you go for the juicier bricks worth more points.  You don't want to destroy them all at once, because you want some bricks to react with when the next wall comes; at least, until you make a hole big enough to get the ball through to bounce off the ceiling.
But that's a video game fanatic for you.  You build these games right, you'll get bloggers gushing about them 35-40 years after their creation date!  Dayamn... All this Farmville crap's a mere flash in the pan, I tells ya.  Unless, of course, they're investing well.  Then it's here to stay.

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