Andreas Koch - 21/01/2017
This one is joystick only. The Broderbund catalogs clearly show that Apple II is joystick and paddle, while the A8 version is joystick only...
... and the authors set aside a full 8K RAM just to achieve the "wipe" transition effect you see on screen when a new one of the 5 boards has done loading. The new .xex formatted conversion of AE needs 128K RAM but as a quirk it also runs on a 64K model 800XL only with board number 1 repeating endlessly. On the 16K model 5200 version of "A.E." the alien fleet never flies behind anything, frown.
...then the way the baddies morph to letters which spell "GAME OVER" in scrolling color artifacts.
the centerpiece technical achievement in this game program is the way the enemy fleet flies in front of some objects then disappears behind other things, like circling around Saturn's rings
This night I made an .xex version of AE, after being inspired by the recent xex versions of whole disk based games like "The Eidolon" and "Fortress Underground". AE was begging for this treatment, it's wild that this hadn't been done before. Again completed in one night, new file is 116857 bytes big without any loading screen, the whole thing loads into 128K RAM (model 130XE) before running exactly like the disk does only without any delays between battlefields.
I'll try uploading these someplace soon, .xex and one-sided middle-density disk-image (runs on 48K model 800) both enhancements zipped together, but it'll be a few days before you see 'em.
AE uses multi patterned artifacting to (try to) generate plenty of colors, just like the paint program found within "Learning with Leeper". True Classic 1982.
The download is a VAPI scan of the copy protected original, requiring no SIO patch, therefore this download remains very slow loading and slow switching screens even when using modern emulation. And the 5200 cartridge version has nothing on this one, so ...
I was just possessed to convert a cracked 2 sided version into a single "middle" density disk, and it's great. No more flippin. Everything loads instantly. I touched up the title page so that it blanked out asking you to turn the disk over, and swapped the 2 bottom lines so that "AND PUSH BUTTON" is at the very bottom. Took me 2 hours in 1 night, from concept to completion, a success story for any new A8 project. If you search side A for the SIO call $E453 it leads to the "table" for those sector numbers used by the five screens in total.
Artifacting is technically "blue and brown" or "blue and orange" not blue and red, on Atari. Except for some bizarre reasoning, my old 800XL internally shifted the video out by a half pixel, resulting in Green & Purple artifacting which seems to have NO games written specifically for Green & Purple. SEE the games "Ultima IV" and "Ultima V" for my earlier tantrum about artifacting.
Disk side B comes the same on this original and the 2 sided cracked versions. There are 5 screens each using 128 sectors starting at 1 for screen 1, ending at 640. This particular download has garbage at the end of side B, 256 instances of byte $1A that should be all zero, but not hurting anything. $1A has been showing up in error a lot at the end of files. These $1A's change over to zero instead of being removed.
Since this was a port from the Apple II, it used artifacting to generate the colors. In graphics 8 mode, the pixels were too small for NTSC, so depending on how they were placed, you'd see white, red, or blue. Most Apple games used this to get color in high-res mode, and it was common for Apple to Atari ports to use the same mode.
Some games are more 'art' than 'game'. Such it is with A.E. The first time I saw this game I was stunned by the hires graphics, which I thought were impossible on the Atari. Then the game play, much like the later game Satan's Hollow, really drew me in. What I found really fascinating was that you have to flip your disk to side 2 to play the game. It's a huge loader, and takes a significant amount of time to load each level. But there is nothing like A.E., and one of my friends tells me he believes it's the most unique game every written for the 8-Bit. He might be right!
Also check Homesoft's conversion based on the Atari 5200 prototype of the game here.
Many thanks to video game addict for the scan of the alternate disk packaging!