The ISA-Bus

One blog to bind them all.

Monthly Archives: May 2013

Tumblr Dislikes Firefox

Tumblr supports Chrome a lot better than it supports Firefox. When they introduce a new feature, or change something, it usually works in Chrome from the beginning, but may take quite some time till it works in Firefox. Such was the case, for example, with the new editor introduced earlier this year.

Now there’s something especially weird. The Esquire theme (I use it for Vivat Crescat Floreat, Thirteen to Fifty, and The Latin World) shows an ugly anthracite bar at the top of the page—in Firefox, but not in Chrome.

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Five Games of Submarine Warfare

Sub Battle Simulator

Sub Battle Simulator (1987) is the oldest submarine game in this collection. It runs in CGA only. The demo allows five minutes of gameplay.

688 Attack Sub

688 Attack Sub (1989) is a complex simulation and was one of the first commercial VGA games. The demo is rather elaborate, you can see some screenshots here.

U-Boot Jagd

U-Boot Jagd (1993) is a German Windows game by Michael Roessmann. It is not a simulation, but a puzzle game, a bit like Minesweeper, a bit like Mastermind and a bit like Black Box.

SinkSub

SinkSub by Anders Wihlborg has become something of a classic and is now available for iPhone. Unlike U-Boot Jagd, it is a simulation of actual combat.

USS Sub Battle

USS Sub Battle by Geoffrey Miller is the newest game, ten years after Sub Battle Simulator. It is somewhat similar to SinkSub, just the other way round: You control a submarine attacked by other subs, destroyers, and choppers. unfortunately I couldn’t get it to run properly on anything, neither XP nor Win32s. It is probably 95/98 only.

Two Cards on One Port

Common wisdom has it that you can’t have two devices set to the same port. This may not be true in all cases. At the moment, I have a 286 with a Roland SCC-1 and a Sound Blaster 2.0 (CT1350B). The SCC-1 is set to the default value of 330h, and the MIDI port of the Sound Blaster cannot be configured anyway.

Yet they both work. I can play General MIDI files with the SCC-1, play games with an external module hooked up to the SCC-1, and play MT-32 MIDI files with an external module hooked up to the Sound Blaster’s MIDI port (which both GSPlay and MegaMID support).

The only program that can get confused by this setting is Roland’s CSSCHK utility. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes it reports, not incorrectly, that the port is taken up by another device, and won’t let me set the SCC-1 into MT-32 emulation mode. That’s not really a problem since there are other ways to do this.

Useless Information

audio-jack

Yes, I know. I’m not that senile.

Chip’s Challenge Ending Screens

Lynx

The (original) Lynx version rewarded the player best for beating this difficult game. The scene with Chip and Melinda is animated, and we even get to see the E-Prom. No other version did that.

Lynx Ending: Chip and Melinda Lynx Ending: The E-Prom

Images Software

In 1990, the game was ported by Images Software, a British developer, for U.S.Gold, a British publisher, mainly to platforms popular in the UK and Europe. Some of the ports were published by Epyx in the USA, but on the whole this was a UK/EU affair. The actual releases were in January 1991 BTW.

Amiga and Atari ST

Chip's Challenge Amiga ending screen

Melinda seems to be suffering under a bad case of hover hand, or maybe rather hover arm. Isn’t that supposed to be a guy phenomenon? The computer, on the other hand, is a fairly correct rendition of a Commodore PC:

Back of a Commodore PC 20-III

Back of a Commodore PC 20-III – Click to enlarge

Four expansion slots, check. Not used because everything essential is on the motherboard, check. Power unit fan above the serial and parallel ports, check. Keyboard plugs into side, check. It should be the other side, but nobody’s perfect.

Sinclair ZX Spectrum

Chip's Challenge Sinclair ZX Spectrum ending screen

This looks like an exact copy of the Amiga ending screen, minus the hover arm. The clothes are done quite well, far better than the rest, with good avoidance of attribute clash.

Commodore 64

Chip's Challenge Commodore 64 ending screen

The computer is simplified, the coffee cup gone, Melinda’s pose is a bit different, the image does not fill the whole screen but has a border with rounded corners.

Amstrad CPC

Chip's Challenge Amstrad CPC ending screen

Minor details like the computer and the circuit pattern are the same as in the C64 ending screen, Melinda’s pose is the same, but otherwise, what improvements! Among the in-house Images versions, this ending screen wins hands down.

Audio Visual Magic

The DOS port was subcontracted to Audio Visual Magic, unfortunately no information is available about this company. Graphics are credited to Images Software, which is definitely not true for the ending screen (here’s the VGA version):

Chip's Challenge ending screen, DOS/VGA

Interesting detail: On the back of the Epyx box, there are photographs probably meant to represent the protagonists of the game, though the text does not mention the back story at all:

Melinda Chip

Obviously these photographs were used as reference for the end screen art.

EGA

Chip's Challenge ending screen, DOS/EGA

Why is Chip’s shirt purple in EGA? The dark red would have been a lot closer to the VGA image.

CGA

Chip's Challenge ending screen, DOS/CGA

Even in CGA, the ending screen looks surprisingly good.

Windows

Microsoft’s Windows port eliminated the romance element altogether. The ending is completely different. First, the Chip sprite is enlarged till it fills the whole gameplay area, and does a little dance. Then we get a graphic…

Chip's Challenge Windows ending screen (2)

…and this message:

Melinda herself offers Chip membership in the exclusive Bit Busters computer club, and gives him access to the club’s computer system. Chip is in heaven!

Not a word about the E-Prom.

Check for Yourself

There is a secret level called Special. It is usually accessed with the code DIGW, easy to traverse if you know what you have to do, and leads directly to the end screen. In the Atari ST version, the code is RGSK, but the level is buggy, Chip starts on an impassable tile and cannot be moved at all.