Two-player Karateka

August 13th, 2018 8:22 AM
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I thought I knew Charles Mangin: hardware guru extraordinaire, maker of connectors, adapters and miniature models. His RetroConnector brand has enabled Apple II keyboards to talk to USB-enabled machines, modern joysticks to be played on Apple II computers, and other interactions that span the eras. With a 3D printer, he's created miniature working monitors and Raspberry Pi cases shaped like a IIe. Well before I ever met him at KansasFest, I was blogging about Charles putting computers in Apple II peripherals. Creating intergenerational hybrids is Charles' niche.

Or so I thought. First, he started sharing his hardware knowledge in a video podcast series, How II. Then he was giving KansasFest sessions about music synthesizers. No 3D printers to be seen, but these topics could still be broadly categorized as hardware projects.

But now Charles is making a name for himself in a wholly new realm: software development. After tackling the significant task of teaching himself 6502 assembly, he released his first game, a Minesweeper clone. Then he innovated with an original title, Jumpy Guy. These are fun, simple games that demonstrate Charles' growth in this new role.

Now Charles is punching his way through one of the most famous games of all time: Karateka. No longer the tale of a lone gamer storming Akuma's fortress, Jordan Mechner's first published title has been patched to enable a second player to control Akuma's foot soldiers, putting some actual intelligence behind the hero's adversaries and making it more akin to the Apple II arcade port Karate Champ.

I would ask Charles to detail his patch in an issue of Juiced.GS, but he has already been thoroughly transparent on his website, detailing the mere 42 bytes that constitute the efficient patch. The updated game is playable online on the Internet Archive:

In the course of reinventing himself, Charles has reinvented Karateka. But gamers are a hungry lot, and some are already clamoring for more features, including joystick input and network play. I'd rather wait and see what Charles does of his own volition: like Apple Inc., he has an uncanny sense for giving us what we didn't know we've always wanted. Who knows where he'll take us — and himself — next?

Learn assembly programming at A2Central.com

July 1st, 2010 2:03 PM
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With the latest issue of Juiced.GS now in the mail, it's only a matter of time before someone asks if a PDF version is available. The staff and I continue to explore ways to make our magazine's content available online — but for the latest news and reviews, it's hard to justify establishing a presence in a medium where we'd compete with the excellent A2Central.com.

Just as Juiced.GS is primarily a feature-driven publication with a smattering of news, A2Central.com, run by Sean Fahey, focuses on daily news updates with the occasional longer piece. In the latter category, its most recent offering is a series by site founder Eric Shepherd:

Over the coming weeks (or maybe months or even years), I'll be posting a series of articles introducing you to the glorious, glamorous world of assembly language programming for the 6502 series of microprocessors. While, sure, there are plenty of other languages out there, and in this day and age, assembly is something of a line of last resort among "modern" computer programmers, on the Apple II, assembly remains the optimal way to build software for the best possible performance.

Sheppy, who is the former publisher of Juiced.GS and still a regular columnist for that print publication, enjoys several advantages by writing the above series for A2Central.com. He can write at his own pace instead of a quarterly one, and at any length he likes instead of trying to fill a page. He can also make his content as accessible or esoteric as he wants, whereas Juiced.GS, which publishes several programming-related tutorials, is nonetheless more often aimed at the consumer.

The only downside to Sheppy's series is that it's published in a chronological blog format powered by WordPress. As such, as more news is reported, his posts will scroll off the homepage, with no tags or links from new installments to prior ones. One can choose to filter content by programming, but then you'll also be presented with news about new Apple II utilities.

I expressed this concern to site administrator Tony Diaz, and he quickly implemented my suggested solution: filtering by author. It's now easy to access an archive of all content written by Sheppy in reverse chronological order. Just scroll back to the series' start on June 18th, 2010, and you can find all his entries in this tutorial. Thanks, Tony!

The impact of A2Central.com's newest feature is measurable, as it's already inspired former HackFest winner Peter Neubauer to offer his own complementary article. Just as he wrote that winning entry in Macrosoft, Peter's tutorial shows how to write HELLO WORLD using the Mindcraft Assembler.

You can meet Peter, Tony, and Sean at this month's KansasFest, or read about the event at A2Central.com, courtesy the live reporting of Sean, Andy Molloy, and Mike Maginnis.