Some years back, I decided to have a go at converting Akalabeth to the Vectrex. I didn’t much fancy learning the intricacies of Vectrex programming so instead did this using a Vectrex32 cartridge. This is an ingenious gadget that is essentially a little computer in a cartridge that takes over from the Vectrex CPU and allowed me to program in a BASIC variant. I got that working and released it on here although I doubt many people ever played it. The Vectrex32 itself never really took off as a technology. I did struggle with it’s limitations when doing the port, not something I’d expected with such a simple game, and it was quite expensive to say the least.
A year or two after that, we had the idea of doing a very small run of these cartridges as a Kickstarter reward to go with Andrea Contato’s second book about Origin – Through The Moongate Part 2. We got approval from Richard Garriott, I improved the code and after numerous covid related delays it was shipped several months ago along with the book to all the backers. I highly recommend picking up a copy of Andrea’s book if you are at all interested in the history of Origin. As for the game, the plan was always to release the final version on here at some point and it’s now available to download here + on the downloads page. The code is all in BASIC so you are free to fiddle with it and make tweaks/improvements as you see fit. Apart from the graphics routines, it’s based off the original Apple II source code and a close match to the original game. I did make some changes to the dungeon generation which would throw out unsolvable levels in it’s original form. I think Richard just picked some numbers which happened to work reasonably well with the Apple’s random number generator – there was certainly nothing in the code to ensure the levels were actually playable.
The changes to the previous Vecalabeth release include :-
All mazes are now solvable
Your lucky number is actually being used to generate the mazes and stats
Mazes are consistent, i.e. you will get the same level every time you return to it rather than a new random one
Improvements to the control responsiveness
Splash screen at the start
Monsters aren’t mirror images of the originals any more
Numerous bug fixes that were found during playtesting
It’s not something I’ve tried myself but I understand that the new PiTrex cartridges will allow Vectrex32 games to be run. This is a much cheaper alternative with many additional capabilities and should mean that more people than I expected actually get the chance to play this. I’d love to hear back from anyone that does. Getting a physical release presumably means I’m officially a game developer now, although I have to say I prefer playing games to writing them so it’s not something I’ll be making a habit of.