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Article #30 (74 is last):
Newsgroups: freenet.sci.comp.atari.product.8bit.reviews
From: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Subject: Fortress, Atartris / games / shareware, PD
Posted-By: xx004 (aa700 - Michael Current)
Reply-To: aa700@cleveland.Freenet.Edu (Michael Current)
Date: Thu Mar 26 09:21:23 1992


Reprinted from Current Notes, Vol. 12, No. 1, January/February 1992
 
 
(More) Tetris, Anyone?
----------------------
 
by Steve Hoffee
 
     Okay, for you fanatics who didn't get enough 8-bit Tetris in the 
July CN, we'll have to go at it one last time.  Since this Russian-born 
game hit American shores a few years ago, it has become a craze 
everywhere.  It seems everybody has jumped on the bandwagon, from 
(pardon my language) Nintendo, Apple, Commodore, IBM, and Tandy, to our 
superior 8-bit Ataris (no prejudice here!).
     Of course, the object of Tetris is to manipulate differently shaped 
objects to form a solid line at the bottom of the playing area, thus 
clearing that line from the screen.  After a certain number of lines are 
completed and cleared, you can move on to the next level of play.  There 
are many versions of Tetris available, but this review deals with just 
two of them: Fortress and Atartris.  I used a 130XE and a 1050 drive, 
but these programs should work fine with any ATARI 48K computer and disk 
drive.
 
Fortress Ver. 2.0
     Written by one Zark Wizard, Fortress, upon loading, presents you 
with a very good title screen almost assuring you of more good graphics 
to come.  By pressing START you go to the Options Menu which gives you 
the choise of: 1) Play, 2) Choose Music, or 3) Game Options.
     This screen also shows promise of more good graphics to come.  The 
options are easy to understand and change.  The Choose Music option 
allows you to choose one of three song titles that will be played during 
the game.  You also have the Music Off option, which I preferred due to 
the monotony of the music.
     There are six game options available:
 o  Controller Type (joystick or keyboard).
 o  Starting Level (1-9), with 9 being warp speed.
 o  Block Height (0-9).  This puts blocks on the bottom of the screen 
from 0 to 9 lines.  When this function is activated it leaves gaps in      
the lines which can't be filled, therefore it isn't recommended unless 
you enjoy punishment.
 o  Next Object (hint area ON or OFF)
 o  Clear Hi-Scores
 o  Sound Effects (ON or OFF).  Sound is automatically off when music is 
selected.
     The playing screen consists of a Playing Field (on the left half) 
and a Hint, Score, Lines Completed, Level and all available objects 
screen on the right.  The graphics on this screen were a little 
disappointing, compared to the first two screens.  I use a TV, rather 
than a monitor, which tended to make some of the smaller lettering bleed 
together.  At the bottom of the playing area you have the options to 
PAUSE, QUIT or LINES.  The latter puts white vertical lines on the field 
for easier alignment of the objects.  Although this option does come in 
handy, it is somewhat distracting.  It would have been better having the 
lines light grey so they wouldn't stand out so much.
     As for playability, Fortress is fun and very challenging at the 
higher levels (if you get there).  The objects that appear on the field 
are displayed, and kept account of, to the right of the playing area.  
The numbers next to the seven objects show how many times that object 
has been ysed.  You also get a 200 point bonus every time you clear a 
line.  Overall, I enjoyed this game and its features.  The author 
obviously devoted considerable effort packing every feature he could 
into this game.  The program is shareware and is certainly worthy of a 
contribution to the author.  It's also worthy of a place in your library 
if you're a Tetris fan.  I'd give this game a B- as an overall grade.
 
Atartris Ver. 1.01
     Programmed by Steve Budrys, this game can in no way be compared to 
Fortress.  While it lacks Fortress's flashy title screen and options 
menu, it makes up the deficiency in versatility, playability and ease of 
use.
     Atartris's Options Menu is completely joystick-driven and is so 
simple a child can easily make all of his/her choices (provided he can 
read).  I tested this with four sixth-graders (thanks Stefanee, Nicole, 
Meghan and Sarah!), and they got several levels further into the game 
than I had expected.  They especially enjoyed the fact that they could 
play each other (in two-player mode), with the first one completing nine 
lines getting the bonus before they moved on to the next level.
     This game, at level A, starts out slow and then progressively 
speeds up at the completion of each level.  There are 26 levels, making 
this a game for all ages.  When a level is completed, the entire playing 
area is cleared before you start the next level--a most rewarding 
feature.  The Options Menu contains a number of features to customize 
the game to your own personal taste.  Also included are instructions on 
how to use a different font and configuration setup which will load upon 
booting (however, I found the menu to be so simple and quick that these 
weren't really necessary).
     The Options Menu consists of:
  >  Play The Game Already
  >  1 or 2 players
  >  Singles are OK (not OK)
  >  All Pieces Rotate (most, some, few, or none)
  >  Alignment Guide (OFF or ON)
  >  Start at Level A-Z
  >  Preview one piece (none, 4, 3 or 2)
  >  Pieces Rotate Clockwise (Counter-Clockwise)
  >  View Hi-Scores
  >  About "Atartris" (a brief note and acknowledgements to friends, 
along with ways to get in touch with the author).
     The game options menu alone offers a lot more than most Tetris 
clones.  Being public domain, the price is irresistible and a "must 
have" for any gamer.  I was going to give this game an overall grade of 
B+ until a friend of mine sent me Atartris II over the modem last night 
(thanks, Craig)!  The new features now include:
 o  Permanent Hi-Score file
 o  Two-Player Cooperation Mode (where you work together rather than 
complete)
 o  Lines-To-Go Display
 o  Lines-Completed-Display
 o  High Score (Includes Lines and Levels)
 o  Structure Height Bonus
 o  Bonus For Clearing Board
 o  Second Player Join-In Feature (a second player can join in at the 
beginning of any level)
 o  Scoring Multiplier
     With all these additional features, I'd have to give Atartris II an 
A.  (If it had flashy graphics I'd rate it A+).  I've asked a number of 
people which Tetris clone they liked best, and without exception, the 
answer was Atartris (now it's Atartris II).  Until next time, keep your 
eyes on the monitor and your hands on the joystick (sung to the melody 
of "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors)!
     Fortress and Atartris are available from Sagamore Software, 2104 
Arapahoe Dr., Lafayette IN 47905, on their Game Disk #81 (along with 
Zybex and Tetrix) for $3.00 plus a $2.00 handling fee for orders of less 
than ten disks.  (The disk contains .DOC files for the Tetris games but 
not for Zybex.)  Atartris II is available from MAPDA-USA Branch (333 
Peninsula Dr., Lake Almanor CA 97137) on Disk #403 for $3.50 including 
postage if you order just that one disk.  All three of these games are 
also available from the library in the ATARI8 RT on Genie; the file 
numbers are: Fortress - #4878, Atartris - #4910, and Atartris II - 
#5271.
-- 
 Michael Current, Cleveland Free-Net 8-bit Atari SIGOp   -->>  go atari8  <<--
   The Cleveland Free-Net Atari SIG is the Central Atari Information Network
      Internet: currentm@carleton.edu / UUCP: ...!umn-cs!ccnfld!currentm
     BITNET: currentm%carleton.edu@{interbit} / Cleveland Free-Net: aa700





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