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Alive 14
                         " porno on ihan jees "
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        \______________|    :_____\/_____|_____\/________|    : g6

                       wAMMA oldskool section 2007

                         [  L A S E R T I M E  ]

                     a 4k trackmo for the Atari 2600

The  Atari 2600 has had the occasional intro screen made for it before  now.
Particularly  memorable was Ultra's effort 'Stella'.  But this is  something
different.  'Lasertime' can be seen either as a full sized demo,  or dentro,
or  trackmo,  according  to taste,  or even a rather good 4ktro,  bearing the
actual  size  of  the  ROM image in mind.  The Finnish  team  'WAMMA',  with
sometime  Dildo Fatwa fan,  Visy, are responsible for breaking this new/old
frontier for Atari demo coding.

So what do we get then?

I  fire up Stella,  which generally does a fair to good job of emulating the
2600.  Upon  selecting  the ROM,  it kicks you into darkness at first,  as an
excellent, if short and looping zik made by Ilmarque starts up.

(As Visy^WAMMA pointed out @pouet: "I'm sorry, but Stella sucks. Big time.
All our vcs demos run incorrectly on it. Use real hw or Z26. Many effects are
bugged because of Stella's incorrect emulation."

Alive: We will make sure CiH has to wear his domination mask and receives a 
good spanking at the next team meeting...) 

Aha,  an  effect  at last,  as a small screen-centred colony of raster  bars
walks  upscreen with lots of colours on show.  Of course the demo has to  be
identified  with  a  slightly greyish and functional  title  picture,  which
emphasises the low-res nature of this hardware,  with a blocky face pictured
on the right hand side.
Something  more  scenic is next,  with a sunrise on the far horizon,  and  a
rolling  landscape  constantly changing colour heading towards  the  viewer.
This  is  yet another application of the rasters on the  2600.  This  screen
looks  like an incomplete game screen,  as if you expect to see a  crosshair
onscreen and hordes of enemy space-ships or killer penguins to defeat.  They
do not come.

The next screen seems to have had some really serious effort put into it, in
an Amiga oldschool coding fashion.  You get something looking like tiles and
bars,  but the entire screen bends in a sineous distorting way.  This screen
is the most technically interesting of this demo thus far.

But it is bettered by the following screen, which is an elaborate stretch of
the  2600's  limited resources.  There is a double vertical scrolltext  with
different  colours for each,  and one of these constantly changing.  This is
overlaid  with  a water ripple effect.  For maximum points,  there is also a
partial  reflection  in a nicely faked water layer at the screen  bottom.  I
guess  we  have hit the climax of this demo,  and we're gently winding  down
from here.

This process starts with a fairly fugly double scrolltext crossing over each
other,  we  are  next  into  the  credits screen,  which  consists  of  some
upscrolling   raster  bars  for  the  background,   some  hard-to   describe
downscrolling  patterns in the middle of the screen which I think are  there
to emphasise movement, and the credits themselves are displayed at the sides
of the screen.

There  is another chunky ugly multi-patterned or Kaleidoscope screen,  which
features  changing  patterns  all in black,  sort of like a  dynamic  blocky
constantly changing Rorschach inkblot test.

And  then  it's all just about over,  apart from the fat lady singing,  or a
Chunky  Fuji  logo in this case,  with more vertically scrolling rasters  to
finish it.

For  the  purposes  of  this  review,  I'd have to  say  that  the  emulator
performance  on Stella was not perfect,  but it was good enough.  It is best
seen on the original hardware, and a homebrew cartridge apparently exists.

The  info text is quite informative,  and includes some ironic greetings  to
Nosfe,  "for  his continuing love and support towards Atari computers." Yes,
well we know about that!

The  tone of this demo is very much oldschool,  with a heavy emphasis on the
kind  of  effects that the VCS is good at,  namely raster bars and  lots  of
colours  generated  within  them.  At the same time,  there are a couple  of
screens  which seem to be pushing things a bit harder still,  so I would say
this is a major achievement with the limitedness of this ancient hardware.

So  will we see more VCS demos pushing the limits of that elderly  hardware?
We would hope so. Nice one Visy and company!

The first full demo on the Atari 2600.
Lots to see.
A couple of impressive limit-stretching screens.
A kick-ass tune.
A good all-round effort.

Fugly in places. (Even allowing for hardware limitations.)
The tune is short.
A tendency to over-rely on raster based effects?

                                                      CiH, For Alive Mag, Feb 07
Alive 14