Sundry Sunday: Doobus Goobus Doesn’t Care for Freddy Fazbear

…and neither do I.

Sundry Sunday is our weekly feature of fun gaming culture finds and videos, from across the years and even decades.

By the way, I made this post while sitting in Peachtree Center in Atlanta the Wednesday before DragonCon 2023! Hello! These posts will probably be somewhat low effort, but they’re still coming! It beats being back home in Brunswick, GA this weekend where Hurricane Idalia is smacking things around!

I Don’t Care For Freddy FazBear (45 seconds)

Famicom Family BASIC

I love BASIC! I don’t make a secret of it. It was the product, even before DOS, that launched Microsoft. It was invented to be the language to bring programming to the masses, and, for a short time, it fulfilled that function. (These days, if you want to learn coding, I suggest Python. Not only is it a lot more capable and modern, but you can actually get a job writing it.)

Used to be if you had a new computer you wanted families to buy, you had to have a version of BASIC to ship with it. The Apple II had two, one written by Steve Wozniak himself. Right off the top of my head, computer systems with BASIC, go! Altair, Apple II, Commodore Pet, Vic-20, 64, 128, Plus-4, 16, Atari 8-bit, TRS-80, MS-DOS, Windows (Visual BASIC carried the torch for many years), and, most improbably, the Atari VCS/2600, in its BASIC Programming cartridge, an effectively useless cart for its stated purpose that’s nonetheless an excellent hack. The machine has 128 bytes of RAM, but it can still run BASIC, by jove.

The Famicom has a version of BASIC too, coming in at the end of the language’s heyday. Over on the Peertube instance, user RE:Enthused did a two-part introduction to it that may be of interested to people who still think in terms of FOR/NEXT loops.

Let’s look at Family Basic on the Famicom, Part 1 (8 minutes) and Part 2 (17 minutes).

The Design of Horace Interview

For this perceptive podcast I spoke with the designer of Horace: Paul Helman. We talked about how the development of the game went and the challenges of fine-tuning the various elements of it.

Romhack Thursday: Snail Maze in a Cartridge

On Romhack Thursdays, we bring you interesting finds from the world of game modifications.

Early Sega Master System units released in the US had a small game included on the system ROM. It’s not as cool as the Space Harrier music with FM synthesis included on some Japanese Mark III units, but it’s at least a playable game.

Snail Maze, a really simple game (image from article)

It’s not really that deep a game, just a simple timed maze race, but it’s something, in case you got tired of Hang-On and Astro Warrior. Mike (no last name given), the maintainer of the blog Leaded Solder, decided to take that game and make a cartridge for it, so it can be played on any Master System, not just the early units that had it built-in. It’s a story of electronics work and 3D printing, of ColecoVision cartridge simultarity, roadblocks overcome, and ultimate victory. Here’s some appropriate music to listen to while reading it.

Breaking out of the Snail Maze (

The Forest Cathedral and 24 Killers Review

This is a double review of The Forest Catherdral and 24 Killers both played with press keys provided by the developers.

0:00 Intro
00:16 The Forest Cathedral
4:13 24 Killers

Reimplementations of the Contents of BASIC Computer Games

When we talk about the old days in computers, there’s easily several eras we could be talking about. There are people who consider the Wii/PS3 era to be the Ancient Times, for after all they were both released in 2006, 17 years ago. They’re almost old enough to drive!

I consider the “modern era” of gaming to have begun with the Dreamcast/Playstation 2/Gamecube era, for in my view that was when, with skilled art design and coding, and modest requirements, one could reasonably generate a realistic scene. Take a look at Crazy Taxi and Soulcalibur on the Dreamcast, both have graphics that seem a little simple now but easily hold up, while the Nintendo 64/Playstation generation has to cut too many corners with their 3D graphics generally.

You can from there go back through the generations: the 16-bit era, the NES/SMS era, then the Atari VCS/Intellivision/Odyssey2/Colecovision era. There’s also the era of home microcomputers, Apple IIs, Commodore 64s and Atari 8-bits, among others, a time that really has no comparison before or since.

But even that wasn’t the beginning of computer gaming. Know, oh prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atari and the gleaming manufacturers, there was an age undreamed of, when shining timeshare systems lay spread across the world like Big Blue mantles beneath the stars. That was when computing may well have not even meant using a monitor, but instead entering data through a kind of typewriter, with your text appearing on paper, and the machine’s output would also appear on that paper. While that was a time where computing was still new and expensive, and people rented time on big mainframe machines with, at the time, ludicrous resources. The IBM System/370 Model 145 had 500 whole kilobytes of memory, and 255 megabytes of disk space. Such a machine would be partitioned out to many users, who each had accounts on it, and would be served by the processor concurrently. And they liked it!

Two covers for BASIC Computer Games, the common later “Microcomputer Edition” and an earlier one.

And before even teletype machines, there were punchcard systems, and the oscilloscope screen on which Tennis For Two was played, but for this post that’s going back a little too far.

This was the time in which David Ahl’s book, BASIC Computer Games*, appeared on store shelves. It was first published in 1973. When I was younger I had a copy of it, given to me by a relative, but it was already a relic by then. I once spotted it on a store shelf, gamely offered for sale despite it being probably around 1991 at the time, a good lifespan in a genre of book nowadays considered disposable. Remember, Pong debuted at Al Capp’s Bar in 1972**. There was a thriving culture of computer gaming even before the first commercial video games were sold.

(* Note 1: While it’s often forgotten now, BASIC is properly written with capital letters. It’s an acronym that stands for Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code. That’s not as tortured as, say, “GNU’s Not Unix.”)

(** Note 2: Pong wasn’t the first commercial video game. That was likely the Odyssey, or Nutting Associates’ Computer Space. I don’t want to get into it here. This comment is here largely to satisfy my own obsessive/compulsiveness.)

Super Star Trek. The text of the book indicates that versions of the Star Trek text game existed since “the late sixties.” Remember, the show aired in the late sixties. People were playing Star Trek on computers while Star Trek was airing on television in first broadcast.

BASIC Computer Games, and its sequels More BASIC Computer Games and Big Computer Games, record, as program listings, a couple hundred old computer games and other entertainments much as they existed at the time, which makes it an incredibly important book for software preservation and computer historians, I’d think anyway. It has listings for a version of the “Star Trek” text game that was popular at the time, and that even once inspired a vectorscan arcade game from Sega, as well as a good number of other amusements.

I say game design doesn’t go obsolete, but it’s true that current expectations of what computer programs should do, let alone games, are not met well by the programs in the books. Still, they can be fun to interact with, for a while at least, and a project exists on Github to update all of the programs to a variety of current (I refuse to say modern) programming languages.

You can also obtain the software in .bas files compatible with Vintage BASIC, a reimplementation of classic Microsoft BASIC for current OSes including Windows, Mac and Linux.

PDF of Basic Computer Games (

Compilation of programs from BASIC Computer Games converted to current languages (github)

4am’s Crack of Spare Change

Spare Change is an odd little Apple II game from 1983, where the player tries to thwart mischievous creatures who escaped from an arcade game, who are trying to steal quarters from the machines. One of Broderbund’s earlier hits, although it never gained the recognition of Lode Runner.

Such a charming little game
Do you not only understand this, but enjoy reading it? Then this should be very interesting to you.

Spare Change, in addition to its various little features like animated intermissions and customizable difficulty, also had a pretty strong copy protection scheme. These schemes served to prevent casual copying at the time (although cracks of all the popular titles inevitably started making the rounds on BBSes), but also serve to work against software preservation. Spare Change is 40 years old now, and disks fail frequently. There is an available crack, but it’s said to be missing an important feature: it fails to save their high scores to disk.

4am is the famed preserver of classic Apple II software, performed by dint of figuring out their protection and removing it as unobtrusively as possible. His account on Twitter (I refuse to call it X, I don’t even like saying Xbox) made for great reading for people of a technical mind. He isn’t on Twitter any more for, I dunno, some reason, but he still posts his cracks, and his explanations for how they work, to the Internet Archive, under the 4am tag.

All this is to say his crack of Spare Change makes for entertaining reading to one of the right mindset. One of you may have it, so here it is.

Space Change: a 4am and san inc crack: description and the crack itself.