Coleco’s Tarzan for the Atari VCS/2600 Found After 40 Years

The lost Atari 2600 version of Coleco’s Tarzan game, from the VGHF article

As reported in a post at the excellent Video Game History Foundation, a copy of the unreleased Atari port of the Colecovision Tarzan game has been found, bought from a former Coleco employee. It used an unusual bankswitching scheme, but has been hacked to use a more common system, and both versions of the ROM are available from the Internet Archive. Both are 16K, very large for an Atari game, but microscopic by the standards of data today.

The Colecovision version of Tarzan was a late release, and had unusually good animation for its time, and repetitive, yet atmospheric, music. Here’s a Youtube link of the first loop of that version of the game (5 1/2 minutes):

I tried a little of the 2600 version, and I couldn’t make out how to get further than a few screens in. That single button control scheme is a real hassle! Here that is (four minutes 1/2). Dig that opening theme song! Don’t dig that gameplay music, though. It didn’t sound as bad when I played it, I think it was an issue with the recording.

The article has a run that gets further into it (7 minutes):

Hare Basic for the Commodore 64

Our friend Robin at 8-Bit Show And Tell lets us know of this cool and free Commodore 64 BASIC 2.0 extension, of a sort, called Hare Basic. It’s a successor to an earlier version called Bunny Basic. Here’s the video, 48 minutes long. My comments on it follow below, which you can read either after having watched the video, or before, depending on of you have most of an hour to spare right now.

Here are the downloads, which are hosted on the creator’s Dropbox, so availability may fluctuate.

Commodore BASIC is, in many ways, the worst of all worlds. It’s a slow interpreted language, a variant of infamous Microsoft BASIC, and it has almost no machine-specific features, but it comes with the machine, and it’s burned into ROM. You can swap it out for extra RAM if you have a replacement OS or are running something in pure machine code.

I could go on for a long time about the problems with Commodore BASIC 2.0, a language I’m quite familiar with having spent much of my teens programming in it. Sometimes it feels like it was designed especially to run slowly. One example: it supports floating point math, which ordinarily would be a good thing, right? Use integer math for performance, and just use floats when you need decimals, right? But no: internally, Commodore BASIC converts integer variables into floats when doing any math with them, and converts them back to store as integers when it’s done. Wilberforce Trafalgar Franklin?! Why?! It does these unnecessary extra steps to do all arithmetic as floating point even when it doesn’t need do, and doesn’t offer a way to do performant integer math at all! Need I remind you that Microsoft BASIC is based upon software written by Bill Gates himself? I suspect that I don’t!

Hare Basic is a highly optimized subset of Commodore BASIC that can be switched on and off as needed. It has to be coded in a special way which might throw beginners for a loop: Hare Basic can’t abide whitespace, for example, only allows for variables of one letter in length, has no support for modifying strings, and contrary to Commodore BASIC can only do integer math. There’s lots of other differences too, and if you want to play around with it it’s essential that you study the manual.

But once you get used to it, it runs blazingly fast, sometimes as much as 10 times faster! And the best part is you don’t have to use it for everything. You can start out with a standard Commodore BASIC program, then enter into Hare Basic mode with a USR function call. You could write your whole program in Hare if you’re up for it, or just loops, or other places where performance is necessary.

Of course, this is ultimately an enhancement for a programming language that runs on a home computer made in 1984. It’s not what one might consider of universal interest. But it might be of interest to the kinds of people who read this site. It’s interesting to me, at least. Maybe I should dust off VICE and see what I can do with it? I haven’t coded on a ’64 in nearly three decades, maybe I should get back into that….

Wherefore Pac-Man’s Split Screen?

I did a search of the blog to make sure I haven’t posted this before. I’m really an obsessive tagger, and it didn’t show up under the tag pacman, so I think it hasn’t been seen here before. Let’s fix that now!

It’s a video from Retro Game Mechanics Explained from six years ago, and it’s 11 1/2 minutes:

Here’s a terse summary of the explanation, that leaves out a lot. Like a lot of 8-bit games (the arcade version uses a Z80 processor), Pac-Man stores the score in one byte, making the maximum it can count to 255. Since it doesn’t use signed arithmetic, it doesn’t use the high bit to signify a minus sign and so flip to negative at 128.

As an optimization, Pac-Man’s code uses the depiction of the maze in the video memory, itself, in the movement of both Pac-Man and the ghosts. If a spot has a maze wall tile, then Pac-Man can’t go there, and the ghosts won’t consider that direction when moving.

At the start of every level, the game performs some setup tasks. It draws the maze anew, including dots, Energizers and walls. One of these tasks is to update the fruit display in the bottom-right corner. It was a common design idiom at some arcade manufacturers, especially at Namco, at the time to depict the level number with icons in some way. Galaga shows rank insignia in the corner; Mappy has small and large balloons and mansions.

Pac-Man’s code shows the bonus fruit for each level, up to seven of them. If you finish more than seven levels, only the most recent seven are shown. If you get far enough eventually this will be just a line of Keys, the final “fruit.”

The code draws them from right to left. There’s three cases (the video goes into much more detail), but generally it starts from the fruit of six minus the current round number, draws it, counts up once and moves left two tiles, draws that one, and so on.

An interesting fact about Pac-Man’s graphics hardware is that the screen doesn’t map as you might expect to the screen! A lot of arcade games have weird screen mappings. Most consumer programmable hardware will map characters horizontally first vertically second, like a typewriter*.

In Pac-Man, the bottom area of the screen comes first in memory, starting at memory location hex $4000 (16384 decimal), and it doesn’t go forward like an English typewriter, but is mapped right to left. The first row of 32 tiles comes at $4000, and the second row is $4020. Then the playfield area is mapped completely differently, in vertical rows going down starting from the top-right of its region, then the next vertical row is the one to the left of that, and so forth to the left edge of the playfield. Then comes the score area at the top of the screen, which are two final rows mapped the same way as the bottom area, right to left.

From the video, this chart shows how Pac-Man’s screen memory is mapped.

When Pac-Man’s score counter overflows, it breaks the check for the limit for only drawing seven fruit, and causes it to draw 256 fruit. This is why the tops of keys are drawn beneath the upper-halves of the fruit at the bottom of the split screen. It also breaks the tile lookup for the fruit.

As it continues writing its missourced fruit tiles in memory, it goes back in memory each time to draw the next fruit, and after the fruit section of the display it keeps going to the left, into the area where Pac-Man’s lives are displayed, then it keeps going and overwrites half of the maze tiles. Then Pac-Man’s lives (and any empty spaces that indicate the lack of lives) are plotted, overwriting fruit after the first ones drawn and obscuring some of the memory corruption.

Since the game’s actors use that data to decide where to move, and where dots and Energizers are placed, it means they can move outside the bounds of the maze, and that there won’t be enough dots for Pac-Man to eat to complete the level. That’s what makes it a kill screen: if Pac-Man loses a life, a few dots will get placed in the maze as the fruit are redrawn, but it’s not enough to bring the dot-eaten count to 244, which triggers the level clear function.

If the fruit-drawing loop didn’t stop at 256 (another artifact of using 8-bit math for the loop), it’d go on to clobber the rest of the maze, the score area at the top of the screen, then color memory (which has already been clobbered by the palette-drawing portion of the loop). Then, going by a memory map of the arcade hardware, it’d hit the game logic RAM storage, which would probably crash the game, triggering the watchdog and resetting the machine.

The visual effect of the split screen is certainly distinctive, enough that since Bandai-Namco has capitalized on its appearance at least once, in the mobile (and Steam and consoles) game Pac-Man 256. I’ve played Pac-Man 256: it’s okay, but, eh. It’s really too F2P unlocky.

* Yes, I just used a typewriter’s operation as a metaphor for something a computer does. It didn’t feel acceptable to use another computer thing as the comparison, since ultimately the reason they do it that way is because typewriters did it that way too. I guess the fact that it’s English reading order would be better to use, but I’m really overthinking it at this point.

Doing Weird Things To A Sega 32X

The Youtuber: MattKC Bytes
What he did: Unexpected things to Sega’s aborted Genesis/Mega Drive add-on.
The address: here.
The length: about seven minutes.

The explanation: Did you ever play around with a 32X? Evidently not a lot of people did. It was straaaange. Unexpectedly powerful! A bit misjudged! Hosted a port of DOOM! Had a port of Virtua Racing that compares favorably with the Saturn version! Had that crazy hard-to-play Knuckles game that gave us Vector the Crocodile!

Have you ever hooked one up though? Its hardware is odd. It’s like a completely separate console to itself. The Mega Drive wasn’t made to support add-on processors and chips like that, so Sega used a clever solution: the 32X has its own video output, and also a video input. You plug the Genesis’ output into the 32X, and then the 32X into your TV. The 32X mixes the Genesis’ signal into its own, as if it were chromakeyed. Since the 32X cartridge supplies the program running on the Genesis as well as itself and they can talk to each other, the two processors and graphics chips should be able to sync perfectly, if awkwardly.

But: because the Genesis’ video signal emerges from that console through this external wire before reentering the 32X, it’s possible to do things to it while in transit. The Genesis supplies video timing information that the 32X relies on, so you can’t get a signal from the add-on without the Genesis’ AV plugged into it, but the Genesis does produce a viewable video signal that you can see on its own.

All the details are in the video, which has been embedded below for your convenience and amusement.

Romhack Thursday: DKAFE

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

We’ve not done Romhack Thursday for a while. As the winds of the ‘net, and my attention, blow around randomly, sometimes there’s more things that seem worthy of posting than others. This one definitely fits the bill though.

We’ve posted about 10yard’s intriguing Donkey Kong hacks Galakong and Vector Kong before. I don’t think they’re actually hacks in the classic sense of the term, modifications of a game’s software intended to run on its original hardware, or at least an emulation or simulation of it. Galakong might, and Vector Kong definitely does, rely on Lua support in MAME to produce, respectively, a version of Donkey Kong where Mario teams up with the ship from Galaga, and another version of Donkey Kong limited to the Girders stage, a.k.a. Ramps, but with sharp colorful line-drawn artwork akin to that produced by Atari’s later Vectorscan monitors.

10yard let us know that they have produced a front-end to a variety of Donkey Kong romhacks, 90 in total. It runs on Windows an Raspberry Pi, although if it runs on the latter I suppose it must also be possible to get it to work on Linux? Maybe?

It’s not just a front end though. It presents all of its mods through an interface that itself plays like Donkey Kong! You move Mario around the levels of the classic arcade game (they’re connected vertically), and each is littered with arcade machines. You can play them with coins collected them as DK rolls them through the boards, and also earned by getting good scores in each game. Collecting more coins not only gives you more chances to play, but it unlocks further games in the collection.

You download the package from the Github page linked above. You must also provide the MAME-compatible romsets for Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Jr. and Donkey Kong 3. (It might work without without all of them, but fewer games will be available.) Of course, it’s up to you to rip, or otherwise provide, those files. If you provide them, it’ll handle all the patching for you automatically. It even includes its own custom version of MAME to play them.

Both Galakong and Vector Kong are among the hacks provided, but there’s so much more to see and play besides those, including Halloween, Christmas and Doctor Who themes hacks. There’s really too many to mention here, and I’ve only started unlocking games myself. I’ll leave you with the closing link, and some screenshots of the hacks included that I’ve managed to unlock so far.

DKAFE (by 10yard, for Windows and Raspberry Pi, on Github)

Most of the hacks include a screen like this one, that tells you what scores you must reach in order to earn coins. 3rd place usually isn’t terribly difficult to reach. For many games, a 1st place score will be reached around the time of the Conveyors board in Level 3.
This is the game selection mode. Coins you earn are rolled down the ramps from the top of the screen; you have to collect them in order for them to count!
Before starting each hack, you’re presented with a text description of the game and how it plays, and who made it.
Here’s Galakong, which has been linked from this site before. The game is slightly easier, objectively speaking, than standard Donkey Kong, but it’s easy to get your attention split between the ship and Mario and make mistakes because of it.
Pac-kong replaces the roaming fireballs with the ghosts from Pac-Man. They move mostly randomly, like the fireballs, did, but they’re much faster. You can become invincible by collecting an Energizer, which turns Mario into Pac-Man temporarily. Pac-kong’s one of the harder hacks present.
Donkey Kong Anniversary Edition changes the boards slightly, and replaces the bonus items with presents and balloons. In case you didn’t know: you can collect items off the edges of girders by jumping at them: if you hit the edge of the screen during your jump, Mario will be bounced back to around the place he leapt from, and will (usually) be unharmed!
Donkey Kong Wizardry changes the Girders level substantially. They add new pits to leap over, changes to the way the ramps tilt, and adds other surprises. You get an advantage though: if you press the Player 2 Start Button (the 2 key), it’ll freeze the fireballs for several seconds.
Donkey Kong Lava Panic adds a tide of deadly fluid constantly rising up from the bottom of the screen. It becomes important to get the lower rivets on the Rivets board before they become submerged!
The Halloween and Christmas-themed hacks change the Girder stage greatly. When barrels (or whatever analogue that hack uses for them) fall off of a gap in the middle of the screen, they may randomly decide to go either direction, adding even more uncertainty to Mario’s progress. Be careful!

Youtube Series: Inside the Famicom

It’s only two episodes in, but this series from the Youtube channel What’s Ken Making is already really interesting, with episodes averaging at around 16 minutes each. The first part is titled “The Design of a Legend,” which doesn’t really grab me much, but the second is about the main processor, “The 6502 CPU,” which Ken admits near the start isn’t exactly accurate. The Famicom/NES’s processor isn’t precisely a MOS 6502; it’s a Ricoh 2A03 in NTSC territories, and a 2A07 in others. The 2A03 is licensed from MOS, but lacks the original’s Binary-Coded Decimal mode, and includes the Famicom/NES’s sound hardware on-die.

Episode 1 (15 minutes):

Episode 2 (17 minutes):

That removed BCD feature. Why? The video notes that the circuits are right there within the chip, but have been disabled by having five necessary traces severed. The video notes that the 6502’s BCD functionality was actually patented by MOS, and asks, was the feature disabled because of patent issues? Was Ricoh trying to avoid paying royalties?

Wheeler Dealers Has Been Preserved

The news comes to us by way of Apple cracker 4am’s Mastodon account. Wheeler Dealers was a cassette release, a format not as well understood as the Apple II floppy disk formats, but it’s playable on its Internet Archive page.

Its title screen gives it a copyright date of 1978, making it only slightly younger than the Atari VCS/2600. Wheeler Dealers was the first published game by M.U.L.E. creator Dani Bunten. Designed for four players, it came with a special controller to allow four players to participate in auctions on an equal footing. If played in an emulator, they often have settings to allow the buttons to be remapped to joystick directions, and from there to specific keyboard buttons.

It’s a stock trading game, written in BASIC, and much less polished than M.U.L.E. would be. It barely has graphics and has no single-player mode. I find it hard to control in the IA’s web-based Apple emulator. Basic stock trading games seem really simple these days. I think Wheeler Dealers (or “Wheeler Dealer$,” according to the title screen) is mostly interesting these days has a herald for M.U.L.E., which I find holds up really well to current-day tastes. Dani’s real-time auction mechanism would be honed to a fine edge in M.U.L.E., which to this day is probably still the best multiplayer auction mechanism in any game.

Dani Bunten left us long ago now, back in 1998, but her absence is still keenly felt. One of her last projects was a Sega Genesis/Mega Drive port update of M.U.L.E., which was infamously scuttled when publisher Electronic Arts insisted, as a condition of publishing, a mechanism by which players could directly attack other players with weapons. It is far from the only terrible action that EA would be responsible for, but it’s certainly one of the worst.

Pixel Memories Dioramas

Clivefrog77 makes these nice gaming dioramas, often based on European Commodore 64 games, and sells them on eBay. He has a page on Google Photos. I’m not sure if all of those are his, but a lot seem to be.

Rags to Riches

International Karate +

Great Giana Sisters
Dan Dare
Bad Dudes vs Dragon Ninja

Apple’s Untaken Path

EDIT: I got the name of the chip wrong, as xot pointed out in a comment. I knew the right now but I always get it mixed up. Corrections have been made, here is xot’s comment:

“The 65C02 is a low-power CMOS variant of the venerable 8-bit 6502 with minimal extra abilities. The 6502 successor used in the Apple IIGS is the 16-bit 65C816. It was designed by Western Design Center in collaboration with Apple, Inc. The story that Steve Jobs held back the IIGS in favor of the Mac is popular because it perpetuates Jobs’ mythic status of being a petty, conniving villain … but it isn’t true. The Apple IIGS was created atop a heap of questionable design decisions. No one decision doomed it but its CPU absolutely held it back. The very boring truth is that WDC could not reliably supply ‘816 processors at the speeds they promised (up to 14 MHz). The IIGS is limited to 2.8 MHz because Apple needed a stable product, which unfortunately was way slower than it should have been.”

Some of this slightly contradicts what was said in the video, but not that far. Whether Steve Jobs was petty and conniving or not I will leave to the ages, at least for now.


It had Apple’s first color point-and-click interface, and it ran on a 65C816.

It was the Apple IIGS. It was released two years after the original Macintosh, three after the Lisa, and it worked surprisingly well. It came with 256KB of memory stock but could be gotten with a whole megabyte, and could be expanded to up with 8 MB–in 1986! It supported hard drives and devices could be attached to it via the Apple Desktop Bus. It ran at less than 3MhZ, but its processor was capable of going much faster, with the rumor being that it was a decision of Steve Jobs to limit its processor so it wouldn’t steal the Macintosh’s thunder. (Jobs had been forced out of the company by the time the GS was released, but these decisions are not so easily reversed?)

What’s more the Apple IIGS was made to compete with the Amiga, and so it had considerable audio-visual advantages over the black-and-white Macintosh. 4096 colors and a sound chip designed by the people who had created the SID. And while it had a mode that made it compatible with Apple II software, it used an OS that looked and worked a whole lot like a Macintosh. It was surprisingly capable as a gaming machine; it took a long time, but in 1997 an Apple IIGS version of Wolfenstein 3D was made, although running at a pretty low frame rate:

The 65C816, a 16-bit version of the classic 6502, was used in a number of platforms but ultimately didn’t have the reach of its predecessor. But if Apple had thrown more weight behind the GS, we could well be living in a world where 6502 variants still saw use outside of embedded and hobbyist systems, instead of the Intel and ARM chips that dominate the market today.

I’m thinking along these lines because Vintage Geek made a video about the GS’s virtues, and it’s interesting to speculate about. It really was a kind of wonder machine, and the last gasp of the Apple II line. Here it is (15 minutes):

The IIGS: Apple of Macintosh? (youtube, Vintage Geek, 15 minutes)

U Can Beat Video Games Video Directory

We’ve linked the Youtube channel of U Can Beat Video Games repeatedly in the past, most recently for their sprawling guide to Final Fantasy II(IV). Yet they keep making new videos. Just a few days ago they did a video on all of of Book I of Ys for the TurboGrafx 16/PC Engine, with one on Book II promised soon. And since they post (usually) weekly, if I did a post here every time they released a video, it’d become one-seventh of our posts!

Here is the video on Ys Book I, it’s 2 hours and 2 minutes:

And here is a directory of every game video U Can Beat Video Games has put up to date. I haven’t inlined the videos because there’s over a hundred!

NINTENDO

SUPER MARIO

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA

METROID

STARTROPICS

OTHER

RPGS

FINAL FANTASY

  • Final Fantasy (NES)
    Part 1 (2h59m) – Part 2 (3h38m)
  • Final Fantasy Adventure (Gameboy)
    Part 1 (1h37m) – Part 2 (2h57m)
  • Final Fantasy IV (II in its original US release) (SNES)
    Part 1 (3h44m) – Part 2 (4h8m) – Part 3 (4h17m) – Part 4 (3h36m)

DRAGON QUEST

NIHON FALCOM

OTHER RPGs & RELATED GAMES

BEAT-EM-UPs (“belt scrollers”)

TECHNOS

OTHER

KONAMI

GRADIUS

CASTLEVANIA

CONTRA

METAL GEAR

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

OTHER

Bucky O’Hare (NES, 1h6m)
The Lone Ranger (NES, 1h57m)
The Adventures of Bayou Billy (NES, 56m)
Jackal (NES, 44m)
The Goonies II (NES, 48m)

CAPCOM

MEGA MAN (a.k.a. RockMan)

GHOSTS ‘N GOBLINS (a.k.a. Makaimura)

DISNEY

OTHER

TECMO

NINJA GAIDEN

OTHER

SUNSOFT

RARE

WIZARDS & WARRIORS

BATTLETOADS

OTHER

LJN

STAR WARS

ICOM ADVENTURES

THE SIMPSONS

Uncategorized

and…

EXTRA: Top Ten NES Missed Secrets (17m)

Home Computer Graphic Character Sets Compared

8-bit microcomputer graphics were, compared to the graphics cards and chips we mostly use today, pretty limited. While machines like the Commodore 64 and Atari 800 allowed for a fully programmable display, not all devices of the age provided for that.

One solution was what I am told is now called semigraphics, which means using generic characters that are pre-defined by the system in combination with each other, piecing together larger images from symbolic building blocks.

ASCII Art, that fading art form created to make imagines on terminal displays, is a form of semigraphic. The IBM PC character set supported semigraphics mostly through its famous Code Page 437, which provided a variety of line-drawing characters , but looking at it it’s evident that it wasn’t intended for general graphic use.

Different platforms from the time varied widely in their support for graphic characters. Let’s take a quick look at what the options were.

Apple

The base Apple II had a very limited character set:

Images in this post taken from Wikipedia

The Apple II’s character offers little opportunity for graphic use. Of course the Apple II is a miracle through and through for being designed almost entirely by one person, Steve Wozniak, and that includes its character set. Note that it doesn’t neglect reverse video, and even has hardware support for flashing characters. Still though, not much you can do with it other than repurpose punctuation and letters.

PETSCII

The PET and successors, by contrast have an excellent character set for makeshift graphics. The image above is of the Commodore 64 version, but the same graphics are used on old PETs, the VIC-20, the Commodore 128, and even the TED-based machines, the Plus-4 and Commodore 16.

While they’re not reflected in the above image, the whole character set can be reversed too. These machines reverse characters by, simply, duplicating the whole set in ROM as negative images.

PETSCII contains:

  • Four playing card suit glyphs
  • A decent set of line-drawing characters, with all intersections both sharp-edged and curved corners
  • Diagonal slopes, diagonal lines and crossed diagonals
  • Horizontal and vertical lines at different places in the character cells
  • Frame corners, which combined with the lines can make decent rectangles
  • Horizontal and vertical bars at several different widths
  • Half-tone checkerboards and half-character checkerboards (on PET systems these have a single-pixel grain, but on later machines the checkerboard squares are 2×2 blocks)
  • 4×4 blocks in enough combinations that, combined with their reverse versions, can be used to approximate a 80×50 pixel display with plain characters
  • Symbols for English pound and Pi

PETSCII is one of the most versatile character sets from the time, and you can do a ton with it with some thought and ingenuity. There used to be a Twitter account (in the days before the Muskening) that posted images of robots made out of PETSCII characters. And because the character set is included in ROM, one doesn’t have to create their own character graphics, using up 8K of system RAM to hold them, to have rudimentary graphics. (In fact, the original PET didn’t even support redefining the character set, so PETSCII was all you got.)

ATASCII

Did Atari consciously follow the naming of PETSCII, with their own self-branded ATASCII? Both are riffing off of ASCII, which stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange. So I guess PETSCII, going by Commodore’s own claimed meaning for PET, means “Personal Electronic Transactor Standard Code for Information Interchange,” which is pretty terrible. But the ATA in ATASCII makes even less sense, since ATA obviously is just the first three letters in Atari.

While it has nowhere near the sheer number of graphic characters that PETSCII has, it had a decent number, including line drawing, slopes and diagonal lines and playing card suits. Of particular note is that the Clubs symbol has the same hole in its middle that it does in PETSCII.

TRS-80

Wikipedia doesn’t offer a screenshot chart of all the symbols of the TRS-80 set, but it does an HTML Table display, which the above is excerpted from. The only graphic characters it has are these off 2×3 cells, which are like the 2×2 blocks in the Commodore set but with an extra row. This gives its screen slightly finer resolution.

The TRS-80 had fairly basic graphics, it seems: those characters appear to have been it as far as graphics goes. The page I saw that described its capabilities even had a name for those blocks: squots. I think that’s a perfectly fine name for these kinds of boxes, whether it’s on a TRS-80, Commodore 64 or other machine.

Sinclair ZX-81

The ZX-81 had a very limited character set. While it has checkerboard and 4×4 block characters, their inclusion comes at the cost of an apostrophe, an at-sign, and even an exclamation point.

The following Spectrum removed the checkerboards, but added the exclamation point and apostrophe, as well as a lowercase alphabet. Still no @ though.

DOS Code Page 437

This is the one that most of you probably already know. It has its own version of squots, but they’re incomplete: it doesn’t have quarter-box or squot-grained checkerboard characters, tlhough it does have three forms of half-tone, a rather extra assortment of double-lined box characters, playing card suit glyphs, and a number of unusual characters up above that will be very familiar to anyone who played PC Rogue.

DOS Code Page 437 was in many ways the end of the venerable tradition of character set graphics. Neither the Atari ST nor Amiga had much use for general purpose character graphics, instead choosing to use their sets’ spare capacity for international characters, a noble offering, but less useful for graphic use.

It is worth noting some of the characters in the ST’s set, though:

Some miscellaneous glyphs like arrows, an X mark and checkbox, a bell and musical note, the Atari logo in two characters, a bunch of digital readout numbers, and four characters that seem to form a face. Here, I’ll piece it together for you:

Who might this handsome person be? It’s a little hard to make out at this scale, but it’s intended to be a pixel-art representation of “Bob” Dobbs, icon and symbol of the Church of the Subgenius!

It’s not a good set of squots, but it’s not bad.