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Mario Bros. Clone Released For Atari 2600

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the impressive-homebrew dept.

Nintendo 90

YokimaSun writes "The world of Homebrew Coding never ceases to amaze, even on an old system like the Atari 2600 a coder over at the Atariage forums has released a clone of the original Nes game Super Mario Bros with video, which has the first level from the classic game and eventually will have the first four worlds. Equally as impressive is this 3D Mario game written for the Sega Saturn."

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90 comments

Simply amazing (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100339)

I had no idea the Atari could actually handle that many simultaneous colors. I'm also curious to know how the programmer managed to do separate fire / jump when the controller only has one button. Does "up" on the controller do jump (could be a problem when climbing vines).

Re:Simply amazing (4, Informative)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100461)

The Atari is not bitmapped in the same way as more-modern consoles. It can display any of 128 colors (by adjusting the chroma and luma values) and do it pixel-by-pixel. The only limitation is how fast the software executes.

I'd like to see someone clone Super Mario Bros for the C64. The closest we had was Great Giana Sisters (which was then forced off the market by Nintendo lawsuit).

Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100505)

Not curious enough to click the link that will show you a pretty picture of why it's interesting?

Re:Simply amazing (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100637)

Click the link, and you get a picture of a game that looks pretty crappy by Saturn standards. Click the other link and you get a picture of a game that looks amazing by 2600 standards.

Prevailing wisdom was that an SMB1 clone would not be possible on the 2600. Now it's been done. That's amazing. A 3d SMB is well within the capabilities of the Saturn, and is a worthy hobby project, but not in the same league at all. The Saturn game was written in BASIC, the 2600 game was written in assembly.

Re:Simply amazing (4, Interesting)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100699)

I wouldn't proclaim the clone as being done. I watched the demo video and read some of the authors notes. There are some distinct differences that make it not quite a clone. Only one enemy on the screen at a time, automatically getting whatever is in the yellow blocks when they are hit (and they then disappear), no star power. The only enemy I saw was a goomba. It plays remarkably like SMB, but not enough that I would say SMB has been cloned to the 2600.

Re:Simply amazing (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100895)

"Clone" is a pretty inclusive term in this context. When a game became popular, lots of companies would try to capitalize on the fad by making a similar game. Hence you get "pacman clones" like Ladybug or KC Munchkin, or "Doom clones" like Dark Forces or Duke 3d. In that context, this is clearly a SMB clone. It's worth noting that no other side scrolling platformers exist on the 2600.

Re:Simply amazing (2)

Jeng (926980) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101537)

It's worth noting that no other side scrolling platformers exist on the 2600.

It's been some times since I've played pitfall, but I guess it didn't scroll, just went from one screen to the next?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_AtNY0bYAA [youtube.com]

Re:Simply amazing (2)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101743)

Yep. There are some vertical scrolling games on the 2600(e.g. Pitfall II), but for technical reasons vertical scrolling is easier for the hardware to accomplish. Read Racing The Beam(2009) if you're interested.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101139)

No Atari game has ever been an exact-clone of the game it's copying due to system limitations. That was the case for all the pre-1984 systems. Colecovision came close, but was never exactly the same as the arcade (for example Donkey Kong only had 3 levels, not all 4) (and looked different).

Re:Simply amazing (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year and a half ago | (#41103769)

and spending $40 (way back then!) of my hard earned money for 2600 DK is one of the first bad purchases with my own money that I remember. (Sure, I think everybody got toys as presents that weren't as fun as they thought they'd be.)

Other 2600 games, even PacMan, were fun even though they were very unlike the original arcade versions.

Heck, I think Mattel Baseball for the 2600 is one of the most fun 2 player games I've played (though I guess it's been 20 years since I played it, wow).

Re:Simply amazing (2)

petsounds (593538) | about a year and a half ago | (#41102633)

No, there were a couple Koopas in there also, and you can shell them. There's also a fireball mode. The 1 enemy at a time limitation is disappointing, but the CPU is very limited on that machine so...better than nothing. Considering how shitty most 2600 ports were (Pac-Man I'm looking straight at you), this is actually quite amazing.

Re:Simply amazing (2)

mattack2 (1165421) | about a year and a half ago | (#41103737)

but the CPU is very limited on that machine so...better than nothing

What are you referring to? The Atari 2600 uses a 6507, which is basically a 6502 without interrupts and a smaller address space. Is it the speed or the address space, or what, that you're calling limited?

Basically, the *rest* of the hardware is what I'd say are more limiting.

The NES uses a CPU based upon a 6502.

Re:Simply amazing (2)

hvdh (1447205) | about a year and a half ago | (#41106257)

Is it the speed or the address space, or what, that you're calling limited?

On the 2600, the CPU has to generate the video signal, each frame (@60/50Hz), all the time.
The playfield makes up around 50% of the analog video signal's beam time. Therefore, even if you use
all tricks to have the CPU available for game logic on left, right, top & bottom border, you still have less
than 50% of the CPU time available.

If you want to use the hardware sprites (movable overlays), you have
around 30% CPU time (=0.36MHz) left for game logic.

http://www.alienbill.com/2600/101/02breach.html [alienbill.com]

Re:Simply amazing (1)

JabberWokky (19442) | about a year and a half ago | (#41134483)

Yes, but that's an issue of the other hardware... as he points out, the CPUs in the Atari 2600 and the NES (and several 8 bit computers) are all comparable. The reason some of those systems handle sprites well while others struggle has nothing to do with the specific CPU (the actual single chip). It has to do with the other chips that assisted it. The OP said that the problem was with the disparity in the CPU, and he rightfully pointed out that it had more to do with the other hardware, not the CPU.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

royallthefourth (1564389) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100525)

Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

It's not exactly impressive, but it is hilarious and in 2.5d.

Re:Simply amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100633)

I'd like to see someone clone Super Mario Bros for the C64. The closest we had was Great Giana Sisters (which was then forced off the market by Nintendo lawsuit).

There was someone who did hack Gianna Sisters and changed the sprites and other graphical elements to make it look like Mario. It was otherwise exactly the same though.

Re:Simply amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100667)

Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

It's written in BASIC. :-)

Re:Simply amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41101111)

That's not really impressive though. Writing SMB in Basic is a ton easier than doing it in assembly.

Which explains the quality (4, Informative)

DrYak (748999) | about a year and a half ago | (#41104327)

Programmed in BASIC.
Which also explains the end result:

Saturn is the latest of the "old generation" of 32bits console with really weird architecture [wikipedia.org] .
It's got dual main RISC CPUs (two Hitachi SH-2. Something like a souped-up 32x (dual SH-1))
It's got extra CPU (Motorola 68k)
It's got weird coprocessors (the graphic engine: Some mixed monstruosity between a souped-up tile engine and an early polygon engine with blitter, all this split across 2 chips, and not using triangle as basic poly shape. And a few DSPs trown in the mix)
And all of this are connected in weird ways, have timing issue to access shared resources, don't all access the same resources, etc.
And a firmware which was basically what was needed to load a the game.
It's simply the logical extension of previous generations of console (16 bit consoles which had an extra 8bit chip to handle sound and some specific IO and which didn't have access to all resources. Or like the MegaCD which connected an extra 68k, which could help render advanced graphics effects, but had to pipe them through the main CPU), they tried to cram as many interesting functions in this hardware.

Contrast this with the first "new gen" 32bits console : the PlayStation.
Simple "PC-like" design.
A main CPU (a MIPS), a 3D GPU outputing to a simple framebuffer (although the geometry acceleration is inside the CPU package), a hardware MPEG decoder.
And that's it.
Not that much different conceptually, from a PC machine with a Pentium and 3Dfx GPU + Sigma Designs video decoder + Soundblaster PCI cards.

On the paper, Saturn was fucking incredibly powerful.
But that requires deep knowledge of the hardware, precise timing and modelling of everything, writing tons of code in assembler, etc.
Its "dev environment" consisted in reading tons of hardware documentation, and crafting your own stuff in assembler.
Creating amazing stuff on this machine was more of an art.

Meanwhile, on the Playstation, all what the devs needed is to fire up a C compiler and use the nice libraries and API that sony provided. (Similar to just writing a regular PC application relying on OpenGL and the like). Its dev environment wasn't that remote to what can be seen in Visual Studio and the like. Just use a standard compiler and the official API. Porting games is a breeze.

Programming Saturn games required extensive experience and culture in the old-school consoles. Without console know-how, hard to use it to its full potential.
Programming Playstation games could tap into the small studios which were used to program PC games.

End result:
- SEGA's own studios (composed of dev teams used on console and arcade machines) did put some impressive games.
- Some japanese studios which had a long tradition of console development and were used to "go the assembly way" developped quite a few "japanese-market-only, sorry no ports for you" successes ont the Saturn.
- Most of the other studios decided to "just say fuck it", they ditched most of the docs, and run the machine as simply as possible: Use only one SH-2, etc.
- Meanwhile developing on the Playstation was a breeze. Lots of studios which weren't heard in the console world before got suddenly quite some success. Specially lots of north american and european developers.
- The Playstation also got lots of ports thank to its easy structure.
Lots of ports of PC games (because the concepts of the sony dev environment map nicely)
Even ports of japanese RPG which were successes on the Saturn in their home country. (Just because the PS was more popular in foreign market and was easy to port to).
(what helped the Playstation a lot and worked against the Saturn, is that instead of creating several games for each different console like in the past, studio now preferred to make 1 single game and port it to as much machines as possible. Machine with a standard easy to develop-for architecture were strongly favored above machine require assembler-fu).

And that's exactly what happens with this Mario clone.
Programming the Saturn is way too much crazy (unless some homebrew enthousiast take the time to creat a whole new developing environment, with tons of library functions, and simple compiling environment making the multi-processor structure not that difficult to handle).
Instead developers went for the "Use something simpler, even if throws everything else out of the window" approach.
So it is BASIC for you. Which runs on only the main RISC.

The Irony is that for the generation afterwards the tendency reversed:

Sega learned from its past mistake, and their warchest was already emptied by their past failures
(MegaCD and 32x extension for the Genesis/Megadrive weren't that successful. Part because they were separate extension and not available everywhere because not everybody bought them, and part because they were weird architecures in the same way as the Saturn was. Programming for a complete MegaDrive/Genesiss + MegaCD + 32x stack was probably a ticket for the asylium combined with a suicidal business plan targeting an even smaller niche than the overpriced NeoGeo)

So they went to the "make it cheap to produce and easy to program" route with the Dreamcast:
A single powerful main CPU (Hitachi SH4) with a 3D GPU (a PowerVR, related to the Kyro card on PC or the 3D cores of current several tablet and smartphones). and an ARM chip to handle the sound engine. (No need for video hardware acceleration, the main CPU got enough to handle the "no, i swear its not MPEG" video format).
A simple PC-like architecture. Just fire up the C compiler and use one of the official SEG APIs/libraries, with a choice of different OS/system/libraries to run: either SEGA's own "Katana" system (used by most original games) or Microsoft's WindowsCE (seldom used, except for a couple of ports of windows games) or a SEGA-sponsored 3rd party port BSD (used for experiments AFAIK).
So this time it was the DreamCast which was ultra easy to develop to. It got tons of original games, direct ports from the corresponding arcade machine (Naomi), PC-ports.
It even got a massive success in homebrew.
With both a 3rd party completely independent system/library for developpers (KallistiOS whose latest version even have some limited OpenGL support). And even some 3rd party ports of Linux.
Sadly, despite the success of the platform, SEGA didn't manage to completely recover from the loss of past failures before the next round of console (specially the PS2) stole the show.

Meanwhile Sony went the inverse route: the PS2 got some architecture weirdness, including some special DSP/Vector processors. Although some of the dedicated studios found interesting way to use it (a vector core could be programmed to work as a surround sound-processor and output digital 5.1, or could be programmed to work as a shader engine for 3D). Most of the multi-console developing house just ignored the thing altogether and treated the PS2 as a glorified PC-like combo. The resulting game were of underwhelinig quality given the hardware and compared to the competition, but still devent enough. Thanks to its past glory, Sony still survived quite well.

And don't get me started on the PS3 monstruosity. The hardware is powerful, but its processors is utterly alien (1 power PC, with 7 separate programmable shader-/DSP- like units). This thing should never had hit the market before GPGPU toolkit became popular enough (like OpenCL, RapidMind, etc.) and people experimented enough with them. On the other hand, the PS3 provided an intersting platform to experiment with the technology, an alternative to PC Desktop GPGPU solutions, at least until Sony decided to pull the "OtherOS" option out.

Last but not least XBox the first jumped on the "make it simple" wagon, and even took the "PC-like" metaphore really litteraly: the XBox is nothing more than regular PC hardware, with the old legacy ports (serial, PS2, etc) stripped out and unusual non standard USB connectors (under the excuse about break-away in case of someone tripping on them) packaged into a fancy box, and running a distant derivative of Windows 2000 with full-screen DirectX and a special shell.
It was not a PC-like console, it was just a weird PC. Instant magnet for any wingame studio. Porting games was almost only a switch in Visual Studio away.

Re:Weird Architecture (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41107571)

Hi there.

While this doesn't measure up to the depth of your post, on the topic of weird hardware merges, one of my old favorite games Ataxx struck my notice years later when I looked it up. While probably underpowered at the raw level for its time, the practice of arcade games (and maybe later consoles) may have pushed along the mindset of obscure hardware add-ons that work beautifully for say 1-5-10 or whatever games, but then no one else can do it ever again because the five people who knew that system cold went elsewhere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ataxx [wikipedia.org]
http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=ataxx&page=detail&id=141 [arcade-history.com]
"Main CPU : (2x) Z80 (@ 6 Mhz)
Sound CPU : I80186 (@ 8 Mhz)
Sound Chips : Custom (@ 8 Mhz)

Screen orientation : Horizontal
Video resolution : 320 x 240 pixels
Screen refresh : 60.00 Hz
Palette colors : 1024"

Re:Simply amazing (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101799)

Looking at the bas source, I'd say its a rudimentary basic that translates to assembly(opcodes) pretty directly... kind of like macros.

Re:Simply amazing (3, Informative)

Gadget_Guy (627405) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100751)

The closest we had was Great Giana Sisters...

Which you can celebrate by joining in at Kickstater for Project Giana [kickstarter.com] , the grandchild of Giana Sisters (8 days to go). Sorry, I don't think they will be targetting the C64.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101229)

Also: What's so impressive about SMB on the Sega Saturn? That's a 32 bit CPU and ought to be able to handle an 8 bit game easily.

Two of them actually..and 6 slave processors. That's why it was so hard to develop for...but in his case the BASIC interpreter took care of all of that nonsense.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

Peganthyrus (713645) | about a year and a half ago | (#41103907)

Back in the c64 days, I saw a version of The Great Giana Sisters that had had its art hacked to be Super Mario Brothers. Well, a reasonable facsimile of the first level, at least; as the game progressed it pretty much reverted to being the Giana Sisters with a Mario sprite.

Re:Simply amazing (2)

mrnobo1024 (464702) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100485)

From the linked atariage.com post:

Press the fire button to jump.
Press Up to run and to shoot fireballs if you are FireMario.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

jrmcferren (935335) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100565)

All it takes is some skill in working with the TIA which is the video chip. The CPU does all the work and the TIA sends that to the TV. Graphics processing occurs when the electron beam is scanning the screen and other processing is done during blanking. Some developers narrowed the playing field sometimes to allow more time for non graphics processing.

Re:Simply amazing (1, Funny)

wermske (1781984) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100589)

I'm not sure what amazes me more. That someone thought enough of Super Mario Bros to invest time and energy to porting it... or that someone holds the Atari 2600 in such high esteem that porting anything to it satisfies the definition of "impressive." With absolutely no evidence, I'd venture that there are more billionaire conservatives struck by lightning while fighting soviet foreign agents on donkey-back in the Grand Canyon, than their are people with Atari 2600s joyfully anticipating the release of this hot new title. But, stranger thangs have happened...

Re:Simply amazing (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101261)

"I find your lack of faith disturbing." Imagine instead that this article was about a port of Final Fantasy 7 to the Super Nintendo and the response it would get.

Atari sold 30 million consoles. I figure one-quarter of those kids-now-adults still remember the console fondly and will enjoy reading this news. Probably 1 million of us will be curious enough to download and play it. About 1000 will buy the actual cartridge (That's how many bought the arcade-realistic version of PacMan). Those of us who are the Atari generation care just as much as those of you in the SNES generation.

Re:Simply amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41101467)

Those of us who are the Atari generation care just as much as those of you in the SNES generation.

How noble of you to speak for the entire Atari generation. Not all of us of the Atari generation cling to the 2600 or assume that criticism leveled at the Atari comes from people not of the Atari generation.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

jdavidb (449077) | about a year and a half ago | (#41104667)

Sometime around 1986, when I was a very young and naive boy, I searched every store all over the place for Super Mario Brothers for Atari 2600. I just didn't get why it wasn't available. :) I don't know if I'll download and play it, but I am delighted at the news, and to see the video.:)

Re:Fondly? (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about a year and a half ago | (#41107679)

I was exactly in the target demographic for the Atari 2600, "too young to know better". If I had about 20 more IQ points at the time I would have seen the immense leap in quality between 1982ish to about 1986 when the 8 Bit era was in full swing.

"Citations as needed"
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atari_2600 [wikipedia.org]
"...in 1982, the VCS was renamed "Atari 2600", after the unit's Atari part number, CX2600"
"It is credited with popularizing the use of microprocessor-based hardware and cartridges containing game code, instead of having non-microprocessor dedicated hardware with all games built in."
"The console had only 128 bytes of RAM for run-time data that included the call stack and the state of the game world. There was no frame buffer, as the necessary RAM would have been too expensive. Instead the video device had two bitmapped sprites, two one-pixel "missile" sprites, a one-pixel "ball," and a 40-pixel "playfield" that was drawn by writing a bit pattern for each line into a register just before the television scanned that line. ...
"The video hardware gave the 2600 a reputation as one of the most complex machines in the world to program..."

If we talk about "progress per year" I was lucky enough to experience it in exactly the correct order, because once I got my Commodore 128 in about 1987 I could never go back to the Atari 2600. Compare that to me being a holdout of Windows XP today and the difference is telling.

Re:Fondly? (2)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41112087)

>>>If we talk about "progress per year" I was lucky enough to experience it in exactly the correct order, because once I got my Commodore 128 in about 1987 I could never go back to the Atari 2600. Compare that to me being a holdout of Windows XP today and the difference is telling.

+1 for the last paragraph.
I've made the same observation that progress has slowed to almost nothing. I'm still using a PC that is 11 years old and can run the latest software (just need to boost the RAM space). You would be hard-pressed to buy a 1979 Atari computer and be able to play the latest full-screen video game in 1990. Progress was very very rapid in the 80s and early 90s, and then all but stopped.

BTW I still played my Atari even after my C128 arrived. I even upgraded to a 7800 ProSystem after the old 2600 died. I love old Atari games..... good memories.

The same reason people restore cars... (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101377)

...or appreciate any antique. There are plenty of retro gamers who can see the beauty in this including me.

This isn't for you. Go back to MW3.

Re:The same reason people restore cars... (1)

SuiteSisterMary (123932) | about a year and a half ago | (#41108965)

As a retro gamer myself, I thought to myself 'Go back to MechWarrior 3? Don't you mean MechWarrior 2? That was the classic.

Reactor, online. Sensors, online. Weapons, online. All systems nominal. Or something like that. It's been a while. Ah, the joys of dominating Solaris VII in MW2: Mercs with a mech with nothing but a NARC and a fuckton of LRMs. Tag the enemy, run away, start shooting straight up.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

Hatta (162192) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101495)

The first run of Halo 2600 was 500 carts and it sold out. I forget how large the 2nd run was, but it sold out too. I think you'd be surprised at how much love there is for this glorified pong machine.

Re:Simply amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41101693)

Given the responses you've pulled, I'd suggest that you've clearly identified approximately a half dozen said electrified, anti-communist, wealthy with an affinity for natural wonders on the back of an ass.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100687)

Yar's revenge had tons of colours in the static shield

Re:Simply amazing (3, Interesting)

sa666_666 (924613) | about a year and a half ago | (#41107177)

Interesting note: the shield was formed by reading the game code as data (for perceived randomness). So when you look at the shield, in some sense you're looking at the source assembly code. Matrix-style.

Re:Simply amazing (1)

Internal Modem (1281796) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101619)

To start level, press fire button at intro screen (That shows world level and lives). Move left or right to move left or right.
Press the fire button to jump. Press Up to run and to shoot fireballs if you are FireMario. Press Down to duck or to go down an open pipe. To finish a level, run into or jump on flagpole. The higher you land on it the more points you will get. The status bar on the left of the score is your timer. Don't let it run out! The status bar on the right of the score is your coin counter. It will go up one block every 8 coins. At 64 coins it will reset and you will earn an extra life. Going down the mid-level pipe also acts as your checkpoint, so if you die you will continue where you came up from the pipe. Yellow blocks are bonus blocks. Smash them to get a coin or power up. Red blocks are bricks. When big you can get rid of them by smashing them. You can go from Mario to Super Mario to Firey Mario. Vice versa when stunned by an enemy.

Re:Simply amazing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41102785)

They made it trickier by staying true-to-form with the one-button controller. Shame Atari never used the full capability they had with the 9-pin connector. Even though the hardware could actually support it, I guess an analog stick with more than 1 button was too expensive to put on the market at the time. (Think of how the two paddles going to the split cord on a single connector worked. Not much of a stretch to make a working analog joystick from that.) The direction and button combos to do things that would be done with separate buttons on other game systems is one thing that made some of the Atari games trickier than they otherwise needed to be. (I'm looking at you Zaxxon and Blue Max, can't keep altitude and drop bombs effectively at the same time.) The game shown here would probably be easier if somebody hacked an origninal NES controller to the 9-pin connector and modified the program a little to read the new voltage values available with the extra couple of buttons.

Re:Simply amazing (2)

Spiridios (2406474) | about a year and a half ago | (#41103241)

The game shown here would probably be easier if somebody hacked an origninal NES controller to the 9-pin connector and modified the program a little to read the new voltage values available with the extra couple of buttons.

No need to hack a controller, just use an SMS controller [wikipedia.org] . They already use a DB9, are pin compatible with Atari, and they have two buttons instead of one. Or try a Genesis controller, they're mostly pin compatible [pinouts.ru] , the extra buttons just have to be read differently.

Mario Bros (5, Informative)

Dwedit (232252) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100347)

The rule about Super Mario Bros is that you NEVER refer to it as "Mario Bros". They are two completely separate games. Mario Bros was even made for the Atari 2600 back in the day.

Re:Mario Bros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100511)

Mod this up! I originally assumed it was the original Mario Bros. which was cloned, which would be significantly LESS impressive than what this actually is.

Re:Mario Bros (3, Insightful)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101345)

It gets worse; the source thread [dcemu.co.uk] refers to it as "Super Mario World" which itself is completely different.

Re:Mario Bros (1)

negRo_slim (636783) | about a year and a half ago | (#41102269)

I don't know what bothered me more calling it SMW or the fact this is the first comment to mention it.

Re:Mario Bros (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41108321)

It gets worse; the source thread [dcemu.co.uk] refers to it as "Super Mario World" which itself is completely different.

Completely different? I looked it up on Wikipedia, appears to be the same old Mario, but with him riding (or shagging) some dinosaur. Mind you, I was never a Mario player, so it all seems the same to me... Super Mario Bros, Super Mario World, Super Mario Lanza, whatever.

I remember. I bought it thinking it was the same. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41103991)

I know. I bought Mario Bros for our Atari 2600 as a kid and was disappointed that it was nothing like the Super Mario Brothers NES game I knew.

Still a fun game, though, but not at all what I expected.

Re:I remember. I bought it thinking it was the sam (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41107741)

You had SMB for the NES, and then later you had Mario Bros for the Atari? Which direction did you travel through time?

Great, now I feel old. (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100385)

This must be a new usage of "impressive" with which I was previously unfamiliar

And stay off the lawn... uh, ugly dead weeds.... damn drought.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (3, Insightful)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100557)

A side-scrolling game on a console that only has 128 bytes of RAM is impressive.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

na1led (1030470) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100671)

I don't remember any 32k cartridges made for the Atari 2600 back in the 80s, so I'm guessing this would have been impossible to make back then.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100785)

I would not say impossible just way too expensive.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (3, Informative)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101001)

Actually there was one. It was called Fatal Run (sort of a Road Blasters kind of game) but it was only released in Europe (http://www.atariprotos.com/2600/software/fatalrun/fatalrun.htm). There was even a 64K cartridge released in Brazil called MegaBoy but all the space was used by educational questions so it really wasn't a 'game'.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101015)

To my knowledge, there's only one 32k cart: Atari's Fatal Run (1989) not to be confused with the same title on the 7800.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101361)

I thought Junior Pac-man had 32K in order to hold the double-sized mazes, 6 different levels, and ghost AI (they actually chased you rather than wander aimlessly). But I might be wrong on that.

Jr. Pacman was released 1984, then yanked off the market by Idiot Jack Tramel when he said, "We're not a gaming company anymore." Then it was rereleased in 1986 when Tramel realized he had made a mistake and that games were a cashcow that could fund his computer development.

There was also an Atari Baseball game that was done in 3D (fake perspective 3-d not polygons).

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

Tempest_2084 (605915) | about a year and a half ago | (#41103931)

Nope, Jr. Pac-Man is only 16K. It only looks like it should be 32K because of some amazing programming (GCC really knew their stuff).

The only Atari Baseball game that I can think of that used a 3D-ish perspective was Pete Rose Baseball by Absolute. That was also 16K.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100811)

There were sidescrolling games written for the 2600 when it was still the current gen console. How about Moon Patrol or Defender? A quick Google search came up with additional names, but as I wasn't familiar with them I'll let someone else look into it.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

radiumsoup (741987) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101011)

Also, Pitfall.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101427)

Pitfall wasn't a side-scroller in the sense we're talking about. The screen didn't scroll, it "flipped" between scenes when you exited the screen on one side or the other. When exiting on the left, the screen would change and your player would appear on the right and vice-versa.

On the 2600, that kind of thing is much easier to do than horizontal scrolling. Vertical scrolling, in contrast, is trivially simple, which is why there are virtually no horizontal scrolling games, and zillions of vertical scrolling games. The 2600 is the most challenging system to develop for, so projects like this are fun and interesting to those familiar with the hardware.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

sapphire wyvern (1153271) | about a year and a half ago | (#41107247)

Why is vertical scrolling so much more technically straightforward than horizontal scrolling?

Re:Great, now I feel old. (2)

L1mewater (557442) | about a year and a half ago | (#41107743)

The atari VCS has no frame buffer. Each rectangular pixel is calculated in realtime as the screen is drawn. It is tied very closely to the way that CRT screens draw their picture. They scan left-to-right (depending on perspective) drawing complete horizontal lines from top to bottom of the screen. If I recall correctly, the standard background in one of these games could be up to 40 blocks wide. It's (relatively) straightforward to shift those 40 blocks up or down by just not turning them on until a particular scanline. You can't do this with horizontal location, and horizontal positions have to be able to be calculated down to the cycle. This is really hard to do. You also can't change a sprite's color on a single scanline, and the hardware was never originally intended to support multi-color sprites. That only works due to a hack.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (2)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41115397)

To add to L1mewater, the PF register is 20 bits wide (made up of PF0, PF1 and PF2) PF0 (4-bits wide) marks the left 4 columns, and PF2 ends in the middle of the display. For the other half of the display, a flag determines if this will be duplicated or mirrored.

To make matters worse, the bits in PF0 and PF2 are in reverse order.

So, yes, horizontal scrolling on the 2600 is always impressive.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41109079)

Did Pitfall 2 have scrolling? I seem to recall it having actual scrolling in all 4 directions, although I could be wrong.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41102169)

>>>Moon Patrol or Defender? Or Pitfall?

Sorta, sorta, and no. Moon Patrol/Defender did side-scrolling but it was only the 10-pixel high mountains (or city) that moved across the bottom. Everything else is static. These games don't move the whole freakin' screen sideways like SMB on the NintendoES or Sonic on the SegaMS.

And Pitfall was a screen flipper. Not a scroller. When Pitfall Harry ran off the screen it just "flipped" from screen 1 to 2.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (3, Insightful)

narcc (412956) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100953)

Indeed. Side-scrolling on the 2600 is not easy.

What is so astonishing here is that the developer used batari Basic and not straight 6502 assembly.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100579)

I don't get it, if you are old, you'd know enough about the 2600 to see that what was done was very impressive.

Re:Great, now I feel old. (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year and a half ago | (#41102261)

I don't get it, if you are old, you'd know enough about the 2600 to see that what was done was very impressive.

I've been a gamer since the 2600 was new, so no, not really. What I see is a massive waste of time.

SMB Scrolling backwards?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100533)

Suck on it, NES!

Video Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100563)

http://youtu.be/3x5nbM8IroE

With video? (0)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100657)

a coder over at the Atariage forums has released a clone of the original Nes [sic] game Super Mario Bros with video

The original NES game had video? No, of course not, it's just an editor not doing any editing again!

Re:With video? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41101013)

Did you RTFA? Did you WTFV to which that sentence refers to?

Mario 3D for Saturn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41100911)

...isn't anything impressive. The Saturn's accelerated 3D capabilites aren't THAT bad, really. What's being pushed out in terms of polygons and whatnot in that game is nowhere near the Saturn's limit. Tecnically, there's simply nothing astounding about the Mario 3D clone for the Saturn, but the effort is still good.

Re:Mario 3D for Saturn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41101033)

But it's written in BASIC! :-)

Business Model? (3, Funny)

Dr. Evil (3501) | about a year and a half ago | (#41100947)

1. Invent Super Mario Bros for Atari 2600
2. Time travel to 1982
3. Profit!

Re:Business Model? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41101259)

I don't like this business model. My childhood was filled with NES and Sega Genesis (Mega Drive) games. Your business model would effectively ruin my childhood.

Re:Business Model? (3, Funny)

jones_supa (887896) | about a year and a half ago | (#41106681)

Your business model would effectively ruin my childhood.

No wonder, look at the nickname to whom you replied...

Re:Business Model? (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101463)

>>>1. Invent Super Mario Bros for Atari 2600
>>>2. Time travel to 1982

I'm working on my time machine in my basement. So far all I've managed to do is set the viewer to the "dead past" of 1995 and "peep" on the teen daughter next door. (Too bad she weighs 200 pounds in the present... else I wouldn't need the time gizmo.)

Naming is fucked (3, Interesting)

Tarlus (1000874) | about a year and a half ago | (#41101373)

Mario Bros != Super Mario Bros != Super Mario World

Also, this is far from being a clone...

Programmer of SMB Atari 2600 Game (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41105107)

Thanks for the coverage. The reason that I made this was just to show that a game like this was possible and I'm not even close to being the best programmer out there. I made this with Batari BASIC. If I knew Assembly and even more hardware tricks to get the most out of the Atari, I know I could make this a lot better. I wasn't trying to do an exact clone of SMB, just a game that was inspired by it and tried to mimic it a little. I wanted to do more than one enemy at a time, but ran out of RAM to swap coordiate and other info for the enemy with the Player 1 sprite. It also would have taken more code and cycle time and my cycle time is really spent on the collision detection with the playfield. I didn't use the faster hardware set collision detection because it only detects after the screen is drawn and doesn't quite work out really well on a scrolling level.

-Chris Spry (Sprybug)

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