Astroball

Game


Revelation


Balor Knight


(Cover art: Darrren Blackburn)


1992

Astroball Demo (1992) (Balor Knight).sad (not yet approved)

A fiendishly addictive, yet simple concept.

You control a bouncing ball, set in space. The object is to collect the coins and power-ups by bouncing from platform to platform. If you fall to the bottom of the map you die, if you hit a spike or other nasty, you also lose.

Once all the coins have been collected, the exit will be enabled which was generally at the top of the map. By adjusting your bounce and direction, you carefully work your way to the exit.

Originally written for the Spectrum, but was never released.


Temporarily, the freeware demo of Astroball is attached


Your Sinclair review, courtesy of The YS Rock ‘n’ Roll Years.

Review by Graham Goring from the Sam Coupé Scrapbook

Balor Knight seems very good at writing simple but immensely playable games. You only have to look at Dyzonium (formerly the artist known as Plasmoid) to see this.

In Astroball you have the simple task of bouncing around a scrolling world from platform to platform, collecting the required number of coins, and then getting to the exit (normally near the top of the level). The bottom of the map is deadly to the touch (unless you have the invincible bonus) and so are the spikes that litter some levels.

Also, some platforms have the unhealthy habit of flicking in and out of existance, quite often leaving you to plummet to a messy death below. So timing is of the essence in this game, especially since the bonuses flick between 4 states quite rapidly, and some levels may become impossible (impassible) if you collect the bonus in the wrong state.

So, the game is simple, but it is also deceptively hard, and some levels will require tens of tries before you can pass them, and it’s here that Balor has made his fatal mistake. Instead of giving you, say, 3 continues, he opted for infinite. This means that with a bit of patience you will complete the game first time you load it up (I did), and this means you probably won’t come back to it.

This is an awful pity, as I can honestly say it is THE most addictive game I have EVER played. And a bit more thought would have meant that instead of relying on people to be self-restricting when it came to continues, the players would have been forced to start again at regular points.

Again, a typical case of rushing the game out so that early SAM owners had something they could play.

AreaScoreComment
Graphics71%Simple and uninspired. But it doesn’t matter, as they work.
Addictivity95%Totally absorbing.
Instant Appeal95%Hoists you up by your pants and breathes ‘play me’ softly into your ear.
Sound65%Blip-blop. Big wow…
Overall87%Why only 87%? Because of the blimmin’ infinite continues!


This game impressed Probe Software so much, they gave the author a job writing PC games.


Certain phrases are converted to hidden messages in the high score table.

Looking at a dump of the SAM version of Astroball it seems the messages are in plain-text but, unlike the Speccy version, the message triggers are encrypted. The encryption is very basic - simply the ASCII code + 1. Here are the triggers and messages in the SAM version:

EntryText
CHEAT …WOULDNT YOU LOVE TO KNOW!..
FUCK ….TALKING TO ME. EHH!
HELLO …HI THERE…
ESI …..GET REAL!!!
SHIT ….IT SEEMS THAT YOU ARE.. YES INDEED!!!
ASTROBALLCLEARLY THE GREATEST GAME IN EXISTANCE.. HA!
HELP ….ERM.. GO ON A DIET!
ASTROKINGNOT THIS TIME MATE!!
CHRISP ..RESTART BOY!!!!!!
BALOR …THE LORD AND RULER OVER ALL MANKIND!!!
JADEL …THE SOURCE OF MY INSPIRATION!!!!

Most are obvious. JADEL refers to the then girlfriend of Balor Knight. ASTROKING is reference to the cheat-mode trigger on the Speccy version. I’m assuming CHRISP refers to Chris Pile, the other half of Digital Reality - not sure what the message to this trigger signifies though.



Balor Knight

Has been the lead programmer on several high-end PC racing-game titles: “Re-Volt”, developed whilst Balor was at Acclaim Studios, London; and The Italian Job, developed at Climax Studios, Brighton - to name but two.

Recently (2004) seen as the lead programmer on the PS2 racing-game title “Crash ‘n’ Burn” - developed by Climax Studios, Brighton.

Have no contact information, but indications suggest he’s still programming high-end titles at Climax Studios, Brighton.

Balor Knight contact

His email address at Climax no longer works so I don’t think he’s there anymore.

Messages in the high-score table.

The phrases listed above relate to the Spectrum version - the SAM version contains a different set of phrases!

And they are?

And they are?

Here they are...

OK - looking at a dump of the SAM version of Astroball it seems the messages are in plain-text but, unlike the Speccy version, the message triggers are encrypted. The encryption is very basic - simply the ASCII code + 1. Here are the triggers and messages in the SAM version:

CHEAT ... becomes WOULDNT YOU LOVE TO KNOW!..
FUCK .... becomes TALKING TO ME. EHH!
HELLO ... becomes HI THERE...
ESI ..... becomes GET REAL!!!
SHIT .... becomes IT SEEMS THAT YOU ARE.. YES INDEED!!!
ASTROBALL becomes CLEARLY THE GREATEST GAME IN EXISTANCE.. HA!
HELP .... becomes ERM.. GO ON A DIET!
ASTROKING becomes NOT THIS TIME MATE!!
CHRISP .. becomes RESTART BOY!!!!!!
BALOR ... becomes THE LORD AND RULER OVER ALL MANKIND!!!
JADEL ... becomes THE SOURCE OF MY INSPIRATION!!!!

Most are obvious. JADEL refers to the then girlfriend of Balor Knight. ASTROKING is reference to the cheat-mode trigger on the Speccy version. I’m assuming CHRISP refers to Chris Pile, the other half of Digital Reality - not sure what the message to this trigger signifies though.

Hurruh

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