Genre: Arcade      Creation Date: January 1992     Language: 6809 Assembly Language      System: Tandy 512K Color Computer 3


Rascan/Digiscan was a lot of hard work and I had a desire to return to game programming. But the Color Computer market was not what it use to be. Here in Australia, the Color Computer had finally been discontinued. Access to the US Color Computer market was hard to come by with no easy access to Color Computer magazines for information. It seemed like a Color Computer blackout. I knew that my only chance lay in tackling the US market before the Color Computer was also discontinued there.

I therefore decided that my next game had to be impressive, it had to fit into a 32K ROM cartridge and I had to pitch it to the Tandy Corporation in the US. It was my last hope.

Original Story Pretext

I never actually created a storyline for Cosmic Ambush for reasons that you will understand as you read the rest of this page. The game was a vertical shoot-em-up with you piloting a space craft (with a cool revolving gun barrel!) defending various space fortresses from a variety of enemy attacks. Your space craft had a variety of weapons starting from a meek single shot gun up to multi-fire. Upgrading your weapons required you to hit the weapon upgrade targets that randomly appear but a direct hit to your craft would downgrade your weapon as well as drain some of your shield energy. Various recharge targets are available for you to re-energize your shield. There were a variety of enemy craft each with it's own unique combat style.

Game Development

The major deciding factor for this game which determined how large the code could be, how much graphics and sound I could include and how the entire program is to be stored in memory was based on the goal that this game was to be marketed as a 32K ROM cartridge game. 32K was the largest size cartridge that could be used on the Color Computer 3 without resorting to additional circuitry within the cartridge. I had seen how many of the successful game sales were on cartridge and this was due to the decrease in software piracy by using a cartridge medium compared to a magnetic medium such as a floppy disk or cassette. With 32K as my limit, I wanted to create a game that appeared far bigger. I wanted lots of smooth scrolling graphics and sampled sound effects.

I had worked out a way of creating unlimited smooth vertically scrolling backgrounds. I had developed a new method for creating sprites. I also developed a new sound routine that used the Color Computer 3's programmable timer interrupt to provide 2 channel sound effects during the game with no noticeable interruption in graphic animation. I was planning on Cosmic Ambush to be the best "shoot-em-up" style game ever created for the Color Computer. But alas, trouble struck......big trouble.

High Score Page

Game Screen

Half way through developing the game, Tandy in the US officially discontinued the Color Computer. This meant that they were not stocking anything new for the machine. That was the final nail in the coffin for me and I felt that Cosmic Ambush had no I stopped development. I was quite disappointed but I knew I couldn't blame Tandy. The time for 8-bit computers was well past the use-by date but I guess I felt that the Color Computer 3 had not had its full potential tapped.

Six months went by when a friend of mine came over to my home and asked to see what I had done with Cosmic Ambush. I dug out the old files and loaded it up. I began demonstrating the game and my friend was very impressed with what he saw but what caught me by surprise is how impressed I was! It's amazing how different things look when you haven't seen it for awhile.

I decided then and there that I was going to finish Cosmic Ambush, at least to a point of being complete enough to release as shareware. I thought that maybe shareware was a viable way of "selling" it. I had omitted various planned features in the game such as a scrolling starscape behind the scrolling background to create a parallax effect. I simplified the enemy flight patterns which were originally to be more like arcade Galaxian. And I didn't create any game instructions or package artwork.

Marketing and Sales

Well, as shareware, Cosmic Ambush sold 1 copy at $7US. That sent me a strong message... there was no future in game development for the Tandy Color Computer. I made Cosmic Ambush freeware and I packed up my Color Computer 3 and became an Amiga user.

I had owned an Amiga 1000 for a few years and was very impressed with it but unfortunately, I never had time to do any actual programming on it. I had fallen behind with that machine and I knew it would take a long time for me to develop anything worthwhile  that could compete with existing products.

It was the end of my Color Computer era.   :(