Monday, September 30, 2013

Top 10 TI-82 Clone Games

Hey, everybody likes Top 10s, right? So today, let's have a look at the ten best game conversions for the TI-82 graphic calculator. Because, as everybody knows, graphic calcs are meant for gaming. Or can you think of any other practical uses?

Anyway, this is of course by no means an objective list. If you disagree or feel something's missing then don't hesitate to leave a comment below.
Also, the term "clones" is used loosely here and refers to any game that borrows the idea and look'n'feel of another game - it doesn't have to be an exact conversion, though.

Btw if you don't own a TI-82, you can try these games on an emulator. I recommend Tilem2. Also, you will obviously need to install the appropriate assembly shell first. All shells can be found here.

Well, let's get started then, shall we.

#10 - Pong 82Z

CrASH version

Well, it's Pong alright. Made by the legendary Bill Nagel, it's fast and smooth, and features a pretty strong AI. Actually the AI is almost too strong - got my a*** handed to me nearly every time despite being quite good at Pong. Too bad it doesn't offer a 2 player mode. Still, if you like Pong, then either get this one - or make your own.

#9 - Ball Race

CrASH version
ACE version

This is a not-too-bad Trailblazer inspired game, made by Joël Lecrux. It runs fast, but plays a bit jerky. Graphics might seem a little dodgy on emulators, but are actually rather decent on real hardware. The ball is done very nicely, I must say. A major bummer is that you'll fall in places where the ball is very visibly still on the platform. Considering the game is hard as f*** just like the original, that somewhat ruins the experiece. Also, extra terrain types like in the original Trailblazer would have been great. And no highscore? Come on...
There's just one track, albeit a very long one. And should you get bored with that, there's an editor. Also, it's one of the few 3D games on TI-82. Well, I'm a big Trailblazer fan, so I'd say give it a try despite its flaws. By the way since the game does not list any controls - 2nd is jump, as one would expect.

#8 - Boulder Dash

Ash version

While visually outstanding, the game isn't without flaws. Namely the controls are too responsive and tend to overshoot, which takes a bit of practise, to put it mildly. Other than that, Sam Heald did a great job with this one. Definately worth checking out, and certainly the best Boulder Dash clone available on the TI-82.


#7 - Orzunoid 7.0

Ash version

A very well done Breakout clone made originally by Patrick Davidson for the TI-85 and ported by Sam Heald. Plays great, and has all the bonus stuff from Arkanoid like lasers, catch, and multiball. A a level editor is available as well. The graphics... well, it's Breakout, what did you expect. Using the standard textscreen font for the score display does seem a bit cheap though.
By the way, TI Connect users will have to ungroup the 82g file before transfering it to the calculator (or get a decent link program like TiLP).

#6 - ZTris

CrASH version
ACE version

A very well done conversion of the Russian action puzzle, and certainly the best one around for TI-82. It's as close as you can get to the Gameboy version, right down to the squishy feel of the controls. My only complaint here is that it should run slightly faster at higher levels. But I'm almost nitpicking here. Overall, it rules. And yes, ZTris does offer a 2-player mode via link cable, so extra props for that. Supposedly it even supports connections between different TI models.
The game was originally the result of the collaborative efforts of Jimmy Mårdell, Sam Heald, and Patrick Davidson. The current version was completely redone by Tijl Coosemans.

#5 - Galaxian

Ash version
SNG version

A great conversion of the arcade classic by Patrick Davidson and Sam Heald. Enemies shooting like crazy and big fat motherships that take a million hits make this a highly enjoyable experience, especially in combination with the super-fluffy controls. A top notch game if you're into space shooters.
Fun fact: This was one of the very early TI-82 games, ported from TI-85 in November 1997.

#4 - Donkey Kong ASM

Ash version

A very exact and perfectly executed clone by Fred Lionetti, with beautiful grayscale graphics on the title screen. Plays just like on NES (haven't played the Arcade version so I can't compare it to that). And of course it's impossible to beat without the proper gaming skills (which I don't). Haven't got much to say about this one, other than: It's awesome.

#3 - Super Mario

CrASH version
SNG version

There are a number of Super Mario clones available for the TI-82, but this one is by far the best. Superior graphics, excellent speed and playability: this game has it all. And it comes with a level editor, too, so if it gets boring, you have only yourself to blame. The only thing better than this would be Bill Nagel's Super Mario 86 but well... that's on TI-86, and therefore out of the scope of this article. In any case, I'm quite sure that Nintendo would not approve of this. By the way this game was made by veteran TI programmer Sam Heald as well.

#2 - Bubble Bobble

CrASH/ACE version

A great conversion of the Taito classic. Well, you know the drill - trap monsters in bubbles, then pop the bubbles to destroy the monsters. Easier said than done. It's by no means an easy game, but author Dan Weiss was kind enough to build in a slowdown feature. Other than that, it plays like a charm, graphics are superb and and with 100 levels, you'll be wasting a lot of time on this game. And if that's not enough, there's a level editor as well. Also massive bonus points for link play mode, the game is so much more fun with 2 players.


#1 - Lotus Turbo Challenge

CrASH version

I remember seeing this one on some kid's calc when I was in school, and it simply blew my mind. Even though the "esprit" lacks from the title, it sure doesn't lack from the game. Ever since the day I saw it I wanted to get my hands on a PC link cable. Well, it took me 15 years to get that cable, and it'll probably take me another 15 years to program something as awesome as this. Ultra-fast game speed, responsive controls and absolutely stunning graphics with fluid (pseudo)3D rendering - 14 years after it's release, this masterpiece by Badja still stands out as one of the finest productions in the whole TI graphic calc gaming history.

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