Saturday, 26 November 2016

Takaya Arita's Classic "Cavern 2160"

I ran across an interesting looking game ported to the MZ-80 by Joachim Froholt. He mentioned in the blurb for his YouTube vid that:
I translated Takaya Arita's Sharp MZ-80K classic Cavern 2160 to the Sharp MZ-80A (& english).
When I hear someone describing a Basic game as a "classic" my ears immediately pluck up. What is this classic of which you speak? The original game was published as a program listing in the July 1980 issue of I/O Magazine in Japan. I asked Joachim if he had a copy of the original source. He kindly pointed me towards a place where I might find a scan of the article. In the end I decided to simply look up as many videos of the game being played as I could to recreate what I saw using my own code and coding tricks to get speedy animation out of the MC-10. I did eventually get a scan, which was helpful in resolving a few details of the operation of the game, although I am still not sure if I have fully implemented the game, or implemented it with complete fidelity. For example, in my version there is an ultimate time limit. You get quite a bit of time to build your score, but as you do the game gets slightly harder in regular jumps (signaled by some random beeping). At these points the time it takes for the snakes to come back to life after falling shortens. But also, you can reach a point when the time will simply run out. That being said. I have never been able to play to that time.

The original game is described as a classic because, to quote the retro gamer blog:
Dr Takaya Arita’s game is a milestone release from 1980 – it has been considered “the original sandbox game,” and is a strategic digging game that arrived a good couple of years before the likes of Dig Dug and Mr Do.  36 years on, Mindware is now releasing the game on PC, in three different forms. The original version for the Japanese Sharp MZ-80 computer will be converted, and two remixed versions will be provided – one built to the specs of the Sharp MZ-700, and another built as a classic Eighties arcade game. 
The game seems like it would be simple, but it takes a lot of strategy to remove earth in a way that prevents the snakes from overwhelming you or sneaking past and making their way to your "base" and thus, defeating you.  I was able to find various version and ports to other system, including one with a pixel text drawn version of the original Japanese name of the game, which I was able to recreate as a title screen for my version. Strangely enough when I sent Joachim a video of the game I had recreated he noticed my port of  "The Valley" and sent this message:
BTW, I see your last project was The Valley, that's a fun coincidence,
because I was involved with a version for the Sharp MZ-80A just
recently. I only did playtesting for that one. An interesting little
game, more fun than I originally thought it'd be. Here's a video: 
It's a small world when porting projects are being done in such similar succession. Perhaps it's a sign that the pool of "classics" is somewhat limited. Maybe I'm coming to end of it!  Let's hope not. Anyway here's the vid of my version:

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