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The Blues Brothers are back, from the 80s to your 68ks
Posted by Xavier on 31 October 2019, 22:26 GMT

No, really, we're not talking about a pumpkin-carving-simulator program tonight... But guess what? Some ghosts of the glorious TI-68k past come back to haunt us from time to time : earlier this year, we were graced with an upload of a new program in the TI-68k ASM section, namely Blues Brothers 89 by newcomer Adrien Belly. Uploads of new complex TI-68k native code programs have become infrequent, so they're especially newsworthy nowadays!

As you can see in the screenshot, it's a platformer, reimplemented from the computer game of the same name, released starting from 1991 for multiple 80s and 90s computer models. As usual in a platformer, the player needs to pick up bonus items across levels, with various ways to climb / fall / swim, while avoiding / beating up enemies, on a largely linear game progression path. The game is open-source under no license and hosted on Github.

The README links a YouTube video which showcases the great accuracy of Adrien's reimplementation of the game - the two implementations are shown side by side, played one at a time. Of course, on the TI-68k series, the game suffers from the low screen resolution, especially considering that the game is designed to work only on (and is compiled only for) the 89 and 89 Titanium; the wider screen of the 92+ and V200 would make the game a bit easier, but these models are less popular.

At least for now, this implementation seems to provide a single level among the 6 levels of the original game, and does not provide the original game's music, either, which would be possible with PolySnd (though possibly costly in terms of space). Don't let that prevent you from playing this very well-made game, though - just as everybody needs somebody to love, as the Blues Brothers said, this game probably needs your love as well :)

Article written by Lionel Debroux, with input from Adrien "Adriweb" Bertrand.

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CHIP-8 emulators for games
Posted by Xavier on 1 September 2019, 09:44 GMT

In 2018, another implementation of a CHIP-8 emulator for a TI graphing calculator was uploaded into our archives. CHIP-8 is the combination of an interpreted programming language and the corresponding virtual machine for playing the corresponding binaries, introduced in the 1970s. The virtual machine is lightweight (in the original version: 4 KB addressing space, 2 timers, 64x32 graphics area, 16-key hexadecimal keyboard), and therefore, since the late 1970s, CHIP-8, and variants thereof - some of which even support color graphics - have been implemented on a wide range of general-purpose and special-purpose computers, whether they use CPUs or FPGAs. Among the variants is the popular SCHIP(-8), pioneered on the HP-48 in 1990, which spawned a set of new games taking advantage of a dozen additional instructions and double the number of pixels in each direction. You can easily find more information about the CHIP-8 family if you wish :)

So... let's introduce Chip-84, a CHIP-8 emulator/interpreter for the TI-eZ80 series, by Christian "ckosmic" Kosman, open source on Github. It's his first, and so far only, file on ticalc.org. Like most emulators made in the past three decades, it supports SCHIP-8 improvements, and some aspects of emulation can be tweaked at runtime.

I went looking around in our archives, and it happens that they contain at least 4 other implementations of a (S)CHIP-8 emulator for other generations of our favorite graphing calculators, all of them being native code, unsurprisingly. For most of them, the source code and converters (c8 to computer-side format suitable for calculators) are provided; 3 even provide converted ROMs. In chronological order:

Be aware that the keyboard layout of the CHIP-8 is slightly peculiar, and worse, that there are no standardized keyboard bindings across ROMs. Living the original (S)CHIP-8 playing experience by discovering the inconsistent key bindings by yourselves is of course an option, but maybe you'll enjoy the games more if you try to find documentation about the relevant keys before playing? Beyond that, happy playing :)

Article written by Lionel Debroux, with input from Adrien "Adriweb" Bertrand.

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Matching colors and symbols on mid-range color calculators
Posted by Xavier on 21 August 2019, 22:41 GMT

RubEX Mahjong CE

Here's more goodness for mid-range models equipped with color screens - these programs got into the news queue a while ago :)

Are you a fan of the Magic Cube (Rubik's Cube), but you can't carry the actual cube around with you? Well, if you've got a TI-eZ80 model (83PCE, 84+CE and variants thereof), you can hone your vision, logic, and swapping skills using RubEX by LogicalJoe. It was originally written using ICE, then ported to C (source code no longer provided publicly), and it uses the community libraries, as is the norm for a TI-eZ80 native code program. Whether you let the program scramble the cube, or you scramble it yourself, the puzzle won't be solved for you, you'll have to do it under the pressure of the move counter. There's a "teacher key" triggering state save and exit, a single-level undo, built-in help, and other features. As often, be sure to peruse the README for information getting started, and key bindings. All in all, a solid game :)

commandblockguy made a colorful implementation of Mahjong Solitaire, namely Mahjong CE. The goal is to match pairs of tiles (among those directly accessible) in the right order, so as to remove all 144 tiles from the board, without the number of possible moves falling down to zero until all 144 tiles have disappeared. The game's life is pretty good, as the built-in set exceeds 100 levels (!), and a converter for levels (layout files) suitable for the Windows Kyodai game is provided. In addition, the game, programmed in C, is open-source. You can find its repo on Github. Note that it may contain releases newer than in our archives.

Article written by Lionel Debroux, with input from Adrien "Adriweb" Bertrand.


TI-Boy CE Alpha released!
Posted by Xavier on 3 June 2019, 20:06 GMT

TI-Boy CE Options TI-Boy CE

Brendan "calc84maniac" Fletcher has been featured here on ticalc.org many times in the past, and today he's back with a brand new Game Boy emulator (that will surely distract you from math class?), this time written in assembly for the TI-eZ80 series!

TI-Boy CE brings familiar Game Boy games to your TI-84 Plus CE or TI-83 Premium CE calculator. As an emulator, this program is designed to perfectly imitate the original hardware: in this case the classic Game Boy, first released in 1989 (Game Boy Color games are not supported, and Game Boy Advance will never be). When testing this program, I found that it ran games very quickly and accurately, and it can even go faster than the original hardware when utilizing the turbo mode feature. Using the included ROM converter, you will be able to play any game with a .gb file extension, including games such as Pokémon Red and Blue, Donkey Kong, Super Mario Land, The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening, and, of course, Tetris. Along with full emulation of Game Boy hardware (besides audio and linking), it has a ton of great features such as:

  • Save states
  • Skin and palette options
  • Turbo mode and frameskip
  • Customizable controls

The download also includes a ROM and save game converter, which can also be used via the emulator's website.

Please note that while this program is in a fairly completed state, it is still an alpha release. It is therefore highly encouraged to keep any important files on your calculator in archive memory (which you should really do anyway) to protect them from potential crashes. That being said, this project is open source and is hosted on GitHub, where you can post bug reports, make suggestions, look at the source code, and see what some of the future plans for this emulator are. Don't let this scare you from trying it out though, as it really is an excellent program which will lead to hours of fun!

Article written by Jeff "Jeffitus" Anema, with input from Lionel Debroux.

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