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DStar family: over 20 years old, still new members
Posted by Xavier on 25 November 2019, 22:42 GMT

A few months ago (look, we're not doing only retro-features for decade-old software :P), Patrick "tr1p1ea" Prendergast, who received multiple features here over time, uploaded DStar CE for the TI-eZ80 series. It's the latest incarnation of a lengthy series of "DStar" games; as far as we know, this implementation is the only one targeting a TI graphing calculator equipped with a color screen. Clearly, although the gameplay remains true to the earlier implementations, color brings a nice touch, as does the overdrawing of sprites, creating a simple 3D effect :)

DStar games, whose player has to move a character (ball) across levels to collect all pieces, with the sole ability to move as far as possible until hitting a wall, or a special movable block (box) which can be controlled independently from the main player (in some implementations, box and ball can be swapped by pressing a key) and needs to be used to complete some levels, in the right order to avoid getting stuck, date back to circa 1997. They're available on a variety of platforms, not just TI graphing calculators, which, er, happen to be what our archives focus on. In fact, there are way too many implementations in our archives to feature them all; therefore, we'll focus on hopefully not too arbitrary a selection.

Joe Wingbermuehle's original implementation (this is a version with improved graphics and 10 levels), which inspired all of the others, was never featured here before. There are at least three direct ports / re-creations of this version, by Ahmed El-Helw for the TI-82, Jason Kovacs for the monochrome 83+ family and Matt Baker for the TI-68k series.

The oldest file in our archives - but not the oldest implementation, it seems - is Andrew Von Dollen's DStar for the TI-92, using the old Fargo 0.1.x series. It provides the 20 levels from the HP-48 implementation and the 5 levels from an older version of the TI-83 implementation. Andrew is responsible for no less than four other ports of DStar, on the TI-82, 85 (two different shells) and 86!

DStar with level Editor by Scott Davis is one of at least four TI-Basic implementations, two of which have a level editor. This one is for the 83+/84+ and has 9 built-in levels. The graphics are closer to the simpler ones of Joe Wingbermuehle's first versions.

Should you take up on the challenge, we hope that you'll enjoy spending your time thinking and scratching your head on these levels, be it on most TI graphing calculator models or on your smartphone, using e.g. Ahmed El-Helw's implementation :)

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

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