Amazing New Memory Expansion Unit Available for the Bally Astrocade!

Bill Loguidice's picture

Bally Astrocade enthusiasts Ken Lill and Mike White have just unleashed an amazing surprise on the Bally Astrocade community--a memory expansion unit for all of the extended memory games that were previously only playable with an expensive and very rare (even then) early 80's expansion unit. Bottom line, until this release, only a handful of people in the world have been able to play extended memory software on the Bally Astrocade, a system that greatly benefits from that option.

Here's a snippet of the initial press release from Ken Lill (pricing withheld by me at this time, but it's very reasonable):

This is a true 32K expansion unit that uses a "floating" type of memory.
It starts @ 5000 Hex and goes to CFFF Hex
However, the 5000 Hex area is also the D000 Hex area, 6000 - E000, and 7000 - F000

It will allow you to play ALL extended memory games, provided that you have the proper BASIC.

It will allow you to:

-* Play ALL WaveMaker's Blue Ram BASIC games
* Play Dragon's Castle, The ONLY known program written for Vipersoft BASIC,
* Allow you to have a contiguous memory from 5000 to 7FFF Hex using ASTRO (6004) or Bally BASIC (6002)

We have a "Start-Up" special for the Bally Alley group. This is for a LIMITED TIME. The Lil' WHITE RAM units
are selling for $xx.xx USD + shipping & handling. S&H varies depending on where they are going to and how you want it shipped.

THIS IS NOT "VAPOR" product!! We have them IN STOCK and ready to ship!

For further information please contact Ken Lill or Mike White.

Ken's e-mail address is kenzreatyahoo.com.

Here's an image:

LiL' WHITE RAM PromoLiL' WHITE RAM Promo

I know I ordered mine!

Here are some facts from the BallyAlley YahooGroups mailing list:

- This RAM unit is the same (electronically) as a VIPER 5 minus the keyboard.
- This runs off of the Lite Pen 5V coming from the back of the Arcade. Ken has provided a CD with the installation instructions.

- Compatible--
1. Expanded RAM games on multicart
2. Vipersoft BASIC and Blue RAM BASIC carts
3. Vipersoft BASIC tape software
4. Expanded RAM software loaded through AstroBASIC
(like General Video Assembler)

-Not compatible--
1. Blue RAM BASIC tape software
2. Blue RAM Utility cart

"I THINK there is a way to play 4K Blue Ram games."

Comments

Rob Daviau
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Joined: 05/19/2006
Cool, I LOVE seeing new

Cool, I LOVE seeing new hardware for older systems!
BILL, where would you place this system in terms of graphics/game quality?
Is it somewhere between a 2600 and Odyssey I am guessing?

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Oldschool games, some people just don't "get it"...

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Bill Loguidice
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Astrocade - some thoughts
Oldschoolgamer wrote:

Cool, I LOVE seeing new hardware for older systems!
BILL, where would you place this system in terms of graphics/game quality?
Is it somewhere between a 2600 and Odyssey I am guessing?

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Oldschool games, some people just don't "get it"...

It has qualities of both, actually, and in some ways is actually better than the 2600 in terms of visuals. It has some of the blockiness/thickness in its visuals of the Odyssey, but is also extremely colorful. It also has three channel sound like an Intellivision, but it was rarely ever taken advantage of. I'm still tweaking numbers a bit, but here's a small snapshot of one small section of my comparison matrix (first number is visuals, second number is sound):

Magnavox Odyssey2 with Voice Module 2.0 1.0
Mattel Aquarius with Mini Expander and 16K Memory Cartridge 2.0 2.0
Radio Shack TRS-80 Color Computer 1/2 (CoCo1 or CoCo2) - Up to 64K 2.5 1.0
Emerson Arcadia 2001 2.5 1.0
Atari 2600 Video Computer System (VCS) - Standard Unit* 2.5 1.5
Commodore VIC 20 (Vic-20) 2.5 1.5
Bally Astrocade (and brand variations) 2.5 2.0
Apple II Series* - 48K - 128K 3.0 1.0
IBM and Compatible PC's up to 286's with CGA graphics and PC speaker sound (DOS) 3.0 1.0

You can see that at this point on a scale that only goes by .5 as its smallest increment, I consider the overall visuals, which mostly consists of resolution, color and motion as its main components, is too close to call between the CoCo 1/2, Arcadia 2001, Atari 2600, Vic-20 and Astrocade. The Astrocade is better than the Odyssey2, and worse than the Apple II or PC CGA. Worse than the former because when programmed properly it could exceed any of the 2.5 systems in both resolution and colors, and the latter mostly due to resolution. As for the Odyssey2, it had very blocky, mostly character-based graphics, but it was generally flicker-free and made good use of color.

As for game quality, since there really was only limited third party development towards the end of the platform's mainstream market life, there were few games that truly pushed the system overall. It obviously was fully programmable like a computer with nothing more than one of the two BASIC add-ons and supported cassette-based games as a result. Regardless, there are the usual standouts, like Incredible Wizard (Wizard of Wor). I put up some direct screen captures in my previous coverage of the system, and there's a few more here, which is also a great site for general information on the system: http://www.ballyalley.com/pics/screenshots/screenshots.html and more here: http://www.vgmuseum.com/astro.htm . There is also a cheap, high quality multi-cart available for the system, which is how I'll be able to best make use of the new memory expansion in my case, since I'll only be doing a little bit of programming on its calculator-style keypad.

The best part of the system, besides its mostly untapped potential in graphics (up to 256 colors) and sound (three channels), and its programmability, is its controllers, which are very much like an evolution of the first programmable videogame system, the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES, aka Channel F). They're pistol-like joysticks with a combination rotating knob (paddle) and control stick, creating very interesting control possibilities (for instance in the Conan prototype, with independent movement of Conan and his sword). It also supported up to four joysticks at once for four player games, something only a handful of other systems supported pre-Crash.

In short, I definitely have an enthusiasm for the system and it's actually not terribly expensive to collect for - you could potentially get a working system and a multi-cart for a little over $100, with individual games as cheap as $5, boxed. At the same time though, there are NOT a wide range of quality games made for it, which would put off the more casual (i.e., not as interested in the history or the quirks).



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Mark Vergeer
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Joined: 01/16/2006
this screams out for a small video

I would love to see and hear the Bally Astrocade in action. This system was not available in the Netherlands, or at least not to my knowledge.



Editor / Pixelator - Armchair Arcade, Inc.
www.markvergeer.nl

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Bill Loguidice
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Bally Astrocade videos
Mark Vergeer wrote:

I would love to see and hear the Bally Astrocade in action. This system was not available in the Netherlands, or at least not to my knowledge.

Try these: http://www.ballyalley.com/astrocade_videos/astrocade_videos.html . If you have a specific request for a specific game, I can certainly do a quick capture and throw it up on YouTube for us here...



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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Matt Barton
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Joined: 01/16/2006
Lies :)
Bill Loguidice wrote:

Try these: http://www.ballyalley.com/astrocade_videos/astrocade_videos.html . If you have a specific request for a specific game, I can certainly do a quick capture and throw it up on YouTube for us here...

Wow. I just finished watching the Astrocade promo--laughing so hard at some of the bombast. "It's like actually being in the ally" for the bowling game was the most ridiculous claim on the video! LOL! No wonder there was a crash--people heard claims like that and expected much more than they actually got.

However, the pinball game they showed looked very fun--like a cross between breakout! and pinball. Wonder why I haven't seen that kind of pinball hybrid before. Seems like an obvious variation on pinball/breakout, but this is the first time I've seen it.

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Bill Loguidice
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Paddle/Spinner Control
Matt Barton wrote:

Wow. I just finished watching the Astrocade promo--laughing so hard at some of the bombast. "It's like actually being in the ally" for the bowling game was the most ridiculous claim on the video! LOL! No wonder there was a crash--people heard claims like that and expected much more than they actually got.

However, the pinball game they showed looked very fun--like a cross between breakout! and pinball. Wonder why I haven't seen that kind of pinball hybrid before. Seems like an obvious variation on pinball/breakout, but this is the first time I've seen it.

It was actually fairly mediocre. Most of the good stuff on the platform was mostly the shooter stuff. However, along the same lines, one of the only really critically acclaimed and last games produced for the Fairchild Video Entertainment System (VES, aka Channel F) - the first ever cartridge-based videogame system - Video Whizball, kind of ran with the whole pinball/breakout/paddle ball concept. Obviously paddle-based games were ideal for systems like the Fairchild and Bally (as well as the Atari 2600 of course), simply because they came with paddle/spinner-like controllers standard. I've said it before and I'll say it again - it's one of my favorite forms of control. I made sure I had one on my MAME arcade cabinet, and when Arkanoid is released for the Nintendo DS with spinner attachment, you know I'm there (and it will also work with the new Space Invaders for the DS)... I still have to try Zuma with the spinner on my arcade machine. My wife and I love it on XBLA, but of course you have to use the analog stick, which works well, but not quite the same as a properly optimized spinner should...



Wii: 1345 2773 2048 1586 | PS3: ArmchairArcade
Bill Loguidice, Managing Director | Armchair Arcade, Inc.

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