Copyright © 2021 by Víctor Parada


This is a little game for the 2021 NOMAM's BASIC 10-liners Contest. This program fits in the "stock" PUR-80 category, and it was written in Atari BASIC for the 8-bits ATARI XL/XE. Development started on 2020-05-14, and it took 5 days. The final version's date is 2020-08-29.

UPDATE: It obtained the 8th place of 66 entries in the category.


Hubert has to change the color of the 5 pyramids to green, but Bally tries to make him fail the mission.


HUBERT start Hubert starts in the top of the first pyramid. This is the only safe spot in it. Pyramid number appears in the upper-left corner, and at top appears the number of extra tries.
HUBERT move Use your joystick to move Hubert though the pyramid. The joystick has to be rotated 45° to the right, i.e. you should use it with the red button centered on top.
HUBERT opponent From time to time, an enemy called Bally will travel through the pyramid. Avoid him!
HUBERT spots Every time you reach a spot, its color might change. Try to change all the spots to green in order to complete the pyramid.
HUBERT colors While in the first pyramid you can get the green at the first jump in to it, in other pyramids you need to jump more times into every spot in order to meke them all green.
HUBERT crash Every time Bally gets Hubert, a try is lost. Bally will increase his speed and frecuency as time runs.
HUBERT fall If you make Hubert jump out of the pyramit, you will also loose a try, and all the work already done in that pyramid will be lost.
HUBERT gameover When there are no more tries, the mission has failed and the game is over. Press the button to try again.
HUBERT win You win only when all 5 pyramids were converted to green ones.

Development of the game

I've always liked the Q*Bert character, and decided to program his game for the tenliners contest. I started with a simple pyramid design in graphics mode 12 (ANTIC mode 4) in order to test how it would look and if I could manage all of its states in TurboBASIC XL or Fastbasic. I started coding a prototype in Fastbasic, because I also designed the sprite for Q*Bert and I wanted to see him moving through the pyramid. I also found a formula for the color transitions of the cubes, 5 different sequences for that amount of levels, and it looked great.

I was surprised that the code to make the character move through the pyramid without smooth transitions between spots was very simple, so I rewote it in Atari BASIC to measure how much space it would require. Of course, I ignored the bitmaps and sprites, and selected the text mode 2 (ANTIC mode 7) to display the pyramid and the character.

It seemed to work very good, and I had to decide what to do with the few extra space I had. Options were two: (1) modify the charset and change the graphics into bitmaps, or (2), add an opponent and make the game challenging and enjoyable. I went for option (2).

HUBERT proto 1

Prototype with a moving opponent (with trail)

I managed to add sound effects and limited the game to just those 5 different levels, which became the target of this variation. This turned into a mission without score, just few lives, which are lost when the opponent catches Hubert or Hubert falls out of the pyramid, and uncompleated pyramids are reset to try again. Also, I tried different combination of letters and sysmbols to draw the playfield.

As this finished game it is a simplistic one, I just wanted to name it like the suggested name for the original game: "Hubert". By the time I'm writting this, I hope to resume the original Q*Bert project with P/M sprites. I took a break to build a device which would allow me to connect a real Atary CX40 joystick to my PC and test these Q*Bert series of games in the emulator using it, instead of emulating it with the keyboard that it cannot be rotated 45°.

Download and try

Get the HUBERT.ATR file and set it as drive 1 in a real Atari (or emulator). Turn on the computer and the game should start after loading. A joystick in port 1 is required, and it has to be rotated 45° clockwise to play.

The code

The abbreviated BASIC code is the following:

The full and expanded BASIC listing is:

(c) 2020 Víctor Parada

GR.18 scr: 112,158 = 40560
Pyramid's top pointer (for player): 40590 (40560+20*2+10)
LINE 0: Initialization
dim q$(81),o$(81),p(81),g(81)
Q$: Current status of each cube
O$: Required status of each cube
P(): Pointer to a screen position of each cube
G(): Valid cubes
for c=1 to 81
next c
Initialize strings
Remaining (extra) Lives
Status of cubes

Other variables auto-initilized at run
Y=0: last position of Hubert
I=0: Joystick is in motion state
R=0: Enemy's response timer

Initialize level
graphics 18
Sets graphics mode 2+16 (20x12 text mode with 4 colors plus background)
print #6;l,n
Prints current level (in the upper-left corner) and the number of remaining lives (at the center of the top)
Starting position of Hubert (top of the pyramid)
Reset FX
Sets starting color for level
for u=0 to 8
  for b=0 to 8
Iterates over the matrix
Gets the sequential pointer
    v=u+b<9 and u*b
Determines if the pointer is part of the pyramid
LINE 2: Level linitialization (cont)
Saves the status of the pointer
Maps the pointer into screen
    poke p(c)+20,(121+64*d)*v
Puts a cube in the screen if it's part of the pyramid
    poke q+c,d*v
Marks the initial status of a cube
  next b
next u
Continues loop
Sets the default off-the-piramid pointer out of screen

At the end of the initialization
U=9: Enemy's counter
V=0: Position of the Enemy
Joystick was moved?
if m*i then x=x+m
If joystick was just moved, find the new position
Gets the next status of the new cube
Enables jumping sound FX
LINE 4: Relocates Hubert
k=g(x)=0 or x=v
Checks if Hubert fall out of the pyramid or if it crashed with the enemy
poke p(y),0
Removes Hubert from the screen
on k goto 8
Quit playing loop if killed
poke p(x),49
Puts Hubert in the new cube of the pyramid
Saves enemy's old position
Verifies that joystick was previously released
if d<0 then d=(l>2)+(l>4)
Fixes next cube's color in level's cycle
LINE 5: Updates current cube
poke q+x,d
Updates cube in status
poke p(x)+20,121+64*d
Updates cube
sound 0,161,12,f
Jumping FX
Decreases enemy response timer
if u+l>14 then v=10
Triggers the enemy
LINE 6: Moving the enemy
if r<1 then u=u+1
Move enemy?
Calculates next position
  poke p(w),0
Remove from latest position
  poke p(v),239
Puts enemy in new position
Resets the enemy response timer
LINE 7: Completes the playing loop
Checks if enemy hit Hubert
poke 77,0
Disables attract mode
Next step for the jump FX
Save Hubert's old position
Increases level if completed
if l>5 then q$="COMPLETED"
No more levels?
Forces end of game
LINE 8: Checks for the end of the level
on e+k=0 goto 3
Repeat playing loop until killed or completed level
poke p(x),49-39*k
Update Hubert
Decrease lifes if killed or increase up to the maximum if survived
for b=0 to 45
Performs kill or end of level tune
  if n<0 then q$="GAME OVER"
No more lives? Code placed inside the loop just to fit the line length restriction
LINE 9: End of level/game
  sound 0,150-b*3,10*e,9-b/5
next b
on n+h>=0 goto 1
Repeat or start new level
print #6;q$
for b=0 to 1
next b
Waits for the trigger

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© 2021 by Víctor Parada - 2021-02-13 (updated: 2021-04-10)