Tandy TRS-80 – Top 10 and further reading

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Pixels gone wild...


 

I did it. Every TRS-80 game beaten. Well, not exactly. Some were too hard unless you have a walkthrough at hand (I didn’t), some just wouldn’t emulate and lots are too obscure and sadly lost. But don’t worry. Most of them got ported to other systems, so I get to them later.

I have to be honest. I didn’t expect so many text adventures. Most of them were alright or even great, but playing them everyday becomes kinda boring and you see how most of them just copy each other. The biggest disappointment was Scott Adams. Yes, he was an important figure and yes, many developers used his two-word parser, but his games are always the same. Find x items, bring to spot y and type score. No real beginning, short descriptions and no real ending. And the guy released like ten games a year. He would get so much sh*t for that today.
Of course there were many good games also and without further ado, here is my Top 10:

10.) Zaxxon

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It’s very shot, misses the pretty colors of the arcade version is too zoomed in, but Zaxxon is still, hands down, the prettiest game for the system.

9.) The Curse of Crowley Manor

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Starts out as a mystical detective story and ends with the player fighting against Satan in hell. Metal as f*ck!

8.) Voyage of the Valkyrie

2

Weird mix between an adventure in the sky and shooting birds in first person. Slow, but with a refreshing setting.

7.) Scarfman

1

You like Pac-Man? Think it’s too easy? May I introduce Scarfman?

6.) Volcano Hunter

dfgdfg

Unforgiving platformer with a huge game world and the cutest protagonist ever.

5.) Zork I & Zork II

1

Detailed descriptions, clever puzzles and bursting with humour that makes fun of many genre tropes. Lovely.

4.) Crush, Crumble and Chomp!

2

Choose your favorite Kaiju and destroy the city of your choice. A fantastic strategy game with scenarios that will last your for months.

3.) Dancing Demon

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Make your own song, your own dance routine and watch a cute demon dance to your creation. Endless possibilities on a system without a sound processor. Pretty sure the creator used some kind of magic.

2.) Frogger

1

An amazing port of one of my favorite arcade games. Big sprites, in-game music and the clever idea of splitting the game screen in half, allowing you to focus more on the action. Genius!

1.) The Institute

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I was not expecting that. A text adventure set in an insane asylum, where you have to hide in a closet, take lots of drugs and navigate through weird dream scenarios to find hints that will help you in your escape. Deals with such themes like fear, abuse and father complexes. Surprisingly poetic at times a mature, nightmare inducing experience.
A true gem.


How to play:

Head over to Matthew Reed’s website and download his emulator. You can pay for a premium version, but the free version works just fine.
Perfect emulation of Model 1/3/4 with cool (optional) gimmicks like the annoying drive sound.

After that, go to Terry Stewart’s tribute page and download all his disks. This guy loves the TRS-80 and his site is full of information and games.

Don’t feel like downloading all this stuff? Try Willus Big List of TRS-80 Software. You can find pretty much every game and program released for the system and start them directly in your browser. Not all of them work tho.

More info:

My first stop is always MobyGames to get a quick overview.

Ira Goldklang’s website is without a doubt the greatest place to get information about this old-timer. Interviews, books, reviews, news, tutorials….He’s got it all covered and the site is still getting updates.
Matthew Reed, creator of the emulator, has a similar site here.

Here is an ongoing podcast called TRS-80 Trash Talk.

You also have to read this article by Gamasutra. Funny and informative.


 

I have probably forgotten something, but I guess this is enough.
Next stop: the Commodore PET.

 

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2 thoughts on “Tandy TRS-80 – Top 10 and further reading

  1. Great piece, since I read the first post about the TRS-80 I’m silently looking online if I could find a good deal to buy an used one and play the games you reviewed. Wonderful job! I can’t wait to see something about PET! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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