Book Reviews

Ken Ward, Norwich

 

Issue 6

Nov/Dec 83

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MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR ATARI
by Paul Bunn
Interface Publications 8.95


The first thing that struck me about this book was the appalling waste. At least 20% of the book is blank paper! Mr. Bunn is very presumptuous when in Chapter One he says that he will teach you your machine inside out and a little bit extra! He also says "the book is aimed at the computer user who has had his Atari computer for one or two months". He then takes several pages of the next chapter to teach you how to use the commands GRAPHICS, SETCOLOR, COLOR, PLOT & DRAWTO which are explained in your manual. Presumably Atari owners are only supposed to know how to play Star Raiders! LOCATE is very briefly mentioned, as are the file commands. GTIA modes are covered with demo's and the GR.10 demo is worth the effort of typing in all that data. The display list and display list interrupts are described - badly. There is, however, a useful error reporting routine that can be loaded when typing in your own programs or listings. It saves you diving for the reference manual to find out what Error xx is.

Chapter 6 gives a lengthy description of Player-Missile graphics (lengthy for this book anyway). This is followed by the shortest article on redefining characters I've seen. Chapter 9 takes six pages to tell you about Joysticks and Paddles. It's all in the reference manual anyway.

Finally we come to the games, which range from a couple of games that date back to the early days of personal computing, through to versions of some of the popular games of today. Some of the listings have silly errors but they won't stop the games running and can be ignored, except for the last one which is the best game in the book. (Actually, it's Frog Jump - a version of Frogger - not Dodge 'Em as stated on the back cover.) The game is full of data statements, and not a RESTORE anywhere!

Considering it is supposed to be an instructional book there is a great lack of REM statements in the listings. Most of the games are nicely finished off, and some contain good routines. Overall my impression is it's a hastily prepared book and it's only value is in the games.

 

 

GAMES FOR THE ATARI
by S. Roberts
Hofacker 4.95

This book starts on page zero with a list of the graphic and sound commands, and on pages 1 and 2 gives a quick demo of PLOT and DRAWTO. It then jumps straight into Player Missiles, taking you through step by step, then giving you a demo program to put your little man on the screen, and some POKE's to try to change his position, size and colour. This is followed by a demo of horizontal movement and priority.

The next section uses a demo to illustrate the problem of vertical movement in Basic, before giving you a machine language program to do the same thing. The P/M section of the book then ends with demo's and explanations on alternating shapes, missiles and collision detection.

Sound is covered by short demo's, as is reading the joystick, then it's on to the games. Not a really great selection. Two of them are based on the Mastermind game - one with numbers and letters, the other with colours. The latter is the first game I've seen that uses GR.11. Many of the games can do with tidying up graphically, which is a good way to learn. This section ends with a game for anyone that has an Assembler.

Next it's back to the learning with articles and demo's on Antic, DLI's, CTIA/GTIA and character redefining. All these articles could have been very good were it not for the printing and English errors (the book is actually produced in Germany). The reader is also confused by the constant cross referencing of DEC/HEX numbering. To a beginner it is all too jumbled to make a lot of sense, and needs an understanding of HEX numbers and machine language to make sense, which is a shame, because the book starts off so well.



ATARI SOUND AND GRAPHICS
by Moore, Lower & Albrecht
Wiley 6.75

From the same stable as Atari Basic, this book follows the same format - teaching everything in the slowest possible way, ending each chapter with tests.

I was in middle-age when, completely ignorant of everything computing, I placed hands on a computer for the first time. The Atari Basic book annoyed me, this one annoyed me even more.

The Graphic side of the book is basic to the point of being silly. It doesn't get past PLOT & DRAWTO! The bulk of the book is taken up by Sound creation, taking you from the simple beep through to complicated tunes. There are some useful pieces on Attack and Decay, and Phase Shift, giving some idea of how to get quite advanced sounds even from Basic. But it is not enough to raise this book out of the mire.

 

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