COLOURSPACE is the Atari development
of Psychedelia which is available for other micros. Jeff Minter
changed the name because the program grew in stature so much on
its translation to the Atari that Jeff virtually considers it to
be a new program. He states in the manual that "The difference between
Colourspace and Psychedelia is as pronounced as the difference between
a Mini and a Ferrari"! That's what translations to the Atari should
be. It is about time programmers realised just how much more powerful
the Atari is
Colourspace is going to be difficult
to put into words. It is easier to describe what it is not. It is
not a game, it is not a utility, it is not an adventure, you do
not score points, there is no goal, no competition, no final outcome.
What on earth is it then? It is what no software company has come
up with for many years something quite unique. I don't know of any
other program quite like it or any program that will show off the
Atari's colour and hardware capabilities in such a dynamic way.
Let's start by saying that you
will either be mightily impressed or singularly unimpressed with
Colourspace, it depends on your own sensibilities, on the way you
perceive light and sound, on whether you can 'see' sounds and 'hear'
colours. The best analogy is with the live performance of rock music,
but if that turns you off read on anyway for you can use the program
in any way you wish. If you have ever been to a rock concert where
the stage lights and effects enhance the performance and create
a new sense of 'sight and sound' combined, you will know exactly
what Colourspace is. Stick on some headphones or turn the stereo
up loud and you will have your very own light show, controlled entirely
by you in any way your mood takes you. On its own Colourspace is
pretty - very pretty - but marry it with music and get the timing
just right and something magic happens. Something that does not
exist in either the music or in the program but which you will feel
instinctively when you create just the right blend.
If you do not understand all this
business of lights and music, maybe Colourspace is not for you but
try it anyway. Light and movement enhances any type of music - that's
what ballet and opera and stage shows are all about - and you may
well find that your favourite music takes on anew character and
has new depth. At worst you will end up with a truly amazing demo
of the capabilities of your Atari and that can't be bad can it?
The manual for Colourspace runs
to 16 pages and only tells you how to use the various facilities
of the program. It does not explain what you can achieve for only
you can determine that. The results depend on your own imagination
and ability. The program is described as a 'light synthesiser' and
it is exactly that - an instrument producing colour and light which
you can learn to 'play' like any other musical instrument. The more
experienced you become the better will be the results but, unlike
conventional instruments, you can gain enjoyment from it even if
your talents are very limited - or you can just sit back and watch
someone else play.
The range of light and colour and
movement is enormous, from pre-set patterns to user defined colours
or graphics. Foreground patterns overlaying dynamic effects, 'curved'
screens, multiple images and more. Literally thousands of combinations
and every one controlled by you using the joystick. You can record
sequences in memory and play them back or save sequences on tape.
You can use the program with another person each creating their
own patterns or you can interact with the computer.
You can create the gentle and soothing
or the dynamic and aggressive. Pretty patterns or meaningful colour
'lyrics'. In short you can come close to expressing in a tangible
form what you feel from music.
The program has far too many possibilities
to go into great detail so I will finish with a recommendation.
If you are into rock music, buy it without hesitation. If not, try
it as something quite unique and you may end up with experiences
you did not expect. If you are still unconvinced, try to get along
to the PCW Show in September where Jeff Minter promises something
Just one gripe. Colourspace is
available only on cassette which is just plain crazy particularly
as it has the facility to save unlimited sequences. The Atari owners
likely to be most impressed by the program will be sufficiently
committed to their system to require it on disk. Why spoil a graphic
masterpiece by putting it in the wrong frame?